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5 Popular Wheel Configurations for Industrial Carts

When equipping an industrial cart or truck with heavy duty casters, there are many combinations that can be used to gain certain steering or handling characteristics. This discussion includes some of the more common combinations for industrial use as well as their properties, benefits and drawbacks.

In the diagrams below, S stands for swivel caster, R stand for rigid caster, W stands for wheel.

4-Wheel Non-Tilt

This cart configuration consists of four swivel casters at the corners of the cart. The benefit is the cart can be moved in any direction without the need for turning around. The drawback is the cart can be hard to control when moving in a straight line. An easy fix to this is to equip the industrial casters with swivel locks. Then when the cart needs to be moved or towed in a straight line, the rear casters can be locked.

4 wheel non tilt

Figure 1: 4-Wheel Non-Tilt (all swivels)

4-Wheel Caster Steer

This is the most popular configuration for industrial casters on carts and trucks. It uses two rigid casters in the back and two swivel casters in the front. This configuration turns easily and tracks very well when towed. The cart cannot freely move in any direction, to make a 90° turn the cart must be pulled around on a pivot of the rigid casters.

4 wheel caster steer

Figure 2: 4-Wheel Caster Steer (two rigid, two swivel)

4-Wheel Diamond Pattern

This style uses four rigid casters set in a diamond pattern and is used on tilt-type cart configurations. This is the lowest cost configuration for carts and trucks. It can pivot on the center wheels to turn or do complete 360° rotations. The drawback is it cannot carry heavy loads, because only three casters are in contact with the floor at one time (tilt type cart) and it cannot be pushed sideways.

4 wheel diamond pattern

Figure 3: 4-Wheel Diamond Pattern (all rigid) – Tilt Type Cart
Another variation of this caster configuration is to replace the two rigid casters at the front and back of the cart with swivel casters. This allows the maneuverability of the tilt type cart but allows for the tilt action to be eliminated and heavier loads to be carried. This type with two rigid and two swivels is more expensive than the standard diamond pattern with four rigid casters.

Wagon Type (Fifth Wheel Steer)

This style uses two rigid casters in the rear of the cart with two axle mounted wheels in the front of the cart. This configuration is ideal for heavy loads and is usually power drawn. The disadvantage to this type of cart is that it is not easily maneuvered manually.

wagon wheel configuration

Figure 4: Wagon Type – Fifth Wheel Steer (two rigid, two swivel)

6-Wheel Tilt or Non-Tilt

This configuration is similar to the 4-wheel diamond caster patterns discussed above, but can carry heavier loads and are better suited for very long carts. This caster pattern allows the cart to turn in its own length and the cart style can either by tilt type or non-tilt for even greater load capacity.

6 wheel tilt or not tilt

Figure 5: 6-Wheel Tilt or Non-Tilt (4 swivel and 2 rigid)
The engineering staff at Caster Concepts, Inc will work closely with you to help decide the cart configuration is best for your application. Good planning up front will assure the proper use of the rigid and swivel casters for long term performance.

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