Opinions on my cart/dolly idea appreciated


Old 11-15-14, 07:50 AM
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Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: US
Posts: 42
Opinions on my cart/dolly idea appreciated

I was out riding my bike when I noticed some golf-cart style tires and wheels had been pitched out by the owner. So I took them home and pumped them up - they both hold air.

These wheels and tires are kind of expensive so I figured that I got a pretty could trash pick.

So now I have two axles - one 24", one 28" to build a little dirt hauler cart.

So for example, I could just dado myself some keyways on the axles, and then have a fixed (dead-axle, wheelset), put a frame over this with any spacers or whatever, and make the dolly. The problem is I would rather take my time, and invest in a live-axle system or possibly even a differential axle system. So I will need hubs. But this might save me some keyway cutting, something I'm not thrilled to do. The wheels have 3/16" wide by 3/32" deep keyways. The axles are 3/4" and fit inside those wheels. But I don't at all trust using an axle with a wheel with a keyway since it will bite into the axle and ruin everything.

Also, I would like to mount a sprocket so I can have a chain-drive system from a small lawnmower/go-cart/garden-tool style engine, perhaps by a junkyard
find or ordered online, whatever.

I don't mind building the dead-axle/wheel-set cart - it will solve the problems I have. I just don't like things that don't have a free-wheeling turning radius but I can live with them since the dolly will work fine for it's purpose. But I might save on labor if I invest in a system with hubs (provided the hubs have keyways already cut in them). I guess I may need to cut
keyways anyway.

So does anyone know where I can get some hubs for these axles - ones that would fit over the axles and have a keyway so I can attach the wheels without a lot of labor. I can just use the frame of the dolly for any spacing needed or use collars if need be. But I would like to have hubs if possible.

Can these be found - ie. ones that do not have to be used only with the original axles - but instead, with my simple "truck-spring" bolt axles? I plan
to use the 28" axle first.

Any help appreciated. Thank you.
PS I show the tires/axles in the attached pic.
Name:  AxleTires.jpg
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Last edited by FencerCurio44; 11-15-14 at 10:38 AM.
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Old 11-19-14, 10:50 AM
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Join Date: Apr 2010
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I might be able to fill in the keyway on the wheels by taking a cylinder and slicing a piece 3/16" wide and then flattening one side - but this is ALSO a lot of work. And it would be a challenge to hold it in the keyway on the wheels - glue? weld?

I cannot use a sleeve (Hillman spacer) unless I get a smaller diameter axle.

Old 11-19-14, 12:17 PM
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Your idea of a live axle differential is a bit at odds with wanting to put a motor on the cart. The solid hubs with a keyed axle are often used when driving the wheels with a sprocket on the shaft.

I don't know why you don't trust an axle with a keyway. You mention that the key will "bite into the axle and ruin everything"??? That is what it's intended to do. Both the hub and axle have a key slot cut half depth. When you put the two together you end up with a square slot to accept a key to prevent the wheel from turning on the axle. It's a quite reliable system.

You mention looking for new wheels/hubs that will work with your axle. How about just buying what you want. Get wheels with bearings in them so you just have to slide them over the axle. The axles are easy to mount to a cart since they don't have to rotate on bearings and each wheel can spin free and independent to give you the easier turning differential action.
Old 11-19-14, 05:21 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2010
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I meant to use the term Live Axle, not Dead Axle as I said. What I want is an axle with a keyway on each side (and possibly one in the middle for a sprocket) so I can use the wheels without the (empty) keyway biting into the axle (if I don't fill it with the key).

My original plan was to cut directly into the axle (my own keyway), then mount the wheels onto the axle so that the axle will spin with the wheels (this is a Live Axle but I mistakenly called it
a Dead Axle). But at the same time, I just lamented that the Live Axle (which I called Dead), does not corner as well due to slippage due to the wheels having a different circumference to travel through but being fixed, they tend to slip. But since this not for high-speed I can live with that. And I can drive it if I mount a sprocket - but initially, I don't need the drive.

So my only problem is which method:
1) Cut keyways, mount the wheels and I'm basically done other than the frame and later,
a sprocket (which means I must remove one key).
2) Find a hub, mount it, then drive one of the hubs with a sprocket for power.

The option you mention I don't have since I want to use the existing wheels I have in the

So I will have to make a jig to cut a keyway on each side and I must be sure that I can
get the key in easily. My keyway cutting method is not lathe-based so I will need to work
on a method of holding the axle - but I think this will go ok. I have 2 axles - the first can
be for practice. It should work. So I will initially go with a Live Axle - ie. (a wheelset).
Both wheels and the axle will turn together. This is ok since it is low-speed and I don't
need to make sharp turns. It should work fine.

