Algood Blog: CasterU: Casters & Cold

Casters & Cold Weather

Cold-Weather Considerations

Last week brought extreme weather to North America. Texas, with sustained single-digit temperatures (that’s Fahrenheit) and as much as 5” of snow, seemed to be the focus of attention. But, at the same time, the north-east saw multiple snowfalls exceeding 6” while western Canada saw temperatures dipping well below 40ºC (which coincidentally is -40ºF). At Algood, we got a call from a customer in Texas with a question that we usually get from customers in Wisconsin or North Dakota. “Will my casters work in freezing cold weather and how can I protect them?” he asked. We know that if there’s one person asking, others are thinking about the same thing. So, with that in mind, here’s a CasterU primer on casters and cold weather.

Here are a number of cold-weather considerations for casters.

Raceways & Grease

If the grease in the wheel and swivel raceways freezes, casters will seize. Make sure that casters are well greased and that you are using grease rated for the temperatures in which equipment is being used. The standard grease used at Algood will withstand -25ºC (-13ºF) but specialty greases with even lower temperature ratings are available. Raceways can also be protected by seals and thread guards.

Consider Kinginless

Kingpinless casters are ideal for cold weather because the swivel raceway is concealed and protected from water and snow. They normally require no additional greasing bit if they do, the grease fitting is in a very convenient location. In addition, kingpinless casters have a larger swivel raceway, improving the maneuverability of equipment on cold, hard surfaces.

Wheels & Bearings

In freezing temperatures, surfaces get harder and mobility becomes an issue. Harder wheels, that make it easier to get equipment moving and keep it rolling, are the ideal choice. A wheel like our RollX™ has less surface friction and less resistance. In addition, RollX wheels are less likely to chip in cold temperatures. Obstacles on the ground like snow, ice or salt require additional grip, making a softer wheel like our Envirothane™ or Prothane™ a better choice.

Precision ball bearings are the best choice for cold weather. They are pipe sealed, protecting the balls, and rated for temperatures as low as -25ºC. There are bearings available that are rated for even colder temperatures.

Stainless Steel

Cold weather that includes snow and ice (and therefore salt) can create highly corrosive conditions. Casters manufactured using stainless steel and that include stainless steel components will fare much better in extreme cold.

Stay Inside – Duh!

This may be obvious, but keeping equipment with casters away from the outdoors in cold weather will increase its longevity. If you must take equipment outside, be sure that the casters, including all components and grease are rated for extreme cold temperatures.

Need help you with all your cold weather considerations, contact your Algood Sales Rep or reach out to our customer service team by email or by phone at +1 (800) 254-6633.

The Truth About Economics

The Truth About Ergonomics

Three Trade-Offs

If you’re looking for the truth about ergonomics a good way to start is with a definition: Ergonomics is the process of designing or arranging workplaces, products and systems so that they fit the people who use them.

As it relates to casters and wheels, ergonomics comes down to two factors. First, it’s is a matter of reducing push-pull force – or the amount of effort someone needs to expend in order to start or stop the movement of a piece of equipment. The second factor is maneuverability – how easily can that piece of equipment be turned.

Now, here’s the truth about ergonomic casters and wheels. To achieve ergonomic design, you will always have to sacrifice something – capacity, surface conditions or cost. Ultimately, it comes down to these three classic trade-offs.

Ergonomics vs Swivel Lead

The swivel lead is the distance between the vertical centre of the caster and the axle of the wheel. Increasing the swivel lead makes a caster easier to turn and improves maneuverability. The trade-off is that increasing the swivel lead decreases the capacity of the caster. In order to achieve ease of use, while protecting the cargo, you will have to increase the capacity and therefore the size of the caster – and that also means increasing your costs.

Ergonomics vs Wheel Specifications

There are situations where the only way to increase capacity is to increase the tread width of wheels. An example is when equipment has a fixed height requirement and that limits the overall height of the caster. Here’s the trade-off. More tread width creates more surface contact and more friction, increasing the push-pull force necessary to move equipment. Capacity comes at the expense of maneuverability.

