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Old 07-25-2018, 03:13 PM
RickyBobby RickyBobby is offline
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Default Full build log of a scaled down VW rail buggy kart

This was actually supposed to be a Go Kart when I started and I guess it still is but everyone I show the photos too says it looks like a VW rail buggy.

I am new to the forum but I created my account back in March when my 1st two signs showed up out of no where hinting that I should build a go-kart.

I don't write, I make things so I did my best to outline the build for anyone else wanting to attempt. You can read my boring story or just skip down to the pretty photos

This is my 1st go-kart build as well as my 1st time welding, cutting or bending with metal fabrication tools but if you know me then you will already know that I always have a side project going on to keep me busy in the garage. So I do have the electrical and mechanical experience in some fashion as well as the schooling for it just for some reason I never did any metal projects. But back at the beginning of winter last year, I went through the list of what have I not done yet and welding came to the top.

So over the next several months I did nothing but read information and watch welding videos on youtube (special thanks to ChuckE2009 for keeping me interested) for about 4 months and then in March of this year, I went and bought a lincoln 180c with 80cf tank off craiglist, along with a hypertherm 45 plasma cutter I found on ebay, A woodward fab WFB2 with a 1 ¼ round die and medium grade tube notcher with good ratings off of Amazon.

Once I started getting items setup in the garage my next item was: Now, What do I build?

My last project was an electric bike which I might post a link to here at the end of this article but thats what I was looking for, something fun to build and then one day watching YouTube, the favorites bar popped up a video by Cars and Cameras and so I started watching go kart videos for the next week.

I didn't have a lot of things growing up and a go kart was one of them and somehow I had forgotten all about them but now that I have my own 10 year old son. I have the perfect project to start with, No I just have to decide which one do I build.

At first I didnt want to put a lot of money into this because I really didn't know for sure how this was going to turn out but either way I knew it was going to need an engine so that was my 1st buy, I found this Predator 420cc on CraigList that said like new, never used 200.00.

I am always sketchy about buying things off other people on CL but the motor looked brand new when I went to pick it up so, I bought it. Just make sure you remember that later in this story.

And yes, the kid that had it, put the new air filter on before he ever even had the parts to make a kart. I think that everyone that does this on a stock engine thinks it add 4 or 5 HP

Now that I had a motor, I still needed a design. After looking at Karts for weeks on the web, I could see that having a front suspension was the best way, but building one proper from scratch was very difficult. So I start looking for front end kits and the only one I was able to find for sale was a kit for the Yerf Dog from BMI Karts for 325.00 which I though was way over priced since it didn't even come with brakes.

So in frustration, I was just about to give up on the go-kart and that evening when I was riding my bike on my regular ride. I passed by a house with a bunch of scrap metal set out side by the curb for trash day the next day and I could not ride home fast enough to get my truck and return before someone else did and get it all loaded up. While I was there, the next door lady came out and startled me, which prompted me to ask, I’m not stealing this am I?? She explained no, they moved out today and he left all of that because it would not fit in the moving truck. So I was like **** ya…. And kept loading

So after I got back home and unloaded what was about a 1000.00 dollars worth of good steel I just happened upon. I went to ebay looking for front ends and finally came across a Honda TRX400EX front end already pulled for 75.00. No brakes or shocks. A little further looking and I scored a set of used shocks for 50.00 and set of new re-furb brakes for 24.99 each, and bought all of it.

When I got the front end and parts in, I put them all together and laid them out in the entry way in my house and started thinking. How can I build a go-kart around this.

While I was thinking about that, I found a seat on amazon for 45.00 that should help me in my design layout. Once I got the seat in, I started marking tape on the floor around them to get my initial dimensions. It was then that I figured out that this was probably going to be a bit bigger than a go-kart.

Back to the internet looking at Buggy/Karts. After days of printing photos and taping to the wall. I finally came up with my plan and drew it all on paper.

Here is my entire set of plans. The rest I just made up as I went along in my head.

In the mean time, I had been out in the garage every-night using my pile of steel I found learning how to weld and these were my 1st two projects. A roll around work table and a welding table. I literily mae these up in my head on the fly and built them for free with the scrap steel and wood I had lying around in the garage.

And now that those were done, it was time to get started on the buggy/kart.
Old 07-25-2018, 03:18 PM
RickyBobby RickyBobby is offline
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Default continued part 2

I put the Honda front end on my table and clamped it all up how it should sit when installed and made sure all my angles and alignments were in check and then I built a frame to hold it.

After that was done, I laid it out on the floor and using the great plans I drew plus all my photos I printed out and started building the base frame. I more or less made this up as I went cutting and fitting pieces that looked dimensionally correct by standing back and what I call, eyeballing it.

