Electric Scooter Pushed by Monkey




About: I enjoy taking a pile of junk and making something unusual out of it. I like wheeled vehicles, and currently own two motorcycles, two electric bikes that I've built, and an electric scooter pushed by a soc...

This instructable is about an electric scooter I built and later added a sock monkey at the back which appears to be pushing.  I built this scooter loosely based on a 1950's era Cushman scooter at roughly 2/3rds scale.  The scooter is powered by 3 12v 10amp lead acid batteries wired in a series to get 36 volts.

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Step 1: Materials & Tools Required

The scooter required the following:

1 inch angle iron (approximately 18 feet)
a scap piece of 1/8th steel plate
36v DC motor (purchased from a surplus store)
36v DC controller (purchased from a surplus store)
two band brakes
two low speed wheels & tires (2-wheel "dolly" tires)
two handbrake levers and cables (from an old bicycle)
one throttle (compatible with the DC controller)
large chain gear for the rear wheel
drive chain
headlight & tail light components (auto store & hardware store)
scrap plywood for the body panels
two bearings I had laying around (for the front forks)
misc. nuts, bolts, switches, and wire

The sock monkey required the following:

2x2 lumber for the internal framework
various hardware store hinges for the moving parts
a couple of lawn mower wheels
scrap steel
a sock monkey infant costume (from a department store)
one small plastic bowl (stolen from my wife's kitchen cabinet)

Tools required:

metal cutting saw
electric welder
drill & various bits
wood cutting saw (for body panels)
soldering gun, solder, various electrical connectors
wrenches, screwdrivers, pliers, cutters, and bandaids....lot's of bandaids!

Step 2: Building the Frame

I didn't have any plans when I started this project, but I had seen a drawing from an old Popular Mechanic's article on the internet, and that's what I loosely based the frame design on.

I began by cutting pieces for the base frame (the rectangular part in the photo), clamping pieces together to determine a reasonable size, then cutting them to length and welding.

Next, I cut the pieces for the front forks and welded them together.  

The final bit of welding was to connect the base frame to the fork tube.  I made the fork tube from a short length of pipe, and shaved it down a bit on the inside so two bearings I had in my junk pile could be pressed in.  The forks attach to the fork tube with a long bolt.

The handlebars were made from a piece of electrical conduit, and bent to shape.  I attached them to the top of the forks with two u-shaped clamps.

Step 3: Wheels & Brakes

The drum for the band brake was bolted directly to the rim for both wheels, and a cable was run from the band to the handbrake controls.  I don't have a photo of the brake set-up for the rear wheel, but it is similar to the one on the front wheel. 

The rear wheel also has a sproket bolted to the rim, with spacers providing clearance between the sproket and the tire.  Again, I don't have a photo of this part.

I made spacers for both wheels to keep the wheels from sliding back and forth (you can see one of the spacers in the photo of the rear wheel).  All spacers were cut from scrap steel pipe.

Step 4: Mount the Running Gear

I mounted the 36v motor, using 1/8th steel plate for a mounting base, and carefully aligning the sproket on the rear wheel with the sproket on the motor.

In this photo I have temporarily mounted the controller and the batteries, and installed the throttle for my initial test run.  That's me sitting on a milk crate.  Not too comfortable at this point, but I was happy with its initial test run!

Step 5: Body Panels

For the main body panel, I basically made a slanted box with a shelf in the middle.  The bottom of the box is open to provide clearance for the motor, drive chain, and rear wheel.

The shelf in the middle houses the controller and the three 12v batteries.  This rear body section was made from some scap 1/2" plywood I had laying around.

The front panel (on the forks) was made from a piece of scap masonite.

I found an adjustable bicycle kickstand at WalMart, cut it down to fit the scooter, and bolted it to the frame.

The floor board was made from plywood and covered with stair tread for protection.

The seat was made from a piece of plywood as a base, and covered with high density foam and vinyl.


Step 6: Lights, Etc.

I built a 12v headlight using a landscape light bulb and a chrome plumbing part.  I am of the belief that virtually anything can be made from plumbing parts!

The tail light (not shown) is a trailer tail light from an auto store.

Since my plan was to ride this is some Christmas parades, I also added battery operated light strings around the forks and on each side of the back of the scooter.

To power all these lights I added another independent battery pack (black box at the back of the floor boards), with a toggle switch to turn them on/off.

I happend to find a small piece of aluminum sheet in my scrap pile, so I added a front fender.

I then made a shroud from kydex plastic to protect the end of the motor in case I ran into any rain falling.

Step 7: Adding the Sock Monkey

I didn't take a photo of the frame built for the sock monkey, but it is basically a fixed wooden frame with hinged legs.  Each leg attaches to an 8 inch wheel with a bolt that allows the foot to pivot as the wheel rotates, giving the impression that the little monkey is walking/running when the scooter is moving. 

The wheeled aparatus is connected to the scooter with a small trailer hitch.  The monkey's head is built around an inverted plastic bowl mounted on a spring, so it bobs a little as you travel along.

The video will give you an idea of how this all works together.  By the way, the sound you hear on the video is not from this little scooter -- there was a mowing crew nearby that drove their mowers over to see this little machine ride around the parking lot. 

Step 8: Having Fun!

My wife and I have had a lot of fun with this scooter.  It's always a hit wherever we take it!  My favorite use is in Christmas parades.  All I hear through the entire parade route is hilarious laughter as people point to the little sock monkey that appears to be pushing me along.

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    36 Discussions


    2 years ago

    could you draw out a wiring diagram? I know that you did not have schematics. I have no welding experience and would like to know if I could make it out of pvc pipe? As you said, "I am of the belief that virtually anything can be made of plumbing parts".


    4 years ago on Step 3

    Nice project. The brakes idea is quite new. thumbs up.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    great instructable.great work with the monkey.awsome i'm starting building this already


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    I based it (from memory) on an old Cushman Highlander, only it is about 1/5 - 1/3 the size.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    There is very little detail about the motor and electronic drive in this Instructable. Could you provide more detail about their specifications (including manufacturer and model numbers)? Also, needed are details of how the motor and drive were mounted, what type of speed control did you use, and also need a schematic wiring diagram. I would like to build a scooter, but it would be very difficult withour more detail.

    1 reply

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Sorry I took so long to respond. I purchased the motor and controller from a surplus store, and the only info I had was that both were rated for 36 volts. Fortunately, the wires on the controller were all labeled -- that helped a lot. I used a throttle mounted speed control (the kind made for commercial electric scooters). Unfortunately I have no schematic -- I just sort of planned it as I went along.


    8 years ago on Step 7

    Fantastic work, I wonder if I could get that roadworthied out here at the tip of Africa! Would probably cost me a bottle or two of scotch to get it "through" roadworthy as it has working brakes and lights :-)

    Good job and thanks for the smiles.

    1 reply

    9 years ago on Introduction

    Would like to see more close up pics of the motor mount, sprocket, and rear wheel drive train.
    Looks like a fun build!


    9 years ago on Introduction

    That is the most awesome thing I've seen in the past 4 minutes.Great job.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    LOL! if someone seen you riding this they would think you are wierd (only because of the monkey.


    9 years ago on Step 8

    BWAHAHAHA!!  That's completely awesome!!  But I've got to know, was beer involved at some point in time?  :D

    Thanks posting this! 


    9 years ago on Introduction

    That is a very cool project. It makes me think of making a version where the motor/battery  is in the monkey part so you could attach it to the back of different vehicles for an electric boost. Put several monkeys in series for more power!