Introduction: DIY Silent Hamster Wheel Using Skateboard Bearings
Every hammy lover knows the pain of the never ending rattling, shaking, or squeaking of their hamster's wheel right when you're trying to fall asleep.
I've therefore been working on a 100% silent design using fairly simple tools & supplies.
Two skateboard bearings
One 8mm wide bolt
At least 1 nut (which fits on the bolt)
Some washers (that fit on the bolt)
A piece of scrap wood (make sure that it's thicker than the two bearings stacked on top of each other)
Your hamster wheel
Optional: 1 or 2 skateboard spacers
Double sided tape (hot glue can be used instead)
Different sized drill bits
A 22mm bit
Hot glue gun
Step 1: Holes
Use the 22mm bit to make a hole in the wood. Try to have enough material left around the hole to make sure it's strong enough. Also leave a good amount of wood under the hole as part of the stand will sit in this later.
Find a drill bit with the same diameter as the metal of your stand, and drill two holes in the bottom of the wood. Use a marker or pencil to mark out the spacing of the holes as shown in the picture.
Step 2: Bearings
Place the two bearings in the wood making sure they sit in the middle. I like to put the bolt through and to tighten the nut on the other side to pull the two bearings together. This makes sure the bearings sit straight. If they're not straight you'll have a higher chance they'll shift while rotating which causes noise.
While the bolt is in place, carefully apply hot glue around the edge of the bearings, gluing them in place. Try to stick only to the edges where the wood is.
After gluing, take off the nut, put a couple washers on, and put the nut back. Give the bolt a spin and see if it spins freely. If not, something is rubbing on the glue. Use a sharp knife or other tool to carefully remove any excess glue. Keep testing until nothing is rubbing and the bolt spins nicely. Please note that at this point the bolt won't feel too smooth to turn. This is normal.
Step 3: The Wheel
This part will depend a little on the length of bolt you used and the size wheel you have. My bolt was a little too long so I used one skateboard spacer at the back to move the bolt back a little. I then used a combination of a nut and washers to create space between the wood and the wheel. This space is essential for the smooth turning of the wheel.
Use a drill bit to make an appropriately sized hole in your wheel. Thread the bolt through and look at the spacing between wood and wheel. There should be a gap. Play around with washers and spacing until it all sits nicely.
Step 4: Aligning
Now place the wood onto the stand and see if the wheel touches the metal. If it does, or if it's very close, take off the wood and use some pliers to bend the frame back a little. Place the wood back and see how it sits.
Make these adjustments keeping in mind that the weight of your hammy will push the wheel closer to the metal than when it's just sitting on the table now, so create a bit more space than you think is actually necessary.
Step 5: Fastening
I forgot to take pictures of this step, but you need to do the following:
When you know your stand alignment is good, use the hot glue gun and put a decent amount of glue in each hole for the stand. Quickly before the glue hardens, push the wood onto the stand and hold it there for a second.
This will secure the stand to the wood. If you forget this step, the shifting of the weight of the wheel while running will make the metal rub inside the wood making all sorts of noises so this step is very important.
Fastening Part 2:
Use some loctite (or a different brand) to secure the nut to the bolt. Tighten up the nut nicely and make sure everything sits tight together. You don't want any sliding along the bolt. The loctite will stop the nut from coming undone in the future. (Don't worry it's not permanently stuck)
Step 6: Balancing
A wheel will never spin smoothly or silently if it isn't balanced.
Set your (almost) completed wheel on the table, and give it a tiny spin. You'll notice that it naturally comes to rest in one position. This is because the wheel isn't balanced and it has one area which is heavier than the rest.
When the wheel is still, put some double sided tape exactly on top. This point is exactly opposite of the heaviest point. Now add washers and nuts, and test with a spin occasionally until you find a nice balance. You'll know it's almost balanced when the wheel doesn't seem as heavy on one side anymore.
What I like to do is to purposefully leave the wheel slightly unbalanced. This means that when hammy gets out, the part with the tape will naturally float to the top, away from where he can chew on it. It doesn't matter if the wheel is slightly unbalanced.
When happy, take everything off, make a little tape package with your weights, and stick it to the top of the wheel again. Now test again to double check it.
Step 7: Enjoy Your Well Deserved Sleep (while Hammy Runs)
I lied a bit with the 100%!
The wheel is indeed silent, buuuut, you'll still hear the pitter patter of your little hammy's feet running on the wheel. I however find it quite calming!
Enjoy the silence of your new wheel!