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Old 04-04-2009
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'Single-handed' Belt Tension

I need some advice. I do much of my own maintenance; one thing that I can't seem to accomplish is getting enough tension on the alternator v-belt. Last year, I got a dockmate to help me create enough tension while I tightened the bolt....but this is not convenient all the time. Consequently, I think I am running my belt consistently under-tensioned.

JC Whitney used to have tool for belt tensioning - it's been discontinued. Other online searches to find this tool (new or used) have produced no results.

Does anyone have this tool that they could send me pictures of (so I can try to build my own)?

Or, maybe it's possible I am not using the proper technique? Any other suggestions to help me achieve the proper tension? I was considering a pry bar....but I bet that is a no-no.

Thanks,
Jason
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Old 04-04-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jason3317 View Post
I need some advice. I do much of my own maintenance; one thing that I can't seem to accomplish is getting enough tension on the alternator v-belt. Last year, I got a dockmate to help me create enough tension while I tightened the bolt....but this is not convenient all the time. Consequently, I think I am running my belt consistently under-tensioned.

JC Whitney used to have tool for belt tensioning - it's been discontinued. Other online searches to find this tool (new or used) have produced no results.

Does anyone have this tool that they could send me pictures of (so I can try to build my own)?

Or, maybe it's possible I am not using the proper technique? Any other suggestions to help me achieve the proper tension? I was considering a pry bar....but I bet that is a no-no.

Thanks,
Jason

I have used a pry bar or a large screwdriver. I don't see a problem as long as you are careful not to scratch or mar the paint.
I think that there are tools that work like a turnbuckle in reverse that may be designed for such a purpose also. I don't know what they are called though. Sorry.
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Old 04-04-2009
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Piece of 1x2 wood--hammer handle--big screwdriver--pry bar..

The trick is to place it as near the the adjusting bolt as possible and NOT in the middle of the case.

Do be sure all the bolts are loose.

Don't pry aginst any tin or light weight parts.
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I've had good luck with wood also. A tool handle peice, sawn from a shovel, or boat hook. Long enough for leverage, short enough to fit.
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Old 04-04-2009
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I carry a hammer in the tool kit with a rubber handle just for tensioning the belts. Don't overtighten them, it's easy to do if you have enough leverage.
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I use a hammer with a long wooden handle (like a rubber mallet) and tuck it under my leg while using a motor mount as a fulcrum. It takes a bit of practice, and it's a LOT easier if you can do it from above as opposed to from the front, but it can be done. From the front, I would suggest something like three feet of 1 X 1 wood. Lift up with your knee as indicated above (not on the actual alt case) and tighten with a long spanner and a rachet.

I confirm that I've got the required "belt should move no more than a dime's thickness by hand" more by reading the voltage output than by feel.
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To my understanding, the belt shouldn't be tensioned like a piano string. It should have some deflection once tensioned. Test delfection with the motor off (don't ask how I know this). Also, if you're tensioning it every year, maybe the belt is stretching too much and needs to be replaced.
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Old 04-05-2009
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I made one this winter but its down at the boat.
Was pretty simple. A couple of scrape 1x2 pieces of oak about 4-5 inches long. Drill a hole through the 3/4 face of each about in the middle. Cut arcs in one face of each to match the diameter of the engine's pulley. Put a piece of 3/8 all thread with nuts and washers through the holes in between the pieces. (all thread needs to be approx the correct length between pulleys) Screw nuts away from middle to spread the pieces of wood. Works well. No prying on delicate engine parts. Tight or loose as you want without having 3 hands. Part sizes may need to be adjusted as per engine.
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