Direction of Chain Travel – It Goes That-A-Way
What is the proper direction of travel for welded steel chains? If run in the proper direction, you can actually reduce wear on the chain and sprockets by 80-90% when compared with chain operated in the wrong direction. Running your chain in the right direction will improve chain life, extend the life of the sprockets, decrease maintenance costs, and increase the “uptime” of your operation.
Welded steel chains are normally produced with offset style sidebars. In addition, welded steel chains have a “fixed” barrel. However, before we get into the particulars of the sprocket interaction with these chains, the first decision is to determine whether the chain is used as a conveyor chain or as a drive chain. Most welded steel chains in the forest products industry are used as conveyor chains. For this discussion, we will concentrate on the use of welded steel chains on conveying applications. For general purposes, remember these two rules:
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Metallurgy – The Key to Good Performance
Metallurgy is a very important part of good chain design. Some would argue, and I tend to agree, that the proper selection and treatment of the materials is the most important function is getting the most chain life. Using the right materials, treated in the proper manner can achieve very important benefits especially in the rapidly changing conditions we all face in today’s applications.
In order to understand metallurgy you only need a working knowledge of some of the basic terms. In order to get the benefits of proper metallurgy you must have a full understanding of your particular application to see if there is some peculiarity about it. For example, if your application is highly corrosive, or you have conditions of extreme cold or heat, or you may have a changing environment such as running the chain in salt or fresh water and then exposing the chain to the outside air. The proper selection of materials can help overcome some of these or other damaging effects of any known condition. The key is good communication with your supplier. The chain engineer will select the best material for your application provided he knows the facts, but until you communicate with him, he will base his decisions on his past experiences with what he thinks is a similar application. This may not be true in your case.
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The Critical Pin – Reducing Fatigue Failures
In terms of improving chain life, this will possibly be the most important of this series of chain best practices. It deals with fatigue, which is one of the most common causes of premature pin failures. Although all parts of a chain are essential, scarcely any part has as much effect or is as important as the chain. Therefore, knowledge of the way to improve the pin to reduce the fatigue factor is very important.
Fatigue occurs by the slow growth of a crack which usually starts at the weakest point of an area where the loads are the highest. This is commonly called a stress concentration. There are many ways to strengthen the weakest point of a chain or pin; thus reduce the possibility of a crack developing.
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