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Old 17-05-2022, 19:35   #1
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Chain driven alternators

Let's hear your opinion on using poly/stainless chain for alternators . Specifically #50 poly/steel chain

I have struggled with v belts forever. I have 2 large frame alternators, one of them has double v belts , and the other is single . Running 80-120 amps per alternator. I burn through lots of belts. Maybe 100 hrs per belt!?!! I dreamed of converting to serpentine belt untill I started thinking about chains...

I'm currently working on a hybrid system for my boat. it uses an electric motor coupled to the transmission via #50 poly/steel chain. .... I got thinking... Why not use the same chain for my 2 large alternators?? Would be nice if everything used the same parts right????

I would love to run the alternators harder but I'm limited to what the belt can handle. . I know serpentine belts are pretty good... But.. .

Why would you not run a poly chain .


Noise? Definitely louder than a belt. But I'm willing to sacrifice for performance.

Potential for catastrophic failure!?!?? a belt will fail or slip before something can really break. ?? That's about the only reason I can think of not to use them...


I am looking to extract as much power as I possibly can from my 60hp diesel engine. I think about 3.6 kw continuous can be driven off the front of the crankshaft pretty reliably?? What do you think??
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Old 17-05-2022, 20:03   #2
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Re: Chain driven alternators

This is MUCH better than any V-belt drive, better than serpentine, and probably an order of magnitude better than a chain.
A "Gilmer" belt.
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Old 17-05-2022, 20:35   #3
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Re: Chain driven alternators

Curious how you burn through so many belts I have a large frame alt that I run at 120Ah and the belts have been fine for the last 500 hours ? Having said that the Balmar slow start probably makes a big difference !
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Old 17-05-2022, 21:42   #4
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Re: Chain driven alternators

Quote:
Originally Posted by Islander53 View Post
I have 2 large frame alternators, one of them has double v belts , and the other is single . Running 80-120 amps per alternator. I burn through lots of belts. Maybe 100 hrs per belt!?!!

That isn't normal. Check alignment with a straitedge. Measure the tension. Determine whether you have sufficient belt wrap around the pulleys.


Chain isn't any more tolerant of misalignment than belts, quite the opposite.



Quote:

Noise? Definitely louder than a belt. But I'm willing to sacrifice for performance.

Potential for catastrophic failure!?!?? a belt will fail or slip before something can really break. ?? That's about the only reason I can think of not to use them...

I used to work on ag machinery that used lots of roller chain. Combines and various material handling equipment. Roller chain is great at low speeds. It will eventually wear but it has a good life and will pull huge amounts of torque with minimal slippage. It does require more maintenance than belts even at low speed because you have to oil it and you have to adjust the tensioner as the chain wears.


High speed roller chain drives on the other hand were just a pain. Rapid wear on the chains and sprockets, loud, required frequent lubrication and adjustment. The sprockets would get that hook-like shape and then the chain would jump a tooth once it a while. A worn chain would lengthen and wreck sprockets so you had to stay on top of it.



And when you threw a chain at speed it would shred stuff. It would, in fact, shred steel. I would think that one might go right through a fiberglass hull.



Quote:

I am looking to extract as much power as I possibly can from my 60hp diesel engine. I think about 3.6 kw continuous can be driven off the front of the crankshaft pretty reliably?? What do you think??

Well, you do what you want, but I think you should fix your belt drive system so that it works.
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Old 17-05-2022, 21:51   #5
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Re: Chain driven alternators

Quote:
Originally Posted by Emmalina View Post
Curious how you burn through so many belts I have a large frame alt that I run at 120Ah and the belts have been fine for the last 500 hours ? Having said that the Balmar slow start probably makes a big difference !
I also use the balmar regulator, with the belt saver soft start .. . I also had recently rebuilt both my alternator mounts, using turn buckles for tensioning and all the mounting brackets built of 5/8" steel and properly aligned. I'm pretty confident the alternators don't move, but within about 100 hrs the belts are very stretched/warn . When I say they run at at 80-120 amps each, that is continuous never goings below those numbers but probably closer to the 120 amp.

V belts are definitely my weak link .
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Old 17-05-2022, 22:03   #6
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Re: Chain driven alternators

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jammer View Post
That isn't normal. Check alignment with a straitedge. Measure the tension. Determine whether you have sufficient belt wrap around the pulleys.


Chain isn't any more tolerant of misalignment than belts, quite the opposite.






I used to work on ag machinery that used lots of roller chain. Combines and various material handling equipment. Roller chain is great at low speeds. It will eventually wear but it has a good life and will pull huge amounts of torque with minimal slippage. It does require more maintenance than belts even at low speed because you have to oil it and you have to adjust the tensioner as the chain wears.


