How To Make Rat Rod Go Kart Car

Step 1: Tear Down

Tear down usually goes pretty quick on a project like this and helps motivation, because¬†it’s¬†such as you¬†got¬†such a lot¬†done.

It was really only an hour or two of taking of parts and sorting them into two piles: metal-recycle and maybe-useful.

I want this thing low and rodded out.¬†the first¬†plan was¬†to chop¬†it in half, flip the rear axle, and stretch it¬†within the¬†middle of the frame. After¬†trying to find¬†replacement drive belts, I found¬†i might¬†need to¬†install a jackshaft or¬†idle pulley¬†set because¬†they only¬†don’t make belts long enough for what I wanted¬†to try to to¬†. Lowering it¬†an excessive amount of¬†also would hinder my wife’s ability to drive it¬†round the¬†farm¬†and truly¬†use the thing. As cool as slammed to¬†the bottom¬†would be, it just wasn’t practical.

Plan B…

I¬†hamper¬†the¬†sheet¬†deck that¬†wont to¬†support the seat and battery. I could¬†a minimum of¬†lower the seat as far as possible and lengthen and drop it¬†ahead¬†of the motor. “Raked”¬†may be a¬†close second to “slammed”.

Step 2: Wheel Barrow Seat and Cutting the Frame

One main goal of this project was to use an old wheel barrow because the seat/body of the kart. To do it, I knew I wanted to chop the wheel barrow in such how that I can use the deep end of it as a seat with a high back, and therefore the shallow end because the dashboard. When done right, i feel it really seems like an old T-Bucket hot rod.

The seat was mounted using the old seat hinge with new holes drilled in it. I grabbed some scrap 1/8″¬†sheet¬†to bend up little spring pads. I welded them¬†on to¬†the frame and bolted the springs under the seat for¬†a touch¬†cushion while driving.

At¬†now¬†, I “knew” that I wanted¬†to create¬†a touch¬†floor¬†behind the barrow¬†to form¬†it¬†appear as if¬†a T-bucket pickup. But,¬†the simplest¬†laid plans of mice and men often go awry.¬†due to¬†the hinged barrow seat¬†and therefore the¬†way the bed would cover the tow hitch, I had¬†to form¬†some new plans. So I picked up an old mailbox from my parents, who had recently replaced theirs. My wife¬†may be a¬†rural¬†mailman¬†,¬†therefore the¬†mail box certainly fits an emerging theme for the build. More¬†thereon¬†later…

Using a Dewalt¬†saber saw¬†, I cut the frame just¬†ahead¬†of the motor mounts. The steering would¬†need to¬†be lengthened or changed, but lengthening the frame here would have almost no other effects on major components of the kart. I also¬†stop¬†the frame pieces that stuck out past the front axle; they were just there¬†to carry¬†the cowling and exhaust,¬†and that we¬†don’t need those where we’re going. Plus, rat rod axles are¬†alleged to¬†be¬†within the¬†very front.

After cutting the frame apart, I had to mock it up with a few tire sizes and frame lengths to ascertain how it looked best.

I really wanted to use the smaller tires, but, again, not very practical. Bigger tires roll over objects better and may eat up any imperfections within the steering setup.

Step 3: Welding It Back Together

Originally¬†i assumed¬†i might¬†bend some pipe that we had leftover from a project at work¬†to urge¬†the right¬†angle for the front axle. However, with the carburetor¬†and large¬†air cleaner¬†on the engine, there just wasn’t room for a bent pipe¬†thereon¬†side. Instead, I had to compromise again and flip the frame section that houses the axle and install it¬†the wrong way up¬†with a straight pipe. It actually¬†figured out¬†much simpler.

I extended the frame 12″. This was the minimum I needed¬†to elongate¬†it for the tire to clear the¬†air cleaner¬†at full turn.

I cut my pipe (1″ sch40) frame extensions at 20″. I’d have 2.75″ of weld area on the front section with the axle (as¬†very much like¬†my design would allow), and 5.25″ on the engine-side. I bent the frame¬†round the¬†pipe¬†the maximum amount¬†as possible and welded in as many spots as I could get the stinger into.

The tire at full turn would just clear the¬†air cleaner¬†. The filter isn’t¬†within the¬†best spot for keeping clean, but sometimes fashion trumps function.

To make the steering fit, I had to lower the front another inch and flip the steering arm to bias towards the rear of the mower.

Step 4: “Body” Panels

The dashboard¬†is formed¬†from the¬†stop¬†section of the barrow. The supports for it are¬†made up of¬†some 1/4″ stainless round bar we had¬†tons¬†of scraps of at work. It sits¬†above¬†the first¬†plan, because it allows access to the engine and flywheel. The supports are welded¬†on to¬†the frame of the mower.¬†it isn’t¬†ideal if¬†i want¬†to tug¬†the engine for a rebuild or replacement¬†within the¬†future, but they’re surprisingly flexible¬†just in case¬†they have¬†to be bent out of the way.

The grill¬†is formed¬†from an old pitchfork. I marked and notched where the tines touched the front steering support and welded each tine¬†in situ¬†. I originally planned¬†to chop¬†the pitchfork down, but, frankly,¬†i feel¬†it’s¬†pretty cool long, so I left it.¬†you cannot¬†return¬†if it doesn’t look good¬†hamper¬†, after all.

