Introduction: Electric Go Cart

Picture of Electric Go Cart

I always liked mini bikes and go karts. I got my first Briggs and Stratton 3hp minibike when I was 6. by the time I was 8 i had shaved the head to make more power. I decided to make an electric powered one. That way there is less noise and more fun. I thought maybe the lack of engine noise would detract from it but it made it better. I was able to sneak up on my wife one night as she came home from work. She never heard it coming....

Step 1: Picking a Motor

Picture of Picking a Motor

I thought about using a number of different motors but I had this GE 36V motor that had a base mount very similar to the mounting pattern of the gas engine so it made life easy.

Step 2: Picking Batteries

Picture of Picking Batteries

I really the baby Hawkers or the Cyclon for their low internal resistance but I ended up going with large gel cells for range. turns out they are pretty good on power too. plus with only 3 batteries in a nice rectangle configuration I was able to make a frame from old bed frame angle iron and used a single ratcheting strap to secure them

Step 3: Picking a Controller

Picture of Picking a Controller

I wanted good control so I used a Curtis controller from a forklift. I mounted it to an old car amplifier shell as a heat sink.

Step 4: How to Back Up

Picture of How to Back Up

At some point you will need to back up. I pulled the reversing contactors out of another golf cart and used some copper battery straps and copper tubing to mate them together in a nice neat small package. too bad the wires are so big...

Step 5: Wires and Connections

Picture of Wires and Connections

Luckily I had plenty of scrap #2 wire from an old UPS. I use the hammer style crimper tools to attach the lugs. I like to wrap the finished crimp with tape. It doesn't matter what color tape since I then cover that with heat shrink tubing. It makes the ends look really neat. Even better than the "Professionally" made battery cables I looked at. I used good quality battery disconnects to minimize losses in the high current wires.

Step 6: The Frame

Picture of The Frame

I had a collection of frames and old tractor parts. There was one nice go cart with a full cage. It had solid suspension so I cut the front end off a cheap Chinese made ATV I got on Craigslist for $25 and welded it to the front. I used a tiller steering arm made from old 1" square steel tubing I got from a commercial clothes rack I found in a dumpster. For the rear I used a Collection of parts from all the go cart scraps around the yard.

Step 7: Gears

Picture of Gears

I had some Motorcycle chain laying around. I think it was from a Suzuki 750. I couldn't find a decent drive gear to match the big motorcycle driven gears then I went to Tractor Supply and found these make your own gear parts. You buy the correct size hub to match your motor and then buy the correct tooth and pitch gear and just weld them together....

Step 8: Running Gear

Picture of Running Gear

I ended up using some pillow blocks and kept the rear solidly mounted. I had a lot of different wheel hubs from 3 to 5 bolt models. I turned down a wheel hub on the lathe to fit a disk brake rotor. At some point its good to have brakes. I had to reverse the rear disk brake to get it to clear the ATV tires.

Step 9: Last But Not Least

Picture of Last But Not Least

A big red handle to help pull the battery cable in an emergency. Luckily I never needed it.

it even has a dashboard that was recycled from a Caterpillar diesel generator. check the movie to see its final test.

the most important feature of the dash is the big red button that drops all the contactors and shorts the motor too.

Step 10: Addendum

Picture of Addendum

After a while that solid rear suspension started to hurt in the end, literally....

I cut the rear frame and welded the Dana rear end from a EZGO in place complete with nice soft leaf springs....

This also made it faster and prone to hairy wheel stands even with a 300 lb driver....

Next step is front ballast weights or maybe a plow. that way i get the weight balance and another useful tool for the winter....


woodenProjects made it! (author)2017-04-21

i made it here

grahamgamer2447 (author)2017-04-14

Where is an easy place to get the parts some what cheep like the motor I have most of the other parts but I am on a limited budget? Any suggestions?

rjkorn (author)grahamgamer24472017-04-14

I get great deals on Craigslist. Some people will post a golf cart for $300 but after a while they take $50 just to get rid of it...

Sometimes a good story helps. tell them what you want to do. bring pictures of the Instructables you're trying to duplicate and you may get a better deal.

