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Keep Those Carts Rolling

Laundry owners can get caught up in washer and dryer maintenance, but laundry carts need to be maintained, too. The worst part of this maintenance process is taking care of the casters — the only moving parts on a laundry cart.Before I get into the actual recommended protocols — which do vary depending on who you talk to — you need to look at the actual caster components. Is the yolk heat-treated for strength? The top of the caster houses the raceway where the ball bearings allow the caster to swivel. Is this raceway sealed or open? This makes a big difference in both the maintenance and potential life of the caster. Does the wheel have bearings and are they sealed? Is the wheel made from polyurethane or do you have a plastic or rubber wheel — and do these wheels mark the floors? Remember, you get what you pay for.Most raceways have ball bearings that are packed in grease; as the lubricant allows the caster to swivel. This minimizes noise and enhances function. Your customers depend on your carts and expect them to function properly. Poorly functioning carts can cost you customers!If you have an open raceway, you’re more apt to have debris collect there, and this requires more maintenance. This can create friction and minimize the lubricant’s and cart’s effectiveness — many times signaling the beginning of the end.Some casters have heat-treated yolks with sealed raceways that lessen the chance for debris to get inside the raceway thus minimizing friction and enhancing the life of the caster.Heat treating enhances the hardness of the steel and prevents the bearings from scoring (creating a groove in) the metal, especially as the lubricant dissipates and creates metal debris in the raceway — further complicating effectiveness and longevity. You can use a spray lubricant such as a silicon spray to help in the short term. WD-40 is not a good solution, because it acts as a degreaser and will defeat your intent. Last resort, you can open the raceway, clean the bearings and repack them with grease, but an open raceway will ultimately yield to the same problem again and again.CASTER CAREDoes your caster tend to attract lint, hair and debris around the center bolt and nut? If so, this is a problem to clean, and it doesn’t convey an attractive look to your store. Do you flip coins to see who gets to do this job, or do you simply postpone it for another day?R&B Wire Products introduced the “Clean Wheel System” more than three years ago, and this has revolutionized the way this problem is dealt with — and has made this caster almost maintenance-free.Our proprietary thread guard deflects the lint and debris from accumulating around the nut and bolt to begin with, making life a bit easier for the owner. Without this, solutions vary from burning the debris to removing the nut and bolt from the caster to gain access to remove the debris. Once you have removed the nut and bolt many times, you may find that there is no bearing at all (thus, an annoying noise) or that the bearing(s) is not sealed. You must remove the bearing(s), and clean and repack them with grease — if you can.Now, replace the nut and bolt and hope that you have a smooth-rolling caster again. If you have marks on the floor, you may not have nonmarking casters.There is a lot more to the issue of caster selection and routine maintenance than you may have thought. There is more to consider than just price. Save time, save money, and keep customers happy and satisfied with clean, functioning laundry carts. 

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