Keeps breaking belts

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Blog entry by geppetto posted 07-22-2018 09:06 PM 919 reads 0 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I have a 352VS Porter Cable belt sander that keeps breaking belts at the seam. I believe I’m using quality belts (Gator) but they keep breaking with very little use. Any suggestions on cause?


7 comments so far

View Jeff's profile


525 posts in 3995 days

#1 posted 07-22-2018 11:39 PM

How old are they? I had several top quality belts break like you describe. They were a few years old. I bought new ones and have had no problem. Apparently the glue fails after a time.

View TheFridge's profile


10859 posts in 2287 days

#2 posted 07-23-2018 12:02 AM

I think the gators have tape. Try shopsmith belts if available. I like them better.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View CaptainKlutz's profile (online now)


3324 posts in 2295 days

#3 posted 07-23-2018 05:29 PM

+1 Old belts break faster.
I no longer buy belts in bulk unless I plan to use a lot of them in next few months.
Gator belts are sold at Walmart, while they are not bad belts, I would not expect these to be best quality available in market?

FWIW – Might want to check the backing pad surface on your sander (where belt rubs as you sand). Belt sanders can use a replaceable smooth metal strip, some even have Teflon/graphite backing pad. If this pad is damaged, rough, or missing; belt will heat up faster, and cause tape failure. Can buy graphite pads and retrofit most belt sanders, and this will reduce belt heating.
Have a Ryobi belt sander that likes to destroy cheap HF belts fairly quickly. Until I added graphite wear pad, waxing metal pad helped reduce friction, and cheap belts lasted longer.

Best Luck.

-- If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all, - Albert King - Born Under a Bad Sign released 1967

View Craftsman on the lake's profile

Craftsman on the lake

3384 posts in 4238 days

#4 posted 07-23-2018 08:33 PM

Long shot… are you putting in so they run in the right direction? There’s usually an arrow on the inside of the belt. If you have them backwards the seam will be lifted and they’ll come apart.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

View LittleBlackDuck's profile


4969 posts in 1621 days

#5 posted 07-24-2018 01:16 AM

Hi gepp’o, assuming you are not making the common mistake Cotl above mentioned (we all have our senior moments) and that mentioned by CaptainK’ (which is so often overlooked [though less likely]), I’ll try to make 2 suggestions.

1. As previously mentioned, most glues have a shelf life… like a rubber band they loose their ooze after about 12 months (at least that’s my rule of thumb). If still in their box you may add a little to it’s shelf life, however, if like me you keep then loose and open to the air some (glue/tape bond) are subject to breakdown quicker than others.

2. Another common mistake I make is that I get carried away sanding and either apply too much pressure or think I am running a marathon. The heat on the belt will build up and cause the bond to melt/soften… by the time you get to the paper, after the mandatory profound cussing, it’s probably cooled down enough so you won’t notice the extra heat buildup. Ease of any extra pressure and give the belt a regular coffee break.

I am a spare parts/consumables freak… goes back to before weekend trading when in the past we only got a chance to indulge in our hobby during weekends when we couldn’t replenish our stock… so I got into the “bad” habbit of stockpiling…

This is the prime example of my 24+ month old CA stockpile that I could now bathe in,

I still stockpile to a lesser extent and keep the glues in a dedicated fridge (along with my shellacs).

Back to sanding belts in question… I also stockpiled (as with CA), however, I predominantly use ROSs which didn’t have the issue and when I needed to use my belt sander, I suddenly discovered I lost the “touch” as the belts were exploding quicker than crackers on Chinese New Year. Bought some new ones and my “skill” returned. I now buy as required (like CaptainK’), however, I still keep my old ones in case I run out and when/if needed, find that I am depleting my stash on an exponential basis.

Word of warning about shelf life… You don’t know how long it’s been on the shelf of your potential supplier. Look for any dates on the packaging (if possible). Pick the ones at the back/bottom as usually old stock is brought to the front, however, that may be deemed as an unnecessary practice in hardware stores.
Alternatively look for a dedicated sand paper supplier… they are often cheaper and will vouch for the quality and date of manufacture. You’ll find those few shekels saved at Wallmart (or whatever “bargain” supplier) will quickly get swallowed up by wastage. “Pay peanuts and you’ll get monkeys” doesn’t just apply to zoos.

-- If your first cut is too short... Take the second cut from the longer end... LBD

View cutmantom's profile


407 posts in 3836 days

#6 posted 07-24-2018 01:47 AM

Had this problem too, can’t remember where I read it but I think it was moisture that degraded the glue so store the belts in ziploc bag

View geppetto's profile


38 posts in 3872 days

#7 posted 07-24-2018 09:18 AM

Thanks everyone. In reading these, I’m guessing the belt’s shelf life could be an issue I was unaware of. They are probably >5 years old. They are breaking at the seam. These belts do not have direction arrows. Some belts break very shortly after using, which leads me to believe it is not temp related. I did see somewhere one suggestion was to line the inside with duct tape, I may try that! I definitely won’t buy bulk quantities going forward and may even store in ziplock and include a credo.


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