Sometimes we have great ideas in our heads but we do not know exactly how to get started. That is often true of building your own go kart but the fact that you are asking questions is definitely a good place to start. When you ask the right questions you get a go kart your kids love that did not cost thousands of dollars. So here is a look at building your own go kart, where to start and what questions to ask and where to go from there.
When you are thinking things over in your head there are about 8 things you need to consider,
Once you have thought about these areas you need to start putting something down on paper. Either use a drawing of the kart to scale, one inch equaling one foot, or use a computer to design it. You can then take the different parts of it and lay them out in the garage or somewhere safe. Put the seat where it is meant to go, lay out the tubes and put the engine in its place. You can get a good sense then of how big it is and what goes where.
Too many people skip this step thinking that details in the design are not important and that building your own go kart is an easy and simple thing. However while sometimes it is possible to get away with it often it can lead to issues with the kart at a later date. You might step on the gas and there is smoke and no movement, or the kart is far too heavy and so on. Then it might start tipping, or it is unable to take corners so you can only go straight! When things start to fall off the kart you give up on it and call it a day. If only you had analyzed the design first. Were that analysis to occur it would look at the center of gravity including its weight, the frame’s strength, the size of the components and the engine to drive lines ratios.
It might sound like a complex calculation, working out the center of gravity for your kart but it is not really. If you are not mathematically inclined you can just get a scale, place it where the wheels would be and when the scale shows half the overall weight, you have a 50/50 distribution. Do make sure though that you also take into account the weight of the people or person in the kart and that this weight is also evenly distributed.
To have a kart that handles well and drives well you need 50/50 weight distribution. When the ratio becomes uneven things can happen and problems arise. If you can calculate this, it means you can make changes to the layout more easily than if you use the scale method. The problem with weighing materials is you need to have a good idea about the layout of the frame, some pieces that are be welded may have to be tacked to get an idea and you may have break welding too if you need to replace components to improve the frame.
Building your own go kart is going to involve some calculating especially if you want it to actually move! Here the drive components sizes are considered and then you calculate how well the go kart will move depending on the weight, ratios and engine size. If you are going to be designing plenty of go karts it can become tedious having to estimate the drive line systems each time but it is possible to either create or find computer programs that will do this for you. However you do it or have it done doing some kind of analysis on the drive train is important.
You need to known about material strengths, and how to work out bending deflections and cracking stress to get a strong frame. Sometimes people are inclined to throw steel at it to make it stronger but this can actually be detrimental to a building your own go kart. Make sure you analyze the frame before you put it together otherwise you could get a frame that cracks or even breaks in half.
To have a go kart last you need to think carefully about the size of the components. For example you could end up only having 10 hours of go karting before you have to change the chain because you chose an inadequate 3/8ths pitch chain size. Wheels could fall off or almost come off because you do not get the right size bearings for the axles you have. A clutch not set up correctly for the kart you have can give out on you.
It is true calculating and analyzing the design is not the easiest of jobs and it can be time consuming because it may feel like no progress is happening at all. But in fact in all things when you want the job done right, and well you need to put in the prep work whatever that may be. For building your own go kart this is it. You need a plan and you need to analyze that plan and make the right calculations and measurements.
It can be quite fun getting the materials together for the build. If you like treasure hunts this might be part of the process that you rather enjoy. Keep in mind if you buy everything new, building your own go kart can get quite expensive. But if you have old lawnmowers around or a junk yard where there is the like, there are good components in them that are good for building go karts. Things you might have to buy though could be sprockets, clutches and chains for example.
There are several places you can look for materials. Many online go kart stores that are reputable and can ship your materials at a fair cost. Remember the more you buy the better shipping rate you can normally negotiate. You might also get a discount for bulk buying. It is a good idea to have a good 90% of your components with you before you begin so that you do not have to go back and forth to the store for more items.
When your analyzing is complete and your components are bought the fabrication process can start. The frame and welding is a fairly easy task, just make sure you have the pieces at the right length and in the right position. Then holding them together with some help if you want it you can tack weld them into place. Make sure they are all flat and straight so the frame forms the right shape. Clamping the pieces with a homemade jig is one option, you may have another. Once the pieces are tacked you can weld then solid. The order you might want to do it in is;
Before you set off for your test drive make sure you do a good check on all the components that are vital. While it is possible for a test drive to go well in general you should expect something to go wrong, maybe more than one thing. The most common area that fail are a loose chain, a throttle not properly adjusted, foot pedals not positioned properly, or breaks not properly adjusted. These things often need fine tune ups or adjustments to get the go kart in proper working condition.
A quick word of caution. Unfortunately accidents can happen when people ride karts that are not yet ready. Not so long ago there was a report of a teenager going for a joy ride in a go kart. But it was not ready for use and its brakes did not work. The boy crashed and sustained serious injuries that required tough surgeries. It is important not to speed through this process of assessing how it performs with care and making sure everything has been corrected and adjusted that needs to be.
Really the seating and steering should be a part of the analysis part of building your own go kart. After all you need them both to be in the exact right spot just as much as you need the engine mounted in the right place too. You can get above and below systems, as well as other different styles. Getting the steering set up right is vital for a go kart that is able to take corners well.
Really the painting should wait till the kinks and bugs have all been worked out. If you need to weld the frame differently for example it is easier to do when it not yet painted. You should also give it all a clean first and give the metal a do over with a sand blaster. When it is ready for painting there are many options to consider. Probably the messiest way is to use a primer, one that is rust resistant ideally. You can use spray cans but it will take a lot of them. A power sprayer is probably the best option and it can be mechanical or air powered. The primer will ensure the metal has a good binder on it and by sanding it the primer will really adhere.
The top paint coat would using that sprayer again and an enamel paint style. You should think about using a car paint style, where you use a two part mix. The finish will be great. If you need more information on painting a good way to get some tips is to ask for tips from your local car paint garage, they can also help with mixes you want or they might even say they can do the paint job for you for a small fee.
Often people find after they have made their first go kart they want to make another and another! Learning to make improvements, refining your skills, and making great go karts in the process. But key to being good at this is to do the analysis and do it right.