Archive for the ‘go kart pedaling’ Category

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…

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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.


By this point the boys and I are getting anxious to get a test drive in, but we really need some brakes on our kart. I started this phase by first confirming exactly where to mount the crank in the frame. The challenge here is that I need to account for both 6 year olds and an 8 year old, so the length of their legs is quite different. If I placed the crank too far back my older son would hit his knees on the dash, but if I placed it too far forward my younger boys wouldn’t be able to reach it.

I had my oldest son sit in the kart and I immediately realized that, unfortunately, wherever I placed the crank he was going have trouble- you see his knees clearly were going to hit the dash. It was obviously just as much of an issue as to where the dash was placed as it was where the crank was placed. Unfortunately I already mounted the dash. Sigh. Well, I decided to remove the dash and rebuild it. Better to deal with this now rather than later.

New dash and angle cut for steering column.

New dash and angle cut for steering column.

I told my wife about this minor setback. She said that the only one that will be able to fit in the kart would be George, our medium sized mix breed Pinscher. I think she was joking because there is no way his rear paws could reach the pedals, his curly tail wouldn’t fit in the seat and I don’t think he could steer or at least not very well seeing that he has no opposable thumbs, besides that I think he has ADD so there is no way he would sit still long enough.

Anyway, I went and picked up another piece of 1×6 pine and penciled out a new dash. This time I took a slightly different approach in that I decided to make it taller (to account for space for their knees) and to also mount it higher in the body as well as a bit further forward. This higher placement would not just help with space, but also make the overall kart taller which will just look better as well. After cutting out the new dash I marked the place the steering column will come through. Like with my first pass at this step I will drill a 1″ hole through the dash for the steering column. The difference with this time is that I opted not to drill the hole square, but rather to drill it at about a 18 degree angle which will lean the steering wheel also a bit higher which will help with leg room.

Hole in frame rail to make way for the crank.

Hole in frame rail to make way for the crank.

Next I determined where the crank would be placed in the frame and I drilled a pilot hole through the frame on both sides. Now on to manufacturing the crank itself. I headed back to Home Depot and picked up one 36″ length of 1″ non-threaded steel rod. Why non threaded you may ask? I’ll get to that in moment. Here I spent some time measuring, thinking, sketching, and doing more measuring before I proceeded. As the old saying goes, “Measure twice, bend once.“.

The objective here was to bend this rod into a crank, with each section being a specific length. At first glance it may not seem like much but I also had to account for the narrowing of the frame as the rider would turn the crank through it’s full rotation. On the forward part of a rotation the frame would be almost two inches narrower than when the rider had the other foot on the back side of the rotation.

I referred to our sacrificial Spiderman bike to determine how far the reach for each pedal should be. Knowing that I only had a total length of 36″ I didn’t have much room for error here. The bicycle had 6″ of reach for each pedal, that would mean that my crank would need 24″ just for the total of the pedal lengths, plus 4” for the “pedals” themselves. Throw in needed length on the ends and I realized that I needed to reclaim some otherwise my single 36″ piece just wasn’t going to work. I decided to make the throw, or length, of each pedal only 5″ instead of 6″. Doing this gives a bit more length that I could use on the sprocket side since it needs to reach out a few inches to align with the rear sprocket on our drive wheel, as well as makes it a bit easier to pedal for the little riders.

IMG_0294

Bending the steel rod for our crank.

I measured out the segments on the rod and marked them with a permanent marker. I placed the rod in my bench vise and slipped a 4′ length of 3/4″ pipe over it. The boys were watching over my shoulder and Nick asked what I was going to do. I said “I’m going to bend this steel rod“. The word from his mouth simply was “Oh.“, but the look on his face said “Your yanking my chain Dad.“. I said here watch… and I proceeded to pull down on the pipe bending the first segment of 5” to 90 degrees (or thereabouts). The expression on his face was priceless. His mouth dropped open and his eyes were huge. I think from this day forward his Dad is, and always will be, the strongest man in the world.

