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How to Build a Go-kart: Everything You Need to Know on Building a Go-kart

Building a personal go-kart is bound to be something worth considering for just about every go-kart fanatic out there. The intimidating challenge of designing and building a go-kart is a task that is mostly accepted by those either devoted to go-kart or simply enjoying building things. If you are one of those people looking to build their go-karts, then this guide is for you. Assembling a go-kart can be quite complex at first, which is why this article breaks down the process into simple step-by-step chunks that will make it easier to digest.

Sketch a Go-kart Design

Sketch a detailed design of the go-kart and consider double-checking every detail since the ideal design will likely take a few corrections. Go-karts are known for their versatility and customizability with limitless options of design possibilities. Regardless, the basic components in a go-kart include an engine, brake/ maneuvering system, and a chassis.

In planning the go-kart design, ensure that every detail is taken into account so that you can prepare the right amount of materials for a successful build.

Ensure Accurate Go-Kart Sizing

Mostly, the go-kart size should depend on the driver’s size and age, especially since go-karts for adults can be too dangerous for children. Ensure that every detail is sized accurately and proportionately so that every piece and material can be assembled correctly. Since go-karts can come in all shapes and sizes, here are the three general go-kart sizes for a much easier sizing choice:

Full-sized Go-kart- For ages 12+, Wheelbase ranging between 1200 and 1450mm

Cadet Go-Kart- For ages 8-12, Wheelbase ranging between 900 and 1010mm

Kid Go-Kart- For ages 5-8, Wheelbase ranging between 700 and 850mm

Gather Required Materials

Consider taking a look around a nearby scrap yard to see whether you can find any inexpensive components. To further save on money, another great idea would be to strip an old and broken lawnmower, which could hold some salvageable parts you can use for building the go-kart. Even consider asking a few junk shops and repair shops if they have any spare materials or parts.

Required materials for the chassis:

  • Metal or plywood for the floorboards and seat
  • Go-kart seat
  • 1.8m of 1.5cm bar stock
  • 1.8m of 2cm round steel bar stock
  • 9.2m of 2.5cm square tubing
  • 0.5cm steel plate that is slightly larger than the engine
  • Here are the required materials for the engine:
  • Gas tank
  • Chain compatible with the sprocket
  • Washers, bolts
  • Engine (like a lawnmower engine)

Required materials for the drive train:

  • Steering wheel
  • Bearings
  • Brake pedal
  • Handbrake
  • Gear
  • Steering rod
  • Drive rod
  • Throttle

Get a Welder

If you have very little to zero experience welding, then it would be best to hire an experienced welder. A durable and well-constructed chassis is the most important component of a go-kart, especially since it is responsible for keeping the driver securely attached while maneuvering and serves as storage for the engine.

If designing and welding a go-kart does not appeal to you, then a go-kart body kit is an excellent alternative. Go kart body kits come with pieces and components that only require assembly using basic tools and even include a step-by-step guide manual for more easily assembling the go-kart. These kits are perfect for those looking to build a go-kart but don’t have much time or money.

Chassis Construction

Cut and divide each segment of the metal tubing into the specified lengths from the design details. The majority of designs come with the front wheels in a camber angle, which is narrower compared to the back set of wheels. This allows the wheels to more easily switch direction, which also enables room for the chassis to slightly turn.

Join the Frame by Welding

In welding, the frame, consider utilizing some concrete blocks or other similar objects to firmly secure the frame at a level for an easier process. Also, ensure that every connecting joints are firm and that the chassis is completely stable in place. Especially the chassis, since it must be secure enough to easily stabilize both the driver and engine weight.

Assemble the Front Axles

The axle should be constructed with a straight segment of a 2cm steel rod along with a couple of bushings that will be attached to the kart frame. For keeping everything in place during assembly, consider using washers and drilling a few cotter pins onto the axle.

First, install the front stubs for easier turning functions before configuring with the steering shaft. Afterward, proceed to the steering arm where King Pin will be attached. 

Assemble the Rear Axle

The axle carrier will require assembly alongside a bearing bracket for the back axle. This means that while the axel is being welded onto the frame, it can also spin effortlessly and securely. Onto the chassis, weld the steel plate by stabilizing the pressure plate along the exterior using lock nuts and high-tensile bolts to compress the bearing.

Build the Seat from Plywood

For the seat, either a salvaged go-kart seat or a manually constructed one will work. For bolting and securing the plywood seat into the frame, drill some holes into the plywood then plug them with T nuts, which will help stabilize the seat when bolting it into the frame. Layer the plywood seat with padding like some relatively thick density foam and add another layer on top with marine vinyl. Afterward, staple the vinyl into the back or bottom of the plywood. This will secure the layers along with the vinyl for a cushioned seat.

Put in Place the Engine Mount

Along the back of the frame, weld a straight and leveled steel plate as an engine mount. Position the engine onto the mount and mark the points where the mounting bolts will go.

The drive pulley must then be attached to the axle before mounting the axle. To hold everything into position, directly welding it onto the axle or using a set screw are both viable options as long as everything is aligned.

Assemble the Steering Connection

For linking connections, utilize the 1.5cm steel rods. For the axles, the 2cm rods are best. For achieving that required 90degree angle in the 2cm shaft, heating the steel with a torch is the way to go.

Aligning the steering requires adjustable links, especially since it is essential to have the appropriate camber and caster which includes a steering tilt and a fore-wheel vertical.

Install the Brake System and Wheels

A set of mini racing wheels will allow the go-kart sufficient control and acceleration features. Install the wheels onto the axles alongside hubs, then proceed to configure the brakes. Assemble the brakes by positioning a disc onto the back axle then a caliper assembly for the chassis, which results in a professional and reliable system. Most times, these assembled components can be found in decent quality from scrapped motorcycles.

The brake pedal should be installed to function by holding it with a foot, regardless of the acceleration type of the go-kart.

Install the Throttle

Connect the throttle connection to the hand throttle as either a foot pedal or a simple throttle-up similar to a lawnmower. This also depends on which throttle system is more comfortable as well as the engine type in place.

Verify Everything is Working

Ensure that everything is in working order and functioning properly, especially the suspension system and brakes. Double-check each detail and make sure that the brakes, welds, and mounting systems are secure before going for a test drive.

Conclusion

Although building a go-kart may seem daunting, the assembling process can prove to be quite as fun and satisfying as roving around in the go-kart, especially if handy work is a passion or hobby. Also, all the time and effort is easily worth it after first taking the kart for a spin since there is nothing more gratifying than zooming around in something you built yourself.

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