Intro: Powerwheel Refurb
my picture lacking step by step instruction to saving $300 and making your child happy
I'm writing this while i'm in Iraq, hence the lack of personal pictures
Step 1: Dilemma
getting something special for a 2yr olds birthday and having no money from the struggling economy... every time i take my son for a ride he automatically climbs into my seat and tries to steer the car. so i figured what better then getting him his own car. but power wheels are EXPENSIVE..over $300 for a bunch of plastic, 2 dc motors, a battery and 2 switches...there has to be a better way
freecycle.org to the rescue
some local posting requests got me 2 old junky power wheels for free, just had to go pick them up
time to see what i have available
Step 2: Acquisition of Materials
started to search around my garage...
2 power wheels...check
random workshop tools...check
random spray paint...check
misc extra wires....check
small drill bits...check
small nut and bolt sets (6/32 thread)...check
busted old ryobi tools...check
good 18v ryobi battery...check
Step 3: Choices...
time to decide what to do...
the two choices were a brown/black jeep
and a blue/yellow/red jeep.
i used the blue/yellow/red one because i figured it would take the paint colors easier
the design of a power wheel is pretty much universal...
battery in the "engine" compartment
forward/reverse switch in the middle
pedal switch in the middle
2 motor at the rear tires
time to start dissassembly
Step 4: Tear Down
I completely stripped down the jeep, it's about 24 screws holding the entire thing together.
the worst part is the rear tires. they are designed with "spring" clips that go over the solid drive shaft. you can break the clip off one end and pull the whole shaft out after you unscrew the gearboxes
I did this on both jeeps, just for extra parts should the need arise...
use a scraper and remove all the old stickers/decals best you can
now is when you scrub down all the parts your going to reuse with the simple green, for some reason due to their nature power wheels left unattended grow a nice greenish mold. don't want anyone getting sick..so scrub them good
the gear boxes are held together with plastic clips. take care not to break them when opening the box up, they are small and fragile.
after opening them up, check all the teeth, some may have become broken (this is where the other boxes come into play)
clean the gear boxes and apply fresh gear (white lithium) grease
Step 5: Coloring...outside the Lines
i started to repaint the jeep random bright colors, only to find that regular spray paint doesn't like weathered plastic.
so off to the auto store i went, i picked up 3 cans of krylon plastic fusion paint on sale for $10.
now my son was turning 2, so i wasn't too worried about matching colors...just bright so that he would recognize it and know it was his. so i left the body the original "blue", painted the fenders black and used red and bright yellow for the grill, lights,bumpers, side step etc
it's colorful to say the least
Step 6: Wiring
one of the major costs of these things is a crappy 10/12 volt battery..they run upwards of $50 to replace...thats crazy
so i have a 18 volt ryobi sawzall that i never used that. so i gutted it and pulled out the battery connection.
now laying the wiring harness out it was a mess of corrosion and damage, my forward/reverse switch was broken off so that got deleted. after stripping it down, i was left with a connection for a 18v battery, a floor pedal switch and 2 motors
the motors had a fair bit of buildup in them...but between 4 motors i was able to hack and slash and clean my way to 2 good working ones.
now it was time to rebuild the harness with new wires. very simple design circuit
switch pole #1 to battery +
battery - to motor #1 pole 1
motor #1 pole 2 to motor #2 pole 1
motor #2 pole 2 to switch pole #2
test on the table, do not hard install anything to motors until after assembly
i also changed the location of the battery to the back under the seat to protect it more from the elements
the motors can handle the 18v without a problem, they are the same ones used in high end R/C cars (you can verify via part number) and the 18vt gives the motors a bit more torque and speed compared to their 10-12 vt counterparts
pics are the "usual set-up items"
Step 7: Reassembly
after the paint dries you can reassemble the majority of the power wheel with the exception of the "rear end" that has to wait till you finish the new harness
the reason you can't hard install the wiring components to the motors is because these motors are bi directional, hence forward and reverse. my first assembly i had the motors wired backwards...so it was all reverse..learn from my mistakes
before you install the "axel" you'll want to drill a small hole through the end about 1/4" to 1/2" in from the end missing the spring clip. this way you can lock your wheel on with the washer and nut and bolt.
i also had some extra window insulation lying around so i added a strip to the bottom of the seat to protect the motors and the battery.
Step 8: Delivery
make sure all the screws are tight...add a bow to the hood and bring the child out...
and watch the smile as they run and climb in it
now being 2, some may say that my son is a bit young to be "driving" to that i say every child is different as is the parent, and he is not unsupervised while playing..and after about 5 min he got the hang of it and was cruising around. he even realized that you can only go forward..
the 18 volt battery lasts about 20-30 minutes...but being a ryobi...i have 5 more on hand from my other tools...so he got about 2 hours of driving time and was exhausted afterwards...the laughter and giggles made it all worth wild
the 2nd jeep was put back together w/o the gears and wiring and i cut out the floor to make a outdoor foot powered one that can be used by other kids when come to vist for play dates
i will endeavor to post pictures on this when i return home