Fenner Drives - PowerTwist Plus V-BeltsPowerTwist Plus V-belts have links that can quickly be added or removed, making it easy to adjust the belt length.
Ever since I discovered these strange-looking PowerTwist Plus V-belts, and learned just how well they work, they’ve pretty much become the standard belt in the shop. Often called link belts, they are made up of 2-in.-long segments that interlock like links in a chain, with the tab on the end of one segment catching in a slot on the next piece.
Each segment is made from polyurethane, with a mesh of polyester fabric molded in for reinforcement. And although you won’t need tools to add or remove segments, I’ve found that a pair of needle-nose pliers makes the job easier.
Sold by a company called Fenner Drives under the trade name PowerTwist Plus, these red belts are generally promoted for their ability to cut vibration. And they do that quite well.
Compared with conventional V-belts, PowerTwist belts are more flexible, they don’t take a permanent set, and they have a bit of lengthwise stretch. Combined, these characteristics make the belts run smoothly, especially when they’re used with small pulleys. Indeed, on some machines, such as contractor’s tablesaws and small jointers, a PowerTwist belt often dramatically reduces vibration.
The belt is easy to install and tension. That’s another plus. With the belt removed, simply line up the two pulleys and bolt everything down. Then, with the belt at approximately the right length, slip it over the pulleys. If the tension isn’t satisfactory, remove the belt, take off a link or two and try again.
The belt offers another advantage when replacing a belt on a machine with “captive” pulleys (pulleys mounted between bearings). Lathe headstocks and some cabinet saws present this problem. To install an ordinary V-belt in this situation, the shaft has to be removed from the bearings, a tricky job that can take several hours.
But a PowerTwist belt is simply threaded around the pulleys before the ends of the belt are joined. So the entire job can be done in a couple of minutes, with no risk of damage to the bearing.
You’ll find PowerTwist belts available in five widths to match standard V-belt sizes. To determine the correct size for your machine, simply measure across the V-groove at the edge of the pulley. The most common size on small machines is 1/2 in. wide, designated size A/4L.
PowerTwist belts are sold in a number of woodworking catalogs and most industrial-supply catalogs.