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Drive Belts - Link or Vee?

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ChrisH15/06/2018 10:08:02
817 forum posts
12 photos

Another "what does the team think" topic!

When renewing drive belts does one go with vee belts or with link belts? What are the pros and cons?

The reason for asking is that I know nothing about link belts, have always used vee belts. I have heard that link belts may be smoother running, but having never used them I don't know if this is correct. I also understand the ability to replace a link belt wth taking machinery apart to do it, which may be an advantage over vee belts certainly. Other than that?

Is there a minimum length that one can make a link belt to obtain the alleged benefits?

Are link belts more dangerous in use than vee belts, meaning are they more likely to come apart?

If one goes with vee belts, what make is a good make to choose? Like all things belt quality varies and there are some rubbish vee belts on the market, I seem to have some to prove that!

Ditto with link belts - which make should one look for to buy?


Brian H15/06/2018 10:21:15
1134 forum posts
85 photos

My preference is for standard belts, made by a reputable manufacturer such as Dunlop.

I use a link belt on my Boxford lathe because it avoids having to dismantle the spindle. The belt I'm using came from and is excellent quality 'though not cheap!


Mike Poole15/06/2018 10:42:19
1967 forum posts
46 photos

Belts from famous European and American brands are very good (Continental, Gates etc.) I would use a regular belt if access is no problem but as my lathe spindle is nicely adjusted I used a link belt to replace the old one. A decent quality link belt should not break and if the machine is properly guarded there should be little danger if it did.


David George 115/06/2018 10:55:37
815 forum posts
282 photos

I would only use a link beit as a last resort a good quality corect size v belt is going to last and safer if not totaly guarded. They have uses but only buy a solid correct material belt not cheep plastic type that stretch.


Tricky15/06/2018 12:04:25
35 forum posts
2 photos

I changed the old V-belts on My Myford S7 to link belts and it runs much smoother. Before I changed the motor to countershaft belt the vibration made the high speed almost unusable but now there is no problem.

I bought the proper Fenner belts from Lathespares.


Roderick Jenkins15/06/2018 12:08:47
1746 forum posts
443 photos

In my experience, the only real disadvantage with good quality link belts is the price compared to a standard V belt. Link belts do have the reputation of being smoother running than conventional V belts - probably because they are more flexible. This is probably more evident when the pulleys are relatively small and have close centres (as might be found on a home lathe or milling machine). Cogged belts can help to overcome these issues at a cheaper price than link belts. In short, if installation is easier with a link belt from a reputable manufacturer then I would go for it (and have on my S7).


Nick Hulme15/06/2018 12:16:09
690 forum posts
37 photos

For a given tension good quality traditional belts transmit greater torque before slipping than most link belts.
If your machine has no plain bearings you can compensate with greater tension or if slip is not an issue then link belts should be fine.

Hopper15/06/2018 12:17:44
3651 forum posts
72 photos

+1 on the cogged belts Rod mentioned. I have a cogged V belt on our ML7 and it runs nice and smooth. Bends around those tiny pulleys very nicely.

But if you feel your mechanical skills or confindence levels are not up to pulling the spindle out of its bearings, or just don't want to disturb a good-running spindle and bearings, the link belts would seem a good idea.

larry phelan 115/06/2018 12:38:15
436 forum posts
11 photos

When the belts on my Craftsman lathe give up,they will be replaced with link belts. No way do I want to get involved in pulling out shafts and replacing them,just for the sake of new belts. Let sleeping dogs lie !

I have used link belts in the past on other machines and never had a problem with them. They might cost a little more,but how often do you need to fit new belts anyway?

mgnbuk15/06/2018 14:56:05
506 forum posts
10 photos

Only had bad experiences with modern, plastic, link belts - both at home (Boxford CUD) and at work (J&S Cylindrical grinder). On the CUD a link belt has to be used, as it goes through the swarf tray to loop around the spindle. The original 1960s Boxford belt used a canvas based link, rather than the hard, shiny, fibre reinforced plastic links used today. Even bow-string tight the new belt slipped under load so, when I had to choose between a Super 7 & the CUD, the CUD went. Similar situation with the J & S grinder, which had 3 belts - we were recommended to use link belts for smooth running, but belt slip limited the load that could be applied (the machine had been converted into a CNC cut-off grinder to slice carbide tubes into short lengths for mechanical seals).

