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Zero-Throw Casters are....moving too much

Discussion in 'Scenery, Props, and Rigging' started by msfixit, Feb 7, 2017.

  1. msfixit

    msfixit Member

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    I have probably one of the better problems to have: We are doing "Meet Me in St. Louis" and I'm currently in the process of building the Trolley. I had decided to put zero-throw casters on the bottom of the trolley to allow it to pivot and turn every which way during the trolley song and in our wingspace. However, after affixing the six zero throw casters to the bottom of the 4x6, it definitely a hazard. I could not step up onto it without it moving a lot under my weight. Even with MDF on top.

    The casters are new and definitely in tip top form, but it's WAYYYY too much wiggle for a prop to be safe for high schoolers, let alone a single person stepping onto it.

    I'm debating adding two regular swivel casters in the middle to replace two zero throws. I want to maintain the manoeuvrability, but we definitely need to up the resistance. Any ideas are appreciated!

    (Also, we are on a very slick wood floor, so that doesn't help either.)
  2. soundman

    soundman Well-Known Member

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    Nashville TN
    I would suggest looking at increasing the drag of the unit.

    A tennis ball on a traditional wagon brake might help, it would be adjustable and for any quick moves it could be lifted up.
    Van likes this.
  3. manuallyfocused

    manuallyfocused Active Member

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    Set Designer/TD/Carpenter/Painter/Photographer
    Los Angeles
    I've had some luck with putting a single fixed caster in the center of the unit and tightening the bolt so that it doesn't move too easily (I haven't used this technique with zero-throw casters, however). I've used this when I need a unit to be able to move and rotate as needed, while being able to spin without moving too far from its center point. The end result is easy linear motion in one direction, and more controlled motion in all other directions. Might be worth a try!

    There may also be a staging/choreograph fix- whenever anyone needs to step on or off, make sure at least 2 actors or stage crew members are stabilizing the unit. Then you don't lose maneuverability for when you need it!
  4. BillConnerFASTC

    BillConnerFASTC Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Theatre Consultant
    Oak Park, IL (708)983-5792
    Got room for a stack of spare counterweights? If the movement of your body is enough to move it, weight would counteract it. You could test just by having a bunch of people get on and then you get on and see if it still lurches as it does empty.
  5. bobgaggle

    bobgaggle Well-Known Member

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    Shop Foreman
    Philadelphia, PA
    Agree with Bill, give the unit more inertia than a person (add weight)
  6. BSchend

    BSchend Member

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    Near Philly
    I also agree with the inertia aspect. When doing les mis I had a 4' x 15' wagon for the barricade, 10 triple swivels. With out any of the "barricade" or actors the thing was like a skateboard when you tried to step onto it. Once we added all the "stuff" the thing was definitely more stable, even when the actors ran to and jumped onto the thing. With the actors it was easy enough to control (including the 360 spin) with just 2 stage hands.

    Short of that, adding some sort of friction (i.e. the tennis ball on a wagon brake) to the unit would be the best, especially if you need to keep as much multi-directional movement as possible.

    Could always hide an air tank and pneumatic pistons on it. Wouldn't need much pressure.

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