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General Power Transmission Problems & Solutions

Excessive Misalignment - Short Life


Our customer operates a take-up drive. Due to heavy loading and vibration, over time they cannot maintain alignment between the gearbox and the motor. As a result, the flexible coupling fails on a regular basis. Since it is a jaw style design, either the motor or reducer must be moved to change the element.


The motor and gearbox are wedged into a tight space. Neither can be moved back. This limits the number of options available. After reviewing horsepower and speeds, we suggested they consider an elastomeric coupling.

This design offers several desirable features. First, it provides more torque in a slightly larger envelope. Secondly, the design provides 2° of misalignment compared to 1° with most other designs. Finally, the element can be replaced without disturbing the equipment.

The elastomeric coupling was installed and is running without failure.

Better Quality & Longer Life On A Screen Loom


Imagine how many times a clutch & brake must cycle on a loom making fiberglass screen — that's right, thousands! You can probably also imagine how critical consistent clutching and braking is to making a quality screen.

When industry began to move away from asbestos, this manufacturer began to experience life and quality problems.


We worked with the maintenance people and plant engineer testing different materials. We also discovered that the OEM originally designed the system running friction material on friction material as opposed to a steel or cast iron facing.

We came up with a new material, which showed quite a bit of promise.

Working closely with our customer, we jointly produced a new mounting system which, to date, has produced a significant improvement. The change has already paid for itself. Now we are following the installation to find out what the total savings will be.

Large Overhead Door


A government facility included a larger hanger. They had an ongoing problem burning out motors on the overhead door drive. The down time and high maintenance cost was unacceptable.


The existing drive system was very compact and did not offer any simple installation locations. As with all overload applications identifying the proper torque setting is critical. We reviewed several approaches. Eventually, we designed a custom adjustable overload clutch with an integral sprocket. This unit was able to drop right in place with the adjustable feature allowing them to fine tune their disconnect point.

If you have a difficult overload problem, give us a call.

One-way Overload Clutch


The lifting mechanism that loads tires into presses was subject to occasional drive system failures. This resulted in a 700 to 3000 lb. (318 to 1361 kg.) device failing. Several safety brakes were tried but did not work satisfactorily. Equipment damage and safety concerns necessitated a better solution.


The key turned out to be in controlling very closely the preset spring forces and the use of very stable friction material. This design also include a one-way clutch so that the drive is used to pull the loader down. The brake offers no resistance in the up direction.

The reduced wear rate significantly extended the life of all of the drive components including the overload device. This resulted in increased production and safety.

Remote Cable Disconnect Increases Safety On Breaker Box


This customer wanted to insure that the power was disconnected when an operator opened a breaker box.


After reviewing several approaches, it was decided to use flexible cables that connected the cabinet handle directly to the main circuit breaker.

As the operator unlatches the box door, the power is automatically disconnected. The flexible cable allows the door to be opened as usual.

We typically think of flexible push-pull cables as throttle and transmission controls, however there are a number of other problems they solve.

We have a complete assembly shop which allows us to make the custom cable you need — typically the same day that you call!

Retrofitted Brake Improves Plant Safety


We are all very interested in providing as safe a work place as possible. It was this concern that prompted our customer to ask us to find a brake for one of his processing lines which coasted for several minutes after shut down.

This system is driven by a 100 hp (75 kw) motor and consisted of several large rolls whose inertia kept the equipment moving for over three minutes after power was removed.


We came up with a spring set, Wichita brake and a special bracket design which was retrofitted to the back of the motor.

The system now stops in a matter of seconds instead of minutes, and is a good investment in safety for our customer.

Material Handling Overload


More and more large distribution center warehouses are popping up all around the country. These facilities handle large volumes of consumer products from clothing to home furnishings to toys. Many of these operations are large automated bin storage systems from the floor to the ceiling about as far as the eye can see.

Unfortunately, from time to time, a bin will come loose or a product will fall out and some significant damage occurs. That's what was happening to one of our local warehouses and they needed help.


