The Importance of Drum and Dead Man’s Caster Brakes

At Allied Caster, our team is eager to provide our customers with the best experience and ensure a solutions-oriented product is provided each and every time. One way we do this is by helping our customers select the casters that are most appropriate for their needs – based on application, environment, usability, and cost. We’re proud to partner with Blickle Wheels & Casters to further expand our set of caster lock solutions.

Caster Locks and Caster Brakes

Not all applications that require casters are intended to be moved about freely. Some, at times, require them to be stationary and/or require the ability to stop on demand. This calls into question, how? What components do the caster wheels need to allow it to do this? Much like car brakes, locking components that support caster systems give the cart or application the ability to remain stationary when needed and give the operator the ability to more easily bring the cart’s movement to a full stop.

There are two types of locking systems. A floor lock is a piece that complements the caster unit. It becomes locked by the operator’s foot. When engaged, the height of the lock sits higher than the space between the floor and the unit’s bottom, allowing the item to be locked in place until the floor lock is disengaged. Floor locks are often used in the medical field, in warehouses, or to help make carts level and stationary on uneven surfaces where they may roll otherwise.

A locking caster, on the other hand, looks similar to a normal caster wheel but has an additional lock component. By pushing down on the locking mechanism, it forces the wheel to be unable to spin. This is ideal for carts or applications that need to move sometimes, but need to be stationary other times. It’s a simple and convenient system. There are several varieties of locking casters available. This includes plate mount locking casters, locking stem mount casters, locking dolly casters, and locking furniture casters.

In addition to locking casters, Allied Caster also offers customers the option of purchasing casters with Drum and Dead Man’s brakes. The Drum and Dead Man’s caster brakes are a unique solution working to provide additional safety measurements to the caster system. While it’s important to be able to roll heavy objects efficiently – and with as little strain on the operator as possible – it’s equally as important that the operator is able to stop the cart.

Drum Caster Brakes

Drum brakes are both common and useful for a multitude of workplace material handling units. Here’s how it works. When the drum brake is actuated, two brake shoes integrated into the wheel centers are pressed onto the cast wheel center, which functions as a brake drum. Unlike conventional braking systems for wheels and castors –  which are generally only actuated when at a standstill – the drum brake can be applied to the carriage while it is in motion – slowly bringing it to a stop like a moving car. This makes the system safe and more efficient.

Dead Man’s Caster Brakes

Dead Man’s caster brakes, on the other hand, ensure the operator retains full control of the cart at all times. Opposite of the Drum brake system, the Dead Man’s brake is only released when the operator engages the lever by hand. Therefore, the cart remains at a standstill locked position until the operator squeezes the handle and begins to move it. The second the operator releases the handle, the cart will stop. The cart can only be moved when the brakes are released. With the Dead Man’s caster, the main focus is on personal protection and safety.

Case Study: Firefighting Units

Drum and Dead Man’s caster brakes are typically used in applications where safety is a big concern such as automotive, food and beverage distribution, and oil and gas delivery. One major Swiss manufacturer of firefighting units and motorized spray systems needed to use the right casters on its movable units and vehicles.

The casters needed to be easy-to-use yet robust, especially since they would be applied across various conditions at the different deployment sites. For example, undercarriages differ in those being used in the city vs rural settings.

After detailed discussions with the customer, the Blickle engineers designed the suitable flanged casters to enable safe use on railway rails. Thanks to the pretensioned, integrated Drum brake with the Dead Man’s system on two of the four flanged wheels, the trolley will only move after the brakes have been actively released by the firemen. When not in use, the system locks up by means of an integrated spring, which ensures the braking performance. The customer has expressed complete satisfaction in the casters that were chosen.

Blickle Wheels & Casters + Allied Caster

Blickle Wheels & Casters is a solutions provider, striving to ensure each customer is equipped with the best caster for their application needs. They offer the assistance of an engineering team (both in the U.S. and Germany) to ensure customer’s material transportation issues are resolved through the highest quality products.

The Drum and Dead Man’s caster brake systems from Blickle Wheel & Casters are designed for durability and function. They offer:

  • Various treads for different applications
  • Durable brake shoes with high braking action
  • Cast wheel center as brake drum
  • Operation with hexagonal actuation cams
  • Wheel covers to protect the brake shoe

The Drum and Dead Man’s braking systems can be applied to either fixed or swivel casters and work with an assortment of weights and cart types.

Blickle’s brake systems ensure that the transport operator retains control of the vehicle at all times – even during travel – providing a more functional and safer material handling experience. Allied Caster is a proud distributor of Blickle and its functional Drum and Dead Man’s caster brake lock system. For more information, visit