The opposite example is crowned wheel treads that dramatically improve ease of operation because there is less wheel tread touching the floor. Again, what you gain in ergonomics you lose in capacity. And, the only other way to maintain capacity is to increase the size of the wheel, which increases costs.

Ergonomics vs Surface Conditions

The material used to make wheels has huge impact on the rollability of a caster. Steel wheels with their extraordinary hardness, have the least surface friction and are the easiest to move. At the same time, steel wheels are noisy and have a tendency to mark floors.

At the other extreme, rubber wheels are super soft, absorb shock, are very quiet and leave floors in pristine condition. That’s because there is more surface grip, but that comes at the expense of ergonomics. Unless the application or floor conditions dictate a particular tread material, the trick is to find a wheel that balances the protection of floors and the workplace environment with the best possible mobility.

In the end, you will make a better buying decision by understanding the trade-offs involved in finding the caster with an ergonomic profile that fits both your conditions and your budget.

For help choosing the caster that best meets your needs, contact your Algood Sales Rep or reach out to our customer service team by email or by phone at +1 (800) 254-6633.

Keeping a Low Profile

Keeping a Low Profile

Low Profile Casters


There are two situations that call specifically for Low Profile Casters:

  • Overall height is critical. This relates to equipment or fixtures that have to fit in a fixed amount of vertical space. Refrigerated showcases are a good example.
  • Casters need to be functional but not visible. This is true of many store fixtures and office furniture.

By definition, a low profile caster is 3” or less in overall height – from the bottom of the wheel to the top of the top plate or raceway. The smaller height has the potential to reduce the capacity of the caster. There are many ways to compensate for that and increase capacity to as much as 2,000 lbs. They include:

  • Using twin wheels
  • Using a wider wheel – up to 3” – to increase the load-bearing surface
  • Reducing the lead offset (distance from the centre of the wheel to the stem/kingpin) of the caster
  • Using wheels (like our RollX™) that provide greater capacity, without adding weight or reducing rollability

Maneuverability is also a factor on low profile casters. Often times store fixtures or office equipment need to be easily moved from place to place. The ergonomics of the low profile caster can be enhanced by a double ball bearing raceway construction or a range of wheel bearings to improve movement. There are also a number of brakes available for these casters, including the thumb screw brake.

In applications where the caster is part of the overall aesthetic, a wide range of finishes is available. Low profile casters are also available in stainless steel for clean environments such as pharmaceuticals, food processing and technology.

The low profile caster is a great choice for office furniture, high-tech server cabinets, vending machines, medical equipment, theatre props, airport displays, retail fixtures, business machines, freezer and refrigerator showcases, industrial automatic dispensers, food/drink dispensing machines and appliances.

For help choosing the caster that best meets your needs, contact your Algood Sales Rep or reach out to our customer service team by email or by phone at +1 (800) 254-6633.

Algood Blog: CasterU: Threads

Choosing Your Threads

Configurating Threaded Stem Casters

Threaded stems are the best solution when casters are being mounted to tubing or a unit with legs. That’s the easy part. Choosing the best stem-caster configuration can be complicated and involves a number of considerations. In this issue of CasterU, we present and explain your threaded stem options.

Threaded Stem as Kingpin

In this configuration the caster kingpin is a threaded stem. It’s simpler because the stem/kingpin is integrated into the construction of the caster. There is no additional assembly required in the manufacturing process. This configuration is the most economical but is also the weakest option because the caster is more vulnerable to a variety of forces.

Threaded Stem as Kingpin

This design has the stem inserted through a Bolt Hole caster. The stem is fastened with a nut and tack-welded to keep it from spinning. The advantage to this configuration is that the stem absorbs force separate from the caster. The stem can break while leaving the caster intact. This is more reliable and offers greater longevity. Not surprisingly, it comes with a higher price point.

