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Where to go?

Now the question was where the hell can we take these things to test them out. There was one place up I-5 by Marysville but Ted's sister said that was closed off. None of the areas I had been jeeping were really good for go-kart type stuff, but I knew there were places to go. I had never been to the dunes out by Moses Lake but after looking it up in my ORV guide we figured that was the place to go. 2000 acres of open dunes.

How to get them there

Now the problem was getting them there. One cart would fit in my home made trailer easily, but two was not an easy thing. We tried about 3 different ways of stacking them ontop of each other before we came up with something that would work. We even thought about sticking one of them on the top of Ted's Blazer, but we probably would have killed ourselves getting it on and off.

We were also able to stack some tool boxes, coolers and other stuff under the carts which made very good use of the trailer space. It did look like a huge pile of slag on top of the trailer though. I really wondered what the State Troopers would think about this.

We strapped them down with the heavy duty nylon tie downs and took them around the corner so see how they rode and if they would fall off. Everything worked great so we packed up everything and headed off the Moses Lake.

The Real Test

We passed many State Troopers on the way to Moses Lake and were never pulled over so aparently our heap of metal looked alright to them. Once at the dunes we unloaded the carts, put on our little red flags and fired them up.

Ted had a picture in his mind that we would start them up, go about 20 feet, and they would fall completely apart. Well, of course that didn't happen, but Ted's second comment did, that we would spend 20 minutes driving them around and 2 hours tinkering and fixing. The first thing that was obvious was that the governer was really screwing us up. When you pushed down the gas peddle, the thing would take off, but then the power would sort of go away, and you would just putt along. You were able to go up hills, but sort of slow.

So, what we did was bend one of the governer linkages a bit so it didn't kick in so early. This gave it much more power and speed, but you really didn't have any idle. Once you pulled the starter cord, the think took off. To stop you had to hit the kill switch. The brakes didn't do much when the engine was a half throttle and the torque converter was engaged.

One time Ted was circling back towards the trailer and trying to bat at the kill switch to stop and ran into the trailer tire. That stopped him. We also had to play with the chain tension a bit. When you went over bumps too hard, the chain would come off.

One good thing we learned was they were going to be really hard to roll over. You could be driving on the side of a hill at a 45 degree angle and not turn over. You would probably fall out of the seat first before you rolled over. The seatbelts did come on handy because the ride was pretty rough. The front suspension worked pretty well, but the rear tires bounced you along pretty good.

Once we got them going better we started driving around a little more. Then within about 5 minutes of each other we both broke down.

Ted drove up on a bank and a weld on his tie rod busted. He was done for the day. Faulty weld he said, ya, it was a pretty crappy weld and I don't think either of us knew that there was going to be soo much stress on those tie rods. So what happened to me? I was going along pretty fast, and hit a couple of bumps hard, then my chain came off. Well, i'll just put it back on. I did but got about 3 feet before it came off again. What the hell, maybe I bent the sproket. Nope, I bent the axle.

They were attached about 6 or 8 inches in from the tire so there was sort of a lever arm action going on there. We talked about this when we were building the frames but thought, no way were we going to bend a 1" solid axle. We even jumped up and down on it a few times. Ya, that really tested it right.

So it was back to the drawing board. We drove the Blazer out with the trailer to pick up the two disabled carts and took them home.


I modified the frames of both carts so the axles attached to the frame right next to the wheel so there was not this big lever arm to bend the axles. I also welded up a stronger set of tie rods for Ted and rewelded the other pair and kept them as spares. We also completely removed the governers. When we designed the carts we said we wanted them to go 30mph. Well, if the engines went out at 3500rpm, with 20" tires we needed a 6 to 1 ratio on the sprokets to get about 30mph. We didn't account for the 2 to 1 and 1 to 2 ratio of the automatic torque converter so at 3500rpm we would be doing well over 30mph, which was not likely.

As Ted put it, the governer is fear. Driving these things faster than 30mph would get pretty scary and you would take you foot off the gas. The ride would also get really rough.

Test Run 2

For the second trip I welded up a rack to attach the carts to on the trailer. We could now get both carts on the trailer sideways and bolt them on to the rack. Now they were never going to fall off and they balanced very well on the trailer. There was very little tongue weight. Our second test trip was included in a camping trip we took over Memorial Day weekend up by Cle Elum. We took a day trip towing the carts from Cle Elum down to the dunes in Beverly. This was an area about 300 acres. We hardly drove on 2 acres at Moses Lake so 300 was probably plenty, and chances were something else would break.

They ran much better with the governer off. They did not run really well in the soft sand and did better on hard ground where they could get up to speed easier.

The big problem was the chain still kept comming off. You could go over small bumps and catch a little air pretty easy, but when you came down your chain would bounce around and come off.

This happended to Ted pretty early on and his chain got caught up somehow and broke. Done for the day.

My cart still worked but the chain kept comming off. We took turns driving around but after a while it was too much of a pain to keep putting the chain back on so we packed them up again and headed back to the camp site.

What next

The only thing we really need to do next, is probably get a bigger tougher chain and also rig up some sort of chain tensioner and chain guide to keep the chain on. Then I think they will be really fun....

next: Spluge Fest, The Real Test