I remember my first go-kart. It was made out of wood and had some metal handlebars off of a push mower as its main frame component. My grandpa had helped me put it together. My grandpa had a farm so anything that I could find sitting around was fair game. He gave me several lawnmowers and the target was to make a go-kart out of a lawnmower in three days.
Well the endeavor was pretty lofty to begin with. I did make some headway, but it was too little too late by the time the three days were up. We managed to scrape together a go-kart frame, but the lawnmower engine part was elusive and difficult.
Bottom line is that three years after that endeavor and my grandpa now passed away, the frame sat until I came up with a plan and stuck to it.
What I would have been able to do if I had a plan before! The go-kart plan is so vital for making headway in a go-kart because the following things will keep you in the dark:
– Go-Kart Drive Line
– Go-Kart Frame
– Center of Gravity Placement (vital for good go-kart cornering)
Very often we will get some of the pieces working, or partially working and then have to scrap the whole project because we did not think it through properly. That is where a plan, one where someone has figured out the difficult parts for you, comes into play.
If you are considering making your own go-kart you may want to get a good go-kart plan and look at what is going on with the frame work, steering, drive line and brakes before you just start welding stuff together. More often than not, the go-kart may work, but will steer funny and tend to go straight. Or the clutch will smoke because the drive line was not matched properly to the engine, the clutch and the rear sprocket.
The steering of the go-kart should consist of an Ackermann style system where the wheels are designed to move at different rates to accommodate the proper tracking arc for optimum cornering performance. Additionally, the steering should be such that the mechanism is tucked away and not interfering with the foot pedals. Often go-kart enthusiast will miss this point and end up having the throttle and brake pedals interlocking (on accident) with the steering linkage causing an unsafe directional control problem.
The steering system should also be placed optimally for the center of gravity to be in the proper spot for excellent handling. Again what occurs is the wheels are usually placed too far forward (from the center of gravity) causing the weight over the wheels to be too little. This will cause the wheels in front to not bite enough and the go-kart will tend to just go straight, a condition known as severe under steer. A good go-kart plan will accommodate for larger drivers and smaller drivers. This allows the steering system to be moved to the optimum location for center of gravity placement.
The drive system usually is either the last or the most overlooked item on the go-kart. Typically a go-kart will be designed with too little ratio causing the go-kart clutch to smoke. Additionally the go-kart will require pushing to get it to start. The go-kart will also have crummy acceleration and obviously not be able to climb any sort of hill. This is where most give up and throw in the towel, because it seems that lots of dollars are going to be needed to get this go-kart to work properly, if at all.
There is an optimum set of drive line ratios for climbing hills or for going on straight ways. The optimum ration can be calculated easily either by hand or with a computer program.
And there is always that guy who wants to take a lawnmower engine and use it on a go-kart. There are several ways, but knowing and using the most durable system can be elusive if you don’t understand drive lines and what makes clutches slip. Again a good go-kart plan will show you how to leap past these hurdles.
Finally, a good brake system is needed to stop the go-kart. Smack into a fence or a bush once and you’d had wished you had taken the advice of installing so good brakes. Don’t go light on the brakes, stopping the go-kart is more than just jamming a stick into the ground. There are several types the most primitive being the rubbing style brake. The other two are the drum brake and the disc brake. The most stopping power can be had out of the disc brake, because it dissipates the heat better and does not fade like the rubbing and the disc brake.
A good go-kart plan will take into account brakes and how to install them properly. A final note on go-kart brakes, the biggest complaint about them is the floatation that is required for the brakes the work properly. The little trick to keep the go-kart brake working properly is to realize that the disc need to float so that the system does not bind up.
And lest we forget, safety is of utmost concern when designing a go-kart. Are there safety devices such as roll cages, seat belts, or retention columns? And a word of advice when playing around with go-karts always use safety equipment such as helmets, gloves, thick cloths, heavy shoes (boots) and drive safely.