I will say I used to be a big time wood worker and the thing that helped me out the most was I cut some 1x1 sticks out of some scrap I had and I put a single wood screw at the end of two pieces so I could make movable angle guide. I made a bunch of these as you can see in the photos and they were crucial to getting everything lined up. If you tighten the screw just enough where it will give a little to move yet still hold the angle when you pick it up. I used each of these to lay on the metal tubes as I was bending them so I would keep bending the pipe until it matched the angle of my wood template.

It was also crucial in giving me a visual representation of what it would look like after I made and welded the actual tube. I spent a lot of time moving and placing these to get the final look I wanted for the shape of the buggy before actually cutting and bending the tube steel.

Old 07-25-2018, 03:20 PM
RickyBobby RickyBobby is offline
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Default continued part 3

Here is another part that was absolutely crucial although it’s kinda hard to see since I later on painted on it during a side project.

I made an exact 1-1 layout of the bottom of the engine with the torque converter installed so that I could get my dimensions correct and in place for the rear engine mount swing arm plate.

The cut-out size is the exact size I made the rear swing arm and I laid the card board over the cross tubes I cut to get them perfectly in place to match the engine mounts and still give me clearance for the TC

Making sure the test pilot fits in the seat.

I bought the front wheels off ebay for I guess a good deal. They were 220.00 total tires and rims shipped. I really did not have much of a choice since I went with the Honda front end. The bolt pattern on the hubs had to be for Honda wheels and these are the cheapest ones I could find for a TRX but I was very happy with the look.

I screwed up here and I will explain why later. A lot of these tubes and pieces did not go perfectly into place the 1st time but after spending several hours cutting ones I already welded in back out and moving them or bending them another inch one way or the other. I started being a lot more carefully what I just stuck on there and using the wood sticks to make sure everything lined up properly before welding.

The rear tires on!!! Well sorta. They are more or less just sitting under there but I am really liking the way this is turning out.

I have the pleasure of living not to far away from Go Power Sports it turns out. So I picked up these rear 10x22 tires and rims (on sale) for the same price as I got the front ones for. So at this point, tires and rims are half of the cost. And I of course already had a bunch of base tools but thus far have right at 1000.00 into the ones I bought for this project,

Buggy Parts

Front Tire/Rims 220
Rear Tires/Rims 220
Honda Front end 75
Honda Shocks 50
Honda Brakes 50
Race Seat 45
Seat 75
420xx Engine 200.00

Steel Free. At this point I am still using the scrap steel I found to build the tables and the buggy.


Lincoln 180 mig with tank 450.00
Woodard WFB2 with die 279.00
Harbor Freight Ram Jack 65.00
Tube Notcher 125.00
Ryobi 18v brushless grinder 99.00
Evolution 15” chop saw. 359.00

I got this beefy one from Discount Steel not the flimsy’er one that Homedepot or lowes sales. Mine has a solid cast iron base and parts, I have seen some others that dont. The big one they sale is the 14” version for a few dollars more. If you get one of these, get the 15” one from DS. Also, you can get a spare blade for 99.00 with the purchase. The item code is EVOSAW380.

This thing will cut through a piece of solid steel stock the size of a 2x4 like just as easy as a skillsaw cuts through a real 2x4 stud and there is ZERO heat afterwards.

It’s hard to add the price of the tools in on this project as I will use them for some time on others but if you are looking to get started this is mostly everything I used. I also bought the Hypertherm Plasma 45 (the older model, not the XP) off ebay as well after watching for a few months I snagged ones for 950.00 I really did not use it on this project but after I was almost done, I finally wired up another 50amp 220v in my garage so I could play with it and I LOVE THIS THING. It was a little scary getting used to as it blows molten steel sparks across the floor. But after the 1st 15-20 cuts, I shucked all the protective ware and helmet and almost use it like a pencil now. The 8 foot spew of sparks just looks scary, but they are mostly out in 1/10 a sec The accuracy of the cuts with this is astounding but you will also need a air compressor capable of continuous 7-8scfm at 90 psi. to run it. The one I had would not ‘cut it’ no pun so I bought the Eagle Silent series off aircompressorsdirect,com for 549.00

Eagle Silent Series 2-HP 20-Gallon Air Compressor

This came shipped on a quality wooden frame pallet in 7 days and you can have a normal conversation standing 2 feet in front of it. In other words, It really is super quiet. In hind site, I should have bought a bigger one. This one Barely keeps up with the Plasma Cutter and if your doing a lot of cutting or running more than one tool at the same time, It probably wont due but works just fine for me by myself. Using a 24 inch steel square as a guide, I can lay this down on a sheet of ¼ inch and cut it faster than I can paper with scissors and the cut line is so smooth, it looks buffed and polished. I cant wait to make some more projects with this and eventually would like to rig up some sort of cheap plasma table to use it with. There are DIY kits at cncrouterparts.com starting at 1100.00 as well a langmuirsystems.com plus several other sites that just sell the stepper motor kits with software starting at 4-500.00. I dont need it to make parts for NASA I just want to cut small parts and such even if its half manual. It’s still worth it to have one.

