Frequently Asked Questions

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Answer: We DO have a guide on how to build a Go Kart that's titled "The Go Kart Building Series".  It is a series of courses designed to address all the vital questions go karters have.  

I would suggest that you take a close look at each one of the courses as they build on one another.  There are currently 4 courses available which cover important setup information, drive line calculations and vertical engine go kart designs.  

Eventually, when all the courses are completed, they will become part of one large book called "The Go Kart Guru's Comprehensive Guide On How To Build A Go Kart."
Great question Many people are asking the same question. "I have this old lawn tractor and it has this transaxle, can I use it?

The problem with a vertical engine is routing the power from the engine to the horizontal wheels on the go kart.

Typically the standard method for transferring the power involves a gear box.

For example on a lawn tractor the gearbox is designed with a pulley on the top of the gear box (probably very similar to what you are asking about.)

Additionally, because the main purpose of a riding lawnmower is to cut grass, the vertical engine layout works very well for driving a mower deck too.

The temptation comes in to play to use the gear box in the gokart and keep the unit simple that way. Unfortunately, it is not really simpler, but more complex, not to mention unrealiable.

Additionally, I would strongly steer you away from using a riding lawnmower gearbox for the following reasons:

- Width of the rear axel system is too narrow.

The width of a gokart drive wheel layout should be relatively speaking wide: 36”+ for good stablility and anti-roll characteristics.

Riding lawnmowers are under that width, being naturally unstable and very prone to tippage.

Also the gear box will pose a difficulty in powering the rear wheels. Mounting the gearbox is another issue that requires special bracketry that would need to be fabricated and mounted to the framework.

Gear boxes are not designed for high speed as in 20+ mph. This is a serious consideration, especially with gear boxes that do not require lubrication and do not have roller bearings. The gear box may end up siezing up.

Gear Box Engagement requires belt tensioning devices. Typically, the gearbox is activated by tensioning the belt. To answer your question about internal clutches, most gear boxes are not that sophisticated, they just require the belt to be tensioned to engage the gear box.

Belt Tensioning systems also require careful thought (complexity) in their design so that the activation of the clutch can be deactivated when the rider is starting, or idling the go kart.

Switching gears on the fly is not possible without good engine/gearbox knowledge. The gearbox on a riding lawnmower does not have synchronizers with it, so the gearbox must be completely idle or still for the gears to be switched.

Actually, in order to get gears to mesh properly, both the mating gears must be in the same position. This can be accomplished by running the gears at the same speed, but this does take some understanding of how a gear box operates.

Unskilled drivers will have extreme difficulty getting the gearbox to work. More than likely, the gear box will be destroyed in a relatively short period of time, if shifting is considered on the fly.

There are, however, more compact, easy to maintenance and very cost effective methods covered in the Go Kart Building 202 Vertical Engine Course. The nice thing about these designs is that they fit right into the Go Kart Phi Alpha 10 Frame which is available on this web page too.

The Go Kart Building 202 series is a comprehensive Vertical Engine Drive course that goes through the different drive layouts, the issues with calculating the correct component sizes and shows you how to get the components right for your go kart design.

The 202 course shows you what parts to order, what size, where to fit it, how to lay it out, what to issues to be aware of. It basically is a How To Manual for Vertical Go Kart Engine systems.

I would strongly suggest, that if you are new at this whole thing, that you also take the Go Kart Building 201 driveline course. The reason why I suggest you take this is to help design the drive line so that is not smoking clutches, or stalling your motor. This is important, especially when you are dealing with a Vertical Engine.

And finally, because you are using a lawn mower, the Go Kart Building 102 course, takes a riding lawnmower and shows you what parts to use and to only spend 200 bucks on the go kart.

Just so you understand, all the courses will become part of ONE BIG book called the Go Kart Guru's Comprehensive Guide On How To Build A Go Kart and will be available later this year.

That too, is a great question, and I am not just saying that.

When I was in highschool I had this phenomal idea that I could use raw water to run in engines.  I understood and studied Diesel engines with great interest.  I had my own set of experiments that I ran and actually got my lawnmower to run like a diesel engine (off of oil) for about 1 minute.

But these experiments were leading into a larger experiment, that of running this engine on water.

The theory was that the high compression event in a diesel engine raises the temperature of the air up to at least 1500 degrees F.  That is more than sufficient to boil water I thought.  Boiling water (ie steam) should just push the piston down.

I called it the Internal Steam Engine.

Sounds great in the talking, but when the engineering and physicist looks at it from an energy stand point: Uh NO, not such a good idea.

Why?  Because water when it is introduced into this environment will stay water, because of the high pressure. And secondly, the energy that it is giving off as steam had to come from somewhere.

I know that sounds very technical, but the bottom line is that water can be used as a power source if it is used in the following ways:

-Energy Transfer Medium
-Chemical Reaction Mechanism

Engines by their nature are thermal devices.  That means that they convert thermal energy into rotational energy, or kinetic energy.  Steam is nothing but a heat transfer medium.  The steam is water that has high energy in it.   Steam expands, and because it expands the energy from expansion can be used to push on pistons or turbine blades.

But the water itself is not the fuel, it has to be invested with energy.  For example in a nuclear power plant, the nuclear energy (which is heat energy primarily, not radioactive energy) is transfered into the water.  The water is energized so much that it turns into steam.  The steam then is used to push turbine blades.  The Turbine then obviously rotates a generator, and then we get electricity (so that I can respond to this question.)

