Thinking About Restoring an Old Model-T Shriner Parade Go-Kart? Here Is What to Look For

The Model-T Go Kart, the go-kart of your dreams, the coolest go kart on the block, at least that is what you are thinking before you actually own one.  I was like that,  wide eyed, drooling and ready to hand out the cash on the next available Model-T Go Kart that came along.  After all, the selling points are that it is a:

Go kart

Kids can ride it

It is a vintage collectable

And has lasting nostalgic value

All these points are perhaps true, but for the several major considerations when purchasing this go kart:

  1. The drive line is tricky: it takes finesse to get the go kart going, and then it is stuck on, it must be disengaged. Smaller riders have allot of trouble with the disengaging part.
  2. The brakes are terrible, did I say terrible, no they just plain don’t work!
  3. Did I say the brakes don’t work, they don’t work, and they are not intuitive
  4. The steering has limited movement in both directions. The turn radius is pretty big in one direction.  It is not a simple adjust the steering mechanism, because it is beyond that.
  5. The throttle is in the steering column (which is a problem for younger riders)
  6. The go kart must be ridden in open spaces otherwise you will probably crash.

After you have read this list you are probably like: why would anyone buy one of these gokarts!  The simple fact is that they are vintage.  The Company McDonough went out of business in the 1973 and as a result parts are very hard to come by.  Typical parts that cannot be had are:

  • Steering wheels (because they break)
  • Wheels (because they are corroded or broken)
  • Reverser discs
  • Transmissions
  • Steering gears (the small ones in particular)
  • Lights
  • Radiator caps
  • Windscreens
  • Seat upholstery
  • Engines (They range from vertical to horizontal)
  • Fenders (fenders break, they are typically fiberglass or ABS plastic.).

What I find most guys are doing is selling their carts for parts, and that is a shame because a lot of the problems can be fixed and the go kart made rideable again.

The steering system generally can be tolerated, the drive system gotten used too (it is nice when you know how to use it, because the go kart has reverse, which is  cool feature.) But the brakes, they need to be updated.  One thing about go karts is that they need to stop, and now!

The important thing about restorations and updates is that the update does not look like an eyesore or an obvious update.  That becomes the trick when updating the go kart.

The rear brake drum on a Model T Car. (Courtesy Model T Ford Forum)

For example, the original Model-T had drum brakes installed on the rear hubs.  If that look could be duplicated on the Model-T Go Kart then that would be a win-win.  And that is just what we have done at the gokart guru web store.  We are now offering a brake kit for the Model-T Parade Go Karts that is a simple bolt on, part swap replacement for the original rubbing brake system.  The brakes still operate the same, push down the lever, but now they actually work, and work well!

(Go To

We also offer steering wheels that look just like the originals, but are much stronger, made out an automotive grade aluminum and are designed with gusseting in the right places.  No more cracked steering wheels.   A stronger direct replacement is available now and it looks just like the original.

The drive line, though antiquated can be updated and we are working on a kit for updating the drive line to be just like a convention go kart with gas on the floor and brake on the floor as well. This makes the gokart much more driveable.

Drum Brake for a Model T Go Kart. This is now available at Model-T Store

As far as the steering system is concerned, we are developing a steering system update that will use the same style components but with more reliability and durability, and obviously more turning ability.

And last but not least we supply the parts that are really hard to get like hub caps, rear keyed drive hubs and front original style and or bearing styled front hubs.

So take a look at the Model-T Go Kart Store and get that Model-T Go Kart up and running and most especially, safe again.


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