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Brent W
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123 Posts

Profile of Brent W
I have a 99' ford f-450 box truck with 20ft box (that carries the lights, sound, scenery, etc) that pulls a 37ft travel trailer and a 97 GMC topkick with a 22ft box that carries the illusions, props, wardrobe trunks, etc.
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Long Island, New York
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Profile of Impossible
Kevin & Bill have the right idea. If you can avoid breaking down the bulk, you'll save lots of time and lots of wear and tear. Since the size of our show sometimes changes from gig to gig, town to town, city to city, we usually rent 18-24ft dock height box trucks. We have our own strapping, blankets, wall-molds, and inflatable space-fillers to avoid any damage from the bumps and potholes. When we have a larger show, we usually get two smaller trucks, rather then one large truck for the obvious "we're stuck on the side of the road" reasons. Believe it or not, U-Haul (which took over Ryder here in N.Y.) has some great deals, and certain rental agreements give benifits for accomodations, which is always helpful since we all do the Hotel/Motel thing. We like to shower in real showers. We also move in by ramp verses lift-gate, because when a lift gate freezes (either by an electrical problem or by real ice), it can delay the unloading by hours. We learned that the hard way!

A few illusion show tips incase there's any newbies reading this:

-Make sure your props fit through the venue doors!
-Bring road-cones to keep your loading area clear!
-Get all casters on props replaced with big heavy duty rubber wheels whenever possible, to avoid the need for dollies. Illusions that need low casters (Zig-Zag, etc.) can be strapped along side of a dolly and rolled in lying down.
-Cabinet illusions can be used as costume racks!
-Trunk shaped illusions can protect lots of smaller props, like your wicker sword basket. Use some inflatables to fill in the empty spaces. We have some Mickey and Minnie kids pool-floats, which seem to keep everyone sane under stressful situations!
-Illusions that can fold help reduce space. (i.e. the back of the DeKolta Chair folding down to the seat; the Guillotine can fold in half, top-downwards; etc.)
-Hang canvas banners on the sides of the trucks! The words TONIGHT! and LIVE ON STAGE! along with your magical themed logo can help fill in whatever empty seats are left. Just remember to move the truck away from the loading area, and into a high traffic area.
-If you sweat alot, and wear a wire with a small battery pack, keep it from shorting-out by slipping it in a condom. Can I say condom? lol (Just the battery part, not the actual mic!)
-Keep a checklist of everything that you move in and out. You don't have to check it, just read it and make sure you saw everything go in and out. Do the checking as a group, it's easier and more efficient.

That's all I can think of off the top of my head. I hope more tips will be added.

"If I've told you once, I've told you a million times... Don't exaggerate!" And as Bill Hallahan requested, I can't put a website address in ANY post, so I'll add it here:
illusions & reality
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Saskatoon, SK, CANADA
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Profile of illusions & reality
We pull a 30 foot Wells Cargo Trailer with a 3/4 ton, 454, 4:10 Suburban.
I recommend getting the best trailer possible if you go this way. I am on my second Wells Cargo trailer (we outgrew the first one.) They retain resale value, they are very low maintenance and real work horses.
If you ever order a custom trailer, make sure to get a lot of tie-down rings installed, as well as good interior lighting.
A ramp under the trailer works well. I recommend an attached ramp on wheels that rolls out easily.
Clayton Cavaness
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Profile of Clayton Cavaness
We used to have a 7 foot x 7 foot x 16 foot longer dual axle trailer with electric brakes (that worked). We pulled this with a Ford F350 Crew Cab Pickup.

One of the best things we ever did was build cases for all the illusions so they did not have to be broken down. We rolled the case in, rolled the illusion out of the case and performed. Rolled it back in the case and rolled the case back in the trailer.

Another thing we did was put large numbers on 3 sides of every case. The numbers were the loading order of the case into the trailer. This really helps when you get that extra free help to load and unload.
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Profile of hugmagic
Having been around several illusionists over the years, I have picked up a few ideas.

If you are doing a lot of shows, It might pay for you to buy a truck. Something to consider however is the upkeep, operating costs, and insurance on such a vehicle. Now with the new CDL regulations, certain trucks require CDL's. CDL's also require log books and limit the driving times of drivers.

Often, the trucks are leased so one does not have to worry about the upkeep etc. However, you must be sure that with a rental truck you are covered insurance wise. Not just on the truck but also on the contents.

Using the cases is great to protect the prop, but if you can load your own vehicle or use the same size truck, you can eliminate many of the cases and simply make bag covers to go over the props. That you can strap them to the sides and simply roll them in for the show making much faster load in and outs. Of course, is going to have to be something bigger than a van in most cases.

I would definitely look at the packing of an illusion before I buy it. Abb Dickson told me something years ago that I have found to be pretty universal. Design all props to fit through a 30" door. Old theaters and some schools only have single doors to get and out with.

The advantage of a trailer is when the vehicle is worn out you can just buy a new vehicle and hook up the trailer. You can also drop the trailer and use the vehicle around town.

I would still look at Illusion Show No How by Ken Griffin. I think it is still available from Abbott's. It may be dated but it gives you some ideas of how he moved his show, packed it, presented it with a minimum of people and expense.
Richard E. Hughes, Hughes Magic Inc., 352 N. Prospect St., Ravenna, OH 44266 (330)296-4023
Write direct as I will be turning off my PM's.
Bill Palmer
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Eternal Order
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Profile of Bill Palmer
One of the big things about not collapsing your illusions is the convenience in setup and takedown. Fred and Ann Story used to troupe a huge show with just the two of them, two male assistants and one female assistant. The show was structured in such a way that as each illusion was performed, it was ready to roll off the stage and into the truck. When they finished the show, all they had to do was pack any stage pieces that were left, pack the PA, get out of wardrobe, and they were ready to go.

Setup was very rapid with this system, also.

One night, their male assistants basically went to sleep on the job, and got the packing order wrong. Fred made them pack and unpack the truck a couple of times just to get it right.
"The Swatter"

Founder of CODBAMMC

My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."
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