Our school holiday project – a backyard roller coaster!
Health and safety evangelicals – do not read this! For a bit of fun this summer, we made a rollercoaster (of sorts) in our backyard from a load of old decking planks we found behind the shed. We laid them in 2 parallel rows of horizontal “rails” with vertical sides screwed alongside. This required 4 planks for each plank-length of rollercoaster track – very resource intensive! A more economical design would have allowed us to build a longer track but might have been less straightforward and possibly not as safe. We laid the tracks on pallets which acted both as anchor points and as sleepers to keep the rails at a consistent gauge. The vertical sides served to keep the car on the tracks, especially going round corners, with additional reinforcement required on certain sections.
We experimented with various braking systems for the end of the line, but ended up simply letting the car run out across the grass to a nice gentle stop.
The car itself was a standard monocoque patio chair with the legs sawn off, bolted to a square of external plywood. 4 heavy duty rollers (you could also try castors) screwed to the underside acted as the running wheels, with 4 smaller rollers on the edges of the ply serving as guide wheels running along the vertical planks of the tracks. The chair was fine for kids, with handles to hold on to and plenty of room to tuck their legs up. Adults fitted in with more difficulty and also put additional strain on the guide rollers – not a great success!
Future modifications could include a monorail design (to eke out precious decking) and some more interesting ups-and-downs.