When replacing belting, the physical differences from one belt to the next may be indecipherable to the untrained eye. However, modern machinery holds strict product specifications, and ordering the incorrect part can have big consequences for the season and the bottom-line.
To avoid making the wrong choice, the best place to start is with the make and model of the equipment. For example, for swather canvas – canvas being an old industry term for belting – is it for a pull-type swather, self-propelled swather, or harvest header? When speaking with a representative or working through an online catalog on a website, once the make and model are identified, there are other investigative questions to help identify the part number needed.
Using experience from six-plus decades in the belting industry, this article will prepare growers to have that conversation with suppliers to source quality replacement belting with confidence.
There are different platform cut sizes as well as a right draper, a left draper, and a center or feeder belt. How to tell right from left is the view from the seat of the cab. Start by identifying which belt needs to be replaced since the lengths and features between right and left can vary. For example, cleats are placed approximately every 12” perpendicular to belt length and can run the full width of the belt or may be recessed. So that there is no interference, the measurement of the recessed cleat to the belt edge may be needed to determine the correct replacement.
The other features on a draper belt could v-guides, side seal(s), and the connector assembly. V-guides, located on the bottom side, help track and drive the belt. Their locations vary and are specific to each manufacturer. Measuring the center v-guide location to the belt edge can lead you to the correct replacement. Side seals, located on the top side, help prevent material from going under the belt and building up on the rollers. The belt may have two side seals if it was original to the machine. The connector assembly is the metal part that connects the belt ends. If you are only ordering a new connector, the hole quantity and location measurements can guide you to the correct part.
Baler equipment functions optimally if the whole set is replaced at the same time. If only one or two belts are needed, it is important to measure the length of the belts at the present time (not the original length) prior to contacting a supplier. Baler belts are made of rubber and fabric which can stretch and flex over time. If the new belts are shorter than the others on the machine, it can affect output and lead to premature belt failure.
The baler belt length, width, texture or pattern, overall gauge, lacing type, and other specifications are determined by the manufacturer according to the design and function of the baler. Significantly deviating from their recommendation could result in equipment malfunction and downtime. For example, going from a 2-ply belt to a 3-ply belt (adding an additional layer of rubber and fabric) or changing the top pattern will increase the overall gauge and the baler may not be designed with enough clearance.
In some circumstances, a more aggressive baler belt is desired and a qualified supplier will be able to provide options. Minor changes, such as changing from texture top (TT) cover to mini rough top (MRT) cover or slightly increasing the overall gauge can have positive impacts when it comes to starting the bale and rolling it tight. Going “the next step up” is the best rule for increasing the aggressiveness of baler belting.
The make and model are the best places to start when replacing tube conveyor belting, as well. Next, measure the belt’s length and width, and check out the top pattern. The two most common industry patterns are crescent and continuous chevron. While the conveyor manufacturer may specify their preference, these patterns are interchangeable. Although, the pattern height varies slightly (0.125” continuous chevron and 0.187” crescent.) There may also be options related to the belt construction ranging from more flexible to rigid. If the material is falling under the belt, for example, a more rigid belt could be a solution.
If the tube conveyor is using a belt with taller cleats or paddles, typically 2” in height, it is essential to order the manufacturer’s original belt or a belt that matches the width, length, and cleat height measurements to ensure fit and clearance while operating. If downtime has occurred due to cleats tearing off, ask the supplier where the new belt is being sourced and how it’s made. Belt fabricators use an adhesive to glue cleats/paddles to the existing belt construction. Premature cleat failure often results. On the other hand, experienced belting manufacturers use a single-step vulcanization process which eliminates cleat delamination or tearing.
Most tube conveyor belts use the Alligator RS125 fastener. There are steel and stainless-steel options. The application or products being conveyed can help make this determination. For example, if fertilizer is being used, a qualified supplier would suggest stainless-steel.
Understanding belting basics and being prepared to answer questions to source the correct parts will drive both uptime and output. Familiarizing oneself with the belting on the machine today and spending just a little extra time speaking with a knowledgeable supplier will pay off in spades down the road, both in terms of keeping the operation running smoothly and improving the total cost of ownership.
The article was written by Chad Haugen, Senior Product Development Engineer, WCCO Belting
Source: WCCO Belting