Having trouble with casters on angled steel tubing

Fusrohdave

Member
Joined
Jun 11, 2019
Location
New Jersey
Im working on a production of Thoroughly Modern Millie and I need to make some rolling desks. My Producing artistic director decided to order $1000 worth of desks without asking me and ended up getting those combination school desks with the angled back legs. It’s made of 1 1/4” steel tubing. I’ve removed the feet to attempt to attach some 2” tall swivel casters but because of the angled legs, too much pressure is applied to the joint between caster and leg. It fell apart. Im looking for some suggestions on how to do this quickly.

My next idea is inserting a dowel and drilling on an angle to get the caster to sit right. Thoughts?
 

Van

CBMod
CB Mods
Premium Member
Joined
Jul 27, 2006
Location
Portland, Or.
First off, Welcome to the booth!
Love those 'Purchase first, think of a solution later' kind of challenges. So I was thinking, find a threaded insert for the tubing then use something like this https://www.vxb.com/Bolt-Type-Ball-Transfer-Unit-Stud-Type-Bearing-p/kit7764.htm

Then I got to thinking that on a lot of the 'Virco' style desks the leg tubes are flared; wide in the middle and narrower to wards the ends. You may need to make a ferrule out of a piece of pipe or tube with a 1.25" ID then tack something like that ball roller to the pipe/tube.
Using a ball roller reduces the distance between the point of contact with floor and where the connection to structure is made it should help reduce the stress imposed on the leg.

p.s. somebody might make a ball roller that has a 1.25" socket on it. I just did a quick search and didn't see anything on McMaster-Carr.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Fusrohdave

RonHebbard

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
Joined
Jun 12, 2004
Location
Waterdown, ON, CA
Would that require me to weld the angle iron to the legs? I don’t have the ability to weld
@Fusrohdave Alternately; could you use 1-1/2" x 1-1/2 steel angle across the rear legs oriented with the vertical up behind the rear legs and the horizontal on the bottom parallel to the floor. This should let the weight bare down on the angle with a bolt through the vertical surface and the legs, add flat washers and Ny-lock nuts to secure. The bolts would only need to keep the angle securely in place and wouldn't have the weight of the desk and / or its occupants in a shear load. Having the horizontal surface parallel to the floor should let you bolt on your choice of casters with traditional mounting plates or casters which mount via a single threaded stud. If the latter, again, Ny-lock nuts would be your friends.
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard
 

venuetech

Well-Known Member
Departed Member
Joined
Apr 14, 2008
Location
AK,
Do they dance or act on top of the desk? Mount the casters to a sheet of 3/4 then screw the desk to the ply. 4 casters would make that unstable for dancing. Two casters with two tall feet would stabilize for minor action.
 

venuetech

Well-Known Member
Departed Member
Joined
Apr 14, 2008
Location
AK,
Or build slot boxes. The slot is as wide as the legs and as long as two legs, 4-6” tall on the inside. 1”x width at the bottom, with casters mounted to that. 1/4ply sides 1x ends all glued together. If you can bolt/ screw the leg to the box.
 

RonHebbard

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
Joined
Jun 12, 2004
Location
Waterdown, ON, CA
Do they dance or act on top of the desk? Mount the casters to a sheet of 3/4 then screw the desk to the ply. 4 casters would make that unstable for dancing. Two casters with two tall feet would stabilize for minor action.
@Fusrohdave and @venuetech Another alternate thought: Cut a piece of 3/4" ply large enough to accommodate all four of the desk's legs. Drill down vertically through each leg and install bolts into T-nuts facing up on the underside of the plywood. Glue and staple low pile carpet upside down on the underside of the plywood and do away with the casters; the carpet should slide easily across your stage without doing any damage and provide a large, stable surface for any / all planned and choreographed activities. No casters to purchase. No casters to mount. No noise while moving around the stage and no stability issues to contend with.
Thoughts? @Footer @TheaterEd Wha d'ya think??
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard
 

Fusrohdave

Member
Joined
Jun 11, 2019
Location
New Jersey
Do they dance or act on top of the desk? Mount the casters to a sheet of 3/4 then screw the desk to the ply. 4 casters would make that unstable for dancing. Two casters with two tall feet would stabilize for minor action.
No dancing. The actors are just rolling them into place and then rolling them off. I agree with the 3/4 but, and I quote “I don’t like the aesthetic”
 
  • Like
Reactions: Van

Amiers

Renting to Corporate One Fixture at a Time.
Joined
May 28, 2009
Location
Phoenix, Az
Would that require me to weld the angle iron to the legs? I don’t have the ability to weld
JB Weld if the legs are true steel. The top holes if you can drill into the legs just add a thru bolt and in 24 hours you will have a nice rolling desk.
 

