What Is Swivel Lead? Understanding This Common Caster Metric

When shopping for new casters, you may come across the term “swivel lead.” It’s a common metric for swivel casters. But some swivel casters have a greater swivel lead than others. By familiarizing yourself with swivel lead, you can choose the right casters for your business’s needs.

Overview of Swivel Lead

Swivel lead represents how far ahead the wheel of a caster is relative to the swivel assembly. Also known as swivel offset, it’s common with swivel casters. Swivel casters often have wheels that sit in front of their respective swivel assembly. Swivel lead represents the distance between these two points.

Most swivel casters have a fork and axle. If it’s a swivel caster, it will feature a swivel assembly as well. The swivel assembly, such as a kingpin, is located at the top of the swivel caster. The swivel assembly connects to the fork, and the axle runs perpendicular through the fork’s two prongs.

Not all swivel casters have a straight fork. Rather than running straight down from the swivel assembly, the fork may protrude forward at an angle. Therefore, the center of the swivel assembly will be offset from the center of the axle.

How the Swivel Lead Affects Casters

You should consider the swivel lead when shopping for casters. The greater the swivel lead, the easier it will be to turn the casters. You won’t have to use as much force. As long as a caster has a high swivel lead, you’ll be able to easily turn it around corners.

Caster flutter is less likely to occur with an appropriate swivel lead. Caster flutter is a phenomenon in which a swivel caster begins to swing laterally in an uncontrolled manner. The caster will appear to “flutter,” which can interfere with your ability to roll it. By choosing casters with an appropriate swivel lead that’s not too hight nor too low, you can minimize the right of caster flutter.

Casters with a high swivel lead, though, often have a lower load rating than their counterparts with a low swivel lead. They won’t be able to support as much weight. If you’re looking for casters to use on a heavy machine or piece of equipment, you may want to opt for a straight fork. Casters with a straight fork tend to have the highest load ratings. But for other applications in which weight isn’t a concern, you may want to choose casters with a high swivel lead.