Air skate or air skid or air bearing or air caster technology has been available on an industrial scale since at least the 1960’s and used by NASA and Boeing et.al. to move heavy equipment from pillar to post.
For light commercial use the impediment has been the availability of inexpensive compressed air.
Now, in spite of the widely available light duty air compressor and pancake tank, the air skid still remains widely unknown and unused in light commercial settings.
Here at the International Handyman Headquarters we could not resist the opportunity to cobble together some experimental variations with ordinary parts and materials to see what it would take to move equipment around the shop.
The results were somewhat surprising.
The first lesson learned was the relation between air volume and air pressure. To make a skid from a plastic pail bottom does not require much air pressure, but it does require a significant volume of air to work properly. Hence, the leaf blower attached to Version #1. A good but awkward attempt.
Again, even slight experimentation proved ineffective when alternate materials – woven polyester tarp fabric or sheet rubber were too cumbersome compared to ordinary garbage bag grade plastic. It works well, but does not have a heavy lift capability.
This brought our experiment to Version #3. In many respects, version #3 is the simplest- a hollowed out block of wood covered with a sheet rubber bladder and an air hose nib on one side. But what performance specifications! It will easily support an 80 pound load on 120 PSI of compressed air! Right now, the only problem is the configuration of the bladder opening since a minimum weight is required for a smooth lift.