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Old 12-19-2019, 12:29 PM   #1
075Limited
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Default **DIY 4x4 Golf Cart: ATV swap**

I recently moved to a beach area where people commonly commute via golf cart. I thought this was pretty cool but didnít want to pay $5,000-8,000 for a new golf cart. I also didnít want something underpowered and boring so I hatched a pretty fun plan that I figured I would share:

This is a write up on how I built my 4x4 ATV swapped golf cart. I want to note that I do not have a whole lot of fabrication experience. Iím confidant that anybody who is moderately mechanically inclined and knows their way around YouTube could pull this off too.

Highlights of the swap:
On-demand 4x4 with front locker if you opt for the 98-01 Arctic Cat donor
Hydraulic 4 wheel disc brakes rather than mechanical drum just in the rear
Independent front and rear suspension
Air cooled - no complicated routing of coolant lines
5 speed semi-auto with reverse - auto-clutch
High, Low, and Super-Low sub transmission - 15 possible forward gears and 3 reverse
Theoretical top speed of around 50 mph
I believe this is the most cost efficient way of upgrading every mechanical system of a golf cart. Example: you could always do a big block swap but you still end up with a live axle with leaf springs and drum brakes after all that money you spend.

Donor Vehicles:
[IMG] https://ibb.co/Jmwt8p2
https://ibb.co/zGj4zqj
https://ibb.co/8g0YVKQ
https://ibb.co/ynk5vC3
https://ibb.co/5BTmqCH [/IMG]

I started out with a 1998 EZGO TXT with a bad motor and no batteries I picked up for $200. I went with the EZGO because parts are plentiful and it has a steel frame (unlike some brands) which I can weld to easily. What made this project so do-able is the ATV donor I chose. I did a lot of research on what ATV to use and I came up with either a 1998-2005 Arctic Cat 250 or 300, or a Suzuki King Quad 300. If you take a look at these ATVs youíll see how rearward the engine/transaxle combination is, which is key to this swap working so easily. They both use the same Suzuki engine/transaxle. These are also air cooled which simplified the swap. The ATV that I really wanted was the 1998-2001 Arctic cat 300 4x4 because those years had a front locker. However, after searching for 3 months and still not finding an affordable option I ended up with a 2002 Arctic cat 250 4x4. In the future I could always swap in the older front diff to add the locker. I could also swap out the jug and piston for the 300 or get the 331cc big bore kit if I need more power. Even at the 900 pound curb weight, the 250 powers the cart on or off road without issue. I would suggest going with the Arctic cat over the Suzuki because the Arctic cat comes with an improved suspension design, hydraulic disk brakes (rather than drums), and simpler shifter linkages. An advantage the King Quad has is that all come with front lockers and they are generally cheaper. I paid $500 for my ATV but found out I overpaid after finding that the frame was bent, most of the wheel bearings were shot, and the driveshaft giubo had disintegrated.

Golf Cart Disassembly:
[IMG] https://ibb.co/x8bD8Vk
https://ibb.co/1qG0xV5
https://ibb.co/rb9sktw
https://ibb.co/ZJqFGrs
https://ibb.co/x6FZd33 [/IMG]

I began by removing pretty much everything from the golf cart: roof, seat, seat supports, body panels, dash, front and rear axles. I cut out the old battery tray to allow room for the engine. The steering wheel and steering box were left in place because the stock ATV tie rods bolt right up to the golf cart steering box arm.

ATV disassembly:
After making sure everything runs and functions properly, I removed the front and rear racks, all the plastics, handle bars, foot rests, gas tank, carb, air box, foot brake, foot shift, shift linkages and wiring. I also detached the oil cooler, set it on top of the engine, and detached the brake line running from the front to the rear. At this point there is nothing in the way for when I cut the frame.

ATV straightening & chopping:
[IMG] https://ibb.co/CH24514
https://ibb.co/ZBXJccx
https://ibb.co/xq0Th0G [/IMG]

The front of the frame was bent towards the right side like the previous owner slammed the front right of the quad into a tree. I used heat, straps, and a come-a-long between two trees to straighten this back.
The ATV has almost the exact same track width as the golf cart but needs to be lengthened about 21Ē in order to be the same wheelbase. I cut the top part of the frame away in areas other than where the front and rear suspension attached. The rear frame where the seat attached was also cut away. I then found a nice straight portion of the lower frame (which was the only thing holding the front and rear together) and cut to separate the frame. With the golf cart on jack stands I was able to roll the rear and front ďsubĒ frames underneath the golf cart and trim any additional areas that got in the way. I saved all the excess frame material to use it to connect the ďsubĒ frames with the golf cart frame.

