Archive for the ‘building a go kart’ Category

A horrible picture of two cheap leather belts.

We’ve all seen them…men wearing both suspenders and a belt. I’ve never quite understood it. Is it a fashion statement? Or do they each, simultaneously serve some purpose? I’m a fan of suspenders with a suit and as for belts, I like to keep my pants up as much as the next guy but why both at the same time?

As much as I was on the fence for how to create the appearance of hood straps for our go kart I decided that we could fashion some out of some good old leather belts. Not because using suspenders would be a fashion faux pa, but rather because suspenders just wouldn’t look quite the same.

As with the rest of our kart I didn’t want put too much money into this addition (no sense in spending $50+ for two belts I was going to cut up) so I took to scouring the local Goodwill and garage sale looking for two black leather belts. The challenge with hitting places like this wasn’t finding two belts, it was finding two belts that matched. Finally, on a suggestion, I paid a  visit to the local Walmart.

Measuring the length for our first strap.

Now I’m not exactly a fan of Walmart and this not-so-quick trip reminded me of why. It wasn’t finding two cheap leather belts, no that was relatively painless. It was the dreaded check out. Each of the 25 registers was being commanded by a woman no less than 100 years old. To add to my adventure each of these women had their hands full since each person in line had one, sometimes two shopping carts full to the brim with the days special “Roll Back” deals. Many of the shopping carts were full of necessities such as The Varsity Snuggie, the Magic Jack, and very large bags of Cheetos.  While waiting my wife called me and asked what was taking me so long, I mentioned “Oh, I went to Walmart.”. She simply said “Why in the world did you do that?”. I was beginning to ask myself the same question.

Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, I was headed home with our leather belts. At only $5.00 each, it may have been worth the wait, although I guess it’s debatable.

Positioning the buckle side of the front strap. Note the notch cut on the bottom.

The belts we picked up were each 36″. This would give us plenty of length to go across the hood and attach onto both sides of the body. First thing we did was measure the length we’d need, starting with the front strap. The strap would be placed right on the edge of the grill, true to the original Bugatti Type 35. Placing the strap here would also help to hide the “imperfections” in the hood a bit.

Once I measured the total length I determined exactly where I wanted the buckle. I held the buckle end against the side and made a mark on the leather where it would butt up against the frame. With this mark I then took a utility knife and cut the belt apart. The length was good, but I also had to cut notches on the end since part of the strap would sit on the upper control arm and the other portion will reach to where the body meets the frame rails. Once this was done we now had the one side ready to secure to our kart.

Painter tape and glue. Whatever it takes...

To secure it to the body I decided to go with good old Guerrilla Glue. This stuff is strong, strong as…. well strong as a guerrilla. I spread a small bead of glue onto the back of the leather belt, placed it onto the side of the kart and applied some tape to hold it secure.

Once the glue tacked up a bit I then taped whatever I could find to hold extra pressure to it, including some track from a Thomas The Train we had sitting around. The boys panicked when they saw that but I assured them it was for a good cause and wouldn’t be permanently stuck to the kart.

While this buckle side was drying I moved onto the rear buckle. I measured, cut and applied with more glue. Because this one went over the louvers and near the exhaust we trimmed a slight curve. With this piece cut to the correct length I also applied some glue and placed it against the body. It was a bit more difficult to keep it into position so as with the front I taped a few things against the body to hold pressure against the strap.

Both vintage-looking hood straps now in place.

After an hour or so for the first two to dry, I headed to the straps on the other side. As we had with the other, I cut a notch into the front piece and also cut an inch off the end where the holes were. It was just a bit too long. Once I trimmed the length I then rounded off the ends with some sandpaper so they didn’t look like I just hacked them off which of course was exactly what we just did. Here we are with one more step of progress on our kart. Next maybe a plexi-glass windscreen?

At this rate maybe I’ll finish it by the time the boys get their driver’s licenses.

Work to date.

