What Is A Billy Cart?

Whether it is a serious hobby, a good time or both Billy Carting provides a great experience for all involved. Combining automotive engineering and construction, Billy Carting has been a stable form of entertainment for a long time, and for a long time to come. But what is a Billy Cart exactly and where did they come from?


Billy Cart History

Billy Carts date back to the late 19th century and were originally made to be pulled by a ‘billy’ goat. They were typically attatched to a goat, like a sled is attatched to a husky dog. As the idea caught on the design changed and then when pedal and motor power became available motorised carts, and pedal powered buggies, took over the jobs that were once done by the Billy Cart. The Billy Cart became the domain of children who would race each other down hills for fun.

By the mid 20th century, the name billy cart had stuck in Australia even though disused fruit boxes were a popular building material for carts. In North America, the soap box derby cart got its name from the disused soap boxes that children would make the carts out of.

(FYI the term ‘go cart’ is short for goat carts which were once pulled by goats, but now refer to a motorized cart.)

What is a Billy Cart - Why is a billy cart called a billy cart?
Billy Carts were once pulled along by billy goats, most likely because they are accustomed to hilly terrain


What Is A Billy Cart?

The Billy cart has gone through many evolution’s but it has always been a small, cheap vehicle which has no source of power on it (no motor or pedals).

When someone is referring to a Billy cart, they mean a basic 4 wheels design which is powered by gravity (going down a hill), or someone pushing it along. Traditionally the pilot (usually a child) would remain seated on the cart as they went down a hill, and the cart would stop by running out of momentum, running into something soft like a hay bail or the pilot’s shoes acting as a brake against the ground.

The typical cart has 3 main sections.

  1. The steering – which is a rope tied to either end of a piece of timber, near the front wheels.)
  2. The seat and body – which at its minimalist is just a plank of wood cut to a shape
  3. The wheels – which are usually from old mowers, prams or bicycles
Traditional Billy Cart
This is a traditional style Billy Cart made from timber, with old pram wheels at the back and a rope for steering


Billy Carts are not always this simple and are quite unique to the individual and circumstance, if you are a beginner then you can build a cart to your standards, if you are a little more advanced then there is enough scope to keep you interested in building a cart too.


 The Fun Of Billy Carts

Towns will use a hilly road to hold their Billy Cart DerbiesBilly Carts tend to be more about the building process than the race, although it is quite popular to build a Billy Carts simply to enter a local derby and race it.

The appeal of Billy carts and why they are still around after all these years, is because they are easy to make and affordable. Billy Carts are made from items that can be found around the home, shed or street. In this way everyone can be involved and the building process can be a great bonding and learning session.

Communities use Billy Carts as a way to bond, many rural towns and centers will hold an annual Billy Cart race to draw together families from the area. The derbies create a great social occasion for these communities and can also raise money for a local cause or charity.


More Advanced Billy Carts

In recent times, some people have made more serious, aerodynamic and faster versions, which are called gravity powered racers. They involve shrouds or covers to lessen friction and larger wheels to gain more speed.

Others go to the other extreme and build funny looking Billy Carts which are built to impress onlookers and act like a float in a parade rather than a race cart.

For whatever reason they are built and raced, Billy Carts always seem to draw people and bring a fun experience to all involved.


Thanks for reading

I hope this has answered the question ‘What is a Billy Cart?’ for you. If you have any questions regarding Billy Carts, or know any facts please use the contact page to contact us here at Billy Cart HQ.com


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