RonHebbard

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
Joined
Jun 12, 2004
Location
Waterdown, ON, CA
No dancing. The actors are just rolling them into place and then rolling them off. I agree with the 3/4 but, and I quote “I don’t like the aesthetic”
@Fusrohdave If your director's cast can be upstaged by a few square feet of 3/4" ply painted to match your deck, then your director has bigger problems than you can solve.
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard
 

venuetech

Well-Known Member
Departed Member
Joined
Apr 14, 2008
Location
AK,
You always build for the action. In a musical I must assume that they are going to be dancing on anything/everything that has room for two feet.
No dancing. The actors are just rolling them into place and then rolling them off. I agree with the 3/4 but, and I quote “I don’t like the aesthetic”
skirt the ply so you don’t see the casters.
WSOD you have to believe in WSOD..... (Willing Suspension Of Disbelief) (Tom’s second rule of theatre)

You will need to explain to director that these castered desks with actors standing on them will be unsafe both onstage and off. I have visions of some yo-yo trying to surf around back stage on top of one.
 

Amiers

Renting to Corporate One Fixture at a Time.
Joined
May 28, 2009
Location
Phoenix, Az
You always build for the action. In a musical I must assume that they are going to be dancing on anything/everything that has room for two feet.
skirt the ply so you don’t see the casters.
WSOD you have to believe in WSOD..... (Willing Suspension Of Disbelief) (Tom’s second rule of theatre)

You will need to explain to director that these castered desks with actors standing on them will be unsafe both onstage and off. I have visions of some yo-yo trying to surf around back stage on top of one.

We used to joust with the music stand carts
 

DrewE

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 18, 2019
Location
Vermont
Maybe you could find some roller balls to attach; they would not need to be offset from the leg, the way casters do to swivel, and so it seems to me would put less stress on stuff.

Here are some (but they have inappropriate mounts for attachment to a tubular desk leg, at least without some modification).
 

TheaterEd

Renaissance Man
Fight Leukemia
Joined
Jan 21, 2013
Location
Near Milwaukee
I don't like the teflon pads on stage, too easy to have them catch a screw and gouge the floor. I would personally just put felt on the bottom of the legs and call it a day. They'll slide just fine as long as your stage is relatively smooth and your actors can be taught not to push down on the desks while sliding.

Side note: When we did Millie Jr, I just had them use stools and mime their typewriters. Saved us a TON of struggle with that scene.
 

SHCP

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 27, 2012
Location
San Francisco
@Fusrohdave If your director's cast can be upstaged by a few square feet of 3/4" ply painted to match your deck, then your director has bigger problems than you can solve.
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard
As someone who is always trying to mask the casters, I like this solution. I had a director who insisted that everything have wheels, because she thought that all set pieces had to roll on and offstage. She wanted casters on chairs, couches, desks, tables, everything. She just could not see that smaller set pieces can often be carried easily by one or two stage crew (or double the actors) and then you can jump up and down on them all day long.
 
  • Like
Reactions: RonHebbard

RonHebbard

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
Joined
Jun 12, 2004
Location
Waterdown, ON, CA
As someone who is always trying to mask the casters, I like this solution. I had a director who insisted that everything have wheels, because she thought that all set pieces had to roll on and offstage. She wanted casters on chairs, couches, desks, tables, everything. She just could not see that smaller set pieces can often be carried easily by one or two stage crew (or double the actors) and then you can jump up and down on them all day long.
@SHCP When you wrote: "smaller set pieces can often be carried easily by one or two stage crew (or double the actors)" were you implying two performers were required to replace each crew member OR having the performers carry their own larger props on and off "doubling" for the moment as crew?
Know when you're being ragged mercilessly.
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard