Students at ATC Toronto Restore a Classic 80s Go-Kart | Automotive Training Centre

Our 1980s Tomcat go-kart prior to being restored

Our 1980s Tomcat go-kart prior to being restored

For a bit of practical fun, students at Automotive Training Centre’s Toronto campus did a little restoration project not too long ago: they took a 1980s Tomcat go-kart, shined it up, and got it in running condition again.

Originating in 1950s America, go-kart racing began as a fun pastime for the public. It quickly grew in popularity, which it has maintained to this day. It’s even become a major stepping stone to professional race car driving! Long before they hit the NASCAR and Formula 1 circuits, drivers like Danica Patrick, Michael Schumacher, and more started developing their interest in and talent for racing on the go-kart track.

Many people have fond memories of riding around in go-karts, so getting the chance to fix a beat-up old model was a lot of fun for students at ATC. Want to see how it went? Check out the steps it took to get the Tomcat back in shape.

First, Our Future Auto Technicians Had to Replace the Motor

Go-karts aren’t too complex, so there wasn’t much disassembly to do right out of the gate. After taking apart the 5.5 HP Honda motor the kart came with, though, it became clear that the motor was seized. It was determined that it wasn’t worth trying to fix, and so a 6.5 HP replacement—another Honda motor—was ordered.

Once that came in, our group of auto technician trainees got to work doing some modifications. Racing-grade valves and springs, new cylinder rings, custom exhaust and fuel delivery systems, and racing-grade carb and intake systems were all installed in the motor. The result: something a little meaner than that busted 5.5 HP motor!

On the left: The original 5.5 HP engine; On the right: The upgraded 6.5 HP engine

On the left: The original 5.5 HP engine; On the right: The upgraded 6.5 HP engine

After That, It Was Time to Give the Kart a Clean, New Look

Where’s the fun in getting a kart into racing shape, but leaving it looking like it’s been sitting in a garage for 30 years? The next step for the students in our mechanic program was to freshen the little Tomcat up. They sandblasted the frame and gave it a powder coating, then did a nice little refurbishment of the steering system. They went with a nice, soft, suede for the wheel covering.

The Tomcat after being cleaned, painted, and given new steering implements

The Tomcat after being cleaned, painted, and given new steering implements

Next, Students in Our Mechanic Program Fixed Up the Brakes & Gears

Go-karts might not be as powerful as cars, but they still need a set of good, functioning brakes—especially when the engine’s gotten a big upgrade. The students took the original brakes apart, replaced the old pads, and polished the disk up to a nice sheen. The result is a good deal more stopping power to keep drivers safe on the track.

The go-kart's brakes after being restored

The go-kart’s brakes after being restored

The students also had to swap out the old gear system, as the old gears weren’t quite up to standard for the amount of power the new 6.5 HP engine could churn out. A racing clutch and a much larger, toothed gear were added to the engine, and provide the stability the Tomcat now needs.

The new gear system, which is better equipped to handle the power of the kart's new motor

The new gear system, which is better equipped to handle the power of the kart’s new motor

New Pedals, New Arms, and the New Engine Were Installed

The team put itself to work making new pedals and arms for the accelerator and brakes, enhancing the kart’s reliability and giving our little machine a bit more of a personal touch. Once those were finished and installed on the body of the kart, it was time to get our motor hooked up on the frame. This step took a little time, as the fuel delivery system had to carefully be attached to the gas tank. But, fortunately, the end result looks great!

The new braking arms the students installed on the rear of the kart

The new braking arms the students installed on the rear of the kart

Finally, Auto Technician Students Combined Vintage Rims With New Tires – And We Were Off!

Part of the fun of fixing up an older vehicle is in keeping at least some of the original look. Our team managed to save three of four vintage Margay 3-piece rims for the final product, and we were able to buy one more on eBay to complete the look. New tires were a must, though, and the students decided to mount some brand new racing slicks, with tubes, on the kart.

With that, the kart was good to go, and the first trial run was a success. All the systems performed exceptionally well, and the newly souped-up and shiny Tomcat is ready for action on the track!

The finished, track-worthy go-kart, with vintage rims and new tires

The finished, track-worthy go-kart, with vintage rims and new tires

Do you want to work on fun restoration projects for cars, go-karts, and other vehicles?

Automotive Training Centre offers mechanic training and other programs to help you get there!

Categories: Toronto
Tags: auto technician, Mechanic program, mechanic training

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