Hi folks, i was given 30 feet of flat belt today, it's been hung in a
farm workshop for decades and has gone a bit stiff and dry, apart from
that it looks to be in good nick. Any ideas how i can give it a new
lease of life. ??
Cheers, Gary M
According to books on the subject Linseed is a drying oil so will tend to
form a hard skin on the surface. Said books recommend "Cod oil" or
"turpentine and tallow". !!
Personally I suggest repeated light applications of Neatsfoot oil to the
outside of the belt (not the inside as it will increase slip. Soaking is
hard to control and it could easily become so soft it simply stretches.
If you can arrange to sling it between a pair of large pulleys it will help
straighten it and make treating easier.
Saddle soap (any horse shop) - the block stuff is cheaper than the
liquid, and you'll be using a fair bit.
Then when it softens up a bit, you can use neatsfoot. Neatsfoot on its
own won't touch really dry leather as there's no emulsifier in it.
Don't use linseed, as that dries on the surface and seals it.
You might need to take an old belt dressing off the belt, maybe even by
scraping, before you get to bare leather and something remotedly
For fine work and appearance (i.e. belts you might wear) I'd use British
Museum leather dressing (home made) rather than neatsfoot. This is
beeswax in cyclohexane, with some lanolin and cedar oil added.
Erm, I've just come in after two days away, read my way through this
thread, gone back & checked the opener - & Gary didn't say it's leather. It
could easily be a canvas or a rubberised canvas belt. Before you do anything
to it Gary, it IS leather, isn't it?
In general, IMHO, you shouldn't use linseed oil, raw or boiled on leather.
It is a fine wood treatment, but it decomposes into acidic compounds in
leather & these will attack the collagens & rot them away.
On the theme of leather flat belts, I have some twenty meters of unused
belting & mine too is as dry as toast but otherwise in perfect condition.
Anyone know how they made 60 feet of one piece leather belt without recourse
to a whale? ;o))
J. Kim Siddorn,
Worth askin' then ;o))
Run it onto a couple of the biggest pulleys (perhaps a couple of car wheels
with the tyres on) you can find & rotate it slowly for hours. Repeat until
If it is rubberised canvas, don't treat it with anything except soap & water
to get any old dressing off.
If just canvas - dunno - ask a maritime museum & BTW, it is OLD!
J. Kim Siddorn,
Thanks for the advice fellas. I've soaked it in cold water for a day
that seemed to help, i'm planning to use the belt at the weekend to saw
some logs on the saw bench. I'll run it light on the pulleys first and
see how it performs. Cheers, Regards, Gary M
While we're on the leather belt topic. I have an old West Bend tool
room lathe that uses a 2" wide, ~5/16" thick leather drive belt. If
the belt tensioner lever is engaged the weight of the entire electric
motor assembly is hung on the belt. If the lathe is stored for long
periods with the tension on, the belt stretches and the problem now is
that it slips at rather low torque. I was wondering what the best
procedure might be for shrinking the belt. I was thinking of removing
it and soaking it for a day or two in clear water and then drying it,
possibly in the sun. Any suggestions?
OOPS! Brain fart. :( My mind must be like an electrical insulator.
Once it arcs over in a certain way leaving a carbon track it is more
susceptible to making the same arc pattern over again. I have
mistakenly called my lathe a West Bend before too. Isn't West Bend a
type of kitchen blender? The lathe is a classic vintage South Bend, as
in Indianna. 36" bed, 16" swing. I'd be totally helpless without it.
plain cold water will not shrink the leather. However, very hot, still water
with a little washing up liquid in it might do the trick.
The hot water will cause the collagens to contract, the washing up liquid
lowers the surface tension & will get some of the crap off the belt, too.
allow to dry flat in the Indiana sunshine.
Hot does not mean boiling! DON'T OVERDO THE HEAT!!
J. Kim Siddorn,