Introduction: Drainage Luge

Picture of Drainage Luge

Have you ever seen those cement drainage pipes down hillsides? I see them wherever I go. On the drive through Silicon Valley I see them along Highway 87, 101, and even 280. All the way up 101 I see them in Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, etc. And, they're throughout the east coast as well.

They're meant to help water flow down hillsides without eroding the land. The good news is that in order to keep water flowing well, these pipes have flowing, organic lines, rather than hard turns and such. To me, they've always looked like a roller coaster ride.

So we decided to turn the drainage pipes into a ride, a sport if you will: DRAINAGE LUGE.

Outfit a large skateboard/buttboard/street luge like board, get to the top of the hill, and time yourself from point A to point B. Pretty simple. The one who gets down the fastest wins. To top it all off, these things are fast and fun!

Step 1: Get the Parts

Picture of Get the Parts
In order to build a board, you have to know a bit about the drainage pipes. The key facts are the following:
Top Width: 33 inches
Height: 20 inches deep

I quickly figured out that normal trucks, even street luge trucks, just wouldn't be large enough. The largest skateboard trucks I could find were 15 inches wide: nowhere near the 30 inches width that I was shooting for.

We ended up going to a store and picking up two crummy skateboards for $8 a piece and taking them apart. The boards and bolts we ditched (got other projects in mind for those), but kept the trucks.

Parts List
  • Four skateboard trucks with bearings and wheels
  • 16 - 2 inch 10/24 bolts, washers and lock nuts
  • 3/4 inch plywood, 28 inches wide x 36 to 48 inches long (depending on how long you want the board)
  • Wood glue
  • Four C clamps (Size? as long as they open up enough for 2 inches)
  • 3/4 inch plywood strips, 28 inches wide, 4 inches long
  • Sandpaper or electric sander
  • Drill (bits: 10/24 and1/2 inch)
  • Two pieces of rope, roughly 8 inches each, thickness of 1/2 inch.

And for when you're riding:
  • Gloves
  • Helmet
  • Boots or sturdy shoes (for stopping)

Step 2: Affix the Reinforcements

Picture of Affix the Reinforcements

Determine where you are going to put the trucks, length-wise, on the larger board. Cover the bottom of the strips with enough wood glue to affix, then attach the clamps. Wait for the recommended period then move onto the next step.

I recommend keeping the trucks towards each end of the board, but not at the very end. We've left roughly 4 inches on each end.

Step 3: Prepping the Board

Picture of Prepping the Board

It isn't necessary to add padding, fancy graphics or paint to these boards (but you can if you want to). But I think would behoove you to at least get the sharp edges taken off and the overall board sanded to prevent injuries to your posterior (or other, worse locations).

Use sandpaper or an electric sander to take off the sharp edges all around the board, and to overall give the board a softer feel.

Step 4: Install the Trucks

Picture of Install the Trucks

Depending on the width of your board, you want to make sure that the outside wheels are roughly 30 inches apart. Measure twice for each truck that you install. Ensure that they are roughly 30 inches from outer wheel to outer wheel, but also make sure that they are the proper distance from the front of the board. If you make a mistake here, it is difficult to go back, and the board may pull to one side or another.

Once you are certain of your measurements and truck placements, it is time to do the marking of the drill locations. Use a pencil to mark in each truck hole, and remove the truck. Do this for each truck.

Use your drill to slowly drill through each whole. When finished with each truck, insert each bolt (from the bottom (or top of the board) so that the nuts are placed on the truck-side of the board. Once each bolt is on, ensure that the truck fits properly. Now move to the next truck and repeat.

Once all trucks holes are drilled, add truck, bolts, washers and lock nuts and tighten.

Step 5: Handholds

Picture of Handholds

As an afterthought, we added some rope handholds to help with staying on the board, and to aid in steering.

At roughly the middle of the board, we drilled 1/2 inch wholes, four inches apart on either side of the board, at roughly 2 inches from the edge. We then fed in the rope and knotted each end.

You have instant handles!

Step 6: Test Ride!

Picture of Test Ride!

Now for the fun part. Riding the board.

Portage the board to the site of the drainage pipe, and scout the terrain. This is a crucial step, as you don't want to shoot down the pipe only to find that it ends at a cement wall, steel pipe, or off a cliff! Scout the terrain and see any issues that you might run into. As I said earlier, these often fill up with debris during the summer months, so this is a very important step. Remove an obstacles you can, and note where you need to stop by.

