Go-karts are a fun way for children to enjoy the thrills of vehicular racing without the dangers of the very high speeds that can be reached in cars. Building a go-kart using free plans is an excellent way for children and adults to bond in the workshop. Homemade go-karts can be customised to fit the user's design and allow creativity to thrive on the track.
Locating a Plan
Free plans can be found online at several go-kart enthusiast websites such as KartBuilding.net. Aside from websites, there are downloadable guides available on blogs and forums. One popular design is from the May 1962 issue of Mechanix Illustrated magazine; it features free plans for a roadworthy go-kart. (See: http://www.rearenginekarts.com/links.htm.) Libraries are another good place to look for plans. Look in mechanical books and check old magazine issues that are focused on mechanical projects. If you have a working knowledge of go-kart frames and engines, you can attempt to create your own plans. This should only be done if you have worked extensively on go-karts in the past. If you design your own free go-kart plans, be sure that you account for all of the critical systems, including the brakes and emissions.
You will need metal or durable plastic to create the frame of the go-kart. Choose a metal or plastic that can be welded for the strongest hold. You will also need to build or purchase an engine, brakes, steering system, exhaust system, pedals and ignition for the kart. Hold onto the bill of sale for the engine; in order to prove ownership of the homemade go-kart in most states, it is often the paperwork you will need. Four suitable wheels should be attached to the frame via two sturdy axles. Many states require two rear brakes installed on each wheel for go-karts, so check the regulations before you build. The go-kart also needs a seating arrangement. Select a seat that is both comfortable and safe. It should have safety belts to hold the driver and, if large enough, a passenger. You will need many tools designed to tighten nuts and bolts as well as welding materials to assemble the frame. Fortunately, most workshops are already equipped with the proper tools, such as torque and socket wrenches, to build a go-kart.
Before beginning any engine work, design and build the entire go-kart frame. Ensure that the frame is properly welded before installing the engine. If the welds are too weak, the engine can drop out. Because the go-kart is so low to the ground, this could destroy the other systems of the kart and injure the driver. Consider working with a mechanic to install the drive, steering, brakes and engine. Though the systems are much smaller, the go-kart's components are similar to a basic car construction.
A mechanic would be able to assist with questions and concerns about placement and safety. When in doubt, consult a full set of plans instead of taking chances on assembly. As there are many moving parts in the go-kart, even one misaligned gear could cause the entire vehicle to break down.