Step 5: Fuel Tank

One of the staples of a rat rod is that the fuel tank. I knew I wanted to try to to something unique. A mini keg? Stainless beer growler? Hide it during a mailbox? i actually wanted an old situation gallon gas or oil can. seems one among those was surprisingly hard to seek out . I compromised with a dented and rusty paint thinner am i able to had. It had an excellent patina, and that i think it matched the rust and chipped paint of the barrow rather well .
Installing the valve is as simple as drilling¬†the proper¬†sized hole¬†within the¬†bottom of the can and bolting the valve into place. There are two¬†vital¬†parts of properly executing this task: 1)¬†employing a¬†Nylock nut because¬†you are doing¬†not want that nut backing itself off and spilling gas everywhere; 2) place¬†the opening¬†during a¬†location¬†you’ll¬†access with a deep socket and long extension through the filler hole. And in my case, there’s actually¬†a 3rd¬†lesson learned: don’t use a can with a hole in it.

As it seems , the rusted gallon jug with a dent in it also had a leak right within the middle of the dent.

Step 6: Steering

I used a track rod to tie the steering arms together behind the front axle.¬†i actually¬†wanted¬†to put in¬†a steering box and drag link, but it’s just not very cost-efficient. Instead, I used¬†the first¬†geared steering hub.¬†during this¬†design, the¬†wheel¬†turns a geared shaft, which turns a hub with two¬†rod¬†ends¬†thereon¬†. It had independent drag links¬†for every¬†side,¬†and that they¬†were really loose¬†therefore the¬†wheels didn’t track together¬†alright¬†. Independent drag links¬†also can¬†cause unintended steering problems if the front axle articulates. Installing¬†a top quality¬†track rod definitely helped¬†to stay¬†the tires parallel and more easily adjustable for toe in/out.

The downside of using the old steering arms for the track rod is that it left me no place¬†to connect¬†the new drag link. I¬†achieved¬†the spindle and welded on¬†a replacement¬†steering arm¬†made up of¬†some scrap 3/16″ stainless that was laying¬†round the¬†shop. It took¬†a touch¬†of trial and error and grinding¬†to seek out¬†a shape that wouldn’t interfere with the axle or tire at full turn / full articulation.

The new drag link was getting to be made up of some square stainless tubing I had, but I noticed the old drag link threads looked really almost like the threads on one among the rod arms I had gotten from my mower-racing friend. surely , it had been an ideal fit, so my new drag link was as simple as threading an old drag link onto an old tie rod!

You may notice¬†within the¬†photos¬†that each one¬†the bolts/nuts on the steering look¬†the wrong way up¬†.¬†one among¬†the tricks of industry is¬†to put in¬†important bolts¬†the wrong way up¬†so¬†you’ll¬†more easily monitor them – If a nut loosens or falls off completely,¬†you will not¬†notice it if the bolt¬†remains¬†in place; but if the bolt loosens,¬†you’ll¬†notice the exposed nut threads immediately.

I didn’t¬†just like the¬†near-vertical steering shaft. So I welded in some bracing (leftover from the old¬†gasoline tank¬†mount), and¬†hack¬†a C-clamp¬†to form¬†an adjustable angled steering shaft. The articulating joint¬†may be a¬†3/8″ universal socket joint that I welded into the steering shaft.¬†there is a¬†bit¬†of slop from the C-clamp’s pad, but¬†it isn’t¬†noticeable when you’re driving it.

Step 7: Seat Cushion

I made a template for her with heavy paper, and we discussed material/print options. She chose some outdoor upholstery material. She sewed it in a couple stages so I could test fit the seat without bringing the mower to her. There are some Neodymium magnets from Amazon taped to the inside of the cushion. They work surprisingly well to keep the seat in place.

Step 8: Custom Touches

Any good rat rod has a comically tall shifter. So, I’ve extended the shift arm by 24 inches with 3/8″ rod and added a custom 3D printed mailbox shift knob. It features a paperclip hinge and fully functional door.
I also 3d-printed a switch box to mount on the dash in lieu of using the keyed switch. There wasn’t anything wrong with the switch, but it had too many mower safeties that didn’t apply to a go kart, and it really didn’t match the feng shui of the build.

Step 9: Battery Box and Trunk

I reused the old battery box and mounted it behind the barrow body. There wasn’t much room for it between the kart frame and where I wanted¬†to place¬†the mailbox. I also wanted¬†to stay¬†it up high enough that I could use¬†the first¬†tow hitch for a future matching trailer project.

I welded the old battery box¬†on to¬†the frame of the mower. It wasn’t designed to support¬†the load¬†of the battery the way that I mounted it, but I braced it with the mail box mount supports, so it¬†should not be¬†a drag¬†.

I used more of the leftover 1″ sch40 pipe¬†to make¬†bracing for the battery box¬†and therefore the¬†main support for the mailbox mount. I had¬†to chop¬†a comparatively¬†complicated double-miter on the round pipe,¬†which may¬†be¬†a true¬†pain. I used an Evolution miter saw. This saw can cut most materials,¬†and therefore the¬†miter function made it¬†very easy¬†to form¬†a cut¬†that might¬†rather be¬†a nightmare.
I left the pipe sections long so I could cut them¬†to suit¬†the mailbox mount once they were¬†in situ¬†. Sometimes it’s¬†with great care¬†hard¬†to see¬†how long¬†a bit¬†must¬†be¬†to urge¬†the right¬†“look.”

The mailbox mount¬†is formed¬†from 1/8″¬†plate¬†, and¬†bent¬†the brake press with a 60 degree die.

I braced the¬†hack¬†sheet¬†that¬†wont to¬†be the frame of the mower with some 3/16″ stainless. It’s overkill, but I¬†work on¬†a stainless shop, so¬†it is the¬†most plentiful scrap I’ve got access to.

Step 10: Test Running

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