Thursday, December 4, 2008

The home-made Go-Kart

Aren't dads great?
Along when I was about 12, I recall my dad telling me to climb aboard a home-made go-Kart, which he had constructed out of plywood, 2 x 4’s, wagon wheels, cast-iron gasoline engine, and various other junk in the garage.
Of course, he being an engineer, it was designed carefully, hopefully, by a safety-conscience dad, with the following specifications:
Drive-train-Sprocket & chain-Clutch not standard feature on this model
Steering-Gear-box attached to a wagon wheel for a steering wheel
Throttle control-Not standard feature (Ran at full throttle, due to defeated/non-existing governor control)
Kill-switch-Not standard feature
Braking System-Not standard feature ...hmm?
Roll-bar and safety belt-You guessed it….
I recall dad telling me to get on it, while it seems like mom looked-on. Dad would push me to get it started, just like the race cars have to be pushed to get them started, sometimes. Dad, and I think mom too, curiously gazed at me drive away, disappearing quickly around the curve, where the Herron family lived, and quickly down the street out-of-sight. Did he and mom come looking for me? Nooooo! Not on your life, I mean my life, that is! You see, we didn’t follow a pre-inspection and declare, “All-Systems-Go”.
I would quickly learn, this was going to be one of those "hang-on-for-your-life” experiences! Quickly discovering I lacked a kill-switch, I got a bright idea for killing the engine. As I reached behind me with one hand, I made the attempt to pull the spark wire off. In doing so, my hand missed the insulated part of the spark coil wire, and you guessed it. The hi-voltage spark grabbed a hold of me, jolting my arm...YOU know exactly what I mean if you've ever messed with gasoline engines with spark wires!!!!
Ever gaining speed as I went, without any brakes at my disposal, coupled with the over-sensitive steering, I was flying down through the neighborhood! There was no way out, I was trapped on a machine my dad had built, with no helmet, and a curve daring me at the end of the street. Some of my thoughts were, "Think, think! I've gotta ditch this go-kart, and lightning quick!" As I passed my brother and his friends, playing tackle-football in friend's yard, my yelling, while passing them, must have been amusing! I think some of the boys may have chased after me. Heading toward that curve, I quickly ditched the home-made wooden go-kart, flipping it and me in some stranger’s front yard. I was OK, and was able to walk home afterwards. I don’t recall what I did with the go-kart.
And to this day, I never knew if dad or mom made any attempt to go looking for their son.....hmmm??? Well, I did live to see & try dad's other inventions, so I suppose I wasn't too emotionally damaged. It did leave me with good memories though, which I can laugh about now! It just reinforces my original statement, “Aren't dad's great!”
Now, the following is not me or my dad, but it reminds me of my growing up with my dad. Observe the dad put his foot down to stop it. I suppose he also forgot to design a braking system! "go cart handmade"
View another dad spurring his son to get-on down the road Rocket-Powered-Skateboard

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