See What Happens When You Strap an RC Jet Engine to a Go-Kart

Get ready for ludicrous speed.
Brad Bergan

An engineer strapped an RC jet engine to a go-kart frame and took it to ludicrous speeds in a recent YouTube video from the channel Warped Perception.

No, we're not kidding: Someone strapped a jet engine to a go-kart and throttled up. In a parking lot.

A man takes his go-kart to ludicrous speeds by strapping on a jet engine

It all started with a "tiny little action camera" and the smell of diesel fuel — which reminded an engineer of the smell of jet fuel. So he strapped an RC jet engine to the frame of a go-kart, and built up from there.

The inspiration might be uncommon, but the motivation for this highly-customized go-kart was very relatable: a need to break the monotony of coronavirus-driven isolation and indoor lifestyles. The engineer removed the go-kart's diesel engine — mounting the jet engine in its place at the rear of the vehicle, as five gallons of hydro-jet arrived at his shop (which is 80% jet fuel, 20% water).

The first step was to remove the paint job of the go-kart frame — namely, the gas tank was painted black. Next up were the gear chain and sprockets, which might not react well to spinning at ludicrous speeds. But mounting the jet engine to a go-kart took some serious math and engineering skills — cutting metal slabs into custom-made triangular shapes to connect the new propulsive engine.

The engineer then created bent metal frames to support the weight of the jet engine, and soldered them in place — not without setting acetone on fire, of course. Then the RC jet engine itself was soldered in, along with a makeshift control system — including a battery, an ECU controlled ignition unit, a receiver, a unit for telemetry, a GPS with speed, battery power, and, of course, the RC jet engine.

Throttling up the RC jet engine

The jet-upgraded go-kart weighed just 45 lbs (20.4 kg) in the back — lighter than it does with a diesel engine, according to the video. Without the gear chains and sprockets, the vehicle had almost no roll resistance. Before "launching" the new go-kart, only 2 lbs (roughly 1 kg) of force were needed to physically move the vehicle — optimizing the vehicle for maximum velocity once the jet turbine propels it with roughly 70 lbs (31.75 kg) of thrust.

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Two gallons of hydro-jet fuel were poured into the RC jet engine's fuel tank — which the engineer estimated should provide "a few minutes" of acceleration. The throttle was controlled via a classic RC remote control, and, upon giving the jet engine a test throttle-up — the recognizable wane of a jet engine roared to life as fuel pumped into the engine.

Needless to say, it was loud.

Skirting disaster with a narrowly-averted curb

The engineer hopped onto the go-kart with a GoPro camera attached to his helmet's visor, and with a thumbs-up to the sky, throttled up inside an empty parking lot. But within seconds, everything nearly ended in disaster when he nearly slammed into a curb. A curb!

Luckily, he made a sliding sideways stop and bounced harmlessly off of the embankment (harmless except for a slightly-damaged rim). Once he started moving again, the go-kart splashed through a puddle, and swiveled from the effects of hydroplaning. After recovering nicely, he ran into another, less potentially hazardous problem: low fuel.

As the hydro jet fuel was consumed, air began to fill more and more of the fuel tank. And, at constantly varying directions and speeds, the remaining fuel "sloshed around," sending air into the fuel line, and thus into the RC jet engine, which killed propulsion. The jet engine had to be cooled down before restarting.

This wild engineering project might look dangerous to some, but it speaks to the spirit of the times — with much of society indoors and few workplaces open, it's a great time to imagine new technological possibilities and see what happens. Sadly, the engineer from the video wasn't able to reach the top speed of the jet-powered go-kart — but he plans to return soon to see just how fast it can go.

This was a breaking story and was regularly updated as new information became available.

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