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Leather belt dressing for metal lathe


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Is there a product for leather belts to make them get some traction? I have used "pullmore" on my sawmill belts but have run out of that. Have shortened belt 3 times and still slips. Thanks Bill

Bill Hazzard

Last Subscription Date
For leather belting mix 2 parts by weight lard and one part cod liver oil, heat until liquid and apply while hot. One or two coats will make the belt soft so it will pull more. The rule of thumb for tension is 600 pounds per inch of cross section, a 1/4" by 4" wide belt should have 600 pounds of pull on it.

Joel Sanderson

It's probably slipping because it's old and dry and no longer elastic, and your having to shorten it so many times probably means it's stretching and not pulling. I have never found a leather belt to pull well. If I were you I'd switch to a new rubber belt. (Old rubber belts are as problematic as old leather belts.) You'll save yourself a lot of headache and frustration. I use SBR light duty belts from McMaster-carr or from Hit and Miss Enterprises. They are rubber impregnated canvas belts that come in 3-, 4- and 5-ply. They come in different widths and are sold by the foot. Get no thinner than 4-ply. For break-in period I like to use a pour-on dressing by Crown, which I buy at the Case-IH dealership. They have it in pour-on cans and in spray cans. You shouldn't need dressing after it is broken in.

Pete Spaco

Some of us who power old blacksmith trip hammers with modern motors have switched to vee belts, even though the driven pulley is still flat. I think that most flat belt slipping comes from the (usually) smaller driven pulley, so converting the motor shaft to vee belt isn't very hard. Many guys I know, including myself, use two vee belts on a double motor sheave. Even though it's only the bottom of the vee belts that contact the driven pulley, slippage is not a problem. For instance, I have a 2 hp electric motor driving a 50 pound Little Giant trip hammer. No slippage. I put the vee belts on it in 1985 and it's still working.

Pete Stanaitis

9 hp Alamo

I just use some a' Grandma's molasses for belt dressing. Sticks well, and you can wipe it off of pulleys with soap and water. Also works well in cookies, cakes, and oatmeal.


I had a problem with slipping of a vee belt driving a flat belt pulley so I changed the motor pulley and the belt to a cogged belt drive. I was able to achieve a much higher pressure with the pump before the belt started to slip than when using a vee belt drive. Back then solid belt dressing was still available, I have been searching for some more of it for several years, alas not to be found even through here on the Stak.


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Thanks Bill Hazzard for jogging my failing memory cells. I rented the old Athens Blacksmith shop in the late 60's from the widow of the original owner. It had a line shaft and the only tools we used off of the shaft were 3 trip hammers and a couple of camelback drill presses. He had cast iron sauce pans sitting around with a brush to dress belts. I remembered it being lard and mineral oil or that is what it smelled like to me.

My first ice cream engine build, I determined I needed a jack shaft reduction for getting the speed of the Waterloo Boy down in rpm to turn the ice cream freezer. I had a triple sheave v belt pully in my spare parts repository and I used it to make first reduction. It is a 3 part v belt and runs on the original flat pully on the engine. It has never needed dressing or adjusting after 15 years. The second half is just single v belt sheaves with a home made clutch.


Norm W

TSC was selling round bale belting a while back. I cut it to fit the flat belt pulley on my lathe. It works great. Just laced it up with the old belt lacer. No noticeable slippage and considering the cost compared to leather or canvas belting, I'm well satisfied.
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