Flex Clone Sugar Glider Wheel

This is a description of how to make a clone of the original Haba Pro Tec-Flex exercise wheel. It is a bucket lid style where the mesh track is edged and just hangs open on one side, hence the name "Flex." Modern popular designs use a second bucket lid to brace the mesh track which makes for a stiffer wheel.
The bucket lid I use has a raised or extruded place that is dead center on the wheel. This saves you having to figure where to start you drilling.
I choose the cheapest boring bit I could find at Lowe’s to show that you really don’t have to have expensive tool to do the job.

Here are different bits and saws available. On the left is the boring bit and on the right is the hole saw. The hole saws general do a better job making a nice round hole but as you will see, the boring on the left can do a very passable job as well. Rowdy gave some good safety tips on the GC board and suffice to say that when working with tools you should follow all manufacturers recommendations. Also remember not to leave any sharp or dangerous corners on the wheel.
Start by placing the inside of the wheel facing up. Make sure that you have nothing under the wheel that can be damaged by the tip of the bit as it penetrates through the plastic. The idea here is to just get the bit started dead center as shown.  
Once the hole is started, pull the bit out and flip the lid over so the outside is on top. Insert the tip of the bit into the hole you already started as shown in figure 4.  
Be sure to keep the bit a straight as possible to ensure you have a good round hole. Notice the little cutters on each edge of the boring bit. They are the ones that will be doing most of the cutting so apply very little pressure.   
Continue cutting until you have drilled all the way through.  
Again the real trick here is to apply even light pressure while keeping the bit straight and level. The completed hole should look like this.
The next step will be to insert the bearing so now would be a good time talk about glue. If anyone comes across any better information, please let me know. I picked 5 minute epoxy and the final choice because based on the best information I could find, it is best suited for the wheel assembly. It tunes out that food grade silicone sealant is fine for application where it comes in contact with food but not good for ingestion. The epoxy comes completely inert when it cures so is not supposed to be harmful if mixed and applied right. You choose whatever glue you think is best because I just don’t have definitive research one way or the other. Follow the instructions for the epoxy you are using very carefully. The glue has to be mixed very thoroughly and allowed to cure for two days. The reason for this is that any uncured epoxy is very toxic. That is also why you must mix very well. You can’t have any unmixed glue on anything that can come in contact with the gliders. 
If you are using 5 minute epoxy like I was, quickly apply a moderate amount to the inside of the bearing collar as shown.
Inset the bearing into the lid as shown and press firmly.
Allow the glue to thoroughly dry and it should look like this.
The Stand The pipe cutter shown in figure 11 only costs a few dollars and works real slick on cutting PVC pipe. You can also use just any tool that will cut wood or a hacksaw. 
You will need to measure and cut five pieces of 1/2" PVC. The support arm is 9", the two cross supports are 4 1/2", and the two feet are 8". If you use the pipe cutting tool, cut the pieces like this.
Here are all the pieces of pipe you are going to need. 
Take the 9" piece and measure 1 1/2" down from an end and make a mark. From the same end measure 1 1/4" on the opposite side and make a mark. This is where you will need to drill a 3/8" hole through for the bearing shaft. 
Drill the hole on one side then the hole on the other side. Make sure the bolt will pass freely through the pipe. 
Assemble the stand with glue pressing the pieces together very firmly. You might want to check the tightness periodically after giving the wheel to your gliders. 
The Screen Take the roll of screen (gutter guard) and lay it around the inside of the wheel and mark for cutting. Don't use any over-lap of the screen. 
Make sure you make of good square cut or the wheel won't be round. We used a sharp knife but a pair of heavy scissors would work fine. 
Get a piece of the nylon webbing and measure it by wrapping it all the way around the screen then allowing a little extra and cut it off. 

