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Building your own cat wheel

wolviechick121

Savannah Super Cat
I have seen patterns online and was thinking I might build my own wheel. Would anyone recommend or be against doing this?

And what diameter would you recommend for 2 F3s?
 

admin

Paige
Staff member
I have seen patterns online and was thinking I might build my own wheel. Would anyone recommend or be against doing this?

And what diameter would you recommend for 2 F3s?

You can give it a try - others have...I would say it depends on how large the F3's are...currently I have a 42" (would not recommend unless the cats were 10 lb and under and a 48", which seems to be big enough for all my savannahs.
 

Nitro

and his servant, Paul
Building a wheel is fun but quite intense. You might not necessarily save a whole lot of money if you build one yourself, but YMMV. I've had three wheels, two of which I made myself, and am working on a fourth wheel right now. I'm still learning plenty.

The first one I built was steel, 48" around with a 12" wide track and used the swivel part of a caster to turn. I learned from that one that bending steel is not fun, and welding together a cat wheel is not either. That one broke, leaked grease all over my carpet, and was left by a dumpster. I did like it because my Bengals would run side by side on it.

The second was a 42", plastic one (the one from Cat Wheel Company...which are supposedly coming out with a new wheel sometime next month). The usable track size is only 9", which is only enough for a single cat to run on it, and 42" is definitely too small for a Bengal to run on. I just recently sold it off, because only my female Bengal would use it..

The third and fourth ones I built/am building (look for some photos I posted in December) are an engineering feat. They're 53" inner diameter and have a 16" wide running surface - plenty large enough for two cats to run on side by side. It's stayed at my parent's place since December, but I've been back at their place for about two weeks, and both of my Bengals love it. Nitro is also slowly getting accustomed to it as well.

These last two have a hubless design, and required so many careful steps that it's amazing it works at all. I don't feel like going through all of the details, but I had to use three sheets of 1/8" baltic birch, a good half gallon of Titebond III, rollerblade wheels, and a form as big as the wheel itself to be able to put it all together.

Actually, that reminds me that I need to sell wheel #3 sometime soon. I'm only making a 4th because I'm a perfectionist, but the 3rd is definitely quite usable...even if I don't remake the base (which will be done in the next few days). Today one of my Bengals hopped off of it while running on it at full speed, and I swear the thing did about five complete turns.
 
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admin

Paige
Staff member
Good work, Paul! Sounds like you are really pretty enterprising and am waiting to see what your fourth wheel looks like!
 

wolviechick121

Savannah Super Cat
Very awesome!!! I love those kind, too!! Did you use a pattern or kind of figure it out as you went along? =P Is it semi-quiet? I'd love to try to make one like this! If not, I'll revert to the kind with a back to it and the spinner thing there on the back. =P

I'm pretty crafty and good at figuring things out for the most part, but so is my boyfriend, so I figure between the two of us, we'll figure something out. I'd love to try one like this too though!! =D
 

admin

Paige
Staff member
Very awesome!!! I love those kind, too!! Did you use a pattern or kind of figure it out as you went along? =P Is it semi-quiet? I'd love to try to make one like this! If not, I'll revert to the kind with a back to it and the spinner thing there on the back. =P

I'm pretty crafty and good at figuring things out for the most part, but so is my boyfriend, so I figure between the two of us, we'll figure something out. I'd love to try one like this too though!! =D

Quite honestly, when I tested the catswall wheel, my cats would not run on it and they are wheelaholics...they seem to like the back on the wheels I have...
 

Nitro

and his servant, Paul
Very awesome!!! I love those kind, too!! Did you use a pattern or kind of figure it out as you went along? =P Is it semi-quiet? I'd love to try to make one like this! If not, I'll revert to the kind with a back to it and the spinner thing there on the back. =P

I'm pretty crafty and good at figuring things out for the most part, but so is my boyfriend, so I figure between the two of us, we'll figure something out. I'd love to try one like this too though!! =D

I geeked out enough that I made it up in AutoCAD before buying a single piece of wood. One of the funniest steps was to make the form - we attached a sawzol (sp?) onto a piece of wood, ran a screw through the other end of the wood, and ran it around the particle board like a protractor. My advice is to just make a wheel that is 48" and not 54" - you'll save yourself from buying a lot of wood to make the forms, and your forms might even be more circular than mine.

Bent lamination is a lot of fun, though it's amazing how much lamination we did. The wheel is built out of 54 strips of baltic birch, which only reduces down to 30 when I have to laminate everything together.

As for noise, it is *finally* semi-quiet (as of Sunday!). We (this has been an ongoing project with my parents) modified the base on the old one, and it is now nearly usable in an apartment...except for when my Bengals decide they are bats out of hell. We needed to sand the groove the roller blade wheels ran in on the big wheel (new one will have an acrylic coating), we needed to get new roller blades (larger speed skates with high-precision - ABEC 9 - bearings), and finally, we needed to realize that the wheel is flexible. I'm talking about a 55.5" wheel that is 3/8" wider than it is taller. The roller blade wheel placement in the base had to follow an ellipse to compensate!

(P.S. Excuse the excessive use of parenthesis)

Edit: Before we made these small modifications to make it semi-quiet, we used an empirical "how many revolutions can this thing make by spinning it with human power?" It started with like 3.5 or 4 revolutions; we're now up to ten!
 

Nitro

and his servant, Paul
Just a couple of images for what I'm doing (and a few videos!)

Trying to capture the noise level, but it's a little hard to. At the minimum I now know what is causing the three noises...


Grr, neither of these really short videos show them running on the wheel. Oh well. Left for your enjoyment anyway.


IMG_0634.jpg IMG_0641.jpg IMG_0643.jpg
 

admin

Paige
Staff member
That is pretty awesome! It us great to see the project as you build it.

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