Threaded Stem & Kingpin Free Caster

Similar to the arrangement above, a threaded stem can be inserted into a Kingpinless caster, fastened with a nut and tack-welded. This configuration combines the added capacity of the kinpinfree caster with the reliability of an inserted stem. It is very stable and very reliable, creating a long-lasting durable caster.

While the decision-making may be complex, the good news is that you have lots of options in choosing threaded stems. Even better, we can help. To find out which stem configuration is right for your application, contact your local Algood representative or call our customer service team.

Important Note

To maintain capacity ratings, casters with threaded stems must be fastened properly to the equipment on which they are being used. If not mounted correctly, the capacity of casters with threaded stems can be reduced by as much as 25%. We strongly encourage designers, engineers and users to consult with us to help determine the optimal way to fasten casters with threaded stems.

For help choosing the caster that best meets your needs, contact your Algood Sales Rep or reach out to our customer service team by email or by phone at +1 (800) 254-6633.

Algood Blog: CasterU: Tubular Solutions

Tubular Solutions

Choosing the Right Inserts

Using casters on equipment, racks and furniture made from tubular steel presents some unique challenges. The priority is to make sure that the casters don’t fall out when the furniture or equipment is lifted or being moved. To keep casters tightly in place you will need inserts and they come in different materials, shapes and sizes. In this issue of CasterU we tell you what you need to know to make sure you select the right inserts.


Alert: Some of this information gets a little complicated. The more you can channel your algebra skills, the easier it will be.

Size is probably the most important specification to ensure that inserts fit properly. First, you will need to know the stem size of the caster you are ordering. To calculate the size of the insert required, you need three key tube measurements – inner diameter (ID), outer diameter (OD) and the thickness or gauge (G). But don’t worry. Because they are represented by an equation, you can get by with two of them. Essentially, it works like this:

Thickness = (OD-ID)/2

To standardize measurements, thicknesses are grouped into gauge values. For example, a gauge value of 22 ranges from .025” to .029” thick. To make things really confusing, the greater the thickness of the tubing the lower the gauge. So, for example, 22 gauge is about .028” thick but 7 gauge is .18” thick.

Another Alert: Even if your steel tubing supplier has specified the gauge you will be receiving, you would be wise to still do the calculation above. Small variances in thickness can result in higher or lower gauge values and the possibility of ordering inserts that don’t fit.


Inserts can be made from plastic, steel or die cast iron. Plastic inserts have more give and would be better in situations where you want the insert to expand to fit snugly. Floor conditions may also be a factor. Because plastic inserts may move slightly, they may not be the best choice for uneven or rugged surfaces.

Steel inserts are less malleable and therefore have less give than plastic. They are a better choice when size specifications are more precise and provide a more stable ride. They are also better suited to higher capacities.

Die cast inserts have the least give but provide the greatest strength. They are ideal for the highest capacities and the most stable ride, but require precise size calculations.


The appropriate insert shape is determined by the shape of the stem and the shape of the tubing. So, round inserts are used in round tubing. There are round inserts designed to fit stems that are tapered and those that are not. For square tubing you would use a square insert that accommodates a round stem. Also, inserts are made with various kinds of ridges and teeth to improve the fit.

Inserts for Wood

Separate from those used for tubing, there are inserts specifically designed for use on wood legs – usually as part of furniture. The standard stem size for wood is .375 or ⅜” diameter and therefore inserts for wood are all the same size. Wood is subject to expansion and contraction making it difficult to keep inserts in place. That’s why most inserts for wood are designed with teeth on the edge that bite into the wood.

We are Insert Experts

Algood absolutely has the largest selection of inserts available with its casters. More importantly, our sales reps and customer service team know all about inserts and can guide you through the complicated, but critical process of specifying the right inserts.

For help choosing selecting the inserts that best meets your needs, contact your Algood Sales Rep or reach out to our customer service team by email or by phone at +1 (800) 254-6633.

