Michael Cochran has had sugar gliders for many years. He and his wife operate a small glider rescue in Winston Salem. Along with gliders, they have a paraplegic squirrel and 2 guinea pigs and have had chinchillas. Finding a safe and quiet way to allow them to get exercise can be difficult. That is why these wheels are so important. They have no center axle to allow safe and injury free running. They also have high quality bearings that run silently. And they are affordable.
History of the Free RUNNER
IN THE BEGINNING SugaRae’s Attic began in 2003 as an Ebay store. We reopened SugaRae’s Attic Inc. as a web business in April of 2004. Although SugaRae’s Attic is the parent company of the STEALTH WHEEL™, the story of the wheel dates back to 2001. I originally made my first two wheels in the fall of 2001. It was a very simple design, and I was so proud of them. I made use of some gutter guard with some trim glued to the outside, two bucket lids that I found laying around the house and some caulk to form the barrel. I inserted a bolt through the middle of the bucket lids and drilled a hole in a PVC stand. No matter what anyone said they were beautiful in my eyes. And much to my surprise it worked and my pets loved them. But with the constant running, I soon realized there was a problem with my little homemade wheel. The bolt going through the stand was wearing the hole bigger which allowed the barrel to sag and rub, and rub, and rub, aaaaalll night long. For awhile I was happy to just replace the PVC about once a month. Replacing that PVC had to be done just to get any sleep. At this point I have to give credit where credit is due to a man named Gary who created the original Haba Pro-Flex. He inspired me to make those first two wheels. He was a visionary and a true inventor.
ALONG CAME CHARLIE: The design years – OK, these were years of trying new things, tossing them out, trying something else, arguing just a little, sending to testers and going back to the drawing board to try something new. It was also a time of much research into patent laws to making sure we weren’t stepping on any toes and deciding what public domain was and what wasn’t. I wish someone would have told me that there is no glue that will permanently bond to plastic. Trust me we tried them all. We tried pouring the bases out of resin. Just when we thought we had it, one of them accidentally got tapped against the side of a table and it shattered into a million pieces. Back to the drawing board. We also tried molding our own hubs. It would come out thicker on one side than the other, or it would have bubbles in it, or it would stick to the mold. So we built different molds, and special tables for leveling, and we stirred slower. Anybody want to buy a gallon of that liquid plastic? Just kidding, but I DO still have one.
ALMOST THERE: At the SGGA in 2003, the STEALTH WHEEL™ got its first public viewing. It was a prototype of all our work and we promised to send the winner (Sheila) the first final draft. We did send it… It fell apart; She sent it back and said try again. And try again we did! We ordered more stuff, tossed some out, tried some new things, argued just a little, sent to testers and went back to the drawing board.
FINALLY: We were scheduled to open in March 2004 when we realized one of our competitors was using a bushing that was similar to the one we were using. Just weeks before opening we switched to a ball bearing and developed the “Stealth Quiet Hub”. This unique design was the first time a ball bearing had been attached to this type wheel. So we opened with the red (stand), white (bucket lid) and blue (diamond net) SteatlhWheel. Soon we began to offer the Stealth kit with a PVC stand, the Stealth Junior, the Stealth Flex and the Stealth Flyer with the semi open front, and color choices. Somewhere along the line we changed to a sealed ball bearing, the square net, and we modified the hub.
IN JUNE OF 2005: We introduced the StealthXtreme with its powder coated steel stand.
June 2007: Those stands have sure been through some changes, haven’t they? We found a source where we could get black PVC for the stands. This change made the STEAALTH WHEEL™l beautiful, professional looking, and unique. But the company we ordered from changed their policy and they no longer wanted to service small companies. So we had to quickly make a change. In May of 2008 we again returned to a powder coated metal stand.
Sept 2009 the Whirl Wheel: So if you read the beginning of this story, you know that the wheel we tested got a last minute change and we replaced the bushings with a ball bearing. The Whirl Wheel is that wheel that we tested so many years ago.
Through the years, we realized that some animals, especially our rat customers, found the plastic net running surface very tasty. In October of 2009, we introduced the Stealth Magnum. It comes with a 6 inch wide PVC coated metal wire net that should be a little less chewable.
In 2016 the Patent for the first Freedom Wheel was applied for. In 2017 the Freedom Wheel was finally on the market. The Freedom Wheel was a game changer. This wheel is Injected molded out of High Quality ABS plastic
In May of 2020 Free Runner Inc Purchased all assets from Atticworx Inc and began production.