Introduction: Turf Rider Mark IV Golf Cart Restoration

About: The name's Alex. I'm currently majoring in Graphic Design at Cal Poly Pomona. When I'm not busy with schoolwork I like to practice hockey, watch some movies, modify my Nerf blasters, play with my Yamaha DTXpre…

"In the swingin’ 60’s, the majestic Turf Rider Mark IV could be seen parading around the nation’s finest golf courses. This teal and white king of the country club rolled through the greens for years before being retired.

Now, years later, broken down and abandoned, its former glory long since forgotten, the Turf Rider has been salvaged."
-Tim Zamanigan

The Turf Rider Mark IV came into our possession around May 2010. Since then, we've been working on it through time set aside from school and other activities. We had the cart functioning at the beginning of the summer, and it took us until the end of summer (late September for us quarter system kids) to get it back together, and rust free. Once school started, it turned into a weekend project that saw much neglect due to myself and other team members living on campus nearly 45 minutes away. However, once winter break came rolling around, it was time to get the Turf Rider Mark IV back to functionality.

Here's a video that shows it's current condition:

There are still plans to further improve some aspects of the cart, but those aren't being pursued as "top priority." Most likely, they'll be saved for weekends where I get bored, or run into some extra cash.

We've still yet to actually register our vehicle with the DMV. It turns out though, that it can legally be registered as a moped.

"A "motorized bicycle" or "moped" is any two-wheeled or three-wheeled device having fully operative pedals for propulsion by human power, or having no pedals if powered solely by electrical energy)."
-Califronia DMV Website

You've probably had enough introduction banter. Here's my little safety spiel:



..and on with the show!

Step 1: Initial Condition

The cart we purchased had quite an extensive history of abuse and neglect.

First off, the standard Turf Rider Mark IV comes with a canopy. Ours had either been modified to have it removed, or the previous owners removed it themselves. There are holes in the fiberglass body where it would attach, as well as some metal poles sticking out from the frame that are supporting nothing.

Secondly, they painted over the standard Teal and White paint job with a "beautiful" maroon red which has plenty of cracks and chips in it. This also means that there are a good 4-5 layers of paint and primer to sand through. Fun stuff.

Thirdly, there were some modifications to the seats. I can only assume the standard leather began to crack and rip after 40 some odd years of use, so the previous owners appear to have re-upholstered it with a gaudy zebra stripe pattern. That very same zebra stripe seat cushion has stayed on the cart all the way until 2010. It's dirty, very dirty.

Fourthly, (Fourthly just sounds weird) This cart has been left outside for the duration of it's lifetime. The frame is almost completely covered in rust. The rear axle is covered in a rust dirt combination that's clumped itself together.

This will take quite some time to fix up.

Step 2: Getting It to Work

As it turns out, we had bought a "dud."

When plugging it into a 120V outlet to charge up the batteries the DC AMPERES meter read only 4. Turning it on and flooring it, the cart would only lurch forward about an inch, and then return to it's original position. Needless to say, we were quite disappointed.

With nothing to lose, we set about trying to get our new investment to work.

First thing was first, we decided to clean all of the contacts and wires connecting the batteries together. There was noticeable buildup of battery acid. To clean the contacts, we used steel wool and a combination of a screw driver to chip off the really stuck on acid.

This greatly improved the DC AMPERES meter raising it to somewhere around 10 when we plugged it in. The batteries, however, still would not hold a charge.

Thankfully, David had some experience with these same type of batteries from working on a yacht. These particular kind of Lead-Acid Batteries need to be filled (and refilled) with water in order to function. As it turns out, ours had run out of water, and therefore could not produce any electricity.

You can refer to this guide on how to fill a lead acid battery safely. We used some 2.5 gallon containers of purified water, rather than hose water (as the guide indicates)

Once finished with filling the batteries we ran another charging test. The meter shot up to 20 DC AMPERES. That's quite the improvement from 4.

Here's a video of us testing it for the first time:

Step 3: Stripping the Frame

After seeing the ridiculous amount of rust on the frame of the cart, we decided it would be best to give it a "rust-proof" coating. This involved stripping the entire frame clean so we could grind down the rust.

The first thing we did was take detailed pictures of all the components on the frame. We made sure to mark cables that could be mistaken easily with masking tape to make the re-assembly easier.

Once we had enough pictures of the cart, we decided to start removing components. We started with removing the cables connecting the batteries, and then the batteries themselves. To make re-assembly easier we set them out on the garage floor the same way they were positioned in the cart.

The speed controller was revealed once we removed the batteries, so we took more detailed pictures of it, and then proceeded to disassemble it.

Next, we removed what I like to call the "battery box." It houses the electronics that control the charging mechanism on the cart. It was simply held on by four bolts.

