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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I am undertaking equipment transformations for the purpose of lessening maintenance and down time. And I was wondering if anyone here is using ball bearings on mower front caster wheels and/ or sulkies.

Specifically, I am going to flat-free tires and also the steel case ball bearings don't require greasing... Even if I have to replace them on occasion it seems to me a better deal than greasing every 8-10 hours.
 

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Nope, never use a bearing when all thats needed is a bushing. I made my own sulklie and purposely bought wheels with bushings, 5 years old now and no problems. My leaf rigs are 20 plus year old Proline's and everythings in the casters are bushed. Yeah they're loose AF but not needing to be switched out.
 

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Nope, never use a bearing when all thats needed is a bushing. I made my own sulklie and purposely bought wheels with bushings, 5 years old now and no problems. My leaf rigs are 20 plus year old Proline's and everythings in the casters are bushed. Yeah they're loose AF but not needing to be switched out.
I'm never a fan of bushings. When they do eventually wear out, they also wear out the shaft. Then you have to replace shaft and bushing.
A set of sealed ball bearings in caster wheels last over a 1000 hrs,
Takes 10 minutes to replace and $12.00. Zero worries for the next 1000 hrs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
Nope, never use a bearing when all thats needed is a bushing. I made my own sulklie and purposely bought wheels with bushings, 5 years old now and no problems. My leaf rigs are 20 plus year old Proline's and everythings in the casters are bushed. Yeah they're loose AF but not needing to be switched out.
But then you have to grease them...

Yeah I'm biased on this on this one. I am a wanna-be machinst with a lathe so whitling out some bushings brings me joy. And around here it may be a quicker repair option.
I'm cool with that, I enjoy going down to the metal fabricators shop and have them cut my own spacers (the steel "tubes" that go inside the roller bearings) for like $1-$2 a piece (versus paying $10 for the actual part online).

But now, and I have to study the wear effect...
I have one sulky with 3/4" ID bearings and a spacer.
And another with 1/2" ID bearings and no spacer.

So then it boils down to whether it's cheaper / easier to replace the spacer or the bolt, and how it wears and how fast, whether either way makes a difference, all that I will see going about 20 or 50-100 hours down the road from here.

Additionally no hassle of greasing bearings and the sloppy residue that builds up from greasing bushings. One less bit of maintenance.
That was my big thing, I'm tired of grease gun hassles... In addition to what you just mentioned (which is enough already) there is also the hassle of grease guns being exposed to temperature extremes... These guns are stored in either a garage or a shed, so in summer the grease gets to flowing and that creates a mess in itself and in winter it solidifies and won't hardly come out (until after I'm done hitting the grease gun with a blow torch lol which is another several minutes of patience based frustration control exercises).

Or how about zerks, here's a good one...
Middle of winter, the fitting won't take any grease.
Is it the grease, too thick from the cold?
Meh, the zerk hasn't been replaced in forever, pull it out...
Get a new one (I keep a whole box of these so no issues there) go to thread it and...
It won't thread! Grab another, same problem, finally after much coaxing and some cross- threading it's on there.
But, it won't take no grease.
Because lucky me it's actually the grease gun nozzle that's clogged.

Granted most of the time it's not like that, but I've purchased quite a few guns over the years, parts too... And when it is like that it can waste a good bit of time lol

Hard to believe I've dealt with this for 20 years and never really thought of using ball bearings, I guess I just thought it's the way it is and there's no other way.
 

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I am undertaking equipment transformations for the purpose of lessening maintenance and down time. And I was wondering if anyone here is using ball bearings on mower front caster wheels and/ or sulkies.

Specifically, I am going to flat-free tires and also the steel case ball bearings don't require greasing... Even if I have to replace them on occasion it seems to me a better deal than greasing every 8-10 hours.
Be careful what you wish for. I know air fronts have their issues but flat free fronts ride like bricks and can beat the crap out of you. I went with Z Glide's to counteract the solid tires
 

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Our Exmarks are ball bearings in the front castor fork. We grease a few times a year as they call for grease once a year. Something I'd be interested in trying next time I replace everything is running a double row roller bearing.
Price double-roller bearings, and you'll think twice. They do handle thrust loads in both directions better than ball bearings, but boy howdy, are they expensive.

For the caster-fork wheels, tapered roller bearings would be far superior to just about everything else out there. They're relatively inexpensive, handle thrust well, and are robust. Ball bearings may be the worst, but they're cheap. If you want "greasless" performance, then be sure to get "sealed" bearings, and not "shielded."

bearings | McMaster-Carr




Regarding the sulky wheels - The correct answer is to throw the entire sulky in the dumpster, and get a pro-slide.
 

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Have a bradley sulky that uses jungle Jim's bearings. The type is about a inch wide rollers that are in a cage and go 100% around the shaft. They don't seem to last that long, and are quite messy.
Would live to replace with a better setup.
 
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