Sanders: Memories from our sibling go-kart
December 23, 2016
The Christmas season always brings back thoughts of the past, yet sometimes we need a current-day jog of the memory to get them to surface.
When I saw a video on Facebook of factory-built, go-karts being ridden around by two old men, it sparked what I remember about our go-kart.
My brother, Jerry Wyatt, and I had a go-kart that really sped along. Its top speed was maybe 4 miles per hour but to us, sitting just a bit off the ground, it was fast.
Jerry was about 11, so I would have been 8. We were small enough to ride it together and away we went.
“The motors were not so reliable and could quit at any time, so we had to be prepared.”
Dad bought it from Delbert Writer, a neighbor. He and his sons Dennis, Ross and Gary had some part of the construction, even if it was only as observers, due to their young ages.
They kept the motor since Dad had one he could rob from the guide system of our square bale loader when it was not in use.
This is where the fun began. The machine had no clutch. The chain came right off the motor to the axle, as a direct drive engine, which presented challenges and coordination.
We placed a coffee can under the back of the frame to hold the go-kart off the ground when it was started with a pull rope. Once it was running, we wiggled with all our might to get free of the can. Then off we would go.
We'd circle back, grab the can and take it with us. The motors were not so reliable and could quit at any time, so we had to be prepared. A long driveway from the house to the county road was as far as we were allowed to venture for many good reasons.
The starter rope came off a ball of baler twine packaging and we had plenty of extra ropes. The short hank had to be rewound for each start as the mechanism wasn't the recoil type.
Envision it. Two little kids bouncing around the farmyard, having the time of their lives, how did they shut off the direct drive engine? Simple. Just reach around and pull a wire off the spark plug, instant shut-off and roll to a stop.
Our mom was pretty nervous when we drove around the yard as there were big trees and, as Jerry just reminded me as we reminisced, the lowered end-gate of a pickup was just the right height to do some nasty damage to passengers. But, we made our rounds unscathed, laughing and hollering all the while.
This is a special time of year when families gather and tell stories and remember happier times. My hope for readers is that they too will have the opportunity to do so.
Better yet would be if you would write the tales down and after you've heard them, tape record or video them. Trust me, one day you will look back and wish you could hear someone's voice and stories once again.❖