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Christ 06-13-2009 12:33 AM

Off-road cart made road legal?
Anyone see a problem with using something like this:

As a daily driver/city vehicle? Using a very small engine (probably no more than 5 HP), acceptably efficient chaindrive/CVT setup, and making a body and lights sufficient to sustain legality under applicable traffic safety laws, it could be registered as a kit car in most states... any downfall to this?

I'd think it's a half decent frame concept to start with, ultra light (if you built it yourself, it could be made of aluminum), sufficiently powerful, and with proper body work, it could be made decently aero as well... I'm working on getting the piping to start building one, so I can use a small Briggs motor and a kerosene conversion (running waste oil instead).

I dunno if I'll ever get it done, b/c it's a "wanna" project, but it would be nice, wouldn't it?

SVOboy 06-13-2009 12:35 AM


Christ 06-13-2009 12:37 AM

In what context? It can handle HUGE impacts to the frame from off-road air-borne stupidity... I wouldn't see why it can't handle a fender bender in redlight traffic.

I'm not suggesting 70 MPH on the freeway, and obviously, it would need steering and braking systems reworked to make it "safer" for road use...

BTW - that was fast.

Christ 06-13-2009 12:38 AM

That particular model has a hydraulic brake with a single caliper/rotor on the live axle in the rear.

Frank Lee 06-13-2009 12:55 AM

Needs street tires.

I'd drive it on the road but I question whether it could be registered.

Christ 06-13-2009 12:59 AM

Ok, so we'll throw some small street tires on it. Probably some 155/80R13?

I'm 99% sure I could get it registered in PA as a kit car... not sure about the provisions of other states, but in PA, it just needs to pass safety inspections and have "required equipment", same as a car.

In PA - if it runs on diesel, or a derivative thereof, it doesn't need an emissions inspection. Kit cars also don't need them, IIRC.

I'll look into it further as the idea progresses, but I'm getting too many fingers in too many pots to consider this idea really "worthwhile" at the moment... the racing tractor comes first!

Frank Lee 06-13-2009 01:02 AM

That would rock with one of those little diesel Yanmar clones.

Christ 06-13-2009 01:03 AM

Yanmar clone = ~$700...

Briggs motor with kerosene conversion and filtered waste oil = Check dad's back yard... I'm sure there's one somewhere... LOL.

I agree, it would be sweet though.

Frank Lee 06-13-2009 01:14 AM

Tell me more about the B&S conversion...

Christ 06-13-2009 01:27 AM

It's in a Briggs manual I have from 1977.. (don't ask)

You basically use low-compression heads, or double stack gaskets on certain models. You use a hotter spark plug (I think hotter, maybe colder, don't have the book right now), and you add a second fuel tank... it technically still starts on gas, b/c the kerosene needs a higher cylinder temp to run efficiently, but once you've warmed up the engine, you can just flip a valve and run it on the kero tank.

Once you're done running it, you can either drain the bowl and re-fill it with gasoline, to ease the next start, or you can let it run for another minute w/ the kero shut off, then turn the gas valve back on.

Briggs says expected HP is about 15 % less, and fuel economy should increase 20-25% using clean kerosene. I figure that since Kero and Diesel share many of the same properties, I should be able to run filtered/thinned out waste oil in the engine as well, which equates to free fuel. It's easy to get used oil around here. We even have a garage heater that runs on it.

Christ 06-13-2009 01:31 AM

Of course, Briggs and $tratton no longer recommend alternative fuel use... but I have a repair manual for their engines, that was a retail product at the time, sold by B&S, which clearly lays out the process for doing the kero conversion.

I'll have to scan the pages when I get the manual back.

jamesqf 06-13-2009 01:46 PM

I would wonder about the actual efficiency of those. Probably very low geared, etc. But improve that, add some street tires and a fiberglass over foam shell, and you've got a do-it-yourself Smart :-)

Or do a search on "Ariel Atom".

aerohead 06-13-2009 01:59 PM

There's a 3-wheel version,probably made by the company next door in China,that is street-legal.It sells,retail for two-and-a-half times the price of a Tata Nano($5,500 US ).---------------- In a perfect world without traffic crashes,a person could ecoMod one of these babies and end up with a pretty fun high mpg'er.------------- The flip-side is reality,with Barbie and Ken running a red light and T-boning you.There is virtually no side-impact protection.The human body is most vulnerable to this type of assault.As Barbie's car makes impact and your car displaces lateraly, your head impacts the on-rushing car,your brain is knocked into a figure-eight interior dynamic which severs the brain stem.That's it! Humpty-Dumpty!---------- No doubt,if one pursues safety,certainly you could minimize risk to injury through modifications.I would look to Formula-1 and Indycar technology for clues.

Christ 06-13-2009 02:08 PM

As far as legality - google Tri-Sport... you used to be able to get them pretty easily, but they're rare now... they have light kits and stuff to make them legal for road use, and it's an open bucket-type 3 wheeler, often with overpowered engines.

Frank Lee 06-13-2009 03:07 PM

The key word is "trike" as far as easy legality.

Safety, schmafety. Anyone that gets on a bicycle or motorcycle is worse off than a cage driver right from the get-go. I ride bikes so any cage looks pretty safe.

RandomFact314 06-13-2009 07:34 PM

Crist, I'v looked into doing something like this with a golf cart, you can do it, it just takes money. Where I'm from I think all that it needed was a motor fast enough to go the road speeds, head lights, tail lights, seat belts and side and rear view mirrors. It was a long time ago but I'm sure that's about it.

Christ 06-13-2009 08:56 PM

PA's vehicle code doesn't even specify external mirrors... you can get away with "a mirror which provides an ample view of the rear and sides of the vehicle" or something like that... I don't feel like digging out the code book to find the exact quoted phrase.

Basically, to get a title in PA, you have to go through a State Safety and Equipment Inspection. This is nothing more than a check to make sure that your vehicle meets the minimum road requirements for this state. Once that's done, you get a title and VIN plates, and they tell you where to put the plates on the vehicle, then you get it registered, and you're good. Insurance is an issue, though. Many insurance companies won't insure "kit" cars. Those that do, often charge outrageous amounts, and for that reason, it may be less economical to do this. That's part of the reason it fell into a "Sunday" project... when I have the time, I play with it a bit.

AFAIK - in PA, you need:
2 rear marker lights, which can be integrated with brake lights

3 brake lights, at the extreme corners of the rear and center high mounted,

2 turn signals, left and right, which must be separate from brake lights (separate bulbs, can be the same housing, and can be integrated with tail lights, as long as the brake/tail aren't combined)

Hazard lights, which can be turn signal integrated.

The "sufficient" mirror.

Headlights, which, along with all other lights, have a min/max height/size requirement.

Bumpers, front and rear, with impact struts.

A full firewall and floor (you can't see the road by looking down.)

And those are the basics. You can't allow simple "touch and go" access to hot parts, excluding a tail pipe or muffler. Exhaust gasses must not be allowed to accumulate in the "passenger compartment" if it's an enclosed (able to be enclosed) space by design.

That's about all I can remember now, but it's pretty basic stuff... it's not really that hard to get a vehicle road legal in PA.

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