Golf Cart-ATV marriage:
[IMG] https://ibb.co/0mKjtmV
https://ibb.co/zxS2Krp
https://ibb.co/ThnkYky
https://ibb.co/bRCdvVP
https://ibb.co/6D5N0G8
https://ibb.co/1nv0kq0 [/IMG]

I went to my local hardware store and found some thick-wall steel tube that fit snugly over the stock atv frame. My idea was to sleeve the frame to minimize the amount of measuring and re-aligning I had to do. I cut this to length (so that the ATV frame extended into the tube 2-3Ē on each end) and used it as the extension tubes that re-connected the front and rear ATV ďsubĒ frames. I plug welded and seam welded these in place. Now that the ATV frame has been successfully lengthened I used the recycled ATV frame to connect the ATV frame to the golf cart frame in 8 locations. I tried to do the best I could to make sure everything was level and measured perfectly but my frame had really taken a beating in the past.

Controls:
[IMG] https://ibb.co/CV4HRLB
https://ibb.co/9yP3K6t
https://ibb.co/HpsbrJX
https://ibb.co/RbxY3wW
https://ibb.co/R3r2s9m [/IMG]

I used the factory golf cart gas pedal, brake pedal, and steering wheel. I added on the shifter for the 5-speed semi-auto transmission, reverse lever, as well as a lever for the sub-transmission (ATV has High, Low, and Super-Low ranges) right between the driver and passenger. I also added the lever for the 4x4 engage off of the ATV. For controls transferred over from the ATV, I cut the metal rods connecting the control to whatever component it was attached to, and just welded in an extension rod when needed. This worked out well for the 4x4 engage, reverse and gear shift. Since the subtransmission selector didnít have a lever on the atv (it was just a push/pull rod), I chopped off the old brake lever from the atv as well ball-joint end from one the old golf cartís tie rods. This allowed me to add this control as a lever like the other controls. The thing that required the most thought with the controls was where to place them as well as what the control will look like. What I did was add some metal supports in the area where the stock F/R shifter for the golf cart was, and made rod that the shifters rode on. I repurposed the foot shifter as a hand shifter and repurposed the foot brake as the sub transmission shifter. I eliminated the controls for choke and bought a new 32mm carb off Amazon for like $28 that had and auto-choke (actually auto-enrich) feature. It seems to be working out great for now. For steering I attached the stock ATV tie rods directly to the golf cart steering box arm. I ended up needing more steering angle because the tie rods made contact with the frame so I repurposed some of the old golf cart suspension brackets to lengthen the steering box arm and thus giving more travel. For the throttle I gutted the factory throttle pedal box and was able to directly attach the cable using some of the old ATV thumb throttle mechanism. For the brake I cut a small portion of the handle bars and welded it to the golf cart frame to allow me to attach the ATV master cylinder backwards. The stock golf cart brake pedal mechanism attaches to the trimmed atv brake lever via a home-made clevis, bolt and lock nut. This method of installation also allows me to utilize the Factory golf cart parking brake. In order to bleed the brakes I used the reverse bleed technique where you use a syringe to push fluid from each caliper to the master cylinder. This did a great job at removing all the air especially since the master cylinder is no longer the highest point in the system. My donor atv had a pretty nasty master cylinder and super glazed over brake pads so I picked up a new master cylinder for $30 and new pads for $10 off eBay. I did have to lengthen two sections of the brake system with some hard line I picked up from AutoZone. I also rented one of their flare tools to finish up the job. The two sections that needed to be lengthened were running between the front/rear distribution block to the front left and front right distribution block (about 2 feet) as well as from the front/rear distribution block to the rear caliper soft line (about 4 feet). Another reason why this atv works so good for this swap is that all three hydraulic brake calipers (two for the front, one for the rear) run off of the same master cylinder which makes fabricating the controls a bit easier. The atv had an additional mechanical caliper on the rear rotor which was controlled via a foot pedal. I removed this altogether.
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Old 12-19-2019, 12:30 PM   #2
075Limited
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Default Re: **DIY 4x4 Golf Cart: ATV swap**

Intake/Exhaust:
[IMG] https://ibb.co/8jGQ4SC
https://ibb.co/4tNkFd0 [/IMG]

I bought a foam pod filter which fit fine on the 32mm carb. This can also be snorkeled very easily. The exhaust was also pretty easy. I used all factory mounting points for the exhaust other than slightly lowering the most rearward mount. The muffler pokes out about 6” into the golf cart bag well and is not very noticeable with some high-temp black paint. I used some header wrap and some reflective self-adhesive pipe wrap to control heat in the engine compartment.

