How to Use a Belt Tension Meter

Written by wes walcott
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Just like musical instruments, machines need tuning every now and again in order to continue functioning like they're supposed to. Adjusting a mechanical belt, for example, is much like tuning a guitar string since they both require a specific tension for optimal performance. And, just like a guitar tuner helps you tune a guitar, a tension meter helps you tune a mechanical belt. By regularly measuring mechanical belt tension and making the necessary adjustments, you can prevent belt slippage, increase belt life, and avoid costly or dangerous accidents that could result from a broken belt.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Tape measure

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  1. 1

    Disconnect the power to the machine that the belt is attached to.

  2. 2

    Confirm that the belt you are examining is positioned correctly. If there are grooves on the pulley, the belt should be fitted directly between the grooves. If there are no pulley grooves, make sure the belt is centred.

  3. 3

    Measure the belt span. Hold a tape measure at the axle of one pulley and extend it until it reaches the axle on the other pulley. Record the measurement.

  4. 4

    Set the tension meter so the gauge is calibrated according to the belt span you measured. Tension meters typically can be calibrated by twisting the handle in one direction to raise the display value, or in the opposite direction to lower the display value.

  5. 5

    Reset the O-ring on the tension meter by sliding it along the plunger located within the handle.

  6. 6

    Position the tension meter halfway between the two belt pulley axles. Hold the tension meter perpendicular to the belt and use it to apply pressure downward on the middle of the belt span. This causes the belt to droop or "deflect".

  7. 7

    Continue to apply pressure on the belt until the scale on the tension meter shows you have reached 1/64 inch of deflection.

  8. 8

    Observe the location of the O-ring and plunger at the end of the tension meter handle. The distance the O-ring travelled along the plunger indicates the amount of deflection force needed to deflect the belt 1/64 inch.

  9. 9

    Tighten or loosen the belt until the amount of force required to deflect it 1/64 inch matches the manufacturer's specifications.

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