Hardware Store Plastic Roller Bearings




Introduction: Hardware Store Plastic Roller Bearings

I've not actually used this for anything, just built a prototype from materials on hand.

I've posted pictures, hopefully pretty self explanatory. The pictures aren't exactly what I describe. Again, just what I was able to work up as an example given materials I already had available. One should be able to build one of these for under $20 in materials. Not really sure how much load this will hold and still roll easily. I put a hockey stick (it was close at hand) through it, placed it on the floor and pushed down pretty hard and it rolled easily. If more weight bearing capacity is desired, one might fill in the PEX rollers with something. I've been told that one can buy 3/8 OD fiberglass electric fence posts. Those would work well for filling the PEX.

Step 1: Materials

QTY 1 - 4" PVC toilet flange (hello easy mounting!)
QTY 1 - length of 3" PVC pipe
QTY 2 - Rings cut from 3" PVC fitting, doesn't matter what, buy one you can cut two rings from. (note, cap shown in photos as it is what I had) Actually, a cap might be good if the 'axle' doesn't happen to be 3", you can drill/cut an appropriately sized hole in the cap.
QTY 1 - 5' length of 3/8ID PEX tubing (I actually didn't have this, I paid something like $2 for it. It happens to be 1/2 OD)
QTY 2 -Some sort of rigid-ish plastic sheet like a binder cover, piece of plastic paneling, side of a rubbermaid tub, etc. (not in pictures, thought about this later - keeps assembly together)
PVC Cement
Masking tape

Step 2: Assembly

Cut the PEX tubing into 25  approximately 1-inch lengths (a scissor like plastic tubing cutter works quite well).
Cut two washers from the plastic sheet ID approx. 3.5 inches (fits over 3" pipe - trace it), OD approx 4.75 inches (slightly larger than ID of toilet flange trace, then freehand slightly larger). No need to be too pretty, hack away.
Glue one 3" PVC fitting ring to one end of the 3" pipe. Place one of your washers over the pipe. Place assembly through the toilet flange and gently bump the washer up against the end of the flange. Mark the length of the pipe where it exits the other side of the flange. Remove, add the thickness of your other washer and 3" fitting ring and cut the pipe there. Place the 3" pipe through the toilet flange again. Set down on workbench, arrange the pieces of PEX in the gap between the pipe and flange. Add the other washer, mask the washer and toilet flange. Glue the other 3" fitting ring onto the pipe. Remove masking tape, done.

Step 3: Use

I'd be hesitant to grease this as it will trap sand and dirt causing wear and 'lumpy' rotation. I'm thinking maybe a light oil like WD40 wouldn't trap as big of particles and would be easily cleanable by pouring a bucket of soapy water through, then rinsing with fresh, drying and re-spraying with oil.

I originally came up with this as an acquaintance was looking for a bearing to use for a roller furling sail on a small boat. The idea was the mast would stick through it and be rotated to furl the sail.

Other possible uses:

Wheel bearing for a beach dolly for a small boat.
Bearings for a tumbling compost bin.
Bearings for a garden cart.

Step 4: Other Sizes

I believe a 3" fitting with 2.5" pipe would work with 5/16 OD nylon tubing for rollers. Home Depot doesn't stock 2.5" pipe so I'm not able to try it. If you follow the link below, it gives pvc pipe sizes (ID of fittings is close to OD of same size pipes). One may be able to come up with other sizes that would work nicely.

Pipe Sizes: http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/pvc-cpvc-pipes-dimensions-d_795.html



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    29 Discussions

    Did I miss something; what holds the pex tubing bearings in place? Maybe use on a light gocart.

    1 reply

    On the one pictured, nothing. It was a "proof of concept" assembly rather than built for an actual use. In the text for step 2, I laid out how one might go about "locking" them in with a big plastic washer on either side.

    With a few additions you could make this into a rope, wire or hose winder.

    I wonder if this would take 50 lbs of weight. I have an excavation that I've been working on and hauling 5 gal buckets up out of it has become a wearisome job. I have a pulley system to lift out a bucket but what it needs is a rope winder like this to make it into a crane.

    4 replies

    We all get hung up on "wheeled" solutions. ;-)
    Consider a Shadoof: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shadoof

    Good idea! And we could make it more efficient by using Goodluck's PVC roller bearings for the pole to pivot on! ; ]

    Hose reel, great idea. I need one of those...

    I think it'd hold and roll under 50lbs of load, but I'd advise against overhead lifting with it. You wouldn't want is 50lbs of dirt unexpectedly crashing down on your head.

    "There is nothing — absolute nothing — half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats."


    2 replies

    Ratty from "Wind in the Willows", yes? Also sounds like Arthur Ransome's "Swallows and Amazons" philosophy. Wonderful sets of books (there is a sequel to WitWillows).

    OMG! Love that book and the movie too. And the possible uses for the bearing are good too. ;)

    I got my journeyman plumbing license way back in the 1900's and never considered using these materials in this capacity. I applaud your creativity. I can think of 1001 instances where this is exactly what I needed, had the materials on hand yet lacked the vision. Thank you for the info!!!

    Three guesses what I just decided to use for my rolling compost barrel. My first try will use the 3" pipe as the axle. I was on line shopping for the barrel when I looked at this : )

    For heavy loads, I'm sure iron pipe of the same dimensions would be good too? I'm talking 500#. :)


    This is a great idea, love the many uses for this. I might try to add this idea to a Big bicycle that we built on the roof of our bicycle shop made from 4" pvc. I always thought it would be cool to make the wheels spin freely.


    I may apply this idea as a spindle for a cargo cover on my scrap hauling truck.

    Made a well bucket out of PVC. now I can make windlass out of PVC also. Thanks !

    Very nice idea. I'm going to have to try this for sugar cane squeezing rollers. Thanks.

    Right, wet lubes wouldnt work out well.

    For a dry lube, i use bicycle chain White Lightning, which is
    a wax and teflon based lube with a volatile solvent.
    After the solvent evaporates the dry lube remains and doesnt attract dirt.
    Excellent for chains and any thing else that you dont want to attract dirt.

    Also, you could rub on some candle wax / parafin.
    This works well.

    Great design. I think you could increase the capacity of this by using solid rollers rather than the pieces of 3/8 pex. Also be sure the 3" PVC is schedule 40 and not foam core DWV (drain, waste, and vent) pipe. I'm not sure about the outside diameter, but schedule 80 PVC will have a thicker wall, but you may have to go to a plumbing supply to get it. Another possible source of material is electrical conduit. It has the benefit of being UV resistant for outdoor use.