Better Wheels for the Traeger Tailgater
I received a Traeger Tailgater as a gift last year and I love it. It’s compact, easy to store, and works amazingly well. It has more than enough grill space for me and is pretty minimalist on features, which I like. Last Thanksgiving, many people wished they didn’t get the “smart” Wi-Fi-enabled version.
Just like my gas grill, I store the Traeger in the garage for use on my back patio. Whenever I rolled it out, the tiny wheels got stuck on any little bump or crack making it a pain to get set up for grilling. I figured it would be an easy upgrade to switch out the existing wheels for new ones and also add an additional set of wheels to make the grill easier to move (I don’t ever travel with the grill so I wasn’t worried about preventing it from being able to fold up).
I decided to use 8-inch rubber wheels from Harbor Freight that cost $6 each. The wheels are made of solid rubber, have a weight capacity of 300 pounds, and have a steel hub for a 5/8-inch axle - probably totally overkill for my little grill, but I figured I might as well go for it if I’m doing the upgrade. I also bought a 5/8-inch threaded rod, regular nuts, steel locknuts, and a black oxide 5/8 inch drill bit for drilling through the metal legs.
I set up my drill press with some clamped pieces of wood to secure the metal legs and to make sure things lined up. This is an important step for safety but also helps prevent the bit from wandering when drilling into metal.
I realized that if I wanted to reuse the holes from the existing axle (and just enlarge them), I needed to make sure the holes for the axle on the other side were in the same spot to keep the grill level. I carefully measured from the top of the legs because the legs are actually different lengths on each side of the grill. With the help of some oil for lubrication, the drill bit easily went through all four legs.
After putting the axle through holes and securing it with some inner nuts, I had some issues with getting the right spacing between the wheel hubs and the metal legs. The outer diameter of my washers was too big and would rub against the outer hub on the wheel. The washers did not have a tight fit and would rattle against the axle when the grill moved. After messing with it for a bit, I realized I could just 3D print my own spacer that was the exact dimensions I wanted. After designing it in OpenSCAD and printing it on my 3D printer, I had the perfect part for my needs.
With the new part in place and the locknuts tightened up I was able to test out the new improved mobility of my Tailgater. I was thrilled with the end result! It glides over cracks and bumps, easily rolls over grass and the combined weight of the heavy wheels (over 20 pounds) keeps the grill super stable on any flat surface. I would highly recommend this upgrade to anyone with Tailgater, as the wheels have been my only real complaint about this awesome little grill.