What Size Caster Do I Need?

What Size Caster Do I Need?Douglas Equipment has been helping industry with its material handling needs since 1955. And if there’s one thing we’ve learned in all those years, it’s that material handling jobs are definitely not all created equal. From application to application, from environment to environment, so many questions need to be answered:

  • How much weight do I typically move in one load?
  • What is the profile of the typical load I’m transporting? Do they tend to be relatively lightweight but oversized? Or are they smaller in size but extremely heavy, like machine parts or 55-gallon drums?
  • What kind of flooring surfaces will I be moving loads over?
  • How fast or slow should the materials roll while I’m moving them?
  • What kind of maneuverability do I require? Am I working in narrow spaces with obstacles or a wide-open area?

Answering these questions will lead you to another important question: what size caster do I need for my material handling equipment? Our friendly customer service representatives will be glad to work with you in determining which size caster is right for you. And while there is no quick and easy formula given the number of variables at play, here are some guidelines.

Moving Medical or Electronic Equipment? Think Small

When delicate, expensive electronic or medical equipment is your cargo, you’re going to want a caster that gives you optimal control over your cart or dolly’s mobility. For this, you’ll need a caster with a smaller diameter, wider wheel, and lower profile. A low profile means the deck of your dolly or cart is closer to the ground, making it easier to lift your equipment onto it. The smaller wheel diameter keeps the cart or dolly from rolling too quickly to easily control. The wide wheel boosts the caster’s capacity, and combined with the low profile, gives the cart or dolly the stability you need to prevent tipping and damage. Some examples of smaller casters Douglas Equipment offers that are perfect for this application are:

  • Shepherd Softech Series: Available with stem and top-plate fasteners this 50 to 100-millimeter twin-wheel caster combines a smooth, quiet roll on high-tech thermoplastic elastometer treads with high capacities for its class (75 to 225 pounds) to provide a cushioned ride that is perfect for medical, electronic, and audio-visual equipment. Its low mounting height, 2-¼ to 5-7/16 inches, gives your cart or dolly the low profile you need to control its mobility. This caster features a solid riveted axle and a number of brake options. Standard finish is RoHS-compliant trivalent zinc plating, but stainless-steel components are available by special order.
  • Colson Kick-Stop Casters: This series has an easily engaged foot brake that mechanically locks both the wheel and the swivel. Constructed of strong pressure die-cast aluminum, this caster ranges from 3 to 5 inches in diameter and load heights from 3-37/64 to 5-13/16 inches for the low profile required to move medical/diagnostic, computer, electronic, and other sensitive high-tech products. Capacity is 132 to 175 pounds on polyurethane or rubber wheels.

Heavy Industry? Think Wide

If you’re moving machinery or other heavyweight loads, you need a wide caster to support all that weight. Narrow casters are made for lighter weights because there is less surface area on the wheel to support weight, so heavier weights would place more stress on the fastener, yoke, and legs of the caster, causing it to fail. So if you work in a machine shop or on an assembly line or other rugged environments, your wheels need to be wide enough to support the heavy weights, stay stable, and take the abuse of those tremendous loads in rough environments. Some casters we offer that fit this bill include:

  • Shepherd Bassick Honcho OS/OR Series: This heavy-duty line from Shepherd was built to carry a lot of weight and take a lot of abuse, yet remain strong and dependable for years. This muscular caster features 2-inch-wide wheels of your choice of urethane on aluminum or steel, and a heavy stamped-leg construction with wraparound welded legs located directly under the main support swivel bearings for extra strength. An interlocking kingpin and oversized, heat-treated dual ball-bearing sealed upper and lower raceways keep the caster swiveling smoothly and reliably under its 1,500 to 1,750-pound capacity. Perfect for power-towed applications, terminal trucks, or other heavy, abusive applications.
  • Albion 90 Heavy Duty Series: 2-½ to 4-inch wide AISI 1045 drop-forged steel wheels give this caster the strength and support you need for 750 to 3,500-pound applications like machinery dollies, heavy-duty power-drawn equipment, heavy portable storage racks, high-capacity die tables and more. A four-inch diameter deep-grooved load raceway with ½-inch steel balls helps distribute the heavy load.

Easier Rolling? Think Larger Wheel Diameter

The conventional wisdom is that the bigger the wheel, the easier it rolls, so you should use casters with the largest wheel diameter that is practical for the job at hand. A wheel that is large in diameter will help you cover ground more quickly than a smaller wheel, and can generally handle larger capacities as well. Of course, a larger wheel will make your load ride higher and raise its center of gravity, so you need to be mindful of tipping concerns. But it’s hard to beat the efficiency of larger wheel sizes in plant, institutional, or retail environments. Most caster models geared towards these or heavier-duty applications run in higher wheel sizes that you can choose if practical.

So Which Size Is Right for You? Douglas Equipment Can Help

Of course, these guidelines can’t cover every possible material-handling situation, so the experts at Douglas Equipment are at the ready to help you with your unique needs. With nearly 60 years of experience in the material handling business, we can give you proven advice on which casters are right for the job you need to complete. Contact us online, or if you’re local to South Florida, call us at 305-888-3700. National customers can call us at 800-451-0030.