To this point it’s hard to believe, but we’ve been working on our kart for a full year. By this time I should either have something the boys can ride, or be prepared to face the wrath of three impatient boys. And when they get impatient it’s ugly. It’s a situation that only an Otter Pop could spare me from. So I pressed on.

We were able to get our sprocket on nice and square, so I asked Nick to take ‘er for a spin. He made it all of 30’ when what I thought was yet again a simple chain derailment. Nope this time it was much more of a challenge, this time the point where the sprocket was attached to the crank had completely broken. It didn’t actually break per se but rather the mega-strong-cotter-pin (yes that’s the technical term) simply spun in it’s hole, which meant the sprocket would now turn as well.

You can see our cotter pin was totally sheered off.

Who knows what the heck I was thinking by expecting a soft cotter pin to hold that sprocket from spinning in place. Temporary insanity? Rushed by the echoes of “Dad, is it done yet?” in my head? Not sure but no matter. What was done is done. Or what’s broken is broken.

Think…think…. how could I repair this in a way that may last an hour…. a day? Heck maybe for good or all of eternity? OK, I’d settle for a few weeks. I realized that what I needed to do, and to be honest should have done all along is to mount a small jet on the back. After thinking twice in that my wife would probably notice that addition, I thought that what I probably should do instead  was to mount the sprocket with something stronger.

Drilling a larger hole through our pipe flange. We did the same to the crank.

The idea with cotter pin was good, just that we simply needed something stronger.

I went ahead and drilled the key whole in the crank, as well as the pipe flange that the sprocket mounts to, large enough that a 1/4″ screw could fit through. This hopefully would be strong enough to withstand the sheer Herculean strength that apparently the boys now clearly posses. They weren’t that strong when we started this thing! Just what the heck have we been feeding them anyway!?

With the hole drilled through both the crank and pipe flange I realized that I would need to grind off the sides of the bolt so that we could get it into the whole in the flange. Hopefully this would hold. To put all this work in up to this point and have stuff keep breaking, well to put it nicely, sucks. But alas, such as the life of a zany Dad and go kart builder right?

We drilled the hole just large enough for our bolt. Uh oh, the whole was too close to the side of the pipe flange and I can’t get the head of the bolt past it. Improvise right? Next I needed to grind own two sides of the bolt so that it would slide into the hole of the pipe flange, and then through into the crank. Par for the course really in that it didn’t fit at first so I kept grinding, checking, grinding and checking until voila. It fit like a champ.

Our ground bolt slips through our pipe flange just fine.

Next we buttoned it all back up. I slid the sprocket assembly back onto the crank, slipped our super custom bolt through the sprocket, and through the crank hole. It fit tight enough that it didn’t even need a nut on the other side, but I’ll put one on anyway. Just for fun.

I had one of the boys ride it down the street. Lo and behold, it made it all the way back without the chain falling off AND without the sprocket breaking off again. It’s a miracle. OK, maybe not a miracle but it’s a good thing nonetheless.

For the past few weeks I’ve been looking to getting stuff done like our seat, some leather straps over the hood, a horn, heck maybe even some headlights. Yet alas, here we find ourselves repairing work that we’ve already done! Arrggg.

Oh well. At least it’s now fixed. After all, it’s the journey, not the destination right? Now where was I again…

Brakes. Who needs ’em. Well, come to think of it we do…especially now that we’ve completely removed the coaster brake on our drive wheel. I know, I know, you’re thinking “Well, why did you go and do that? You had such a nice solution.“A couple of reasons.
First, as you know we needed to remount the rear wheels. The simple offset block of wood we had just wasn’t cutting it, and second was an observation I made with our coaster brake setup. You see I realized that no matter what I did, since we had move the coaster brake bracket to the opposite side of where the actual clutch mechanism for the brake itself exists, well the brake would never really work or at least work well. In fact after a few dry runs I realized that the setup we had would actually inhibit the wheel to gradually work loose each time you applied the brakes! Either that or the wheel would gradually lock up. Either way, as Luke would say “That’s bad.”.

