Why Go Kart Projects Fail: Father and Son Project Gone Bad

The father and son team were hard at it. The lawn tractor did not have a chance. The old cub Cadet was disassembled within hours and the go kart project was on its way!

The wheels, the transmission, the engine frame all were going to be put to good use, or so the plan was. There were these grandiose plans to make it a radical go kart using all the components on the tractor. There was one thing missing however and that missing was putting the project at risk. The grandiose plans were an extreme jeopardy as a week after week the project got nowhere.

The original idea of using the transmission system off of the tractor was just not working out. The transmission/drive axle proved to be too much of a challenge and too much time had been spent on the go kart project as was. By this time the summer had ended and the go kart project cluttered the garage.

It started out innocently enough. The enthusiasm was enough to start the project, disassemble the tractor, but that’s about as far as it got.

Why is that?

Why did the go kart project fail?

The go kart project failed because there is no real idea on how to make the pieces go together. There’s this idea that pieces go together, but there’s no real understanding as to why and how they go together. This lack of understanding and knowledge can result in frustration like the true story above which holds true for unfortunately about 75% of go kart building projects.

A large portion of the questions I’m asked are about drivetrains:

Why is my clutch smoking?

How do I make my go kart go up a hill without smoking the clutch?

The other questions are about how to get a steering system put together.

And the biggest conundrum of them all is getting a vertical engine to drive a go kart.

This information is not readily explained in most books, in particular, go kart drive systems. I believe the reason why go kart drive systems are not explained is because they are semi-complicated. You don’t need a rocket science degree to put together a go kart drive system. What is needed though is a fundamental understanding of why components are sized to where they are.

What is missing is a way to relate your go kart size and engine size to the components required on your go kart. For example go kart racers, because they work within the drive train environment so much understand relationship between clutch size year size and so forth. But usually this comes because of experience and inside knowledge.

This information is critical for winning races. But for the average go karter who wants to make their own go kart out junk it is the difference between the project continuing or failing.

The case in point of the true story above is that an ideal go kart of superstrength was being developed. The idea was that the drive axle would be recycled and used on the go kart. The problem was that the logistics or the actual combining of all these components that should work on a go kart require expensive tooling and significantly raise the cost of the go kart beyond the projected $200-$300 boundary.

Sometimes the ideal go kart design is just way too expensive, but a compromise can be made where the go kart could have actually been made to go using off-the-shelf components from local go kart parts suppliers.

For example: to maximize strength the rear axle could’ve been made 2 inches in diameter. However, 2 inch diameter axles are not readily available much less sprockets that would fit on them or bearings for that matter.

The solution would be to understand how axles are supported and why they bend. Again this information is not readily available (actually it is on our webpage with a little program for that) and so the one-inch axle combination was not considered doable. The go kart project however could have been saved if the understanding of how axles bend and how to support them was known.  In our go kart building 301 series because of the strength of materials is discussed and basic equations are given for a simple strength calculations.

If you are stepping into the unknown and want to know if you’re axles going to hold off for not these calculations are an excellent resource for predicting whether or not your go kart axels are going to bend.

The enthusiasm for the go kart building process need not be stifled. Things need to be put into perspective about go kart’s and how to build them. They can’t be built in a weekend unless you’re a super genius and you have the wherewithal to do that. But most of us are not super geniuses or super mechanical and so the realistic schedule is a seven week schedule the one that is discussed on our webpage “The Realistic Go Kart Schedule.”

Go kart projects fail because the objective called the working go kart cannot be reached. The objective cannot be reached because the tools are not available. It turns out that most of us think that we have the tools at our disposal but are sorely mistaken when it comes to looking at the go kart and the full perspective. Be sure to have a go kart plan, have the go kart parts procured, had sufficient drivetrain knowledge, and understand how the steering, and the braking systems are applied to a go kart.

Be sure to take advantage of the products which are available in the go kart building bundles. The go kart building bundles come in a variety of forms the most basic bundle having the go kart plans and all the e-books which are available on go kart building. These books include steering systems, drive systems, brake systems, frame design, seat design and much more. The go kart plans also include fixturing and detailed component layouts so that the actual building of the go kart is not so difficult.

We also have hands on demonstration videos that help troubleshoot and diagnose engine problems and design problems that most go karters run into.

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