A simple example is water boiling on a stove.  The kettle will spout out steam and actually push on a paper spinner wheel if given the chance.  The steam itself however would not exist without the burner underneath it.  Watch how fast the steam stops existing once the burner is shut off!

The other method is to break down water into Hydrogen and Oxygen.  Fuel cells for example use catalysts to keep the Hydrogen-Oxygen reaction from becoming violent.  

In fuel cells heat can be given off to run things.  Also various types of battery devices (meaning chemical energy being converted into electricity)  are used in these cells too.

Hydrogen can be burned in an engine, but because it is so volatile, and so reactive it is dangerous to deal with.  For example, hydrogen is hard to contain in vessels because of its reactive nature with metals, it will literally corrode away the vessel (glorified bottle) that it is contained in.

So to answer your question, can water be used as a fuel, Yes and No.  How much money do you have?

Practically speaking on a go kart, kind of expensive.  

Sounds like  you said you have a 600 lbs engine that only has 6 horsepower.

Some of your old lugging industrial Whiz-Pop! motors had low horsepower ratings, and big heavy flywheels ect...

I would have to say that if you are trying to use some old style motor like that, you are going to run into weight problems.
First of all weight is more than just trying to move the go kart, it is also trying to:

-  stop the go kart,
-  maintain rideability of the go kart (ie tires don't pop, bearing bust)
-  and frame integrity of the go kart.

Stopping is pretty critical when you are dealing with a go kart.  There is no substitute for good brakes.  Read the brakes section and you see what I mean. 

Secondly, you may end up with a very precarious go kart.  So heavy and top heavy that it may roll over, or be very hard to control in cornering. 

In  a corner for example, the go kart will tend to scrub the tires or bole the tires (bend them over) so bad that you may end up tipping drastically.

That just touches the surface... there are frame issues, and drive train issues too.

If you were talking about a 600 pound go kart and you want to use a 6.5 hp motor to drive it, then I would ask you:

Why in the world is this go kart so heavy?! 

In the How to Build a Go Kart series we step through how to calculate weight and what good horsepower relationship matches weight.   Also the question of "How Heavey, or How strong does my go kart have to be?" is answered.

The addage of "In in doubt make it stout" does not necessarily hold on gokarts!
The problem with a go kart not steering is the center of gravity.  One of the things you can do to find out (from a diagnostic standpoint) what is up with the steering is to weigh he go kart.

To weigh the go kart get a scale and place it under the rear wheels and then under the front wheels. (The scale can be placed under the framework but in line with the wheels.)

Make sure that you the rider are on the go kart when you measure the weight.  (Have someone help you to read the scales.) It also might not hurt to have multiple people sit on the go kart to get an average weight.

The two weights together will give you the full weight of the go kart.  The weights should be very close. 

More than likely the problem with that go kart is that too much weight is on the rear wheels.  When this occurs, then the front wheels do not have enough weight ( or grab) and allow the go kart to continue forward.

Additionally, the problem may be that the engine weight is too far back on the frame and may be causing a balance problem. (Or cause the go kart go be in a wheely type situation)

All these issues will be discussed in great detail in the Go Kart Building 301 and 402 Courses. (unfortunately these are not complete at this time)

I became digusted with the unsteerableness of gokarts and designed my own so that the weight was more balanced.

The key is to get the wieght over the front wheels too.  Look on the Engineering Tool Kit Section and the Center of Gravity program. 

You may want to put your go kart data in this program and see what it says.
I take it the cable is rusted solid on the engine area.

Typically the engine area is just levers and not cables. These can be loosened with a good lube penatrant.

Additionally if the cable that is activating the engine area is frozen up, take it off of the cart and either replace the cable or take it out and lube it up good and try (I empahsize try, because of the frayed ends ont he cable!) to get it back into the cable sleave.

(Also with cables frayed wires are very prickly, be very careful, they can puncture your skin very easily; You may want to wear gloves when you are working with throttle or brake cables!)

I do not recommend by passing the engine governor system because the engine can over rev and destroy itself.

So the best course of action is a little dismantling, and wigggling the parts around. Even the worst rusted parts can be loosened by letting the area soak for a full day with oil.

Keep me in the loop if you are still having trouble.; You can take pictures of what you are talking about and send those to me so I can get a better idea with what you are struggling with.
I can empathize with you.  I was frustrated beyond belief when I was kid because of the limitations to where I could ride my go kart.
I was constantly taking it places to ride it.
Go Karts are similar to other type hobbies like model airplanes.  You cannot just fly a model airplane any place you choose.
First of all it can be very difficult to fly in crowded spaces and secondly the prospect of actually hitting something or someone is really high.  So clubs have been put together where they rent fields and you can fly your airplane there.
The similarity goes with go karts.  You cannot ride your go kart on the side walk or on the street for that matter because it is dangerous.  People walking to get their mail could be side swiped and hurt pretty badly.
Go karts can be driven on your private property with no hassle, however, if you enter onto public property or even a parking lot which is privately held, you will be in big trouble.
As my first book in the series discusses, before you even consider having a gokart you need to have it planned out where you are going to drive it.
I actually did plan out where I was going to ride my go kart, and that was in my driveway.  I have a long (almost 1/4) driveway that I can ride my go kart.  So you may have to get creative and find some friends who have some property and will let you ride that cart to your hearts desire.
You may also want to look into trails and find out if there is a trail in your area that allows go karts. There are numerous trails about that allow 4 Wheelers, you may want to see if they allow go karts too.
I have included the Go Kart Building 101 for you too look at and I hope that you find that riding area!

The Go Kart Guru
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