To solve my problem with the brakes I just decided to simply gut the wheel hubs and remove the brakes altogether. By doing this I effectively made the hub a “free-wheel” (where you can pedal backwards, coasting, but engage the sprocket going forward).

After doing a fair amount of research to determine whether or not I could actually make the coaster brakes do what I wanted them to do (I even went so far as to say please) it was simply easiest to not use the coaster brake at all but rather build a hand brake system. We’ll get to actually building the brakes  on another day, first we needed to settle the wheel hubs and mount them. To solve the problem with the mounting I opted to completely eliminate the brake and axle assembly from each rear wheel. In lieu of the factory axle on each wheel we would use a single solid axle that would go through the frame, and through each wheel.

Drilling for our new rear axle.

I headed to Home Depot and picked up a 36″ length of 3/8″ steel rod. I decided I would run a single axle through the frame, and mount each wheel onto the axle. This would insure that the wheels were not only parallel but would give them that much extra strength to hold the riders weight.

First we needed to determine exactly where to put the axle. I realized after some earlier test rides that the wheels were a bit too far forward in that a heavier rider would have just enough weight behind the rear wheels that the front wheels would just barely come off the ground. Based on this I decided to move them back a good 2″. This will require we build a longer chain, but that won’t be too big of a deal.

Once we had our holes drilled we needed to determine exactly how we would hold the axle in place. I realized that the pipe floor flanges we had used earlier were perfect in that the axle would fit just right through the threaded hole.

Good ole pipe flanges. They've proven quite useful in this project.

With our axle holes drilled we positioned our pipe flanges on each side, marked the holes, and drilled mounting points.

Next with our flanges drilled and mounted we set our sights on the axle itself. We placed the rod into our bench vice and proceeded to thread approximately 5″ on one end. We used a die that was the same thread as that of our wheel axles, which will allow us to reuse all of the threaded pieces that came with the wheel. With each step I took here I constantly would ask myself “Now, why didn’t I do this to begin with ?”. The fact that I was being barraged with questions like “Dad, when is this going to be done?” and “Dad, can I ride the go kart now?” didn’t help either.

The threading process went quite smoothly with the boys chipping in here and there though they always seemed to have one ear cocked towards the street awaiting the now almost daily ice-cream-man pilgrimage.

Threading our axle to match the old ones so we can reuse the wheel hardware.

We threaded one side and slid our drive wheel into place on the axle. I intentionally only threaded the one side so that we could slide the axle into place to get a measurement of how much to cut off before we threaded the other side.

I carried the wheel and axle assembly over to our kart and slid the axle into the frame. Next I went to tighten the outer wheel nut in place and realized the outer wheel ball bearings had fallen out of the wheel somewhere during the 20′ journey I had just taken across the garage. I just had them… didn’t I? They’d turn up eventually I figured so I continued with the rough assembly to get a measurement of our axle.

Axle with one wheel mounted and one wheel hub removed.

I placed the axle into the frame, all the way through, and out the other side. We had at least 8″ of excess coming on the other side. I positioned the wheel approximately where it would be and measured how much length of axle it used. I then used that measurement on the other side and made a mark to indicate where we would cut off the excess length.

Next we pulled the axle and wheel back out of the frame and cut off the end we had just marked. With our axle now the proper length we then threaded the other side to prepare to mount this second wheel. I went ahead and repacked the wheel bearings of the second wheel since we will be assembling that wheel onto the axle next. While I was doing this I realized that my trusty assistant had disappeared into the house. I knew he had greasy hands so figured I’d try to catch him before my wife did. New couches + greasy hands =  bad news for sure.

I found him in the hall bathroom…washing the missing ball bearings in the sink. At least we found them, and now they were now clean, cleaned with hand soap no less.

Both wheels mounted with our axle through the frame.

With all of our hardware now present and accounted for we pressed on. I positioned the axle into place, reassembled the primary wheel with it’s found bearings, and attached our second wheel. The wheels looked nice and straight and strong to boot.

With the axle in place next we threaded 1/4″  bolts through each of the four holes in our pipe flanges. These not only provided a nice solid hole for the axle to go through, but also provided a bit of extra strength to hold it all in place with the four bolts. Solid wheels, solid axle, it was all looking quite good.

