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Coder New Reader
5/2/21 1:56 p.m.

This all started with trash, as it always seems to.  Instead of a junk car this time, it was trash-trash.  Well, trash cans, really. 

I have a long drive way.  And I'm lazy.  To bring the empy trash cans back to the house, I just wedge them in the open trunk of my Elantra.  They fit pretty snug.  It's nice.  Except now, the trash company upgraded us to a jumbo trash can that is a little too girthy for my poor little Hyundai.  Even my Jeep can't handle it without removing the back zipper window.  No bueno.

So I got to thinking.  And my thoughts wandered between actually fixing my truck, buying another truck, and maybe building something.  Then I started to think back to when I was a kid and would go to Six Flags with my family.  I made them spend hours in line, repeatedly, so I could ride the antique car ride.  They were called Moon Cars and it was my favorite ride. 

Not a picture of me.  Though I do like a nice set of cheap sunglasses. 

One of those would be perfect!  I'd actually look forward to picking up the trash can!  I might even enjoy taking the trash out, or checking the mail!  So I searched a bit, hoping to find a decommissioned one on Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist.  No dice.  But I got to thinking; they can't be *that* hard to build.  I mean, it's basically a riding lawn mower with fancy sheet metal, right?

So down the rabbit hole I went.

Coder New Reader
5/2/21 2:12 p.m.

I decided to start with finding a drive train.  I wanted something a little more stout than a go cart.  I planned to actually use it to haul the trash or maybe my neice and nephews when they're over.  So I thought a riding lawn mower would work pretty good.  I perused my options on FB Marketplace and found a little MTD Yardbug listed for 100 bucks, not running and with no deck.  I offered the guy $50 figuring I could use the transmission and steering components and scrap the rest. 

When I got it home, I played a little bit with the motor and found it would kick over if I jumped the starter solenoid.  So I put a little gas in the tank and gave it a shot.  No luck.   I was just about to start disassembly when I noticed there was a connector on the bottom side of the seat.  I found the connector that should have been plugged in there and noticed someone had added a jumper wire but one end had come loose.  So I pushed it in and gave it another go.  And she fired right up and idled!  Huzzah!

So now I had and engine, transmission, and steering components.  I was off to a good start!  I ordered a new starter solenoid off amazon and started searching for wheels.

Coder New Reader
5/2/21 2:35 p.m.

I wanted to make this look like an antique truck.  I wasn't sure what kind of antique truck though.  I considered something more flashy like a Model T but wasn't sure my sheet metal skills were up to par.  I thought maybe more of an industrial design might be easier and more likely to result in success.  Something like this:

I figured I could handle the simple fenders and body work and it still looks cool.  My requirements for wheels were: somewhat tall diameter but narrow width.  My first thought was:

Spare tires!  They tend to be pretty tall and very narrow.  They should last forever on my ultra light weight little truck and be able to hold plenty of weight.  But there was a problem.  They're friggin heavy.  I'm sure the lawnmower components could drive them, but I'd be sacrificing a lot of the 8.5 horses to do so.  I kept searching.

After many, many hours (days actually) of researching wire spoke wheel options, I settled on these "heavy duty" wire spoke wheels from amazon.  I went with the 26x1.95 inch solid tire version.  They have a 3/4" inner diameter, so they'll work with a lot of lawn mower and go cart parts, they're light weight, and have "the look".

While waiting for those to arrive, I turned my attention back to the engine.


Coder New Reader
5/2/21 3:03 p.m.

I just found the "maximize" button on the post editor.  I'm a happy man.

Anyway, back to the motor.  The thing was dirty.  Filthy.  So I whipped out the GUNK and got to work.

I removed the air filter so as not to fill it with GUNK and brakes part cleaner and so I could inspect it.  I'm glad I did.  I'm pretty sure it's the original filter, or at least it's been in there a very long time.

The foam around it looked fine, but the second you touched it, it became dust.  A new one is on it's way.

