Category Archive: Uncategorized

Centrifugal Clutches – Common Problems & Solutions

Centrifugal clutches, or friction clutches, are used in a wide variety of machinery and engine applications. In comparison to other types of clutches, centrifugal clutches generally have lower maintenance requirements. A well-designed and maintained centrifugal clutch should provide a long and reliable service life.

Centrifugal Clutch Won’t Engage

If your clutch won’t engage, It usually means that the engine idle speed is different to the clutch idle speed. This can result in damage. To correct this, change the spring or change the engine speed to below the clutch idle speed. If damage is excessive it will require the repair or replacement of the clutch.

Slipping Centrifugal Clutch

If your clutch is slipping you may notice a burning lining smell. Due to the clutch slipping, overheating will occur. It’s important to assess situations like this as soon as possible as this leads to heat damage to the inside of the clutch drum. This may then require replacement of the mechanism because the clutch will no longer engage. Unfortunately, heat damage is not covered by a warranty.

Centrifugal Clutch Engages Early

A common reason for a clutch engaging early is due to the engine idle speed being too high. Another possibility is that the tension springs are too loose. This could occur due to excessive wear and will eventually cause the flyweights to prematurely engage.

There are different solutions to consider, depending on your exact problem. If your clutch is engaging early because your engine idle speed is set too high, you will need to reconfigure the engine by adjusting the engine idle speed. Depending on the extent of the damage, it might be necessary to replace the entire clutch.

Custom Centrifugal Clutch Solutions

If you’re experiencing issues with your centrifugal clutch, finding a solution is usually a quick process that might involve replacing a small internal component. In many cases, problems can be avoided by maintaining a proper maintenance schedule.

A high-quality centrifugal clutch should provide a long service life. BLM Automatic Clutch has been designing customized clutches for industrial and commercial applications for over 89 years. With applications ranging from military and defense to agriculture, city waterworks, and more, our products power the world. To begin developing your solution, contact us today.

The Importance of Centrifugal Clutches in Engines

Centrifugal clutches are integral to the operation of many mechanical devices and systems. By transmitting power between the driving components and the driven components, they enable machines to start and stop operations as needed. Below, we discuss how these devices work and what role they play with engines.

Centrifugal Clutches

How Do Centrifugal Clutches Work?

All clutches stop and start the transmission of power by engaging and disengaging the driving shaft and the driven shaft. The exact power transmission method and mechanism depends on the type of clutch used. For instance, centrifugal clutches rely on centrifugal force to automatically engage and disengage the shafts.

The centrifugal clutch design consists of a drum attached to an output shaft, sheave, or sprocket that contains internal flyweights. As the power source revs, the driving shaft turns, which produces centrifugal force within the clutch. The force generated is relative to the input speed—lower speeds generate lower centrifugal force, while higher speeds generate higher centrifugal force. At a certain speed, the centrifugal speed is sufficient enough to force the flyweights to move outward, which makes them come into contact with the inside of the drum. This contact causes the drum to rotate and gradually engage the clutch. If the speed decreases below the engagement point, the flyweights retract, the drum rotation stops, and the clutch disengages.

What Role Do Centrifugal Clutches Play in Engines?

In engine-powered systems, centrifugal clutches are found between the engine flywheel and the transmission. They connect the engine driveshaft to the transmission shaft only once there is sufficient power. This protects the engine during startup/shutdown and prevents continuous operation when it is idled down.

Generally, centrifugal clutches are integrated into mobile equipment with high-speed rotational parts driven by small engines. Typical small engine applications for centrifugal clutches include:

  • Groundskeeping and landscaping equipment, such as cutters and mowers
  • Mining equipment, such as vibratory compactors, pumps, and rollers
  • Wood processing equipment, such as grinders, mills, and woodchippers

While centrifugal clutches can be used in a wide range of applications, they are not appropriate for every application. For example, they are not suitable for applications involving the transfer of high torque or power since they exhibit a tendency to slip if the load is too heavy. Additionally, they are not suitable for applications requiring high-reliability disengagement.

Centrifugal Clutches for Engines from BLM

Centrifugal clutches are critical components of engine-powered machinery. When properly chosen for the given application, they can eliminate shock loading of the powertrain, enable smooth acceleration, and protect the motor and machine from overloading.

Need centrifugal clutches for your engine-based systems? The experts at BLM Automatic Clutch are here to help! Our Four Block Series clutches (1/4 to 50 hp) are suitable for small equipment (e.g., chippers, concrete pumps, conveyors, mortar mixers, refrigeration systems, and tampers), while our Six Block Series clutches (up to 3,000 hp) are suitable for large industrial and commercial equipment (e.g., brake drums, crushers, centrifuges, fans, pumps, and textile machinery). Additionally, our team can design and manufacture custom centrifugal clutches with fractional to 3,000 hp input speeds capacities.