I continued bending, measuring, and bending some more until I had something that resembled a starter handle from an old Model T Ford. One thing that I hadn’t even considered was if the pedals would sit too low to the ground!!?? Luckily that wasn’t the case. I wanted to put the crank in the frame next to get an idea of how well it would spin, etc. I slid in one side only to discover it was a hair too wide to allow me to insert the other side. I wasn’t suppose to assemble the frame around it… was I? Uggh. OK with a little elbow grease, and a big hammer, I was finally able to get it in.

IMG_0311

Threading the ends of the crank.

At this point you can probably see why I opted not for threaded rod. I wanted to keep the pedals smooth allowing for their feet to slide easily as it turned, and only have threads on the outside to attach it within the frame. Now that the bends are complete I can use a die and thread both ends of the rod.

Now for another tricky step in this crank assembly…the sprocket. Remember, we took the sprocket from our Spiderman bike and we’re going to use that here. In some cases the donor bike may not be able to have the sprocket removed from the crank, so your mileage may vary.

Our goal here is to mount the sprocket on the left side in alignment to the sprocket on the left rear wheel. There are so many variable angles here working against me that makes this a really tough step. We have the narrowing frame, the rear wheels mounted outward to compensate, the hand bent crank, and the holes in the frame the crank sit in, not to mention the alignment of the Moon and planets. Each of these can contribute one way or another to what will likely be a somewhat wobbly chain. I figured I had a better chance of proposing a successful public health care reform bill than getting this all in perfect alignment, but I’ll take what I can get.

The final bent rod forming our crank.

The final bent rod forming our crank.

So focusing back on the sprocket itself. The sprocket has a hole in the center that is approximately 3/4″ in diameter. It’s not simply a perfect circle, but rather has squared corners that provided a tight fit onto the crank of the bicycle. That was all fine and good for Spiderman and his BMX crime fighting escapades, but what good does that do our go kart? I needed to figure out a way to reduce the size of that hole so that we can mount the sprocket onto our crank and secure it. After a visit to my local hardware store (sorry when it comes to unique washers and fittings Home Depot just doesn’t cut it) I found what looks to be an ideal solution. I’ll have to attack it in a few steps but I think it will work out just fine.

Our loose Spiderman sprocket and the partially custom washer for it's center.

Our loose Spiderman sprocket and the partially ground down washer for it's center.

First step was to reduce the hole so that it will fit snugly. I found a 1/2″ washer that was just slightly larger than the hole in the sprocket. That is the center of the washer fit perfect over our crank, but the outside diameter was larger. I placed this washer underneath the sprocket on a flat surface and using a permanent marker I traced the shape of the hole in our sprocket onto the washer. This essentially made a template for me. I then grabbed some safety glasses, fired up my bench grinder and went to work.

From a distance the boys were watching me. As sparks bounced all over my hands and arms I could hear the boys yelling “Whoa!!!” and “Did you see those sparks!!!” followed with “That was awesome!!“. Not only am I the strongest man in the world but I can also deflect showers of sparks with my bare hands. I’m invincible! Well, at least to the boys I am, and that’s what really matters.

The sparks didn’t hurt much, but my wrist was a bit sore from bending the crank. If I’ve done anything with this project it’s show them just how willing I am to injure myself in the name of a go kart. Viva La Go Kart! I say.

The sprocket with our custom washer sitting cleanly in the center.

The sprocket with our custom washer sitting cleanly in the center.

In pretty short order I had a custom washer that fit just perfect. Next I whipped up a fresh batch of JB Weld. The ideal solution here would probably be to place a light mig weld to attach this washer to the sprocket, but since a mig welder is one tool I don’t have that’s far easier said than done. But what is JB Weld then you ask? It’s magic. Sort of. It’s a handy chemical compound (two compounds really) that when mixed together forms a bond between two pieces of steel that (in theory) is equivalent to a weld. I wouldn’t go quite that far, though I did have a friend in high school who repaired the intake manifold of a 1969 Camaro with it so it’s gotta be good enough for the go kart right?

I mixed equal parts of the JB Weld compound together and applied it to the edges where our new washer and the sprocket met. I then applied some more to two additional washers that I then placed on both sides, essentially sandwiching our custom washer in the middle.

Spiderman sprocket with our washers and castle nut JB Welded into place.