After that, we removed wiring and components leading up the the motor, and then the motor as well. This was all quite easy to take apart, and most everything was only held on by a few bolts.

We started grinding and sanding the frame at this point, but later we removed the front yoke and rear axle to completely strip the frame.

Step 4: Sanding, Grinding, and More Sanding

Steps 3 and 4 can work in tandem if you have some friends to help you out. As one person strips the vehicle, remaining team members can start removing rust, and preparing the the parts for paint. We ended up doing most of it as a team, and we even started grinding and sanding the chassis before it was completely disassembled.

The best tool for this job was an angle grinder that my neighbor generously donated to our cause. It's important to get some metal brush buts that can either be fitted into an electric drill or angle grinder.

It's also important to know what you'll be priming the frame and parts with. We already knew we wanted to use Rustoleum: Rusty Metal Primer, which meant we didn't need to remove all the rust and grind down to bare metal.

"Rust-Oleum Rusty Metal Primer Spray bonds tightly to rust to form a surface that topcoats can easily adhere to. This formula drives out corrosive air and moisture other primers leave behind."

This was the most arduous and time consuming step of this whole restoration. The only thing that came close was prepping the fiberglass body for paint.

Step 5: Rustoleum Meets a Rusty Frame

We ended up using three cans of Rustoleum to complete the frame, and a few other key parts. Just remember to follow the directions on the can and everything will turn out great.

The frame was a beast to paint, and we ended up having to trade painting duties because our fingers would get sore from pressing the nozzle down. The frame needed to be flipped so we could get the underside, as well.

Some of the other things we coated with the primer were the front yoke, all three rims for the tires, the "battery box", and metal parts/rods that connect the pedals to the brake and speed controller.

Step 6: Re-Assembly

This went a lot smoother than we expected. We actually remembered mostly where everything went, and we kept our pile of parts organized well, so the re-assembly was quite easy.

First, we started by getting the car on some wheels, which meant installing the rear axle and suspension springs. Along with that we had to re-attach this "piston" that makes sure the axle doesn't drop below the spring's length. The front yoke was the next piece to get added on, and then it was just a simple matter of raising the cart up and bolting on the tires.

Next came the motor and flywheel assembly, along with the speed controller. The flywheel and speed controller just need to be bolted into their spots, but the motor needs some fine tuning. It needs to be lined up with the flywheel so the belt isn't at any weird angles. The belt also needs to be stretched taught when bolting the motor into place. The cart has a mechanism attached to the motor plate which (when a bolt is tightened) raises the plate and makes the belt more taught.

Now the only thing left to install are the batteries, some small gauges and parts, and the wiring. Some of the wiring (particularly to the speed controller) needs to be installed before any of the batteries go in, or else you can't access it. Once the speed controller wiring is put in, along with the charging plug. It's time to pop in all the batteries.

Now is a good time to double check your work. Make sure that the batteries are put in correctly by comparing them to some photos taken before they were off the cart. To hook up the rest of the wiring, I just brought my laptop down to the garage and referenced photos while I hooked up the remaining wires.

The cart should look pretty complete right about now.

Step 7: Getting It to Work, Again

This was probably the scariest moment of the whole project.

I had put the final pieces in place, finished up placing in the batteries, and hooking up all the wiring. When I went to test it by plugging in the charging cable, it was a dud, again. I frantically searched through all of our reference photos to see if I had somehow hooked up some wires incorrectly, but I couldn't find any mistakes.

It turns out the batteries had corroded around the cables, yet again. Thankfully, it was just a simple matter of cleaning up those connections again, and searching around my garage for a tube of goo that would solve that problem indefinitely.

Step 8: Fiberglass Body Preperation

The maroon paint job a previous owner had given the cart was in quite poor shape. Parts of it could literally be chipped off with a fingertip. The paint chipping was mostly on the front part of the body, the back half was in much better shape. While it still had dings and scratches in the paint, it was much easier to sand those out, than it was to make the chipped areas even out.

Therefore, we started working on the back half first. I ended up doing most of the fiberglass work by myself. We got the cart working around the end of summertime, then it would just be me and sometimes David who worked on it weekends we came home from school.

The sanding should be pretty straightforward, we tried to get out what we could with 300 grit, and moved on to 100 once we were happy with a particular spot. Any chips or cracks we couldn't sand out we saved for the fiberglass bondo.

This stuff is nasty, make sure to wear a mask when mixing this up and applying it. It dries in 15-30 minutes and is ready to be sanded once it's dry. The first batch of this we mixed up (for the back half) we didn't do correctly, so it took a few days to completely dry. However, when we did the same for the front half of the cart I got the mixture right.

It's just a matter of taking your time and making sure you're happy with the condition of the body before painting it. Also, make sure to give it a rinse to remove all dust and particles before it moves onto paint.