Algood Blog: CasterU: Caster 911

Caster 911

Signs your Casters are Giving Up

Choosing the right casters and maintaining them are a good way to protect your mobility investment. But we all know that casters are often out of sight and therefore out of mind and don’t always get the attention they deserve. At the same time, there can be some pretty precious cargo riding on those casters and if one or more of them fails, the results can be very costly. Minimally, failed casters are a pain in the butt because they require immediate attention. So, to help you know when it’s time to call Caster 911, in this issue of CasterU we present some of the signs that your casters are about to give up on you.

Extreme Noise

If your casters are screeching or rattling, it could mean that they are badly in need of lubrication. In general, casters should be lubricated twice a year. Extreme noise could also indicate that the wheel bearing has seized or is about to seize. It could also mean that the wrong wheel bearing type is being used. For example, a caster may be experiencing more side thrust than originally anticipated, meaning that it really needs a tapered bearing. Finally, extreme noise could mean that the yoke is worn or that the caster is misaligned.

Push & Pull Problems

Equipment that has become significantly harder to push could be the result of corrosion or rust on the caster. This can also be the result of casters being used at excessive speeds and, in turn, leading to overheating or damage to the hub.

If equipment is much harder to turn, there is likely a problem with the swivel yoke or rig. This could be the result of brinelling which occurs when ball bearings create a groove in the cap of the raceway that limits the swivel of the caster.

Uneven Wheel Wear or Flat Spots

Flat spots may indicate that foreign material, such as string, thread, metal or dirt is causing wheels to bind. It could also be that the wheel material is not appropriate for the temperatures or environment in which the caster is being used.

Frame Distortion

This can be due to overall loads that exceed capacity. It can also be the result of excessive impact loads, which occur when equipment goes over a large bump and the resulting g-force magnifies the load beyond the capacity of the casters.

Top Plate Detachment

If equipment goes over an obstacle or is subject to severe conditions, the top plate may bend, separating it from the equipment. This could also indicate that the wrong hardware or washers were used to install the caster.

Bent Stem or Kingpin

This can happen as a result of a collision with other equipment or impact with an obstacle. Uneven loads where one caster bears much more weight than the others could also cause this contortion.

If you notice any of the above, it’s an emergency and your casters likely need replacing. Of course, using the right casters and ensuring they are properly maintained will prevent a 911 call.

For help or advice on how to avoid a caster catastrophe, contact your Algood Sales Rep or reach out to our customer service team by email or by phone at +1 (800) 254-6633.

Bad Match

Casters & Water

Casters and wheels generally don’t play nicely with water. Unlike Bonnie and Clyde or Bert and Ernie, they are simply a bad match. So, if you’re planning to use casters in an unusually wet environment, you should read this short guide to protecting casters from moisture.

Moisture is like Kryptonite to steel. The chemical reaction that causes steel to corrode begins the moment it comes in contact with water and oxygen. And it’s downhill from there. Signs of rust may appear as quickly as a week or two. Given enough time, all iron in the steel material will oxidize and the metal will fail. That’s not good for casters.

As steel corrodes, it flakes. In casters, that creates debris in the raceway that will eventually cause it to seize. In wheels, the same process can occur in the bearing.

Here are some of the options available to you, depending on the level of moisture that your casters and wheels need to withstand.


Zinc Plating provides a basic level of protection form moisture and will protect casters from normal levels of dampness and humidity. Almost all Algood casters are zinc plated.

If casters are being used in more extreme wet environments and are for example being used outdoors or subjected to regular wash-downs, they need more protection.

Chrome Plating where the steel is nickel plated then chromium plated, provides about double the corrosion protection than zinc plating. The shininess of chrome plating also offers design benefits. Stainless steel, which is a mixture of steel and a minimum of 10.5% chromium, offers the greatest protection and is usually the standard for food preparation, pharmaceutical, and health care applications.

