If you have space for a slightly larger garden project, fulfil your family’s and your own dream of having your own wooden rollercoaster. In these “do it yourself” instructions, we will give you a simple, step-by-step guide on how to build an amazing wooden rollercoaster yourself. What you need are skills in working with your hands, a garden the size of two football pitches, and a whole lot of wood.
First and foremost: Safety on the job
It is mandatory on any construction site to wear a protective construction helmet and puncture-resistant safety shoes. Protective clothing, safety glasses, ear protection and protective gloves are also required.
When handling a chainsaw, personal protective equipment with cut protection is a must. Find out more about protective equipment for using a chainsaw on our website.
Please note that some countries have special requirements for personal protective equipment and that personal protective equipment is not a substitute for safe working techniques. Always read the instructions for your tools.
Step 1: What you need to build a DIY wooden rollercoaster
Pine is particularly suitable for building a wooden rollercoaster, as it is stable yet elastic and is able to withstand heavy loads. You will need a total of 175,000 running metres of wood to build the rollercoaster. The wood should have a maximum moisture content of 16 percent and be boiler-pressure impregnated to ensure a high degree of stability and long-term durability for your wooden rollercoaster. We also recommend you to drill all of the required holes before the impregnation to minimise the required follow-up work.
Your shopping list of materials to print out
For the foundation:
✓ 1,040 post brackets
✓ 260 m³ concrete
✓ 32 m³ gravel
For the trusses:
✓ 3,120 posts (length depending on desired height; must be sawn off if necessary)
✓ 4,160 connecting timbers
For the horizontal structure:
✓ 224 long beams (length depending on distance; must be sawn off if necessary)
✓ 3,900 short beams (length depending on distance; must be sawn off if necessary)
For the tracks:
✓ 2,600 m² laminated veneer lumber (200 x 400 mm in cross-section)
✓ 2,600 m² steel strips
✓ 1 to 2 rollercoaster cars, for up to 12 people
✓ 60,720 bolts
✓ 30,600 screws and nuts
✓ 6 tons of nails
✓ Chain lift
✓ Concrete mixer
✓ Rotating tower crane
✓ At least one shovel
✓ STIHL chainsaw
Step 2: Prepare the site
Before you can start the actual construction work, you should ensure that the site is big enough and that the soil is capable of taking the weight, e.g. by commissioning a geological expert opinion. You will need at least 13,000 m² of empty space for the wooden rollercoaster. The site should be as even as possible. Otherwise it will have to be levelled before the work begins. Remove all trees, bushes and other plants. Then lay out the course of the 1,500 m-long track, as shown in the following image:
Step 3: Lay the foundations
In order to increase the soil’s ability to carry the weight, you will need to lay a solid foundation. For the rollercoaster, we recommend pad foundations, which allow the weight of the rollercoaster to be distributed across several pillars.
For the individual pad foundations, first mark out squares, which should be 50 x 50 cm. Once all the foundations are marked, you can dig them out. Please ensure that the holes dug are at least 1 m deep to ensure that the rollercoaster is well-embedded in the ground.
After you have dug out all of the foundations, it is a good idea to fill the holes with gravel up to about 15 cm. This gravel layer ensures optimal drainage of rainwater. Then the foundations can be filled with concrete. After this, simply place a post bracket in each pad foundation while the concrete is still soft. The trusses will be screwed to these later once they are constructed.
Now, you can let the foundation set.
Step 4: Assembling the trusses
Your rollercoaster’s main supporting structure consists of 520 trusses in total. Always ensure these are made exactly to measure – by using your STIHL chainsaw to cut the wooden posts to size, you can set the appropriate height for the individual trusses.
The verticals of the trusses can be assembled from wooden posts up to 10 m long. Working with mortise and tenon joints is advisable for connecting the truss extensions. These can be further secured by using bolts and screws.
Once you have created two outer struts, these can be connected to a truss beam using connecting timbers. A combination of mortise and tenon joints and bolts is also the safest type of joint for this purpose. We also recommend working with diagonal struts as well as horizontal ones, which will achieve a great deal of stability.
In this process, please consider constructing the lift hill and planning the first drop. The lift hill is an essential element of your rollercoaster, as it forms the ramp up to the first drop. To do this, plan a steadily rising hill made of trusses. The first drop is the highest point of your rollercoaster. Be brave and plan a steep downhill stretch with a slope of 66 degrees maximum. At this point, your rollercoaster train will later reach its maximum speed and will maintain enough momentum to carry it across the entire course of the track.
Step 5: Constructing the main supporting structure
Once the pillars are securely in place, the structure can be raised. The trusses should be placed at intervals of between 1.5 and 3 m in the direction of the track. At this point, you will finally need to use the crane to raise the trusses into the desired position. Now, secure the pillars to the post brackets on the hardened pad foundations.
In order to further secure the trusses in areas of increased centrifugal force, these should also be supported by struts at the sides.
Our top tip: for adrenaline junkies, we recommend including “bunny hops” throughout the rest of the track. A bunny hop is a small hill that gives passengers a feeling of weightlessness as they travel over the top. To do this, the hill should be shaped like a parabola. Include several small bunny hops in your rollercoaster for some extra thrills.
Step 6: Constructing the secondary supporting structure
Attach the individual trusses by fitting small wooden beams horizontally in the direction of the track. These act as connecting links and ensure stability. To provide extra safety, it is also advisable to construct a diamond-shaped grid of beams running across the truss. This will complete the bracing in the direction the rollercoaster car will be travelling. Your rollercoaster is now secured against buckling or warping.
Step 7: Installing the rails
Now that the main structure of the rollercoaster is in place, the rails can be installed. The rails are made of curved laminated veneer lumber timbers which must be attached along the whole length of the track. To achieve this, simply assemble the timbers lengthways in two rows on the tie beams to provide a laminated base for the rails. The rails can then be screwed into the wooden base. The rails themselves also have curved steel strips to protect them from heat and wear. Now, the track is finished.
Step 8: Installing the cars
You can order rollercoaster cars easily online. They will already be fitted with anti-rollback devices and dogs and other safety fastenings and just need to be placed on the rails.
Independent-minded DIY fans can, of course, build the cars themselves. With their bright colours, your rollercoaster cars will make a great impression. We will provide instructions for this on our blog soon.
Quick and easy: your home-made wooden rollercoaster is complete
Do not forget to check the stability of your rollercoaster regularly, and to check that your bolts are securely fastened. We recommend testing your rollercoaster before you get into the car yourself. To do this, place objects such as full bags of sand into the cars and let the cars go through a couple of laps on the rollercoaster.
Now the real fun can start: invite your friends and family around and hop into your home-made wooden rollercoaster. Enjoy 122 seconds of thrills on a 1,500 m track at speeds of up to 100 km/h. We hope you have lots of fun!
This DIY instruction is an April Fool’s joke. We do not recommend recreating the wooden rollercoaster. If you really want to carry out a large-scale project like this, you should get in touch with experts who specialise in building rollercoasters and have the right expertise for the job, e.g. an appropriately trained structural engineer.