Product Review: WCP Colson Hubs
For years a large number fighting robot builders (Battlebots etc) have been using Colson wheels due to their durability and grip characteristics, however until the 2012 season no viable COTS item allowed for them to be easily used on a FIRST robot.
Before 2012 a small subset of teams were consistently manufacturing hubs of their own in both live axle and dead axle configurations. These teams include, but are not limited to 125, 11, 228, 121, and 2168.
At the end of the 2011 season a mentor from 2168, Justin Foss, frustrated with the resources used to manufacture the hubs on their own partnered with the new formed West Coast Products to bring the dead axle hub to market as a COTS item. The design initial sold was an updated version of the 2011 dead axle hub design. The 2012-2013 version of the hubs are pictured in the title image of the post.
Above you can see the latest revision of the design. The Colson Live hubs enable a direct drive system via a powered hex shaft. The hub is also slightly longer than previous options, allowing a better fit for both 1.5” and 2” wide wheels. Colson Dead hubs allow the wheels to powered by a sprocket, pulley or gear. The hub now features an integrated VersaKey pattern, providing seamless interaction with all VEXpro sprockets, pulleys, and gears. Plus, the new hub also features a counter-bore, allowing teams to use either flanged or non-flanged bearings.
The bearing options for the dead axle hubs allow for the following bearings to be used:
Flanged Bearing – 0.375in x 0.875in x 0.280in
Radial Bearing – 0.375in x 0.875in x 0.281in
Radial Bearing – 0.500in x 0.875in x 0.281in
Wheels sizes available for direct use with these hubs are from the Colson Performa product line. Diameters include 3″, 4″, 5″, 6″ and 8″, with widths of either 1.5″ or 2″. Wheels can be purchased direct from Colson or local Colson Distributor, RobotMarketPlace, McMaster, or various other suppliers.
Teams have been seeing excellent success with this hub and wheel combo, lasting entire seasons without the need to change out the wheels with minimal impact on performance. There are cases of a single set of wheels lasting 100+ matches.
Unofficial reports confirm that the coefficient of friction with these wheels on carpet is just slightly below that of roughtop, however the Colson wheels outperform roughtop on smooth surfaces such as polycarbonate and aluminum.
There are some downsides to the Colson wheels, mainly the space envelope required to run them and their weight is higher than most other COTS wheel options. It will be up to the individual team/user to determine if that is an acceptable trade off.
Article Content Provided by: Justin Foss