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Winter Project: Go Kart In The Basement – A fantastic wooden project for the whole family

You may be lamenting the arrival of winter, as it decreases daylight and therefore temperature, but accumulates snow in some states. Winter can be a less productive time of year, especially for those without a heated shop.

Well that’s not entirely true, the store may be the base. The basement is a great place to start projects and then finish them in the basement or take them to the garage when they get too big.

I remember hearing stories of people making cars in their basement or making airplanes in their basement as well. They had to cut through the basement wall to get their project outdoors; but that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about a fun project, but small enough to take up the stairs. That project is called the “basement gokart.”

basic kart?

Yes, the base go kart. There are several varieties of karts that you can develop in the basement. A simple bolt-on framed go kart made from Angle Iron, a pre-welded frame (just bring it down to the basement and they’ll work and put the finishing touches on it), a PVC go kart, and my personal favorite: the wooden gokart.

The wooden go kart seems to be at the top of the feasibility list due to its low cost and the fact that everyone has access to simple woodworking tools. A sheet of plywood, a couple of two-by-fours, a couple of bolts and nuts, some string, PVC pipe, rims/tires (motor, either gas or electric), and some ingenuity, and has a wooden go kart that starts like nobody’s business.

You can think:

“A wooden kart is just not my friend. If I were to make a kart, it would have to be made of steel and steel tubes. Nothing made of wood can be very safe or even like a metal frame kart. In any case It’s going to fall apart a lot.”

Go Karts don’t have to be made of metal. If anything, the transition of high-performance sports cars like Ferraris, Porsches, and even Corvettes from steel to composites like fiberglass and carbon fiber should tell us that the myth of steel is just that…a myth.

Wood, like fiberglass, is both light and strong, depending on the types of wood chosen. Also, wood can be more than adequate for a strong and durable go kart.

There are a few things to look for in a wooden go kart design so that you don’t end up having performance and durability issues, they are:

-Reliable braking system

-Compatible steering system

-Well positioned center of gravity

These are the main design considerations that will make the go kart work and drive like a metal frame counterpart.

A reliable braking system is fundamental to the design of a kart. Once you get going, stopping is critical to safety. The last thing you want is a go kart to run away with. That’s all well and good, but really bringing a kart to a stop is more than just putting your foot down or sticking a stick into the ground. It is necessary to design a brake system, because the forces to stop a go kart can be up to 3 times the weight of the go kart. For example, a go kart that weighs 300lbs may have a braking force of close to 1000+lbs. The trick is to get one foot to press down on a pedal and then exert 1000lbs on the braking surface without having a leg as big as an elephant! A good kart design will take into account the necessary engineering design and have it all laid out for you.

The biggest challenge for a wooden kart is developing a management system that really works. Feeding strings is the easy part. Don’t think that a wooden kart needs to have feet to steer it: I would agree that a foot steering system is confusing and dangerous. The steering system I’m talking about is intuitive and uses the steering wheel to operate it. But there’s more than that.

Bogie style steering systems are inherently unstable unless supported. A good wooden kart design will account for instability and provide frame reinforcement.

Most kart designs haven’t even heard of CG Center of Gravity. CG what? The center of gravity is where the line of action of the main mass of the go kart (and the driver included) is located, so that there is a 50/50 weight distribution between the front and rear tires.

The 50/50 weight distribution makes the go kart much more responsive in corners and less likely to go straight (understeer). An understeer situation is unnerving, especially when you want to turn, and the go kart just keeps going straight. A 50-50 weight distribution keeps weight on the wheels where it’s needed for the caster wheels to grab and turn the cart.

A great winter project is a wooden go-kart in the basement. Costing less than $100, consider the wooden go kart as a fun family basement project this coming winter.

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