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The front wheels and steering on this Go-Kart are straight off a little red wagon.  However the yoke of the wagon was pointed toward the back of the kart instead of toward the front.

The steering wheel was cut out of plywood and the steering column is a broom stick. Wooden slats are tied around the broom stick's circumference so that fewer turns of the wheel are required to turn the kart.

This "steering wheel" was found in a dumpster.  It used to be the stand of an office chair. 

Note that the steering wheel is slipped over a piece of PVC tubing so that it spins easily.  Square extruded rod is inside the PVC to give it rigidity.  The angle brackets on the sides support the steering post.

 

A  side view of the steering wheel above showing how ropes wrapped around the steering column steer the wheels when the steering wheel is turned.

Make certain that the ropes are wrapped in the correct direction.  I had a spectacular wreck once when they were backward.  See kill switches

Note that in earlier versions of the go-kart's evolution we steered by simply putting our feet on the front axle.  There was no steering wheel.

 

Here we used a simple yoke "stick", similar to an airplane's, instead of a steering wheel.  A hinge is at the bottom of the stick so it can move left and right.  Moving it pulls the cables, which turn the wheels.
On this metal Go-Kart there are tie rods connecting the steering column to the front wheels.  This is the design commonly found on professional Go-Karts. 

Note that the wheels are parallel when pointed straight, but the inner wheel turns more than the outer wheel when turning.  This is because path of the outer wheel is a bigger circle.  It is accomplished by separating the points where the tie rods connect to the steering column by a couple of inches.  Between 1/4 and 1/2 turn of the steering wheel there is very little turning effect on the outer wheel but substantial effect on the inner wheel.  The detail of the steering column connection to the tie rods is shown below.

 

No photo available (Send us one!) One of the simplest steering systems is simply two ropes (or chains) suspending the frame from the front axle.  Each rope is roughly 3 inches long, from knot to knot.  So the kart is actually hanging below the axle whereas the kart is normally above the axle.  One steers with ones feet, pushing the axle one way or the other to steer.  A benefit of this arrangement, in addition to its simplicity, is that the axle tends to revert back to straight just as it does in a real car. 

 

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Last modified: 08/24/04