I also removed the flywheel shroud.  Through a hole, I could see what appeared to be insulation stuck to the cylinder head.  Removing the shroud, I found this:

That's not supposed to be there!  Some critter made themselves a cozy little home.

After cleaning all of that out of there and degreasing/degrassing the engine, I started pulling the thing apart.



Coder New Reader
5/2/21 3:17 p.m.

Starting with the back wheels.  Holy Jeebus were those on there!  At first I tried just tapping them off.  HA!  That was never going to work.

Then I rented a hub puller from autozone.  The big guy.

Which just bent the rim.  Hrmmmm.

This calls for some heat.  Unfortunately, the only thing I have is a little Mapp gas torch.  After another few hours of heating, beating, and pulling, I finally got it off.  The other side put up less of a fight.

Coder New Reader
5/2/21 3:22 p.m.

Something came in the mail!

Coder New Reader
5/2/21 4:05 p.m.

Up till this point, I was still planning on a simple carriage-style truck.  But the more I thought about it, I really wanted a Model TT style little pickup.

I started messing around with ideas in Fusion 360.  I'm no engineer and barely know how to use CAD software, so I was happy with my results:

Of course, no sooner had I finished this drawing, things changed.

I was doing my nightly Marketplace browsing when Facebook suggested a listing to me that was outside of my search.  And for once, it was something I wanted to see.  For sale a half hour from me was an amusement park antique car body!  I messaged a lovely lady named Diane and set up a time to come look at it.  When I got there, I met her husband Tony and he showed me the "car".  It was smaller than I hoped, but I decided to pull the trigger.  It was the look I wanted and I wasn't going to find another one any time soon.  We worked out a deal and chatted a bit.  Turns out his father had owned a travelling carnival and this was one of the rides.  It sat on a frame and was pushed around a track by an employee operated pusher car.  Very cool!

These pictures are a little deceptive.  The front clip is up on top of part of the body so I could secure everything to the trailer.  Also, there's rear fenders that are not in the photo.  I put them in the Jeep so they wouldn't fly away.

I did some research and it appears to be an "Allan Herschell '1910 Torpedo Runabout'".  I found several images that are very close to what I have, but slightly different:

This appears to be the "pusher" car that would have been driven by the employee.  It has working steering and appears to be larger than what I have, but has the round fenders like mine.

This one is smaller like mine but has square fenders.  It had non-functional steering and simply followed a track.

Coder New Reader
5/2/21 4:14 p.m.

I was concerned about the size of the wheels.  I didn't think they would work with the dimensions of the body.  So I did a quick mockup.

Ok.  The wheels are BIG.  I probably should have went with 16 or 17 inch.  But these were $75 to ship so sending them back wasn't an option.

Just for E36 M3s and grins, I tried the spare Elantra wheel for size too.

I really liked how the Elantra wheel looks, but just couldn't get past the weight.

Coder New Reader
5/2/21 4:28 p.m.

Looking back through these photos makes one thing clear:  I need to clean my garage.

Anywho, continuing my love of mocking things up, I bought some wood to stand in for metal so I could figure out the rough dimensions of my frame and figure out where the drive train components will be.

The wheels look much more in proportion now that the front clip is elevated.  The all-thread axles are temporary.  They let me quickly adjust the track.

Once I had a good idea of how much metal I'll need for the frame, I picked up some 1x3 square tube.  I think it's .08 wall?  Maybe?  It was my first time at a metal supply place.  If you need metal near Bonne Terre, Missouri, I can't recommend Spacewalker Steel enough.  Nice folks.  They were very patient with my constant changes of mind.

Coder New Reader
5/2/21 5:04 p.m.

I was impatient.  Instead of finishing mocking up the running gear with the wood frame, I cut it up and made saw horses and started getting the metal into place.

