Go-kart tire resurfacing, also sometimes referred to as tire grinding, scuffing, or shaving, is a process in which the top layer of a tire is essentially removed through the use of abrasive materials. This is often done with a go-kart tire resurfacer, a device that spins the tire, and an angle grinder that shaves off the outer layer.
The reason why go-kart racers resurface their tires is to ensure that their slicks are as smooth as possible so that they have maximum grip on the track. As you race, tires heat up and the rubber compound can change in shape and also pick up rubber and debris from the race track.
In this article, I’ll be taking you through the entire process of resurfacing go-kart tires. We’ll also be taking a look at what tools and devices are most commonly used and the benefits of resurfacing tires.
Why You Should Resurface Go-Kart Tires
There are a few reasons why you should consider resurfacing your go-kart tires, especially if you’re racing competitively.
- It increases grip of the tire on the race track
- It can save you money as you can reuse the tires
Tire Resurfacing Increases Grip
Go-kart tires are most commonly equipped with slick tires. These slick tires heat up due to the friction that is generated between the contact patch of the tire and the surface of the race track. The faster the go-kart moves, the more the tires will heat up.
As rubber softens when heated, it creates a better friction coefficient. This in turn enables the tires more grip on the track surface. Slick tires have no profile and therefore have a larger contact patch than regular tires.
Used tires that are not resurfaced usually have an uneven surface, as the rubber deforms more easily when they are hot and you’ll often find debris and rubber stuck on the out layer of the tire (also known as dead rubber).
When tires are cooled down the bonding agents harden, thus reshaping the profile of the tire. If you don’t resurface your tires after a race, you are essentially not running on truly ‘slick’ tires, due to the contact patch being uneven.
Tire Resurfacing Can Save You Money
On the other hand, resurfacing go-kart tires can also save you quite a bit of money. Let’s say you’ve completed a race and the surface of your go-kart tires isn’t as smooth anymore due to the alteration of its shape, as well as from pickup up rubber from the track.
As you would want to remain competitive in races, you’ll need a new pair of go-kart racing tires. Instead, you could simply resurface them using several tools, in order to restore a smooth surface and be ready for the next race.
Resurfacing could make your tires last about 2 to 3 times longer than equipping a new pair of tires after each race.
What Tools Are Needed For Tire Resurfacing?
There are several ways and tools to resurface go-kart tires. You’ll definitely need an angle grinder or a belt sander and a go-kart tire resurfacing machine, which is optional.
Angle Grinder or Belt Sander (Required)
- Contains angle grinder with 5 discs
- Comes with a hard case for storage
- Durable and adjustable holding grip
An angle grinder is also known as a disc grinder, which is a handheld tool that you can run across the profile of your tires, to get rid of the dead rubber. Angle grinders have a grinding disc attached that helps to smoothen the surface of the tire through friction between the tire and the disc.
There are plenty of angle grinders on the market to choose from. The one I would recommend is the Metabo Power Angle Grinder, which comes with a set of discs as well. Alternatively, you can also use a belt sander such as the Skil Belt Sander set.
Go-Kart Tire Resurfacer (Optional)
- High build quality
- Equipped Dayton motors
- Lightweight and portable
A tire resurfacer, also referred to as a tire cutting machine is a stand with a protruding rod or axle. The tire goes onto one end of the axle and the other part of the axle is connected to a motor via a pulley and a belt.
This machine helps to rotate the go-kart tire on the rod – just like it would with an axle – and all you’ll need to do is run your angle grinder against the surface from side to side.
You also have the option to do this without a tire cutting machine. However, you’ll need to find a way to secure the tire temporarily and manually rotate it. Additionally, you’ll also run the risk of not being able to get an even ‘cut’ across the tires, which could cause your go-kart to wobble.
How To Resurface Go-Kart Tires?
Resurfacing go-kart tires isn’t as complicated or tedious as you may think and you should be able to complete a tire within a few minutes. Before starting the resurfacing process, please ensure that you have all the equipment ready and that you are wearing the necessary safety gear.
- Ensure that your angle grinder is equipped with a grinding disc
- Make sure that your go-kart tire is attached to the tire resurfacer
- Switch on the angle grinder
- Grind tires evenly from left to right
- Check tire evenness from the side (check for wobbling)
- Inspect tires carefully after dismounting them
- You could technically only use sandpaper without any grinding/sanding tool. However, this may take longer and may not be as effective. Always operate any machinery with caution!
Where To Buy a Tire Resurfacer for Go-Karts?
You’ll be able to pick up an angle grinder in pretty much any hardware store. As it may be quite cumbersome to buy this handheld tool and the grinding discs separately, it’s best to buy them in a set. For this, my go-to option is the Metabo Power Angle Grinder.
If you’re looking for a belt sander instead, I suggest getting the Tacklife Belt Sander set. Both of these tools are readily available on Amazon and even come with several spare grinding discs and grinding belts. This means that you won’t be required to match compatibility and you also won’t run out of supplies easily.
Go-kart tire resurfacers are not that easy to come by. You won’t be able to find them unless you know exactly where to look for them. You’ll have two options here. You can either build one yourself (more details on that below) or you can purchase one from online marketplaces such as eBay.
I recommend this Go-Kart Tire Resurfacer, as it uses a Dayton electric motor. It’s also lightweight, which means that you can transport this to the track if needed.
Can You Build Your Own Tire Resurfacer?
Yes, you certainly can and I would always recommend getting a tool such as an angle grinder or a belt sander, instead of applying a friction material directly to the tire by hand. While purchasing a go-kart tire resurfacing machine is the fastest and most convenient way to resurface tires, you can also choose to build one yourself.
In order to build a go-kart tire resurfacing machine you’ll need the following components:
- 1 x Stand
- 1 x Motor
- 1 x Driving Pulley
- 1 x Driven Pulley
- 1 x Belt
- 1 x Rod/Axle
You’ll either need a small gas-powered engine or an electric motor with two pulleys. An electric motor is preferred, as it emits no gases and is also much quieter when operating.
The most suitable speed for motors would be about 1,600 rpm (revolutions per minute). This would equate to about a 1/2 to 1/4 hp engine. You will also need to have a pulley system installed, or else your tires are going to spin too fast. You’ll ideally want the pulley system to reduce the speed to about 400 to 800 RPMs.