Building an MG-TC pedal car: Part 1

   Posted by: Mark   in Pedal car

As mentioned in the Introduction, I purchased the plans for this pedal car project from Stevenson Projects a few years ago. These plans are at least 20 or 25 years old, and are not professional CAD drawings, but the good news is that they don’t need to be to be effective. They are detailed and clear where necessary. They claim that there are no special skills like welding necessary to build the car, and that may be true, but I deviated enough from the plans to get stumped in a few places.

As is my habit with things like this, I read the plans over completely at least three or four times after receiving them and before making any supply purchases. I knew from the start that I would be changing them in a couple of key areas, and wanted to be sure I understood the original intent of every step.

The supply list includes a number of items that I know now were constructed of much better raw materials when the plans were written than they are now, such as angle brackets and galvanized pipe fittings. But with some creative thinking and plenty of browsing at local hardware stores, I think I’ve been able to do okay with substitutes and a bit of trial and error.

The fundamental design of the car is based on the old, common pedal car drive mechanism: drive rods and a crank axle. The pedals move back and forth to crank the drive axle instead of in an orbit as standard bicycle pedals move. These pedals are tied via drive rods to a specially-bent rear crank axle that drives one rear wheel, with the second rear wheel spinning freely (without a differential, only one rear wheel can be the drive wheel or things will lock up when you attempt to turn). The frame is made of 1″ fir and 1/2″ plywood, and the body and fenders are almost exclusively 1/2″ and 1/4″ plywood.

Each front wheel is mounted on an ingenious assembly of cast iron pipe fittings that lets them rotate easily on the threads. Short arms extend from each assembly to provide an anchor point for the tie-rod.

The primary deviation I made from the plans was to choose real spoked bicycle wheels instead of the solid wood wheels detailed in the plans. Unfortunately, this seemingly-simple change was tied to the two most complex pieces of the project: the steering and the drive mechanism. By choosing wire-spoked bicycle wheels, I made the general wheel mounting instructions from the plans completely useless, and forfeited any obvious method for connecting the drive axle to a rear wheel. This is what derailed the project after my intial progress, and only after talking with some very knowledgeable folks have I been able to get back on track.

I started this project years ago, and it has sat, unfinished, in the garage. As a result, the freshly-cut look of the wood has been dulled with dust and piles of typical garage junk. But I have disassembled as much as I could, taken pictures to show progress, and reassembled things. The following subset of pictures shows some of the frame and rear wheel mounting progress. The full set with descriptions on each image is available on Flickr: MG-TC Pedal Car.







My next post in the series will show the front wheel assembly and mounting, and then on to the body and fenders.


This entry was posted on Saturday, September 6th, 2008 at 9:35 pm and is filed under Pedal car. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

11 comments so far

Dave chapman

I have been searching for plans for a pedal car and came across your project. It is an absolute masterpiece. Thank you for your generosity in sharing how to build it. I will be starting one one immediately.
Would it be okay to contact you if I have questions as I proceed with the project?

Dave Chapman

November 24th, 2009 at 6:51 am

So sorry to take this long to reply, Dave. You bet — I’ll offer any advice that I can! Also be sure to check out Jason Fabbri’s awesome project here: http://thegokart.wordpress.com/

December 11th, 2009 at 3:44 pm
Dave chapman

Mark are the frame pieces tapered form back to front? I picked up a couple of 3/8″ pipe T’s.
Should the 1″ x 6″ frame pieces taper to the height of the “T” at the front ? So it fits snugly in between the bottom and top piece that run perpinducular to the main frame pieces.

December 21st, 2009 at 12:28 pm

Hi Dave! Yes, there is a taper from back to front, but not the entire length. The front of the frame rail is 2 1/2″ wide from the front of the rail back 19″. The back of the frame rail is the full 4 1/2″ wide (1×5, not 1×6) from the back of the rail forward 18″. The entire length of the rail is 61 1/2″.

