What Basic Castor Configurations Should You Be Using?

12 January 2022

Castor wheels are small, undriven wheels that are fitted to the underside of moving objects, such as trolleys, to enable them to move smoothly and freely in different directions across hard surfaces. 

Sometimes offering 360° rotation for easy change of direction (swivel castors), castors are usually single or double-wheeled and are manufactured from different materials depending on their intended application. Industrial castor wheels, for example, are constructed from a corrosion-resistant material to prevent premature wear in harsh manufacturing environments.

Castors are used widely in a range of settings, from supermarkets and libraries to warehouses and factories – anywhere where the quick, smooth, and safe movement of goods is necessary! Where substantial loads must be moved, heavy duty castors are essential but, in other settings, such as shops, speed and noise reduction may be priorities.

Different Castor Configurations

Choosing the right design and material for new castors is, therefore, important. However, another key factor is the castor configuration. There are several possibilities to consider:

3-Wheel Configuration

Three-wheeled trolleys have two fixed castors at the rear and one central swivel castor at the front. The handle is used to gain leverage to turn the front of the trolley in either direction.

This configuration is useful for light loads, typically less than 200kg, and for short trolleys up to one metre in length. An oversized trolley, or a heavy load, will make the trolley difficult to control, even with the 3-wheel configuration, leading to stress on the user’s upper body.

2 Fixed, 2 Swivel Castors Configuration

In this configuration, a trolley may have two fixed castors at the front and two swivel castors at the rear, with a rear handle for control. Effortless to control, the trolley will pivot on the front wheels, even when fully loaded, yet will always maintain a straight line as the front trolley castors are fixed.

This configuration is perfect for heavier loads which may be moved without putting undue strain on the user’s shoulders and back.

4 Swivel Castors Configuration

If space is restricted and you need to be able to turn trolleys on the spot, a four-swivel wheel configuration will be beneficial. Extremely manoeuvrable and lightweight, trolleys with this configuration can rotate on their own axis, making them ideal for tight spaces.

Like supermarket trolleys that lose some control as more weight is added to them, this configuration is ideal for lighter loads. When heavier loads need to be transported, a configuration that includes some fixed castors is preferable.

Diamond Castor Wheel Configuration

A variation of the two fixed, two swivel castor configuration, the diamond has two centrally mounted castors, one front and one rear, for a smaller turning circle, with fixed outer castors providing directional control with minimal effort. The outer castors can also be raised to make it even easier to turn the trolley.

If the trolley is turning on two castors, capacity will be reduced, so it’s important not to overload it or to use a better-quality castor that can sustain heavier weights.

How To Calculate Load Capacity

When choosing castors and deciding on the best configuration, calculating the load capacity of the trolley is important. The load capacity for one wheel is calculated by adding the load weight and the unladen weight (the tare) of the trolley itself. For a four castor trolley, total the load weight and the tare and divide this by 3 for a solid load (as not all four wheels on a four castor trolley will be in contact with the ground simultaneously).

Contact Rolltek International For More Information

If you’re unsure which castor configuration to use, get in touch with the experts at Rolltek International, who will be able to give you expert advice based on your needs.

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