Furniture Making Forum

You are not logged in. [ Login ] Why log in
(NOTE: Login is not required to post)

Wide Belt Sander Tracking Issue

mmatt Member

We've got a 37" AEM wide belt in the shop running Pasco belts. It's a great sander, but as equipment is known to do, it is acting up. Two problems: #1 When we initially turn the sander on it immediately tracks across the electronic eye and tears up the edge of the sanding belt. We've learned to crank the manual tracking to the left before start-up to avoid tearing up sanding belts until the underlying issue is resolved. The second problem is the belt is simply not oscillating. Before, the belt would slowly move away from the electronic eye, then a solenoid would trigger the roller to kick the sanding belt back over. The sanding belt now simply stays manually tracked.

Does anyone have some troubleshooting suggestions? We've cleaned the eye as well as checked wiring connectivity and air pressure. All seems normal. Electronic eyes and solenoids are not cheap, so I thought I'd run it by others in the forum before buying random replacement parts. Thanks.

11/5/14       #2: Wide Belt Sander Tracking Issue ...

You might try turning up your air pressure, and checking that the reflector is still on the machine, clean, and facing the eye. The eye is just an open/close switch, so you can fire it manually to see if everything else is in order. It should be shining a red light, by the way.

11/6/14       #3: Wide Belt Sander Tracking Issue ...

there should be a pneumatic piston that oscillates the top roller. little wd-40 on the (un-)moving parts should do it

11/6/14       #4: Wide Belt Sander Tracking Issue ...
mmatt Member

All: thanks for the advise.Still no luck. We've taken half the sander apart, performed maintenance on everything and put it all back together. The sander continues to track abruptly across the eye at start up then not auto track at all. It remains pretty good at staying stable once manually tracked. We're still getting things sanded, but it's never fun to start a wide belt "hoping" it won't eat the belt.

11/6/14       #5: Wide Belt Sander Tracking Issue ...
Adam West  Member


Can you fire the tracking cylinder by moving your hand in front of the eye?

If you had the wiring diagram it would not be hard to find out if the eye was reading movement by the voltage sent to the tracking solenoid to fire the cylinder to track it back. If the eye sends voltage to track then you know the solenoid might need replaced or the valve might just be sticking.

11/7/14       #6: Wide Belt Sander Tracking Issue ...
Jeff M

Have you tried painting the edge of your belts. I have to do this as my eye will see right through the some of the newer belts. I just spray paint around the inside edge of the belt about 3 or 4" in and it solves my problem. 3M belts seem to be the worst.
You should also have to track your belt towards the eye to get it to oscillate, when it hits the eye, it tracks back until the pitch of the drum moves it back again.

11/7/14       #7: Wide Belt Sander Tracking Issue ...


The same was happening with my sander last week. In my case, it was because the oil level in the automatic inline oiler had fallen below the minimun level and was no longer supplying oil to the pnuematic tracking cylinder. Once it was refilled and cycled a few times, it went back to working as it should. One other thought, you do have a refrigerated air dryer between your compressor and the sander? If not, that could be part of the problem as any moisture in those tracking cylinders will cause them to seize.

11/7/14       #8: Wide Belt Sander Tracking Issue ...

Adam, I tried your advice and the eye apears to be working. Jeff and Duster had some ideas I hadn't thought of. I'll give those a shot and get back with the forum. Thanks.

11/26/14       #9: Wide Belt Sander Tracking Issue ...

Lots of good advice here. Another problem could be to low of air pressure and/or two high of spring tension on the cylinder that pivots the top idling roller.

11/27/14       #10: Wide Belt Sander Tracking Issue ...
Danny Member

Can you manually adjust your tracking roller until it just barely moves the belt towards the eye when the machine is fired up? It sounds like the belt is moving to quickly towards the eye.

11/27/14       #11: Wide Belt Sander Tracking Issue ...
Adam West  Member


Back and forth at the same speed is ideal. The speed is not important as long as the cylinder can bias the idler enough to send the belt back the other way again.

