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MMD > Archives > April 2007 > 2007.04.23 > 07Prev  Next

Flat Leather Drive Belt for Western Electric
By Ken Vinen

Max, Western Electric was connected with Seeburg.  The drive tire is
available from the Player Piano Company.  If they no longer stock it,
a proper size should be available in the form of an "O" ring from a
good industrial supply house.

Flat leather drive belts can be custom made at any good harness shop,
but be warned, the new leather is not much good for belting and will
stretch way past the adjustment available to you.  This means a good
many trips back to the harness shop to have the belt cut, shortened,
chamfered and reglued and stitched.

The original glue joint on the original belt did hold but again, new
glue and new leather does not make a splice that won't "creep" and come
apart without stitching!

While we all like to keep things original, there are times when
changes must be made to be practical.  My Wurlitzer Band Organ is still
driven with flat belts and I went through endless trouble trying to
use leather as original.  After six trips to the shop for adjustments,
I changed to rubber/fabric belting and now have many years of trouble
free service behind me.

Leather flat belts required some use of belt dressing, which is no
longer available in solid stick form, only a spray can that gets into
everything.  Dressing was required if the cast iron wheels were cold
because the leather would just slip and slide right off the pulley.

Rubber/fabric belting does not stretch, does not need dressing, but
does have a metal splice or metal lace.  It will make an audible tick
that is heard only before the music starts.

The Player Piano Company sells this material but rather than describe
it for drive belting, they suggest it is good to use for replacement
connecting straps on a box pump, which it certainly is.  Because they
only offered one width, perhaps it may be too wide or not wide enough
for your replacement needs.  Proper width is critical because the flat
belt pulley is crowned in the centre to hold the belt in position.
All flat belts, and sanding belts, go to the high spot!

For my needs, I went to the T.S.C. Store (Tractor Supply Company) and
purchased "Baler Belting" long enough for my needs.  It was certainly
way too wide, but I was then able to simply slice off the required
width I needed and my local farm implement dealer was happy to splice
up two belts for me.  Cost of the belting was most reasonable and the
splicing was _free_, after the man stopped laughing at me when I told
him what it was to be used for.  "No, not a thrashing machine --
a band organ!"

Hope this has been of some help.

Best to all in mechanical music,
Ken Vinen, Aylmer, Ontario, Canada

(Message sent Mon 23 Apr 2007, 13:24:09 GMT, from time zone GMT-0400.)

Key Words in Subject:  Belt, Drive, Electric, Flat, Leather, Western

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