I had people bring out extra stuff and give it to me for free just to be part of it.

gregpatterson1094 (author)2017-01-05

I need help lol I bought my 6 yr old son a electric go kart for Christmas its a 24 volt and has a 3 way speed control switch on it. here's the problem, the switch is not a "keyed" switch and when I turn my head for a minute he turns the switch over to the fastest speed, and I'm afraid he's gonna get hurt really bad. does anyone have any ideas how to get this kart to stay at the lowest speed ? I tried disconnecting the speed control switch completely, but then it stayed on the highest speed constantly, and I had to hook the speed control back up. I have no idea how to solve this issue. any ideas ?

rjkorn (author)gregpatterson10942017-01-07

easiest thing would be to move or replace the switch. or bolt a plate over it....

if you want an electrical answer google the make and model and find a wiring diagram, then post the diagram

jlaureys (author)2016-08-28

I would like to make one of my own to, I found a nice project on You Tube, but I dont know what kind of motor I shoud use...scootmobile, bicycle motor, I would hold it low cost...any tips?

mspencer-3 (author)2016-01-18

My son has seizure's I would like to have some thing so he can go places on his own and be more independent he can get a driver license because of the seizure's would this work out for him to use

rjkorn (author)mspencer-32016-01-19

How old is he? This one was a little bit hard to control.

I had a friend who had his license revoked after a brain injury. the doctors said it would be too dangerous for him to operate any motorized vehicle. Luckily here there is plenty of public transportation available. If you dont have that luxury finding an option may be tricky.

I'd check craigslist for used power chairs. They're a better base to start with. i got one for $100

I'd check with the local police too. here in New York pretty much anything with a motor that's not a wheelchair is just asking for trouble. Even modifying a wheelchair with ATV tires makes people question it.

I have an EZGO electric golf cart I use but even that is limited to use on my property.

My father once had a 3 wheel power chair modified with 2 car batteries for extra travel time. He mostly used it while visiting relatives in Florida where their gated communities have very relaxed rules.

For myself I'd look into the 3 or 4 wheeler chairs. the ones with handle bar steering. they are faster than the joystick drive power chairs and easier to modify.

If you want something stylish I'd convert a barstool racer to electric. I'd love to do that myself just don't have the time right now.....

buck2217 (author)2015-07-01

Damn this new fangled electrickery. Stick a V8 in it!!

rjkorn (author)buck22172015-12-04

I got this V8 left over from a truck.....

Actually I want to put this motor in an old Bolens tractor.

That's should make a crazy instructable.

SODOWOLF (author)2015-12-03

could i use a motor in it

rjkorn (author)SODOWOLF2015-12-04

I think you have too.....

Seriously though, DC series wound motors are best then I go with shunt wound.

I want to make my next cart a hybrid by adding a lawnmower engine tied to a car alternator.

SODOWOLF (author)2015-12-03

can i use a motor

will the motor of my scraped washing mechanic would do the same work were will i get the controler and back up in Curtis i could see a lot which could i choos

you probably would be able to use a washing machine motor since mot are High Voltage and AC. I would source a motor first then get the controller and batteries to match since the motor may be the most expensive.

there are some companies the make high performance golf cart upgrades that sell motor and controller combos but hte price is steep.

rjkorn (author)rjkorn2015-04-27

that should have said would NOT be able to use a washing machine motor since MOST are high voltage

can you give the exact budget of the go kart

can you try to make it a low budget

Up here its easy to get $50 golf carts and free go cart frames on Craigslist....

I have a very large scrap pile so I invested about $200 - $300 and most of that was electrical parts...

NRG4UandMe (author)2015-01-02

i am in the process of making one, wooden frame, nothing fancy like this essentially stripped down golf cart -- essentially a garden tractor electric !

rjkorn (author)NRG4UandMe2015-03-02

electric garden tractor is on my list too. just need more time. they're all fun projects. Good luck with yours

domenic3 (author)2014-09-02

love it

rjkorn (author)domenic32014-09-04


i've already started on a lower faster one made from a shifter cart...

