Four-Wheel Fun: How to Make an Irish Mail Cart

Your homemade Irish mail cart will be tons of fun for the tykes in your life.

| December/January 1991


You can build this! Click on this diagram to enlarge.


Two-wheelers don't have to be the only game in town. This isn't news to those who spent their fun-filled youth pumping the daylights out of a pipe-and-wheel contraption that was called an Irish Mail cart. Well, here's a modern version of that pump scooter, and it can be built with electrical metallic tubing (EMT) and some odds and ends.

The necessary tools include a small welder and two different tubing benders (to handle ½ - and 1-inch EMT), as well as a hacksaw, an electric drill with bits, a screwdriver, a round file, a measuring tape, a pipe wrench and a coping saw. If you're purchasing new electrical conduit (in 10 lengths), you'll need two complete 1-inch sections, one ¾ -inch piece and three ½ -inch lengths to handle most of the job. Also required are an additional 2 feet of the ½ -inch size and an 8-inch length of 1 ¼ -inch tubing. The two-piece seat can be cut from a single 20-by-28-inch slab of plywood.

The chassis is made from two 58-inch lengths of 1-inch conduit which are bent to the same contour, then joined to form a sort of paddle shape. To curve these sections properly, choose one and — starting at either end — measure off 4 inches. Make a 90-degree bend at that point, which should take up about 10 inches.

Mark off 5 inches more, start a 45-degree arc (this one uses up 5 inches), leave an 8-inch straight section, form the final 45-degree curve, and then determine the length of the remaining leg (it should be about 21 inches).

Once you've curved a pair of the tubular side rails, join them by temporarily placing your 1 ½ -inch pipe coupling between the parallel front tubes as a spacer, then welding the butted rear tips to each other. Use a scrap of 1-inch-diameter mechanical tubing (or filed-down ¾ -inch pipe) inside both parts to serve as a bridge.

The rear axle housings are welded to the chassis next, and these should be positioned so they intersect the right-angle bends at midpoint and are equally divided by the joint. A 2 ½ -inch section of ½ -inch conduit holds each one to the frame at the inner ends, but since the goal is to mount the housings true for proper wheel alignment and camber, these stubs may have to be made slightly longer or shorter to suit your individual chassis.

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