Back to the buggykart
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Old 07-25-2018, 03:21 PM
RickyBobby RickyBobby is offline
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Default continued part 4

And Finally………….. I have a rolling chassis

At this point I am extremely happy with the results. I never had any idea this was going to turn out this nice which makes me sad now because I am a very good friend with Murphy and thus far he has not visited me yet on this project which means I am long over due for a very big FUBAR.

And here is the first one.

Remember that great deal I got on the 200.00 engine? For some reason I wanted to pull on the rope and see how hard it was to start with out the starter. Guess what? It don’t turn. And when I say it don’t turn. I mean it’s like the crank is welded to the case don’t turn. #$%#$&$&$%#$@#

So first off I don’t understand. This engine looks brand new. The gas tank has no gas smell. There is no oil in the case except for some very clear build oil which a few teaspoons ran out when I turned it over on it side. Yet the crank is definitely seized. Time to pop the case.

I am not sure what happened to the photos of the engine rebuild but they disappeared. But after removing the side cover, the 1st thing I noticed is that the crank, cam and balance shaft were all not keyed together and what I mean by that is there is an alignment dot on each that you must match up when assembling the engine so that it is properly timed and all the parts don't smash each other. After I put these back in right, the engine still wont turn so I pulled the valve cover and the valve rods were not even in their seats. One of them was jammed from the cam against the side of the casing and after a little wiggle I finally got it un-stuck.

Since I was in this far, I went ahead and tore everything out, pulled the governor out, pulled the oil sensor and capped all the holes. Then I put it all back together and set the valve lash and closed everything up. Poured in some gas and oil and som-*****, it started 1st crank.

So I still have no idea what happened here. All the gaskets looked pristine. The case never looked like it had been cracked open or run. I got in touch with the kid I bought it from and he swears that is the way he bought it from the store.

So I guess it came from the factory half-*** put together on the inside but who knows what the mystery is here. This is the biggest problem buying things off want-adds

Got the engine set and the 40 series TC installed. Fits like a glove. This never would have happened without that template. Add another 250.00 to the cost.

It was time to hook up the steering and the one I had bought and measured for did not have right tie rod end types and no matter how I tried I could not get them to link up with spindles properly. So I ordered another one made for a Kandi 150cc and I had to cut down the tie rods and weld them back together to get the perfect length.

The problem was when the suspension would compress, it would change the angle of the tie rods and pull the wheels out of alignment causing them to toe in or out. The solution was to cut into the existing spindle brackets and move the whole rack and pinion back a few inches and line it up level with the swing arms. That Ackerman dude caused me a lot of work here. I probably spent as much time on reading and trying different positions and welding everything back together here as I did making the whole base frame.
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Old 07-25-2018, 03:23 PM
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Default continued part 5

If you are building a suspension buggy/kart this is probably the most complicated part that needs to be thought out before you get to far into building your kart.

I just made a guess on those Honda shocks and they turned out perfect for the load. When I drop it to the ground and stand on the end frame with my weight, it flexes perfectly and when I jump up and down it has about 8-9 inches of travel.

I got the rear shocks off amazon ~79.00. Search for Air Shocks Go Kart. There area many lengths, ebay has a bunch of the same and they look really nice. So far they work great (jumping up and down on the rear end). We will see how they hold up for real.

Next up was the floor-pan and gas tank. I ordered the 4 gallon gas-tank off ebay for 125.00 and the floor-pan I picked up at the local metal supply for 40.00 It was an already cut piece ¼ Aluminum diamond plate in the scrap section that was almost the perfect size. I marked it off with a sharpie and then used a skill saw with carbide blade to cut to shape.

I originally had planned to pull the stock gas tank off and use the turned aluminum one but a few weeks ago when I started working on the throttle linkage I took off the stock one and I really dont like the way it makes the back of the buggy look so after I am done with the linkage. I am going to put the stock one back in place just because it looks right even though I will still feed gas from the bigger one.

I started to use pop rivets but instead decided to drill and use heavy duty ¼ drive sheet metal screws so I can remove it when I need to.

