Archive for the ‘bugatti go kart’ Category

Is it a bonnet or a hood? I suppose it may depend on which side of the Atlantic you’re from. In either case I’m speaking of the portion of the body that would cover the engine. Or in our case, the top portion of the body that will cover the riders feet and pedals.

Measuring the curvature of the dash.

This part of the body will be fashioned out of a sheet of galvanized steel. The sheet will attach over the oval top of our grill, on both sides just above the louvers, and finally to the top of our dashboard.

I thought that my local Home Depot carried some materials like this, but I wasn’t sure. Before I headed over I took all of the necessary measurements. This included the curve of the grill, the distance from the grill to the dash and the curvature of the dash as well. I jotted down my measurements, recruited a helper and then headed over. My assistant insisted we take a tour of the pre-built storage sheds in the parking lot, so after that little diversion we headed in.

The size I needed was at least 24″ long and about the same in width. It wasn’t so much that what I was going to cut was a perfect square, but rather the width was wider at the dash end than the grill end. As luck would have it I found a 24″x36″ galvanized sheet that would suit the task just fine. But how would I cut it?

Nice and new 24x36 galvanized steel sheet.

When I was a kid my dad was always welding and working with metal projects all the time. He had an industrial grade set of shears in our garage. These were seriously of the heavy grade variety and were literally bolted to the garage floor. I could sure use those now.

I can remember using those shears for the first time. I had just received my first roll-away toolbox and I wanted to line the drawers before I put my tools in. I only had extra card board to use and wasn’t sure how best to trim it.

My Dad looked at me and pointed to the shears and said “Use that… if it can cut .10 gauge steel it should have no problem with cardboard!” Sure enough he was right. Not much good it does me now but they sure were handy at the time.

The freshly cut hood mounted at each end, to the grill and the dash.

Although I have a fairly extensive collection of tools I have no shears, handheld or otherwise. I was hesitant to buy tools that I’d likely never (or at least seldom) use again so I figured I’d try out the local Harbor Freight. They’re not exactly known for professional grade quality, but they are known for inexpensive stuff.

It turned out that Harbor Freight did have some decent looking shears for $5 that I figured would be fine for cutting straight lines, which is all we need to do. Armed with our aluminum and snips I headed home to get started.

First I double and triple checked the measurements and drew out the lines on the steel. I then took our high end scissors and started cutting out our hood. I was pleasantly surprised how easy it was to cut. Not quite as easy as say paper, but in about 15 minutes I had the entire shape cut. So the cheap shears worked out just fine.

Trimming a bit extra off so that the the hood doesn't overlap with the louvers.

Once I had the shape cut I placed it onto the kart and started to determine exactly where to center it, where it would mount on the grill and where it would mount on the dash. I started by placing a center line on the newly cut hood and mounting each end at this line with a single screw. I also removed our steering wheel at this point to make mounting a bit easier.

With the piece sitting now somewhat mounted, albeit loosely, it looks like either my measurements were off or something else was amiss here. I realized that the dash wasn’t sitting perfectly vertical which caused my measurements to be slightly off. Not terribly so, but just a bit.

In addition to the length I also had a hair too much on the width. It could have been resolved by unscrewing our single screws, moving it over slightly, and resetting it. Since I had already drilled a number of pilot holes, and the steel was easy to trim, I went ahead and cut a bit off rather than try to reposition the whole thing.

Curving around the dashboard and setting the screw.

Now that the fit is a bit more accurate I started to set the remaining screws, working my all the way around. Once the curve was set I was surprised how much strength the entire hood had. I mean you could still dent it with a fist, but it still was quite sturdy.

As I worked around the perimeter, drilling pilot holes, then running the screws the edges started to slightly buckle. It’s not quite like say smoothing a piece of linen… it really didn’t want to lie flat.

I worked my way from the grill towards the dash, tightening and slightly buckling, my way along the edge of the steel. Once I reached the dash I had to push down to hold it as flat as possible to keep the curve nice and tight.