A more economical but less effective option is a Raceway Seal. It seals and protects the raceway from moisture. The drawback is that it can cause friction in the raceway, making the caster harder to turn.


Wheels formed from steel and iron, as well as those with a steel core, are clearly bad choices for wet environments. Aluminum, rubber and polyurethane wheels will withstand wet environments. A further option for wheels is a thread guard that fits over the core and keeps water from entering the wheel bearing.

If you want to avoid a bad match and need help choosing the right caster configuration for your wet environment, contact your Algood Sales Rep or reach out to our customer service team by email or by phone at +1 (800) 254-6633.

Size Matters

Choosing the Right Wheel Size

Choosing the right size wheel may not be quite as easy as you would think. This issue of CasterU will fill you in on some of the finer points in selecting the size that will be optimal for your caster application.
There are two key considerations in choosing the right size wheel – diameter and thread width.


The diameter is measured from one side of the wheel to the opposite side with the wheel lying flat, ensuring that measuring device passes over the centre of the wheel.

Generally, the larger the wheel, the greater the capacity and that’s the major criterion in determining what the diameter of the wheel should be. However, there are a number of other things to consider. Larger diameters will allow wheels to more easily traverse uneven floors, doorways, diamond plate, and dock level thresholds.

Larger diameters will also improve the rollability of a caster, with less push-pull energy required. So, while a 6” wheel may provide the capacity you need, you may want to consider a larger diameter if floor conditions and ergonomics are a factor.

That makes sense but here’s another thing to think about. Increasing the diameter of a wheel decreases its stability. Larger wheels make for taller carts and can change their loading characteristics, because they move the center of mass higher, which makes it easier for loads to tip.

Ultimately making the right choice is finding the perfect balance between capacity, rollability and stability.

Tread Width

To measure the width, stand the wheel upright and measure from the outside of one side to the outside of the other.

As is the case with diameter, increasing tread width will increase the capacity of a wheel.

Increasing tread width is also a way to compensate for challenges with diameter. For example, if the overall height of the wheel is limited by the space in which it is being used, you can increase capacity by increasing the tread width. Also, a way of correcting for the instability resulting from larger diameters (mentioned above) is for the wheel to have greater surface contact. That can be done by increasing tread width.

Another major consideration in determining the optimal tread width is load distribution or capacity per square inch. There are some applications where that measurement is very important. For example, the membrane of the cargo hold in an airplane has a critical capacity/square inch threshold. Exceeding that threshold may cause the shell to rupture. You can increase the load distribution (and reduce the capacity/area) by increasing the tread width of a wheel. You can also use double the number of wheels, providing twice as much load distribution.

Manoeuvrability is also a factor. Wheels with narrower tread widths have less surface touching the ground and will therefore be easier to turn.

So, there you have it – a simple guide to specifying the right wheel by finding the perfect balance between diameter and tread width. Because, ultimately size does matter.

If you need help determining the right size wheel for your application, contact your Algood Sales Rep or reach out to our customer service team by email or by phone at +1 (800) 254-6633.

The Heavyweights

Heavy-Duty Steel Wheels

Like most heavyweights, steel wheels are not the quietist or the smoothest, but they are absolutely the strongest and if you have an ultra high capacity application, steel wheels are likely your only choice. There are different types of steel wheels and to help you to make an educated buying decision, in this issue of CasterU, we present a short primer on steel wheels.

In addition to be the strongest available wheels, steel wheels are also the hardest. As a result there is very little traction with floor surfaces making them easier to push and pull. On the downside, steel wheels are noisy, prone to vibration and will damage floor surfaces.

These are some of your steel wheel options.


Steel or Semi-Steel Wheels
Algood steel wheels are made from pig iron which is a semi-finished metal produced from iron ore in a blast furnace and containing high amounts of carbon. Pig iron is then further refined in a furnace for conversion into steel. The wheels are formed through a casting process in which metal is heated until liquid and then poured into a mould.

