Go, Cart, Go!

Thanks to the Amazon.com: The Dangerous Book for Boys: Books: Conn Iggulden,Hal Iggulden 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.
Shopping list:

  1. 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′?).
  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.
  3. #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.
  4. 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)
  5. Two wood-screw-threaded eye bolts (like this).
  6. 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:

Go-cart Go-cart in action

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 knees.jpgthe 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…

oldcart.jpg

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18 Responses

  1. “Boys are very different,” she observed.

    TIME’s recent cover story referenced this book. the cover wanted to take to task the rather populist notion that “our boys are in danger.” i didn’t finish the article because in its zeal to debunk popular thought (betraying a terribly american way and a dose of academic one-up-man ship) it comes back round to simply adopting another popular theory. th eone thing i liked was how it said you can find stats to back up any social theory.

    and, yes, dr. mohler, boys are different from girls, very much so; a girl’s version of this book seems kinda silly. i am just not fully persuaded that i need to know how to pull apart a car to be male; and i am not so sure boys need to learn to be one through books. when i caught frogs and shot birds with me bb gun it wasn’t because my dad nor i read a book. and, c’mon, real boys don’t give a hoot about shakespeare…do they? i didn’t until college. maybe that was for the better.

    mohler might do well to tone down the predictable charge of “feminism” to those who aren’t overly smitten with the idea of boy and girl formulas and factories. as one who is equally puked out by the feminization of our cult and culture, it also seems there is a difference between pandering to mere social stereotypes and nurturing boys to be boys and girls to be girls. i wonder: if your boy sees my girl struggling to pick up a heavy object, and you are supposed to encourage him to help her out, am i supposed to encourage her to take his help? probably, but i like to think that is matter of common sense, not some high falutin philosphy about what boys and girls are “supposed to do.”

    eh…i think i will go home soon and romp with my girls in the pool and throw them some pitches.

    zrim

  2. No doubt your girls would also enjoy a go-cart — but they’d be terrible drivers!

  3. what’s that about stereotypes?!

    you know, it’s probably the sociology undergrad minor in me, the more i thought about certain pop social theories i came to a possibility: i wonder if we might do well to say that every boy and every girl need both a mother and a father, instead of suggesting each needs a theory to tell him or her how to be one. i’d much rather have had my folks than a book.

    every male and female has both masculine and feminine traits. boys, of course, tend to have the former predominantly, girls are predominantly feminine. a male tends to define what it means to be competitive, a female what it means to be nurturing. but a male can be nurturing–only in “male way.” a female can be competetive–only in a “female way.”

    i am not much for compartmentalizing males and females in the traditionalist way because it takes away the layers and nuanced intracacies of humanhood. but neither am i progressivist in its quest to level the field and ignore the inherent differences. and both seem to hold out male hood as superior, despite their protestations.

    and the best way, i think, to allow a boy to be a boy and also not neglect his natural feminine traits is to have a mother (his father helps with the male ones, obviously); and every girl needs a father to nurture her masculine traits (her mother helps with the female ones, obviously). so, “boys can still be boys and girls can stil be girls” while also nurturing and not being so afraid of their counterpart traits.

    this also seems to help any arguments against homosexual marriage.

    …and, yes, i am still a subordinationist when it comes to the whole female ordination thing…

    zrim

  4. I hear ya — I’m not the manliest man myself (although last night I watched 300), since I grew up a nerdy bookworm, I play violin and I almost never watch pro sports. Before we had any kids, I thought that I would rather have girls than boys, because I didn’t think my own personal track record of “being a boy” qualified me to teach someone else to be one. Nowadays I think rather that having three boys and no girls has been good for me — a wakeup call to the fact that I should ignore the culture’s message that I (and every man) should become as feminine as possible, and that “masculinity” = “machismo” = “everything that is wrong with the world”.

    i wonder if we might do well to say that every boy and every girl need both a mother and a father

    That is certainly true, but if I were to willfully misinterpret the rest of what you were trying to say, such a statement might still allow for the mother and father to do their best to obliterate gender roles within the home (completely equal co-parentship, and identical expectations for boys and girls). So I would strengthen your assertion by saying that every child needs both a mother and father who demonstrate biblical submission and headship.

    every male and female has both masculine and feminine traits

    Depends on how you define “masculine” and “feminine”. Might you be buying into pop/feminist culture that has skewed the terminology to further an agenda of unifying the genders?

    a male can be nurturing–only in “male way.” a female can be competetive–only in a “female way.”

    So adjust the definitions so that “masculine” includes “male way nurturing” and “feminine” includes “female way competitiveness”.

