Need a New Wheel on a Small Farm Machine? Know These Measurements

Buying a replacement wheel for a yard cart or wheelbarrow seems simple, but with multiple designs and options available, it helps to know these key measurements before you start.

by J. Keeler Johnson
PHOTO: J. Keeler Johnson

Spring has arrived at last! At least officially, if nothing else. There’s still plenty of snow on my northern Wisconsin farm, but temperatures are warming up and the spring thaw is coming slowly but surely.

In fact, it recently got warm enough to melt the snow and ice on the walking paths between the various farm buildings, so pending another heavy snowfall I’ve put away my sled for the year and have started using my trusty yard cart for tasks such as moving hay bales around the farm.

Unfortunately, one of the tires on my yard cart went irreparably flat last year, and while this isn’t a huge issue when moving a hay bale or two, when transporting heavier loads, having a flat tire is a nuisance. I purchased a replacement wheel for the yard cart, just in time for another year of farming projects.

But here’s the thing—buying a replacement wheel for machines such as yard carts and, wheelbarrows isn’t quite as simple as it sounds. There are plenty of options on the market, and a few key measurements to keep in mind.

First is the actual diameter of the wheel. If your yard cart has 10-inch tires, then obviously buying a 13-inch replacement wheel will not work—if it fits at all (which could be doubtful), you’ll be left with a crooked cart that will be difficult or impossible to use.

Second, consider the diameter of the axle. If the axle on your yard cart is, say, 3/4 inches in diameter, the axle opening on the wheel needs to be precisely this size. Any smaller and the wheel won’t fit; any larger and it will flop around on the axle, essentially rendering it useless.

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Third—and easier to overlook but no less critical—is the width of the wheel hub. On many small farm machines, the wheels are held in place by cotter pins inserted through a hole in the axle. Therefore, it’s important to know the depth of the wheel hub to make sure that you purchase a wheel that will fit the axle. If the hub is too deep, it will extend too far and block the hole for the cotter pin, making it impossible to attach the wheel. If the hub is too shallow, the wheel will slide around a bit on the axle, which—although not the worst thing—is less than ideal.

There are other factors to consider as well, such as the type of tire (solid rubber or inflatable?) and whether the tires, if inflatable, have inner tubes. Fortunately, I beleive I’ve found the perfect replacement wheel for my yard cart, and if you ever find yourself needing to purchase a replacement wheel, I hope these tips will help you find the perfect wheel too.

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