Author Options:

Can one make a four wheel electric vehicle with junkyard parts ie. 12volt generator, battery, bicycle frames and tires? Answered


You know, I have been wanting to build something like what you're talking about for a while, but the legal issues involved in anything on residential streets in the USA are very very prohibitive. I still plan to build something for fun (basically a two-person front/back seating electric go-kart), but I would fully expect to be ticketed and heavily fined if I were ever caught driving such a thing on public roads. You're thinking like an inventor, but the government thinks like...the government. And they own the roads.

Being a reverse trike enthusiast I have to say a few things. First, the fine folks at the RTMC have put together some good information on licensing a trike in the USA
to summarize, a 3 wheeled custom built vehicle is usually easier to title and license than a 4 wheel vehicle because a 4 wheeled vehicle must conform to the standards of a car, while a 3 wheeled vehicle will, more often than not, qualify as a motorcycle.
Second, there are several commercially available plans for building fully cabbed, electric powered, reverse trikes. Many of which aren't prohibitively expensive.
Robert Q. Riley http://www.rqriley.com/ has designed quite a few. (and some other nifty stuff too)
However, if your looking to build a free vehicle from junk, I think your going to have a hard time making it street legal, no matter how many wheels you've got on it, at least here in the USA.
Still, more power to you! good luck!

Diesel_loa, Thank you for your advice. I didn't realize that this thread was still open. I closed it two months ago. Well anyway, if someone was to design a neighborhood vehicle with junk parts; I am sure it will be exciting. I don't expect this to happen soon.

I'm working on the same problem/idea. Right now I figure two mountain bike rear frames attached with a lawn chair slung between them and a couple different motors (Small hub motor for normal drive; one speed ultra-food processor for turbo boosts.) and the front is optional, one or two wheel.

I guess Free is the big factor ,get out the dumpster diving gloves .What you build will depend mostly on what you find . As an example right now I am working with a 40 year old golf cart motor and for a different project 2 motors from an old electric wheel chair . Don't be afraid to ask others for stuff . Also check out freecycle on yahoo groups , people give you free stuff or a different way to look at it people get rid of stuff they don't have time to sell . I advise going with a three wheeler as they are considered motorcycles and laws covering them are less stringent . If you keep the horsepower low a lot of states don't require licenses .For light weight electrics check out electrathons and google homemade electric cars,motorcycles ,bicycles go karts and such. A light quadracycle or cycle car can be made from old bicycle parts . Make sure you check with the crazy Canadians at Atomic Zombie they have some inexpensive plans for electric vehicles made out of old bicycles . " And it's just fun to see thier wild projects ". Not everything has to be built from metal ,well into the 1930's and 40's most cars used wood frames and bodies .Many cars had metal skins applied to wood frames . There are so many choices today with the great glues and fasteners for wood , many excellent resins to hold together wood laminates , fiberglass ,carbon fiber ,paper / cardboard , whatever is free . Don't forget steel it is really cheap if you know how to weld .There are many like-minded people out there running EV web sites you can ask questions . You can do it, read directions,ask questions , have fun and good luck.

Thank you for bringing up this legal issue. I have recently seen a person driving such a vehicle on city streets without a license. However, it is an electric car from approximately 1910. I think it was an Edison. The government doesn't discourage inventors or prohibit their inventions. The USA is the most free nation in the world. Many great patents are filed here.

I built something like that:

It's a Trike, made with mostly junk parts.

I'd use a starter for the motor. And you can gear more than one of them together with sprockets and a chain. If you put one on each wheel, one wheel might go faster than the other side, making it try to turn.

So far this is the best use of junk (bicycle frames, car battery and starters). So far excellent design ideas "If you put one on each wheel, one wheel might go faster than the other side, making it try to turn." I want to make a FREE small vehicle that drives on residential streets. Thanks for your input!!!!

With enough parts and know-how, anyone can