BLM centrifugal clutches

All of our clutches are carefully engineered to allow for:

  • Automatic engagement/disengagement
  • Motor start without load
  • Smooth acceleration without shock
  • Use of smaller motors
  • Slip in overload conditions
  • Low-energy startup
  • Simple and quick maintenance

To learn more about our standard and custom centrifugal clutch offerings, contact us today. To discuss your specific clutch requirements and restrictions with one of our experts, request a quote.

A Message to the BLM Community Amidst COVID-19

To our BLM Customers:

As we, at BLM, are monitoring the ever-changing climate of the COVID-19 pandemic, we want to assure you that our number one priority is the health and safety of our employees, customers and suppliers.

Supply Chain Impacts

We are constantly monitoring for any impact. We have assessed a very low risk to our supply chain and business capabilities. We have several plans in place that ensure having multiple resources for the quality materials necessary to complete your projects.

Our Commitment to Employees’ Safety

  • No employees will be travelling at this time.
  • Any employee who is sick will be asked to stay home until medical clearance is given
  • Enhanced cleaning & sanitization plan for our facilities is now in place.
  • Social distancing, no handshakes, and repeated hand washing and hand sanitizing is observed.

Visitors to our facility

As we continue to monitor this continuously changing situation, we are putting a hold on any non-essential visitors to our facility for at least 30 days, or until conditions and risk factors improve. We will rely on information provided by our Federal and Provincial leaders and the CDC to determine best courses of action going forward.

As always, please don’t hesitate to contact us if there’s anything we can assist with.



Rob Wilson

The Waterworks Industry Prepares for the Future Where Keeping Water Pumping and Flowing Will Continue to be Critical

Each day, water utilities and other companies in the waterworks industry face challenges, some more critical than others. For example, the current California drought affects the waterworks industry and millions of people in the state, with repercussions in other industries and other states and locations around the world. The agriculture industry is affected, with limited irrigation abilities. Water conservation is being encouraged everywhere. Unfortunately, things don’t seem to be changing any time in the near future.

Last week, the U.S. Drought Monitor website, produced through a partnership between the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrations, reported, “The benefits of the February and early-March precipitation rapidly diminished across California and the Southwest as unseasonable warmth and dryness increased water demands and depleted snowpacks.” A recent report in the New York Times, says, “There are scenes all across California that illustrate the power of the drought… People are watering trees with discarded dishwater, running the washing machine once a week, and letting their carefully tended beds of flowers and trees wither into patches of dusty dirt.”

California’s water woes illustrate the waterworks industry’s responsibilities and challenges faced in just one state. But these responsibilities and challenges, plus people’s overall reliance on the waterworks industry is a global challenge that is expected to become even more critical with time.

Common themes seem to be repeated in waterworks industry reports and news, including:

  • Drought is expected to continue in California for some time into the future.
  • The global population will keep growing, placing increasing demand on the world’s water supplies in the coming years and decades. In one industry report about the UK, alone, they predict “35% growth in water demand could be possible by 2050 due to population growth.”
  • The aging water infrastructure in the U.S. and around the world will need to be refurbished or replaced in the very near future to keep things pumping and flowing and to continue to meet global water supply demands.

Reporting on the aging U.S. water infrastructure, an American Water white paper, “Challenges in the Water Industry: Infrastructure and its Role in Water Supply,” says, “Today, this massive water supply system, serving 240 million Americans, is in serious need of replacement, upgrading and maintenance if it is to continue to support a growing U.S. population.”

While the challenges may change as the population grows and technology advances, the waterworks industry will continue to be charged with the responsibility of finding water resources, treating the water so that it’s consumable, and keeping the water flowing to where it’s needed most. Centrifugal clutches play a role in keeping the water flowing and pumping in all types of waterworks facilities. Compressors, engines, pumps, and generators often include and rely on centrifugal clutches. Through our experience manufacturing centrifugal clutches for a wide variety of industries, including the waterworks industry, we’ve seen first-hand how critical it is to keep things pumping and flowing in the waterworks industry. At BLM Automatic Clutch, we’re ready to partner with and assist companies in the waterworks industry to help overcome whatever challenges flow our way.

Proper Hurricane Season Preparedness

As summer comes to an end and fall arrives, hurricane season comes along with it. While we can’t know what lies ahead, we do know that hurricanes of some sort are to be expected, and the best thing we can do is be prepared.

When Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc along the northeast, devastating towns and cities, most people weren’t mentally or physically prepared for how bad it would be—countless people lost their homes, businesses, and more. Just recently, when typhoon Utor ripped through Hong Kong, everything, including their stock exchange, came to a close. And many people might remember the blackout that occurred almost exactly 10 years ago, affecting 55 million people throughout the northeast and Canada. Natural disasters and power losses can be catastrophic.

When these things occur and cities shut down, the ones that get through it best are often those that are best prepared. Learning from these disasters led many people to invest in good pumping systems, chippers, clutches, and other equipment. Standby diesel engines often provide the power when water treatment plants and the electric grid fail, and those engines rely on clutches.

