Wooden Bearings and Prairie Schooners

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Forum topic by Dallas posted 11-08-2012 02:07 AM 1131 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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3599 posts in 2663 days

11-08-2012 02:07 AM

OK guys, no pictures to share, but then there isn’t much to see as these are covered by a metal hub.

We have a little metal cart that goes behind our yard tractor and about once a year we have to replace the OEM tires at $10/ea. The new tires come with wheels and bearings, but the bearing are really cheap and wear out within a couple of months. A pair of bearings is about $11 and wears out just as quickly, even if I pack them every couple of weeks.

I got tired of this so I decided to make some wooden bearings with the thought that they couldn’t be much worse than the metal ones, the problem was, the OEM wheels had a cone shaped hub so only the end of each bearing would contact the hub and the axle at the same time.

Enter Harbor Freight:

I bought 2 13X4 2 ply knobby dolly wheels rated at 300 Lbs each. These had bearings for a 5/8” axles but mine was a 3/4” axle so I decided to take a page from the old wagon builders and use wooden bearings.

I grabbed a scrap of white oak and using a 3/4” Forstner bit, made a hole about 1/2” deep then removed that bit and used a 1 1/2” hole saw that centered on the pilot hole the Forstner bit made.
I cut the round out, (the 1 1/2” hole saw cuts a 1 3/8” ID plug), then finished the center hole with the Forstner bit.
They are a bit loose, but the tractor never moves or 7MPH so no problem. I’ve regreased the bearings 2 times this year and hauled close to 50,000 pounds of green oak trees cut up in chunks that I can lift.

I miked the bearings each time and have found no wear yet.

I did have to replace one of the bearings due to driving it off the axle and I had accidentally cut it on a knot.

All in all, I am a happy camper with this and it has saved our employer a couple hundred dollars, besides it makes my little wood shop more valuable to him!

If you want pictures, I can take some but there isn’t much to see.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

5 replies so far

View RussellAP's profile


3104 posts in 2462 days

#1 posted 11-08-2012 02:15 AM

Jolly good show old chap. Always nice to redesign something that works better than store bought I say. And I have no idea why I’m typing as an English gentleman. I’m just feeling it.

-- A positive attitude will take you much further than positive thinking ever will.

View LittlePaw's profile


1571 posts in 3254 days

#2 posted 11-08-2012 03:54 AM

Good valuable info, Dallas. Thanx 4 shar’n!

-- LittlePAW - The sweetest sound in my shop, next to Mozart, is what a hand plane makes slicing a ribbon.

View Harryn's profile


72 posts in 2764 days

#3 posted 11-08-2012 10:18 PM

Somewhere in my 77 years, I came across wooden bearings for gristmill machines made from lignum vitae wood.
It is supposed to be self lubricating.

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

5106 posts in 4136 days

#4 posted 11-08-2012 11:00 PM

Bois D’arc (bodock here in the South) will work too.


View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 2663 days

#5 posted 11-09-2012 12:32 AM

Harryn, I have never run into Lignum Vitae but I would like to.

Bill, I use ‘Bodark’ (here in Texas), for a lot of stuff. I only have a cheap Dewalt Bimetal hole saw and a Porter Cable Forstner bit set.

It takes nearly 4” of bearing to cover each side and my HF drill press doesn’t go any slower than 660 rpm. I would hate to wear them out with high speed heat.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

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