Go to the top of the hillside, put on your boots, helmet and gloves, put the board in the pipe, mount and give yourself a few luge-like pushes. Before you know it, you will achieve incredible speeds.

To stop, use your feet to stop Fred Flintstone style on the dirt.

Good luck, and practice safe drainage luge!

Step 7: Other Designs?

Picture of Other Designs?

There are most certainly other designs for a drainage luge board. The purpose of this instructable is to show you how to create one variety of these boards. You will find, as I have, that there are numerous other designs you can create.

Design #2: Imagine a board with a 'V' under the board with trucks riding along it, so eight wheels are always touching.

Design #3: Imagine a board with larger wheels that are spring loaded and steer automatically.

There are always interesting designs, which is why the drainage luge is a sport that has numerous possibilities.


lisaandlena (author)2016-11-27

hey maddisonjd u r AMAZING

maddiosnJD (author)2016-11-27

I know right

lisaandlena (author)2016-11-27

hey dude I luv it sooooo much u r awesome at inventing thx for the idea

maddiosnJD (author)2016-11-27

hey dude this looks super easy thanks for the amzing idea

Ravenstine (author)2015-05-30

That's too awesome. When I was a kid we used to have these insane drainage channels running through the hills in our neighborhood and I used to climb in them. It would have been great to have made one of those luges!

NickBurp (author)2013-12-23

You sir, are a genius.

bo'neil (author)2013-10-05

This is one of the greatest ideas ever

slaveboy2000 (author)2013-02-18

that is coo. Were are you ? were i live there aren't any.

AronC0816 (author)2013-02-17

It would be awesome if you could somehow use a mechanical disc brake from a bicycle as a brake for one of the newer designs.

I'm not entirely sure where or how you would mount it, but that would give you plenty of braking power and you could just mount the brake handle on a cut section of bicycle handlebar.

If we had these ditches in my area I would be all over building a speed machine to run in them.

Looks so fun!

jackjackboom (author)2012-11-27

Seems like you are putting a lot of weight on those outer wheels on the trucks. If those break off...... But heck why should I be telling you about safety when I have done some even more dangerous (and unspeakable) things in my 14 years of existence. Maybe try mounting the trucks on hinges to get all 8 wheels onto the sides of the drain. Maybe add some creature comforts like a seat and a handle bar to hold onto. An old pillow stapled onto the wood would work perfect to smooth out the bumps.

Lithium Rain (author)2008-08-07

Wow! I wish we had drainage ditches like that in my area!

Derin (author)Lithium Rain2008-08-12

E70 and E75 have them,I am sure E90 has them too

Lithium Rain (author)Derin2008-08-12

Lol, are those highways? I don't live in CA, we have plan ol' dirt ditches where I live. No good for this, unforunately. :(

KJ4ZVQ (author)Lithium Rain2011-07-18

all terian trucks or casters could work for you! :)

JACKBARRY (author)KJ4ZVQ2012-10-18

if you yoused castors it wouldnt work the trucks jeep the whole thing level

mg0930mg (author)Lithium Rain2008-12-17

Same here.*sigh

Derin (author)Lithium Rain2008-09-11

european highways:)

Derin (author)Derin2008-10-17

there are also D highways that u dont pay for(aka blue highway) the E ones you have to pay for(aka green highway) D highways are worse than E highways

KilroyWH (author)Derin2009-09-07

uhu, but where do you know an part where it is steep enough to get speed???

RC Guy (author)2012-08-23

Hey i wanted to suggest that if u loaded spring loaded ball joints and an optional drainage pipe shaped backfin the you could go faster and the fin can come in use to harness the power of the downflowing water to give u some additional thrust, but only if you are going slower than the downflowing water if u arent the u could atleast use it as an emergency brakes right?

35Timmy (author)2011-10-08

hey how do you not go into the pipes because that's why i think it's dangerous because of the dangerous currents in the sewers and plus it is illegel to be in a sewer unles it's to mantaine,fix or clean the sewer's besides that it's fulll of germs,viruses,it's dirty and gross unless it was like from the 30's or 40's or before that

1) these drainage gutters are for rain, not sewage, and two, (as i assume you are talking about what to do when the gutter stops and enters a sewer) there is a new thing called stopping that should work great.

bertus52x11 (author)2012-01-17

If I had a drainage pipe in my neighbourhood, I would definitely make this!
Very nice!

