Category Archive: Clutches

Why For Centrifugal Clutches, Size Matters

Size matters when you’re designing and manufacturing centrifugal clutches! We know this from our experience working with our customers who have come to use from many different industries throughout the years. If you’re not already familiar with BLM Automatic Clutch, we’re a family owned company, which designs and manufactures centrifugal clutches.

Whenever we’re designing and manufacturing centrifugal clutches for our customers, we rely on our customers to provide us with accurate information and specifications. We work closely with each customer to learn about any special or unique requirements for the clutches. Fully understanding their operations is critical in determining the right size centrifugal clutch within each specific application.

When it comes to the speed and the horsepower RPM, this information also must be accurate. If the information about the speed and horsepower is incorrect, the clutch may only partially engage but will still try to drive a full load on partial engagement resulting in clutch failure. Another possible scenario is that the running speeds are inaccurate and the clutch blows up.

Determining how many belts on a pulley application and the number of horsepower transmitted by each belt is necessary. Sometimes horsepower transmitted by manufacturer supplied equipment is insufficient to maximize the engine capacity, this results in an oversell of the size of the engine. The solution is to have more belts or a smaller engine.

Ultimately, the correct clutch size is critical for the overall performance and the longevity of a centrifugal clutch. Also having the correct clutch size can prevent damage or malfunction and costly downtime. To prevent any of these scenarios from happening we encourage our customers to share with us all accurate information and run each clutch within its intended application parameters.

We’d be happy to tell you more about why it’s so critical for manufacturers of centrifugal clutched to get accurate specifications and information from the end users of the centrifugal clutches. Reach out to us at any time with any questions you may have.

Could a Cross-Country Pipeline Solve Problems on Both Coasts?

Recently, we’ve been hearing about a theoretical pumping solution that has been getting nationwide attention. It has a lot of people asking, “Could this really work?”

It’s a common sense idea that began from regular folks questioning and hypothesizing: can we take the overabundance of snow in Boston, and transport it to California, a state suffering from a massive drought? At first it sounds like a crazy idea, but it might actually work.

This winter, the Boston area has been pummeled with snow—constant storms dumping record levels of it. Currently, it’s estimated that the amount of snow equates to about 5 billion gallons of water.

At the same time, California is experiencing a terrible drought, and experts say that it would take 11 trillion gallons of water to reverse it. So while the 5 billion gallons of Boston’s snow is only a fraction of the 11 trillion California needs, it’s a start. But is it possible, and if so, how?

It’s been proposed that a pipeline be built from Boston to California, a distance of 2,600 miles (to Los Angeles). Rather than collecting and then dumping the snow into the harbor, the snow would be collected and sent through the pipeline, pumping it cross-country. Of course, this would involve serious amounts of money, but money is already being spent on snow removal, and the California drought is costing countless amounts of money and energy.

So it seems what began almost as a joke—send us your snow!—maybe, just maybe, could work.

It’s unknown if this theory will ever come into existence, but at BLM we know that if a 2,600-mile-long pipeline is built to help save California, our clutches will be strong and powerful enough to make it work.

Winter is Here And Our Clutches Are Everywhere

When you live in a cold-weather climate, there are a few things you can be sure of come winter including temperatures dropping, snow falling, and our BLM clutches working every step of the way. You might not see them, or know exactly where our clutches are in use, but they’re pretty much everywhere.   BLM clutches have countless applications, especially during the winter season.

In fact, the lifecycle of a winter storm relies on our clutches. Clutches are used before a storm when salt throwers are covering the roads and after the storm, when road sweepers come to clear the snowfall.  After the storm has passed, chippers using our clutches are fed the fallen debris ensuring safer road conditions.   Finally, pumping equipment also depends on BLM clutches for flood control due to melted snow & ice.

If you’re braving the snow and are planning a winter ski trip this season, you may even be sitting on a ski lift that uses our clutches.  In fact, we supplied clutches on snow throwers at a number of ski venues including Sochi.  No matter what the ski conditions, our clutches are working so the ski resort can operate smoothly.

