Friction Wheels

Looking for what others are using for friction wheels on their builds. I’ve gone through a couple other “topics/sections” but alas they are outdated and don’t seem to have any current info. I’m using the Phidgets motor with the 12mm keyed shaft. I was thinking of doing some shopping at Harbor Freight and finding a rubber 1/2" wheel but I’d like to utilize the key on the shaft for added strength. Anyone have any input or ideas?

The Trimble EZ Steer wheel is made for Trimble by an RC car wheel manufacturing company.

If you have a 3d printer it’d be easy to 3d print a wheel with a key to fit a generic foam tire from an Rc hobby store.

Currently I’m using a rubber bumper that is meant to be bolted onto a boat trailer underneath the boat. It’s about 3” diameter, and once I scratched up the surface of it, it’s very grippy. And it’s soft enough that it doesn’t hurt if you run your fingers through it.


Something like this seems popular, I have one:

I bought keyed hubs with four bolt holes which I use to mount hockey pucks. They have been working well for me.

Thanks fellas. I’ll look into each of those. I was just needing some ideas of what ya’ll ran or what seemed to work best. I was originally thinking of using one of those “gate rollers” the type that roll on a pipe gate so they have a concave groove all the way around but I was having trouble finding the right size. I’ll look into the Trimble wheel as that’s what we use on our sprayer currently (maybe I’ve got a spare that I’ve forgotten about). Thanks again

Can you share a photo of Trimble’s structure? More detailed photos, I want to DIY one

Thought I’d try something like this…?

I printed a part that fits onto the phiget motor using the key and a pinch bolt. This then holds an off cut of rubber hose to drive against a printed ring on the wheel. At the moment I am using a a different printed ring on the steering wheel, which has gear teeth and a TPU gear which fits on the adapter in place for the piece of rubber hose.

The friction drive worked fairly well but would slip if the motor tried to turn too fast. I started using friction drive before the auto torque disengage was an option and that was my overload protection. It worked pretty well on the combine before the rubber hose wore down to the fabric reinforcement, then slipped badly. I have a selection of old and offcuts of rubber hoses, so just a case of cutting another and carrying on. It was slipping much more on the tractor though so trying the gear option now.

Buggy wheel 68mm diameter for 12mm shaft and flange coupler. I only did friction wheel because I didn’t have access to 3d printer and could make it conventionally. It didn’t look great but it worked.

If you got 3d printer go for gears, even if there is slippage there is no wear on steering wheel, there are great ready to print systems like @PotatoFarmer universal gear system.

1 Like

Another advantage of gears (or friction drive on a ring attached to the steering wheel) is nothing around the edge of the steering wheel to get in the way of your hands when steering manually.


I bought some of these in a couple of different sizes - drain test plug, rubber, so should take a good grip. I hope ! Drilled and tapped a 10mm bolt in it, and it’s held onto the motor nice and tight. Yet to try it, but hopefully they’ll work out well.


So I ended up getting the 4 bolt flanges for 12mm shafts from Amazon and then found a 1/2 NFPT to 3/4 male PVC adapter fit over the flange. I then got a 3/4x3/4 female PVC coupler to go on top of that. I found a piece of 1 1/4 reinforced tubing to fit over all of that. Seems to work pretty well but I will need to increase spring tension as it gets to slipping during very slow forward movement. I’ll try and get some pics tomorrow. Thanks for all the ideas and help guys!

anyone think this would work? I can make the shaft 12mm and make a keyway. I could also turn the outer edge concave if it would help but I’m wondering if the rubber would be too hard?
ICC 75mm Rubber Wheel Only with 10mm Bore|Castors (

I got a couple of these in different sizes, but haven’t had cause to try them yet:

It may work, from past experience, the grippier, the better. Those are cheap enough to try. Let me know if you get it to work. I wish there was a better way to adapt rc car wheels to 12mm (other that welding a tapped bolt head to sprocket). The task was to tedious for me. I attached one by another means with tape around AL hub from Phidgets for a tight fit. Worked really well and gripped good. Just had to redo tape after baked in sun. Tried the cheap version of trimble and if motor tried to aggressively turn wheel, it would chew chunks out of rub wheel. Switched to the trimble rub wheels with adapter hubs from Phidgets. works well, but is close to $50.

1 Like

Think id try that castor wheel and if it didnt work try the rc car wheel,i could even turn an aluninium hub to mount the rc car tyre on?

i do friction on metal ring
even it is is not the subject

if you have acces to 3D printing, try to design you own shape in TPU . It wil really fantastic
just make a rim or use an Hexa head nut to keep torque

For my concept with 30mm gear external diameter i upload several parts to meet hexa bolt and nut

1 Like

The AL hub from Phidgets is for couple connection between 2 shafts. We call it a lovejoy. I sawed the ears off. It was a bit small for the wheels I had. You could probably find a higher profile rc wheel and turn hub to fit tight. I had to fill gap with something, so I used tape. Hub

1 Like

Just an update. I ended up getting one of those 4 bolt flanges and then found a piece of 3/4 PVC pipe fit over that snuggly and a piece of 1 1/4 over that with a vinyl hose on the outside for more traction. It works pretty good though I’m upgrading to hydraulic already as I can’t stand listening to the motor running back and forth.