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A wealth of practical

ideas about—

Building:
One- Lung
Cars
for K i d s
By Harry Walton

T
OPS in thrills for any youngster is
a car he can drive to the purpose-
ful bark and hot breath of a real
engine. Building such a car is fun for all
hands from the moment you start putting
a one-lunger on wheels.
It can be simple. Boys build them
w i t h a plank for a chassis, a wooden axle
pivoted on a spike for steering, and a
clutchless push-and-hop-on drive. It can
be sophisticated to the point of having
IT'S A FLIVVER, with a
brass-bound radiator, a
klaxon horn, a hand-
rubbed lacquer finish
and tin-lizzy fenders.
Built by Robert Paul
Moore of Tulsa, it has
run 500 miles.

FOR YOUNG PILOTS,


this Air Force jeep built
by Capt. James Sparks
Jr. can haul a trailer,
too. A spring-loaded
reel (under the lever)
pulls idler to maintain
driving-belt tension.
UNDER THE HOOD of the sleek flivver on the that their output shafts turn in opposite direc-
preceding page is a four-hp. engine. Through tions, these drive two clutches on the counter-
chains and a drive shaft, power goes to two shaft. Engaging one clutch sends car forward;
identical right-angle gearboxes. So mounted engaging the other clutch reverses it.

a real gearshift (from a motorcycle or


small car) and spring suspension.
In between there are many ways you
can b u i l d a car that w i l l deliver a lot of
f u n . A l t h o u g h it won't be legal for street
use, there is usually a y a r d or driveway,
a dead-end turnaround or a closed road
youngsters can drive on.
The parts you'll need. Old power mow-
ers are a prime engine source. Look for
trade-ins at mower shops. Rubber-tired
semi-pneumatic wheels w i t h b u i l t - i n ball
or roller bearings are sold by mail-order
houses, surplus dealers, and bicycle
stores. T h e 1.75"-by-8" size w i l l do. Bet-
ter 2.75"-by-10" wheels cost about $5
apiece.
Automatic clutches, pillow blocks,
shafting, drive chains and sprockets are
available from the same sources. Second-
hand parts w i l l serve. D o n ' t overlook
auto wreckers for control cables, brake,
steering and body components.
There are kits, too, ranging from run-
ning-gear parts only, to those that i n -
clude the drive mechanism and even the
engine. Y o u can spend as l i t t l e as $20 or
as much as $300.
What size engine? A speed of 10 m.p.h.
(ample for children) can be attained
w i t h a 3/4-hp. engine. A 2-1/2 hp. engine
w i l l wheel a car at over 25 m.p.h. One
w i t h a horizontal shaft is easier to install
t h a n the vertical-shaft k i n d . (These re-
154 POPULAR SCIENCE
Ideas for a sturdy frame and front axles with real auto steering

HERE ARE SOME WAYS you might b u i l d


the backbone of a car. The one at right,
designed for a front-mounted engine, is
made of 3/4" p l y w o o d . Wooden members
can be joined w i t h drawbolts as in the
drawing. W i t h welding equipment, you
can use angle iron or electrical conduit.

APRIL 1959 |55


DOUBLE DECK OF PLYWOOD on two steel chan- of 13:1. The control lever tightens a flat idler
nels forms the chassis of this kit-built car. Steer- against a belt or, pulled back, clamps a brake
ing is direct from a crank on the shaft. The onto one wheel. Kacy Mfg. Co., Genoa, 111.,
drive, upside down above, takes horizontal- or offers chassis parts shown for $60, or with ply-
vertical-shaft engines. Two countershafts and wood body kit at 885. It runs well on cast-off
chain drive to the wheel have an overall ratio one- to three-hp. mower engines.

156 POPULAR SCIENCE


quire a long belt w i t h a 90-degree twist.)
Checking the throttle action. If an en-
gine has an air-vane governor, you may
want to connect the control cable d i -
rectly to the throttle for quicker response.
R i g a return spring on the throttle arm
so that if the control fails, the engine
w i l l snap back to i d l i n g .
Sizing up the chassis. T h e wheelbase
may be from 4 0 " to 60", the tread from
2 2 " to 30". A short wheelbase turns more
sharply; a longer one makes the drive
easier to arrange, and affords more leg-
room for growing youngsters.
P u t the engine in back to simplify STRICTLY HOMEMADE, this car is the work of
the drive and to add its weight for good young Mike Zingarelli of White Plains, N. Y. It
traction. B u t don't mount it so far back is built on a 3/4"-plywood platform, with a 41"
that it tends to t i l t up the front. wheelbase. A 2" centrifugal clutch on the two-
hp. engine drives a 6" wheel pulley. This low
T h e frame need not be r i g i d ; some ratio is speedy but wears the belt on starts.
flexing compensates for the lack of Mike helps out by pushing, then hops on. He
springs, helping to keep a l l four wheels made a good-looking steering wheel of a baby-
carriage wheel by removing some spokes.

