How to build a Pushcart, Cool Runnings Style

Last summer I watched Cool Runnings a lot. Almost daily, in fact.

pushcart skeleton #1

pushkart skeleton #1

It made me want to race a pushcart like Sanka Coffey did..

However, Richmond does not have a Pushcart Derby, so I am in the process of starting one.

The race day is scheduled for April 30, 2011. More details on the race can be found at

Most people, including myself, have never built a pushcart, so I am documenting my experience as I design and build my first cart so that those hesitant to participate can have something to go off of. Of course, everything is done for as little money as possible.

Here is what I have learned:

1) Think about steering and wheel/axle setup first. This will inform everything else.

2) Like all adventures in Making, do this: Think, Design, Test, Revise. Repeat until deadline.



The steering system is made largely from parts found in the Plumbing section at any hardware store. I happened to have use Home Depot and I think all told it ran me about $25. If you are from Home Depot and would like to sponsor my cart, the answer is yes. Call me.

If you plan on racing in the Richmond Pushcart Derby, you are of course welcome to use my tools and workshop.

You will need these tools:

  • Drill and a 5/8″ bit you don’t mind getting chewed up.
  • Socket wrenches and/or an adjustable wrench
  • Pipe wrench
  • Clamps

This is what it should look like at the end of this step.

halfway done steering system for pushcart

first half : done

You will need the following hardware:

  • 1/2″ 3-way female T. (2)
  • 1/2 x 2″ nipple (1)
  • 1/2 x 4″ nipple (1)
  • 1/2 x 36″ square tube. 1/16″ thick. (1)
Parts for DIY pushcart steering system

Pushcart steering parts

You will also need

  • 3/8 x 1″ bolt with 2 washers and a nut. (2)
  • 5/16 x 3″ bolt with 4 washers and 2 nuts. (1)
nuts and bolts for pushcart steering

nuts and bolts for steering system

    I also bought two 10″ nipples to be my steering “wheel,” but you can use whatever you like.


    Thread the 24″ pipe into one of the 3-way T’s like so:

    pushcart steering assembly step 1

    assembly : step 1

    Now screw in the 4″ nipple so that the whole thing looks like a peace pipe.

    pushcart steering assembly step two

    assembly : step 2

    Screw the 2″ nipple into the last exposed end of the 3-way T.

    pushcart steering assembly 4

    assembly : step 4


    Clamp the whole thing down so that it is standing up, and drill a hole large enough for the 5/16″ bolt directly down through the 4″ nipple. Drill the hole close the the end with the exposed threads.

    pushcart steering assembly DIY style

    assembly : step 3

    next you will need to drill a hole in the center of the square tube big enough for the 5/16″ bolt.

    richmond pushcart derby steering assembly

    drill a hole in the center of the square tube


    attach the square tube to the 4″ nipple with the 3 inch bolt like so:

    richmond pushcart derby steering assembly



    you don’t want to crank down on the thing, just get it snug but with enough play to be able to rotate, then tighten the second nut against the first so it doesn’t undo itself.


    This will give you the foundation of a steering system. What I did from here was to get the most heavy duty hinges possible from Home Dept, drill a 5/8″ hole, thread a bolt for an axle, and strap on some tires I bought from Northern Hardware.


    soapbox steering

    starting to make sense


    richmond pushcart front axle

    front axle


    pushcart frame

    first design taking form


    pushcart skeleton #1

    pushkart skeleton #1



    – Jamie, 3.16.11