How to Upcycle an Old Lawnmower into a Go-Kart
Converting an old lawn mower into a fun go-kart is a great way to reuse and repurpose something that may otherwise end up in a landfill. With some basic mechanical skills and creativity, you can transform a lawn mower into a unique ride to zoom around in.
Going through this DIY go-kart project will provide you with a great learning experience and sense of accomplishment. The finished product will also be a blast to drive around. Let’s look at the complete process of how to upcycle a lawn mower into a go-kart.
Before getting started, you’ll need to gather the following materials and tools:
- Old lawn mower (rear-engine rider preferred)
- Go-kart frame kit or metal to fabricate a custom frame
- Wheels and tires
- Steering wheel and column
- Throttle and brake pedals
- Safety harness
- Basic hand tools (wrenches, socket set, screwdrivers, pliers etc.)
- Protective gear (gloves, eye protection, etc.)
You’ll also need a workspace large enough to fit the lawn mower and room to work around it. Be sure to work in a well-ventilated area as well.
Dismantling the Lawn Mower
The first step is to completely dismantle the lawn mower down to the engine and drive train components.
- Drain all fluids from the mower including fuel, engine oil, and hydraulic oil. Properly dispose of any hazardous fluids.
- Remove the mower deck, belt guards, wheels, handle bars, and any body panels or housings.
- Disconnect the throttle and brake cables.
- Remove the blade and blade engagement components.
- Take off the exhaust system.
You should be left with the engine, transmission/transaxle, fuel tank, and frame. Now you have a rolling chassis to build the go-kart on.
Planning the Go-Kart Design
Before going further, think about how you want the finished go-kart to look and function. Consider:
- Will it be a single or two seater?
- Do you want a roll cage or simple open frame?
- Where will you mount components like the fuel tank, wheels, and controls?
- Will it have hydraulic or mechanical brakes?
- How will you fabricate custom parts like the steering column?
Fabricating the Frame
You have two main options for constructing the go-kart frame:
- Purchase a pre-made go-kart frame kit and modify it as needed to fit your mower.
- Fabricate a fully custom frame yourself from steel tubing.
If going fully custom, measure key mounting points on the mower chassis and cut/weld the tubing to match. You’ll want a four point frame with a front and rear axle. Create proper mounting points for the engine, seat, controls, and fuel tank.
Wheels and Suspension
Most lawn mower engines spin at high RPMs, so use rear wheels suited for go-karts. Larger pneumatic tires 12” or larger will provide better traction and ride comfort.
The front wheels and suspension system are key for proper steering and handling:
- Smaller front wheels with suspension travel allow the kart to steer and absorb bumps.
- Consider a tilting suspension system controlled by shock absorbers.
- Make sure to align the front wheels.
Steering and Controls
A proper steering wheel and column connected to the front wheels provides good control and handling.
- A spline adapter can connect the steering wheel to a lawn mower steering gearbox.
- Use U-joints and tubing to extend the column to the ideal driving position.
- Mount pedals to control the throttle and brakes.
- Make sure all controls are within easy reach when seated.
With the go-kart mechanically complete, add some finishing touches:
- Paint or powder coat the frame in your desired colors.
- Add a padded seat to drive it in comfort.
- Install a safety harness to keep the driver securely in place.
- Consider adding features like roll cage, nerf bars, number plates, and non-slip foot areas.
Now you have a fully functional upcycled go-kart to race around in! Make sure to properly break it in and start slow before pushing it to full speed. Always wear safety gear and drive responsibly.
Converting an old mower into a custom go-kart is a fun and rewarding DIY project. With some mechanical skill and fabrication work, you can build a uniquemachine to drive around for years to come. It’s also a great way to reuse something in a new, creative way rather than sending it to the junkyard. If you need guidance, there are go-kart forums and videos online to reference. Get ready for the open road by upcycling a lawn mower into your own exciting go-kart!