Then it was time to figure out where the engine was going to go.  I really wanted to have it up front so I would have lots of room in the bed for hauling trash!  But I wasn't sure it would actually fit under the hood.  So I propped it up on some wood to get it roughly into place and....

I didn't even get to try because the carburetor is sticking out over the frame rail.  Nuts.

So I thought long, and hard, and then just removed it to figure out later.

Now it fits!  On to checking the hood.  After removing these two cross bars:

It fits!  Actually, there's a lot more room than I expected.  I plan to move the motor up some since I have the vertical space to do it.  That should make fitting the carb a bit easier.  I plan to make the grill functional to allow air into the hood.  I may add louvers to the top of the hood too.

Datsun310Guy MegaDork
5/2/21 5:10 p.m.

When I was a kid I loved those cars at 6 Flags St Louis and Disneyworld.   This looks like a cool project.  

noddaz UberDork
5/2/21 5:16 p.m.

Don't stop now!  I am hooked!

Coder New Reader
5/2/21 5:22 p.m.

One last small update and then we're at current time.

Waaaaaaay back when I was researching wheel options, I ran accross Cyclekarts.  These are miniture replicas of early race cars made by people with much more talent and patience than me.  They're awesome.  While looking through their information, I read about using horse drawn buggy seat leaf springs as suspension leaf springs.  I don't really need much of a suspension.  I'm probably going to do 5mph max.  But it's cool looking and they're not expensive, so why not?  

Each set came with an upper and lower spring.  Removing the two bolts that held them together give you two leaf springs per set.

I cut the engine plate out of the lawnmower so I won't have to fabricate one

And because I can't cut straight with an angle grinder, I also picked up one of these:

That brings us to current.

Mr_Asa UberDork
5/2/21 5:29 p.m.

Not a lot of structural strength needed with that buggy.  Cut and notch the frame.  Reinforce outside the cut section as needed.

Mr_Asa UberDork
5/2/21 5:31 p.m.
Coder said:

One last small update and then we're at current time.

Waaaaaaay back when I was researching wheel options, I ran accross Cyclekarts.  These are miniture replicas of early race cars made by people with much more talent and patience than me.  They're awesome. 

I've seen those.  I'm really surprised that there aren't a build thread or two on here on them.  Maybe its cause people have actual full sized racecars.

Toyman01 + Sized and
Toyman01 + Sized and MegaDork
5/2/21 7:13 p.m.

Love it! Keep up the good work.


Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter)
Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
5/2/21 9:09 p.m.

Ooh, this is cool!

RandolphCarter New Reader
5/3/21 8:39 p.m.

That's just dead sexy.

MadScientistMatt UltimaDork
5/4/21 2:34 p.m.

This is going to be great!

It reminds me of a time I was at Six Flags with a rather unhinged acquaintance who managed to get us kicked out for trying to drive the Moon Cars by reaching under the hood and grabbing the throttle linkage. Turns out they can go a lot faster than what you can do with the gas pedal, but only until you reach the bumper of the car ahead of you.

Dirtydog (Forum Supporter)
Dirtydog (Forum Supporter) Dork
5/4/21 2:56 p.m.

Really cool project.  Fully subscribed.

zordak Reader
5/5/21 9:35 a.m.

Good luck on your project. We built a couple of these for the boss so his kids could haul rocks out of the fields on his farm.

Apexcarver UltimaDork
5/5/21 10:04 a.m.

You know, a little regearing or pulley swapping and you likely wont be all that slow...   


Depends on which trans the tractor has, its most likely a peerless, but the drawbacks of it are that you cant really shift on the fly (it will eventually get all explody). That being said, if you go to somewhere like gopowersports and put a "torque converter" CVT parts on the output of engine and input of the trans (or inbetween with belts linking) you will have range selection for low speed with tons of pulling power, or higher speed. I think 8hp could reasonably get you over 30mph...


I might have been thinking about building a cyclekart using lawn tractor parts...  I have a spare lawn tractor sitting around too... but kids and no time.

