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How To Measure & Identify V-Belt Pulleys

One of the ever-growing and most widely used product types in the power transmission and automotive industries is the V-belt pulley, also known as the “sheave.” A V-belt pulley is an attachment that transfers energy between axles with the help of a V-belt. However, to keep this important pair of devices functioning properly, one must secure the appropriate V-belt pulley replacement when an older one gets worn down. To do this, you need to know the size, dimensions, and type of your V-belt pulley so that the replacement will operate properly. Learning how to measure a V-belt pulley’s size and calculate its dimensions is a simple task; however, properly identifying a V-belt pulley type can be a complex process. V-belt pulleys come in a multitude of different styles and options, including A-section, B-section, C-section, D-section, 3V-section, 5V-section, 8V-section, variable pitch, double groove, and metric pulleys. We stock over 8,000 SKUs of different V-belt pulleys alone!

How To Measure A V-Belt Pulley

Please Note: For the below illustrations we use a standard single-groove V-belt pulley.

Step 1:

outside diameter (OD)
First, measure the outside diameter (OD) of the pulley.

Step 2:

pitch diameter (PD)
Next, measure the pitch diameter (PD). This measurement represents the diameter of the belt itself as it rides in the pulley. This step is not necessary if you already know your V-belt size or if the pulley and belt are significantly worn.

Step 3:

wall thickness
Measure the wall thickness of the pulley.

Step 4:

overall width of the belt housing
Measure the overall width of the belt housing, where the belt actually rides in the pulley.

Step 5:

belt housing width
If the pulley has a hub extending past the "belt housing" width it is typically a best practice to measure the extension of the hub.

Step 6:

Overall width of the pulley
The final measurement is the complete overall width of the pulley. This will in most cases designate the belt-type or series used.

How To Identify a V-Belt Pulley

The easiest way to identify a V-belt pulley is by finding the part number or identification components on the pulley itself. Different brands, as well as different pulley types, have various ways they may display these numbers.

Style 1:
Pulley with the part number stamped into the pulley
Probably the most common style for medium and smaller pulleys is when the number is stamped into the pulley before it is painted or phosphated. This can make it hard to identify the numbers and letters in most circumstances.

Style 2:
Pulley with the part number stamped in the casting
Another style is when the part number is stamped in the casting itself.

Style 3:
Pulley with different identification characters on different spokes
Another style involves placing different identification characters on different spokes. For example, in the image, we see "5-5V" on one spoke, "1870" on the second spoke, and "E" on the third:
5-5V: 5-groove, 5V belt size;
1870: Diameter;
E: Bushing used.
The catalog part number would be 55V1870E.

Style 4:

Pulley with painted part number
On some pulleys, the part number is actually painted onto it. The issue with this is that over time, it can rub off, making it more difficult to identify the pulley.

Alternatively, if your part number is not distinguishable, follow steps 1-6 above to measure the pulley. Then, determine the style of pulley you have based on the photos below.
Four pulley styles
Note: If you have a fixed bore pulley please advise of the bore inside diameter.

Lastly, we'll need to know how many grooves are in your pulley; this, along with the overall width, will confirm the belt type you are using.

Check Pulley Grooves For Wear With This Tool

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Note: If you have the part number the below dimensions are not needed.