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Chain and Sprocket Fault Finding

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There can be many reasons why chain and sprocket installations of any type can give difficulties in service and we can only list a small number of suggestions when operating problems occur.




Fractured Chain Bush / Barrel

Chain Speed too High

Chain of Shorter Pitch but equivalent strength


Heavy Shock Loads

Investigate to reduce shock Loads


Corrosion Pitting

Consider using special material or Improve Lubrication


Roller Flatting due to Skidding

Too lightly loaded System

Increase load within limit of chain


Heavy Load where Friction between bush and roller bore overcomes lever friction effect of friction at roller periphery

Increase chain size if no reduction possible


Excessive lubricant on chain track

Clean tracking


Canting Over of chain on Track


Tight Chain Joints

Material packed in chain

Clean & re- lube


Frozen / Seized Chain

Clean & re- lube


Incorrect Lubricant

Clean & re- lube






Check structure


Fractured Chain Plates
Fractured Bearing Pin
Elongated Linkplate Holes

Overload above maximum Chain working capacity

Investigate for foreign object causing construction.

Check alignment between drive & tail sprockets


Protect with chain Overload Device


Check Power Consumption


Loose or Damaged Chain Attachments / Brackets

High Unit Shock Loads



Incorrect Assembly of
Slats / Carrier Assemblies

Re-align to ensure correct phasing


Twisted Chain causing Flexing and Cross Chain Loads

Check for inaccuracies on assembly


Excessive Roller Bore Wear

High Unit Load

Distribute Load


Twisted Slats / Carriers

Investigate, highlight, correct


Unsatisfactory Lubrication

Improve Lubrication


Excessive Noise

Mis-alignment of Chain Tracking

Check all Structure Alignments


Too little or too much Chain Slack

Re-tension chain


High Speed

Use Shorter Chain Pitch Size


Chain Sprocket Wheels Worn



In-effective Lubrication Damaged / Incorrectly positioned chain tracking

Lubricate correctly Investigate and adjust as necessary

Uneven Running

“Stick Slip” / Hunting

See Roller Flatting. Check Drive for adequate capacity


Polygonal Action of closely spaced sprockets in a complex circuit

Increase sprocket chainwheel centres or reposition wheels


High Friction at Idler Sprockets

Lubricate or fit low friction bearings


Polygonal Action at Drive Chainwheel

Use larger diameter sprocket


Chain Whip

Excessive Slack

Adjust correctly


Worn Tooth Form

Replace Chainwheel


Long unsupported chain strands

Fully guide return chain strand


Chain Clings to Sprocket Teeth

Incorrect Tooth Form



Worn Tooth Form



Heavy Tacky Lubricant

Clean & re-lube


Stiff Chain Joints

See chain assembly Procedures


Chain Climbs Sprocket Teeth

Excessive Tooth Form Wear



Build Up of Excessive Chain Slack

Adjust Chain


Chain Elongation

Replace Chain


Severe Overloads

Investigate, highlight, correct

Material Packing between Chain and Tooth Root

Remove obstruction

Consider change to sprocket profile design

20.1 General Inspection Procedures

  1. Place spirit level on all shafts for accuracy of horizontal settings.
  2. Check visually for squareness.
  3. Rotate shafts through 90 degrees and inspect again.
  4. Release any chain tension weights or remove tension loads. Disconnect chain from head shaft sprockets. Place bar across chain sprocket tooth root and check alignment using a spirit level to sight against the shaft.
  5. Use diagonal cross wires to ensure squareness of twin chain strand sprockets.
  6. Record any rubbing marks made by the inside face of the chain side link plates on the sprocket tooth flanks. This indicates position and severity of misalignment.
  7. In twin strand chain systems, ensure that one tail shaft sprocket is free running to prevent chain “wind up”.

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