Step 9: Painting the Body

Priming and painting was probably one of the easier parts of this restoration. After we put all that work into the preparation of the body painting was quite easy, and turned out great.

I did all the painting work for the cart, and it took a week or so to finish all of it. I ended up using five cans of Ace White Primer, four cans of Ace Banner Red, and one can of Ace Satin White.

For the back half of the cart I used three cans of the White Primer, and after waiting a few days I finished it up with a two cans of the Banner Red. I painted the motor cover grate with some leftover white paint I had around. For the front half of the cart I used two cans of the White Primer, and after letting that dry for a few more days I coated it with two cans of the Banner Red.

To apply the stripes I taped off the areas on each side with blue painters tape, and then set about covering the rest of the cart with newspaper. I applied 2-3 coats with the Satin White, and a few hours later removed the newspaper and tape.

I plan to polish the paint eventually, but it's still only been a week or two since the first coat was put on.

Step 10: Sanding the Metal Trim

Since the body was completely painted, I felt it was necessary to clean up the few remaining parts. The only pieces left were some metal edging that goes inside the front part of the body. The last owner coated them with some sort of clear coat, but that had degraded and the parts were beginning to rust.

It took a few hours, but everything looks much nicer now.

Step 11: Putting It All Together

The way we received the cart, we had actually never seen the fiberglass body put on the cart. We'd only seen it as a rusty frame with wheels. It was quite exciting to finally see it on the frame.

To start, me and my Dad put the front end on, and attached it to the frame. Then we set about installing all the metal edging that I sanded the previous night. My friend David showed up to help just as we had finished the front end, and we set about putting in the front bumper.

Installing the back end is a three person job. We had to tilt it back, then move it forward over the wheels. Once we got it there, we had to fit two flaps of fiberglass over the front of the seat. It was a bit of a stretch, but we got it on there.

The only things left were the back bumper and motor cover.

Step 12: Installing Lighting

We decided to get some lights from a motorcycle scrapyard to install into the rear bumper. They only cost about 10 bucks, so it was a sweet deal for such nice looking lights. We had to modify the rear bumper in order for them to attach nicely. It involved drilling two holes in the top, and then cutting a slot for the wiring to run out of.

The front lights are inspired by Veggiecycle's Instructable. It was very easy to do, and only cost around 5 dollars.

We installed the lighting system after we got the body pieces on, but had been working on it throughout most of the restoration.

The lights all blew out when we twisted together the last wire. It still doesn't really make much sense to us. We had tested the voltages coming from each wire, which was 12, and the switch was definitely off. We even tested the switch after wards to see if it was hooked up correctly, and it was. Either way, we didn't want to deal with possibly blowing out the lights again.

Step 13: Independant Lighting System

After the whole "lights blowing out fiasco", we decided to run the lighting on a separate power source. We picked up two 6 volt batteries and replacement bulbs all for less than 20 dollars.

Hooking everything up was pretty simple. The rear bulbs literally pop into place. To install the front ones we needed to de-solder the old ones, and then solder in the new ones. There was already a hole in the glove box, so I just ran the wiring into there and hooked the batteries up in series.

Step 14: Current Condition and Future Plans

Here's a video!
(It's the same as the one in the Intro)

The Turf Rider is at the point now, where I won't be working on it as much. All that's left are little details that will make it look better, but nothing that effects its functionality much. I'll keep updating this Instructable whenever I make some changes to it, but I will most likely only work on it weekends that I get bored, or have extra money for some little parts.

Here are some future plans for the Turf Rider Mark IV:
  • Re-upholster both of the seats, and fabricate another metal "leg" for the back rest so it can actually be put to use. 
  • Touch up the white paint on the wheels.
  • Create a "cover" for the area behind the wheels on the fiberglass body. I did a lazy job painting it there, I though the back end of the fiberglass would ride lower and cover up those areas.
  • Side view mirrors to cover up holes on the front part of the fiberglass body.
  • Rubber mats for both the main body cabin and the storage area in the rear.
  • Klaxon horn (*awoooogaah*). Right now we just have a cheap 99 cent store horn. It gets the job done, but it ain't pretty.
  • Polish the paint.
  • Register it with the DMV.
  • Add reflectors to sides.
  • Create an acrylic "wind shield."
  • Somehow patch up the gaping hole taken out of the front right side of the fiberglass body.
  • Fabricate a dash board, or somehow make the glove boxes look nicer.
If I get around to any of these I'll be sure to put a strike-through on the item and update the Instructable with another step, and update this section with some more photos.

I've had a great time restoring it, and it's just so much fun to drive around. I love the looks on peoples faces when they see this little red cart chugging along the road, they can't help but smile and wave.

I always appreciate comments and feedback, and would love to answer any questions.

Thanks for reading!

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