If I had to guess I’d say that when race cars of this vintage were brand new, automotive technology being what it was in the 1920s, I’d guess that these came “brand new” with their share of dings and dents so I’ll just chalk this buckling up to realism. Yeah, that’s it….realism.

I think resetting some of the screws will resolve some of the buckling.

I finally set all the remaining screws in place. As I fastened them I also hit the edge of the steel sheeting with some sand paper. This stuff can really have a razor edge to it, especially places where I have cut it.

It’s nice to see what previously looked like a go kart missing some critical pieces, is now starting to really resemble a vintage race car.

Aside from the trip to Home Depot I didn’t have the assistance I’ve had with the earlier steps, the boys were busy riding their bikes up and down the street.

Birds eye view of our hood. Starting to look similar to our overhead Bugatti shot in Chapter 6.

The boys took a break from dragging everything they own down the street and came up to the garage. They glanced my way and commented how good it looked. They really looked thrilled to see this in place, so I must be doing something right. I do have to admit that immediately after the comment they asked for something to eat. I’d like to think they came up to check on my progress and the request for food was simply an afterthought.

With it all now set in place I pulled the car out to see where we stood and get some pictures. The car and the hood will all be painted so after a bit of playing around I think it will all look fine.

The overhead view also shows the hood as it meets the dash. This will give us plenty of opportunity to mount a frame for a windscreen later. The view from the riders perspective isn’t so bad either.

Our next step will be applying a sheet of steel to the rear deck (boot? trunk?) and going through similar steps we have here.

Our exhaust won’t be making a sound, but the added detail to our kart will be loud and clear. The custom exhaust we’re installing with this step will really finish off that vintage racer look we’ve been striving for.

Our plans called for using the chrome drainpipe from a sink. I thought that was a really clever solution and after considering alternatives such as PVC and the like I thought that I really couldn’t pass up the opportunity to have some chrome on this thing.

Our chrome exhaust components, or rather...a brass drain for a kitchen sink.

I poked around a bit and found the correct pieces at my local Lowe’s. Our exhaust kit will consist of 1 1/2″ brass kitchen sink garbage disposal pipe. We picked up a 6″ connector, two additional 6″ extensions, and a coupling to connect the extensions to one another.

All of these pieces for your average kitchen sink are chrome plated brass. The grand total was about $30. Much more than our louvers cost, but in the grand scheme of things not too bad. The first thing I needed to do was determine which side to put our exhaust on.

It really would be fine on either side, but I figured it may help to keep fingers and hands from straying too close to our chain so I opted for the “drivers” side. I use the term drivers side here loosely since clearly we only have a drivers side.

Our rough cut hole where the exhaust will mount.

I looked at the space we left beneath the louvers we installed in Chapter 12 and it was just about perfect. First thing I did was draw a circle where I will cut out a hole where our exhaust pipe will go through the body. I then drilled a number of holes around the circle to get a good start. As I was drilling the last hole in the circle I was wondering if I would hit the crank. Too late to worry about it now… so I just carried on. Luckily we had plenty of room on the backside of the body.

After drilling 5 or 6 holes I the took the jigsaw which at this point simply amounted to connecting the dots. Here I also removed the sprocket to have easier access to cut out the circle.

I quickly realized that this wasn’t going to simply be a “cut and go” situation since after I cut the circle (or what somewhat resembled a circle) I realized we had at least another 1/16″ to go before I could slide our first piece into the body. A rough file should do the trick to get us just a smidgen more room. To get this hole finished I again recruited an assistant.

Ready to work until the job is done, or until he get's bored, whichever comes first.

Luke came over ready to conquer the world. He was really enthusiastic to dive in and help get our chrome exhaust all in place. “Dad, this is gonna look great!” he said.

I handed him a 1″ file that was rounded on one side, perfect to finish off our hole. He looked at the file with excitement and went to work. After a feverish 45 seconds or so he said “I don’t want to do this anymore.” and off he went. Well… it’s the thought that counts.

I continued on with his work for another 15 minutes or so until we had the hole just large enough to be able to slide the exhaust in. Finally I slid the curved portion of our exhaust into place to confirm our fit. It was perfect.

