How to Build a Rideable Train for Your Backyard: Steps, Materials and Cost

A rideable train is a type of ride that children or adults can ride on around the backyard.

The rideable train design you will learn how to build requires almost no tools and practically no cost to be built, making it a perfect ride for parents who want something fun to do with their kids but don’t want to spend much money.

You can ride it almost anywhere – indoors or outdoors – and ride it for as long as you want without getting tired.

When starting, the train ride is short and simple so that kids will enjoy riding on it right from the start.

Rideable backyard train
Source: Michael B. (Flickr)

As time goes by, though, you can add features to make the ride more enjoyable.

You can even give the rideable train a theme like:

  1. Race cars
  2. Fire engines
  3. Locomotives

They’ll all work well, especially if your kid has one of these themes in their room already.

Once you see that your children enjoy riding on this ride, you will be motivated to keep adding new features to expand its fun potential.

Designing a rideable train for your backyard

Before you can begin building a rideable train in your backyard, you need to know what the ride will look like.

Here are some ideas on how to design rideable trains for your backyard.

1. Real train-shaped rideable train

This type of ride consists of two parts:

An actual locomotive and cars that connect for one continuous track or road.

Depending on the child’s age, these cars may be stacked together inside each other, with each car being more significant than the next.

The ride is fun because it feels like you are riding inside a real locomotive but without all the bumps and jerks that go along with having to ride on one of the trains in an amusement park ride.

2. Rideable train car next to real tracks

This type of ride allows for multiple rideable trains to be connected so that children can ride around either one or several cards at once.

Depending on your child’s likes, some cars (or even tracks) may also be dedicated to specific themes like fire engines, police cars, race cars, etc.

While this type of ride doesn’t have as much detail as the first type of train ride, it still makes it more exciting and appealing for younger children.

How to build a rideable train in your backyard

Once you have found the design that best suits your needs, you can begin building rideable trains for your backyard.

Build your own rideable train in your backyard
Source: Elliott Brown (Flickr)

The materials needed are pretty basic:

  1. Wood pieces
  2. Metal screws
  3. Bolts
  4. Tools to make holes on the wood pieces
  5. Wheels (made out of plastic)
  6. Nuts and bolts that fasten together wooden sections of the ride

You can buy all of these materials at any local hardware or department store.

Wood is usually preferable over plastic because it is sturdier. Still, it will depend on what kind of rideable train carriages you decide to use and how old the child you are building rideable train cars for.

You may also need a saw to cut the wood pieces down to size, but a hatchet or a hammer will do the job if you do not have access to power tools.

Use container lids instead of actual wheels for rideable train cars because they are lighter and easier to ride on.

But if you want your rideable train ride to be smoother, invest in actual plastic wheels instead of using metal screws as axles for children’s rideable trains.

This makes it much smoother when moving around corners and over bumps in the rail bed.

Steps to build a rideable train in your backyard

Building a rideable train in your backyard should not be complicated. Just follow these steps, and the ride will be ready in no time.

1. Choose what type of rideable train you would like

One of the most common types of backyard rideable trains is one shaped like a real locomotive. It has rideable train cars that most kids can fit it.

2. Determine how to cut the wood that is used for the ride

Using the design for the ride, determine what size each wooden piece needs to be. Then, cut them down with a saw or use a hatchet or hammer if you don’t have access to power tools.

3. Create the rideable train tracks

If you are making rideable trains, you need to make it actually rideable. That means don’t build it on a slope. Otherwise, it might get stuck or run too fast (down the slope).

Every turn made around a curve should be gentle. You wouldn’t want your train carriages to wobble or topple over!

Some parents have used ramps to connect rideable train tracks but just be careful not to create roller coaster levels out of your backyard.

It can be dangerous for small children who can’t control their rides on trains very well.

4. Connect rideable train tracks by using ramps or straight pieces

You can connect rideable train tracks using ramps or straight pieces depending on how sharp the turn has to be for this backyard ride.

5. Build the rideable train carriages

If you are building rideable trains that ride next to tracks,

it would be best if you used containers like plastic boxes or old lunchboxes as rideable train carriages to ride on.

Just make sure the rideable train carriages are light enough for the child in question to ride safely without any trouble in your backyard.

6. Attach wheels to rideable train carriages

Attach wheels made out of plastic (container lids work effectively) or actual rideable train wheels (if you can afford them) onto the container used for rideable trains so that they won’t fall off while riding it.

7. Add safety features if needed

If you want your child to be perfectly safe when using this type of ride, you should add safety features such as a rideable train ride set up in a gated area that the child cannot leave when riding rideable trains.

8. Test ride the rideable train

When you feel confident that rideable train tracks are sturdy and rideable trains will not fall or tilt, give them a test drive before letting children ride on your backyard ride.

This is to make sure that the ride is safe enough for children to ride on.

9. Have fun!

Source: Dave Clark (Flickr)

Once you have finished all of these steps, your rideable train will be ready to ride on, and your little one can join in on the fun!

How much will it cost to build a rideable train for your backyard

The rideable train ride as a whole will depend on the design you choose to vary from one ride to another.

It can range anywhere from $60 to $150 for rideable train rides that ride on top of cars and from $100 to $250 for those rideable trains that ride next to tracks.

How fast the rideable backyard train can go

The ride will depend on how fast the rideable train carriages can go as well as their weight.

So if the ride is not heavy, it will go faster, but if it is already very heavy or you have added extra weight to it, this limits its speed.

If the rideable train ride does not have a motor system, it will also depend on who is riding on top of rideable train cars.

If it’s just little children, then they may only be able to ride at 1-4 mph while older kids would be able to ride up to 6-10 mph.


To build a rideable train ride for your backyard, be sure to have the proper design and materials before you start building rideable trains.

You can choose just about anything that will work for rideable trains as long as it is safe for your child.

Remember that rideable trains are not just fun, but they are great for kids to learn how things work together, so be sure to take notes of this when you build rideable train rides in your backyard.