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Its a Rocket Ship!

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  • Its a Rocket Ship!

    Hey guys. Noob welder here, and first time poster (have been lurking for a while now). I thought I'd share with you my first project.

    I bought a rather large go-kart frame from a friend of mine. It was an abandoned project that was just laying in his garage, so I offered to buy it so he could recoup some of the cost of materials.

    I did some hacking on the frame, and it is my intention to make the frame into an multi-purpose trailer for my lawn mower.

    What I mean by multi-purpose is, the basic frame will have mount points so that I can fabricate different chassis attachments that bolt onto the frame: one set of wheels and frame for multiple tasks. The attachments I'm currently planning are rocket ship (I'll explain that one in this post), flatbed yard hauler, and yard sprayer. I don't have any plans past that, but the platform leaves room for some future expansion.

    OK, so onto the rocket ship. I have two baby daughters, 2.5 years and 10 months. This past fall we went to a local apple orchard, and they were offering rides on little piggy trailers they pulled behind a lawn tractor with a fiberglass cover that dressed it up like a fire engine. My oldest daughter absolutely LOVED it. In fact, she loved it so much that when the ride was over, she promptly threw a temper tantrum, kicking and screaming the ground. Gotta love the terrible twos!

    So anyway, I decided I wanted to build something similar, but one that would service both of my girls. I already had this go-kart frame, so I decided to build something the girls could ride in on top of it.

    The piggies were cute, but instead I decided to take 2 55 gallon drums, weld them together, and build a rocket ship! Its my intention to run the girls around the yard with this thing, but then also hopefully run them in the local township Independence Day parade.

    I'm using a small Craftsman MIG welder. The welds are strong but extremely ugly. I have had a lot of problems with burnthrough on the thin 55 gallon drum steel. I would love some advice on that issue if anyone has any thoughts.

    I attached some photos for your pleasure. Please offer advice! Thanks!

    Last edited by jevchance; 03-18-2009, 07:56 AM.

  • #2
    Also, wanted to mention that the project is a bit further along than what is shown in the photos.

    After these photos were taken, I finished the mounting bracket/stabilizers underneath the chassis. I welded the 4 mount points to the inside of the frame, painted the frame, and used body filler to clean up the seam between the drums and the ugly welds. The chassis is nearly ready for paint.

    I'm also in the process of making some fenders that cover the rear wheels to keep small hands away from the tire, and to avoid rocks kicking up.


    • #3
      Maybe some more padding around the cut out edges, like pipe insulation slid over and wire tied on, just my thought. It sort of looks like the practice sled in the movie Cool Running...Bob
      Bob Wright

      Spool Gun conversion. How To Do It. Below.


      • #4

        Just a couple of comments.

        First off, ugly welds generally are not generally as strong as you would think.

        For welding those drums, you've got to weld small sections at a time, like an inch or two and then move to another spot. If they're really thin, you may have to just tack, tack, tack. Don't allow the heat to build up. You said you were using a small mig welder. I assume you're using C25 (75% Argon/25% CO2). If this is the case, there's not much else you can do. You are using .023 wire correct? If you're using flux core or straight CO2 as a gas, then C25 would help with the burnthru.

        Great project. Sure the little ones will enjoy it.

        One other thing. The placement of the rear wheels on the cart will put a lot of weight on the lawn tractor if you do load it up. May want to consider moving the axle forward a bit.
        Syncrowave 250 DX Tigrunner
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        • #5
          Thanks for the comments Sundown.

          The tack suggestion you made is exactly what I did, and also the reason that the welds are ugly. As far as strength, I weigh about 285 pounds and I can literally stand on the seat and jump up and down. I'm pretty sure it'll stand up to the kiddies.

          I'm using flux core, I don't yet have the money to purchase the tanks, valves and hoses I need to do C25, but I do want to get setup for that.

          The placement of the rear wheels is definitely something to consider. I'm tempted to move them forward about 1-2 feet to even out the weight, but that could potentially destroy any chance of making a go-kart chassis for it. I'm going to finish up the rocket then see what the tongue weight is before making a decision. I will likely move it forward a bit.


          • #6

            Here are some updated pictures.

            At this point, I have affixed 1 wing and I'm in the process of fabbing the 2nd. I've started some of the painting, and I've cut and attached the back boards and put in the upholstery. It may be difficult to see, but I also applied body filler to smooth the seam welds as they are prickly and could cause injury.

            I also ordered and received the windlace that will line the sharp edges to protect small fingers. I haven't installed it yet, need to paint it first.

