Friday, March 13, 2009

Cheap Go Karts: I have no money, but plenty of time

Build cheap go carts over the weekend!

Many of us are in the same boat: no money, plenty of junk, plenty of time: how can I make a go kart out of this junk?

For the first timers, keep it simple: a straight forward gravity powered gokart.

Hours and hours of fun can be had with a wood stick dragger gokart.

The nice thing about it is that there is no mess, no noise, and no fixing. And it is clean and green!

First to start we need to think safety.

Brakes are very important. A drag stick, no not like the one in the little rascals where the brake just falls off and they are at full tilt down suicide hill and begin a treacherous escapade down the side walk, through fences, across gardens, and under people! No the brakes have gotta work so that the freight train can stop.

So first on the list is think of a brake that is gonna work. A drag stick on the ground works okay, for a simple go kart. Keep it under 10 mph and you should be okay.

Next drive it in an unobstructed area, like a clear drive way, you don’t want to drive under cars, or fences and bushes.

Now lets get to the nuts and bolts of the building the cheap go kart.

The cheap go kart frame consists of 2x4’s that are nailed together. It resembles an " I " when looked at from the top.

There are two areas to the frame, the steering section and the rear section. The steering section is a 2x4 put on its side and then pivoted in the mid section with a nice big bolt. Don’t think of using a nail, it will work until you hit a bump and then get ripped off, and then you will go flying. No use a bolt, you may have to find one at the hardware store.

The rear section of the wood go kart is similar to the front, but it is held square or rigid to the center “keel”structure.
The easiest way to keep it square is to take a nice flat board 36 wide by 24 tall by 3/8ths thick and tack it on to the keel and the rear axel board.

Now to attach the wheels. The easiest way to attach go kart wheel is to double up the 2x4s or make a sandwhich section of boards. The down side to this is ground clearance, meaning if the tires are small in diameter they may not be able to go past the two by four sandwhich, if that is the case then go to plan B discussed later in the article….

But if you don’t care about ground clearance, then use the sandwich method for both front and back sections.

Then take some lag bolts, or heavy duty wood bolt and thread them first through the go kart wheels then into the boards. Put washers on the bolt heads and washers between the wheel and the axel boards, this will provide spacing needed. Use at least 4-8 washers between the wheel and the boards, depending on how much tire interference there is: just keep adding washers until the clearances are good and the wheel spins freely.

Then for the go kart steering section add a section of rope on each side, and loop it around. Then lay the string in your lap, and walla instant steering rope.

Additionally, you will use the front steering board as a foot rest. You can steer with your feet here.

A word of caution when riding the go kart… small inputs are required for massive steering changes so be aware of this. It takes some getting used too, and inexperie
nced drivers will crash easily. So keep the speeds down, use small or (not steep) hills. And as always, never, never, never, ever, end the ride in the road!

See video below of crashing cheap wood go kart.

The nice thing about the rope is that you can then pull the go kart back up the hill, also you can pull the go kart around too. This is great fun.

Plan B from mounting wheels:

If you do not like the sandwich method, then go to the hardware store and buy a shaft of steel rod that is the same diameter as the wheel axel bearings.

Mount the axel on the board by using metal strap. Pound nails on either side of the shaft on the metal strap to keep the axel down tight. The nice thing about today, versus when I was a kid, is the advent of drywall screws. Wonderful things! Instead of nailing everything together, screw it together, that goes for this strapping section too.

See video below of Fun Kart on the loose!

Mount the wheels on the axels. Drill a hole in the axel and then fit a cotter pin into the hole to retain the wheel. Be sure to put a washer in between the cotter pin and the wheel, otherwise the wheel bearing will eat through the cotter and the wheel will come off.

This go kart can be put together in less than an hour and fun can be generated in less than 30 seconds when complete!
Enjoy, but be safe!

If you want more information visit the Go Kart Guru.

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