Casters added to a workshop pedestal fan

I purchased a large pedestal stand fan for my workshop from NorthernTool.com. Its a FlowPro 30″ Industrial Pedestal fan (#10301) and puts out 8,000 cubic feet of air per minute at top speed.

The fan works great but is somewhat difficult to move around my workshop. The fan weighs 67 pounds.

My idea is to put casters on the fan base to make it easy to move around.

Yes, that’s right. A high-output fan blowing air and on wheels. Can you predict the problem?

Why wheels are needed

If I tilt the fan, the round base can then be rolled. This is practical for only very short distances.

This tilt-and-roll procedure is a bit problematic as holding onto the wire frame fan housing while rolling is awkward.

I think the thin wire housing may get damaged as the fan is quite heavy. After all it is meant to protect fingers from the fan blades not something to grab and move the fan with.

This heaviness is a good feature of the fan. It provides excellent stability.

I like to move the fan around the shop depending on what I am doing. Sometimes this means placing the fan at the front of the workshop by the large roll-up door other times by the pedestrian door in the rear.

Moving the fan from the front to the rear of my 40′ long workshop by tilting it and rolling is not realistic.

Stability testing

Now this fan puts out a lot of air. I knew messing with the base could create stability issues. So a bit of testing was in order.

I started by placing small blocks of wood under the base. This would simulate castor wheel positioning. I placed the blocks evenly around the base.

I first started with three blocks. This triangle positioning meant that the part of the base was not providing any support to the fan.

I turned on the fan and after it got up to speed it started to fall over. I was mindful to grab it by the pole and not by the wire fan housing.

I increased the block quantity, all evenly spaced, until stability was achieved. The magic number was five.

I had eight used caster wheels from another project. They were outdoors for several months and were a bit stiff.

I squirted lube into the caster bearings to help free them up. The lube really made a difference.

Two casters were damaged beyond use so I just decided to use all the rest for the fan. So the new magic number is six wheels.

Mounting the casters

I removed the base of the fan from the pedestal part of the fan.

With the base upside down on my workbench, I positioned caster wheels evenly around the base.

With a pen I marked through the openings on the caster wheel base and drew on the fan base so I would know where to drill the holes for the mounting bolts.

I had some spare bolts but they were too long. I cut them down to size after mounting as I did not want to mess up the threads before putting on the nut.

I had enough spare bolts for two bolts per caster wheel. It seems enough as least for now.

I may need to add thread glue as the vibration from the fan may work the hardware loose. Time will tell.

So far the fan modification cost is zero as this has been done with spare parts. Woo hoo!

The Newton test

Newton’s third law of motion – every action has an equal and opposite reaction.

I was thinking the weight of the fan along with the age of the casters might provide enough resistance to hold it in place.

Did I lube the used casters too well? Time to turn on my fan on wheels and see what happens.

Newton prevails! The force of the wind from the fan caused the entire fan to move about.

Thankfully I anticipated this possibility so I was not dismayed.

The fix was an easy one. I just place a stop on the wheel that is in front of the fan. Since this wheel is directly downwind only one stopping mechanism is needed.

I use a frisbee in the video below and found that a spring clamp also works well. This acts like chock blocks used on airplane wheels.

Now I have a terrific fan made better that stays in place but is also easily movable.

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