View Full Version : Laced Belts - Who/What uses them?

08-01-2003, 12:02 AM
I picked up a nice Clipper Belt lacer at a machine aution. It's the one with two handles (#3), not the vice version. I need it for making "original" Ford Model T belts. I was wondering what a machine shop was doing with it. What machines use laced belts?

J. Randall
08-01-2003, 12:35 AM
A lot of the old lineshaft machines leather belts were laced by hand. I don't know if they had a machine for that.

08-01-2003, 12:46 AM
A lot of Brown and Sharpe screw machines used lace belts for their primary drives. Many of them are still in service.The high and low speed and forward and reverse spindle drives were also belt drive up untill the late forties.

Randell G. Hutchins
08-01-2003, 01:32 AM
Round bale hay balers use this kind of belts. Also most of the antique machinery uses them.

08-01-2003, 02:58 AM
The original belts for the SB9 were laced. I believe there is a section in "How to Run a Lathe" on lacing belts. I'll have to look and see. There is a special technique to lacing belts to avoid the thump when the lacing hit the pulleys.

08-01-2003, 05:49 AM
Until relatively recent times there were a lot of flat belt (and rope) drives used in Australian sugar mills. Most of these flat belt drives in my time used various types of steel lacing. I have an old lathe which has a 1" X 3/16" flat leather belt drive. This sized belt was also used on the governor drive on the horizontal steam engines which drove the mills (and, I think from memory, on the Model T fan belt). When the engines were scrapped in favour of turbines, I tried to buy the governor belt lacer,which would lace belts up to 2 1/2 in. wide, but they would not sell it - however, I borrowed it and copied the part which inserts the steel laces. I did have one win though - they sold me their remaining stock of 1" x 3/16" belting cheap, and threw in a couple of boxes of steel laces. Since the last belt lasted 20 odd years, I've got a lifetime supply!


Peter S
08-01-2003, 07:39 AM
If the workshop had anything to do with making conveyors, fastened belts are still pretty common, in fact prefered over vulcanised joins if the belt is hard to install when made endless.
The alligator brand is common, the unit fits in a vice, and allows you too punch the belt and install the metal fastener.

Minet make some nice PVC fasteners, the joiner is vulcanised into the belt ends, but still allows the belt to be parted. No good for yer Model T, but.

You can still get flat belts (synthetic)made for power transmission, they are extremely strong, and the join, done in a vulcanising press, is completely flat. They are expensive. Seigling is a good brand.

08-01-2003, 08:37 AM
Swather and round baler belts used the metal laces that crimp into the belting and then are joined by a rod. The only machine tool belts I have seen are hand laced with leather.

08-01-2003, 09:19 AM
Who/What uses them?

Me/my lathe do, sort of. Otherwise the entire headstock would have to be disassembled to change belts. I am NOT going to do that.

The "sort of" is because there are three kinds of "lacing".

1) actual lacing, usually of leather belts, with leather strip.

2) Clip lacing, "Alligator" or similar brand, stamped sheet metal clips. That's what I use.

3) Wire lacing, with thin wires formed into a clip setup. That is the type most associated with the "lacing machine", and is generally used on conveyor belts. Usually it is too stiff to go around small pulleys.

08-01-2003, 10:03 AM
I use a laced belt on my SB9A lathe, and also on my old drill press. Also 90% of the old gas engines used them to drive whatever piece of machinery they were hooked to. Like a pump, saw, baler, etc. I have 2 of the vice type Clippers.



metal mite
08-01-2003, 11:45 AM
When I was an apprentice boy the flat belt on the 54" Bullard Vertical Turret Lathe I was running broke.

This belt only operated the rapid traverse for the head and ram.

This machine had a large floor mounted motor geared directly to the table thru a foot operated clutch and transmission.

The belt connected the overhead rapid mechanusm.

I promply got chewed out for breaking the belt, and a lesson on the repairs to it.

