A go-kart is a small four-wheel racing vehicle that is powered by a small gasoline engine mounted at the rear. A simple chain drive connects the crankshaft of the engine to a cog on one of the rear wheels. The front suspension is equally simple, but there are a few guidelines to follow when building a kart to ensure that it will handle correctly. Castor and camber have to do with steering geometry, and once you understand these terms, you should be able to produce an all-around good-handling kart.
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Most go-karts have a much simpler steering set-up than automobiles. A straight front axle has kingpin posts welded vertically to each end. U-shaped steering yoke brackets are mounted to the top and bottom of each kingpin with a kingpin bolt. The bolt allows the steering yoke brackets to turn one way or another on the kingpin. Stub axles welded to the steering yoke brackets allow for the attachment of the front wheel hubs.
The caster is the amount of inclination the kingpin has in relation to the go-kart longitudinally. Castor angle on a go-kart causes the top of the kingpins to angle toward the back of the kart slightly. A caster angle that is too much or not enough will cause adverse handling effects in the kart. The more the kingpin leans back, or the greater the angle, the more the kart will oversteer--which means the front wheels will tend to respond more quickly than driver input requires. A lesser caster angle may cause the cart to under steer--which is the tendency of the front wheels to respond more slowly to driver input. The caster angle on many go-karts is 20 to 25 degrees.
Camber is the angle of inclination of the kingpins when viewed from the front end of the kart. The ideal camber set-up on a go-kart would be a 10- to 12-degree tilt-out of the top of the kingpin to the outside of the kart. This would allow the wheels to sit flat on the ground. This tilt-out also makes a stronger connection to the stub axle and allows good kart handling in relation to the proper caster set-up.
Toe angle is the direction the front tires are pointed in relation to each other. You may think that both front tires pointed straight ahead when the steering wheel in on-centre would produce the best handling, but this is not true. Increased toe-in--when the fronts of both front tires are slightly closer to each other than the rear of the tires--may help reduce oversteer and improve high-speed stability. Decreased toe-in--when the rears of the front tires are closer to each other than the fronts of the tires--may help reduce understeer and improve handling when steering around corners.
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