Report from the world of backyard technology
So you want to polish up your metalworking skills, chair, damper shocks from a hydraulic hospital bed,
you’ve just bought a welder, and you’re interested gears from an old belt sander, and a plastic steering
in mechanical engineering. If you’re like Michael wheel, once again acquired from a shopping cart,
Dowling and Noam Davidson, you acquire a shop- this time a kiddie version. They spent most of last
ping cart and build a go-kart out of it. summer creating their masterpiece.
“Noam has wanted to build a go-kart for awhile,” The final model has an upgraded motor (from a
explains Dowling. “With a Safeway shopping cart paltry 2hp to a flip-inducing 10hp). “When we took
we found, and an old lawnmower motor, the idea it out for a test drive, in a semi-choked position, the
just presented itself.” torque the motor generated was too much and it
“We thought that it would be hilarious if we would flip the cart over. So instead of depowering
could speed down the aisles of a grocery store, our cart to a smaller engine, we installed a wheelie
doing some high-speed shopping and then race out bar on it,” Dowling says.
the door,” Davidson, 21, says. Speeds of up to 60 kilometers per hour were
Davidson’s father apparently bought into the idea, attained without even letting the throttle out. Dowl-
buying him a welder, then securing a plasma cutter, ing and Davidson have yet to find a long straight-
a beam bender, a horizontal/vertical band saw, and away in their Vancouver, Canada, neighborhood to
a shear press for cutting sheet metal. test the cart with even a touch of the throttle, which
The University of British Columbia students gath- they estimate could get them up to 110 km/hr.
ered other supplies, including wheels off of a wheel- “The 10hp motor had way too much power for the
Photography by Michael Dowling