How to make a Tail Mech

For BBW v2 I wanted to make a tail that didn't just droop lifelessly behind me, this mech is what I came up with. Designed to have the tail stick out some, as well as give a little bounce as I walked, it'll also stick straight out if I spin around, adding a little more animation to the character...

Inspired in part from a childhood game I once played called "Snake in the Grass" and by a universal socket for my ratchet wrench, here's how I made the thing...

{Click on any image to see full sized}

tmech1.JPG (10865 bytes) First I went to the local hardware store and bought a 6ft length of 3/4in PVC pipe. I worked out that 5in length would be needed to give my particular tail the right  bend to it, so with my trusty hacksaw, I commenced to cutting.
tmech9.JPG (11702 bytes) Next I cut grooves into the pieces, I used a moto tool with a cutting wheel on it to do it. (I cut the lengths of pipe to accommodate these grooves.) Note the lips at the opposing ends are staggered at 90 degree angles.
tmech8.JPG (10590 bytes) Then with a grinding bit I rounded the ends of the lips. I also worked out the positioning of the holes and drilled them out as well.
tmech6.JPG (8519 bytes) The finished piece with rounded ends and the pin holes drilled.
tmech5.JPG (7252 bytes) Next I tested the joints using rubber bands to simulate the springs and cores to be added later. I made a few adjustments to the shape of the lips, then started on the next step.
tmech3.JPG (11501 bytes) Taking a solid rubber sanding block I used a hacksaw to cut it into little strips.
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Once cut into strips I then cut them even further to fit between the rounded lips of the tail pieces. I also had to drill the pin holes thru, using the holes drilled previously as a guide. The pieces were then assembled, putting the rubber piece between the plastic pipe pieces, using cotter pins to hold it all together. I also put small washers between the rubber and plastic pipe to reduce friction. 
tmech4.JPG (11151 bytes) Next I set the tension of the springs, these springs are what get the tail to stick out, bounce, and all the other fun stuff. The closer the base of the tail the stronger the spring has to be (as it's pulling the weight of all the previous pieces) I ended up using two springs in the first joint to get the desired effect. The loops of the cotter pins were perfect for hooking the springs to.
tmech16.JPG (8788 bytes) After testing the tail mech with the filler and fur in place I was a little concerned about the filler material getting tangled up in the springs and the joints of the mech itself. To take care of that I went out and bought some balloons and cut off the ends.
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The cut balloons were then fitted over the joints of the mech, and over the springs as well. I also capped off the end of the mech with one of the cut off balloon ends, now I didn't have to worry about the filler material I use getting into the joints of the mech and gumming up the works, so to speak..
tmech10.JPG (11008 bytes)
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For the base of the tail I used a router bearing available at Sears, the thing fit the pipe perfectly! Drilling a hole, once again using the pre-drilled holes on the tail mech as a guide. A cotter pin was once again used to fasten the mech to the base.
tmech12.JPG (9142 bytes) The router bearing was then sewn to a weight lifting belt, also available at Sears, it's one of those Velcro wrap around belts used for heavy lifting. I drilled holes thru the center support piece in the belt, then sewn the bearing to the belt, clipped the mech to the belt and made my final adjustments to the springs...
tmech17.JPG (21166 bytes) Next I cut a piece quilting backing material to use as the padding for the tail. I tapered one end so the tail would come to a point at the end.
tmech18.JPG (23101 bytes) The padding was then wrapped around the tail mech, then I sewed the tail fur with   the inside out, then pulled the fur over the mech and padding, it went on pretty easy...
tmech19.JPG (29511 bytes) The finished tail mech...

One thing I noticed at CF9 was the darn thing squeaked, a little oil fixed that problem though... The whole thing was surprisingly comfortable, I hardly noticed I was wearing it (cept for when I bapped people with it as I walked by) and I didn't get any "Phantom Tail Syndrome" after wearing it for long periods of time...