            Also, test pilot Amy made it into a couple of the pics.


            • #7
              Thanks for the comments Bob.

              I'll be using windlace for the edges. If you're not familiar with it, its an edging used in classic cars for the exact same purpose. I ordered some blue windlace from National Parts Depot.

              Oh and I checked out the pictures of your train bridge, amazing work!

              Hah, your comment about Cool Running brings about an interesting possibility. I could easily fab up some skid attachments for the frame so I can pull it on the snow! Then I just need a snowmobile to pull it.

              Originally posted by aametalmaster View Post
              Maybe some more padding around the cut out edges, like pipe insulation slid over and wire tied on, just my thought. It sort of looks like the practice sled in the movie Cool Running...Bob


              • #8
                Looking cool!!! Just keep up with the pics and updates
                Thanks for sharing!!!!!!!!!!!
                I'm not late...
                I'm just on Hawaiian Time


                • #9
                  Small Update

                  Last night I started the first purely cosmetic addition to the rocket ship. Everything to this point has been structural or functional.

                  I'm adding lines of carriage bolts along the circumference of each barrel, and a line along the length of the rocket ship on each side. The idea is to mimic the look of rivets on the outer aluminum shell of an aircraft. Plus I think the chrome will stand out really nicely on the deep red paint that will cover the exterior.

                  Also, I drilled the frame mounts. I welded steel tabs onto the inner part of the frame (I can post pics later), and drilled holes through the struts and into the tabs, and put bolts through. I welded tabs on because I didn't want to drill holes through the frame directly, as that would weaken the frame. There are 4 mounts total, which should tie things down nicely and hopefully keep the rattles down.


                  • #10
                    Oh also I realized last night that SundownIII was right. I need to move the rear axles forward, the tongue weight is creeping up and is only going to get worse when I add the nose cone and two anklebiters.

                    It will likely be even worse later on when I put the flatbed onto the frame. If I haul rocks or anything else heavy on the flatbed, the tounge could possibly bend the hitch point on my tractor (which I will be upgrading eventually anyway).

                    So, I now plan to move the rear axle forward about 8-10 inches (in front of the rear strut, forcing part of the weight of the rocket and all of the weight of rider #2 behind the axle). Not yet sure if this will kill the possibility of attaching a go-kart chassis to the frame later or not. Even if it does, I have a separate go-kart frame that I can use. Besides, I can always make it a front-engine go-kart. *grin*
                    Last edited by jevchance; 04-02-2009, 07:52 AM.


                    • #11
                      if your plan is to make it a multi purpose cart, maybe a few options for wheel placement is in order. this way you could move the wheels as needed by the cargo. you could possibly set up several points to attach the hole axle assembly so it would only take a few pin's to move it as needed.

                      looks like a great project,cant wait to see the finished rocket.
                      thanks for the help
                      hope i helped
                      feel free to shoot me an e-mail direct i have time to chat.
                      summer is here, plant a tree. if you don't have space or time to plant one sponsor some one else to plant one for you. a tree is an investment in our planet, help it out.


                      • #12
                        That is a really excellent idea. I'll take a look into that this week.


                        • #13
                          That reminds me of when I was that age, I lived in Arizona and there was a military airplane junkyard nearby.
                          There were neighbor kids that had a rocketship in thier yard,made from an old airplane fusalage with a baby moon hubcap pop riveted to the nose of it.
                          It was a two seater like that and had steering wheels in both compartments.


                          • #14

                            Hey guys,

                            I haven't posted in a while, have been crazy busy with other stuff.

                            I did get the rocket ship moving under tractor power. There's still a lot work to be done, but the first test run put a lot of smiles on faces.

                            Here's my buddy Dan driving the tractor with his son and my daughter in tow.



                            • #15
                              I also have some first pictures of the flatbed chassis for the trailer frame.

                              Mocking up the frame:

                              Mocking up the hinge for dumping action:

                              Test fitting the deck boards:

                              Test fitting:

                              Still to do on rocket ship:
                              Install rockets (coffee cans welded to the back)
                              Build nose cone (still not sure how, but I'm leaning towards fiberglass)
                              Co-pilot control panel and lights/sounds (including battery installation/wiring)

                              Still to do on flatbed:
                              Permanently mount everything, including deck boards

                              Still to do on frame:
                              Cut off go-kart axle from front (as seen in the rocket ship pictures above)
                              Relocate rear axle forward about 12"

                              Hope everyone is having a great spring/summer!