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Stool (Bar Stool Racer)
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15 Oct 2010
"Your only young
once, but you can be immature forever"
One might ask why have a "Bar Stool" on a Drag Racing web site.
I guess the response to that is .... "just because you can". The bar stool
was built in 1981 in Cincinnati. I had been collecting parts for the project for several
years when one Friday night at the shop after work we were having a "bullshit"
session. One thing led to another and we started cutting tubing. Now what you see here is
not the original plan. Having build several "concept" vehicles over the years I
wanted to construct something that could be used as pit transportation. At that point in
history most people had mini bikes and most of us know their short comings. I originally
considered a 4 wheel mini bike type of vehicle, something that would not fall over when
you got off the bike. The lower main rails are an idea from a race go kart and the
original idea was just to run them all the way around and up to the seat. While we were
cutting and fitting some tubing we stopped and had dinner. Pizza from across the road at
La Rosa's on Compton Road. I sat down on the shop stool to eat mine and while I was eating some one said
"Too bad you cant put wheels on that stool". After some consideration the stool
idea became a plan. The shop stool was a four leg stool and as such the legs by the front
wheels would inhibit the turning radius or make the wheel base longer and less compact.
The idea of a three leg stool was hatched. By the end of the night the stool was being
pushed around the parking lot and much to the amazement of everyone this thing handled
The bar stool has been to every major race track in the US when it was being used by
myself or friends. We don't take it any more because the bar stool draws a lot of
attention and causes a distraction to us. We have had 20 people taking photos of it while
we were trying to work on the race car. It was just too much of a distraction.
||If you look close you can see the three legged stool idea in the chassis.
The front "leg" is good for attaching the steering to.
The bar stool is 29
years old now and has had several paint jobs (it's still red) and several engines and
tires. Today is sits in the storage shed out back of the shop where it is out of sight and
out of mind. Once every year or so we haul it out clean it up and have a bit of fun. Looks
like the calendar says we have to do that again right about now!!!
Note the little hitch on the back of the chassis with the quick pin.
Note: The trailer hitch for pulling with. For many years this was used to pull the go
kart tool box into the race track. Now the hitch has been removed and a wheel installed
there to limit the wheelstands to about 5" high. (good idea) To give you an idea of
how much "grunt" it has I hooked a tow rope to it and pulled my truck around a
outside the work shop. We have used it to pull the race car around as well.
||The Barstool at the end of the first night. It got the engine the next day
and has been going ever since.
1 1/8" tubing .060 wall - about 12 feet
Outside front width 24"
Outside rear width 26"
Distance from the seat to the ground 24"
Power - Standard Briggs 5 hp with a torque drive.
Gear ratio - 9 tooth top to 79 tooth axle.
Wheels - Standard go kart front and rear
Steering wheel - Enduro kart butterfly wheel. The butterfly wheel is a advantage
because it lets the driver lean over to put more weight on the front under hard
(You need it).
Steering has 20 degrees castor. Camber was set by the standard go kart spindles. I
think it is 10-15 camber.
Brakes - Standard go kart hydraulics - we have a set of front brakes to put on it but
gave it a lot of thought and decided it was not a good idea. There is a difference between
brave and stupid.
Rear axle bearings - 1 1/4" spherical bearings available from any kart shop or
bearing supply house.
Rear axle is 24" long 1 1/4" heavy wall tubing with 1/4" keyways for the
hubs and the brakes and drive sprocket hub. You could use 1" solid bar instead. If
you do be sure to use stress relived steel as the bar will bend when you cut the slot in
it for the keyways if the steel is not stress relived.
Top speed - I don't know but I think about 40 mph. When asked I often reply "It
will go faster than you want to be on top of it".
You will be surprised how much traction the bar stool will get. It will go up a hill on
wet grass with slicks!!!
I used to let anyone ride the Bar Stool but in the US in 1991 I let a girl ride it and
she hopped on it and even with all my warnings just stood on the throttle and tore out
down the parking lot and tried to make the turn at full speed. She tagged a curb and her
and the Bar Stool cleared the hood of a Chevy pickup truck and landed in the grass. Both
her and the Bar Stool were OK but when we rushed to see if she was OK her first comment
was "That thing is dangerous, your lucky you have not been sued". After
that I put it away and no one else ever rode it in the US.
We came up with a set of rules to race them with... if you wanted to.
Pro Bar Stool (PBS) and Sportsman Bar Stool (SBS) only differ by the wheele bar.
The Pro Stool runs without a wheele
bar and the Sportsman uses a wheele bar.