Perhaps you are tired of the cold and are planning a winter getaway; well you’re still not getting away from the use of clutches.  Clutches used on ski resorts’ lifts are also used for tropical islands’ gondolas.  Regardless, if you are on a ski lift being brought up a snowy mountain or on a gondola photographing a rainforest,  clutches may be ensuring your safety.

The fact is, we provide custom clutches for so many different uses, but the one factor that remains constant is our quality.  Our applications may change, but our craftsmanship never wavers.

With all of these applications, we at BLM continue to see more and more business. As a result, we continue to see the need for more skilled workers and continue to be grateful for the loyal, talented team members we have.  We’re a happy bunch and are especially happy to keep making clutches of unmatched quality that keep winter safe and fun.

3 Things to Know about Centrifugal Clutches

The centrifugal clutch: as versatile as it is important. Not only are there many advantages of centrifugal clutches—energy savings, smooth acceleration, ease of maintenance, etc.—but there are so many applications that benefit from it.

Here are three of them:

1) A controlled environment is best for industrial clutches.

Test runs on your motor will help make the clutch last longer. The design engineering of your device affects how the equipment will run, and this must be carefully researched and designed.

2) Variable speeds will change the clutch’s capabilities.

Industrial clutches such as BLM’s are designed to run at a specific RPM. This is also where the controlled environment helps, as the size of the track and speed are also controlled.

3) The way the motor is used will affect the clutch.

For example, driving with your foot on the brake the entire time, or quickly stopping and then going repeatedly, affect the motor’s lifespan. In this way, yet again, driving in a controlled environment is better for the clutch.

It’s important to remember that if parts are randomly put together, without taking into account the different variables and mechanisms, the clutch—and the motor itself—will not last. Finally, keep in mind that our premium centrifugal clutches cannot be used in just any motor — we make quality clutches for quality devices, and when used correctly, the two go hand-in-hand to last multiple years.

To learn how we can custom manufacture your centrifugal clutch or friction clutch, request a quote with our team today.

Request a quote with our team

Preventative Maintenance and Centrifugal Clutches: Avoiding Catastrophe

Consider this scenario: your business is booming, demand is higher than it’s been in years, and everything is on the right track—and then an emergency happens. You’ve been working so hard to get business where it now is, that you’ve forgotten to invest in a backup. You need to get back up and running right away, but your centrifugal clutch has died. Now what?

Unfortunately, it will take time to get a replacement clutch; each one is unique, and the right one for you is not going to be available immediately. You are then sitting there stagnant, and depending on a variety of factors, your wait time could be up to eight weeks.

Why Preventative Maintenance Matters

In any environment, from pumping to water treatment and mining, this scenario can happen, and planning ahead could have prevented it. Preventative maintenance assures both immediate and long-term savings, greater efficiency, significant time savings, and overall plant safety. It makes all the difference.

Preventative Maintenance and Centrifugal Clutches

In order to prevent the aforementioned scenario, there are steps you can take. First, make an overall assessment of your business now that it’s picking up, and decide how essential that clutch is to your functioning. If it’s critical to your business, now is the time to order a backup clutch.

Also, determine if your current clutch might be on its way out. Check the number of hours it’s been in use; while there’s no set number that’s too much, and it differs by clutch and by application, you can assess the wear on the clutch and the environment in which it’s been used. For example, something that’s been on standby may last ten years, while something in use every day will have a lot more wear and could need to be replaced much sooner.

Always err on the side of caution, and when in doubt, contact us and tell us about your clutch and your needs. We can help you determine whether or not it needs to be refurbished or replaced.

Why a Backup Makes All the Difference

No matter the state of your clutch or your particular application, failure can occur. In that event, no backup means no work. It means loss of time and money. Simply having a backup clutch provides the assurance and guarantee that in the event of an emergency, you’re okay.

Need advice or assistance, or want help choosing the right centrifugal clutch for your needs? Feel free to contact us anytime.


Mechanical Clutches That Fulfill Many Requirements

A clutch may be most commonly associated with automobiles, but mechanical clutches are needed any time that the transmission of power or motion must be controlled.  There are many varieties of mechanical clutches, with each type designed to fulfill specific requirements.  One of the most commonly used types is the centrifugal clutch.