I wanted next to get an idea of the rest of the length, but before I could I removed the rear wheel for easier access to the body side. Next I slid our remaining exhaust pieces together and set the whole assembly into place. The length was perfect, with the flared end of our exhaust extending about 4″ beyond the point where our body tail begins to narrow.

With the pipe assembled and sitting in place, next I looked down the length of the body to determine where (and how) I was going to mount the rest of it. One thought was to
drill a hole right on through, and bolt it directly to the body. Sure, that would do the trick but the idea of drilling through that chrome, likely wrecking it in the process, almost seemed like blasphemy.

A better approach was to use some pipe clamps that were large enough to go around the pipe and screw those directly into the body. Clearly not something that would likely be done in the real world with a functional exhaust but remember we’re just going for aesthetics here.

New exaust and ready to roll.

New exhaust and ready to roll.

With the wheel removed I carefully positioned the exhaust in what would be it’s final position. I held a pipe clamp in place, marked the spot carefully with a pencil, and drilled pilot holes to mount the clamp. I then screwed the clamp firmly in place.

I repeated this process, starting from the end, and working my way towards the front of the kart, installing 4 pipe clamps along the length to c0mpletely fasten our exhaust to the body.

Next I then reattached our rear wheel and called on another volunteer for a full shot. It really looked good but as my trusty assistant quickly pointed out, our exhaust going through the body was too close to our crank and now ever so slightly hit the crank as it is turned.

Look closely at the crank and you can see the exhaust pipe where it will hit inside.

The real cause for the hit is that the exhaust is pushed too closely to the body, and the 90 degree bend (what would traditionally connect to your sink) goes towards the center too far. I think simply positioning some spacer behind the exhaust, between it and the body, would give enough room.

Alternatively I could also just remove the large nut that adds about a quarter inch on the interior length and that may be enough. Since the exhaust is primarily being held in place by the pipe brackets screwed into the body side removing that nut may be just enough.

To this point to have something shiny on what is otherwise rough lumber and wood screws is a great bit of progress. With the holes and placement of our exhaust now complete, I’ll go ahead and remove it in preparation for hitting the entire kart with a coat of primer. Then once we get our final paint coat in place we’ll put our exhaust back into place using the holes we set today.

Before I can consider painting though I’ll need to shop around for some aluminum sheeting that we’ll wrap across the top as well as the tail section.

Next step, aluminum sheeting for the body top and tail.

The profile of our kart is looking good and getting our aluminum in place will get us that much closer to prepping for paint which should be pretty much our last step.

Anyone who has caught pictures or video of racing events from the early 20th century is probably aware that the engines in those cars were pushed to the max. Although they weren’t fast (at least as compared to today’s cars), they were driven all out as if they were. Where cars today have computer controlled modules and the like to push the horsepower up, many of these vintage cars had motors similar to typical passenger cars. One big difference was that these cars were stripped of unnecessary weight, and the motors were pushed to their limits. And with these limits came heat…and lots of it.

The inspiration for our go kart. Note the louvered hood.

During this period it was commonplace to cut louvers into the sides of the engine compartments in these cars for ventilation. I’m not sure if it made that much of a difference but regardless, it sure looked cool, almost resembling the gills of a shark.

If you’ve been following our project here you’ll know that our kart won’t be having an engine at all, however in the interest of looking like it does we will be installing some of these ventilation louvers.

I thought quite a bit about how best to go about this step. I considered cutting a rectangle out on each side and manufacturing wooden slots, or to place a hinged piece of wood that would allow access to the steering linkage. While both of the ideas are very doable, they would just be overly complex.

You too can have instant louvers for the small price of $1.49 each.

Our plans note to use a large heating type vent that I thought sounded heavy and may just look funny. One day while out running errands I dropped by the local Lowe’s. As it turned out they had tin panels, nice and thin, with louvers cut in them. These are panels that one would use say to provide ventilation in an attic or maybe on the top of a garage wall. They’re similar to what the plans noted, but since the plans were roughly twenty years old, these were probably just an updated version of what they were suggesting. The louvers were nice and light and relatively small.

