But, once the alignment is done, equally important is set the belts to the proper tension. Typically, the correct tension is one that allows the belt to be deflected on its tight side by a specified amount of force to an amount of 1/64th inch per inch of span length. The span length is the distance between the nearest points of contact of the belts on their sheaves. If this distance is not known, you can use the center distance between the pulleys; that’ll be close enough.
So, say the span length of a given belt drive is 36 inches. You should deflect the belt (in a group of belts, usually the center one, but measure the two outside ones as well) by 36/64″, (or 9/16″) which is 1/64″ of deflection for every inch of span length, and measure how many pounds or newtons of force it takes to do that. This force should not be less (too loose) or more (too tight) than what the manufacturer of the belts recommends for that drive or for that set of belts. Also, you perform this test by pressing down with your gauge upon the belts in the middle of their span length on the “tight side” of the belts. The tight side of the belts is the side that is stretched as the drive turns andthe driver pulley applies rotational force to the driven pulley. The return side is slack side of the belts.
The recommended belt tension deflection forces are usually supplied in a table that takes into account the size, length and type of belts, the number of belts in the drive, the anticipated application loads and drive ratios of the sheaves. Move the driver until the recommended force specification is met for the desired deflection, being careful not to mess up the alignment while doing so!
by Alan Luedeking CRL CMRP