These clutch systems employ a centrifugal force to automatically engage when the engine rpm rises above a threshold and to disengage when it falls low enough.  The centrifugal clutch has a number of advantages.  No control mechanism is necessary to run it, and it is highly cost effective.  It also prevents the internal combustion engine from stalling when the output shaft is slowed or stopped abruptly, by using the engine in this fashion less braking force is required.

Centrifugal clutches are well known in smaller vehicles such as mopeds, but they are also used in a wide variety of industrial applications.  Centrifugal clutches can be found in a wide range of military applications as well as for chillers, municipal waterworks plants, and many more.  These clutches need to maintain constant alignment between the driven and drive side shafts in order to function properly.  Centrifugal clutches can be engineered to fit into applications with limited space, such as mining.  Mining is a highly demanding environment, and it’s important to use resilient and tough centrifugal clutches in this industry.  Mixers are important in a variety of fields, including the chemistry industry.  Centrifugal clutches play a vital role in helping chemical mixers run at the highest level of efficiency, and with optimal design, can prevent jams.  Finally, centrifugal clutches can be built to operate under harsh environmental conditions, including extreme cold.

Mechanical clutches are available in many different forms.  The centrifugal design has utility and versatility that allows it to be used in many diverse products, including augers, pumps, saws, kilns, compressors, power trowels, and many others.


The Rising Demand—And Success—in the Mining Equipment Industry

If you follow the latest news and trends in American manufacturing, then you likely know that the industry is in the midst of a major recovery. Production and overall competitiveness in manufacturing is at levels not seen in many years, which is good news for business owners, manufacturing workers, and the country in general.

What this also means is that the economy is improving, and as this continues, along with more production, the demand for industrial machinery is expected to increase significantly. In fact, according to a recent report from IHS Technology, demand for manufacturing machines is expected to grow over 6%—more than twice the increase seen in 2013—and revenues are expected to reach $1.6 trillion this year.*

Furthermore, this rising demand for machinery and technology will result in a demand for mining tools and equipment. In fact, within the mining industry, experts predict that the global demand for mining machinery will grow 8.6% between now and 2017, reaching $135 billion.**

Steel and aluminum production, along with developments of other mining opportunities and growth in agriculture and construction, will push this demand throughout the world, with “voracious demand for mined materials”** in many developing countries serving as an incredible boost to the mining and mining equipment industries.

What does this mean for us and our customers? As premier manufacturers of the highest quality centrifugal clutches for clients in the mining industry, we see this as great news. Industrial clutches and centrifugal clutches are crucial to the mining industry, as well as to agriculture, construction, and many of the other industries in which machinery demand is expected to grow, and this means our clients will continue to see a demand for their products, and more need for ours.

All of our clutches ensure ease of maintenance, start loads efficiently (making them energy efficient), and can be customized for specific applications. This means that as your needs increase, you can be sure you will get the centrifugal clutches you need to meet and exceed your demands and expectations.

As we continue to see a rise in mining and industrial equipment requirements, we will look forward to making sure we do our part to keep this growth and success going strong.



Industrial Clutches Help Pump up Manufacturing Activity – and the Number of Jobs in Manufacturing Industries

Whether you’re looking at a water treatment plant, an aluminum processing facility or an aggregate crushing plant, we can guarantee there is an industrial clutch – most likely several of them – working behind the scenes in the pumps, crushers and processing equipment. Industrial clutches help pump up activity and keep things moving forward for manufacturers, and industrial clutches are used in every type of manufacturing industry, with applications in a wide range of processes.

As manufacturing activity picks up its pace in North America, industrial clutches will be more heavily relied upon in the coming months and years. A recent report from says, “Expectations are rising for a stronger U.S. economy in 2014 after reports showed solid growth in manufacturing and construction spending at the end of last year.” Another article from reports, “The [manufacturing] rebound is very real, and it will likely gain even more momentum as companies worldwide come to realize the cost advantage U.S. manufacturing has gained from cheap domestic energy, most notably natural gas.”

Manufacturing job growth is also predicted in the article: “…by 2020, we could see up to 1.5 million manufacturing jobs and as many as 3.5 million additional jobs created because of the new factories that are being built.” This is all good news for manufacturers and for workers seeking manufacturing jobs.