Fuel:
[IMG] https://ibb.co/G9crHNb
https://ibb.co/GPR6xJm
https://ibb.co/p2w2Cqm [/IMG]

I initially tried to reuse the factory fuel tank off of the ATV mounted backwards under the seat on the passenger side of the cart. I had to cut a section of the tank down and plastic weld it back. I couldn’t get it to seal up properly and didn’t want to risk it failing on me. What I ended up doing to buying a 2.5 gallon tank off of US plastics for $20 and then inserted a fuel petcock and rubber grommet like you would see on a lawn mower or other small engine fuel tank. For fuel delivery I initially bought a generic pulse fuel pump also like you would find on a lawn mower. Unfortunately this pump failed after only a couple miles of service. To make sure this didn’t happen again, I replaced it with a low-pressure in-line electric pump. The pump is fed from a pickup line that runs through the grommet to the bottom of the tank. Just before the carb I placed a T-fitting which diverts excess fuel back to the tank because even this low-pressure pump supplies too much fuel for this carb. The pump was mounted on rubber grommets to minimize vibrations & noise.

Wiring:
[IMG] https://ibb.co/CwqM2Lz
https://ibb.co/HdnMHVz
https://ibb.co/wW9Jww7 [/IMG]

I downloaded a wiring diagram and used it to cut out any unnecessary wiring. I used the factory ATV key and added my own momentary switch used to energize the starter. The ATV key is also nice because it has three positions rather than the usual two. I used the second position to energize by fuse panel for accessories and the third position as an ignition and electric fuel pump toggle. The only other note when it comes to wiring is I needed to bypass the brake safety switch so that I could start in-gear. This was done by grounding out a wire coming from the neutral switch.

Paint and Body:
[IMG] https://ibb.co/D7pV7Dn
https://ibb.co/4WpWhxm
https://ibb.co/87zqfNw
https://ibb.co/Cv903xK
https://ibb.co/kM824zf
https://ibb.co/X7M6NnC
https://ibb.co/XkgGY3y
https://ibb.co/Vq5WDBC
https://ibb.co/MsZTKLB
https://ibb.co/GTGZZwJ
https://ibb.co/3yqPQgM
https://ibb.co/2gpTDfy
https://ibb.co/QP983qk
https://ibb.co/kmpCpD8
https://ibb.co/d4Ckyxh
https://ibb.co/NF7ndFY
https://ibb.co/NmVCg2x
https://ibb.co/LNGPvXV
https://ibb.co/tXjxJVj
https://ibb.co/P5HvwjY
https://ibb.co/KV9Skpf
https://ibb.co/Z2SGq2b [/IMG]

I disassembled every component of the chassis and applied POR15 for rust prevention. The body panels were repaired, prepped, painted and clear-coated with Rustoleum Ultra Cover spray paint. I used Dupli-Color trim paint for the dash, steering wheel and arm rests which worked out well. I used plasti-dip black for the floor mat. Rivets were used to re-secure the body panels and stainless nuts/bolts to remove what rusty bolts I removed during disassembly.

Other:
[IMG] https://ibb.co/JdCt44M
https://ibb.co/5LBXyz8
https://ibb.co/9HX6bFz
https://ibb.co/xLmCCCv [/IMG]

My plywood seat base was rotten and the seat cover was nasty so I cut a new piece of plywood using the old one as a template and got a new seat cover off of eBay which fit well. New thread inserts were purchased from Lowes to replace the old rusty ones that the arm rests attach to.

