Introduction: Orca or Yeti Cooler Wheels
Let's start with this. I spent hours searching the internet for DIY cooler wheels to make for my 58 quart Orca cooler. It is 35 pounds empty and can be very cumbersome and heavy when loaded down with two bags of ice and a couple of cases of beer. They make kits out there that are literally hundreds of dollars and I wasn't willing to dish out that kind of money just to wheel my cooler around, albeit I know that these style coolers are expensive, but it was giving to me. Now, I am going to try to go step by step of what I did, but this is my first instructable. Parts to buy are as follows: 18 to 24 inch clamp/spreader (using for the steel) so buy it long enough to cut and still be wider than your cooler. Super cheap at places like harbor freight. Or you can get welding steel, this just saved me a stop. I think I paid 3.99 for it. You also need 2, 10 inch pneumatic wheels. I also bought these from harbor freight. 5.99 a piece. 17.52 after tax from there for the clamp and tires. I bought 2 lynch pins from hardware store for .99 a piece. 2, 5/8 bolts and 4, 5/8 washers. 7.96 after tax from there. You also need some 1/2 steel bar stock. I had this at the house already, but if my memory is right is was less than 5 dollars. Total that up and it is around $30, and it took me about 2 hours to build everything the way I wanted. Now onto the fabrication.
Step 1: Starting Your Build
Start by taking your clamp apart, as all you will need is the steel bar. I had to cut the ends off because it was riveted. As you can see I have a steel saw, but you can use any method you like to cut the steel down.
Step 2: Mark Your Pegs
Using your 1/2 steel bar and a sharpie mark how deep they sit in your feet. Then take it and cut it. Again, I used my steel band saw to cut it.
Step 3: Cutting and Welding the Bar to the Pegs
Now, I knew that my bar had to be 16 and 3/4 inches, so I took the liberty of cutting it to that length. I set the pegs down in the feet and did a dry mock up of where I wanted the bar to sit. Got everything where I wanted it then took the bar over to the circle grinder which has wire wheel on it and got all the paint off the side I will be welding on. Then I measured from the end of the centered bar to the center of the peg and marked it. I cannot stress enough to only tack weld until you know everything it going to fit. Once the first one is tacked in then mark the other and tack it. Check to make sure that everything fits then finishing welding the pegs on. Please excuse some of my messy welds.
Step 4: Making Your Axles
Start with cutting the head off of your 5/8 bolt. Then measure center and draw a line down it. Then come down a little bit. I chose 8mm and make a dot there. This is where your going to drill the hole for the lynch pin to go through. Take a punch to that dot to make a start for your drill bit to go. Make sure that you have a big enough drill bit for the pin to go through and begin your drill. Keep in mind that it is very difficult to drill a hole exactly straight through your newly made axle but once it is done, repeat for the other axle, then move on to the next step.
Step 5: Adjusting the Length of Axle and Prepping for Welding
Now assemble your axle with your lynch pin and a washer on on each side of your wheel. Set this assembly on top of your bar you have sitting down in your cooler feet. If you wanted to weld on the bottom, I guess you could do that but you have enough room to weld on the top which is what I chose to do. The axle is too long so it has to be cut down to allow it to fit from the foot of the cooler out. Hold it up and mark a thread and then cut it to length. Repeat on other side and move on to the next step.
Step 6: Welding Your Axles to Your Bar.
Now you have cut your axles to fit. Once again I stress to you to not weld these right off the bat and to tack them. Once you have marked and tacked, check and make sure your washers, tire ,and lynch pin fit. Repeat on the other side and finish your welds when your mock up was correct. slide on your washers, and lock in your lynch pin. Make sure your pegs are secured it all the way, and start rolling!! The weight of the cooler is what really holds these in. ( I am working on a more permanent solution and maybe even a stiff handle to go along). I hope you enjoyed this and also that it gets out there so people like me don't get frustrated searching the internet looking for a cheaper alternative to the expensive kits out there! Thanks!
Step 7: Buy Them on Etsy.
If you don't have the equipment or expertise to make these, please feel free to hop over to my website and purchase them from me. I now make everything with new steel.
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