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Tip of the Day

Assessing Drive Components - Sheaves and Belts
(19 January 2019)

Some pieces of equipment have many drive belts, and a lot of time and money may be required to replace them all. Invert or twist the belts backward, then bend them. If they're cracked badly on the bottom edges, they are almost worn out. If the bottom edge is glazed, it is probably bottoming out within the sheave and should be replaced.

Bent sheaves (pulleys) usually are not a major concern, but the resulting wobble can provide clues to other problems. Most important, it may indicate that the sheave was damaged in a collision, or from removal or installation. Check whatever the pulley is attached to to see if it is damaged or if it was worked on or replaced. Has another component in the drive train caused the failure? Belts in a wobbly system may fail prematurely, so check them carefully.

A V-belt which looks like this one will soon fail. The curved segments show that the belt was slipping on the drive sheave, resulting in heat damage to the belt. The question you should ask is "Why did the belt slip?" or "Why did the belt stall while the sheave continued to drive?" The belt may just be poorly tensioned, but something could be jammed farther down the drive train. In addition, a bearing may have failed or may be failing, or perhaps some closely aligned parts in the drive system have collided or are worn to the point that they donŐt mesh properly. Belt tension may not be the only problem.

If a drive belt has bottomed out, the beltŐs lower edge and the bottom of the sheave groove will be shiny. Take a close look at the drive sheaves. If they are worn, like the one shown, the bottom edge of the belt is probably bottoming out in the groove. Buying a new belt is a short-term solution; the sheave must be replaced to solve the problem.

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