How To Build A Chainsaw Motor On Go Kart: Harness The Power

Chainsaw motor on go kart, custom-built and ready for an exciting ride.

Ever thought of putting a chainsaw motor on a go-kart? Sounds wild, right?

Turns out, it is possible – and safe!

Plus, turning an old chainsaw into a go kart motor is a creative way to reuse and repurpose something that may otherwise end up in the trash.

In this post, I’ll go over everything you need to know about using a chainsaw motor on go karts.

Can You Use A Chainsaw Motor On Go Karts?

Yes, you can use a chainsaw motor on a go kart!

In fact, McCullough used to make go karts with saw engines back in the 60s and 70s.

Chainsaw engines provide an excellent power-to-weight ratio and its compact size makes them well-suited for go karts.

Plus, chainsaw engines can generate anywhere from 3 to over 15 horsepower!

However, chainsaw motors don’t bolt directly onto go kart frames, so a custom mounting bracket with components like the throttle, chain/sprocket drive, and fuel tank is required.

So with some fabrication work, it’s possible to mount a chainsaw motor onto the frame.

How To Make A Chainsaw Go Kart

Let me go over the most important parts of the process. This is not a full guide.

1. Mounting The Engine

The best spot for the chainsaw engine on a go-kart is low in the chassis between the axles.

You need to make rigid steel engine mounts from 1/4″ plates to bolt the engine base securely without allowing any flexing or vibration.

Put it just a bit in front of the rear axle to balance the weight well for good handling.

Also Read: Can You Use A Lawnmower Engine For A Go-Kart?

You must also cover up any moving parts like the drive sprocket or clutch with an old clutch cover or a custom-made cage to stop accidental touching.

The engine needs enough air around it to stay cool, so make sure there’s space around the cylinder fins.

You can add shields in certain spots to help airflow and keep it from overheating.

It’s really important to be able to adjust the carburetor and ignition easily to get the engine running just right. So cut out panels in the go-kart body so you can reach these parts easily.

Also, make sure the engine mounts have strong stops to keep the engine from revving too high and getting damaged.

2. Adding Drive Components

While it is tempting to directly couple the engine to the rear axle, the 10,000+ RPM speed requires substantial gear reduction to be usable.

So figure out how fast you want the go-kart to go, and then calculate the gear ratio so that the engine slows down to about 800 rotations per minute at the wheels.

Usually, a reduction ratio of 1:12 to 1:15 works best to transmit the most power.

Attach the chosen sprockets onto the clutch drum and a jackshaft. Then, connect them to another reduction stage on the axle.

High tooth-count sprockets and a #41 chain are rugged enough for the job.

Also Read: Are Go-Karts Manual Or Automatic?

If needed, you can add another jackshaft.

And make sure all the parts are well-guarded against dirt and debris getting inside.

3. Connect Throttle Control

The carburetor on the chainsaw is designed to run at a constant high RPM, not for rapid speed changes needed for a go kart.

So you need to adjust the idle speed screw and fuel mixture settings for lower RPMs.

You also have to make the throttle cable longer so it can reach the control lever by the steering wheel. Make sure the cable housing is smooth and neat all the way to the carburetor.

And check that the spring can easily pull the throttle back to idle when you let go.

Oh, and don’t forget to put in a kill switch to turn off the engine in case of an emergency.

4. Finishing It Up

Make sure to adjust the tension of the #41 drive chain properly. Leave a little slack, usually about 1/4 inch when you press it with some force.

Also Read: Should A Go Kart Chain Be Tight?

This way, the chain can handle the twisting force when you speed up.

Cover up the clutch, drive sprockets, jackshafts, and other fast-moving parts with metal guards. 

This stops anything from touching them and keeps debris out that might jam things up.

That’s about it! Your chainsaw motor go kart is ready for testing.

Wrapping Up

Before you really get going, test the engine at low speeds without engaging the drive. 

Just lift the rear wheels off the ground. This lets you check everything out and fix any issues without putting too much stress on the setup.

You might need to adjust the carburetor settings so the acceleration feels smooth when you start using the clutch.



Meet Charles, a passionate writer and avid go-kart enthusiast. With a background in motorsports, Charles brings a unique perspective to the world of go-karting and motorsports. When Charles is not behind the wheel, you can find him crafting compelling stories and informative articles on the latest trends and technology on the PK's Go-Karts blog here.