11/2/16       #12: Wide Belt Sander Tracking Issue ...
Chris Noponen  Member


The first thing you should check are the tracking eyes. If it's not a dual eye tracking system, which I'm guessing it isn't, then one of the tracking eyes/black box will be the receiver and the other eye/black box is the emitter. If you still have the manual for this machine, sometimes AEM, which has been bought out by Timesavers, will put a small business card sized laminated piece of paper that has a square located in the center of it.This is used to see if the emitter is reflecting the beam to the receiver. Radio Shak may still sell the infrared detection cards as well. Once placed in front of the emitter, you should see the square box glow. If that is the case, then go to your air cylinder and pull the air supply line off it. Place your hand in front of the tracking eyes and you should feel a puff of air coming through the line. If not, then trace the air line back to the air solenoid valve (usually a blue Mac valve). Once located, do the same procedure of placing your hand in front of the eyes and listen/feel for a "clicking noise". If there is no "clicking noise", then either your valve has gone bad, or your tracking eye receiver has gone bad in which case I would recommend replacing both the emitter and receiver. One other thing to check is the exhaust port on the solenoid valve. Most times there will be an exhaust muffler screwed into it. If you have bad air, this muffler tends to clog up and will reduce the air being released, in which case you tracking cylinder will be slow to react, or not react at all. Also check the tracking cylinder piston. Spray Windex on the piston where it enters the body of the cylinder and see if you notice "bubbles coming from it. If you do, most likely you seal is worn and you will need to replace the cylinder or in some case rebuild it.

12/9/20       #14: Wide Belt Sander Tracking Issue ...
Scott Member


doing some research on widebelt problems and came across this thread. I have an older AEM and am experiencing a weird problem. belts tracks back and forth fine UNTILL it begins to sand, then it tracks off the drum hits the spring arm and shuts down. I have lubed everything,cleaned everything,put a new belt on, played with the air tension and tracking...I'm stuck

  • Post a Response to this thread
  • notify me of responses to this topic
  • To receive email notification of additions to this forum thread,
    enter your name and email address, and then click the
    "Keep Me Posted" button below.

    Please Note: If you have posted a message or response,
    do not submit this request ... you are already signed up
    to receive notification!

    Your Name:
    E-Mail Address:
    Enter the correct numbers into the field below:

    Date of your Birth:

    Return to top of page

    Buy & Sell Exchanges | Forums | Galleries | Site Map

    FORUM GUIDELINES: Please review the guidelines below before posting at WOODWEB's Interactive Message Boards (return to top)

  • WOODWEB is a professional industrial woodworking site. Hobbyist and homeowner woodworking questions are inappropriate.
  • Messages should be kept reasonably short and on topic, relating to the focus of the forum. Responses should relate to the original question.
  • A valid email return address must be included with each message.
  • Advertising is inappropriate. The only exceptions are the Classified Ads Exchange, Machinery Exchange, Lumber Exchange, and Job Opportunities and Services Exchange. When posting listings in these areas, review the posting instructions carefully.
  • Subject lines may be edited for length and clarity.
  • "Cross posting" is not permitted. Choose the best forum for your question, and post your question at one forum only.
  • Messages requesting private responses will be removed - Forums are designed to provide information and assistance for all of our visitors. Private response requests are appropriate at WOODWEB's Exchanges and Job Opportunities and Services.
  • Messages that accuse businesses or individuals of alleged negative actions or behavior are inappropriate since WOODWEB is unable to verify or substantiate the claims.
  • Posts with the intent of soliciting answers to surveys are not appropriate. Contact WOODWEB for more information on initiating a survey.
  • Excessive forum participation by an individual upsets the balance of a healthy forum atmosphere. Individuals who excessively post responses containing marginal content will be considered repeat forum abusers.
  • Responses that initiate or support inappropriate and off-topic discussion of general politics detract from the professional woodworking focus of WOODWEB, and will be removed.
  • Participants are encouraged to use their real name when posting. Intentionally using another persons name is prohibited, and posts of this nature will be removed at WOODWEB's discretion.
  • Comments, questions, or criticisms regarding Forum policies should be directed to WOODWEB's Systems Administrator
    (return to top).

    Carefully review your message before clicking on the "Send Message" button - you will not be able to revise the message once it has been sent.

    You will be notified of responses to the message(s) you posted via email. Be sure to enter your email address correctly.

