I have seen the right angle gear box as a solution to driving the go kart. It seems simple enough.
Well there actually are about 8 different ways you can route the drive system and the right angle gear box is just one of them.
Option #1 Right Angle Gear Box
The right angle gear box, takes the vertical rotational movement and translates it 90 degrees to the horizontal. It typically has flanges that mount the gear box to a plate. The gearbox has an input and an output side.
Where Do I Find It?
Finding a gear box like that however is another story. They are not your garden variety type of units that just happen to show up in a junk yard. If anything you will have to access McMaster Carr, Grainger or some other big name industrial supplier to actually purchase a right angle gear box. They run around $200 to $300.
For most this is already the budget of the gokart making the right angle gear box out of the question. But more to the point, a right angle gear box can weigh more than other systems and poses some packaging mounting problems in some cases. Additionally, the duty cycle of the gear box needs to be taken into consideration. In other words, can it spin all the time or will it overheat? Also, is the amount of horsepower you are putting through it too much?
Power To The Gear Box
There are several ways to get the power through the gear box. You can mount a clutch to the engine, and then drive the right angle gear box or you can mount the clutch at the output side of the gearbox. Clutches range from belt drive style, chain drive style or even a belt clutch.
A word about belt clutches… Belt clutches are essentially belts that are suddenly tightened to engage the load. The problem with a belt clutch is that it should be in disconnected mode as a default. In other words, when no human interaction is being made with the go kart, the belt clutch needs to be disengaged.
The reason for this is safety. If the engine were inadvertently started (with the belt clutch engaged), the drive system would be engaged and you could have a run away go kart. This is a very serious problem.
So to recap, if money is no object go to McMaster Carr, Grainger or some other industrial house buy yourself a 90 degree gear box. Or if you happen to come across a 90 degree gear box sitting around, you may want to just use it.
To power it, clutch either the input or the output side.
Next time…What about a transaxle off of a riding lawn mower?