When to Buy a Caster with Brakes

When to Buy a Caster with BrakesOften when you need to add casters to make carts or equipment move easier, you also need to have a way of making sure that your equipment only moves when you want and not at an inconvenient time. Be it holding a large piece of equipment in place until you need to move it for routine maintenance or cleaning, or loading a cart onto a truck that needs to stay in place on the truck until it is time to unload; braking casters are the ideal solution to keep something in place until you need to move it easily.

At Douglas Equipment we have almost 60 years of experience in helping people like you choose the right caster for their special project or unique job. Our team of trained professionals can help you decide what type of caster you need, when to add a brake and what type of brake is right for your job.

Friction Brakes & Tread Lock Brakes

Probably the first reason you can think of for a caster brake is to stop the wheel from rotating. This will of course keep the cart or equipment from rolling away when you want it to stay put. There are two main types of brakes for this application: friction brakes and tread lock brakes. The friction brake is very popular and can be recognized as a side mounted peddle that will lock the wheel in position when engaged by putting friction on the side body of the wheel. The tread lock brake sits over the wheel of the caster and when engaged presses against the wheel tread to hold it in place.

  • Shepherd Regent Rigid Top Plate Model: These Shepherd casters have a zinc finish as a standard with double ball bearing raceways that are heat treated for increased wear resistance. Perfect for use on fixtures, carts, institutional equipment, medical equipment and furniture. Wheel sizes are 3”, 4” and 5” with dynamic loads from 110 pounds to 160 pounds. Wheel materials include soft rubber, hard rubber, polyurethane, polyolefin, Monotech and Vipor for almost any flooring type you need to match. Either the friction or tread lock brake is available on these casters.

Directional Lock Swivel Caster Brakes

With a swivel caster you have the mobility to maneuver the cart or equipment more easily since the casters themselves are allowed to turn. This can make it very easy to place a cart into a tight place, but what if you only need this maneuverability some of the time and need to have the wheels stay straight to move more quickly down a straight hallway? Here is where a caster with a directional lock comes in handy; you can lock the swivel part of the caster wheel in the straight position to move quickly down a straight hall with the lock in place, but then unlock the swivel and allow the caster to have full maneuverability when you need to move into a tight spot.

  • Shepherd Z Series Composite Institutional Swivel Top Plate Direction lock: These casters from Shepherd are designed for institutional use with a dual ball bearing raceway construction and a labyrinth raceway seal to keep out moisture and dirt. Great for medical equipment, computer carts, utility carts, store fixture and foodservice equipment these casters have a sleek design, strong and durable glass filled nylon body and sealed precision wheel bearing. Available in 5” and 6” wheel sizes with dynamic loads of 280 pounds and 300 pounds respectively. This model incorporates a total lock as well as a directional lock. All stainless steel component versions are also available.

Total Lock Swivel Caster Brakes

The total lock brake comes installed on a swivel caster and simultaneously locks the caster swivel and wheel rotation. By fixing both the swivel and rotation of the caster with one brake these are easy to hold in one place without worrying about several locking mechanisms.

  • Colson Contour Solis Specialty Medical Casters: These casters from Colson are ideal for medical and diagnostic equipment, computer equipment, electronic equipment and high-tech products. The casters include an aluminum shell to hide the nuts and bolts with a precision axle built to exacting tolerances for smooth, quite operation and an extended life. Precision bearings reduce the maintenance and improve maneuverability. Wheels are either 4” or 5” grey polyurethane with capacities of 220 pounds and 242 pounds respectively and the total lock brake is an easily engaged foot brake.

Types of Self-Braking Casters: Compression vs. Decompression Brakes

Self-braking casters are often useful for chair casters, and there are two self-braking options that work well. A decompression brake holds the caster in place when weight is removed and a compression brake holds the caster in place when weight is applied. The first braking option would allow for chair movement when a person was seated but would stop the chair form rolling away when the person rose from the chair, while the second option would stop the chair from moving when the person was seated.

  • Shepherd Self-Braking Chair Caster: This stem mounted caster comes in a Black finish with a Urethane twin wheel design. The wheels are 50mm diameter with a swivel radius of 2-1/16” that holds a dynamic load of 75 pounds. The mounting height of the caster is 2-7/16” to 2-1/2”. This caster comes with either of the two braking mechanisms as desired, compression or decompression.

Which Breaking Casters Are Right for Your Needs?

If you’re not sure which breaking casters best meet your needs, contact us today and let one of our experts help you through the selection process.