By this time it was about 7:00 pm. With the weather warm and longer days the boys were all playing outside. I asked one of them if he wanted to take a little test drive with the rear wheels remounted. Not only did he reply with; “Yeah!!!” but he proceeded to announce to every child on the street that their go kart was finished. Of course it wasn’t quite. I knew very well where this was headed. Within minutes a steady stream of children ranging from two to twelve were suddenly lined up in my driveway to take a spin with each screaming “I’m first! I’m first!”. Of course the chain wasn’t on yet so I found myself acting as an amusement park ride operator, pushing each child down the street only to turn around and do it again with the next in line. The smile on their faces and shouts of “This is awesome!” was well worth the lower back pain that I was later greeted with. After I was about half way through the line of children my wife opened the front door, smiled, and yelled: “Hey, is that an airplane?”.

Everyone’s a critic.

Next up our fancy new brakes…

To have reached this point has been pretty gratifying. Now that we have the paint all on, the number in place, I felt we could start putting it all back together. The front wheels went on quite easily and we also put our louvers back on. We also finally removed the last of the blue painters tape from the steering column and put the steering wheel all back in place. Now we’re cookin’ with gas as one might say.

Cutting off the end of our exhaust pipe.

Before I put the exhaust back into place I went ahead and trimmed the end that mounts into the engine compartment. If you remember back in “Chapter 13: Does an engine without an exhaust still make a noise?”, we ended up with the exhaust pipe hitting our crank pedal.
Before we had removed it I marked the spot where it would need to be trimmed with a Sharpie so all we had to do here simply was cut it. I went ahead and held it in place in a miter box (which worked surprisingly well) and cut it on the line we had drawn.

Because our exhaust is nothing but a kitchen drain pipe made of chrome plated brass it cut pretty easily. I wasn’t terribly concerned with it being a perfectly straight cut since it will be on the inside of the kart and not visible, but I tried best I could. Once the cut was through I then was sure to sand the now razor sharp edge to dull it up. Last thing I needed to do was have one of the boys slice their leg open while pedaling down the road. My wife would kill me. Once we were all done with this step it was just a matter of screwing it back onto the side of the body.

Our drive wheel mounted, showing the block that the wheel mounts to.

Onto the rear wheels. I’ve been thinking a bit about the mounting of the rear wheels. I think I’m going to go ahead and rebuild some new mounting blocks. I never had painted the original ones we had created and after putting the wheels back on I just don’t feel that they’d be strong enough or at least last very long so I don’t want to go to the effort of painting them only to have them break soon thereafter.
The alignment of blocks is also bit off, but more than that is the sheer strength. What I’ll do is rather than build a mounting block out of 1×6 as we had before, I’ll pick up a piece of 4×4 and cut it in a wedge shape to align the wheels straight, while also mounting flush to the frame. Am I really looking to rebuild these mounts to insure they’re strong enough, or am I not wanting to finish this project? Good question. I’m not sure I can answer that but probably both.

With the rear wheels now mounted, albeit temporarily, we have a rolling kart again. The kids are really excited to see it all back together. I went ahead and pulled it off the stand to get some shots when one of the boys enthusiastically asked if he could take a ride. Sure, why not. I said “It’s not ready to pedal, but I could push you around a bit.” He sat in it and wrapped his hands around the wheel and just grinned ear to ear.

All rev'd up and ready to roll.

He turned the wheel back and forth a bit and off we went down the street. It really was fun to see. I pushed him down the sidewalk and told him to go ahead and turn up the neighbor’s driveway where we would turn around and head back home. I thought I may have even heard him making some engine noises, but then I quickly realized what I heard in fact was the spokes on the front wheels scraping against the lower control arms. Ahh! Abort! Abort!

We limped ‘er back to the garage and I realized that in the haste to get some pictures of it all back together I neglected to put the spacer on the front wheels that moved them towards the outside to clear the arms. I removed the wheels, put our spacers into place, and put it them back on. And also took a mental note to not to make that mistake again.

