Core77 has a great post on Traveling via Bamboo Railcar in Cambodia.
Cambodia has one railway line, laid down by the French during their colonial occupation. The antiquated tracks are no longer safe for trains to run on, and as a result, there aren’t any (trains).
The locals have invented a low tech way to make use of the unused rail infrastructure: Norry are made from two recycled tank axles and wheels that roll on the tracks with a bamboo covered wooden frame riding on them. Attached to the back axle is a belt driven by a constant speed two cycle engine. Belt tension is adjusted with a stick and this controls speed, braking is done with a foot applying friction to the back axle.
The best part is that there are dozens of these up and down the tracks and if you come upon one coming in your direction you both stop, assess who has the most people or most awkward baggage to unload and the one with the easiest unload takes the Norry apart and off the track to let the other one pass.
Watch the video to see the entire process. Simply amazing and wonderful.
Note, there are many videos of this railway up on YouTube but I’ve not found one that shows the actual connection between the axle, bearing, and platform. You can see the entire Norry come apart but you never see the connection. The platform sits on the axle but no doubt has some kind of groove that the axel sits in. I’d love to see what that’s built out of.
I’m guessing my friend Dale has ridden these and he’ll know the technical details.