Many of us are looking for the cheap alternative to a go kart because the prices of real go carts are so high. The cheap go carts that are available are similar to the small Razor which basically is a little electic go kart.
The overall design consists of a skateboard wheeled go kart flat frame. It has brakes and accelerator on the steering handle bars. It is a mix of bike parts and electric skateboard parts. Obviously being electrical it is rechargeable. However it really lacks the overall ability that most are looking for in a go kart: something that can bop around the yard. Because the ground clearance is very limited, the electric carts cannot go over lawns easily without getting caught on the grass and rocks.
Additionally, these small electric go karts have batteries that will burn out and they have limited battery life. So from year to year you end up spending close to 60 dollars on a new battery because it burnt out.
The Razor electric go kart seems to be on the surface a cheap answer. But when you probe through and start to see that actually the overall package is not really all that cheap.
What I’m proposing is the wood go kart. The wood go kart is the cheap alternative to the full blown metal framed go kart. The metal frame go kart has its place with exotic high strength materials and its ability to handle larger engines, more complicated steering systems, and disc brake systems, but the wood go kart can perform equally well if designed correctly as the metal counterpart.
The nice thing about a wood go kart is that all you really need are wood tools, which are easily gotten at any hardware store. You can make the wood go kart a weekend project or you make it last over several months using evenings as a bonding time. Depending on how “into” the go cart you are, you can make it last over the winter. It is a great winter project that can eat up those long dark evenings, which will have it in running order by spring time.
Another nice thing about the wood go kart is that it doesn’t need components that are very expensive such as chains, clutches and disc brakes. Granted the rubbing brake system used on the wood go kart is not the best go kart stopping device however it was used years and years and years prior to the introduction of the disc brake and the live axle on go carts in the vintage years.
The steering system can be complicated or simple. I personally, advocate the supported bogie system so that the bogie does not have so much flex to it. Some people have concerns about the bogie steering as not being as efficient as the Ackermann steering system. In reality the bogey style steering actually is more efficient and tracks better than the Ackermann. The Ackermann system is an approximation of an arc whereas the bogey style system is dead highly efficient.
The cheap go kart, which most are looking for, is easily made by yourself on a weekend or through a month’s span, using components that come off of basically a riding tractor. There are so many riding tractors out there that are being gotten rid of everyday. You could also go to an old junkyard where they fix lawnmowers and see if they will sell you rims and wheels for really cheap. Other cheap sources are Craig’s list and Free Cycle. You will be amazed at the stuff people are getting rid of, stuff that is great for a go kart. Everything you need for a wood go kart is available on the riding lawnmower..
You may be asking the question “Why not just use the riding lawnmower and be done with it?”
The reason why I don’t advocate using a riding lawnmower is that it actually is not simpler and is not stable. The riding lawnmower sits up higher that you want to sit making it unstable. The center of gravity is higher than is safe so the tendency for the riding tractor is that it will flip or rollover a lot easier than the lower center of gravity wood go kart.. Keeping the gravity center (or the line of action for the forces that go through go kart) lower keeps the go kart less able to flip. The way this is done is by widening the stance of the go kart and by lowering the rider position.
If you’re considering looking into a cheap go kart you may want to consider the father and son project or the father daughter wood go kart project as your next venture. It doesn’t cost you more than hundred dollars when it is all said and done. You will have hours of fun assembling, cutting, fabricating, and sewing on the wood go kart.