Electric ATV Repair and Upgrade

by Ben N on August 11, 2019

Not long ago, a neighbor was cleaning out his garage. Among the things he was getting rid of was an old kids electric ATV. It was in poor condition, but looked like a fun “fixer-upper”! My daughter is also now eight-years old and has outgrown her Solar-Powered PowerWheels.

ATV, as we got it. Pretty junky.

So, a Razor brand ATV looked like a great back yard toy. It’s similar to this one: https://amzn.to/31pImtI
The ATV has a solid steel frame, real suspension, and knobby rubber tires. Unfortunately, the handlebars were unmounted (and missing the clamps), the steering and brakes were rusted solid, and the batteries were shot.

We brought home the ATV and set to work on it. I first gave the brake cable and steering column generous squirts of PB Blaster, hoping to loosen the rust. Then, I set to work removing the body, including the fake plastic engine that covers the batteries.

This is a 24V vehicle, so I found two 7AH sealed lead-acid (SLA) batteries mounted inside. They were completely dead. The wire leads were soldered in place and covered with hot glue to boot. I simply cut the wires and pulled out the batteries.

Next, I jumped two good batteries to the ATV with it up on a stand. I turned on the power and twisted the throttle. The wheels spun up! Sure enough, the only thing wrong electrically with the cycle was dead batteries. I placed an order for a new pair, but I ordered 15AH batteries instead of 7. That would give double the runtime, and they are the same batteries I have used on some other recent projects, such as the Solar Ammo Can.
https://amzn.to/2H2op4j

Once my order arrived, I put in the new batteries. One fit in place of the original two 7AH batteries, but the second was simply placed on the central frame bar and then secured in place with a number of zip ties. Not ideal, but solid enough in the moment.

I still didn’t have a good way to STEER the ATV, but I had managed to break loose the rust and get the wheels to turn. I realized that I had a pair of Vise-Grips, so I clamped those on as temporary handlebars. With that, the ATV was ridable…. sorta…

I thought I had a 24V charger around somewhere, but couldn’t find one. So, I ordered a new charger. At least that way, I could get one with the correct connector on the end to match the ATV. I also ordered some handlebar clamps.
Charger: https://amzn.to/2GXi7Ty
Clamps: https://amzn.to/2GXib5K

The handlebars were pretty easy to bolt on once I had the right clamps. Finally, the girl could really take the cycle for a ride.

She used it for a about a week like this, but the one battery was still really only temporarily mounted. Seeing how kids like to beat on their toys, I knew I’d need to mount the battery better. Yesterday, I had the time, so I took the ATV back apart to design and build battery mounts.

I cut two pieces of flat steel with a little extra room beyond the size of the batteries. That gave me space to drill holes for a bracket to go over the battery and bolt to the steel plate. I drilled holes in both plates, welded nuts to them, and then welded the plates to the cycle frame.

A coat of gray primer made the welds look great. I put the batteries in place and mounted them down. One bracket was original, just re-bent to fit the larger battery. I made the other strap from scratch by simply bending a piece of aluminum strap with a pliers, hammer, and anvil. With the batteries in place, I turned the cycle sideways and shoot it violently. The batteries stayed nice and secure. They weren’t going anywhere no matter what the kids might do to it!

The body of the ATV was also in poor condition. The color was faded and stickers were peeling off. We decided to repaint it. That meant scuffing the plastic with sandpaper (so that the paint would stick), priming it, and then giving it two coats of the girl’s choice. In this case, a “Grape” purple.

After the paint dried, reassembly was pretty straight-forward. We also want the girl to be safe. To get her to wear a helmet, we bribed her with a brand new UNICORN helmet!
https://amzn.to/2KJVS4H
I’m still working on getting her to wear shoes…..

This has been a great project. I had a lot of fun working on it, and had the girl assist me as much as she could so that she gets some experience and ownership in it as well. I was actually really happy with how the metalwork and welding turned out. I’m slowly getting away from “Duct Tape and Zip-ties” and working my way to “Fabrication”!

Anyways, the girl is having a blast with it, and so am I.

Until next time, stay charged up!
-Ben

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