Backyard Roller Coaster
This backyard roller coaster costs about $300. to make.
Drill with wood bits 1/8", 1/4", 1/2" and 1" and 2" hole saw bits
Miter Saw, saber saw and circular saw (or table saw)
Post Hole Digger
1/4" or 3/8" ratchet and 7/16" socket
7/16" combination wrench
Ten 1-½ PVC pipe (for 50 ft track) $30-50.00
Ten 2"x2"x8' fir or redwood furring strips (used for cross supports for track and for cart body) $25.00
Ten 4"x4"x8' treated posts (used to support track) $100.00
10 bags post hole cement (50 or 60 lb bags will do) $25.00
One 2"x8"x8' fir or redwood (used to fasten pvc ends together) $10.00
Four redwood or fir 2x4s (used for cart frame and boarding dock) $10.00
1 1"x4"x8' Fir or redwood $3.00
1 sheet Ό plywood (4'x8') $15.00
Six 30x5x1 Oak Hardwood (stair tread works great, used for cart chassis) $free from hardwood floor company
Twelve 72mm roller blade wheels with bearings (what it rolls on) $48.00 on amazon
Twelve stainless steel Όx3 bolts with lock nuts and washers. (axles for wheels, three washers per wheel) $12.00
1 box 1 drywall screws $5.00
2 box 2 drywall screws (size 10) $10.00
1 box 3 drywall screws (size 10) $5.00
1 yard vinyl fabric, 3ft of 1" foam $30.00
Start by measuring how long your roller coaster will be. (Materials above makes 50feet of track)
Buy 1-½ black or white pvc pipe in 10 sections and 2 drywall or deck screws.
Mark and drill holes 1 foot apart down each pvc pipe starting 2 in on each end. The holes should be just big enough for the drywall screws to fit through. Drill holes through both sides of pvc pipe and then enlarge holes on one side so the head of the drywall screws just fit through enough so you can get your screws and screwdriver in to tighen.
Use this piece of pvc pipe as a reference for drilling the rest of your pvc pipes.
The Furring Strips
Cut several 2x2 fir or redwood strips equal length 14 long and a few 2x8 also 14 long. These will be used to put the track together. Mark the center of each end of the 2x2 and drill a 1/8 hole about 1 deep. (A old bottle lid with a hole drilled in the center makes a great jig for this).
Paint the 2x2 strips of wood with gloss enamel paint, be sure to paint the ends.
Assemble the 2x2 strips to the pvc pipe using the 2 drywall screws.
Connecting the tracks together
To connect the tracks together I used the grey 1 couplers used for underground electrical conduit. They fit just right after sanding them down about a millimeter in diameter.
Glue two couplers to one end of each track section. Do Not glue the tracks together.
Slide the tracks together and fasten them using the 2x8 x14 pieces of wood. (To make the joints stronger you will need to screw a piece of wood or metal across the 2x8 out each direction to the last 2x2, this will keep the track from flexing at the joints. (very important)
Placing the tracks
Best way to build your rollercoaster is to first layout the track and use temporary supports to create the hills and valleys the way you want it to be. Once your track is in position you simply unscrew one of the 2x2 strips connecting your track together and dig a post hole in that spot. Dig holes aprox. 2' deep then mix a little concrete and pour in the hole about 4 deep. Place your 4x4 post into the hole and then place the 2x2 furring strip back into position and mark where your going to cut your post. Cut and then reposition the post back in the hole, screw your 2x2 strip back to the PVC pipe then fasten the post to the center of the 2x2 using two 3 drywall or deck screws. Mix and pour the concrete to fill up the post hole and proceed to the next post. (Note: for toddler roller coasters under 100 lbs, posts will need to be 2 feet apart, for over 100 lbs posts should be every foot.
Building the cart
Decide how big a cart you will need. For my 2 1/2 year old a cart that was 30long and 21 wide and 19 tall was big enough with room to grow. For an adult 5'8" you would want the cart to be the same width, only longer..
Start by building the frame for the wheels using 1" Oak hardwood cut 30 long and 5 wide. Mark and drill 1" holes on the face of the board 1 from the edge and 5 in from each end. Repeat for all Six pieces of Oak. Since the wheels are about 3 in diameter, mark and drill a second 1 hole 3 in from the other or 8 in from the outer edge of the oak. Using a saber or jig saw, cut out the wood between the 1 holes you just made so that you have a slot for each wheel to fit into. Repeat for all six pieces (12 wheels).
Mark the centers of the slots you just cut and drill a Ό hole for the axles to go through. The holes should be drilled aprox. 3 deep. Repeat for all six pieces. (I will call each of these a wheel assembly from this point on).
Temporarily install two of the wheels centered in each slot with a 1/4 bolt in place. Rest a scrap piece of pvc pipe centered at 12:00 positon on top of the wheel assembly. Take a second wheel assembly and lay perpendicular to the other with it butted up on top of the other wheel assembly and adjust the position so its wheels are also centered on the pvc pipe in the 3:00 position. Now place a third wheel assembly with its wheels centered in the 6:00 position butted up on top of the second wheel assembly. Mark where the second piece needs to be cut so that its wheels will be centered perpendicular and cut.
Using a Ύ drill bit, drill down into the Ό axles holes on each side of the oak so that you can get a lock nut on the 3 bolts once in place. Place a flat washer on each side of the wheel then place the wheel into the slot and then stick a bolt through and fasten with a lock nut. This completes the wheel assemblies. Fasten the wheel assemblies together with five 3 drywall screws equally placed along the edge. Cut and route all edges for a neat appearance.
Place your wheel assemblies over a section of the track and measure the width from outer ends. Cut and fasten 2x4 cross sections on top of the wheel assemblies leaving Ό on each side for the plywood to fit against. Use four 2" screws on each corner, this should be sufficient strength to hold the frame together. Your cart frame should now be similar to that of a furniture moving dolly.
Cut two more 2x4 pieces to go perpendicular to the cross members and parrallel to the wheel assemblies. Mark and groove the area where the wheels touch making sure you leave 1/4" along the outside edge for the plywood sides to fit in. Fasten the pieces to the wheel assemblies using four 2 screws evenly along the length of the stud so that the top of your carts frame is now even height all around and with 1/4" gap for the plywood sides.
Build the sides of your cart using Ό plywood with 1x2 cleats butted up against each edge. Fasten the plywood to the outside of the frame to the 2x4s using 2 screws. After all four sides are in place install Ό plywood inside for the floor. Use 2"x2" wood strips along back side corners and along top edge of the back of the seat. Finish side panel edges using 1" rounded oak with 1/4" groove over edge and brad nailed thru. Add a couple 2x2 furring strips to the bottom for the seat to fit on. Create seat using 1"x4" frame, 1" foam and vinyl stapled down. Fasten seat to 2"x2" furring strips using 2" screws. Fill all outside screw holes sand and paint. (note: do not fill screw heads inside cart, as they will allow you access to remove seat and floor panel if wheels ever need to be replaced. Later I added Led lights to the front and back of the cart, under dash lights and a horn. They are powered by a sealed lithium ion battery mounted under the seat and charged via a audio phono jack mounted on the side of the cart.
Finished cart before painting
View of wheels from underneath cart.
View of cart after adding lights horn and mickey.
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