[IMG] https://ibb.co/g4s5G9R
https://ibb.co/TmT0PkR
https://ibb.co/fdsc4nQ
https://ibb.co/CJ2wZ2J
https://ibb.co/gMZB7hN [/IMG]

I noticed that the rear suspension of my cart wasn’t up to the task of supporting the increased weight of the cart chassis/body, especially after installing my rear flip seat. I thought over this for a while and eventually landed on installing automotive grade air shocks in the rear. My thought was I could run a lower pressure when the rear wasn’t under much load and then add air to the rear shocks via an on-board air system when I would have rear passengers. I did some research and purchased Monroe MA824 air shocks because their mounts seemed the closest to the stock atv mounts. I ended up having to press the bushing sleeve out of the lower bushing and trim the top mount with an angle grinder to get them to fit properly but they installed in about 2 hours. I’m not sure if it is the geometry of the atv rear independent suspension or the lack of actual coil springs, but it took 150psi of air pressure from my 40 gallon compressor to get them to fill up and lift the rear of the cart. Other than requiring more air pressure than I expected they worked out great and gave me a ton of support (to the point where I can have some positive camber at max lift). I still installed an on-board air system as well to top off the suspension and just use my emergency scissor jack to take the load off the rear if I need to increase the pressure. I also have two electronic solenoids in my air system: one that closes and blocks communication from one air shock to the other (crude anti-sway measure), and another that diverts the air to an auxiliary outlet so I can fill up tires and other stuff. My overall impression of this modification is that I expected to be able to fill the shocks a bit easier seeing that they were automotive grade, however, I do realize they are only designed to be shocks, not springs and shocks. I think in the future I will make sure my rear suspension components aren’t torqued down too tight and will grease them up to see if I can fill them easier. My goal of leveling out the cart was achieved perfectly with these and was pretty....shocked....the install went as smoothly as it did. I could also add two air shocks in the front for fully height adjustable suspension which would also be pretty cool.

Now that a lot of weight has been shifted from the center of the vehicle (atv rider normally sits in the middle) to the outside, I noticed that the cart gets pretty leany going around corners. It reminds me of a Jeep with no swaybars lifting up the front inside wheel around a corner. That looks cool and articulates awesome off road but doesn’t inspire much confidence (even just turning up a paved embankment to a shop). This issue probably stems from the cart being under-sprung. I’ve thought of a couple solutions to this issue. The first is a plan to fabricate custom swaybars for the front and rear of the cart which would disconnect without the use of tools. What I came up with was some sway bar bushings from a 1993 Honda Accord and sway bar end links from a 2006 VW GTi. This would use 1” O.D. steel tube with flat stock on either side. The flat stock would have multiple holes which would allow for adjustment in stiffness or lean-resistance. My second option would be to find a way to re-install the factory rear shocks from the ATV onto the cart (in addition to the air shocks). If I did this, it would also allow the air bags to function more like they were intended-it would take less air pressure to increase and decrease the ride height of the cart. However, this doesn’t address the front being under-sprung. I have some spring spacers which I can add to the front which will effectively increase the stiffness in the front, but it will also act as a front lift.

[IMG] https://ibb.co/G3kGqMD [/IMG]
My overall impression of this project is that it's freakin great. It was such a fun little buggy to build because of how well everything from the ATV crossed over. It was just difficult enough to be challenging without running into any of those “pull your hair out” frustrating moments. In the future I plan to tighten up and possibly raise up the shifter for better feel. I also still need to extend the driveshaft running to the front diff to finalize the 4x4 system. This is next on the list as I'm planning to take it out on some trails in the next couple of weeks. I would also like to rebuild the steering box from the golf cart because there is some play in the wheel which gets sketchy around 35 mph. I could get a kit online for about $100. I’ll make sure and update later on how it does off road as well as any design issues I might find.

I also made a How-To on how I made this thing street legal you can view here: http://www.buggiesgonewild.com/road-...eet-legal.html
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Old 12-26-2019, 09:33 AM   #3
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Default Re: **DIY 4x4 Golf Cart: ATV swap**

Pretty neat project. If you make any videos post them here.
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Old 12-26-2019, 05:02 PM   #4
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Default Re: **DIY 4x4 Golf Cart: ATV swap**

Quote:
Originally Posted by Unforgiven View Post
Pretty neat project. If you make any videos post them here.
Thanks! Iíll try and get a walk around/test drive video up sometime soon
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Old 12-27-2019, 06:00 PM   #5
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Default Re: **DIY 4x4 Golf Cart: ATV swap**

Front and rear independent suspension is going to be "leany" or, if you firm up the shocks enough to inhibit lean, it becomes a buckboard. I went thru this with a Kaw 750 Brute donor (IS). Ended up using the engine mounted in a KVF700 frame, which has solid rear axle. Very nice outcome.
You need to add a cylinder temp guage to the cylinder. Suz King Quads will heat up. There's a fan driven oil cooler on later models that you should use. The engine will fry the stator if it gets hot. Curious, but they will. The alternator won't support a large cooling fan.
You can use any 2 or 4wd that has the super low/lockup front suspension frame for a donor. The 2WD has axle stubs identical to the 4WD.