High speed roller chain drives on the other hand were just a pain. Rapid wear on the chains and sprockets, loud, required frequent lubrication and adjustment. The sprockets would get that hook-like shape and then the chain would jump a tooth once it a while. A worn chain would lengthen and wreck sprockets so you had to stay on top of it.



And when you threw a chain at speed it would shred stuff. It would, in fact, shred steel. I would think that one might go right through a fiberglass hull.






Well, you do what you want, but I think you should fix your belt drive system so that it works.


Are you familiar with the "poly/stainless" chain? , apparently doesn't require any lubricant. I have no actual experience using this stuff yet though. I'm not sure it can be compared to regular steel chains.. I have a little experience with motorcycle chains, biggest issues are keeping them lubed and then they are pretty reliable..
Wondering if this poly chain is any better.


I do know that v belts do not support the hp requirements I need. That's the problem , not alignment .
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Old 17-05-2022, 22:16   #7
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Re: Chain driven alternators

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Originally Posted by Bowdrie View Post
This is MUCH better than any V-belt drive, better than serpentine, and probably an order of magnitude better than a chain.
A "Gilmer" belt.



Yes these cogged belts also look awesome. I had originally wanted to use these for my electric motor set up. I had a hard time sourcing pulleys and some how settled with the poly chain.
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Old 18-05-2022, 01:47   #8
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Re: Chain driven alternators

Despite some advantages, no engine manufacturer has standardized upon chain driven alternators.
Why?
What Jammer said [#4]*.
Belts use friction, and can handle high speeds smoothly, and in the event of an overload, belts will slip, and avoid system damage.
But, both chain & belt will operate at up to ±1,800RPM [unfortunately that lies below most alternator output curves].
Chains need to be lubricated [IDK about "poly/stainless" chain], and belts do not.
Pulleys [used /w belts] deal with debris, much better than sprockets [used /w chains]. Sprockets can also wear, while pulleys tend not to.
Since the belt itself has no moving parts, they are mechanically simpler than chain drives.
Belts are made of modern synthetic materials, which don’t rust, like metal chains.
Chains are noisier, than belts.

* See also ➥ https://www.cruisersforum.com/galler...&cutoffdate=-1

And ➥ https://www.cruisersforum.com/galler...&cutoffdate=-1

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Old 18-05-2022, 10:08   #9
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Re: Chain driven alternators

"Let's hear your opinion on using poly/stainless chain for alternators . Specifically #50 poly/steel chain"


In addition to the comments above, I would add, that the speed spec for Poly Steel chain from the Tsubaki website is:


"Maximum chain speed: less than 230 ft./min."


A 6" diameter crankshaft pulley at 2000 rpm's would result in a chain speed of 3140 Ft/min. This is 13x more than max spec.


I suggest you fix your current problem or switch to a serpentine belt.


Ken
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Old 18-05-2022, 10:24   #10
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Re: Chain driven alternators

V belts are gone. I changed pulleys. 40hp Yanmar.
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Old 18-05-2022, 19:33   #11
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Re: Chain driven alternators

Quote:
Originally Posted by kchace View Post
"Let's hear your opinion on using poly/stainless chain for alternators . Specifically #50 poly/steel chain"


In addition to the comments above, I would add, that the speed spec for Poly Steel chain from the Tsubaki website is:


"Maximum chain speed: less than 230 ft./min."


A 6" diameter crankshaft pulley at 2000 rpm's would result in a chain speed of 3140 Ft/min. This is 13x more than max spec.


I suggest you fix your current problem or switch to a serpentine belt.


Ken
This is very good info that I hadn't thought of. Thank you
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Old 18-05-2022, 21:01   #12
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Re: Chain driven alternators

Quote:
Originally Posted by Islander53 View Post
Let's hear your opinion on using poly/stainless chain for alternators . Specifically #50 poly/steel chain
Poly steel chain doesn't require lubrication ... if it is used in a clean environment. I am pretty sure salt would destroy 304 stainless in a marine environment in short order.

However, standard chains don't have to be lubricated with oil. I use Teflon spray on my motorcycle chain because it completely eliminates the mess.

Chains don't have to be less forgiving than a belt either. A chain drive can employ a slip clutch pulley or a torque limiter. My motorcycle uses a slipper clutch to stop the rear wheel from locking up when aggressively down shifting.

Personally, I think a synchronous/toothed belt with a slip clutch pulley would be the best drive option (if it existed). Compared to a V belt, it too requires no maintenance, it lasts longer, it generates lower shear stress on the driven shaft and it transfers torque more efficiently.
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