moving scenery wagons

what is the conventional wisdom on moving stage wagons? I am building some wagons that range from 4X8 to 2X8 with a minimum amt. of scenery on them (desk, door flat, bed, etc.). I want to make the change as quick as possible- so I thought i'd put fixed casters on one end, with a minimum floor clearance, and fixed blocks on the other end of the wagon. When rolled into place and released, the wagon should not slip around with movement. To move the wagon, I thought of using a "j-bar" type of apparatus on the non-caster end to drag or steer the wagon offstage- elevating the end just enough for clearance, only using the casters on the other end of the wagon to roll on. Anyone ever tried this...and succeeded? Any thoughts?

thank you
why dont you just use smart casters and elephant clamps?
we did this just recently in our spring musical. we used 4x8 sheets of plywood with maysonite on either side to make it slick on casters. next u place casters on 2x6. the more casters u have , the easier it is to move the platform. these 2x6's with the casters are then screwed into the stage floor. the sheet of plywood can then be laid on top of that. the stage is then raised to the height of the wagon. the raised floor will keep the platform in place.

hopefully this makes some kind of sense.
J-Bar is an interesting idea. How are you going to get it under the platform since it's flush to the floor?

Very time consuming between times when it slipps off or in changing directions without it also doing so.

I like the idea of using breaks, much less have shimmed the platform at times before. As long as the shim can be made fast to the stage so it won't slip, it elevates the platform off the legs.

Might also look into something called a "tip jack." As a concept it can be done with a platform/wall assembly.

In a past design, I had a Keel of a boat supported by three wheels. Once the front end was hoisted to the grid, the rear end of the platform than rested on the floor and not the wheels. Perhaps some sort of platform that normally is at a slight angle but supported by the wheels. Once it's jacked up in some way so it is off the wheels, it than is supported on one end by frame to floor, and on the other end something under it to level the platform and prevent it from moving. This could get tricky in how but possible.

Otherwise there is air cushions and other means. Perhaps even a track for the casters that is blocked into place so the platform can't move until the blocks are removed.

USITT and Yale tech briefs should have lots of other ideas on the question.

Short of installing platforms fast to the deck - say flap hinges made fast once the wagon gets in place, it's a question of weight and friction or surface area preventing the platform from moving. A platform half on the stage, and half on the wheels than only has half the surface area of the platform edge touching the stage. It thus when the other end is castered not provide much friction or prevention of moving given the casters. My thoughts at least - that is unless in some way you lock, block, break or jack up the casters on the castered end.
some great thoughts. I'm guessing that a "tip jack" is a lot like a j-bar, but perhaps more dependable for not slipping off- maybe? It may be possible to unload the weight from the fixed casters by adding blocks that contact the stage when the steering end of the platform is dropped back down- maybe a lot to ask of angles and leverage over an 8ft length, without lifting the end several inches. If the steering end also has blocks to keep it a small distance off the floor, the j-bar/tip jack might work?
an elephant clamp is somewhat of a jack that you can attach to edges of platforms and when down, stabilize the platform and keep it form moving. i just did a google seach and didnt find anything maybe it goes by another name. we've been using them for i don't knwo how long at my school. ill dram a pic of find one.
You may need to consider the weight of the 4x8 plus the scenery. May be heavier than you think.

The repeated rolling of the casters over the same line may damage the floor.

Make sure the casters are tied into the framing of the wagon, not the deck.

A "Tip Jack" is a old time soft flat term for the support of it similar to stage jack. Basically it's a stage jack triangular "wailer" or L-Stiff frame, but at an angle away from the floor so you tip the flat backwards onto the casters to move it, than when in position tilt it forward and lash line it into place. A fire place unit might find this method adventagous. Given some structure to a back wall attached to the plat, it should be possible to sort of balance the back wall and platform on a tip jack when it's tilted backwards to a castered frame behind the flat. Granted you would have to brace these tip jack frame members.

Were I to use a J-Bar in a style similar to how you describe - and I probably would not given breaks, shims, stage screws and other ideas, I would drill a hole in the J-Bar and mount a bolt to the bottom of the platform by way of angle iron attached to the frame. This bolt than sticking down would be like the pintal mount of a trailer hitch, and the J-Bar in reversing it would be the trailer. This way you could turn and meneuver the platform as you need without it slipping off the lever. That slipping off the lever, much less getting the pry bar under the platform is the major problem here.

But as said, both casters on half the platform would have less surface area in platform to deck friction from moving given a half caster and half platform on the stage method as thought. In other words, you would still probably have to attach to platform to the stage out of safety which deletes the usefulness of using the J-Bar as opposed to just castering the entire unit.

Perhaps you should do a timed mock up of a strike and attempt to make the platform turn a corner reliably so it gets into storang quickyland quietly - especially if the platform drops off the J-Bar. This than can also show the effects of having a half castered platform for how much it can move should someone walk on it.

In thinking, here is another solution that might be of interest.

Take a stock 3.1/2" caster. Normally you need to throw a 3/4" block under it for ground clearance.

Granted my job is often more machinist than tech person, but what if you were to hinge half the caster by way of mounting it to say a 1/4" steel plate with hinge attached to the plate? Welding is nice but bolts will do. Attach the other half of the hinge to a 3/4" plywood block that's screwed to the platform as normal in now giving 1" clearance to at least half of it. Need a strong hinge for this. If the caster plate and hinge is strong enough, you might not need the plate.

This half supported caster now hinges inward and does not clear the platform unless blocked upwards on the opposing end of the caster to lift it also to the 1" clearance.

Now drill say a 3/8" + hole install a T-nut or tapped and threaded plate to the underside of the platform where you would otherwise shove a shim block in making the un-hinged half of the caster parallel to the hinged side to clear the platform frame.

Now when you need to lift the platform to use it's casters you just screw a threaded bolt into the T-Nut from a hole in the platform's top from above. This bolt than once tightened down will act as if a jack to hinge the caster down and lift the platform off it's frame and re-engauge the casters.

This given as similar to that of a C-Clamp bolt, screwing the end of a screw into that of a steel plate or pipe will tend to damage the end of the bolt so it can't be removed afterwards. The only acceptable screws for this would be ones that are Grade 8 or Aircraft grade about 10 such as on a alloy steel bolt. Easy enough, purchase a few alloy steel socket head button head screws of 3/8" or 1/2" by 1.3/4" long - the same as the threaded plate or T-nut, and drive them in by a hex driver on a cordless drill. Should take moments given enough stage hands with drills.

It's another concept at least.
if you want to eliminate movement once the set is placed, then using casters that have a lock on them is probably your best bet. just make sure that you follow the weight ratings or you could have some major last minute problems.

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