How to measure a sheave groove with a gauge

Written by c. taylor
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How to measure a sheave groove with a gauge
A pulley (pulley of a boat image by timur1970 from

A sheave groove, such as the groove in a pulley, allows a rope or wire to pass through unhindered by friction or obstructions. The correct size sheave is required to minimise wear and tear on the rope or wire. When grooves become overly worn or are too large, they may allow excessive movement, which stresses the rope and reduces its longevity. Likewise, too small of a groove compresses the rope and reduces its useful life. You can use a sheave gauge to measure the size of the sheave and also verify that the sheave is undamaged.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Remove one of the sheave gauges that looks to be the approximate size of the sheave groove.

  2. 2

    Insert the sheave gauge into the groove, such that the bottom of the tear-drop-shaped gauge fits in the lateral curve of the sheave. The bottom of the gauge should fit precisely enough to disallow light from shining through the half-circle at the bottom of the gauge. If light shines under the gauge, the gauge may be too large, and you should try a smaller one. If light shines along the sides, then the gauge may be too small, and you should try a larger one.

  3. 3

    Try the next size up or down, depending on where you detected light. Repeat this process until you find a size that disallows light to pass through. This will be the size of the groove. If you cannot find a perfect fit -- i.e., one size is too small, but the next larger size is too large, then your sheave is probably worn or damaged. You should then consider replacing the sheave.

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