Bad Coon
Even More Totally New & Improved!

if you can believe it
or even if you can't

Bad CoonBrand Chicken Door Closer

This is another "better design" improvement over the previous Kaczynski mousetrap model and the Goldberg model X. None of these designs need microprocessors, welding, or power source (other than gravity). The improvements in this model are in the relocation of the shock absorber, and modifications to accept (almost) any wind-up alarm clock, rather than only those w/ external bells. The shock absorber is from a car (any kind of oil filled shock from a light weight car like Nissan, VW, or Cooper will do, ask for a junk one at a garage. People often replace both when only one is bad. It doesn't need to be new, but the rod should pull out slowly and push in easily), Please note: your design doesn't have to look as tacky as mine unless you're intolerant of too much tech, the frame used here is a scrap 2x4, but a beam of carbon fiber honeycomb sandwiched between 16 gauge sheets of titanium-boron will probably work as well. This can be mounted on the henhouse wall at the best angle to accommodate the location of the door. Care should also be taken so the trigger can fall free when the alarm rings. And if you're here from a poultry website link, please check out my main page.

Door closer gif
3 nonpogo 1

The reason for the 2x2 arm is to accommodate any length of door drop, just use a longer 2x2 for more drop. It'll also give you control over speed vs weight. If you attach the door cord closer to the hinge for less drop with a light door, it may take awhile for the door go down. Mount the shock absorber with the upper pivot located above the hinge (see above drawing), so the shock absorber passes over the hinge as the 2x2 arm swings out. That allows the door to begin moving slowly and speed up as it closes (to give warning to any hens lounging in the doorway), but allows the full weight of the door to bear against the threshold when the door is closed, thus giving coons minimal space to slide a fingernail under the door. I've never had that happen but it's possible given an unlimited number of coons with nothing else to do for an infinite length of time, the odds are in their favor. (see Raccoon discourse) Extra weight (like a pier block) added to the door would help too, the shock absorber should easily handle 15 or 20 lbs, but it would be a strain for people to lift as well. A better plan would be some kind of cam arrangement attached to the door that jams unless raised by the cord: (youtube [2] [3] or for simplicity see lower left corner of the above drawing)., while I'm linking to youtube: here's an excellent powered DIY opener. The shock absorber should have a nylon loc-nut or several nuts locked together on the upper mounting bolt to prevent the friction of the rubber grommet from turning a single nut after several flex cycles. Said turning could loosen the bolt and alter the restraint on the 2x2 causing it to either freeze up or drop the door, either case resulting potentially in unspeakable carnage. (I bet the CIA is eating this up dudes, so don't carry one of these onto an airplane).

View 1
Drive a headless nail (b) into the 2x4 above the secondary trigger (e) which keeps it (e) from sliding up the straightened primary (c) when under pressure. ( Yay photoshop! )

  • Alarm shutoff thingie (w/ rubber bumper from a piece of automotive vacuum tube) is mounted on the Varnax Pivot.
  • Trigger alignment guide headless nail.
  • Primary trigger lodged behind alarm winder is released when the winder turns as the alarm goes off.
  • Screw eye for primary trigger attachment.
  • Secondary trigger holds the weight of the door.

Flawless New design

View 2(with & without clock) They're closeups because there's a wall immediately behind the camera.

The clock is mounted to the 2x4 this time with a slotted metal clip (b) instead of a bungie, the clock base slides under the clip with a slot for the clock body. The metal used is about 22 gauge equal to that used in oil drums or car bodies, but a bungie & wood frame fusarium1 to hold the clock seems like a better plan in retrospect because I had to make a brace to press against the front of the clock anyway (flimsy plastic base & I was afraid it would break). Don't use $10-$20 Chinese clocks, they're cheap knock-offs. I've replaced all (5) of the $10 clocks made in China and sold through Rite-Aid, Wallmart, Target, etc, and I'm not happy with them. An customer review.

A heads-up for any windup clock: I never noticed that my clock ran 3 minutes fast per day because I only used it occasionally, but once I used it for a week without resetting and it advanced 20 minutes. Eventually it closed the door before the hens got in and they had to sleep outside (no casualties).

view 2
  • Clock face support fusarium1
  • Clock base clip
  • Varnax Pivot board and alarm button pusher thingie

Showing the set trigger. When the alarm rings, the winder turns, and releases the primary trigger

View 3 From below

  • Henhouse roof boards w/ cobwebs.
  • Plywood Fusarium1.
  • Bottom of the shock absorber.
  • 2x2 arm.
  • Another cheap clock.
  • Old baggie from previous dust prevention episode.
  • Primary trigger.
  • Alarm shutoff wire.
  • Secondary trigger fits under primary trigger to reduce leverage. It attaches to the side of the 2x4 to allow the ring hasp to slip off easily.

The back of the clock showing the flanged base that slips under the mounting clip (view 2-b), and plastic bag dust seal

Too much dust in the hen house will work it's way inside the clock. Therefore; either sweep and dust often, or just put the dang clock in a clear plastic produce bag and fasten it with a twist tie. Pull the bag tight around the clock and poke pinholes in the bag at the location of the knobs and winders, the winders have to be on the outside (they unscrew contrary to the winding direction) carefully stretch the plastic over the knobs without making any gaping holes, and poke the winders through the plastic from the outside.

clock back
The arrow points to a piece of automotive rubber vacuum tube stuck over the alarm shut-off button to cushion the pressure of the shutoff wire thingie ("Varnax Pivot"), and give it a bigger target to hit.

