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Hillside Trolley Answered

I have a cabin on an island but have many steps to negotiate when carrying (usually heavy) goods, totes, supplies, materials, etc., etc.

Looking at making a hillside trolley to transport materials (not necessarily humans) up a 100 foot slope. Has anyone attempted this? Something like in the picture.



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1 year ago

I have done a similar ramp for a building project some years ago.
We needed to go cheap so first step was the local scrap yards to get some old roller doors.
Well, actually just the long pipes that hold the motor part and chain.
We needed to only cover 30m though...
In theory you can use and profile shape you like, even box or angle iron.
What matters is that you place one wheel on top of it and one wheel on the otside or inside or rail to prevent the carts from slipping off.
As for the ramp design:
Measure the distances you need to cover between poles, e.g. 3.6m if you go for standard lengths from the hardware store, otherwise whatever fits your rail lenghts.
Grab a post hole shovel and make holes about 50cm deep and 30-50cm in diameter.
Use a laser and some wooden pegs/sticks or whatever to mark and even height for the entire length of the rail - place them right next to your holes and make sure however you mark the height is correct and stays on long enough.
I assume you will either weld or screw it all together, so make sure you have it all aligned straight ;)
Place you base mounts in the holes with some quick setting concrete mix, adjust the height and use a level to make them straight.
A week later mount your rails and be happy.

As Jack pointed out it makes sense to add some counter weight, preferably adjustable as you want to prevent the thing going off on you if the motor fails.
If in doubt add a mechanical rescue grip - like used for elevators.
Once the thing moves too fast they lock in place.
You might never need it but if you do one day it might prevent serious damage or injury.
Prefered drive option with this length is a wire cable, a Dyneema rope if you have the money to spend.

Hint, free of charge:
If you grab some old motor scooter you can use it's drive system for an easy load/speed control.
That belt drive system adjust depending on the applied load ;)

Jack A Lopez
Jack A Lopez

1 year ago

I don't suppose you can remember way back, to when you were little, in Physics class, when the instructor drew a free body diagram,


of a block on a ramp,


and the weight of the block (m*g, directed downward) was imagined to be the sum of two components: one component parallel to the ramp, with magnitude m*g*sin(theta), and the other component perpendicular to the ramp, with magnitude m*g*cos(theta), where theta was the angle the ramp made relative to the horizontal plane.

Or maybe that does not seem familiar at all.

I tried asking DuckDuckGo to search for the topic,

winch drag heavy things up hill

and one of the results was a page authored by Bob.


Remarkably, the pictures of the contrivance Bob built, for moving heaving things up a single flight of stairs... those pictures look a lot like I would expect for a setup for dragging things up the side of an outdoor hill.

Some notable features of this setup:

The heavy thing has some wheels under it.

The path the wheels roll on has, somehow, been made less bumpy than it was before.

A single cable supplies the tension that pulls the heavy thing up the hill.

The thing that does the work, pulling the cable, is located at the top of the hill, and it is a winch.

Actually I was expecting the pulling force to be supplied by a winch, and that was the word I searched for specifically.

In response to your question, "Has anyone attempted this?"

I think I can point to Bob, as an example, of someone who has attemped this, or something similar.

You might object that the, what you call, "trolley" you want to build is more complicated, because it is outdoors, and the distance, along the hill, and the total vertical distance, is much greater.

However, I claim the principle is the same.


Reply 1 year ago

Thank you for that. Sometimes all you need is a kick in the rear to get thinking (does not mean that's where my brains are!) and that did it I have a very strong winch I was going to mount on my ATV but that will suffice for the motor. I think I will use rails and rubber-less wheels (railway style) to achieve it. Off to HD for supplies. Thanks again.


1 year ago

Sorry for the bad quality on the 1st pic.