I much prefer raw edge, moulded cog wedge belts, as these conform well round small diameter pulleys, don't need to be excessively tight & drive well. I have no use for a power transmission system that doesn't transmit power when I need it to. Properly maintained (i.e. tensioned) endless belts last a long time, so the minor inconvenience of having to drop shafts or spindles out to change a belt is, to me, just that - a minor inconvenience.

Have not had much sucess with poly-vees in industrial applications either - but that is another can of worms !

Nigel B

ChrisH15/06/2018 21:58:13
817 forum posts
12 photos

Many thanks for all the replies - I think you have convinced me the way to go!

Thanks also for the recommendations for belt makers/manufacturers to go for.


Vic15/06/2018 22:51:07
2106 forum posts
10 photos

I’ve found a good place to get V belts is a motor factors, they’re normally very reasonably priced.

Neil Lickfold16/06/2018 00:32:11
551 forum posts
102 photos

Back in 05 or 06 while living in America, brought some link belt for the Myford S7. Best thing I ever did. Apart from the initial stretch, but followed the instructions with the link belt( ie make it the shortest specified length 1st), it has been like magic. The vibration that I used to get completely dissapeared. I can have a dti on a workpiece with the motor running and you can see the needle position. Before it vibrated and you could not read the dti. This is from the motor to the clutch. I have not yet needed to replace the head stock belt yet, but do have the link belt for the day I need to replace that belt. The current headstock belt is a gates segmented quiet run belt. Has little grooves to let air out or something.


John Haine16/06/2018 07:36:18
2543 forum posts
132 photos

The cheap plastic link belts are useless, they stretch and slip. RS sell Gates (I think) fibre interlocking link belting, a bit pricey but very good. I use it on the spindle drive of my Super 7 and on my VMB where I've fitted a vfd and simplified the drive to have only a single belt motor to spindle. Get the right size! RDG sell a plastic, cheaper belt for the Myford which fits the older lathes but not the smaller section pulleys on the big bore version.

Ian S C17/06/2018 12:24:48
7390 forum posts
230 photos

I got a cheap T link belt for my lathe from R.R. Fisher Ltd in Christchurch (NZ), less than half the price of Fenner belt. It took a bit to bed in, and it slipped, and as I used it I ended up removing three or four links, it now gives a good solid drive. Belt dressing may help, I'v never tried it.

Ian S C

Vic17/06/2018 12:51:43
2106 forum posts
10 photos

Belt dressing, never heard of that before Ian. You learn something every day! smiley

Neil Lickfold17/06/2018 20:42:10
551 forum posts
102 photos

Thanks Ian , Fenner is the link belts I have , and is the one installed on my motor to clutch pulley. I have another type I was given, that has metal pins to join the links, but have not used it yet either. One day I guess.


bricky17/06/2018 23:37:18
373 forum posts
47 photos

I used a Brammer belt 30years ago on my MyfordS7 it was of the metal round stud type of laminated fabric I think.For some reason I changed it to a plastic belt and after some time it started to slip under load and even removing links didn't stop the slippage.I thought it must be the clutch and fiddled with this to no avail,I remembered the old Brammer belt and fitted it, immediate difference, from now on I would buy the best Brammer belt if they are still made from the same material as even oil soaked they have a good drive.I have no connection to the company.


Trevor Crossman 118/06/2018 10:18:20
125 forum posts
15 photos
Posted by Vic on 17/06/2018 12:51:43:

Belt dressing, never heard of that before Ian. You learn something every day! smiley

Vic, belt dressing is stuff that I used to put on the flat belts of my old Fordson tractor to drive a saw bench and on the belt of my old Lister one lung Benford dumper. It used to be on a can for brush application but now is available in a spray can, Rocol make it I think.


Ian S C18/06/2018 13:54:56
7390 forum posts
230 photos

On the old flat belts some used Molasses, but then you had problems with mice eating the Molasses flavoured leather or canvas belt. The aerosol can would be handy, although I'v never found the need (yet).

Ian S C

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