Hasan Darwish (author)2014-08-25

I would like to build the same go cart .
I have a dc motor 30 v, can it work normally ?
Or we should have a 36 v exactly, we need the cart to work very good !
Please advice me

rjkorn (author)Hasan Darwish2014-08-28

you need a good controller. If you want bursts of high speed you can even go to 48V. I've seen some people run 48V leeson motors on 72V and they work fine.

if you only will use it indoors in tight spaces 24V may be enough for your application

you need a controller that has good programability and things temperature sensing for the motor so it will limit current if the motor gets hot. If you are pushing high currents you should pay attention to the battery pack and monitor each battery so you never reverse the polarity on one. That gets ugly quick.

there are so many possibilities. it really depends on what you want to use it for.

sigmaz (author)2014-08-19

What can you tell me about the Caterpillar diesel generator dash?

Model, mfg, programming...?


rjkorn (author)sigmaz2014-08-28

I just gutted its case and added a futaba VFD display from an IBM POS system. The kind you see sticking up from cash registers at the supermarket. the rest is a custom Pic Microchip board. i had planned on doing an ible on it. I have one in my golf cart and even made one for my 86S10

Hasan Darwish (author)2014-08-18

This is very perfect !
I'm very glad for your invension !
But I have a question: how can you know the voltage needed inorder the car to run well ?

rjkorn (author)Hasan Darwish2014-08-28

I used 36V motors because that's what was available in my area on CraigsList. I had used that with 24V (2 - 12V batteries) for an initial test because I didn't want to go fast. i am currently running at 36V but my next cart will use 4 batteries for 48V.

what really makes the cart run well is the controller. I used a Curtis programmable controller. I can set current limits as well as acceleration ramps and load compensation. they also offer 4 different modes or setting profiles to be selected by the use of 2 pins.

I got a couple of their Can Bus controllers now so there is no limit ot what I can do there. Well learning WinVCL is going to take a while.

ContraptionMaker (author)2014-07-12

Nice build. Congrats on being a finalist!

rjkorn (author)ContraptionMaker2014-07-14

Thanks! this was the most popular thing I ever posted. I still cant believe it....

TrollFaceTheMan (author)2014-07-11

The whole "Sneaking Up on Your Wife" comment, made this priceless :D

rjkorn (author)TrollFaceTheMan2014-07-14

Thanks!. She had no trouble putting a price on dinner......

12203madman (author)2014-06-09

my total budget is around 300$

rjkorn (author)12203madman2014-06-09

It really depends on where you live and how good you are at scrounging. I did it for less but I'll stop the car at the sight of a vehicle in someones backyard that looks neglected. I did that last year and got a sears tractor with a cracked trans-axle. Just had to drag it out of the weeds

You can try motor repair shops too. if you are real lucky they may have a forklift motor or scrubber they got stiffed on and will sell it to you cheap

12203madman (author)2014-06-09

what is a good motor to use that cost
less than 150$, and a good cheap motor driver?

rjkorn (author)12203madman2014-06-09

The controller is the hard part. A smooth one like a curtis or alltrax will cost $100 to $200 easy.

For the Motor look for Floor Scrubber or pallet mover parts on eBay and Craigslist.

I live near 2 golf courses so I always see golf carts on Craigslist. Some for $50 to $300. I called the guy who wanted $300 and offered him $100 and he took it. Even threw in a Lester 36V charger just to get it out of his garage.

There's not a lot of deals out htere but if you're diligent you'll find one.

actorboy38 (author)2014-05-15

Nice instructable! I wondered if you can tell me what your minimum speed is, and how much can you vary the speed ? I'm wanting to build an electric dolly for filmmaking, but I don't have access to an old electric golf cart, but what I do have is the frame and motor from our old treadmill?

rjkorn (author)actorboy382014-05-15

if its a dc treadmill motor it should work great. I used the older curtis controller in this cart but I upgraded my golf cart with the newer curtis programmable controller. I got the controller cheap on ebay. the programming software was another story in itself.

the nice part about these is they have 2 bits for mode control. I used a cheapie computer key switch to make a speed and power mode switch.

essentially you get to make 4 profiles and select them using the binary mode select inputs.

on the golf cart I also made a crawl mode for moving trailers around. you get to set each parameter different for each mode. I'll post some pics for you tonight.

in crawl mode it changes the pedal to only go to 10 % throttle at full depression and limits the maximum PWM amps. this way I can back a trailer down a crowded driveway safely.

then in power mode I can drag cars around with ease. i accidentally dragged a hyundai with its front wheels locked when i forgot to put the car in neutral first.

speed mode is strictly for top end. if you have a shunt motor you can even add field weakening for a little extra go.