The belt lacer was in the store room at the end of the shop.

It forced the wire clips (mounted in a card for aligment dureing shipping and
storage) into the leather belt after trimming the belt.

Than the cat gut rod was inserted into the joint like a hinge.

I didn't trim the belt square enough and the belt ran with a jerky motion so I got the chewing again.
Had to redo the job.

Now have a p & w slotter that uses two flat belts.
I had the belts made up at the Baltimore Belting Company in Baltimore.

They now use sheet metal clips similar to the plates used making building trusses.

The clips can be set with a hammer on a plate, or in a vise.

Kits were avalible receintly.

The oldtimers told me (of belts) that the metal hooks would wear over time leaving a nail like protrusion sticking out from the belt that coulld stick, or cut the operator if he got too close to the belt.

This was before OSHA and belt guards.


Weston Bye
08-01-2003, 11:57 AM
I have one of the vise-type lacers and some of the wire clips, mounted on card board. Anyone who will pay the shipping is welcome to it.


08-01-2003, 07:56 PM
I am fortunate to own and have lots of experience on flat belt equipment,I worked for a man who had a lathe and a planer mill that both ran flat belts,the planer belts were laced with the clipper lacing and the lathe was scarfed and glued,I liked the lathe it was old and slow but it would still take a cut,it had the original loose and tight pullies instead of of a hand clutch,to take the machine out of gear you moved the belt over from one pulley to the other,One flip of the wrist walked the belt right over,osha didn't like it but thats the way it came and thats the way it stayed.

And a properly setup flat belt drive is more effecient than a v- belt,that is if it is setup right,millwork is like a lot of other things a lost art.

The one thing I shall always remember is that sound-thap-thap-thap-thap-thap as the lacings went over the pullies,I can still hear it a mile away and it always makes my ears perk up http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//smile.gif

08-01-2003, 11:01 PM
This is exactly what I do for a living now. Any questions?

08-01-2003, 11:02 PM
This is exactly what I do for a living now. Make belts endless and with ends. Any questions?

Paul Alciatore
08-02-2003, 11:39 AM
Yea, I have a question. I recently got a SB9 and it has a flat leather belt with the wire clip ends. I have by now read about endless belt alternatives but have no experience with flat belting.

I know it would be a pain to use an endless belt but I am told that the modern ones almost never wear out so it would only need to be installed once every 20 or so years. It might outlast me.

What I wonder about is what happens to the pulleys when the wire clips or other metal ends used to join the leather belts hit the machines pulleys for 100,000 or 1,000,000 times? Does this cause any wear or damage?

Also is there any difference in the slippage characteristics of leather vs. a modern rubber/whatever belt?

08-02-2003, 10:18 PM
Have not seen any wear associated with lacing hitting pulleys. There IS a difference between a leather belt and a synthetic one, leather will slip, synthetic doesn't always, so don't wreck things with one on, try to plan those ahead http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//smile.gif

08-03-2003, 10:45 AM

I have a 9" flat belt drive lathe bought new 1948. It has always had leather belts with metal fasteners, the heavy ones fitted using a hammer for the first 45 years, and the wire clip ones for the last ten. I'd guess it's done about 7000 hours, not much by industrial standards, but still a lot of revolutions. There is no sign of wear or any marking on the pulleys. I replaced the third leather belt about six years ago, and the new one is atill in excellent condition, so the life of leather belts is pretty good. The belting is getting expensive and harder to find though.


[This message has been edited by franco (edited 08-03-2003).]

08-05-2003, 11:32 PM
Thanks guys! I think there were some old South Bends in the shop.
Franco: I know what you mean about the belting. Big bucks when you can find it. McMasterCarr has a pretty good selection of belting. The premium leather stuff is supposed to be better than any of the others. (Higher temps, smaller pulleys) I still might have to do my own slitting to get the "correct" Model T width. For 90+ point cars, every detail counts.