Coder New Reader
5/8/21 12:42 p.m.

Thanks for the kind words everyone.  I'm not the best fabricator and tend to be very ambitious in the early stages of project planning, so a lot of my projects don't get very far (*coughs in D-150*).  This project feels different.  I'm pushing myself to find solutions and doing my best not to rush and do things the wrong way.  Having others following along is really helping keep me motivated. 

Anywho, back to the build.

Since my last update, I went on an amazon buying spree.  By the time I finish this thing, I'll probably end up spending enough that I could have just gone out and bought a real Model T.  It's adding up quick!

Parts have slowly trickled in.  First to arrive was a motorized bicycle hub adapter.  So lets talk about wheels.

I should have listened to the Cyclekart guys and bought the Honda motorcycle wheels.  These are nice... if you're building a cart or wagon.  They seem sturdy, but lack any way to attach a sprocket to the hub.  My first thought was to press out the bearings and find an axle that matches the inner diameter of the hub.  At 1 3/8 inches, that proved either prohibitively  expensive.  I also looked for spacers, bushings, or any type of tube or pipe that could reduce 1 3/8" down to something more managable like 1" or 3/4", but again came up empty or very expensive.

That's when I came across the concept of motorized bicycles.  To support the speeds they want to go, they add a larger sprocket thats held in place by a 1 1/2" hub that clamps on to the bicycle's hub.  I was happy to find that my hubs were also 1 1/2" OD.  So I ordered one of these:

It's a nicely built hub and sprocket.  I couldn't be happier with the finish.  Too bad they won't work.  

Since this was designed for a bike wheel with many more spokes and different spacing, one of the stand-offs is behind a spoke.  No bueno.  

So while I let that problem percolate, I moved on to the next package to arrive.

Coder New Reader
5/8/21 2:32 p.m.

I'm sure the mail lady loves having a new package to drop off at my door every other morning.  Who knows, maybe she does.  She seems very cheerful when I meet her outside to receive my goods.  Not that I wait impatiently for each package to arrive.  I certainly wouldn't do that.  Is that a FedEx truck I hear?  Oh, just another redneck with noisy tires...

My lovely mailperson dropped these off next:

16 of Amazon's f̶i̶n̶e̶s̶t̶ cheapest leaf spring shackles.  They look great, except for one problem.  I bought these before my leaf springs arrived.  The holes on the shackles are 9/16.  The holes for the eyes of the leaf springs are 5/16.  Well poo.

I looked around online again for some sort of bushing, spacer, pipe, anything that was 9/16 OD and either 5/16 or 3/8 ID.  No dice.  Once again, what I could find was prohibitively expensive. 

In my desperation, I created this unholy abomination:

Not my brightest moment.  That's a 5/16 washer welded over the 9/16 hole.  My thought process was "it's not going to hold that much weight".


As I pondered what to do about the shackles, I turned my attention to the frame...


Coder New Reader
5/8/21 2:50 p.m.

Since the shackles were being problematic, I decided it was high time to put that new chop saw to work and make some cross members for the frame.  The rails were still just clamped to my saw horses.

I started at the front.  Like I said, I don't always think things through.  I was very careful to measure and cut the cross member to the right size... for the wrong location.

While I could have made this work, I wanted the leaf shackles as far forward as possible so the front wheels weren't too far back.  So out came the grinder mere minutes after I had tacked this in.  Sigh.

With a new cross member cut (the frame widens as it goes back) and tacked in, I waited a few minutes to see if any other problems came to mind and then welded it in for good:

Like I said, I'm not the best fabricator.  My horizontal welds are bad enough.  As ugly as these are, for vertical welds, I'm happy.

Similarly, I added a rear cross member which lets me move the frame around without worrying that I'm messing up the dimensions.

It's nice to have the frame one peice that I can move around.  

With that done, I returned to figuring out the shackle situation:




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