Click here for Varnax drawings and info

Every time you set the alarm you'll pull on that tube, so a wire twisted tightly around the tube holds it firm yet allows it to be removed (as opposed to glue) in case you need to replace the bag. If it still pulls off easily, wrap some fine wire or string around the stem, with glue. (string provides a ribbed gripping surface for the tube). When the glue's dry, slide the tube on like before. I recommend "Household Goop" (glue)

To adjust the primary triggers' pressure against the alarm winder, position the secondary trigger under the primary trigger, either closer or farther from the clock.
Trigger demo
    Closer allows more pressure against the winder, farther away = less pressure. With a further series of triggers this way, it's possible to hold a door weighing tons. Our coons are sometimes very bad, but they haven't yet got past a 5 lb door (A lot depends on the doors' fit though, so they can't get a tooth or finger around it). The right pressure on the trip mechanism is when the trigger rests snugly yet lightly against the winder handle, somewhere between the following extremes:
  1. Falling off prematurely whenever a clock manufacturer in China laughs out loud, or
  2. Pressing so hard that the clock base snaps off, hurtling the clock gratifyingly against the far wall.
    Longer triggers allow a greater range of adjustability. When the right pressure is found, drive a finish nail into the wood 2x4 frame to mark the spot & use the nail as a rest for the secondary trigger.

4 July 2011
Notes for a Pneumatic screen door closer

29 June 2012
Handy sunset/sunrise reference for setting the alarm:

Raccoon discourse:

many coons

many coons

On the bright side, Raccoons are EDIBLE and the food they eat is almost always washed because coons don't produce saliva so they wash it in water if they can to help swallow. The bad news is they bite, sleep all day, fight all night, produce poorly, smell bad, don't lay eggs, eat garbage in the dark, and loathe poultrymen with an undying contempt. They also carry a parasite worm that can infect dogs and people. (fight 'em or join 'em ... tough choice).
I totally recommend live-trapping them & if you don't want to COOK THEM, take the biggest male to the vet & have him fixed. Farm animals and pets are castrated early so they won't become aggressive, but if they've already matured, it's too late to unlearn that behavior, and that's perfect for our purpose. Because then he'll keep all the other coons out of his territory (which presumably includes your coop or he wouldn't be there), and he won't sire any more. Once he decides the coop is unassailable, he'll probably leave it alone. Whereas every new litter of kits would have to test your coop again & again.
If he doesn't leave it alone, he's probably starving, so put some crunchies or something in a bowl near your neighbors property line to get him through the winter. If you don't he might starve (I guess they do that, though it seems odd) & you'll have to start all over w/ another vet bill. Or you can sedate & castrate them yourself (unless you're a sniveling, spineless coward). What's the worst that could happen? Just leave a door open, they don't chase very far.
To catch the biggest male, you'll probably have to wade through a succession of younger ones. These might be translocated if they're a year old, but that's also when they taste best because they're not tough yet. At any rate, late winter/ early spring is a good time to put out traps. Dominant males will be territorial then because breeding season is approaching, and a cage full of wondrously dumb birds is prime turf for checking out the lady carnivores. Usually, adults weighs 10-20 lbs (the bigger the better), but there are population variations. Northern varieties weigh more (62 lbs record from Wisconsin), southern coons weigh less. Here's wikipedia for further reading so you can see what size to look for.
Another option might be releasing them somewhere distant so they can't find their way back, but please let me disillusion you: places like Tahiti and Antarctica have strict quarantine regulations for just this reason. I've heard though that European hipsters actually import them for exotic pets (!) so there might be some money there. But any place closer (like Patagonia) especially with a direct migratory pathway, will see them back home (like cats) in a finite number of days (approximately = to total miles divided by 10, unless they get killed or diverted by better pickings). I'm thinking the best way to get rid of females is in spring (March & April) before they give birth (between May & July). If you can drive them more than 630 miles away (divided by 10 = 63 days, which is the length of gestation) there's a good chance the kits will be someone else's problem.

Ok, I admit, they're cute (youtube) if you don't have poultry. More raccoon facts.

But ..uh, of course there's always the "Other" raccoons (youtube). Mendocino County, my home.

Genuine testimonials:

Thanks Bill, I feel totally enlightened. I wish I had this device 10 years ago. After losing flock after flock of ducks and ducklings, and a couple of geese we got tired of raising prime food for the coons. Cheers.

Arlene Fuller, Mendocino County 4-H

This is a rave on Bill's low-tech chicken door gizmo. Before, whenever we wanted to go out for the evening, we'd have to get a neighbor to come close the coop door. My favorite part is the shock absorber, which makes the door come down slowly, not slamming down on any poor hens. My least favorite part is the mouse trap (obsolete by popular demand), so Steve sets it, not me. Indeed, this invention has made life easier for us all.

Barbara Faulkner, Mendocino Music Festival coordinator (piano teacher & cat herder)

Mission Statement
The primary objective to develop the Kaczynski "Bad Coon" Mark I concept design and hardware with direct scaleability is: directly scaleable weights, margins, loads, design, fabrication methods and testing approaches: traceability, technology, and general design similarity, to a full-scale Mark II (Goldberg) system. The "Bad Coon" is intended to demonstrate the technologies necessary to achieve systems integration within the mass fraction constraints of chicken coop door closeing devices. In addition, the "Bad Coon" will meet operational requirements outlined in the Mil-Spec CCDCD. Pg 244, sec 18, pp 7-16. The "Bad Coon" Mark II (Goldberg model) is envisioned to operate unpersoned.

1. Fusarium is the genus name of a group of pathogenic fungi, and has nothing to do with design engineering or structural nomenclature even though it sounds like it should. Ditto Varnax Pivot (because I just made it up). However I predict the latter will eventually enter the lexicon of timeless building terminology with such handy words as "Soffit", "Header", "Fusee", and "Jefferies Tube". Because like them, it fills a reference vacuum with a concise description recognizable to anyone in the profession.