08-05-2003, 11:46 PM
Something else you can use is Serpentine belts that they use on Automotive engines, just run it on the back side...for my South Bend I got one that was 1 1/8 inch ( more sizes ) and cut off one vee. The Downside is you have to dismantle the head and tightener pulleys to get them on, but it did work great.


08-15-2003, 01:35 PM
Flat belts? This may cause problems on lathes, but worked well on farm machinery and shops years ago.

When you join the ends of the belt, flip on end over. now you are joining what would be the top of the belt to the bottom. You wind up with a belt tht has one side and one edge (mobius strip). THe belt wears twice as long because the wearing surface is twice as long (only one side and one edge but twice as long as the original belt with a top and bottom.

Sound strange? cut a strip of paper, filp and glue. put a pencil on the side and trace around. it really does have only a single side. Cut the belt length ways into two strips and it don't look as you expect.

It also wins a few beers in the right joints.

Peter S
08-20-2003, 09:13 AM
I'm curious to know, does a belt joined like this run OK on pulleys with parallel shafts? Or maybe shafts at 90*? Were these belts with not much tension? Considering how surprising the Mobius thing is, I'll believe almost anything you say!

08-20-2003, 09:43 AM
If you have a look at steam traction engines driving stationary equipment using long leather belts you will see they are often twisted. It wouldn't work on something like my SB9 as the belt is too short and the tension too high.

08-20-2003, 12:10 PM
Peter: The twisted belt runs fine with parallel shafts. The old stuff had mainly the weight of the belt for tension- as Evan says, they were usualy long. I add long and heavy. I suspect tension and ability to run short belts would depend on the belt width/tension/length ratios. I have used short belts (say 24 inches pulley to pulley) with a twist.

BTW: give a ten year old a mobius strip, let them cut it on angles, cut the second stripe etc and sometimes they are amused for hours. By time they are 16 they may not have the attention span needed. We adults cannot waste our time on the simple things like a mobius strip.

08-20-2003, 02:15 PM
Often the belts for farm machinery were twisted to reverse the drive direction. Using the trick of putting the belt together with a twist would improve to wear to the edges and surfaces. Doesn't the Mobius strip configuration cause the belt to wear faster? Instead of bending the belt in one direction it now switches directions constantly.

Peter S
08-20-2003, 09:27 PM
I understand a twisted belt, and know they will stay on pulleys with parallel shafts. I've seen traction engines and cut firewood with a saw driven from a belt pulley, this reverses shaft direction, and gives the belt more wrap around the pulleys. Only one side of the belt runs over the pulleys

However the Mobius idea, where the end is twisted and then joined does not reverse direction and both sides of the belt run over each pulley. Does this one stay on the pulleys?? I suspect it will, but it sure is a strange thing..

08-21-2003, 05:17 PM
I was asked by our computer coordinator at school to make a solid model of a mobius strip on our CAD program, Inventor. I haven't had the time to it. Have you ever done this in the virtual world or is paper strips and tape the easy answer? The computer guy has a physics and math degree, and wanted it for a demo for something he was doing. I found other things to spend my time on and haven't gotten back to him.


08-22-2003, 08:36 PM
Tech: Strip of paper is probably best way to go. Dirt cheap, let kids slice the strip and marvel. If I were teacher, I think I would show the kids, prove it has only one edge and one side and ask that they predict what will happen when cut several times. The Strip is so common that probably several know the answers already and it will be old stuff. Might spark a fire in others.

So far as the reversing goes, you do take the belt and twist it with out cutting it to reverse the drive direction. But, the Mobius strip thing requires twisting the belt BEFORE it is joined. Many years of use shows the belts last much longer in the mobius strip configuration. Install with the twist on the slack side of the belt.

08-23-2003, 02:26 AM

Steve is right - make one out of paper and tell the "guy with big ideas" to do it himself. CAD programs are for real world things not theoretical - Mathematica can solid model from a given formulae and would be a better choice for this topology problem.