Kelticpaddler (author)2011-09-07

Mate, I love your sense of adventure. Good 'Ible. :O)

I wish we had similar drainage ditches where I live.

mashedpotato13 (author)2011-09-06

Watch out for the occasional dirt and piles of leaves.

zippydaspinhead (author)2009-04-30

Would be deciently easy to either mount plain wood dowels or to carve alternate handles. Would be even cooler if you could rig up a foot rest steering system like on real luges, but that could be slightly difficult. Sweet idea.

Real luges are lean steer.

freakyqwerty (author)alex315ca2011-07-19

Why would you need steering since you're going down a drainage thing?

Mr. Potato Head (author)2011-07-19

Now that doesn't look dangerous at all, does it???

mcaliber.50 (author)2011-07-19

i wish i had drainage things like that where i live

soccer2291 (author)2011-01-09

Careful using gloves, around machinery, it can be very dangerous. The gloves can get caught in the moving parts pulling you in.

snowluck2345 (author)soccer22912011-07-06

true, generaly you shouldn't is what i've been taught, a splinter isn't that bad and i rearley get them, i wear gloves when using some tools, like grinders and when welding, but thats about it. Its much to easy to get the glove stuck on the equipment, like drill bits which can realy destroy your finger.

mossimo3 (author)snowluck23452011-07-06

There are some times when you should, even when drilling. I had been drilling a steel plate and wasn't wearing gloves; the bit got locked in the steel and caused the plate to swing around and put a deep cut in my hand, which would have easily been prevented had I worn gloves. I would say gloves are based on the situation rather than the tool you are using- it's best to weigh which consequence is worse.

snowluck2345 (author)mossimo32011-07-07

I would agree, but when drilling steel i was always taught to clamp it down.

SIRJAMES09 (author)2011-07-07

I can see where this would be a blast of fun & maybe a head rush as well, but dude, you have WAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYY too much time on your hands. LOL

LancasterPA (author)2011-07-07

Looks like real stupid dangerous FUN. Who do you sue when you break something or kill yourself? No brakes?

fairypenguin22 (author)2010-05-29

 It looks to me like the trucks could break after a while, as they aren't really in line with the angle of the pipe. You could try to angle the trucks so that both wheels of each truck ride on the pipe.

lukeyj15 (author)2010-03-01

 brakes are always nice

emdarcher (author)2010-02-14

when I saw those kinds of luges near my city I always wanted to do this but there's always too many tubes that block parts. And my parents would probably never let me do this. :-(

rick.leasure (author)2008-12-07

I've often thought the very same thing each time I've seen the drainage ditches. The other idea was the "tunnels": storm drains that run under the city. Perhaps an electric luge for riding thru them?

there's one near me thats constantly filled with low water. I've always wanted to try the "pumkpinseed kayak" (look it up here on Instructables) through there. but yeah id put headlights on if I were to try such a feat.

Derin (author)rick.leasure2009-03-12

And some headlights!

Lucky, in New Zealand our gutters are only the size of a milk carton. Maybe I could make one of these for a mouse!

astro boy (author)2009-09-23

you should post a video like on the cart going down hill to see what it could be like

KilroyWH (author)2009-09-07

Look pretty cool, but is the mounting from the trucks to the board strong enough to hold that kind of pressure??? I think that if you jump to hard on it, or weight too much, the mounting will come off...

Rye2121 (author)2008-08-06

dude this is gross. what if u fell off and landed into the water and there was like a used diaper or something like that. This could be cooler if the pipes were everywhere! The pipes are only around the highways and big cities. Now seriously, who wants to be having fun diong this and then being stolen by some creep that sees you and grabs you and puts you into his car. Good idea, just think ahead next time!

Derin (author)Rye21212008-08-12

fyi,it is illegal to stop on the highway unless there is a problem.

mark429 (author)Derin2009-08-20

FYI, it is illegal to steal people ;D

Mock26 (author)Rye21212008-08-26

The "danger" of dirty diapers and used condoms adds to the thrill of the game!

musicalbee2003 (author)Rye21212008-08-06

Kind of a "Debbie-Downer," I think. Getting "grabbed" while luging is no more likely than if you were biking/walking/rollerblading/etc.

About This Instructable




More by pbshoe:Drainage Luge
Add instructable to: