When it comes to kitting a shepherd’s hut out with the all important wheels, there can only be one option: the cast iron variety.
Traditional, stylish, aesthetically pleasing and functional, the cast iron wheel is a must for a shepherd’s hut. Although UK foundries have dwindled in numbers, you can still buy an excellent set of British made, certified cast iron wheels that won’t cost you a fortune.
A shepherd’s hut just isn’t a shepherd’s hut without a set of heavy duty, cast iron wheels. Without the wheels, you’re looking at a very nice cabin or perhaps a glorified shed. Although we admit, it’ll probably be the nicest, high-spec shed people will have ever seen! Cast iron wheels are a crucial element to any shepherd’s hut.
Cast iron wheels are fix onto a shepherd’s hut via a steel chassis. If a shepherd’s hut has a oak chassis, steel stub axles will have to be used to attached the four cast iron wheels. Cast iron wheels range in size from 12″ to 40″ and can weigh more than 60kg each.
Why cast iron for shepherd’s hut wheels?
If you consider the traditional use of a shepherd’s hut, it needed to be a sturdy yet mobile home and place of rest for a shepherd tending to his flock. The hut would be likely moving across large areas of grassland and rough tracks, so a good set of wheels were essentially. Cast iron wheels were not only a good match for the job, they were also something that farmers often had around the farm and would recycle into a secondary use.
Fast forward a couple of hundred years, and the humble shepherd’s hut has evolved into a luxury item, or even a full-time home for some people. Although you might not be worried about tending to your flock across the countryside, cast iron wheels are a necessity for your hut. Besides looking fantastic, cast iron wheels will add authentic aesthetic value as well as a dash of traditional style.
Cast iron wheels for a mobile or stationary shepherd huts?
If your shepherd’s hut is going to be towed and on the move, then you should opt for a smaller pair of front wheels as opposed to the back (if you’re getting them made, your manufacturer will advise).
This is because the front pair of wheels will steer the hut in the direction of travel and therefore need to fit under the body. If the front wheels were the same size as the back, they would hit the body of the hut when turning. Lowering the front of the hut therefore means the turning radius increases, which makes for a maneuverable, easy pulling hut.
For this you’ll also require a turntable chassis, hopefully fitted with a strainer bar, and of course a well-made A-shaped drawbar. If you shepherd’s hut is going to be stationary, then a rolling chassis will do the job. For a shepherd’s hut with a rolling chassis, four cast iron wheels of equal size will be perfect as your hut won’t be turning anywhere.
As a side note, if your shepherd hut is set to be on the move a fair bit being towed by its drawbar, steel wheels are denser and harder than their iron equivalents, meaning they can withstand greater wear and tear from uneven track surfaces. You may also require a wider wheel to be able to better take the stress of the load when moving.
If you’re building a big, heavier than normal hut, equipping it with wheels of a greater width is a good idea.
Related Post: Are Tiny Homes Mobile?
Benefits of cast iron wheels
- Heavy duty
- Able to support significant loads
- Weather well even when untreated
Cast iron wheel size dimensions and weight
In general, cast iron wheels for a shepherd’s hut usually range from 12” in diameter at the smallest end to 40” diameter at the upper.
If you’re getting wheels made bespoke, then you should be able to get them any size you want for your shepherd’s hut.
There are various other dimensions and sizes you can look at if you want to get into specifics, such as:
- Rim width
- Hub depth (where the axel will slot in)
- Bore diameter (the size of the hole for the axel)
Cast iron wheels are heavy. Solid and heavy. A 24” cast iron wheel will weigh around the 37kg (82lb). You certainly don’t want to be dropping one on your toe. With that in a mind, a set of 4 x 24” wheels can support a hut weighing 3 tonnes.
Where to buy shepherd’s hut cast iron wheels?
You have two broad options before you buy your cast iron wheels – brand new or second hand recycled.
At one point in the UK there were plenty of foundries to choose from but as these are now few and far between, prices have risen, although still very much affordable.
Under the brand-new option, you can then buy wheels that have already been made and are ready to go, of which the size will already be determined, or you can get your own cast iron wheels made bespoke to fit. As you start to specify certain sizes, style, perhaps even identifying name imprinted on them, you’ll be looking at a lot more.
A great place to start is looking up cast iron wheels on Ebay.
How much do cast iron wheels cost?
For a new 24” cast iron wheel, you’ll be looking at prices starting from a minimum of £120.
It is possible to find a set of 4 wheels on ebay for under £500, but these will all be a pre-determined size. These are more often than not brand new and made in a foundry in the UK using certified cast iron.
Various shepherd’s hut makers, such as shepherd-huts.com and harrogatehuts.co.uk, also make cast iron wheels to sell. These are a little more than Ebay, but not too much. For these, prices per wheel start from £160 which is very reasonable.
On the upper scale, Plainhuts.co.uk sell a whopping set of 2 x 39” and 2 x 27” cast iron wheels for £1,320.
Bridport foundry based down in Dorset, sell a set of 4 cast iron wheels, 4 stub axles and 2 turntables for £1,140. Many of the hut makers sell on ebay too, which is a great option.
Other things you need to consider with your shepherds hut wheels
Of course, the wheels of your shepherd’s hut don’t just exist in isolation. The four wheels together with the shepherd’s hut chassis are part of a system that create the load-bearing base of your hut, so you need to make sure they fit in seamlessly with the other parts, or that the other parts fit in seamlessly with your wheels.
Key parts to consider when it comes to compatibility include:
- Axles – including stub axles if the chassis is made from wood
- Hub caps
On a slight tangent, it is possible to get forged steel wheels nowadays, which may be better in quality overall, but there are also more expensive.
In today’s setting where shepherd’s huts are generally stationary and used as holiday lets and weekend getaways, steel wheels probably aren’t needed. Plus there’s the valid point that cast iron wheels are a traditional feature that date back to shepherd hut use back in 16th century France and UK.
Read more on shepherd’s huts…
Ben is the Creator and Editor of Tiny Eco Home Life. I write and publish information about more sustainable, environmentally friendly living in and around the home.
Alongside this website, I love spending time in the natural world, living a simple life and spending time with my young family (Murphy the dog!) I round up my thoughts and recent blogs on the Eco Life Newsletter.