You can see where our spokes grazed our control arm.

On closer inspection I think I can repair it aesthetically, but I’m worried that a crack may have been introduced. Even if there is I think that the strength of the upper will be strong enough to support it, but I’ll just keep my eye on it. Luckily I can remove it and replace it relatively easily from the bottom of the kart. Yet another loose end that could have me working on this a bit longer.

All in all we’re looking pretty good. The louvers, the grill, the steering wheel, the exhaust, each add that bit of detail to make this a pretty cool vintage go kart. In addition to resolving our rear wheel mounts and this new wonderfulness with the front wheel I’m looking to get a seat of some sort added. Oh, and maybe some headlights. I did a bit of looking around hoping to find a discarded bar stool with a back that I could take the upholstery off of. I thought a seat like that would be perfect but no such luck finding one (still glancing at the occasional yard sale though). As a last resort I could just head over to the local fabric store and pick up some foam and pleather I suppose.

Our seat, in desperate need for some upholstery.

For the next few steps I’m going to get going on getting the rear wheels mounted permanently with new blocks and get our chain back on and in business. I may have to make it longer with our remounted rear wheels.  If I can insure the front is solid (no cracks) then heck at that point we’d have a fully functional go kart and that would just be great.

If you happen to have any leads on some reproduction Schwinn bike headlights (chrome type) drop me a line.

Until next time…

Hard to believe we started this kart on Father’s Day 2009, but as they say, getting there is half the fun. In our last weekend we were able to get the body all taped off and primered. Since then our ghost of a kart has just been taunting me from the garage. I’d walk by and think “Man is that ugly…” but luckily this stage is only temporary.

This most recent weekend I was bound and determined to get some color on our kart. My wife asked me if we had anything planned, but before I could respond she reminded me that we had cub scouts, baseball opening day, and two birthday parties to contend with. But I want to paint the go kart? I found that it was best to not let on just how much time I was willing to spend on this little project, often going so far as to pretend I forgot all about it. But I think she knows.

We needed a fluorescent lightbulb so I had the perfect excuse to find myself at Lowes. Conveniently I found myself in the paint aisle so I started looking at one color after another wondering just what we should paint our kart. Granted, the house paint aisle at the local hardware store isn’t typically where one would go to find paint for a car of sorts, what with the selection of Disney and Ralph Lauren crackle paint to choose from. As tempting as a faux leather wash would be, I just wanted to find a vintage color that was reminiscent of those vintage cars. A red, the given Bugatti blue, black, or even a vanilla or off white would look great.

I pulled out my iPhone (where I just happened to have a Bugatti picture) and realized that I just had to go with the old stand by. It was decided. I found myself leaving Lowe’s with a gallon of  Lowe’s Olympic brand paint, color A52-2 Magical Merlin, or as we would call it Bugatti Blue, semi-gloss. And of course my fluorescent lightbulb.

Think of it as a really big canvas...

We had our kart all taped up from the previous work so there really wasn’t much left to do except dig in and start painting. The paint went on as you would expect, like house paint.

Since we were covering with a fairly dark color (vs say eggshell on a wall) I was a bit surprised how much it took to cover the white primer. Not the whole gallon, but a few coats for sure. We started at the tail and worked our way down the frame and around the front.

The front upper and lower control arms were a bit tedious to get the brush into the nooks and crannies, and clearly a spray can would have done the trick just fine. But again, I just didn’t want to deal with the overspray and all that fun stuff.

One of the boys started off helping but I sensed he could recognize my apprehensiveness when he painted. I had this vision that the paint was all splashed on and was just a mess, and when he started painting in all directions I’d find myself saying “Ahhh, here let me help you…” only to stop myself from yanking brush out of his hand. I kept reminding myself, he’s having a good time here as well, so I let him continue on.

Side to side, not up and down.

We kept on with our work. After a bit Nick ran off to scatter various toys up and down the street so I was left to my own devices. The challenge was that I had a birthday party pick up for our oldest son in about an hour. I could do it.

