Unique hobby: building go-kart engines

Kate Schumacher

With parts and pieces scattered randomly throughout his garage, Will Silikowski, freshman, works hard on accomplishing his newest passion: engineering and building his first engine and go-kart.

Will began working on go-karts just a short while ago and was inspired by a simple engine sitting around his house. “This is very recent, I started in the start of the school year. I work on my go-kart in my garage. I got the idea for building [the go-kart] because I had a broken engine in my shed that I wanted to do something with,” said Silikowski.

At first Silikowski had no idea where to start, but his own family members and good friends were able to help him begin the process. “I learned how to work on engines mostly from my dad, [and] Chris Mlazgar is going to help me with the electronics,” said Silikowski.

In the process of building his go-kart with the help of his dad and neighbor, Silikowski learned a valuable lesson. “I learned that go-karts and engine fixes are a lot more complicated than one may think,” said Silikowski.

Not only does Silikowski enjoy building engines and go-karts, but his other friends enjoy building them as well. Silikowski’s friends have influenced him to build one for himself. “I have two friends that have go-karts, one built one from scratch kind of like I’m doing, and the other fixed a go-kart he bought,” said Silikowski.

Along with his friends being involved in the process of building go-karts, Silikowski’s family is very encouraging in his new hobby and will help him in any way possible. “My family is very impressed and very supporting. They take me to the store so I can buy the parts I need,” said Silikowski.

With this in mind, Silikowski is currently working hard to get the engine running. “I haven’t gotten the engine started, but I’m getting a custom piece soon, which is the piece I need to get it started,” said Silikowski.

Not only does building his go-kart take up space in his garage, but it also takes up time. “Working on my go-kart doesn’t interfere with my schoolwork. I tend to work on my go-kart during the nighttime. [The pieces and parts] probably take up one-third of my garage. Parts and engines are spread out all over my garage,” said Silikowski.

Other friends of Silikowski’s, freshman Micheal Roth and Alex Roe, do not know how to build go-karts and are amazed by the fact that Will has the knowledge to create a running vehicle. “My friends think it is cool that I am working on a go-kart. I have had many people come up to me and ask about my go-kart,” said Silikowski.

In addition to Silikowski’s friends’ amazement, Silikowski, himself, is proud of the work he has done. Building a go-kart is a lot of work and requires talent to finish such a large project, involving several tools. “I have finished sandblasting and painting. Currently I am working on getting my 11hp engine running. I have cleaned out the carburetor, installed a new spark plug, installed new fuses for the lights, and cleaned out the whole engine,” said Silikowski.

Silikowski has yet to finish the vehicle. “I still have to install the engine once I get it running and put in a new seating mount and chair, solder the fuse into the lighting system, hook up the shut-off switch, and hook up the battery onto the magneto on the engine,” said Silikowski.

With this in mind, when Silikowski completes the rest of the work on his go-kart, he intends to ride his go-kart himself. “I love to ride go-karts, when I finish building my go-kart I am going to drive it off road,” said Silikowski.

Although Silikowski is exhilarated to ride his go-kart once finished, there are nervous thoughts that come to mind. “Though I am excited, I am also kind of nervous, because it might be too much power and if I let my friends drive it they could hurt themselves [and] crash the go-kart,” said Silikowski.

Silikowski certainly intends to continue with this fascinating hobby; once he has completed his first go-kart, Silikowski will be more inspired to learn and build more. “I have another street go-kart I’m going to work on after this one. This is a long term hobby,” said Silikowski.