24" outside front track wheels
26" outside rear track wheels
24" wheel base
Line the up and turn them loose!! Straight line track should be about 100 foot.
Drag race them or race an oval.... I would seriously suggest dirt as pavement hurts like
hell when you fall off. You'll be surprised by how much you can throw the back end out on
Update .... Sometimes you just
don't know where thing will lead. On 17 Nov 2001, I got an email from a guy named
"Dean", he did not leave his last name but the email goes as follows.
I E-mailed you back a few months ago requesting permission to create a link to your site.
Thanks again for the OK. If you haven't visited yet we have created a shroud in your name
as "Father of the motorized Bar Stool" Just in case your not aware
there are Lot's of motorized stools out there today. (My best assessment is in excess of
Turbo Charged, Jet Powered, Electric, Steam, Solar Powered, Harley V twin
powered.........and on and on. I have pictures of all of these and more.
your contributions and photos are always welcome. Thanks again for the grins.
I had a look at the site (impressive) and looked up the land speed record info for bar
stools with the records being posted to the Guinness World Book or Records (serious) and
again I was impressed. This looks like way too much fun. This may be the only race vehicle
you could put in your luggage when you get on the airplane. I might just have to have a
'go' at this deal.
Looks like I need to dig out some more photos of the 'stool' and maybe shoot some more
digital ones soon. I hope I have the photos posted when you come back for a visit.
Another bar stool story - true.
The wildest time we ever had on it was one night in
Cincinnati I had a bunch of Aussie friends over and we were out to dinner and more than a
few drinks. (Bad combination) One of the Aussies said "Tell them about the bar
stool." So I did and they wanted to know more. After dinner (and a few more
drinks) we stopped by the workshop and I pulled it out and started it. Everyone took a
ride and we had a lot of fun.
Then I go an idea. I got the secretaries chair out of her office and a tow strap from
the workshop and attached it to the back of the bar stool so we could "ski"
sitting down behind the bar stool. I had a large parking lot in front of the work shop
that ran right up to the road so customers could drive in with no
restriction. This parking lot connected to the road for over 300 feet. How we
are outside in the dark towing each other with the bar stool while sitting in the office
chair. Centrifugal force during the turns almost put the "ski chair" into
oncoming traffic a few times . I can only imagine what the sober drivers must have thought
while they were driving by on their way home. This was good fun stuff. We had a blast that
night and no one was killed. Why or how, I don't know.
The next day the secretary wanted to know why the wheels on her chair were killed. At
first I tried to convince her that she must have done it. She was a slender and pretty
girl and would not buy into that one. I had a policy (sexist I know - so shoot me)
about secretaries - for the same amount of money you can have a pretty
I had to buy her a new chair. That was nearly 29 years ago and I still get a chuckle
out of it.
Almost as good as when we taped a flashlight to the butterfly steering wheel in an
attempt to set a down hill land speed record at night coming down the hill on the same
road. It was about 1:00am as I recall and again ethanol and methanol were combined for a
bad mix. (Chuckle again) I've had 40 people all ask me if I would sell it to them and
maybe I should have but I enjoy just looking at it and remembering how much fun we had on
it. Sometimes there are things more important than money.
May 1981 I'm only 33 years young here. Leaning way over the wheel to counterbalance the
engine torque, the bar stool easily picks the front wheels and carries them as far
as you want. I have won three kart championships and used the technology to "tune
up" the stock looking engine. The barstool was built with tabs on the back of the
seat to attach wheele bars to but a set was never made. After you fell off a few times you
soon worked out that this is something you do not want to do so you get pretty good at not
My Chaparral in the back ground is the one I purchased new in 1978. I still have it and
use it almost every weekend. Currently we are giving the trailer a bit of a love up, this
will the third freshen up the trailer has gotten in the last 24 years. You probably worked
out by now that I keep things for a while. They do become part of the family don't they.
Check out the story of my 65 Chevelle here.
Ken doing stunt stuff (ha). When the bar stool was first built the brand new personal
computer was a Commodore 64 - anyone remember one of those? 64 was the amount of ram
wasn't it 64K? Later we got one of those new 4.77mhz 8066 IBM's with a 5 meg hard drive.
Wow - If bar stools had grown as much as computers the barstools would be going light
See the wood boards under the gates? They were to keep my cat Sugar inside the fence.
Sugar was born Dec 28 1980 and he too is still going. Today he lives with Mom in Tampa
Florida where both of them have retired to. I left him with Mom when I move to Oz as he
would have to been quarantined for nine months because there is no rabies here in Oz and
they want to keep it that way. Mom is 80 this year and her and Sugar are a pair of geezers
who get along just great.
