Widebelt Sander Belt Tracking

Advice on how to get your belt running straight. January 20, 2010

The material conveyor belt on my sander is tracking to one side and I am not sure which way to tighten or loosen the belt. If I tighten one side will the belt move towards that side? Any one got experience on this?

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor Y:
The belt moves towards that side you loosen and away from the side you tighten. That being said it is normal to loosen and tighten only one side, after the belt has been set up.

From contributor O:
To contributor C: well, I think you may want to check up on your basic physics. I don't think what you said is going do it. The belt will want to track to the tighter (the two rollers are farther apart) side of the belt carrier. Just like your bandsaw blade likes to do - find the tight spot. Contrary to one's first thought, I agree.

From the original questioner:
Ok conflicting information here. I have not adjusted the belt yet. It does take awhile for the belt to get tight as it does not turn very fast but I noticed that it was pretty tight to one side and before it gets damaged I want to correct it.

From contributor R:
It will run toward the tight side. Think of the crown in a bandsaw tire or wheel. The blade wants to run up toward the crowned center or high side.

From contributor Y:
I been running a wide belt for 15 years and to track the belt to the right you tighten the left side, to track the belt to the left you loosen left. If you start to loosen and tighten both sides you will be changing the basic set up. Sorry if I rubbed any one the wrong way, I not interested in talking theory here. You can try would you like. I would just suggest you adjust one side only if the machine has been set up. If you are starting with a new drive belt you will have to work both side and spend more time.

From contributor W:
The belt will run to the loose side. (The physics are different than a bandsaw because the bandsaw doesn't stretch like a feed bed, I think). A real problem that an inexperienced mechanic can have is over-tightening; the end of the drum can crack and break at the weld from over-tightening. It happened to us twice, therefore I recommend loosening whichever side you need to track correctly until the feed bed starts slipping, then tighten up a little bit until it stops slipping, then go to contributor Y's suggestion and only tighten or loosen one side so the belt tension stays relatively constant. No more tension than necessary to keep it from slipping. Down the road, it may need tightening again due to stretching.

From contributor F:
No widebelt, just a drum sander. I agree with loosening the end you want the belt to track to. At least that's the way I adjust my machine. Belt running to the tighter side doesn't really make any sense when you think about it, path of least resistance and all that. Bandsaw blade is not a good comparison as there is no looser side. A bandsaw blade usually straddles an apex, if you cranked the wheel so it was at an incline that blade would come shooting off.

From contributor R:
The feed belt moves towards the looser side.