This just about brings up up to date and in to the heat of Texas summers. I don't know where you may live but it has been running about 100+ degrees here the last few weeks and that makes it about 120++ in the garage.

I did pick up a used portable roll around AC unit that I set up on the bench in the corner and it helps a lot but not during the 2-6pm hours of the day. Even with the AC running full tilt all night the garage still peaks at about 90 degrees and that is if I don’t open the garage door.
Old 07-25-2018, 03:36 PM
RickyBobby RickyBobby is offline
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Default continued part 6

These next few photos are where it sits today and has not changed much in the last 6 weeks or so. The final things I have to do before test drive are hook up the hydraulic lines to the brake calipers, hook up, the gas peddle and cable, manufacture some sort of stop and go peddles. Bleed the brakes. Check the tire pressure and fill it up with gas.

I took a few weeks putting this together so in the mean time, my brake cables and throttle cable came in the mail. I got the brakes all hooked up but the throttle cable was 4 inches too short at a stretch so I had to order another one.

I still need to bleed the brakes and when the new throttle comes in, I will be ready for the test ride.

I will probably end up selling this after we play around with it a while even though I don't want too, I just don't have the room to store it, Not really sure yet, If I could find a place to store it, I will keep it, but I live in one of those snobby developments that don’t allow crap but registered drivable cars in the driveway so I cant park it there and I need the space back when I move on to the next project.

I realized soon after I started that this was going to be too big for my 10 year old even though I will let him do his best to try and drive it. But in the meantime I also bought a fixer-uper Manco Dingo that I just rebuilt over the past few weekends and that one is a little more portable than this one and can be pushed in the back yard when he isn’t using it. But… Assuming I did, anyone have any idea what this might be worth? I was thinking at least a 1000.00 but that may be too much or not I really have no idea what something like this would be worth.

Now that I have been schooled over the past several months my original plan was to hot rod the 420 I already have which I still may do for the short period. But I really like the way the 670 sounds and runs in both an episodes of Red Beards Garage buggy build and Cars and Cameras dragster. So I may go ahead and put one of those in there and use the 420 for another idea I have been working on.

My ultimate goal would be to put a 200-250 ATV engine and transmission case in there so I could have gears and REVERSE. I have beat my head against the wall trying to figure out reverse and other than hi-dollar small compact gear box I found for 1500.00 I could not come up with another option. They make some of the cheap Chinese ones for 8-12HP but I cant find anything for 12-24HP or more that is not really expensive.

The goal here was to have fun and I have, If I pour too much more into this, it would make more sense to just buy a used RZR or CanAm So I am really out of options of what to do at this point with reverse other than just have fun with what it is and hope it doesn't get stuck somewhere we cant push it out of.

If anyone has any ideas, please please share them. Also, please feel free to point out my mistakes or have a better idea on a part than the way I made it. Like I said, It was my first build. So I am sure I did not think of everything but I am fairly confident that this should run and drive fine.

BTW, I said I would post a link on my other project, The Electric Bike(s). Here it is. This is really kinda a electric motorcycle bike but this by far has been my most favorite project.


and if anyone is interested in really big karts. you can see my jeep project here.


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Old 07-25-2018, 03:57 PM
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tgus3 tgus3 is offline
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wow..that is a really kool build
and thanks for the detailed posts.

Looking forward to anymore projects from you
Only know you love it when you let it go..
Old 07-25-2018, 04:07 PM
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frostyflammable frostyflammable is offline
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That is one sweet kart, I am in the DFW area and if I would so buy it off you if I had somewhere to ride it.

Old 07-25-2018, 09:54 PM
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Texan Texan is offline
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A man with a plan! Great job
Old 07-26-2018, 06:54 AM
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ezcome-ezgo ezcome-ezgo is offline
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Superb work and thanks for sharing.
My name is Sylvester McMonkey McBean. I will make a decontamination.
Old 07-26-2018, 10:07 AM
Bwdeaton Bwdeaton is offline
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Looks really cool, great find on all that free steel. I like the layout and can definitely tell that its a large kart.
Old 07-26-2018, 04:31 PM
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kevbo22 kevbo22 is offline
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NICE JOB!! Came out great!
Its like netflix, I get to binge it all at once!!
Old 07-26-2018, 10:13 PM
Kentguy13 Kentguy13 is offline
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Great job!
Old 07-27-2018, 06:48 PM
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Nosandwich Nosandwich is offline
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Yeah, it's hot around here. Broke a bunch of records and had one or two days hit 110°. I'm about 15-20 minutes away from GoPowersports. Good job on the dune buggy.
I do not recall Congressman.
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