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A chairlift's return bullwheel

A bullwheel or bull wheel is a large wheel on which a rope turns, such as in a chairlift. In that application, the bullwheel that is attached to the prime mover is called the drive bullwheel, and the other is the return bullwheel.

Originally, bullwheel was an oil field term applied to the large wheel that turns the drum upon which the drilling line is wound in percussion drilling.

The bullwheel began use in farm implements with the reaper. The term described the traveling wheel, traction wheel, drive wheel, or harvester wheel. The bullwheel powered all the moving parts of these farm machines including the reciprocating knives, reel, rake, and self binder. The bullwheel's outer surface provided traction against the ground and turned when the draft animals or tractor pulled the implement forward.[1][2] Cyrus McCormick used the bullwheel to power his 1834 reaper and until the early 1920s when small internal combustion engine gasoline engines like the Cushman Motor[3] began to be favored.


  1. ^ Reaper Bull Wheel Improvements,, archived from the original on 2012-03-25, retrieved 2012-08-21
  2. ^ Revolving Track Wheel for Binder Bull Wheel,, archived from the original on 2012-06-11, retrieved 2012-08-21
  3. ^ Breaking the Land: The Transformation of Cotton, Tobacco, and Rice Cultures Since 1880