Types of Brakes to Consider in Locking Casters
Casters incorporate a number of features and this is what makes them better than simple wheels. Among such features include braking and locking mechanisms. In casters, the terms brakes and locks are used interchangeably and actually refer to stopping the wheel, the swivel, or both.
The casters which incorporate either one of these mechanisms are called locking casters. They look similar to normal casters but come with a lock/brake for the wheel. Locking casters are especially beneficial in situations where you want to cut down any unwanted movement.
Besides, they are better prepared to embrace weights on them. You will see them in hospital beds and stretchers and they keep the bed/stretcher from moving when a patient is being placed. They are also seen in office chairs and if they are locked, they prevent the unnecessary back and forth movement of the chair and the resultant damage to the floor.
In short, locking casters provide an extra layer of safety and stability and reduce the chances of injuries and liabilities. In this piece, we will go over different types of brakes that are available in locking casters.
Types of Brakes in Casters
Although there are a number of braking mechanisms available in casters, below are three of the most common types of brakes in casters.
1. Side Lock Brakes
Side-lock brakes are the most common types of brakes you are going to see in casters. Look around and you will see them in everything from barbecues to bed frames. In these brakes, as the name suggests, the brake lever is positioned on the side of the wheel.
Among side-lock brakes, arguably the most common type is the top-lock brake. This type of brake uses an L-bar to provide tension on the wheel. This brake is engaged and released in almost the same way. To engage the brake, you need to move one side of the brake lever down and this, in turn, moves the L-bar down. To disengage the brake and to be able to move the wheel again, you simply need to reverse the lever back to its original position. The harder you push the brake lever, the harder the L-bar engages.
We have Colson’s heavy-duty polyurethane casters in our line-up which incorporate top Lock brakes and are great for a variety of applications.
Another type of side-lock brake is the CAM brake. The CAM brake looks like the top-lock brake, but it does not have the L-bar. This type of brake essentially uses tension on the wheel hub to stop it from moving and the tighter you push the tighter the brake hold.
2. Tech Lock Brakes
Tech lock brakes are also called face-contact brakes and normally use a paddle to engage the brake. In these brakes, engaging the brakes is straightforward as you simply need to press on the paddle. To disengage the brake, simply apply force to the top of the paddle with a kick with steel-toe-boot or in whichever way you want to accomplish this.
Tech-lock brakes are commonly found in swivel rigs and this means that there is still rotating movement even after the brake has been engaged. So, essentially brake stops the wheel but not the swivel.
When we compare side-lock brakes and tech-lock brakes, we see that tech-lock brakes engage more securely and when you disengage the brake, the reverse happens. So, in tech-lock brakes, you know for sure that the brake is engaged and you can’t press harder to make the brake engage anymore. A well-made tech-lock brake will not disengage even if something comes in direct contact with the paddle.
In side-lock brakes, however, we have to make sure that we have applied enough pressure without seeing or feeling the brake engaged. So, in side-lock brakes, human error is involved because they are easy to engage and disengage. ,
In short, tech-lock brakes are more reliable in both design and function.
3. Total Lock Brakes
In tech-lock brakes, we saw that the wheel gets immobilized but it could still swivel. Total-lock brakes work similar to tech-lock brakes, but they lock the swivel as well along with locking the wheel.
total-lock brakes, similarly to tech-lock brakes, the wheel is stopped with a
metal piece. In this, as you push down, the metal makes contact with the wheel
and at the same time, there are matching gears that connect and stop the swivel
from rotating around. And when you release, the swivel can rotate again.
Out of the three brake types, total-locks are considered the most stable and reliable brakes.
At Linco, in our locking casters, along with total lock brakes and top lock brakes, we also have stop-fix brakes. In stop-fix brakes, the paddle remains in the same location no matter where the travel of the caster ends up. It also locks the wheel surface and the swivel mechanism. We mostly see stop-fix brakes in Blickle casters.