I went around the front, covering the grill, and then down the passenger side meeting back up again with the tail where we had started. Since all the hardware was still taped off with blue 3M painters tape, and the entire kart was now blue, it was starting to resemble something a Smurf may drive around.

One of the boys came up and when it was mostly completely covered and simply said “Dad that’s a whole lotta blue.” I wanted to reply with “Whole lotta Bugatti blue…” but I just asked him what he thought. He loved it.

A go kart a Smurf would be proud of.

It does seem like one big blue blob, but you have to remember we’re going to get our chrome exhaust back on, paint some racing numbers, etc. It’s going to look great I think when we’re all set.

With the exterior of the body now painted I wondered what am I going to do with the interior? In hindsight it would have been a good idea to have painted the body on the inside as I assembled it. But live and learn. I’ll do that with the next one. The boys are each now asking for their own, with of course a motor.

I’d like to figure out if I can simply get some pleather for a seat but we’ll have to see. Next step will be to get our pieces back on, and tackle the grill I think. I have some great ideas on using window screen so stay tuned for that one.

Oh yeah, happy birthday Dad.


Is it a trunk or a boot? Who really cares, I’m talking about the back. As we did with the front portion, this step of our Bugatti kart involved trimming a sheet of galvanized steel to size and carefully wrapping it around the wooden framing we’ve previously put in place.

Using two quarter round mouldings to finish off the tail.

But, before we were able to sit down and get to business with the steel sheet I needed to consider the point or tail edge itself. You see where the left and right sides of the body meet in the tail, we ended up with an edge that was approximately one and a half inches wide.

Had I been more careful with the body and tail assembly I probably could have significantly reduced this to the point that all it needed was a bit of good filing and some elbow grease. But alas, I didn’t think that far ahead and here we are… with a bit of a challenge. Nothing insurmountable, just something else to keep me on my toes with this project.

I figured that I could probably use some simple wood moulding/trim to finish this off so I headed to my second home (Home Depot that is). I wasn’t able to find a single half-round that was the right size, so I settled on quarter round pieces that I figured we could just glue together.

Our custom moulding glued and held in place to dry.

I roughed up the pieces, applied a generous amount of wood glue, and held them together with rubber bands for a few hours.

After gluing the two pieces of moulding together, I then glued the entire single piece onto the back of the kart. To hold this all nice and firm against the kart I then wrapped a few lengths of painters tape around the tail which applied constant pressure to the glued surfaces.

After a few hours of drying, leaving the tape in place, I next drilled a few pilot holes through the moulding into the kart body. Since I knew I would be filing this down and generally putting some elbow grease into it, I wanted to make sure it wasn’t going to go anywhere.

Once the pilot holes were complete I set a few 2″ finishing nails through the moulding, attaching it securely to the kart. This piece wasn’t going anywhere that’s for sure.

Creating a template with newspaper for our sheet metal.

Now… to think about exactly how the steel sheet would mount. I knew it would be wrapped around the shape much like we had done in the front, but I wasn’t quite sure how I would finish of the very edge where we have our moulding.

After some serious consultation with the boys (“Oh yeah sure Dad, whatever you say.”) I figured I would first put a rough layout together with newspaper.

One of the challenges we had with the front was that I didn’t use a template, but rather just measured and cut it out. I shot from the hip you might say.

In doing this I did a fair amount of trimming as we were mounting it and that was something I wanted to try to avoid here if I could. The final result there was fine, but I think in retrospect I could have made it fit better had I taken a slightly different approach. Live and learn as they say. Anyway…

Our sheet cut out just sitting in place for the moment.

With the newspaper taped in place I sketched the perimeter lines with a Sharpie to indicate the final shape that I wanted our sheet metal. I then removed the newspaper and trimmed it along the lines we just placed on it thus creating my template.

With our newspaper template now complete I placed it onto the sheet metal and once again using our Sharpie, outlined the shape. I was sure to give myself an extra half inch or so all around just to be safe.

