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The homemade go-cart (dilly, trolley, bogey, buggy, cart)

Go-CartA while back whilst visiting my brother, our boys had a ride on his children's "dilly" or go-cart. They loved it and it reminded me how much fun I had had as a child with my own go-cart. In true tradition this was built with my Dad's assistance from an old pram that we found in the garden of our house. There seems to be a large number of different names for these contraptions with regional variations so I have included the common ones but let me know if there are any others. Many people have fond memories of their own go-cart. Now outmoded by computer games and other dull indoor pastimes, it's time to revive this retro pursuit!

Pram ready for choppingRecently my brother Michael found a suitable pram for conversion whilst out on his rag and bone round. Traditional prams are a bit hard to come by these days as most parents opt for more modern designs, but there are a few about if you look. Saying that, a fancy modern all-terrain buggy could yield some suitable wheels if you can get hold of one and gain permission to chop it up. On Easter Sunday 2008 history repeated itself and I helped my boys build their go-cart with the help of my mate Barry. He's another go-cart fan and used to drive his mother mad by wearing out his welly boots using them as brakes! Here the boys are seen with the unfortunate pram ready for chopping to get the wheels and axles. The best wheels and axles for wooden go-cart use are large diameter, with ball bearings and solid rubber tyres. This will ensure maximum speed and lack of punctures! Smaller wheels can be used if that's all you can get. Homemade go-carts come in all shapes and sizes and their design depends very much on the improvisation of the available materials.

Go-cart - plywoodThe first step was to chop the pram up and get the wheels and axles off. This model was riveted so I ground the rivets off (with boys and Barry standing well back avoiding the sparks) and levered the brackets off. The next step was to find a suitable piece of wood for the main part of the go-cart. We used a piece of three-quarter inch plywood. The boys sat on it so that we could mark out the size and then Barry cut out the shape with the jigsaw. Years ago, planks would have been used for this and nailed or screwed together. However, decent wide planks are not so easy to get now and the plywood meant we could make the main part of the dilly in one piece. We were careful to leave a bit of extra wood at the front so the steering axle can be repositioned as the boys get bigger.

Go-cart, gocart taking shape.We fixed the axles onto the plywood using the brackets off the pram and some metric gutter bolts. Barry then glued a piece of 3 by 1 along the bottom of the plywood to reinforce it. We used the off cuts from the ply to make a box and backrest around the seat area of the go cart. The front axle was mounted on a piece of plank and a M8 coach bolt used to make the steering pivot. The secret with this is to put a washer between the two pieces of wood and not tighten the bolt fully. Once the bolt is tight enough cut it off and rivet the end over a bit to stop it coming undone. All the plywood for the box around the seat was fixed together using 1.5 inch screws and polyurethane wood glue.

Homemade go-cartFront axle of the go-cart close up. We have now also added the steering/pulling rope to the front axle. The go-cart hasn't got any brakes at the moment. We might make some in the future but for now I am supervising the boys and using another piece of rope to control their descents. As they get a bit more experience, we'll add a brake and then they can go off a bit more on their own.

Go CartHere's the completed go-cart on a good run. The boys have had a lot of enthusiastic comments from neighbours.

Common sense safety stuff

If you go down a very steep hill on a wooden go-cart with no brakes you are likely to get hurt. Go-carts are best used on gentle slopes that flatten out at the bottom away from traffic with plenty of space and no solid objects in the way. Young children should be supervised by an adult at all times whilst using their go-cart.

When building the go-cart, we cut all the bolts right back to the nuts, rounded all the corners of the wood and sanded off the splinters.

More go-cart resources