The only drawback was that these had the louvers facing down, and I would have preferred them facing back but I can live with it.  Not only did these have the look I was wanting but the price was right as well. For a whopping $1.49 each our kart was going to be all set.

Before I dove into mounting the louvers I decided that I would make some changes to the top body panel. The plywood was plenty strong, and fit fine. The problem was rather that I realized that after raising the height of the dash (and steering wheel) there was a gap revealed where the boys could stick their hand inside.

Our shortened body top to prevent random objects from getting stuck.

I wasn’t so worried about getting a hand stuck but rather knew for sure that someone would drop a Hot Wheel, a baseball, or heck maybe a Popsicle in there and we couldn’t have that stuff stuck inside right? Although come to think of it wouldn’t be any different than my car. To this day there is a Hot Wheel that I can’t find in the back of my car that I’m reminded of every time I make a right hand turn as it rolls from one side to the other. When my boys grow up and have a family of their own I’ve secretly sworn to myself that I would hide various rolling toys in their cars as some sort of twisted revenge. When I ride with them I’ll then pretend to not hear a thing… it will be just fantastic.

To address this little issue I removed the body panel top, and cut it about 4 inches shorter, on the end closest to the grill. This now leave an open space so that anything that may happen to find it’s way up there will simply roll out the other side. I cut it down and refastened it to the body side rails with 4, 1.25″ wood screws.

With this piece now back in place the body now has the strength to stay rigid while the louver panels are screwed in. I measured back from the grill about 4″ and down from the body top about 3″ and held the louver panel into place. This left about 4″ of space between the bottom of the louvers and the frame rails. It’s in this space that I intend to mount the exhaust pipe so that should be fine.

The panels have six screw holes, each of which I marked with a pencil. I set the panels aside and drilled small pilot holes into the body.

Our engine well ventilated.

Once the holes were all drilled I held our panels back up and ran each of the screws into place. I suppose using pop rivets would look better for mounting these, but I don’t happen to have a rivet gun. Besides using a screw would make it easier to remove them if I wanted or needed to later. In the end the screws, and louvers themselves, will all be painted so it won’t be too noticeable anyway.

There we go, some good eye candy for our kart. Next will either be our faux exhaust pipe, or the aluminum body top, I’m not sure which but probably the exhaust since having access from the top will make things a bit easier.



I recently stumbled across the site CycleKarts. This is a site that basically has been put together by some kart enthusiasts that aren’t so much into going fast, but really more into the overall nostalgia aspect and in general having fun approach.

These karts are nothing short of flat out awesome. They’re built with a steel box frame and recycled motorcycle wheels. Since the wheels are larger, about 17″, with the proper detailing at a glance you would mistake these for true original race cars from their heyday. These typically have a small 6 hp engine mounted in the back, but the addition of a false exhaust pipe down one side makes them look all that more accurate.

I’ve always been a huge fan of open wheel racers of the 1920s and 1930s so what better than to build a kart in that style. Although I would love to build one of these, I don’t really have the room to drive, or equipment to weld up something like this. In addition the fact that my boys are pretty young I figured I’d start with something a bit more easy to manage. Maybe I’ll revisit this or something like it at a later time. I know, I know… why someday? For now I’ll be focusing on something that is just more kid friendly.

Bugatti Pedal Car

Bugatti Pedal Car

As it turns out the same guys that have the Cycle Karts site also sell some plans for building a pedal car. They have some great plans available to build a car based on a Bugatti Type 35. The plans are noted as easy to follow and are based on materials that are readily available at most hardware stores. After a bit of poking around I’ve found a great example of one of their other projects, an MG TC. This too is a pedal car.

To get an idea of how the plans with the MG differ, and to see the real world results, I’ve been following a project that is in process with this car at The Norwood Home/Blog. Mark has done a great job with his car, keeping the original look and primarily using the plans, but adapting it to use small bicycle wheels. I too wanted to use bike wheels, but was thinking I wanted something a bit more than a pedal car, but less than a full on racer like the CycleKarts I noted earlier.

Armed with a garage full of tools I went ahead and ordered up the plans and anxiously awaited their arrival.