Link belts for Multi-Pulley Cabinet saws?

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Forum topic by VeritasInnovations posted 04-21-2015 11:09 AM 2700 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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10 posts in 2044 days

04-21-2015 11:09 AM

Topic tags/keywords: tablesaw delta unisaw v-belt link-belt pulley

Hi Guys, I recently bought an item off of my “Lust List”, a mid 80’s Delta Unisaw. I brought it home and completely dis-assembled it and cleaned it thoroughly and re-assembled. I noticed when I re-installed the belts that they consecutively had increasing slack with the inner most to the arbor being the tightest and the outermost to the cabinet being the loosest. Even the slack in the outermost belt seemed to be enough to engage. I know that this saw sat for a while until the owner recently passed due to cancer, and the uneven nature of these belts could be the result of the drive pulley not being totally parallel to the arbor pulley (causing the uneven wear). I have a few questions concerning this….

1.) Are these belts possibly meant to be progressively looser ( in other words, is this a sort of “helper” system kind of like the helper axles on a dump truck) ? If so, where is the leverage gained for tension as the arbor is stationary.

2.) As I imagine that the answer to Q 1. is more than likely “NO”, I anticipate a full belt change. What is the best V-belt that I can use to optimize running “smoothness” ?

3.) Am I limited to only a V-belt ? I am wondering if I could use round belts or link-belts in order to gain the smoothest operation with the least likelyhood of ever slipping (if they ever even could) and the least perpensity to deformation ( which plauges the V-belt design) ?

4.) I recently bought a Link belt just to try it on another machine and I really liked it, but it seemed as if It may not provide the same level of grip as a v-belt due to the observation that it did not fully engage the full inner profile of the pulley. Is this observation correct?

5.) It would make sense to me also that, If the pulleys are not in perfect alignment with each other ( i.e. drive pulley running slightly left or right of the arbor pulley) the belt may settle and wear in a non-symmetrical fashion which I would think would make their stretching during this settling process non-uniform ( leaving me with belts with the same “uniform tension” issue that I am sharing currently.

6.) Seeing that I love to tinker and I have capability of machining, I considered the idea if removing the v-belt pulleys and replacing them either with machined cogged belt pulleys and Flat cogged belts (like the timing belts on most cars) or machined v-ribbed pulleys and belts (like the serpentine belts in most cars).

7.) Has anyone experimented with any of the afore-mentioned ideas. If so, which one did you try and what were your results?

I would be interested in putting a link-belt setup on this tri-pulley system as they run like butter, but I’m having second thoughts on longevity and moreover concerned that these belts may not be designed to withstand and correctly distribute the tension and torque that this saw is built to produce, and am looking to define the best “tradeoff” between quality of performance and the length of time that quality performance is sustained.Thanks in advance for the help!

10 replies so far

View TheFridge's profile


10859 posts in 2292 days

#1 posted 04-21-2015 11:49 AM

All the belts should have the same tension. You have to buy them in matched sets. That’s about all I can help with.

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

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

6315 posts in 3299 days

#2 posted 04-21-2015 12:03 PM

It’s a common opinion that the belts of today are made much more precisely than the ones of years ago, and the matched set is a thing of the past. Pick what you want. I replaced mine (2001 model) with Goodyear AX 24 (actually 3 of them) , a cogged belt that worked very well. The Gates equivalent would be just as good. During all this I had always been told by our companies engineers that we shouldn’t use link belts on multi belt drive equipment, the idea being that they take a while to seat fully, and the belts are all different lengths during and after this process. I believe this, but actually called Fenner to ask. They claim that link belts work fine on multi belt drive machines….the seating process is fairly quick so any difference is short-lived. Another one where you pick what you want to believe and go from there.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View AlaskaGuy's profile


5867 posts in 3115 days

#3 posted 04-21-2015 12:09 PM

I have an old Rockwell 12-14’’ cabinet saw with a 4 pulley system. I’ve been using link belts on that for years. Work fine.

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

View bigblockyeti's profile


6638 posts in 2526 days

#4 posted 04-21-2015 12:33 PM

I had the original three belts on my Unisaw and it would vibrate a little after initial start up, but would smooth out after a minute or so when the belts got a little heat in them. I replaced them with Goodyear AX24 belts for a little over $8/ea. from Amazon and the result was much smoother operation.

-- "Lack of effort will result in failure with amazing predictability" - Me

View unbob's profile


810 posts in 2709 days

#5 posted 04-21-2015 04:14 PM

My experience with link belts in multiples is limited to the shaper pictured. They were on the machine when I bought it. I purchased new Gates Vextra V belts, only to quickly put the link belts back on because of the smoothness-the pulley setup on the machine in the photo runs at 7000rpm.
The link belts 2ea do not slip. They are Fenner belts that have been on the machine for a long time, and have equalized themselves. Fenner states it takes 24hrs run time for the belts to equalize. If tightened more, they seem to stretch to the same tension every time…they are different that way.
If the pulleys on your machine do not align, that needs to be fixed. Looking at a Unisaw manual some time back, it states when adjusting the belts, the weight of the motor will make the belts too tight…..
I have a Delta 12-14 like Alaska guy, it uses four belts. These saws 3 or 4 belts do not need that many belts to transmit the power. They use multiple belts more for cushion from vibration, being able to run them looser.
Like this-if the belts are too tight, the cabinet will rumble…. If the belts are too loose, the belts will slap. Both conditions cause vibration, so there is a sweet spot between too loose and too tight-not hard to find keeping in mind V belts get tighter when warmed up.

View MrRon's profile


5925 posts in 4049 days

#6 posted 04-21-2015 04:22 PM

I would go with the Gates vee belts, as they are matched. Link belts will stretch unevenly.

View AlaskaGuy's profile


5867 posts in 3115 days

#7 posted 04-23-2015 12:25 PM

I would go with the Gates vee belts, as they are matched. Link belts will stretch unevenly.

- MrRon

Maybe the do, I don’t know. Maybe it doesn’t matter, I don’t know. I do know I’ve used them on my 4 pulley table saw for over 15 years with no noticeable downside.

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

View unbob's profile


810 posts in 2709 days

#8 posted 04-23-2015 02:55 PM

Don’t know if first hand experience or rumor is more important, however, the link belts on the 5hp shaper in the photo I took the time to post have equal tension. The plus side the machine runs very smooth, with no slipping of the belts.

View Oughtsix's profile


44 posts in 1980 days

#9 posted 04-23-2015 04:25 PM

I certainly noticed a difference when I switched my Powermatic 65 to link belts… it runs much smoother. I have about 6 years with link belts now and they work great… no complaints what so ever!

View MrRon's profile


5925 posts in 4049 days

#10 posted 04-24-2015 04:19 PM

I sent an E-mail to Fenner drives who makes the link belts and asked if they can be used on multi-belt machines. His reply was:

“If you can correctly count the same number of links for each individual belt then yes they will be matched. Of course your existing belts must match up with one of our link belt products offered.”

The POC is [email protected] ph: (717)-664-8299.

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