The capacity of Steel wheels  is 2,500 lbs. They are porous and prone to chipping and cracking but are the most economical choice in steel wheels.

Ductile Iron Wheels
Also known as ductile cast iron, is a type of graphite-rich cast iron. It has much more impact and fatigue resistance because of the graphite and in particular because the of nodular shape of the graphite that is used. Ductile iron wheels are also formed using a casting process. 
The capacity of Ductile Iron wheels is 15,000 lbs. They are less porous than steel wheels but are still susceptible to cracking and chipping. They are more expensive than steel wheels.


Forged Steel Wheels
Forged Steel is an alloy of carbon and iron that is compressed under extreme pressure to make a very hard and strong substance. In the forging process heat or force is applied to steel billets or ingots, causing the material to change shape while in a solid state. The resulting highly compressed material is exceptionally strong.
The capacity of Forged Steel wheels is, at minimum, a whopping 20,000 lbs. They are not porous and are virtually failure-free. Not surprisingly these wheels are the most expensive steel wheel option.

V-Groove Wheels
V-Groove wheels can be made from either cast iron steel or forged steel. They are manufactured with a groove that guides the wheel along a track and are often used to support entrance gates or vault doors.

Algood Casters – Forged V-Groove Wheel
Algood Casters – 304 Stainless Steel Wheel

304 Stainless Steel Wheels
Stainless Steel is a mixture of steel and a minimum of 10.5% chromium. The chromium keeps the steel from oxidizing, rusting, and corroding. Stainless steel wheels are made from round bars of stainless steel material that are lathed to form wheels and are then machined for tread and diameter. 

Stainless steel wheels are moisture resistant and, unlike all other steel wheels, they will not rust. That makes them ideal for applications that are subject to the elements such as agriculture as well as food, medical and pharmaceutical environments. They will wear better than ductile iron but not as well as forged steel and are in the mid to high price range.

If you need help determining which of these heavy-duty caster will meet your needs, contact your Algood Sales Rep or reach out to our customer service team by email or by phone at +1 (800) 254-6633.

The Benefits of Covering Up

Thread Guards & Hub Caps

Covering up wheels has functional as well as aesthetic benefits and both thread guards and hub caps are effective ways to do that. When ordering casters, you would be wise to consider adding one of them. Here’s what you need to know.

It’s amazing how something as simple as a small disk can save so much wear and tear and make casters look so much better. Thread guards prevent all kinds of debris – lint, metal filings, wood shavings and, of course, threads – from working its way into bearings and axles. Thread guards are mounted over and protect the axle. In addition, because they do not revolve with the wheel, they force debris to accumulate away from the wheel bearing. By protecting the wheel from all that debris, thread guards improve caster performance and dramatically reduce injuries and production delays.

Better yet, thread guards have aesthetic benefits and can enhance the look of a caster. They can be an opportunity to add another colour to a wheel. We frequently create two-tone wheel/thread guard combinations. In addition, larger thread guards that cover more of the core of the wheel produce a sleek, clean-line finish.

Thread guards are available in plastic and steel. Each have their advantages, but plastic is often a more cost effective option and offers more choices of shapes and colours.

Another way to cover the inner portion of a wheel is with hub caps. While they don’t offer the same protection as thread guards, they look great and allow casters to make a design statement, adding to the overall aesthetics of racks, carts and displays. Hub caps are often paired with sealed ball bearings which do offer protection from debris. Algood was the industry leader in introducing hub caps to casters and we continue to offer a wide range of very sharp looking hub caps. However you choose to do it, covering up the inner portion of a wheel offers significant functional and aesthetic benefits.

To find the best option for your requirements, contact your Algood Sales Rep or reach out to our customer service team by email or by phone at +1 (800) 254-6633.

1 (800) 254-6633

Algood Casters has manufactured, designed and developed industrial and specialty casters, brakes and wheels since 1969, in capacities from 25 to 65,000 lbs.


Receive the Latest Solutions, Products & News from Algood Caster Innovations