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Casters will be the death of me!

Discussion in 'Scenery, Props, and Rigging' started by Squeegee, Oct 17, 2006.

  1. Squeegee

    Squeegee Member

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    So we have these soft flats that are 10' high and we attached a piece of 3/4"ply wood 2' long behind them on their width (that varies) and on the bottom we put 2 rotating casters (up against the flat) and 2 nonrotating casters (in the back of the 2' platform base thing). My cast and crew is complaining. They don't move very well and they're very loud. We made it so that the casters lift the flats above the ground just enough to move it easily so that it actually rolls. It also has a 5' hypotenuse aframe jack thing in the back to hold it level and at 90degrees. Any suggestions to make it quieter/easier?
     
  2. ricc0luke

    ricc0luke Active Member

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    get better castors. that simple.

    what type are you using?
     
  3. Foxinabox10

    Foxinabox10 Active Member

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    Yeah, investing in some good soft-rubber casters will really benefit you. We spent $300-400 the first time we went for really good ones and it's amazing how much it helped and now we keep using the same ones over and over.
     
  4. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    Good casters make all the differance. You do not need to go with tripple swivels, but getting some good soft rubber casters will safe you a ton of time in headaches.
     
  5. Squeegee

    Squeegee Member

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    Yeah... we're a [reallyreally] low budget high-school and we'd be lucky if we had half of $300. We're using the ones from Homedepot with ballbearings. I don't think I'm worried so much about the noise as I am about the maneuverability. Should we change the wheels around or would it be easier if all 4 wheels were the spinny kind rather than only two?
     
  6. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    If the units are going strait on stage from the wings and back off, and they do not have to turn at all, go all fixed casters, but odds are you are going to want to move it around backstage or onstage on more then one plain. Your best bet in that situation is to go all swivel. Rarely do I ever mix and match casters on a unit. Remember though with fixed casters half of the work in getting it moving is moving it enough to get all the casters swiveled into the same direction. If you can plan out movements onstage to where the casters are allready set in the direction that they need to be when the unit is taken to its spike, you will be able to get it going much faster.
     
  7. Squeegee

    Squeegee Member

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    We're doing a fairly complicated set where the flats are reused in a different scene in a different location so they need to move around all over the place. There's about 11 of them. When I designed them the idea was that they move like a car and you have to "steer" them and you cant just turn them you have to like push and turn them. Less noise, less money, but I didn't think it would be more of a problem.
     
  8. jonhirsh

    jonhirsh Active Member

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    I think it has allot to do with the action of the set piece. Some times like a gear cart its simpler to drive with swivels on one side and fixed on the other
    x = swivel
    o = non swivel

    x ---- o
    x ---- o

    crude drawing i know ... does that make sense that set up means one person can drive and push the the truck with the flat on it.
     
  9. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    Go all swivel, cars don't belong onstage enless you are doing grease, and if you are doing grease go work somewhere else.
     
  10. Squeegee

    Squeegee Member

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    lol
    But then we wasted money and we don't like to do that. WE don't like to waste it and we don't like to spend it either... I'll talk to my director about it.
     
  11. jwl868

    jwl868 Active Member

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    Even though it appears that you’ll have limits in the movements of the pieces:

    I think the swivel casters are best be in the trailing position, near the pushers so they can push and steer from the same end [that is, opposite of the steering in a car.]. But if you have to move the piece back in the direction that you just came from (or if the swivels are in the lead), then you need someone in front to steer and someone behind to push. [I’m assuming that a fixed pair is on, say, the left side, and the swivel pair are on the right, as opposed to front-back pairing.]

    All of the pieces do not necessarily need to have the wheels configured the same. That is, some may have the fixed pair on the left and the other with the fixed pair on the right (or front or back, if it makes sense to use that arrangement.) You may want to consider when you want or need the smoothest movement, not to mention room to maneuver in the wings, or if there is some other critical timing. These considerations may determine what is optimum, considering your budget limitations. [For example, if you need to clear the stage quickly, then you’ll want to have the casters set up so the pieces can be pushed off smoothly, with the swivels trailing. But there may be a couple situations where you will just be stuck and you’ll have to make the best of it. On the other hand, once you get the set piece movement details worked out, there won’t be many problems.]

