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throw pottery on a car wheel and tire~by Hillar Bergman

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Published on Sep 21, 2009

Here's a very basic potter's wheel that can be assembled in minutes from a junkyard car wheel assembly. I used a 15" rear wheel assembly from a 2000 Montana. I got lucky with that as the 4-bolt holes on the wheel spindle line up almost perfectly with the 4 holes on a 2" cast iron floor flange.
IMPORTANT!: If you build one, be sure to use a car wheel assembly with the older style OPEN bearing rather than a SEALED bearing such as is common on newer cars. Why? sealed bearings do not perform well under AXIAL loads (the downward pressure load as when using the wheel in a horizontal position).
Almost any other wheel with an older "open-style" bearing will work, though the holes may or may not line up as conveniently. I also like the ring of holes in the Montana wheel which make it easy to insert a stick to propel the wheel. With a bit of extra engineering you could easily add a friction drive motor.
The first wheel I put together 30 years ago is still in use. Same type of bolts. The cast iron flange I used then was slightly thicker than the new one I bought recently (thinner and made in China). I used the front wheel assembly from an American Motors car as many older vehicles were rear-wheel drive back then. Only 3 of the 4 bolt-holes in the flange lined up, but it still felt sturdy enough to me. I gave the wheel to a friend who uses it as a rotating platform when working on large hand-built pieces. He just puts a piece of plywood on top of the tire for a flat work surface. My first wheel has a welded triangle-shaped stand that is very heavy. The way that stand was built I estimate it would hold 500 lbs. or more. We used to have fun sitting on the tire and spinning around really fast! (becoming self-centered??)

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