The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

How to add a pickup bed to a golf cart

Golf cart modificationYou'd think that a golf cart pickup bed built by committee would be terrible, but you'd be wrong.

When the time came to replace the decaying, two year old structure, we turned the project over to Bradley...with caveats.  Usually, we let him do whatever he wants (with results better than either of us could have imagined), but Mark and I had spent a lot of time with the old pickup bed and we each wanted some changes made.

Mark asked for the bed to be light and durable --- he didn't want the weight of the bed to reduce how much we could haul, and he did want the structure to last more than two years.  Meanwhile, I wanted the golf cart pickup bed to be larger and to have higher sides.  A tall order, but Bradley came through with flying colors.

Circular saw

The first step was to take apart what remained of the old bed.  We love using screws because they make it easy to change your mind about a project without buying new Corroded screwmaterials, but these screws had been banged around so much, they weren't removable with the drill.  Enter Bradley's favorite tool --- the circular saw.  (Yes, we went out and bought him a second copy to live on our farm so he didn't have to lug his through the alligator swamp repeatedly.)

Mark's method of attaching the previous bed to the frame of the golf cart passed muster, so Bradley left it as is and simply built on top.  He framed up the base of the bed with treated two by fours similar to the way you'd frame the floor of a house --- this method will ensure the bed is very durable, while also allowing it to extend further beyond the body of the golf cart.

Golf cart bed supports

Slatted wallsA sheet of plywood on top formed the floor of the bed, then Bradley went to work on the walls.  He modeled these after the slatted sides on fancy versions of a kid's red wagon, which allowed him to extend the walls higher without adding much additional weight.  Since we haul biomass in five gallon buckets, there's no problem with manure or wood chips slipping out the sides, but Bradley did add a slat right against the bed of the golf cart so nothing small will roll out.

Scrap wood as a spacerFor even spacing, Bradley used a scrap piece of two by four to support the slats while screwing them in place.  (I could have helped, but I was busy with the camera, and Mark was in town mailing chicken waterers.)

Gratuitous cat photo

Bradley went home and Strider checked out the work in progress.  "Perfect!" he told me.  "I can watch the dog house but Lucy can't get me!"

The next day, Bradley came back and didn't get annoyed when we said, "We love what Canopy supportyou've done, but...."  The canopy for the golf cart has weird spurs sticking back into the pickup bed area, which were originally used to attach straps to hold golf club bags in place.  But these spurs were likely to get in the way of our serious hauling.

"Not a problem," replied Bradley.  He took back off the bed and sides (ah, the glory of screws!), removed the canopy supports, and replaced them with two by fours.  Then he put it all back together and added the tailgate, made on the same principle as the sides but with some two by twos for additional structural support.

Speaking of structural support, the photo below shows the diagonal braces Bradley added underneath the bed to allow him to cantilever the floor out beyond the golf cart frame.  (In case you're confused about the jack --- Bradley was upgrading the springs, which Mark will Golf cart pickup bedpost about later.  I just stole the photo for this post.)

Meanwhile, Bradley and Mark teamed up on a smaller front box to add yet more hauling capacity, and Mark ensured the longevity of the untreated plywood by giving both boxes a coat of paint.

Mark and I are blown away by the increased capacity of our new and improved golf cart bed.  With the walls removed, we easily hauled in all six tanks, and then I zipped back out for two heavy loads of firewood.

I felt like I was able to haul three or four times as much wood as previously and I probably could have stacked it even higher.  The trick now will be holding ourselves back so we don't strain the motor.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Awesome post. I had planned on getting a side by side UTV to work on the homestead. But after much consideration I decided that that would be overkill. A golf cart would fit the bill just fine. When we get it, I will seriously consider doing this same modification.
Comment by Fritz Thu Jul 5 08:27:56 2012
Fritz --- We've been very happy with our golf cart as a farm use vehicle. It's got limits, of course, but is so easy to use and maintain and does nearly every job with little effort.
Comment by anna Thu Jul 5 11:03:09 2012

You guys are a big part of the reason that I'm looking at golf carts instead of the side by side UTVs. I only have 2.5 acres, but it is all hill and I figured that a golf cart wouldn't handle hauling stuff. Then I see what you guys do with yours. Add in the HUGE price difference and it's a no brainer.

Did you guys buy locally? Any tips on where to look for one?

Comment by Fritz Thu Jul 5 12:23:34 2012

Fritz --- You've probably already read it, but you might want to check out our post about how golf carts differ from ATVs.

The only thing I'd add in the choosing stage is that batteries are the most expensive part of the golf cart. A used golf cart with new batteries is gold; a used golf cart with old batteries isn't worth much. We found our golf cart used on craigslist.

Comment by anna Thu Jul 5 19:18:25 2012
So is that an electric cart? The reason I ask is you mention batteries. I know a gas cart takes batteries, but I wouldn't think it would take a lot of them.
Comment by Fritz Sat Jul 7 15:46:59 2012
Fritz --- It's totally electric. It's a 48 volt Club Car (no clue about the year.)
Comment by anna Sat Jul 7 16:06:44 2012

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