How to make a billy cart

How to make a billy cart

While most billy carts are simple, cheap, home-made projects, you only need go to a local competition to see there are people will to spend lots of time and money in the search for speed. However, the general principles of making a billy cart are basically the same.

Billy carts are a great construction project for children.
A billy cart can be easy to construct - and a lot of fun to drive!

Most billy carts are made from wood and have four wheels. The rear wheels are on a fixed rear axle and the front wheels are used to steer the cart – hopefully down the middle of the road and not into an obstacle!

The steering is usually very simple with a single pivot point. Control of the steering is quite often simply a rope attached to the steering beam or foot controls. More sophisticated steering systems can be found.

A seat is fitted at the back of the billy cart. Again, this is usually quite basic but it’s not unusual to see the seat area enclosed to improve aerodynamics and safety in case of a crash. In fact, go to most competitions and you will see billy carts that have a fully enclosed body and look a little like a miniature Formula 1 racing car – not as simple to design and build but likely to be faster and safer.

For the backyard billy cart, the types of wheels used will generally be whatever can be found in the shed, the local rubbish tip or somewhere in the local neighbourhood. Choices include wheels from prams and strollers, bicycles, lawnmowers and even wheelchairs (let’s hope the occupants no longer need them!). Wheels made specifically for billy carts are also available from specialist outlets.

Maybe surprisingly given the speeds sometimes reached by a billy cart, many billy carts don’t have brakes. However, if you want to enter your billy cart in a competition you’ll probably need them to pass the safety inspection. If brakes are fitted they are usually the types found on bicycles.

Billy carts are a great project for kids as they require only basic construction skills and materials. They are a great way of getting kids interested in engineering without them even knowing it. You can start from scratch to plan and make your own billy cart, although plans can be found on the Internet and billy cart kits can be purchased to the make the job easier.