A go-kart is a small cart powered by a small engine that has breaks and a steering wheel. They sometimes can have more elaborate features such as headlights, shock absorbers and electric starts, but for the basics that is what they consist of. Go-Karts gave a wide range of applications from fun to transportation and come in a variety of different forms from off road to street racer to professional cart racing.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Small Engine
- Centrifugal Clutch
- Lock Tight
- Steering Wheel
- Metal Tubing
- Ball Bearings
- Break Lines
Find or create a chassis. A chassis is the frame, the part that everything else rests on. If you are able to find a chassis that is prefabricated you will not need to spend time creating one. The type of chassis you use depends on the type of go kart you want to create. There are several different frame types and kits that may suit your needs (see Resources).
Bolt the engine to the chassis. Use bolts instead of welds to so you can replace or easily service your engine if it runs into issues. Use lock tight on any bolts that will be under excessive vibration. (Most anything on your go-kart) Your method of mounting the engine must be very solid and firm to ensure you have a smooth running system. Anything that vibrates excessively can be a danger.
Find a seat and mount to the chassis securely using bolts, do not weld. A weld will make the seat a permanent part of your chassis and you will not be able to replace it if it is damaged. You want it secure so that it doesn't come off during operation. Use lock tight.
Find an engine. When looking for an engine you need to make sure it has a horizontal shaft, meaning that the engine is able to run with the shaft sitting horizontally instead of vertically. If you are looking for an engine try to look for snowblowers or weed eaters. You will need a significant amount of horsepower at least 5hp. Most weed eaters won't supply that but there are ways to get around that which will be discussed int the tips section.
Locate a centrifugal clutch. This sort of clutch operates once the engine starts to spin at a certain RPM (Revolutions per minute). It does not allow for any sort of transmission. Make sure your clutch will operate within the torque and RPM parameters of your engine.
Mount the centrifugal clutch on the engine itself. The rear axle will span across the rear end of the car underneath the frame It should be held on to the frame by two ball bearings mounted to the underside of the chassis. Make sure they are mounted square to the chassis and front tires so your go kart runs straight and true.
Look at your clutch. The clutch will have a small sprocket already attached on it. You will need to find a larger sprocket to place on the rear axle. The sprocket should be larger to ensure increased torque to the rear wheels. If you are using a weed eater engine, you will need a much larger sprocket to place on the rear axle. This will allow you to use a weed eater, but you shouldn't expect to achieve high speeds.
Find a chain. Between the clutch and the rear sprocket you must find a chain to span to gap and transfer the engines power to the rear axle. Make sure the chain you use is strong and thick enough to handle the torque that the engine will put out. The higher the torque you are applying the bigger the chain you will need.
Grab your steering wheel and a pipe. Attach the steering wheel to the pipe and thread the pipe down through a ball bearing attached to the chassis. Refer to the picture. This gives the steering column (the pipe) support and a smooth feel. Ball bearings aren't necessary here but recommended for a smooth feel to your go-kart.
Attach a vertical piece of metal or piping to end of the steering column. This will be used to push two rods attached to the wheels which will turn the wheels. When you turn one way it will pull in one direction and push in the other direction making sure both wheels turn at once.
Mounted the front wheels on a swivel which will allow them to turn. These will not be driven by the engine to make this project easier, the go-kart will not be front wheel or all wheel drive. The rods that come off the vertical piece on the steering column will be connected to a piece that comes off of this swivel allowing the wheels to turn.
Find disks to use for the breaks. The brakes will need to be disk breaks, any other sort of breaking system can be dangerous. You have two choices, either a hydraulic system which will have to be purchased and installed or a cheaper pressure based system. The hydraulic system is much more efficient and reliable, but does cost more.
The cheaper method involves a very similar method to the way a bikes breaks work. A line is pulled and pads close upon disks that are attached to the wheels. Make sure the pads you choose which will close on the disk are large so that they create a lot of friction. Also make sure your line has a good range of motion so that you can apply enough pressure to stop your kart.
Tips and warnings
- To increase the horsepower of your engine you can remove the muffler and use a steal pipe to lessen the restriction on it. You can also clean out the inside of the engine to get rid of any restrictions that are created due to carbon build-up. If you have some knowledge of small engines you can even increase the displacement of the cylinder in your engine by grinding an even indenture into the cylinder head or the explosion chamber. A new spark plug can also increase horsepower.
- The chassis can be made from kits found all over the Internet and plans as well. Look to the reference section for plans and kits.
- Steering can also be done using a hydraulic system, but this is much more difficult to install.
- Look for engines at flea markets and garage sales. You can many devices powered by small engines in the trash many times.
- This can be a very dangerous build. When working with the engine be sure that the gas tank is drained and you have a fire extinguisher near by.
- Power tools are needed for this build. Be sure to use caution when drilling and welding if you need to do these types of things.
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