Homemade Go Karts

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Homemade Go Karts
A go-kart can be enjoyed by all ages. (Junior Go Karting image by Dan Marsh from Fotolia.com)

Building go-karts is a fun hobby that can be enjoyed by all people, teenage and up. Building go-karts is relatively inexpensive and easy. Go-karts can be powered by anything from lawnmower engines to engines designed especially for the use in karts. They can also be built from kits or from scrap metal. Blueprints can be bought online, but many go-kart enthusiasts will design their own kart and buy the materials themselves. The concepts behind go-karts are relatively simple, and only a basic understanding is required to build them.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Arc-welder
  • Steel rods
  • Lawnmower engine
  • Gearbox
  • Chain that fits the gears
  • Power-drill
  • Welding helmet
  • Face Mask
  • Circular Saw
  • Steering Mechanism (wheel, shaft, pitman arm, spindles, screws)
  • Axles
  • Disc Brakes
  • Wheels
  • Tires

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    How to Build a Go-kart

  1. 1

    Design the look of your go-kart. Include in this design the placement of the seat, engine, gearbox, brakes and steering wheel. Include in this diagram the lengths of the individual components of the frame. Construction of go-karts is a personalised process. The hobbyist builds it himself and designs the looks on his own. Because the size, look and design are up to the builder, the process differs from person to person. For the average lawnmower engine, the go-kart will run more efficiently if the frame is kept at a small size such as approximately 5 feet long and 3 feet high.

  2. 2

    Use the arc welder to attach the steel rods together to form your frame. Allow the metal to solidify before you work on it further.

  3. 3

    Weld the lawnmower engine into place so that it is above the axle of either the front or back wheel (depending on the design). Weld a gear onto the axle and line it up so that when the lawnmower engine turns, it will transmit power to the wheels. The size of the gear is dependent on the size of the go-kart and the power of the engine. Choose a size that will provide ample speed while having enough power to move the kart.

  4. 4

    Drill four holes through the frames for your wheels. Wheels on opposite sides must be lined up.

  5. 5

    Push the wheels through the holes in the frame and weld them to the axle. They should now be firmly attached to the axle and will turn when it is moved.

  6. 6

    Weld disc brakes into place so that they will clamp shut on the wheel, and weld the trigger so it is near your hand while you are driving the kart.

  7. 7

    Weld the two spindles onto the front axle of the go-kart. Be sure that they are perfectly aligned perpendicular to the axle.

  8. 8

    Screw the steering wheel onto the steering shaft and weld the steering shaft to the pitman arm. This is what you will use to control the kart.

  9. 9

    Weld the wheel/shaft/pitman arm arrangement to the spindles. When you turn the steering wheel to the right or left, the front wheels should now turn accordingly, and the go-kart is finished.

Tips and warnings

  • To drive your go-kart, use the same controls that you did for your lawnmower to start and stop the engine. To stop, merely squeeze the trigger for the brake.
  • If you don't feel confident about installing your steering mechanism, bring it to a mechanic. It is very difficult to install correctly. If it is not, it may result in serious injury or death.
  • Always wear a helmet while driving your go-kart.
  • Always wear a face mask and helmet while using the arc welder.
  • Always wear goggles while using a circular saw and drill.

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