Thanks to the The Dangerous Book for Boys (a solicited birthday present!) I was able last Friday afternoon/Saturday morning to build my boys a really cool go-cart. Now you could follow that Amazon link, “Search inside this book!” for ‘go-cart’, and read the three page plan for free, or you could just read this right here — but I recommend that if you have any boys, you just pick up a copy of the book yourself. Watch the video at the Amazon page, or at least read this review by Al Mohler.
Now I happened to have a ready source of wheels — two strollers in my garage that T wanted to get rid of. But separating those wheels from their strollers, and affixing them to wood, was not a trivial task. (Although I was delighted to discover that my Dremel rotary tool can cut metal!) If I were to start all over again from scratch, I would do things more simply. For all you other fathers out there, here is how you can build a butt-kickin’ go-cart for your boys (and even yourself!), for I bet under $20 — under $30 for sure! And the only tools you will need are a drill, a wrench, and a paintbrush.
- One 8 foot plank of 2×6. If you have a saw, you can cut it yourself at home, but for free or nominal (50 cents/cut?), they can cut it in the store into a body (4′?) and two axles (2′?).
- Four rigid (not swivelling), plate- (not stem-)mounting caster wheels (like this). Make sure the long direction of the base-plate fits within the <6 inches of the plank.
- #10 wood screws, in two lengths: 1 1/4″ for attaching the wheels to the axles, and 2 1/2″ for attaching the rear axle to the body plank.
- A 3 1/2″ long bolt, thickness 1/4″ or more, a fitting cap nut to connect the front (steering) axle to the body plank, and 3-4 washers. Make sure the bolt is threaded only at the tip, so that it is smooth for easy turning. (Alternatively, you could get a universal clevis-pin and a cotter pin (fancy)
- Two wood-screw-threaded eye bolts (like this).
- Some decent vinyl rope.
OK, that might add up to more than $30, but you’ll have left-over wood screws and rope, which will be useful for future projects.
As for building, it’s a snap! Friday night after work, cut the lumber in whatever size body/axles you want (a wider front axle means more room for feet to rest and steer, as well as stability, and a longer body means more boys!), and let the boys paint it using whatever cans you have laying around.
Bright and early Saturday morning, or Friday night after bedtime (when the paint has dried), carefully measure and mark the center of the front axle, and the screw positions for the wheel baseplates on both axles. Make sure the wheels on each axle will be parallel. Maybe use a nail to indent each screw location. Then the boys can drill out all the pilot holes for the wood screws (you might want to drill the steering bolt hole yourself), change the drill over to a phillips bit, and drive all the screws to attach the wheels, and the rear axle to the body.
Assemble the steering axle as follows, top to bottom: cap nut, washer, body plank, washer, front axle plank, washer, (washer…), bolt. If n washers would allow you to tighten the cap nut so that the axle could not move, then you want to use n-1 washers. Tighten the cap nut securely, so it will never fall off, but so that there is still play around the steering bolt so the axle can turn.
Finally, drill two more pilot holes at either end of the steering axle, screw in the eye-bolts, and tie on an appropriate length of rope, and you’re good to go! You’ll be rollin’ by lunchtime!
My final cart is a little closer to the original plans, and looks like this:
I used a 1×8 plank for the body, because I had it laying around, but I’m not sure whether the go-cart would be sturdy enough for me to ride — with 2×6 there would be no such worry. I also had some 1×12 plank and carpet (and a power stapler) around to make a simple seat. The biggest difference is the wheels. If you have a jogging stroller you’re done with, I recommend the big back wheels, because it looks really cool, and probably rolls better than casters. I ended up securing the steel tubing to the rear axle using U-bolts, drilling holes all the way through the wood.
So the boys had a great time helping to make the cart, and of course a great time riding it! Note that riding is still a learning process, and even though it is low-down, the cart can flip over if turned too fast. Encouraging them to turn only gently, and to lean back for a low center of gravity should help. But prepare for at least one well-skinned knee per child.
UPDATE: Frequent Blogorrhea correspondent Bruce S. sent in an historic photo of the gocart made for him by infrequent Blogorrhea correspondent setty. I am now less proud of my accomplishment. Look at those suspension springs, and the rack&pinion steering! I bet he even MacGyvered his own wheels out of bubblegum and paper clips! He even included side-view mirrors — no wait, those are ears…
Filed under: Family Life |