When I said "key will bite into the axle", I might have meant to say "keyway will bite into the
axle" (if I don't put a key in there - as in put the wheels over the axle - like a dolly - a Dead
Axle type thing). The wheels would spin freely and it's easy to do (but I would need to
fill in the keyway with a dummy key - another big project that I'm not dying to do). This
is supposed to be a low-cost project - I'm not cheap, I just don't want to buy wheels with
bearings in them.
Old 11-20-14, 06:16 AM
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How much use will this cart get? If it's not much you can just put something on to keep the wheel from coming off the axle add some grease and run one or both wheels without the key. It would be sort of like a bushing. Yea, it's not the best with steel on steel but it would be cheap and easy.

Do you have bearings to support the live axle?

How are you going to cut a keyway in the axle? Do you have a mill?
Old 11-20-14, 07:06 AM
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: MI
Posts: 2,527
The cheapest and most direct way to power your cart without tearing up the lawn is by driving only one wheel, like on a go-cart:

Let the other side free-spin.

How will you steer it? To use those axles you're limited to a wagon-style pivoting front axle.

You can find hubs, spindles, sprockets, etc at gocartsusa.
Old 11-21-14, 07:54 AM
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Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: US
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I've decided I will need to do this project in 2 phases:
Phase 1: Dead axle with steel bushing, nut, spacers, frame, and cotter pin. Penalty: I have to
drill a hole for the cotter pin and I can only use a 1/2" axle since my bushing has an OD of 3/4"
and an ID of 1/2". Another penalty is I must order a 1/2" axle, nuts, and washers.
Concerns: 1) Should I fill the keyway (not a big concern) and 2) Should I fix the bushing
to the wheel or let it turn some. I don't think epoxy would work and I don't weld. I could
silver solder but I don't think it will hold. Initially, I will just let the bushing be free since
I haven't figured out how to affix it permanently yet. I had 2 bushings (perfect for the job)
but I misplace one so I need to reorder another. And order an axle. This Phase 1 design
is basically a dolly but each wheel will move independently making it turn on a dime. It will
not be motorized.

Phase 2: I will try a hub (perhaps an Azusa) that has built-in bearings. I may need to drill
holes for my wheels - I will have to see when the hubs come in. For this one I am back
to my 3/4" inch axle. Not sure yet how the hub will fit on the axle yet. Perhaps I can drive
one of the wheels - there is lots of design to be done here. I realize there is a bit of a
difference between a Baja-mobile and a simple motorized dolly.

To answer your question, "Do you have a mill/lathe?" Currently, I do not - I used to use
lathes while I was a student, I no longer do. So I will simply install a 120T Carbide blade on my
table saw, make a jig and dig in a little at a time - hopefully after 8 passes or so I'll have
a 3/32" deep x 3/16" wide slot. Then I'd like to taper the slot past the 3" I need say at
about 2 15/16" I'll start the taper. The hardest part here is to keep the shaft fixed so
it doesn't rotate while sawing or between passes with the saw. Also, I need to be careful
not to blindly check the width. I need to be careful it doesn't come out too wide. This
process also involves the design of the slot itself. Most people don't use threads and a slot
which is what I am doing. I need to make sure I can get the key into the slot so the slot
needs to allow this even though there are threads. I may be forced to cut the slot right
through the threads. There are threadless axles with slots pre-cut - I might consider one
of those - then thread it a little with a tap and die if I want threads - decisions!

One problem with the table saw - the depth will not be constant unless I do something
to cancel the curvature of the blade - this is yet another problem - one end will be fine
while the other is already tapered - perhaps it will be ok - I don't know.
Old 11-21-14, 09:23 AM
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A table saw on steel... Wear safety glasses, a full face shield and post back to let us know what the blade looked like when you finished and what it sounded like. I'd also set up at least one camera because it might have Youtube value.

Everything sounds like you are going to a lot of trouble to save some old, low value parts.
Old 11-21-14, 12:41 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: US
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No problem - this one will be too good not to share pics/video. I need to put an axle through a piece of wood or pieces, and then pin it in place. My last major design miracle was a bicycle enhancement and it turned out fabulous so I don't think this is any harder - perhaps easier.

I would hope that the hardwood jig (brazilian walnut) itself will pretty much protect me from shrapnel - which should be light if I use a good blade and take shallow passes. I realize that the blade shrapnel could F5 Tornado itself through the wood so perhaps I'll put in more energy-absorbing layers.

It should be fun!
Old 11-21-14, 03:20 PM
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Aluminum cuts well with a high speed blade but steel not so much. You might do better taking a six pack to a machine shop on a Friday afternoon and ask them to cut the keyways for you. You'll be done in a few minutes and you won't kill a perfectly good saw blade in a blaze of sparks.

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