It was about this time that one of the neighborhood kids (a girl in fact) came by and said “I wish my Dad would build me one of these.” Awesome. I must be doing something right here.

Once we outlined our template I then picked up our cheap Harbor Freight cutting shears and cut it out. The shape of our panel once mounted will follow along the seat back, along the sides following the top of the tail, and will meet at the new tail piece we put in place.

Most of our screws set revealing the final gap on the end to consider.

At the top of the tail I decided to shape the steel to match that of the half-round moulding and bend the sides around to meet it. Once it was all cut, the next step we took was to place marks at 3″ intervals around the edge of our steel and drill pilot holes through the steel. Every 3″ may seem a bit extreme, but it’s mainly to keep the steel snug against the wood.

With our pilot holes in place we next set the steel into position, with the back of it sitting nice and snug onto the seat back. Once I was happy with the side to side positioning I then set this first screw into the back center.

To try to avoid the buckling we experienced with the front, I then worked outward from this center screw along the length. After setting a couple of more screws I went ahead and set the center of the rear (this is right on the moulding we mounted) to insure the steel stayed put.

Little by little the stability and strength of our sheet increased until we had all the screws set except the final two on both sides of the rear point.

Scrap piece we'll wrap around and mount over the moulding.

I had intentionally left these loose while I considered how best to get the final bit of moulding covered. I suppose I could have done it as one complete piece but the thought of cutting segments out, with the intention that they would miraculously meet perfectly in the middle was a gamble I didn’t think I’d win. I figured working with two separate pieces just be easier to deal with.

Since we had the very top of our moulding covered (we cut a slight half circle) we only had to consider wrapping around and meeting with the already set steel on the sides. No sweat right?

I secretly borrowed my wife’s sewing measuring tape (shhhh!) and wrapped it around our moulding and measured the distance from our steel on side to the steel on the other.

The final wrap piece in place and some sanding to remove the sharp edges.

The amount of scrap we had sitting around was perfect for a piece this small. It was easy to work with in that it was only roughly 6″ wide at the bottom and 3 1/2″ wide at the top.  I cut it out and was careful to hit with some 100 grit sand paper I had sitting around. This removed the sharp edges that were left behind when cutting it up.

Next I went ahead and drew a line down the center, so that I could align it with the center of our moulding. We will then carefully bend it around to meet up with the partially mounted sheet… well that’s the idea anyway.

I positioned our scrap onto the moulding and carefully bent it, sliding it underneath our already mounted piece.  This way we will end up with a relatively clean line of our steel and the larger piece will effectively clamp down our smaller piece nice and tight. It worked perfectly and didn’t look half bad.

As I mentioned before, so far we’ve had relatively little buckling which is great to see. The steel is bent to the curve of the wooden body and there aren’t anywhere near the bends and dents we ended up with on the front. With this final piece in place I think it will all be nice and tidy.

Once I had the sides of our scrap slid in place underneath the already mounted main piece, I then ran a screw through each side to hold it all together.

Close up revealing our installation with relatively little buckling. You can see where both pieces were screwed together near the tail.

Next with the corners screwed in, I then ran an additional screw about midway up our scrap piece, securing it firmly in place.  We now had the moulding completely covered, or wrapped around.

I discovered that in the top of the tail section, where the pieces met, a little tap here and there with a ball peen hammer did a world of good. These little taps just ever so slightly bent these raised points inward, towards the wood body making for a smoother overall finish.

After mounting this piece we still have just a hair of wood visible through the gap where the pieces meet, but it’s relatively little and isn’t really a big deal. Once we’re all painted I think it won’t be all that noticeable.

Our kart is resembling a Bugatti more and more all the time.

With this step we’ve completed all of our steel work for the body. I have some things in mind with regards to the grill but I think that will fall into place after we do some priming of the body and wood.

To prepare for priming the next step will be removing all of the exhaust, the wheels, and taping off anything with the steering components we don’t want painted.

Stay tuned, with Spring just around the corner I don’t expect our next step to be too far off.

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 compartment...now 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.