Industrial clutches can’t take all the credit for the anticipated manufacturing boom, but they do play an important role in keeping manufacturing activities under control and moving along! At BLM Automatic Clutch Limited, we’ve manufactured industrial clutches for every type of application, and we’ve been doing this for over 80 years now. We produce two main designs of centrifugal clutches: Our Four Block series clutches (1/4-50 HP) for mortar mixers and conveyors, chippers, tampers, concrete pumps, refrigeration, etc.; and our Six Block Series (up to 3,000 HP) for large industrial and varied commercial applications, used in crushers, fans, deep well pumps and more. We’re also known for our high-quality custom clutches. If you need industrial clutches or have any questions about clutches, in general, give us a call at 800-268-4295, or tweet us @BLMAutomatic.

The How and Why of the Centrifugal Clutch

As leaders in the design and manufacture of custom centrifugal clutches, we’re often in contact with people who want to know how they work, and what their advantages are. Simply put, their advantages are many—but here we aim to explain why and how.

The main purpose of the centrifugal clutch is to start loads efficiently and save energy. In essence, this type of clutch connects the prime mover (the motor, engine, turbine, etc.) to the load to be accelerated in a way that, in start-up mode, the prime mover starts without any load imposed on it. As the motor speed increases, it develops near-maximum torque before the clutch is radically activated to connect the load and accelerate it smoothly to rated speed—with no slippage and 100% efficiency.

When using the right centrifugal clutch, shock loading of the power train is eliminated, making for smooth acceleration and providing overload protection to both the motor and the machinery. Consider this: The demand of the average motor at start-up is significantly greater than when running at rated speed and load. Without a clutch, this high inrush current can last several seconds at least, but with a centrifugal clutch, this is only a fraction of a second, resulting in maximum torque with minimum current draw. The clutch does the slipping and dissipates the heat, and the added advantage is eliminating expensive starting apparatus.

So what should you consider when selecting a centrifugal clutch?

First you must take into account the effect of the load or mass to be accelerated; i.e., a high-inertia load will require a longer acceleration period, so the clutch must have sufficient mass to dissipate heat generated. When there is a frequent starting cycle, heat can be problematic and overheating can occur, but allowing the clutch to cool off can return it to its rated efficiency.

The centrifugal clutch should be selected so that the load is applied where maximum torque is developed by the motor; the clutch can be adjusted for capacity by varying weight of the operating mechanism in the clutch, which can increase the capacity of the clutch and achieve a wide range.

While no one particular clutch is suitable for all conditions, working with the right experts can help guide you to the right size/capacity for your application. In the end, the centrifugal clutch will save energy and start loads efficiently, eliminate the need for starting equipment, allow use of a smaller motor, and provide smooth acceleration.


Did you know that clutches may play a large role in the 2014 Olympics Games in Sochi, Russia?

This upcoming February, The XXII Winter Olympics will be taking place in Sochi, Russia – making it the first time that the Russian Federation will be hosting the games, as the Soviet Union hosted the previous in Moscow back in 1980. Separated into two clusters – the events will be divided into ice and mountain events, making travel time about 30 minutes between the coastal and mountain cluster. This makes the 2014 Winter Olympics the most compact in the history of the games.

During the winter Olympics, skiing is one of the largest events to take place. Some of the skiing event competitions include alpine, slalom, giant slalom, freestyle, cross-country, and Nordic combined skiing (ski jumping and cross country skiing combined.) When it comes to skiing, one thing people may not realize is that clutches can play a large role in maintaining the efficiency and effectiveness of ski lifts. Used as a backup if a power failure in the ski lift occurs, the clutch would start up after the malfunction and engage and start the drive in the lift. Without clutches, athletes would be stranded if a problem were to occur.

Because of the uncertainty of the weather that can occur at the Winter Olympics, Sochi began storing snow back in 2012, just in case there isn’t enough snow to fill the landscape come February. Those who organized the effort stored 16 million cubic feet of snow in anticipation of the games and the ski village at Sochi, which was all completed with the use of snow blowers that can be powered by clutches and water from lakes nearby.