    [Probably won’t hurt to label which end has the swivels and which end has the fixed.)

    Also, after you get the piece in position, twist the swivel casters to the direction that they are to go next.

    Inspect the wheels (and swivels) for threads, fibers, and other crud that can jam the wheel, axle, and swivel.

    Joe
     
  12. Van

    Van CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    I have to disagree. I find the grewatest amount of control over a moving peice of scenery to be developed by the use of the "car" scenerio. Having two fixed casters on the "back" of a wagon makes for a steering setup like that of a Forklift, very precise but you have to practice and plan ahead. What diameter casters are you using ? Diameter is critical in quiet performance. Another trick find some " Lube-O-Seal" it is a food grade teflon grease. It works wondrs on the ball bearings in swivel casters. Squirt it in the wheel Bearings and into the swivel plate bearings. You'd be amazed how much noise is generated by just the action of cheap casters accomodating for play in the bearing races.
    One more thing, add some weight to the flat, If the noise you are expirienceing is high pitched rattle from the casters rattling around , more weight will counter that, if, however the noise you are complaining about is the low pitched rumble of caster over floor, go with less weight and rubber casters, Polyurethane is best.
     
  13. Squeegee

    Squeegee Member

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    Wow. All these suggestions are amazing! We found a solution this morning while looking in our tool shed: velcro. We took the fuzzy end of the velcro (it had the glue side on the back of it) and we glued it to the bottom outsides of the wheels. That gave us a lot of insulation and silence! We also WD40'd the axles of the wheels for the ones that squeeked. We also found that it was easier and more maneuverable if you move the flat from the front where the swivels are (obviously). It helps a lot but it still doesn't entirely solve our problem. Our main problem now is just the timing and getting people to do things quickly. We're having mainly actors doing scene changes so it gets kinda difficult.
     
    kingfisher1 likes this.
  14. maccor

    maccor Member

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    Wonder if the WD-40 and Velcro would work on the actors? ;)
     
  15. Van

    Van CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    It's eaasy to keep actors quiet. Hand them a mirror.
     
  16. Squeegee

    Squeegee Member

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    Gaff tape their mouths. Say its for a "school project."
     
  17. saxman0317

    saxman0317 Active Member

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    we tried...they talk more then, except then its all about themselves
     
  18. ship

    ship Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    Add some stage weight/ballast to you’re a-frame flats (stage jack / flat / caster unit.) Could have also done tip jack where you tip the flat back so it’s balanced upon the center of the caster and when in position resting on the floor, but this casters on the floor and always touching is no doubt easier to maneuver about and keep in balance.
    Add some weight to the plastic casters and they should quiet down some. Rubber casters and even pneumatic ones are quite to an extent but other types are better for other loadings of weight.
    On casters - the purchase of them, they might be intimidating in theory to buy but one should contact a caster distribution company and see what their price would be before deciding this. A few years ago my own shoe string budget theater of the past had a great need for a lot of casters. Contacted our local source and got lots of them of a better quality and for by far less than it cost at the home center. The home center sets it’s price on those buying a few of them. The caster supplier sets it’s price for those who want to buy a good amount of them or of very specific types and ratings - big difference.

    Backstage handbook I believe has a really good section for aiding in caster choice.


    Swivel/non-swivel (smart / dumb wheels), I think that potentially adding some more weight to the bases so the casters become more quiet will also make it easier to use the flats. Beyond this, it's potentially a difficulty to steer (and easier to get to stay where you want it) but something that by the show opens any good crew person should master and get used to. I wouldn't change the casters in smart verses dumb at this point.
     
  19. TheatreSM88

    TheatreSM88 Member

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    So this is not really on topic, but it is about casters, dont buy silent casters, they are not silent, the squeak terribly. We had 4 rolling platforms with them on it and well they dont work.
     
  20. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Besides buying high quality castors, just buying larger castors is also good. I don't see a mention of your castor size but larger castors make heavy things roll easier and quieter. Go all swivel and big castors.
     

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