This maintenance guide is written to help you get the most life out of oven rack casters and wheels for those using rack ovens in the baking and food preparation industries. Since oven rack casters are used in one of the harshest environments, what you’ll find here will prolong the life of any caster you use in whatever environment.
Those in the baking business who have pushed and pulled racks with bad casters into and out of ovens, up and down ramps, and in and out of freezers, risking hernia, strained muscles, frayed nerves and lost tempers, this MAINTENANCE GUIDE is for YOU!
You have two main considerations for caster maintenance:
1. your PEOPLE
2. your PRODUCT
When casters are not maintained, they wear out faster, you spend more time replacing them, have greater risk of racks tipping over and losing product, not to mention possible Workman’s Comp claims.
- The first thing to think about is the wheel.
- The main considerations here are LUBRICATION and REMOVING DEBRIS.
- Any wheel bearing, whether it be a roller, ball or just a plain bearing, (where the bore of the wheel revolves on the axle or a bushing) will benefit from lubrication. Anti-friction bearings are meant to make movement easier, but nothing slows or stops things like a rusty bearing.
- Because of this, SHOP Craft oven rack wheels have a plain bearing with a bushing. Lubrication is applied through the zerk axle.
- The second thing to consider is the swivel bearing.
- Although this bearing doesn’t move as much as the wheel bearing, once it stops revolving, you’re through! Again, LUBRICATION and REMOVING DEBRIS are the two important points.
- Visual inspection is what’s required. If you see junk around the swivel bearing, or it’s obviously rusty, either service the caster now, or take the equipment out of use until the casters can be serviced.
- If the swivel bearing won’t revolve, often the wheel gets dragged sideways which will slow you up considerably and may wear a flat spot on the wheel.
- The third thing to consider here is the bracket itself. These are often zinc-plated steel which is somewhat rust-resistant, however, if existing casters are rusting, or you have a very wet environment, and if your inspection system won’t allow rusty casters, then you should consider stainless steel casters. Though they may cost two times as much as zinc-plated casters, simple math will show that they’ll save you money.
- Okay, you’re probably asking “How do I do it?” Years of observation as well as some testing have shown that the best results come from a formal caster and wheel maintenance program.
A Caster and Wheel Maintenance Program requires the following steps:
- A maintenance schedule, approved by management.
- Documents to record actioned items and by whom.
- Identify racks—all racks can be numbered or otherwise identified for easily tracking maintenance dates.
- Designate a person to perform maintenance procedures.
Specify procedures including:
- Safely lay rack over on its side
- Remove debris from wheels and swivel bearings
- Replace all defective wheels and/or caster brackets
- Tighten caster fasteners
- Lubricate wheels and swivel bearings with High Temperature Food Grade Grease. Lubrication should be done on a monthly basis at least, depending on frequency of use.
WARNING: If you use a Rack Washer, you must grease your casters after every washing.
- Document the above procedures.
Finally, the more you spend for a quality caster heavy enough to do the job, stainless steel fasteners to secure them, etc., the longer they’ll last and the lower your maintenance and replacement costs will be.
Set up a monthly Caster Maintenance Reminder in your calendar to ensure regular up to date upkeep.