Anyone have a spare Iron Lung? (not a joke)

My SO is working on a play in which they need a vintage (30s-40’s-era though I don’t think he can afford to be picky) Iron Lung as a prop, and he is at a loss as to where to start looking.

Hospitals seem an obvious starting place, but how do you even approach them, just call the front desk and ask “so, er, do you have any extra vintage Iron Lungs? Yannow, that nobody’s using…?” It seems sort of ridiculous.

Another thing is that he’s heard such devices can weigh upwards of 800-1000 pounds, so he needs to find it not only in the NYC area, but somehow arrange for the transport of the thing to and from the theater. Which is not on the ground floor. And there’s no elevator.

So I turn it over to the great minds at the Dope. Has anyone got advice on (1) finding a vintage - and presumably non-functional - Iron Lung, (2) approaching medical institutions with silly questions when they probably have better things to worry about, or (3) methods of transporting a very heavy object to and from the interior of a building?

Anything you would like to add about an employer who assigns this task to someone being paid less than your average Starbucks barista is quite welcome!

Wouldn’t it be simpler and easier to build a prop that looks right? Would a cardboard barrel be the right diameter?

You must have a heck of a budget- I suspect that anything that weighs that much has long since been scrapped for metal, and anything left is a collector’s piece. You might be able to get something from a collector, a museum, or some place like that on loan.

In the pictures I’ve seen they don’t appear to look fantastically complicated (whether they really were inside shouldn’t matter for a play). I would go with finding a good prop designer and letting him/her make a fake one. It would also have the advantage of much easier portability. A little googling will get you lots of pictures for the prop designer to work with.

Oh, I absolutely agree with this, but TPTB says built ones always look fake. He wants authentic. :rolleyes:

And there’s isn’t much of a budget. Practically zero, really. I think the employer thinks if there’s a spare one laying around somewhere it will be cheaper than paying the set designer to build one (who is game, I might add). And I am quite sure he has given no thought to the logistics or cost of getting a real one in and out of the theater, even if one can be located.

So at least my SO has give his employer the impression that he has given it the old college try, and then determined that not only is there no Iron Lung available in the metro area, but that if there were, the cost of transport alone would be prohibitive. I know it’s obvious, but he needs some hard proof before they will consider building one.

Thus, if anyone knows anything about transporting large, heavy items (think one and a half grand pianos), I welcome your input.

Good advice. He has talked to someone at a museum who was the one who warned him about the weight/transpo costs.

I do wonder how valuable these things are. Would a hospital just let their old ones grow cobwebs in the basement?

Put a posting on a bunch of craig’s lists out there.

You might contact this family. The lady using the iron lung died only recently.

Diane Odell

I think that the person that assigned this chore is pulling somebody’s leg. Call a hospital and ask them about an iron lung? Rich.

Beaten to it…

He is insane if he thinks getting a real iron lung is better than a prop one made of balsa wood. A good paint job and it will look real. Does this prop sit on stage in one place all night? With how much they weigh, he’ll need to get an engineering study to make sure the room can support it.

This is one of those props to either fake or cross off the list and do something else.

What I want to know is how many plays this guy has seen which feature iron lungs? Is he some kind of polio theater junkie?

I’ve never seen a play that has realistic walls or windows, let alone an iron lung. Sheesh!

My thought is “sure, because hospitals that have iron lungs sitting around in storage have plenty of staff to handle the requests of a spoiled artistic director in arranging to move the iron lung out of storage - and never have any liability concerns - those are unknown in a hospital.”

Rachael, let us know how many times he’s laughed at making this call.

I’ve seen one! The musical Cry-Baby from this past season (already closed) had a scene with a character in an iron lung being wheeled around onstage for a “dance” scene.

You can create an impressive looking prop in less than a weekend. So long as you find a large cardboard tube, 2 or 3 feet in diameter, you can then just cut some holes in it for portals and use some cellophane for the glass. Make a trip to Home Depot and get a bunch of nuts, bolts, and accordion tubing for the rivets and other details. Coat it with some chrome spray paint, and Bob’s yer uncle.

I can’t get over the idea that anyone in their right mind would want a REAL iron lung on stage! Good low-budget set design is about stylizing, not being as authentic as possible.

Maybe they should just cast someone who is actually in an iron lung for the part. They’d bring their own and problem solved.

Well, there ya go, Rachael Rage. Call 'em up.

Sounds like a breathtaking spectacle.

And yet, the audience left feeling a bit deflated.