Introduction: DIY Gas Powered Cooler Kart

Today I am bringing you my garage built, gas powered cooler kart. I got the idea to build this when I saw these online but saw just how expensive they are to buy at over $1,000. I looked around to see what materials I had and came up with a design to build an inexpensive, one of a kind version. With everything I had and the parts that I bought, I spent a little over $150. The price of this project may differ for what you have. If you had to buy everything used for this project, it would probably run you around $500 which is still half of what you could buy one for.


Here is a rough list of the parts used.

  • 2" x 2" x 1/4" Aluminum Angle Bar
  • Coleman 48 qt cooler
  • 4x 10" pneumatic tires
  • Generac 212cc horizontal shaft OHV engine
  • 1/8" aluminum diamond plate
  • Razor scooter parts
  • 3/4" keyed shaft
  • 2x 3/4" bore pillow block bearings
  • 2x heim joints
  • 3/4" bore centrifugal clutch and appropriate chain
  • Hydraulic brake caliper, brake line and brake lever
  • Thumb throttle
  • Throttle cable
  • Aluminum plate

Step 1: Design

To start this project, I made a rough 3D model using Solidworks. This helped me to visualize what parts I would need and see how it would fit together. I highly recommend doing this step first because it is a big help when planning what parts you initially need to start the project. I planned this project around the aluminum angle I had that was 40" long. I then created the design around that size and this is what I created.

Step 2: Frame and Welding

The frame is made from the aluminum angle and measures 40" long and 15" wide. This size fits the cooler snugly and also gives enough length for all the parts and ensures it is fairly stable. To build the frame, I had help from a local shop that I borrowed a mig welder spool gun to weld the aluminum. If you dont have access to this, you could easily bolt the frame together. I welded the frame together, the mounts for the running boards and the spindle brackets using the spool gun. To make the spindles, I used a piece of 1" tubing, two washers and a 5/8" bolt. I welded the washers to the ends of the tube and the bolt to the side to the tube. I also had to make two driven wheels that would go onto the rear axle. These were made by making keyed sleeves that I welded into two of the wheels. These were welded using a regular mig welder.

Step 3: Axle Mounts

The axle is mounted using using aluminum angle and the 3/4" bore flange bearings. These were just bolted together and bolted to the frame. Ensure the axle is square to the frame or your cooler kart will have issues when driving.

Step 4: Front Spindles and Steering

The front spindle mounts were bolted to the frame and then the spindles could be added to create a rolling frame. When working on this part, ensure that you have the correct spacing between the front wheels and the running boards. I used the heim joints and some pipe to create front tie rods. This made the toe adjustable to ensure the front wheels are parallel. I then connected it all together using the handlebars and mount from a Razor scooter. The way I did this worked alright but I plan to update this in the future as there is movement in the steering.

Step 5: Cooler Mounting

The cooler was mounted by drilling 4 holes through the cooler and bolting it to the frame. I used extra large fender washers inside the cooler to prevent tear out. I also added silicone under the washer and inside the drilled hole of the cooler to endure a watertight joint. This allows the cooler to also be removable if needed.

Step 6: Engine

The engine is mount to the kart using an aluminum plate with slots cut into it to tighten the chain. The plate was bolted to the frame in the back and then square tubing was used in the front of the plate to take up the extra space. The alignment of the engine with the sprocket on the axle is crucial to ensure the chain doesn't jump off while riding. Once the engine is mounted, the chain can be added.

Step 7: Brakes and Throttle

Having good brakes for this kart is very important because the 6.5 hp engine will really get you moving. All the brake parts (minus the brake disc) were bought on Amazon. I mounted the brake caliper to the side of the frame which saved time on fabrication. The brake disc was another sprocket I had which works well and saved some money. The brake lever was added to the handlebars and then the braided steel brake line was connected. Bleeding the brake on this can be quite annoying but just take your time and get all the air out to have a good solid brake.

The throttle lever was added to the handle bars and then the throttle cable was run to the engine. This was somewhat tricky because the cable was going the wrong direction to the engine. I had to make a bracket that looped the bracket back around to connect properly. Once this is done, the kart is now drive able.

Step 8: Seat

Having a comfortable ride is just as important as a well functioning machine. I made the seat from a piece of plywood, seat foam and waterproof vinyl. I put carriage bolts through the plywood and then glued my foam down to the plywood. I then wrapped the vinyl around the seat and stapled it underneath the plywood. The seat was then bolted to to the cooler lid. I also added spray foam to the cooler lid to improve the rigidity of the lid and help the insulation of the cooler. This way your drinks stay colder, longer.

Step 9: Finished Product

And there you have it, a fully built cooler kart! You now have an awesome ride to take with you to tailgates, sporting events, family get togethers and just a fun thing to ride. Now this instructable was not every single step by step detail because that would be a very very long thing to read. The goal of this was to give a brief overview of how I created this machine and to inspire you to build it or put your own twist on it and improve it. Build at your own risk!!!! Be aware of the dangers of not using proper safety equipment. Wear an appropriate helmet when riding. This kart can be very dangerous if not handled properly. Please ensure you take care if constructing this kart that it is safe. This kart can reach speeds over 25 mph so be careful when riding and use caution. I hope this instructable was helpful and inspires many projects to come.

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