I have o do an ible on that too

actorboy38 (author)rjkorn2014-05-15

I can try and take another pic if it's hard to read. Basically, it's a 110vdc motor, 4HP, peak duty of 4200RPM 10Amps.

rjkorn (author)actorboy382014-05-15

looks like a good start. did it have a flywheel on the shaft? the one i have has a heavy flywheel/pulley attached. that helps with smooth acceleration. any thoughts about tires? maybe lawn mower tractor tires?

actorboy38 (author)rjkorn2014-05-15

Yes, it has a flywheel and I still have the v-belt. I bought these $20 wagon/trailer tires, but I don't know if they're tough enough? They hold up to 300lbs.(each I presume?). I found a curtis controller on Ebay, but it's over $200 that inexpensive for a speed controller?

rjkorn (author)actorboy382014-05-15

too many curtis varieties out there to tell. i like curtis for their power but that's probably the opposite of what you need.

you might want to try running the motor on 12 volts. then 24 or 36. you have to get an idea of its power. for a camera truck you might even be able to use a cheapie scooter controller on 24v.

if you want perfect speed control a feedback loop and a home made controller is the way to go. does it have a speed sensor on the back you could use to feed an arduino?

actorboy38 (author)rjkorn2014-05-15

Firstly, I know absolutely nothing about arduino, lol! I believe it does have a speed sensor though, but how it all works, I'm not sure really. I still have the electrical component/controller board, but I believe that it's pooched, which is why we replaced it. It was working intermittently, and the Sears repairman said it would cost too much to replace the controller board.

rjkorn (author)actorboy382014-05-15

That's ok the motor is still a good piece.

did you ever consider using a jazzy or pride electric scooter?

I got one on ebay for $50. I removed the motors and the controller/joystick to make a gangbox that would move itself.

If you got a 500 lb capacity model you could fit it with 2 seats and a camera mount. then the driver could concentrate on his job while the cameraman does his thing.

actorboy38 (author)rjkorn2014-05-15

Wow, only $50?? That's amazing! I had considered using an electric scooter, but they are just too expensive. The 500lbs. capacity model you're talking about is exactly the kind I want to build. In fact, a guy in the U.K. did the exact thing, except he installed quieter motors and such. Now he's marketing his own model called the Flyka.

rjkorn (author)actorboy382014-05-16

wow, that's pretty slick but looks easy enough to copy.

you have to be patient. over the years I've got 3 for 50-100 each. one was an estate sale, one was from a contractor cleaning out a house, and just recently a nursing home was getting rid of 3 scooters that wouldn't hold a charge and were a little beaten up. I offered them $50 for one and they said yes. I'm sorry I didn't grab them all

the trick is to weed through all the people who think because they sell for $5000 new that they are worth $2000 or more used. Most people who get these for medical reasons are having them paid for by their medical insurance and insurance wont pay on a craigslist ad.

actorboy38 (author)rjkorn2014-05-22

Sorry, I kinda dropped off the page there for a few days, but I'm back! Had a fresh look at the treadmill and found that it still works, but for some reason goes up to speed and then the relay clicks and it stops? Any idea what would cause that?

rjkorn (author)actorboy382014-05-27

might be the speed sensor.

some controllers run in a closed loop.

if it can see the sensor pulsing it will shut down.

rjkorn (author)actorboy382014-05-15

if you go with a gear box to limit speed be careful with the overall ratio as the extra torque may may it jumpy. not good for a camera dolly. better to control speed with PWM limits. the curtis lets you change the accel ramp.

Did you want to go ebay surfing for parts, just buy off the shelf stuff, or DIY build your own controller?

got a pic of the motor? i got one in the garage waiting for something. just wondering if it similar. that would give me an idea what its capable of.

for a camera dolly old fashioned v belt drive to the wheels is good. the inherrent slip help smooth out the accelleration

anectine (author)2014-05-21

awesome! Where would be a good place to find a controler for the dc motor?

About This Instructable




Bio: Disclaimer: The author is not responsible for loss of life, limb or property. The author is not responsible for your actions. The author is not ... More »
More by rjkorn:Rainbow Pastel Garden LampWings$200 DIY Laser Engraver
Add instructable to: