Our Backyard Roller Coaster - A Stay @ Home DAdventure

WTF (Why This Film)

This spring we built a roller coaster in our backyard.  We had to squeeze it in next to and behind our garage.  It’s sturdy, fast, and a has few bumps to make it scary.  We had a blast building it and put together a short film to give you a virtual ride.  Thanks Parker for getting this project off the ground (pun intended).

Lessons Learned

1. Be Inspired

Parker (my son) really wanted a roller coaster, and to be honest, I did too.  I found some very helpful youtube videos for ideas on how to build it.

  • Noah's Roller Coaster - This kid built his own roller coaster, it was our first video showing us we can do this.
  • Eradicator! Backyard Roller Coaster - this dad lays out step by step how he built his coaster, very informative.
  • Coaster Dad - this channel has videos showing the many roller coasters he has built.  It looks like it's his business. 


2. Re-use & Recycle

Parker tearing down the clubhouse

Parker tearing down the clubhouse

We tore down the clubhouse in our backyard and re-used most of the wood.  Our neighbor let us raid his scrap pile.  We did have to purchase some lumber and PVC pipes.  Screws were the biggest part of our budget, they keep everything together after all.  Total material cost was a little north of $500.

 


3. ThREE Ways to Bend PVC

Heat Gun: I borrowed a heat gun to make the first portion of the track.  It was a slow process and the gun could only heat a small area at time so the "bends" were not very smooth, which roller coasters tend to like.

PVC Pipe Heater Device: I rented a device from Aurora Rents that heats up a 4 foot section of PVC pipe at a time.  It was amazing to have the PVC pipe bend like a wet spaghetti noodle, but at $80/day I could only use it for a short period of time.  I used this technique for the one and only turn.  In hindsight I would use the option below.

 
PVC Heater Device

PVC Heater Device

Bent PVC

Bent PVC

 

Muscle & Leverage: PVC has some natural bend to it, you just need to coax it with wood and muscle.  The last portion of the track was made this way and it bent quite a bit.


4. Where The Cart Meets the track

The biggest engineering challenge or decision to be made was how we built the track, the cart, and how they connected.  Before building anything we had to figure this out.