Here’s the only shot I can find that shows the rail semi-sufficiently: Side of car

In that pic, you can just barely see that the taper starts forward of the rear wheel and ends about where the pedal shows under the frame. The start and end points for the taper aren’t so important, but insuring that your crosspieces for mounting the kingpin T’s aren’t on the taper is important. Sounds like you’re on the right track — give enough space between the top and bottom crosspieces to give your T enough space to rotate AND to travel a bit on the threads (that means probably 1/8″ or so extra space total; not much).

December 22nd, 2009 at 11:13 am
Dave chapman

Hello Mark,
I have started on my pedal car for the grandkids.
Can you tell me what the width dimension across the back of the frame is and… is it the same width across the front. And could you tell me the length of the cross member pieces ?
Thank you very much.

January 11th, 2010 at 2:19 pm

Hi Dave! I’m so glad to hear that your project has begun! The rear width is 16″ on the inside (17 1/2″ outside), and the front tapers to 12″ on the outside of the rails. The cross-members are 20″ x 2 1/2″ and the front edge of the cross-members is 6 1/2″ back from the front of the rails.

Hope that helps!

January 12th, 2010 at 7:40 am
Dave chapman

Mark that answers all my questions. I am pretty sure I will be able to figure out all the other dimensions. I am lucky in that I am highly skilled in carpentry and I am one of those guys that can pretty much do all types things.
God Bless and keep you and your Family

Thanks again Dave

January 12th, 2010 at 10:42 am
Dave chapman

Hello Mark,
One more question for you. On the front fenders. I notice you have the bottom “back” of the fender kicked in toward the car body. Does this mean you had to cut a bevel along the top edge of the fender “back ” to get the fender the “top” to set level. And is the 1/4″ inch plywood used to conform to the contour the same width along the whole length of the piece. I hope my question is understandable.
If need be I could send you a photo to better explain my question. I pretty much have the car all together. The fenders are pretty much all I have left to do.

Thanks again,

January 15th, 2010 at 6:45 am

Thanks lots mate and for the great picks (A real Pedal car) Wow!!! was looking for hours to find something like this and very well explained through every step, great job. Im way down ere in Australia and as soon as i read all your info i rang the guys at Stevensons and have requested the Plans! Thanks again m8 your an absoloute winner for taking your time and putting this on the net to share, oh and i will check in im going to put an adjustable set of peddals in mine on a chained set up so hopefully ill have some goodies to share…. Cheers

July 29th, 2011 at 2:44 am
Clete Rodocker

looking to build one like your’s are the plans still available? Would appreiciate any help you can give. Thanks for the great article.

April 27th, 2012 at 2:32 pm

Any chance of getting measurements?

July 2nd, 2013 at 3:43 pm

5 Trackbacks/Pings

  1. TheNorwoodHome » Blog Archive » Building an MG-TC pedal car: Part 2    Sep 09 2008 / 10pm:

    […] Part 1, I showed pictures of the basic frame of the car, as well as the mounting of the rear wheels. In […]

  2. TheNorwoodHome » Blog Archive » Building an MG-TC pedal car: Introduction    Sep 15 2008 / 11am:

    […] Part 1: Frame and rear wheel mounting […]

  3. TheNorwoodHome » Blog Archive » Building an MG-TC pedal car: Part 3    Sep 16 2008 / 10am:

    […] Part 1, I showed pictures of the basic frame of the car, as well as the mounting of the rear wheels. In […]

  4. Chapter One: The Inspiration « The Go Kart    Aug 19 2009 / 10am:

    […] the real world results,   I’ve been following a project that is in process with this car at The Norwood Home/Blog. Mark has done a great job with his car, keeping the original look and using the plans, but […]

  5. Chapter Four: Let’s Roll! « The Go Kart    Aug 23 2009 / 7pm:

    […] with the MG kart project, I too was going to use some bicycle wheels. In that case he used four front bicycle wheels. As […]

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