What Are Drum Brakes on Casters and How Do They Work?

Brakes are a common feature of casters. Whether plate- or stem-mounted, many casters have brakes. You can engage the brakes to immobilize the casters. After rolling an object to the desired location, for instance, you may want to engage the brakes so that it doesn’t move. Engaging the brakes will immobilize the casters and, thus, prevent the object from rolling away. There are different types of caster brakes, however, one of which is drum.

What Are Drum Brakes?

Drum brakes consist of a pair of pads or shoes that press against the sides of a wheel.  They aren’t limited to casters. Many cars, trucks and other automobiles feature drum brakes.

How Drum Brakes Work?

Engaging the drum brakes on a caster will slow down the caster. As previously mentioned, drum brakes feature a pair of pads or shoes. When you engage the drum brakes, these components will essentially “squeeze” the wheel. The caster will then slow down.

Drum brakes can be engaged while objects are still in motion. You don’t have to wait for the object to come to a complete stop before engaging the drum brakes. If you simply want to slow down the speed at which the object is rolling, you can partially engage the drum brakes.

Alternative Types of Caster Brakes

Drum is just one of several types of caster brakes. Another common type of caster brake is cam. Cam brakes are side-activated brakes that feature a lever. Pressing down the lever will apply pressure to the wheel of the caster. The caster will then become immobile while subsequently preventing the object from rolling on its own.

There are also top lock brakes. Top lock brakes feature a similar design as cam brakes. The difference is that top lock brakes feature a brake arm that stretches over the caster and the wheel tread. Like with cam brakes, you can press down this arm to engage top lock brakes.

Some casters feature tech lock brakes. Tech lock brakes feature a toe-activated lever. They are simple, easy to use and require little or no maintenance.

Keep in mind that swivel locks aren’t brakes. When shopping for swivel casters, you may discover that some of them come with swivel locks. Swivel locks won’t stop the casters from rolling. Engaging swivel locks will only prevent the casters from swiveling. The casters will still be able to roll forward and backward with the swivel locks engaged; they just won’t be able to swivel from side to side.