Link Belt vs. a V Belt for Shop Tools

This article has additional information to supplement my YouTube video. My jointer had a bad vibration when powering it down.  When I researched the issue, I saw people saying it was the V Belt, and to use a link belt instead.  I didn’t know what a link belt was, but a little more research and I had it figured out. They also say the vibrations are bad for your bearings, and my vibration shook like crazy, I wouldn’t be surprised if it tore up the bearings very quickly.  My jointer is used (new to me), however, the guy had it for ten years, and never used it.  So essentially new.  The problem with V Belts is when they sit for a long period, the shape gets retained.  If you remove the belt from the jointer, you will see exactly where the small and large pulleys were. I could have bought a new V belt, but the long period of time seemed relative when people talked about it, a few weeks may be enough to set a memory in the belt and start vibrating.  I’m sure it won’t be long before I don’t use the jointer for a few weeks.

I purchased the Fenner Drives PowerTwist Plus V-Belt – 4L 1/2″ x 5′ – 0428030 belt, followed the directions and got it installed.  It was fairly simple to install. The belt isn’t really V shaped any more, and has individual links that make up the belt.  I was wondering how that would ride in the pulley, but moving it by hand, it seemed to ride straight in the pulleys and looked fine.  I turned the jointer on for a few seconds, and back off, and no more vibration – the link belt seemed awesome! These link belts are highly rated on Amazon, everyone seems to really like them.  They are much more expensive than a V belt, but if it got rid of the vibration – it was worth it.

After only about 20 minutes of using the jointer, it seemed to be vibrating slightly when using it, and as I shut it down, I happened to see the top of the belt around the small pulley looked twisted. I removed the back cover and saw the belt looked pretty chewed up on one section of the belt for about a foot.  When that section hits either pulley, it sinks into the pulley, which twists the link belt.  If the belt was this tore up, I didn’t expect too much more run time before the belt breaks.

Notice how the link belt is twisted on the right side of the top pulley
Notice how at the bottom of the pulley, the link belt is twisting into the pulley

I contacted the manufacturer from their web page, and they replied and said the pulleys were probably not aligned, which would cause wear along one side.  That made sense to me, and I figured that is what was wrong, and this was my fault.  I looked down the pulleys and they seemed aligned.  The I got a brass rod and put it on the back of the bottom pulley.  As I swung the rod off and onto the top smaller pulley, it was obvious the pulleys were very much in alignment.  I emailed the manufacturer back, and they asked if I got the wrong size, that I bought the half inch link belt, could I measure my pulleys.  My V Belt model starts with an “A” which means half inch belt.  I also went ahead and measured the pulley, and it is also half an inch.

I don’t know what is wrong, but this problem is no good for me.  I don’t know why everyone else seems to have great luck with these link belts. I’m within the 30 day return period however, so I’ll be returning this link belt.  It isn’t usable. If I thought somehow I did something wrong, I wouldn’t return the belt, but I don’t see what it could be.  I followed the directions precisely.

I may try a notched belt, where they put notches on the underside of the belt.  This is for smaller pulleys, but it also makes the belt more flexible, perhaps this won’t vibrate as much. For example the Gates AX43 Tri-Power Belt, AX Section, AX43 Size, 1/2″ Width, 5/16″ Height, 45″ Outside Circumference belt. I’ve also put my old V belt in the sun, and set some items around it so that it is circular.  Maybe this will get the “memory” and vibration out of that belt.

Update: I did put the old V belt out in the sun, and set a couple rocks around it, trying to get it to “forget” the bends in it from where it sit on the pulleys in one place for so long (straightening the bends). I brought it back in the cooler shop, and left it to cool still bent the opposite way, so the old bend would cool straightened out.  I installed it back into the jointer, and on shutdown, it vibrates, but drastically less! I’ll see how that does the next few weeks.

Second Update (6/13/2017): The ten year old belt that had barely been used went right back to shaking the shop like mad within a few days. Even the band saw was hopping around next to it, on the cement slab! I quit using the jointer, and ordered a belt the Gates AX43 (of course that size belt is for my jointer, the Delta DJ-20), put that on yesterday and the shaking is mostly gone. It just vibrates a bit when shutting it down now. I’ll see how this goes, but hopefully this will be the end of this problem.

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