  5. Now might be a good time to re-link to this old favorite of mine from The Forester.

  6. “So I would strengthen your assertion by saying that every child needs both a mother and father who demonstrate biblical submission and headship.”

    ooo, i might suggest this not to be very W2k of you, rube(!). cannot perfectly unbelieving folks rear their children with correct gender roles? i think it’s an unfair assumption that unbelievers are automatically vulnerable to “obliterate gender roles within the home.” (i am reminded of an exchange i had with a transformer who suggested that my unbelieving father, whom i laud and honor still as my earthly example of what is right, good and true, may be a good father but wasn’t as good as he could be since he was unbelieving. yeow. sorry, friend, but your transformer ways seem to lead you to some pretty preposterous statements, some that might tempt me to have to violate commandment 5).

    maybe that’s my secular upbrnging speaking, but so what? much as my own rearing may have *tried* to deny male headship, it was always quite clear to me where the buck stopped–dad. even unbelief cannot escape natural law.

    “Depends on how you define “masculine” and “feminine”. Might you be buying into pop/feminist culture that has skewed the terminology to further an agenda of unifying the genders?”

    nah. i do not have such a fear, rube. i think that’s an over sensitivity influenced perhaps by traditionalist categories. i think you have to admit the plain natural law that both sexes have resident within them both sets of traits. we have mixed chromosomes, yes?

    all good and well to forrester’s post. i had similar experiences when teaching English to boys and girls who couldn’t care any less. i am not so sold on the idea that the gender of a writer ought to be excluded from a lit survey class, or the canon for that matter.

    And, btw, like a colleague of mine says, “it’s one thing to be a male chauvinist (like me), quite another to be a male chauvinist pig.” it’s the pig that makes the difference. methinks forrester erred on the swine side of things. Ever heard of dorothy sayers, forrester?

    zrim

  7. i take some of that back, forrester. i should qualify my statements. i should say your experiment was very interesting given what you were trying to do, etc. i read your effort to be more experimental than regulative; there’s a big difference, and i get it.

    zrim

  8. ooo, i might suggest this not to be very W2k of you, rube(!)

    2k=two kingdoms — what’s the W?

    i think it’s an unfair assumption that unbelievers are automatically vulnerable to “obliterate gender roles within the home.”

    I didn’t mean (or say) “automatically vulnerable”, I’m just saying such an approach is not ruled out by your more general statement, so those who are too influenced by the feminism rampant in the culture nowadays might seek to wedge that in where you didn’t intend.

    cannot perfectly unbelieving folks rear their children with correct gender roles?

    Now to the substantive point, I would say no. To the extent that unbelievers (or believers, for that matter) deviate from paradigm of headship, submission, and sacrificial love modeled by Christ and his bride (or what his bride should be), they do not have correct gender roles. Maybe you think this strays from 2K, but I think family is a covenantal activity (linked to the covenantal activity of the visible church, as demonstrated by infant baptism) — unlike common-grace institutions like civil government or culture generally.

  9. the w stands for westminster; as in WSC; as in vandrunen; as in hart; as in clark; as in horton; as in grabill (ok, he’s acton institute!).

    if you didn’t mean “automatically vulnerable,” i am having trouble understanding your second, “substantivepoint.” maybe it has to do with my more optimistic view of common grace endeavor and what i perceive in yours to be more pessimistic…

    “To the extent that unbelievers (or believers, for that matter) deviate from paradigm of headship, submission, and sacrificial love modeled by Christ and his bride.”

    so, unbelievers automaticallycannot properly order society (while believers do but can deviate), or at least are more vulnerable to disorder? i think this tends to a transformationist assumption that believers “transcend their humanity” by virtue of their faith. i disagree.

    how do you explain muslim dictates against homosexuality, theft or rape, or well ordered asian societies? how do you explain that fact that egypt pre-exile was well ordered enough for the jews to want to go back or that part of the immediate shame of the Cross was that “if you hung on a tree it was because you belonged there,” which to say that rome had a pretty good system for carrying out justice?

    i am categorizing “ordering gender roles” under that general rubric of ordering this temporal world. seems to me a good w2k view has to allow for this and can say no less, otherwise it gives away its arguments.

    you seem to be suggesting that unbelieving families are somehow not as good or sub-par. what i am saying is that true faith doesn’t make any temporal endeavor legitimate. a christian marriage/family is very different from a non-, of course. but it has nothing to do with legitimacy. and, besides, awhen paul tell sme to love my wife as Christ loved theh church it is not to tell me how to order my home so much as it is being used to illustrate an eternal point. after all, even pagans know to love their wives and even submit to their husbands. we do it for entirely different reasons, just like we pursue the law of God for different reasons (read: the HB catechism–CoG, gratitude, grace, etc. versus CoW, reward and self-justification).

