How to build a go kart? So, you need to build one but you have no idea where to start. There is nothing quite like creating something with your own two hands and being able to race your creation down a hill successfully (AKA - without the go kart completely falling apart).
Maybe it is for your kid’s Boy Scout troupe or your community’s annual go kart race. Whatever your reason is for learning how to build a go kart, we are here to give you the most practical and simple way to build a go kart.
Keep in mind that this is not an easy task and it definitely requires an extreme amount of skill and patience.
Building something from scratch is oddly satisfying, but building something you can drive? The feeling is even more satisfying than building, for example, a bookshelf.
What You Will Need on How to Build a Go Kart
To successfully build a go kart, will need specific tools, supplies, and an especially driven work ethic to learn how to build a go kart.
You will also need some power tools, welding capabilities (or a welder), access to a workspace, a creative mind, and a huge amount of patience.
You will also need the appropriate dare devil who has the “cajones” to test the go kart when it is finished!
First you need to decide what the specific plans for your go kart are. Go karts come in all shapes and sizes but the basic elements of a go kart are a chassis, a simple engine and a steering/braking system.
For the chassis, you will need:
- 30 feet of 1-inch square tubing
- 6 feet of0.75-inch round steel bar stock
- 6 feet of 0.5-inch bar stock
- 3/16th-inch thick steel plate in a width and length slightly larger than your engine
- Plywood or metal (for seat and floorboards)
- A seat
For the engine, you will need:
- An Engine (an old lawnmower engine is perfect to use as a go kart engine)
- Chain that fits the sprocket
- Bolts and washers
- Gas tank
For the drive train, you will need:
- Steering wheel
- Gear and handbrake
- Drive Shaft
- Steering Shaft
- Brake pedal
- Throttle/go pedal
Steps on How to Build a Go Kart
1. Draw Up Your Plan
Drafting up your go kart plan is the best way to begin building a go kart. Produce diagram after diagram to ensure your measurements and design are as accurate as you can make them. You can look online for schematics and ideas for your go kart design.
Size your go kart depending on the size and age of the driver.
2. Hire a Qualified Welder
For those who do not have experience welding, hiring a welder is a crucial and necessary to safely and efficiently build your go kart. You will need the welder to help create a solid chassis or base for your go kart.
An alternative to this option is to purchase a go kart kit online. These no-welding necessary kits will allow a regular layman to assemble with simple tools the chassis for your go kart.
3. Start Building
Next up, you will begin cutting the metal tubing for your kart’s frame. Cut the lengths of your tubing to match those of your schematics for your go kart. Weld the frame together, assemble the front stub axles and then install your rear axle and wheel assembly.
You will probably need a bearing bracket for the rear axle so that the frame and axle both have proper range of motion. Weld a steel plate onto the chassis to secure the pressure plate and squeeze the bearing into place.
For an easy guide, you can mark the floor of the workspace you are using to keep track of your measurements and plans. A good trick is to use sidewalk chalk, as it is easy to erase but also easy to use.
If you want to make it even easier on yourself, consider drawing up your entire plan on the ground of your workspace to make sure you are keeping everything in line and measured correctly. The last thing you want to happen is for on miss-measured step to ruin your entire project.
The next step is to weld your frame together according to the specific plans you are using. If you have hired a welder, they will most likely use concrete blocks to elevate the go kart’s frame while they work.
Use gussets in the corners of your welds to provide even more stability. Make sure to take all safety precautions if you are welding for the first time and do not weld if you do not have experience.
4. Build and Install Your Seat
Assemble your seat out of plywood and bolt the seat to your go kart’s frame. Use T nuts to drill holes into the plywood and cover the plywood with 2-inch high-density foam followed by a solid layer of marine vinyl.
Secure the vinyl to the seat by using a staple gun and make sure to leave room for the steering, engine, and other control gears. If you want to save the time and money, you can try checking salvage yards for old go kart seats or a car seat that might fit in the go kart.
5. Engine and Steering Column
The next major step is to install the go kart’s engine mount. Have your welder weld a flat piece of a thick steel plate to the rear frame in order to properly mount your engine. Place the engine on top of the steel plate and mark the holes where your bolt will go.
Attach your driving pulley onto the axle before you mount the axle to the bushings. Next up, you will build the steering linkage. Use the 0.5-inch steel rod for the linkages and the 0.75-inch steel rods for you axles.
6. Wheels and Brakes
Install your small racing wheels to the go kart for maximum acceleration and steering control. Stabilize them onto the already installed axles with their respective hubs. The next big step to complete your go kart is to assemble and install your brakes.
Fix a disc onto the rear axle and a caliper assembly onto the chassis to make for the safest go kart possible. You can usually find these supplies on salvaged go karts or motorbikes. Motorbike assemblies are ideal for go karts, because they have almost the same size.
Definitely add a brake pedal for your foot to use, because your hands will be busy steering once you hit the road. You can do this by actually installing a brake pedal or by making a simple pull throttle – like a lawnmower.
The brakes might be the most important part of your go kart, because they provide the ability for the driver to stop the vehicle or emergency brake it with the foot pedal in case of crisis.
7. Decorate Your Go Kart
Now comes the fun part. Since you have now learned how to build a go kart, you can decorate your go kart. Use paints, flags, emblems, and streamers to create the most colorful and fly go kart on the block.
If you are competing in a group or for a certain cause, make a specialized flag to let observers know who’s go kart is driving by. This a super fun way to get even more creative and personalize your go kart.
8. Win the Race
Now it is time for the big race and you are nervous but excited to test your homemade go kart against the other homemade go karts out there. Hopefully, you were smart and took your go kart for a few test spins before taking it to the race track.
On Your Mark, Get Set, Go!
We hope this breakdown helped you in learning all you need to know about how to build a go kart.
From drawing up your designs to hiring a welder or learning how to weld, building a go kart is no small task. It is in fact a huge undertaking not for the faint of heart.
Building a go kart takes time, perseverance, money, smarts, and building capabilities. It also takes a strong-willed and motivated person - with a competitor’s bone and an itch for winning.
We wish you the best of luck in your adventures of go kart building and racing!