The Young Boy, His Grandpa and His Go Kart: The Vacation Go Kart

The bright eyed blond haired 11-year-old boy wandered out into his grandfather’s shed. As he stumble over tools and lawnmowers along with all the other farm equipment, he struggled to find his grandfather pounding on something next to the vice in the corner. He asked his grandfather if he would help him make a go kart that weekend.

His grandfather a wrinkly old wiry strong short character smiled at him and said “Sure thing matey but do you have in mind?”

They two wandered out into the back shed area and found a couple of lawnmowers that were sitting and rotting into tall grass. His grandfather had a ton of other projects of his own namely making a boat. It was a small boat that a 30 footer which could house him during his retirement years. But he was glad to take out his time to work with the eager 11-year-old and start working on this go kart.

The goal was to have a go kart done in two days. There was a lot to get done in two days, but the 11-year-old had no qualms about getting it done and with a determined vigor pressed on.

Before the breakfast bell could be rung the lawnmower the engine and all its associated components were being readily applied to this new go kart project.  There were a couple of problems that started to creep up at the outset: first they were using a lawn mower, second they are using bike parts and lawnmower parts for wheels and steering systems. You see the engine was a vertical engine and mounting the engine was proving to be difficult on two venues: the actual mounting of the engine and the carburetor arrangement.

The carburetor arrangement was so the engine would run vertical and so transforming the engine carburetor mount so that the existing carburetor could be used was proving to be quite a challenge. The actual mounting of the engine was proving not to be that difficult but the carburetor was.

They had noble ideas but really futile when it came down to it. The idea was to take pieces of plywood sandwich on together and make a 90° switchover mount. The concept worked in theory, but major vacuum leaks and strength considerations caused the idea in practice to fail.

Sad to say the go kart never was finished in two days. Large strides were made on a frame and the axle system, but no progress was made on the drive system.

This is a sad commentary on the state of most go kart projects when they are started and thrown to the corner after about two days of work.

This need not be. The go kart project quite honestly is not that complex, but most people give up when they get in too deep, meaning they wasted two days, and the project is abandoned.

There is no reason why a vertical engine cannot be used on a go kart the way it is, we’re not going into that here, but I just wanted it understood that a vertical engine can be easily used to drive a go kart. In our go kart building 202 course we go into the details required to use an existing vertical engine to drive a go kart.

In this particular project running the engine vertical could’ve been done using a vertical engine go kart course that is available on our web page. However it wasn’t available at that time so the project went to the wayside.

After about five years after playing around with the go kart engine, the existing frame and another vertical engine, the go kart finally was running. You benefit from the fruits of that labor in that out of the go kart stress came multiple books that are available to you on how to build a go kart.

I’m writing is article to bring the mind that sticking with it and getting the right tools is what the go kart building experience is about. Notice that I am not say getting the right materials, I said getting the right tools.

The father-son go kart experience is not about spending a lot of money, it’s about using tools and converting junk in the masterpieces.

The tools I’m talking about are: basic metalworking tools, basic woodworking tools, go kart plans, and go kart building how-to materials/books.

Just to get into tools a bit, Welders are not necessary however they are helpful. The wood go kart for example can be made using basic hand tools. This go kart is ideal for those who have minimal tools and a small budget.

The basic tools for steel framed go kart involve basic metalworking tools such as files, drills, vices, welders, hack saws, and wrenches.

Again, the tool called “information (plans/go kart manuals) ” is the most critical to this whole go kart project. The information on how to build a go kart is what will make or break the go kart project. Make sure that you get your information in line before you commit to building the go kart.

Hours of wasted time, dollars of wasted materials, smoking clutches, wrong frame setups, poor cornering characteristics, and overall lack of enthusiasm for the whole project will more than likely result.

A good go kart plan includes bills of materials and tips on how to actually fixture the go kart frame when putting it together. Additionally, the go kart plan will include some sort of drive system basics course.

What is not available on most go kart plans is the reason why your sizes are selected, the positioning of the steering system, and why the frames is designed the way it is. This information can be very important especially when you’re devoting resources to drive systems and steering layouts. Be sure to get the information you need to actually lay out the steering, lay out the drive system, design your go kart frame so it can handle abuse and obviously perform like a Porsche and look like a Ferrari.

And finally the main reason why go kart projects are abandoned is because things just are not working out. Typically “the not working out” is because things have been mismatched, wrong kind of engine drive-train combination and the steering system is too complicated.

Don’t fall into these traps, understand drive systems and why they work, also understand how engines work and what problems they encounter. Read the books about engine diagnostics which are a great help in troubleshooting engines with peculiar running problems. Also, be sure to take advantage of the engineering toolkit which is available on our webpage and pre-diagnose your drivetrain system before committing to a bunch of expensive components.

Also be sure to take a look at the videos which accompany the engineering toolkit and explain the programs and how to use them.

The kid and his go kart they survived I’m here to tell you about it because I am that kid, but the story of lost dreams need not to the the end of the story. Having a good plan and understanding drive systems in particular will get you out of a long way.

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