Sugar will be 21 years old this Dec 28.
When it is cold outside what do you do? Build a barstool. You can see where the tire has
RR on it from where it was on the go kart. Don't look too close here but the disk rotor is
By the way how do you like the 'trendy" wall paper?
The open ends of the back of the chassis were used to install a tow bar hitch to. This
was used to pull tool boxes or something useful - like the secretaries chair. A few years
ago I made a wheele bar to replace the tow bar and used a skateboard wheel as a wheel for
the wheele bar. With the wheele bar it could almost pass as a geezer car - OK not really.
The front spindles came off a Margay kart but they are pretty easy to make a set with a
piece of tubing for the king pin bolt to pass through and a 5/8" bolt welded on to
the tubing to mount the wheel to. If you have a lathe handy cut the hex off the bolt
before you weld in on so it looks less like a bolt welded to a piece of tubing. The front
axle is a piece of 1 1/8" as well and if you do not have a bender then cut and weld
to get the drop and the angle to suit the spindles. The chassis is 1 1/8" you can use
chrommoly of .058 and up or mild steel of .125" (3mm). See specs above for the front
end geometry as it has to be right or the barstool will not handle properly.
Karts use longer axle bolts than necessary to allow the use of spacers to get the wheel
offset correct to all the tires to 'bite'. Shims under the spindles allow the spindles to
be jacked up and down to get the wheel pressure loading correct. The rear wheel hubs slide
in and out for adjustability to also set the rear wheel 'bite'.
Go ahead it only takes about 12 foot of tubing and a little work and you will have a
lot of fun.
Let me know how yours turns out. I hope you have fun as I know I am and this year I am
54 years young and having the time of my life.
Ken Lowe email
"Your only young
once, but you can be immature forever"
"Just because you
can, doesn't mean that you should."
By the way, when we raced go karts on dirt, the rules stated "stock appearing engines
and open fuel". This makes the engine look like it came off a roto tiller
run like a stripped ape. Then we hopped them up with some nitro. We got the percentage up
to 70% and the engine was making lots of power and hurting nothing. The kart had so
much power it would rooster tail dirt coming off the corner. The problem became the races
were 20 laps under green with always a few yellows thrown in for good measure. The rules
stated we had to have a "stock appearing" engine and this meant the fuel tank as
well. On the 70% the fuel volume was so high we could go about 25 laps before we ran out
of fuel in the stock fuel tank. I welded in a couple of fitting in the stock tank near the
top on the side of the tank. I attached a mechanical fuel pump to an eccentric on the back
axle and used the go kart floor tank to put the extra fuel in. As you were running the
axle pump was pumping the fuel from the floor tank back to the engine tank and the top
port on the engine tank was draining the excess back to the floor tank thus keeping the
engine tank completely full all the time. Unfortunately they disallowed it as they called
it "fuel injection". Didn't matter we were having a great time. I wonder if the
engine would have lived on 90% - I bet it would.
Chris on the barstool at Daytona.
On our way to Daytona for the Christmas race. Tim Osgood, Chris Place, and
my wife, Jan Lowe. I'm
taking the picture. When we loaded it was 15 degrees below zero and blowing a gale. The
inside of the door frames of our Ford 350 had ice on the inside (with the heater going
full blast) until we got through Tennessee. We had a kero heater in the back and the truck
was insulated and lined and the back of the truck was warm as toast.
Jan died in 1990 from complications from her diabetes. I have
no clue where Chris is, and Tim Osgood and I email each other at least once a
week. The red tool box on the left is still in my workshop and looks almost as
good now as it did then.
During Christmas week it was cold in Florida as well as that year it was only about 45
degrees during the day in Daytona. Hence the heavy jacket under the driving suit.
Photo of me when I was karting.
If you are interested in some of the cars I have raced you can see them if you click here
The 31 Chapter 200 page Fuel Injection book is
here for more info on what has
been called "the best fuel injection book on
this planet". Now only $99.95AUD If you only learn one thing
it is worth it
The FI book has been this price for ten years now, my publishing costs continue
to rise and soon I will have to raise the price.
Currently all orders are processed at the old price of $99.95 - don't miss out -
I must point out that my printing house (and all the rest of them as well)
have raised their prices so when this last printed batch of books are gone...
the price goes up. Order now and save.
Can I point out it is less than 50 cents a page!!!
We ship the FI book
inside Australia COD Australia Post. When the order arrives at your post office
you pay the postman and he sends the money to us. Outside Australia we require a
valid credit card to make the charges to.
"Ken Lowe Race Cars
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JESEL pump drive
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