How to Make a Swivel Caster Rigid
Depending on the type of materials handling application, you will need either swivel or rigid casters. If you have swivel casters, it may be useful to make them rigid for some applications. So today, the team at Caster Central is here to talk about how to make a swivel caster rigid.
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Swivel Vs. Rigid Casters
Swivel casters, as the name implies, can spin 180 degrees to change the direction they are facing. In contrast, rigid casters are static and don’t spin. Many materials handling applications make use of both types of casters.
For example, a cart might have two swivel casters in the front and two rigid casters in the back. The front swivel caster makes it easier to turn the cart, and the rigid casters help it stay on a straight line.
Pros and Cons of Swivel Casters
- Swivel casters provide more mobility, so they are especially useful when materials have to move through hallways, such as in office spaces.
- Since they spin around, swivel casters make it easier to change directions.
- Swivel casters come in a wide variety of configurations and materials, so you can find an option that suits your purposes.
- Swivel casters have lower load capacities.
- Swivel casters require more frequent lubrication and maintenance.
- Swivel casters are usually more expensive than other types of casters.
Pros and Cons of Rigid Casters
- Since they do not move, rigid casters can provide more stability on some surfaces.
- Rigid casters lack moving parts and are more durable than swivel casters.
- Rigid casters usually have a higher load capacity than swivel casters.
- Rigid casters require less maintenance than swivel casters.
- Rigid casters are difficult to turn and only move in straight lines.
- Rigid casters have fewer applications than swivel casters.
Can I Make Swivel Casters Rigid?
Sometimes, you may want to stop your swivel casters from moving. For instance, they may be a good option if you need the cart to stay stationary on sloped ground or you need additional stability while adding or removing materials from the cart. Fortunately, there are a few ways you can go about making your swivel casters more rigid.
Install Swivel Locks
The most straightforward option to make swivel casters rigid is to install swivel locks. These additional attachments connect to the caster mount and have a small plunger and switch that you push down to engage the swivel locks. When you depress the switch, an iron bolt extends and locks the swivel in place, keeping it from spinning.
You can buy swivel casters manufactured with caster locks, or you can buy them separately and install them yourself. If you buy caster locks to install, double-check that the locks are compatible with your specific casters. Casters don’t have universal standards, so the locks you buy might not fit your casters properly if you’re not careful.
How to Install Swivel Locks
Different casters will require different types of caster locks. Some casters will have a screw thread in the back, while others have a hole to bolt the locks in place. Some furniture pieces will have special holes on the legs specifically for caster lock installation.
Swivel locks often have a small switch or foot pedal you depress to engage the lock. You push the handle the other way to disengage the lock.
Use Swivel Limiters
Swivel limiters are a solution when you want to minimize caster flutter — the tendency for swivel casters to vibrate back and forth when moving forward. Swivel limiters are common for mobility assistance devices, though they have industrial and transportation applications as well.
Swivel limiters consist of a small plate that attaches to the casters directly between the mount and caster wheel. You can adjust the plates to restrict the caster’s range of motion so it doesn’t turn too far to either side when you are moving.
Swivel limiters are useful when you need limited mobility but don’t want carts to sway too far to one side. The main benefit of swivel limiters is you can adjust them depending on your needs for the specific application.
Try Wheel Docks
Caster wheel docks are small pieces of equipment that lock wheels into place so they don’t move. Wheel docks are made of durable materials and have small notches or indentations where the wheel fits into place. Wheel docks themselves require a stable and flat surface to place them on, so they may not be ideal in all circumstances.
Use Both Types of Casters
Some carts and chairs might use only swivel casters. If necessary, you can replace some of these swivel casters with rigid casters to make movement more stable. For example, you can replace the back two swivel casters on a cart with rigid casters. The rigid casters keep the cart in a straight line, while the swivel casters let the cart turn.
Other Methods for How to Make a Swivel Caster Rigid
If installing swivel locks or swivel limiters are not an option, you can try these other methods to make swivel casters more stable.
- Change the surface the cart is on. For example, rolling the cart on a rug might provide more friction and keep the wheel from swiveling too much.
- Switch to wider-set casters. When casters are wider, the load is distributed over a greater area, creating fewer unbalanced places.
- Smaller caster wheels have a smaller diameter, which means swivel rotations won’t change the cart’s orientation as much. Larger wheels shift more when they swivel, potentially making the cart unstable.
- Caster wheel material can also affect stability. For example, rubber casters slightly deform when they have weight, creating a flatter, more stable surface where the wheel makes contact with the floor. Polyurethane wheels, in contrast, deform less, so they are less stable on uneven ground.
- Use casters that have wheel brakes. Wheel brakes are different from caster locks because they only stop the wheel from turning, not the actual swivel caster itself. However, wheel breaks can provide that additional bit of rigidity when you need it.
When Should I Choose Rigid Casters Over Swivel Casters?
Swivel casters are highly adaptable, making them often the best choice. However, there are some instances when you might want to choose rigid casters instead., including the following:
- You are dealing with particularly heavy loads. Rigid casters have higher weight capacities because they have fewer moving parts.
- You are moving an awkward load and need additional stability. Uneven loads can cause swivel caster wheels to turn unexpectedly.
- You only need to go in one direction. Rigid caster might be better if you need to keep the cart on a narrower path or need to only move in a straight line.
When it comes to casters, you should always pick the one that maximizes safety. Swivel casters are ideal for lighter loads that need more maneuverability, while rigid casters are the best choice for heavy applications.
Caster Solutions for Your Home or Business
Caster Central has been providing industry-leading caster and mobility solutions for over 150 years. When buying from us, customers can expect quality products that stand the test of time. We always go above and beyond to meet and exceed our customers’ expectations.Are you interested in learning more about our caster swivel locks or have questions about how to make a swivel caster rigid? If so, call the experts at Caster Central today at (800) 445-4082 or send us a message online!