    WOODWEB's forums are a highly regarded resource for professional woodworkers. Messages and responses that are crafted in a professional and civil manner strengthen this resource. Messages that do not reflect a professional tone reduce the value of our forums.

    Messages are inappropriate when their content: is deemed libelous in nature or is based on rumor, fails to meet basic standards of decorum, contains blatant advertising or inappropriate emphasis on self promotion (return to top).

    Libel:   Posts which defame an individual or organization, or employ a tone which can be viewed as malicious in nature. Words, pictures, or cartoons which expose a person or organization to public hatred, shame, disgrace, or ridicule, or induce an ill opinion of a person or organization, are libelous.

    Improper Decorum:   Posts which are profane, inciting, disrespectful or uncivil in tone, or maliciously worded. This also includes the venting of unsubstantiated opinions. Such messages do little to illuminate a given topic, and often have the opposite effect. Constructive criticism is acceptable (return to top).

    Advertising:   The purpose of WOODWEB Forums is to provide answers, not an advertising venue. Companies participating in a Forum discussion should provide specific answers to posted questions. WOODWEB suggests that businesses include an appropriately crafted signature in order to identify their company. A well meaning post that seems to be on-topic but contains a product reference may do your business more harm than good in the Forum environment. Forum users may perceive your references to specific products as unsolicited advertising (spam) and consciously avoid your web site or services. A well-crafted signature is an appropriate way to advertise your services that will not offend potential customers. Signatures should be limited to 4-6 lines, and may contain information that identifies the type of business you're in, your URL and email address (return to top).

    Repeated Forum Abuse: Forum participants who repeatedly fail to follow WOODWEB's Forum Guidelines may encounter difficulty when attempting to post messages.

    There are often situations when the original message asks for opinions: "What is the best widget for my type of shop?". To a certain extent, the person posting the message is responsible for including specific questions within the message. An open ended question (like the one above) invites responses that may read as sales pitches. WOODWEB suggests that companies responding to such a question provide detailed and substantive replies rather than responses that read as a one-sided product promotion. It has been WOODWEB's experience that substantive responses are held in higher regard by our readers (return to top).

    The staff of WOODWEB assume no responsibility for the accuracy, content, or outcome of any posting transmitted at WOODWEB's Message Boards. Participants should undertake the use of machinery, materials and methods discussed at WOODWEB's Message Boards after considerate evaluation, and at their own risk. WOODWEB reserves the right to delete any messages it deems inappropriate. (return to top)

  • Forum Posting Help
    Your Name The name you enter in this field will be the name that appears with your post or response (return to form).
    Your Website Personal or business website links must point to the author's website. Inappropriate links will be removed without notice, and at WOODWEB's sole discretion. WOODWEB reserves the right to delete any messages with links it deems inappropriate. (return to form)
    E-Mail Address Your e-mail address will not be publicly viewable. Forum participants will be able to contact you using a contact link (included with your post) that is substituted for your actual address. You must include a valid email address in this field. (return to form)
    Subject Subject may be edited for length and clarity. Subject lines should provide an indication of the content of your post. (return to form)
    Thread Related Link and Image Guidelines Thread Related Links posted at WOODWEB's Forums and Exchanges should point to locations that provide supporting information for the topic being discussed in the current message thread. The purpose of WOODWEB Forums is to provide answers, not to serve as an advertising venue. A Thread Related Link that directs visitors to an area with inappropriate content will be removed. WOODWEB reserves the right to delete any messages with links or images it deems inappropriate. (return to form)
    Thread Related File Uploads Thread Related Files posted at WOODWEB's Forums and Exchanges should provide supporting information for the topic being discussed in the current message thread. Video Files: acceptable video formats are: .MOV .AVI .WMV .MPEG .MPG .MP4 (Image Upload Tips)   If you encounter any difficulty when uploading video files, E-mail WOODWEB for assistance. The purpose of WOODWEB Forums is to provide answers, not to serve as an advertising venue. A Thread Related File that contains inappropriate content will be removed, and uploaded files that are not directly related to the message thread will be removed. WOODWEB reserves the right to delete any messages with links, files, or images it deems inappropriate. (return to form)