Sent from my SM-G965U using Tapatalk
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Old 12-28-2019, 04:12 PM   #6
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Default Re: **DIY 4x4 Golf Cart: ATV swap**

Quote:
Originally Posted by JRL View Post
Front and rear independent suspension is going to be "leany" or, if you firm up the shocks enough to inhibit lean, it becomes a buckboard. I went thru this with a Kaw 750 Brute donor (IS). Ended up using the engine mounted in a KVF700 frame, which has solid rear axle. Very nice outcome.
You need to add a cylinder temp guage to the cylinder. Suz King Quads will heat up. There's a fan driven oil cooler on later models that you should use. The engine will fry the stator if it gets hot. Curious, but they will. The alternator won't support a large cooling fan.
You can use any 2 or 4wd that has the super low/lockup front suspension frame for a donor. The 2WD has axle stubs identical to the 4WD.

Sent from my SM-G965U using Tapatalk
Thanks a lot for the info! Iím only using the Factory oil cooler mounted up front so I will definitely look into getting a gauge and thermostatic fan. I think Iíll end up finding a happy medium for the suspension eventually...these projects are never actually ďfinishedĒ
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Old 12-28-2019, 05:30 PM   #7
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Default Re: **DIY 4x4 Golf Cart: ATV swap**

You could use a dash switch to controt a motorcycle rad fan. Also use an automotive oil cooler.
You hav done exactly what I did. Look for EZGO TXT with KVF700 and you might find more useful info.
The more vertical the shocks, the firmer the shocks, but less travel. LTf300 didn't have much travel to give up. You might be able to shim the shock spring. Most are removable by compressing the spring and shock in a press. Look closely and you'll probably see a removable keeper on the small end of the shock. PVC pipe makes good, cheap spacers.
Try to keep the LH engine cover accessible. Clutch is behind that and might need occasional "service".


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Old 12-29-2019, 03:46 PM   #8
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Default Re: **DIY 4x4 Golf Cart: ATV swap**

Quote:
Originally Posted by JRL View Post
You could use a dash switch to controt a motorcycle rad fan. Also use an automotive oil cooler.
You hav done exactly what I did. Look for EZGO TXT with KVF700 and you might find more useful info.
The more vertical the shocks, the firmer the shocks, but less travel. LTf300 didn't have much travel to give up. You might be able to shim the shock spring. Most are removable by compressing the spring and shock in a press. Look closely and you'll probably see a removable keeper on the small end of the shock. PVC pipe makes good, cheap spacers.
Try to keep the LH engine cover accessible. Clutch is behind that and might need occasional "service".


Sent from my SM-G965U using Tapatalk

I have a couple shim spacers laying around made specifically for the shocks Iím using in the front. Those should increase the stiffness and help out. Iím going to install an electronic solenoid to effectively separate the two rear air shocks which will prevent air from moving from one shock to the other around corners. Iím hoping these two changes will mitigate some of the swaying. Thereís a surprising amount of room around the engine since itís so small/compact so hopefully services will be pretty easy. Also, something pretty cool that came with the atv frame is that I can remove 6 bolts and the entire rear engine cradle with the rear suspension can drop out and be rolled out for more intense work.
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Old 12-29-2019, 05:50 PM   #9
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Default Re: **DIY 4x4 Golf Cart: ATV swap**

All good. Clean, nice looking build.
You have a good bit of room under the seat.

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Old 12-29-2019, 08:57 PM   #10
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Default Re: **DIY 4x4 Golf Cart: ATV swap**

Reading thru your post and note that you are using the txt park brake lock with the hydraulic Arctic Cat brakes. Keep your eyes on the calipers. I tried the same and the park brake both failed to hold for more than a few hours, and it forced fluid from the front Kaw calipers. I'm not familiar with Arctic C park brake, but I'd guess it has a mechanical over hydraulic rear caliper? Suz had drums so they doubled for park brake. I ended up installing a Honda Civic park brake handle on mine. Works well, and easy fab...long as you have a manual brake function. Kaw has a rear wet brake that's excellent. Lucky with that. Kaw does not have a transmission park feature. If Suz/Arctic Cat has a transmission park lock, don't need a park brake.

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