When shopping for casters, you may want to consider the offset distance. Most casters fall under one of two categories: rigid or swivel. Rigid casters are fixed and can only roll forward and backward. Swivel casters, on the other hand, can rotate in all directions. Different swivel casters may have a different offset distance. And the offset distance of a swivel caster can affect its performance.
What Is Offset Distance?
Also known as swivel lead, offset distance is the distance between the center of a caster’s wheel axle and the caster’s pin above the wheel. On swivel casters, the center of the wheel axle and the pin typically aren’t aligned. Rather, they are offset.
Offset means that the pin and wheel axle aren’t aligned. The pin is placed farther back than the wheel axle. The distance between these two components is the offset distance. Swivel casters often use a kingpin. The offset distance of a swivel caster represents the distance between the kingpin and the wheel axle.
Offset distance can affect the load rating of swivel casters. As the offset distance decreases, swivel casters can typically support heavier loads. Swivel casters with a short offset distance have higher load ratings than those with a long offset distance. This is because the swivel part of a caster is exposed to less stress with a short offset distance.
Bearing Wear and Tear
Another way in which offset distance affects swivel casters involves the bearing. Swivel casters have a bearing assembly. With a short offset distance, the bearing assembly will experience greater wear and tear. If you’re worried about the bearing assembly failing, you may want to choose swivel casters with a long offset distance. A long offset distance will result in less wear and tear on the bearing assembly.
The maneuverability of a swivel caster will be affected by its offset distance. Swivel casters, of course, can rotate in all directions, regardless of their offset distance. A 360-degree range of motion is essentially what distinguishes swivel casters from rigid casters. But the ease at which you can maneuver a swivel caster will vary depending on its offset distance.
Swivel casters with a long offset distance are typically easier to turn than those with a short offset distance. You can turn them in tight, small spaces more easily than their counterparts with a short offset distance.