Heat seal the edges so it won't fray.
Mix another batch of epoxy and put a even medium coat on one side of the nylon.
Using the nylon webbing, put the two ends of the screen together then fold over the nylon as shown. Make sure the ends come together straight. 
I laid the glued joint down on the table the pressed the other side of the loop down over the whole thing to makes sure it was straight then laid bricks on top for a good solid joint. Let it stay until epoxy has set-up.
After the glue has cured trim the inside of the screen of excess nylon webbing. The trimmed side will be the side that gets hot-glued to the wheel. 
You could glue the outside webbing but I prefer to sew it so it can be replaced easier. Sew or glue the webbing to the outside but make sure you heat-seal the ends first. 
Using a hot glue gun, secure the screen to the lid at least 8 points. The screen part is done with only the final assembly remaining. 
Here is the hardware you need. Again, you don't have to use the hardware I did but make sure you make all the necessary adjustments if you use something else. 
Finding the bearing and a proper bolt will probably be the biggest challenge for you. We used a modified carriage bolt. We really liked the round head because it offers the best safety I could think of for my gliders. The problem with it is that it has a square key right next to the head that won't pass through the bearing. It has to go. We used a mill file on our first one and it worked pretty good. The file is reasonably cheap and if you hold the bold with a pair of pliers (protecting the bolt threads), you can file it down. It does take some time and effort. Later, I went to the shed and got my bench grinder and that takes only a couple of minutes. Of course, I know that most of you won't have a bench grinder but the file does work. My first wheel is still hard at work and it was made with a file. This is a good time to say that if anyone comes up with an alternative solutions to this method of building a wheel, feel free to let us know. I encourage all comments as long as they are kept positive. Here is the carriage bold after filing down the square key.  

Insert a plastic washer (if needed) onto the bolt the insert the bolt through the bearing from the inside of the wheel.
On the backside of the wheel, insert the spacer and a washer in the bolt.
Attach the stand with a washer and wing nut.
Congratulations! You now have a Flex Wheel Clone. 

Flex Wheel Clone Project / Materials

The Lid
The lids are just basic bucket lids available from Lowe's or HD (Home Depot). They cost a little less than a dollar around here. You really want to use the 12 inch diameter size on this project because the bigger the wheel, the better they can jump and leap in it. The flexibility of the lid has not been a problem with mine so far because remember, this is a flex wheel project and it is supposed to have a certain amount of 'action'. Here you have a couple of options. If you use the same hardware I do, then everything will match just fine. If you use your own sizes or types, then you will need to fit everything yourself.

I use a 3/8" x 3 1/2" carriage bolt. The problem with these bolts is that they have a square area 'key' under the head that has to be rounded down to the same size as the threads so it will fit all the way into the bearing. On my first wheel I used a mill file and did it by hand. It really was not that hard but did take a little time. I now have a bench grinder that will do the job in a few minutes. You do have alternatives. You can go to the local hardware store and maybe find a button head screw the same size as the bolt I use. This is a slotted round headed screw. You will have to make sure that the rest of the hardware is compatible with the thread size on the screw. I would also recommend filing or sanding the slot edges so that are not so sharp.

This one little piece is what really determines how will your wheel will perform and how much noise it makes. the bearing is called a 'Radial Bearing'. It is made by Freeway of Cleveland, OH. and packed by Hillman and the Hillman part number is 838626. It is a 3/8 X 1 3/8 bearing. I have found them at both the local Tractor Supply and our local hardware store. There are other bearings that can be used which would certainly change how the wheel comes together. A better design might be one that uses no glues.

Plastic Washers
I used Hillman (#881547) 3/8" Nylon Flat Washers between the bolt head and the bearing to act as a spacer to reduce friction and noise. Washers You will need two metal washers (stainless steel preferably). Spacer A nylon or metal spacer 3/8" inside diameter and 1" long sill work fine. Wing Nut The 3/8" wing nut from Hillman #880157 is the one I used.

Plastic Mesh
You shouldn't need more that 38" for every wheel you make. The flexible mesh is called 'Co-Polymer Gutter Guard' made by Amerimax in 6" X 20' Rolls. I got it here at a Lowe's. Some Home Depot's carry it too. The bar Code number is 4982185198. It costs than three bucks for twenty feet of the stuff. At first it may seem like it is too flexible but it is not. Again, this is a flex wheel and needs the 'action' and light weight of this material.

1/2" PCV Pipe
Just the standard stuff you can get at HD or Lowe's. A few feet will be plenty. Add two 1/2" PVC 90 deg. elbows, a 1/2" tee, and a couple of 1/2" end caps.

I went down to our local hardware store and found 1" webbing in all sorts of colors for 19 cents a foot. Get about four feet of it and you will have a little extra.

I used 5 minute epoxy. I also used some heavy duty thread to sew some of the mesh on.