    yes, family is a covenantal activity, but unbelievers can have well ordered ones as well.

    zrim

  10. I think we’ll wait until we’ve finished paying off the hospital bills from Marco’s broken leg to try any go carts. We’ve got to have a little time to put some more money in the “hospital fund”. :)

  11. you seem to be suggesting that unbelieving families are somehow not as good or sub-par…yes, family is a covenantal activity, but unbelievers can have well ordered ones as well.

    I’m stickin to my guns here. By virtue of being covenantal, the family is more than just a common grace institution. Non-believing, common-grace “families” are but a carnal imitation of the institution God intended.

    Have you ever been to a non-Christian wedding? Ugh — what a depressing mockery! That’s why I am for the concept of ‘civil unions’ for homosexuals — indeed for all unbelievers! Get the gub’mnt out of the “marriage” business altogether, as it has no authority or ability to regulate subjective marital matters of love, submission, responsibility, etc.

    And yes, unbelievers can have “well ordered” families. A family with boys in long hair and pink dresses, and girls playing tackle football, and parents taking orders and children giving spankings can be perfectly well-ordered and happy, and strife-free. As can a family where the boys get all the education and opportunity, and the girls get nothing but menial labor. There are as many possible definitions of “well-ordered” as there are people, probably, but most of them are not biblical.

  12. Who would ever guess that the original post was about how to build a go-cart?

  13. Update: Check out the skinned knees and the historic go-cart in the post above…

  14. Don’t feel so bad, son. You should put up a photo of the go-cart I made for you.

    Racing fans will take note of the hopelessly incompetent driver who is leaning into a right hand turn, thus demonstrating a lack of aptitude for NASCAR, which features the permanent left hand turn.

  15. rube,

    i can’t pick up what you are laying down very well, sorry.

    i was going to address you specifically. but i think all i can really say is…yeow. this is part of my own frustration with those who otherwise claim a w2k view. i am coming to see it as more like w2k-lite.

    (and that isn’t quite my meaning of “well ordered.” mine is more objective than subjective. i don’t accept personal happiness to be the final say on whether something is well ordered. if jack and john are married in vermont they are not well ordered. happy, i am sure, but not well ordered. sexual libertines and poly-amorous folks are positively giddy, but not well ordered. as a w2ker, i hesistate using “biblical” to measure something in the natural order. i believe we can point to natural law, objectively, and say whether something is well ordered. we have all we need in natural law to plod out this life, messy as it may get. you have to have enough confidence in and be able to argue from natural law without smashing the glass and pulling the God-lever down on any line of argumentation. if your final argument is “God says so,” why not just jump to the end and avoid all the hub-bub, bub? plus, when you are dealing with folks who couldn’t care any less about special revelation, the “it’s biblical” argument means next to nothing. in the end, you might as well leave the common sphere and join the fundies and theonomists and transformers who would also have that unbelievers are illegit in their common endeavors because they are not us.)

    oops. guess i went on more than i meant to…

    zrim

  16. The “wussification” of America will kill us. Like I heard from a speaker a few weeks ago at Promise Keepers: “I did get in touch with my feminine side; I MARRIED HER!”

    We are badly in need of REAL MEN in America and in our churches.

    And Rube; yes, you were kind of nerdy, but never effeminate, and definitely NOT metrosexual either. You turned into quite the post power player in basketball, and held your own in the pool in many of our testosterone-laden confrontations. And classical music tastes are fine, as long as you don’t have a collection of show tunes. :-)

  17. Ok, Rube. Here is your next father/sons project: Behold: The moth sailboat! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_OYV0chVUUU

  18. never effeminate, and definitely NOT metrosexual either

    Thx for your endorsement — are you saying something about my wardrobe? Funny thing, I randomly caught up with someone I knew from high school (I don’t have any friends from high school!), and he remembered me as “slightly overdressed”! I don’t know what he was talking about, but certainly nobody could make that judgment today! Also funny, I remember you told me once that there was a rumor/fear going around LWC that I was gay, because I was away at school for so many years and years, and never brought back a girlfriend.

    held your own in the pool in many of our testosterone-laden confrontations

    Glistening-wet young male bodies, writhing and twisting in the pool — that’s not gay…

    Well, I gotta go — time to go play a man’s sport: disc biathalon!

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