Spiderman sprocket with our washers and castle nut JB Welded into place.

Next I used a little more JB Weld to attach a castle nut onto our now custom sprocket. This nut will allow me to thread the entire sprocket onto the crank as a single unit. I waited a long 15 hours or so and carefully attached the sprocket assembly. The excitement was killing me. As it turned out the JB Weld just didn’t cut it when it came to ataching the chain. More on that below.

Now that we had the sprocket and the bent crank back in the frame I attached the sprocket onto the left side. I had the right idea with using JBWeld but unfortunately it just didn’t hold up once I attached the chain.

The force when the sprocket turned just was a bit too much. As soon as I put any kind of pressure here the castle nut would break away from the sprocket, and the sprocket would spin freely. As a result I just put a castle nut on both sides of the sprocket and cranked ‘er down with all I had. I was a bit worried I would strip the threads on the crank, but it seemed to hold.

Combning both chains to make one.

Combning both chains to make one.

Next I attacked the chain portion of this task. I took the chain from each donor bike, split them apart, and assembled one long chain to reach the back wheel. After I spent some time looking for a master link (that would have just been too simple now wouldn’t it have?) I just picked a random spot and wedged the link apart with a chisel. I reattached the ends of the chain together and voila… had a custom length chain to made order.

As they say, the devil is in the details, and these details are no different. I attached the chain and turned our pedals with the kart on the stand. I have to admit, seeing that wheel turn for the first time as a result of the hand bent crank, custom sprocket, etc. was pretty gratifying, but I have to say that the sprocket was wobbling all over the place. It was clear to me to that the chain would never stay on with that much travel.

Crank, sprocket and custom length chain in place.

Crank, sprocket and custom length chain in place.

It wasn’t the sprocket per se, but rather the bend of the crank. I removed the sprocket, removed the crank, and went back to the workbench for some more bending. I did this two or three times until I got the sprocket as close to “true” as I could. I still had a slight wobble, but not too bad, or so I thought.

Once I put the crank back into the frame, and was happy enough with the travel, I then adjusted the rear wheel to get the chain as tight as I could. I knew very well that anything I did at this point wasn’t absolutely final, but still wanted to get it as tight (not to mention safe) as I could since I wanted the boys to try it out.  Finally I got it to the point where I asked if they could take ‘er for a spin down the street.

What good is a test vehicle without test drivers? Helmet and flip flops tell me they're well prepared.

What good is a test vehicle without test drivers? Helmet and of course flip flops as any race driver can tell you are mandatory attire.

I’m not sure quite what I was expecting, but I know the boys and I were thrilled to see it reaching this point.  I had people driving by stopping to check it out and a couple of people ask me if I sold them… “Let me get this one done first and I’ll get back to you” I said.

Off they went. As I feared, the boys were able to pedal for about 15 feet when our chain would derail. The crank was still a bit too wobbly. This combined with the effort I put in to readjust the dash and pedal length, to see it’s just still too unwieldy for my oldest son made me a bit cranky.  I do think that if he could simply ride with his legs in front of him straight (as if pushing a gas/brake pedal) it would be just fine.

I’m afraid my wife was right that it was still too small, though I still don’t think George could drive it.

Although getting beyond my last update has taken 4+ weeks and I didn’t quite end up where I wanted to, I did make some good progress. I’ve realized that I don’t think I’m going to proceed with pedals but rather go straight to a motor of some sort.  That makes this somewhat of a frustrating step, but not a complete loss. I haven’t done anything to this point I can’t back out of, so a motor (even a small one) will be where I’m headed. Eliminating pedals will save quite a headache not to mention make dealing with alignment of the rear wheel a bit easier.

I think I’ll try hitting the flea market and garage sales to find a used electric scooter. A gas motor sounds great and all, but I think the uniqueness of having this electric would just make it… well more unique. Although I was anticipating jumping into finishing work and getting our aluminum flashing in place by now, I’m hesitant to go too far since I’ll need to drill some access holes into the boat tail for a motor.

I’m hoping to get something soon so stay tuned. And, if you or anyone you know has something like a Razor electric scooter sitting around and wants to get rid of it drop me a note from the contact page!