How to Build a Backyard Train: 9 Simple Steps

If you have kids (or friends with kids) and space in your yard, why not learn how to build a backyard train? It sounds complicated, sure, but wait until you read the rest of this article!

“I am on a train, I am listening, to all the sounds the engine makes…”

If there is anything this nursery rhyme with over a hundred million YouTube views has taught us, children love trains.

There are few better ways to bond with your kids than by getting them aboard a train in the yard. They are an ideal recreational treat that does more than just aesthetics in your home.

how to build a backyard train

Building a backyard train in your home can be a wonderful opportunity to bond with your kids (or with your nephews, nieces, or kids of your friends and colleagues). And the best part? You get bragging rights! I mean, how many people can say they have a train in their backyard?

But we get it. Knowing how to build a backyard train is one thing, but being able to afford it is quite another thing.

The truth is, although a backyard train sounds like it’ll put a sizable dent in your wallet, with the right guide, you can save a lot of money. You first need the right tools and materials to get started and a useful guide on the procedure to follow.

Now let’s find out what you would need to build your great backyard train below.

Materials and Tools You Need to Build a Backyard Train

Every building project has its unique tools and materials to help in the production process.

We’ll be going over the materials and tools needed in getting your backyard train running. However, whether you would use these materials and the quantity you would require will depend on:

  • The type of train you are building
  • The length of the train
  • The features you’d like to have on your train

That said, here are the 33 tools and materials you need to build a backyard train:

  1. Plastic Barrels 
  2. Pool Noodles 
  3. (2 in. x 12 in.) Wood 
  4. Wood Screws 
  5. Fender Washers 
  6. Dolly
  7. Wagon/Wheelbarrow Wheels
  8. Eye Bolts
  9. Nuts 
  10. Washers 
  11. Loctite Thread Locker
  12. Self-Drilling Hex Head Screws
  13. Fender Washers
  14. Grade 5 External Hex-Head Cap Screws
  15. Hair Pin Clip
  16. Cut Washers
  17. Carts Puller
  18. Hand Drill And Bits
  19. Wrenches Or Ratchets  
  20. Jigsaw 
  21. Wood-cutting Chop Saw
  22. Nuts And Bolts
  23. Gallon Plastic
  24. Steel Rods
  25. Steel Rods Of Equal-angle 
  26. Cutting Torch
  27. Welding Torch
  28. Hollow Circular Steel Rods
  29. Circular Steel Dowel Or Wheel Axle
  30. Paint 
  31. Flat Steel Tongue
  32. Drill
  33. Reciprocating Or Circular Saw
We must emphasize at this point that you are going to have to muster a few welding skills as much of the construction is going to require it.

You don’t need to be a professional builder. Knowledge of the basic techniques should get you through the entire process. 

Step-By-Step Process in Building a Backyard Train Successfully

Step 1: Know the Train You Want to Build

Backyard trains generally come in two kinds.

You could choose to build a train with its backyard train tracks or without. You may also decide to use a metal barrel instead of a plastic one.

While all these are a matter of preference, they do not significantly alter the process of building a train.

Here we are going to be constructing a backyard train using plastic barrels to build the train itself. 

Step 2: Get the Right Materials

You need to have the right materials to begin your journey on the yard railroad. Know the exact quantity you need for the number of train carriages you intend to have.

Each drum representing a carriage. If you intend to own a four-carriage train, then get four barrels ready. 

Step 3: Start Painting

Usually, barrels come in different colors and sizes. Ensure that you paint your barrel in your preferred color. Most barrels either come in blue and white.

So you may have to spend a little bit more on paint if you chose to paint the barrel a different color. Once you have completed the painting process, let your barrel dry. 

Step 4: Cut Your Barrels

how to build a backyard train

By now, you should have an idea of how you want your trains to look. Great!

Now cut your trains to your ideal shape. Our advice is that you cut it big enough for adults to ride in.

Our recommended cutting method is to turn the barrel on the sides, drill a hole in and cut out your desired openings.

Drilling a hole makes it easier to start your cutting process. Another suggestion is that you use a dolly as a frame instead of having to spend a little more time trying to create yours.

Using this method, even a person with absolutely zero welding experience should be able to build a backyard train.  

Step 5: Create A Frame

Once you have your barrels sorted, it is time to choose a frame that works best for you. We recommend a rectangular frame that you can lay your plastic barrel on top.

Next, the square hollow-section steel rods need cutting and welding. The aim of this is to ensure that they serve as your trailer hitch. The measurements usually vary according to the barrel size.

However, you must make sure it’s balanced. The frame should be small enough to support your barrel but not large enough that the barrel passes through it. 

Step 6: Now, We Weld

Using steel rods of an equal angle, cut and weld together two V-shapes and affix them to the frame.

Ensure that you center the meeting point of the “V” about 10 inches from the back of the frame. Once done, welding your hollow circular rod into the crotch of your steel rods, which will house your axle.

Next, drill holes through the bars on the shorter sides. Do the same to the bottom of the frame. Drill these holes into the barrel.

Once you’ve finished drilling, use nuts and bolts to fasten the barrel to the frame securely if you are using a dolly as a frame.

Step 7: Then Add Wheels

Once you have completed the construction of your frames, the next step is to attach wheels to each cart. The process of doing so involves inserting a steel dowel or wheel axle through the hollow circular steel rod.

Once inserted, attach the steel dowel or wheel axel to your wagon or wheelbarrow wheels.

You should almost always use inflatable tires for durability and comfort. They provide a much smoother ride than plastic wheels.

Step 8: Create Seats

Once you are done with your wheels, you need to be sure you and your loved ones are comfortable during every train ride.

To do this, you need to make seats. Backyard trains have seats and seat belts too for the protection of all passengers.

Make sure there’s a seatbelt attached to every seat you create and that everyone who hops in uses a seatbelt first.

how to build a backyard train

Step 9: Connect Your Carts

Now that you have successfully made your seats and seat belts, all that is left is to connect your carts.

You can do this by welding your flat steel tongue to the frame and drill holes. Most importantly, make sure you use and utilize enough nuts and bolts to hold them tight.  

Now We Ride!

Now that you’ve learned how to build a backyard train, and hopefully, finally build it – you can now ride and enjoy priceless moments with your loved ones.

What a great way to pass time, right? You and the kids get to hop on the backyard train that you build with your own bare hands!

All the best in building your backyard train!