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How to Use a Measuring Wheel


man using measuring wheel outside

When you need to measure anything longer than a tape measure, you can rely on a measuring wheel to give you an accurate indication of the distance.

The humble measuring wheel has been around since the 18th century. Since then surveyors and other professions the world over have successfully used the wheel to measure long distances over uneven ground. While the measurement won’t be entirely accurate to the centimetre, it’s close enough.

Origins of the Measuring Wheel

One of the first surveyors to use a measuring wheel or wooden viametre was John Metcalf. After contracting smallpox and going blind as a six-year-old boy, John came up with the idea to build a wheel that made a sound after each rotation. In 1765 he won a contract to build a three-mile stretch of road. During his 30-year career that followed, John was credited with developing 180 miles of road between Yorkshire and Lancashire.

Measuring wheels have had many different names over the years including click wheels, footage wheels, surveyors wheels and distance calculation wheels.

What is a Measuring Wheel?

The modern measuring wheel is made of aluminium and pneumatic or solid wheels. The user walks along the distance for measurement either pushing or pulling the rotating wheel. Rotational kinematics allows you to measure the distance between the beginning and end points.

How to Use a Measuring Wheel

For the most accurate measurement, you need to be aware of your walking pace and the terrain. Before putting the measuring wheel on the ground, check the wheel for any dirt or small rocks as these can impact on the rotation of the wheel. To help improve accuracy, you can run a string line and walk the wheel along the line.  

1.    Place the wheel where you want the measurement to begin

2.    Walk the length of the distance you want to measure at the same even pace

3.    At the end point, pick up the wheel and read the measurement without moving the wheel.  

Different Size Wheels

Measuring wheels have different size wheels available depending on the job it’s doing. The rougher the surface, the larger the wheel required.

Below is a list of occupations and the wheel size they most often use:

Smaller wheels (10 cm diameter) – carpet layers, interior designers, realtors, claims assessors, architects and accident investigators.

Medium wheels (16 cm diameter) – landscapers, greenkeepers, developers, paving contractors, plumbers, factory fitters and irrigation workers.

Large wheels (32 cm diameter) – farmers, teachers, sports centre coordinators, land management workers, insurance assessors and road markers.  

The smaller wheel can measure a distance of 1km while the larger wheel units are capable of measuring 10 km.  

Uses for Measuring Wheels

The commercial purposes for measuring wheels are endless. From marking out lines for roads and sports grounds to measuring a building site or farm fence line, measuring wheels can do it all.    

Homeowners use the wheel for measuring awkward shaped gardens and blocks. Even the interior of a house can be measured faster and just as accurately as a tape measure.

Types of Measuring Wheels Available

A good quality measuring wheel can suit almost all commercial and domestic requirements. The Rotosure Classique Pro Measuring Wheel is GSR Laser Tools’ best seller because it is a good quality, versatile wheel that is purchased by a wide range of industries.

While most measuring wheels can be used in a range of settings, there are a few that are designed for just one industry. Railway workers use a specialised wheel called a Trumeter Railway Track Measurer for accurately measuring track length. Side plates fit over the railway tracks to ensure stability. The German and Swiss made Nedo Rail Track Measuring Wheel is another quality product made for the industry capable of lasting a lifetime.    

Most brands also have a measuring wheel carry bag available for storing and transporting your wheel without risking damage.  

Most brands sell a measuring wheel carry bag for storing and transporting your wheel without risking damage.  

The Range of Measuring Wheels

If you are looking to buy one for commercial or domestic use, check out our range of measuring wheels.  If you have any queries about the right measuring wheel for your situation, don’t hesitate to call GSR Laser Tools on (08) 9409 4058 or contact us online.

Category: News