DIY Go-Carts

Written by david mcguffin
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DIY Go-Carts
Building your own go-kart can be a great weekend project for you and your kid. (Two racing endurance karts image by Nicola Gavin from

If you are planning on building your own go-kart at home, you have several different design possibilities to consider. One such design uses an old lawnmower motor to build a small go-kart that is able to deliver an enjoyable ride for a small child. Completing this DIY project with your child can help introduce foundational principles and components of physics, construction, ingenuity and mechanics to your child, while helping him gain a greater appreciation for the go-kart itself.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Used lawnmower engine
  • 1/2-inch plywood sheet
  • 4-by-4-inch and 2-by-4-inch lumber pieces
  • Angle iron
  • 3/4-inch-thick wall pipe / go-kart axle
  • Bearings
  • Nails
  • Welder
  • Double flanged hub
  • Wheel and tire set
  • Sprocket
  • Brake drum
  • Pulley puller
  • Brake band
  • Screws
  • Wrench or socket wrench set
  • Go cart wheels
  • Go cart axle cog
  • Go cart steering kit
  • Go cart pedal kit

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  1. 1

    Test the lawnmower motor prior to removing it from the lawnmower frame to be sure that it works. Unbolt the motor from the lawnmower frame and disconnect the blade from underneath with a socket wrench. You will need a pulley puller to remove the blade hub, which you will need to undo before removing the motor completely. Keep the pull cord, cables and wires intact.

  2. 2

    Build a frame for your go-kart, using wooden 2-by-4s or welding angle iron. Using wood for your frame may require more maintenance in the long run, but it will also be lighter and faster than using metal components. The size of your frame should take into account the rider and the other parts, including the throttle and braking system. Keep the ground clearance to a minimum so that the finished go-kart has a low centre of gravity and is not at risk for flipping over.

  3. 3

    Install wheel hubs, axles and driveshafts onto your go-kart's frame. You will need to order specialised components from a go-kart supplier for these parts as they are not easily reproducible on your own. The kits for the wheels and axles will come with all necessary connectors and fasteners.

  4. 4

    Nail or weld steel brackets onto the go-kart frame in order to attach the lawnmower motor to the go-kart assembly. Bolt the mower motor to the frame. The driveshaft's cog should be in line with the axle cog, so that the lawnmower's motor can turn the rear axle of the go-kart.

  5. 5

    Use a pedal kit to wire the lawnmower's cables to the pedals so that the driver can control the throttle of the engine. Alternatively, you can use the throttle levers from the lawnmower cables to control the speed of the motor, and hence control the speed of the go-kart.

  6. 6

    Install the sprocket drive system with a socket wrench so that the axle sprocket system is aligned with the axle cog. This will transfer the motion from the engine to the driveshaft. The sprocket system should consist of a double-flanged hub, wheels and tires, sprocket, brake drum and a brake band. Install the brake drum and band on the axle using bolts and washers. Going from the inside of the axle to the outside, the components should follow this order: sprocket, flanged hub, tire and wheels.

  7. 7

    Install a steering kit and brake pedal, which will differ according to manufacture. Follow all directions given on the kits for the steering and braking components. Test each of the components to make sure they work properly.

  8. 8

    Bolt a seat in front of the steering wheel and pedals. Add a seat belt attached to the frame of the go-kart as an extra safety precaution.

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