The Evolution of Shepherd Casters

The Evolution of Shepherd CastersWhat’s the connection between a caster rated for a load of 100 lbs, and used on a living room chair – and a caster used on a rugged piece of industrial equipment, rated for 3,000 lbs.?

The surprising answer is that both casters are available from the same company! Shepherd Caster started at the small end of the range, making casters designed for residential furniture. Over the decades, they’ve expanded their markets, and made larger casters for new customers. They continue to make casters in a wide range of sizes.

Over the past several decades, Douglas Equipment has had a long-standing business relationship with Shepherd that will hopefully continue for many years to come.

Early Beginnings of Shepherd Caster

George Shepherd had a problem in 1945. Whenever he would play bridge with his family or friends, he could not become comfortable while sitting at the card table – chairs at that time were difficult to move on carpeting. Shepherd decided to design a chair with casters attached to the legs. The problem proved difficult to solve, but he kept on through many years of designing, prototyping and testing.

Eventually he created the original Shepherd Planet Ball Caster. In the mid-1950s, about the same time that Douglas Equipment was started, Shepherd Caster was founded to manufacture and sell casters for the home furnishings market.

The business relationship between Douglas Equipment and Shepherd Caster goes back to the very beginning. We are an authorized distributor for Shepherd Caster, and still carry the latest versions of the original Planet Ball Caster.

Metal Tread Ball Series casters are available as threaded stem models, or as grip ring and grip neck stem models. They are also available with top plate mountings. With self-lubricating acetyl resin bearings and no exposed axles, they are ideal for use on furniture, office equipment, store fixtures and medical equipment. They are available in a variety of chrome and brass finishes. Wheel diameters range from 1.5” to 2.5”, with dynamic load ratings from 40 to 100 lbs.

Soft Tread Ball Series casters have similar specifications to Metal Tread Ball casters, but with rubber or urethane treads for smooth use on hard floors.

Brake options are available for both styles of Ball casters.

Options When Moving into Office Seating

Shepherd Caster continued to innovate over the years, and in 1976 debuted their next major improvement. The Pacer was the first die cast twin wheel caster. Developed for the growing office seating market, this tremendously popular product enabled Shepherd to move beyond home furnishings and expand their reach into office equipment.

Pacer Twin Wheel Series casters have remained very popular since 1976. They are constructed of a durable zinc body and hood that is die cast. The axle is concealed. You can choose between threaded stems, grip neck stems, grip ring stems and top plate models. The hood that covers the twin wheels comes in several different finishes, including chrome, brass and flat black. Brakes are available on some models, and load capacities are 75 or 100 lbs.

Nylon wheels are standard. Optional urethane wheels are also available, which do a great job of protecting flooring from undesirable scuffing.

An unhooded version is available: see the Pilot Twin Wheel Series for full specifications.

Expanding into Light Industrial and Store Fixture Markets

While sales of Shepherd’s twin wheel casters were taking off, the company continued to innovate and develop products for new markets. Recognizing the increasing need for mobility in all aspects of everyday life, Shepherd developed single wheel casters. These products enabled the company to expand into the light industrial, appliance, and store fixture markets.

Shepherd’s Institutional Series casters provide a good example of the versatility of their product offerings. This medium duty product line is very extensive. For added durability, the casters are constructed of high strength steel. The raceways have dust caps, which lead to increased caster life and performance. To help prevent debris from entangling wheels, full and partial thread guards are available as options. You can choose from over a dozen tread types, to suit almost any application condition. Five different styles of brakes are available. The standard finish is zinc plating, with other optional finishes available.

Rolling into the Medical and Food Service Industries

Using the expertise, they gained over the decades, Shepherd has developed products for the extremely demanding medical and food service industries. Casters that must perform in these environments have to meet requirements not found in other settings.

Cleanliness is critical: casters must avoid picking up debris in the first place, then must be able to withstand harsh conditions found in cleaning and sterilization situations, such as the high heat of an autoclave or the harsh chemicals found in a wash down area.

Softech Series casters are very popular in the medical and food service industries. These twin wheel casters have some of the highest load ratings of twin wheel models, yet provide extremely smooth and quiet mobility. Twin wheel casters are typically noisy; SofTech Series casters solve the noise problem by using a special high-tech thermoplastic elastomer tread, which gives a cushioned ride. An added bonus is that the tread is non-marking, and will protect floors.

MRI Conditional Casters Series are a version of the SofTech series, made with nonmagnetic stainless steel components. By precisely controlling the manufacturing process and using specified materials, Shepherd has engineered the MRI Series to be completely nonmagnetic. This makes these casters ideal for use on medical equipment that must be operated near MRI machines. Being noncorrosive, MRI Series casters are also perfect in applications where moisture and water can cause potential problems.

For the Latest in Shepherd Caster’s Evolution – Contact Douglas Equipment!

Shepherd Caster and Douglas Equipment have evolved together for nearly 60 years. We carry Shepherd’s latest and most innovative products, and would be happy to help you find the best one for your requirements. For more information, please reach out to our team of caster experts at 800-451-0030 (or 305-888-3700 in the Miami area), or contact us online through our contact form.