BUILT OF STEEL TUBING, this car comes ready-


made with 1.75"-by-8" wheels at $40, or with
2.75"-by-10" wheels at $50. It has automotive
steering and a brake acting on both rear wheels.
Rocco Products, Inc., Minneapolis, Minn., offers
drive kits for it less motor for $20 and $30, with
motor at $70 and $90. Rack-and-pinion steering
can be added to the assembly for $10, and
snow runners for an additional $8.

APRIL 1959 157


on the ground. Wood makes a satisfactory
frame requiring only common tools.
Auto-type steering can be improvised
from hinges, scrap iron or even pipe fit-
tings, as shown. Angle the steering
knuckles inward. T h i s maintains correct
radius in turns. H o l d wheels on w i t h
husky cotter pins or by clamping the i n -
ner bearing race tight w i t h a nut on a
threaded spindle bolt.
The simplest steering w i t h a step-down
ratio is the drum-and-cable type. T h e
d r u m must be concentric w i t h the shaft A DRILL-PRESS SPEED CHANGER ( t o p left) or the
and pinned to it. Use the 3/32" steel cable similar device near it makes a compact variable-
and end clips sold for power-boat tillers. ratio drive. These shift one belt to a smaller, the
other to a larger diameter as the lever is moved.
Brakes are a must. For modest speeds Automatic clutches shown are (left) mercury
and level ground, a single one on the and (right) centrifugal types.
nondriving wheel suffices. L i n e wooden
brake shoes w i t h machine belting or tire
tread. See that brakes release f u l l y .
How to rig a drive. W i t h an engine of
two hp. or more, a single reduction of one
to six or seven w i l l r o l l the car too
fast for children. An overall ratio of 10,
11 or even 13 is safer.
Drive one wheel only. Y o u can key it
to the axle, mounted in pillow blocks,
and drive the axle, but it is simpler to
fasten a " d e a d " axle solidly, let both
wheels t u r n on it on their own bearings,
and bolt the drive pulley on one.
To center a pulley or sprocket having
a hole bigger than the axle, d r i l l bolt
holes oversize and mount the pulley w i t h
the nuts finger-tight. Spin the wheel on
the axle to detect run-out. T a p the pulley
or sprocket one way or the other u n t i l it
runs dead true. T h e n tighten the nuts.
Be sure to mount the engine to drive
forward. Pipe the exhaust downward and
shield hot parts. Hang countershafts in
pillow blocks or oilite bushings. W i t h
sprung rear axles, the countershaft must
be so mounted as to m a i n t a i n a constant
distance between the drive pulleys.
A stepless ratio shift can be had w i t h
a transmission pulley. N o t to be confused
w i t h an automatic clutch, this forces the
belt to ride on a greater diameter as
speed goes up. A spring-loaded idler or
swinging countershaft is necessary to
keep the belt taut.
Cut paper patterns as guides in shap-
ing sheet a l u m i n u m or galvanized iron
over the body. O l d auto fenders can be
cut down for parts requiring difficult
compound curves. M e t a l plasterer's lath
makes a neat radiator grille.
158 POPULAR SCIENCE
BOXED-IN ENGINE of Capt. Sparks' jeep drives SLICKLY PROFESSIONAL is this two-step reduc-
a jackshaft extending over the drive wheel. The tion drive engineered by V-Plex Clutch, of
rear axle is mounted on half lengths of auto leaf Hagerstown, Ind. The jackshaft turns in a tubu-
springs. Spring-tensioned idler keeps the belt lar crosspiece mounted on one frame member.
taut. Pushed forward, the control tightens a As the engine revs up to 1,800 r.p.m., the
band brake on the other (nondriven) wheel. centrifugal clutch engages the belt. END

APRIL 1959