What To Buy When Building Your Own Go Kart

The idea has been in the works for several years: building a homemade go kart for under $200. The father and son team had consulted every possible avenue, searching every internet site and web-blog for information on how to build a go kart. They even went and bought a go kart book but it didn’t tell him anything about what to buy.

After they did all their calculations they were coming up with a $1500 go kart when they knew it should cost less. They’re getting ready to throw up their hands in despair thinking that there is just no way to a go kart to be built for $200.

This is the scenario that many go karters go through before they actually start building a go kart, or they get halfway through the go kart and realize it’s costing way too much money and it is busting their budget. This is getting to be a very costly hobby!

The age-old question of what to buy one you’re building your own go kart is pretty important and I’m here to try and help answer those questions up front.

First of all where are all the costs coming from? That is the question you need to ask yourself, where is all the money being spent?

The high ticket items are as follows:

· Engine
· clutch
· rear axle
· brake system
· wheels/rims
· tires

The biggest ticket item as you probably already guessed is the engine. Most engines cost around $400 to $500, if they’re worth anything. The next thing on the list is the drive system which includes the clutch, chain and rear sprocket.

The final items, the brake system, the wheels and tires can vary radically in cost.

If you’re trying to spend under $200 on a go kart then the last items the tires and rims need to be procured in a manner which does not involve buying them. The ideal way to get these items is to get them off a lawn tractor, or a riding lawnmower. There are a lot of people who throw out these lawnmowers and there are a whole host of goodies on a riding lawnmower.

The things you should be spending money on are as follows:

The rear drive axle, rear drive axle bearings, rear drive axle sprocket, a clutch and a brake system.   You may have to spend some money on a chain but invariably the chain causes very low ranging from $5-$10 at the most.

If you’re dealing with a vertical engine drive system that will need to spend at least $50 on a series of shafts and so forth to get that to work properly. The go kart building 202 course goes into all the details that are required to transform a vertical engine to work on a go kart.

In our go kart building 201 course we show you how to set up a drive system. That comes with the 202 course. In the 102 course we show where to get the materials from and how a riding lawnmower can be used seat and all.

If you do not have in your disposal a riding lawnmower, then the next best thing is to find the tires and rims at a farm store. Trouble is that the tires and rims alone will cost around $40 to $50 a piece.

All the other items that are on a go kart should be procured through normal channels. For example you should be able to get the tubing that you need for your go kart frame through a tubing house, or you should be able to pick them up out of scrap bins. I prefer however to buy my tubing fresh.  We have several places that you can buy tube from listed on our webpage. Look up the suppliers page and you’ll see the tubing house that I use listed.

I guess the main thrust of being able to save a lot of money on building your own go kart is to try to find a riding lawnmower. Look for riding lawnmowers on craigslist or on eBay. Someone is always giving away a lawnmower because it is hard to get rid of it. It actually is quite difficult to bring a lawnmower to the dump, or get rid of it by putting it in the back of your truck. It’s easier to give it away than to throw away. Someone else can come and take it, the then you save them money.

So the best thing you can do is to start looking for a riding lawnmower that has been thrown away. If you can find a horizontal engined lawnmower that is the better or the more streamlined.  It makes it easier to use the drive system. However as we’ve talked about before, a vertical engine is not the end of the world and with our vertical engine drive book they can be relatively easily transformed to actually work on a go kart.

The goodies that you would use off a riding lawnmower are: engine, wheels and rims, steering wheel, steering system, petals, and associated sheet-metal.

As you can see the things that are being left out are the axle, rear drive sprocket, and engine clutch. The clutch system and the transmission system on a riding lawnmower are much more different than that used on a go kart.

People will try to tell you that you can use a transmission on a riding lawnmower, however the riding lawnmower transmission is not wide enough, and it requires that you use different size pulleys to get the transmission to actually work at the correct speed for a go kart. And finally, the transmission system used on a riding lawnmower requires a belt clutch system typically. A clutch system is not as desirable as a centrifugal clutch system, in that it is rider dependent for good clutch engagement.

Centrifugal clutches only require that you step on the gas and then the clutching engages. Whereas with a belt clutch system the belt needs to be steadily engaged or the engine will stall. The understanding of how the system engages is required by the driver and that can be a tricky thing.

Bottom-line is that the things you should be spending money on are simple drive components. The drive axle, the drive sprocket, and the clutch. If you need to spend money on an engine then do it,  but I would suggest that you try to use an old engine and transform it to run a go kart.

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