We visited with the maintenance people and reviewed their drive system. Although the speeds were low, the torque to move the large bins was high—creating a great deal of power to do damage when jammed. The compact nature of the design did not give us many mounting options.

We discussed different mechanical overload designs including momentary slip friction types versus ball detent complete disconnect styles. It was decided that complete shut down was required. Next, we had to determine at what torque we would disconnect. We needed to accommodate the high starting torque to get the huge inertia of the system in motion yet prevent damage to the system and products. We reached a decision on a targeted value and selected a torque limiter with up and down adjustment, so it could be fine tuned to their system.

We adapted the overload unit to their drive pulley, which was modified to a bearing mount design. This approach eliminates the equipment and product damage. Because of its quick reset design, as soon as the source of the jam is removed, you can get moving again, so down time is minimized.

If your equipment, no matter what type, costs you money and time because of overloads, give us a call.

Engine Test Stand Coupling


Test stands that use a variety of engines can often be a coupling problem. Our customer found out the hard way—in a short period of time when their drive shaft failed.


We reviewed their test requirements and found that the most common combinations included two dynamometers and six engines. Based on the horsepower, speed, inertia and number of cylinders, we were able to identify two shafts to cover the twelve applications.

These special universal assemblies include a soft rubber section to dampen the engines torsional vibrations and move the critical speed out of the operating range. The suggested shafts were two different sizes and different torsional stiffnesses.

So far, so good—we gave them a listing of which shaft to use with which engine and dyno. These universal couplings allowed them to do extended testing without interruption.

Hard To Start Shredder


Our customer shreds scrap wood and bark into mulch. His shredder includes a flywheel which helps the mill keep going under heavy loads. Unfortunately, this increased inertia really loads up his DC motor during start up.


This application was ideally suited for a centrifugal clutch. The no-load start feature is ideal for letting the motor get up to speed before picking up the shredder.

The centrifugal clutch can also provide overload protection when sized properly. This was the next real challenge, identifying the best size for this installation.

After reviewing horsepower, speed, starting frequency and system inertia, we were able to give this customer a couple of options.

If you have a shredder or any other high inertia system which is difficult to start—give us a call.

High Maintenance—Short Life


Our customer builds special gear boxes that are used for the textile industry. The process requires that each box is driven by a common shaft, and that these gear boxes be capable of being moved in-and-out along the length of the shaft.

Traditionally, this has been accomplished by using a long splined shaft. Unfortunately, the inherent misalignment and backlash of this approach has resulted in a high maintenance situation.


A review of the application pointed toward the use of a universal shaft—which offered high misalignment capability and axial slip. Unfortunately, this process required significantly more axial movement than commonly available.

It turned out that we were able to meet this need with a "tunnel-shaft" design. With this design, the long spline within the universal shaft was protected from the misalignment. The net result was an assembly that met the difficult operating parameters without the high maintenance and short life problems.

Let us know if you have an unusual coupling problem.

Handling a Hot Drum


Our customer needed to turn a large drum as it came out of a furnace. The original design consisted of steel rolls. Unfortunately, the co-efficient of friction between the steel drum and steel rolls was too low. As a result, the drums simply sat there.


Because of the elevated temperature, you could not simply cover the rolls with rubber. We reviewed the design to identify actual contact temperatures and maximum compression load.

We were then able to come up with a woven friction material that would withstand the severe environment and a method of attaching the material to the steel drive rolls. This came in the form of a two-part epoxy that was capable of surviving the elevated temperature.

If you have to handle hot materials, give us a call.

High Torque—Small Envelope


Most of us are not usually designing machine guns, however, they do represent some unique requirements: high torque, limited space and lightweight. A company developing a chain gun approached us. They needed a clutch and faced all of these constraints.


We reviewed their parameters and were unable to come up with a friction clutch to meet their need. The only option was a tooth clutch. We were able to come up with a relatively standard and available design. Hopefully, we will end up in the final version. So, no matter what you are developing, maybe we can help.