We travel with our children fairly often. When our boys were young, they had child-sized roller suitcases gifted to them by family. As the boys have gotten larger (as have the quantities of what they pack!) my sons inherited some of our hand-me-down luggage.
My youngest son has been using a roller suitcase that I got when I was a teenager — it’s been around more than a while, but incredibly, it’s proven to be a well-built piece of luggage over the years. On a previous trip, though, one of the wheels picked up a small rock which became lodged between the edge of the luggage wheel and its housing. By the time we reached the car, the wheel had ground down quite a bit, developing flat edges in spots from being dragged through the parking lot without rolling freely.
We could have replaced the suitcase, of course, but it irked me that everything else about the suitcase was fine and functional aside from the bad wheel. I looked at replacing the wheel, but I could not find one that was the right size or shape to match the other, working wheel.
As I was unsuccessfully searching online for replacement luggage wheels, I came across this fix at Instructables showing how to repair a broken suitcase wheel with duct tape.
My dad has long joked that just about anything can be fixed with duct tape, but there’s a lot of truth to that statement. Instead of finding a replacement wheel, this Instructable showed how to wrap the remaining core of the broken wheel with duct tape until it matched the same diameter of the existing wheel. It recommended tapering the duct-tape edges of the wrapped wheel down so the edges are thinner than the center so they don’t rub on the suitcase’s wheel housing, then wrapping in black electrical tape to match the existing black wheel.
Well, I had all of these supplies at home, so I figured that I’d give it a shot! I drilled out the original axle for the worn wheel, which had originally been riveted in. Removing the wheel revealed both the flat edges of the luggage wheel and the small rock that damaged the wheel in the first place.
I built up the worn, flat edges of the wheel with several layers of duct tape, then wrapped the wheel with another layer of duct tape to bring it back to round. I tapered the edges of the repair with a utility knife. Finally, I wrapped the newly-fixed wheel with a layer of electrical tape to finish it (and to hide the fact that I’d used orange duct tape, the first roll I happened to find in our garage!)
A quick trip to the hardware store for a bolt, lock washer and nut to replace the original axle cost less than a dollar, and the suitcase was ready for use once again.
Well, I’m happy to report that this duct-tape-repaired wheel is not only working just fine but also survived its first trip since the repair — it rolled on and on through two airports, hotel hallways, and multiple parking lots during the kids’ winter break.
Who knew? Duct tape really can fix just about anything.