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!

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Step 1: 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

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

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

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

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!

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?

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.

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    151 Discussions


    2 years ago

    hey maddisonjd u r AMAZING


    2 years ago

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


    2 years ago

    hey dude this looks super easy thanks for the amzing idea


    4 years ago on Introduction

    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!


    5 years ago

    You sir, are a genius.


    5 years ago

    This is one of the greatest ideas ever


    6 years ago on Step 7

    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!


    6 years ago on Introduction

    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 RainDerin

    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

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


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

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


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    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


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

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

    RC Guy

    7 years ago on Introduction

    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?