Additionally, when hurricanes or typhoons hit and major flooding occurs, pumping systems properly remove the excess water. We have seen it countless times—municipalities calling us in the wake of a disaster, in need of pumps and clutches.

Furthermore, when strong winds cause falling trees (or even buildings), chippers are used for the cleanup, making the streets clear and safe. Rider trowels take care of the issues that arise from large concrete buildings, while plate tampers pack down the road surfaces and redo damaged asphalt. Accordingly, curbers fix the edging of sidewalks, making them safe for pedestrians following a big storm.

All of these are necessary to undo the damage done by these types of disasters. And while no one can truly predict what will come our way, being prepared can help you literally weather the storm.

Ready… Set… Go! Try Go-Karting for Corporate Team Building

Having fun is a big part of corporate culture today. Companies big and small, from Google and Microsoft to the accounting firm down the road, are incorporating “fun” into their business plans. Merging the “fun-factor” into a business’ daily operations isn’t a new trend: It’s been around for quite some time now, especially in corporate team building efforts around the world.

On his website,, team building expert David Greenberg lists the following advantages and results of corporate team building efforts:

  • People getting to know each other better
  • Improved communication and trust
  • The breakdown of barriers and “silos” between departments
  • The ability to recognize and capitalize on each other’s talents and contributions
  • More creativity and innovative problem-solving
  • The creation of strong, effective teams who know how to work together toward a common goal.

Team-building activities range from quiet canoe rides down tranquil rivers and streams, to more challenging and active adventures. Go-karting is one type of team building activity that is extremely popular across the country today. Satisfying “the need for speed,” go-karting has been proven to be very effective for team building efforts, as well.

Driving a go-kart at high speeds in a safe, controlled, indoor environment provides all the ingredients needed for fun, excitement and, most importantly, interaction among people. It’s a great way to build rapport between departments and between different levels of company employees. Racing brings people together, encourages collaboration, and breaks down departmental barriers.

From San Diego, to Denver, to New York, you’ll find indoor go-karting locations that feature corporate teambuilding events as part of their offerings. Many locations have quiet meeting rooms on site, in addition to their go-kart racetracks. Of course, safety is key, and the equipment used at commercial go-karting outlets is maintained to be responsive and to quickly accelerate for powerful results on the track. The go-karts you find at commercial establishments are heavy-duty and they’re manufactured with strong, dependable clutches built for the long haul. We know this because we manufacture fully machined centrifugal clutches for commercial go-karts, and, of course, they’re designed for serious performance and durability.

While the goal and mission of team building through go-karting is serious business, and the centrifugal clutches are commercial-grade and provide exceptional performance, the end results of go-karting for corporate teambuilding are always guaranteed fun!



Environmental factors that affect agriculture

Our planet is a well-timed and well-run ecosystem that relies on so many factors, plants, animals and insects to keep it humming in harmony.  One of the areas that are out of tune has been the serious decline of the honeybee population in the United States.  Recently, scientists at Purdue University identified one of the largest factors that are causing the disappearance of these bees.

Bees are necessary for the pollination of our fruits and vegetables.  Without their work buzzing from tomato flower to blackberry blossom, we won’t get large crops of tomatoes, blackberries, water melons, apples, pears, and on and on.

The Purdue scientists found that the dead bees around the fields and hives over a two year period showed the presence of neonicotinoid insecticides.  These are commonly used to coat corn and soybean seeds prior to planting. The researchers found that high concentrations of these insecticides were found in the waste talc that is exhausted from farm machinery during the spring planting.  Christian Krupke an associate professor of entomology and co-author of the study in an interview said, “We know that these insecticides are highly toxic to bees; we found them in each sample of dead and dying bees.”

The seeds for most crops are coated with this insecticide to protect them after they are planted.  All corn and half of all soybean seeds are treated in this manner.  The coated seeds are sticky and because they clog up the vacuum systems that are used for planting, they are mixed with talc.  This talc gets released into the local environment during the planting process.  This contaminated talc is blown into the air and bees encounter the toxic substance when they land on anything that has a talc coating.

There are other methods of protecting crops that can eliminate or reduce this toxic talc that the bees are encountering.  Spraying after the crops have been planted is one method, rather than coating the seeds.  BLM is proud to have our clutches in various agricultural applications from sprayers, to wood chippers, to crop conveyors.

In fact, our distinctive blue clutches have always been quite green.  Which we feel is a big way that we can help to contribute to a sustainable planet.

An electric motor with a centrifugal clutch starts under no load and does not engage and drive the load until it reaches near rated speed.  Once it is up to speed, the motor will have more torque to start and accelerate the load.  This then consumes less current than if a motor were to start under a full load.

The environmental benefits include:

  1.  More improved power that runs efficiently
  2. Reduction in electrical power consumption
  3. Increased motor life, which provides continuous savings on energy consumption

Everything that we can do to make changes that protect and enhance our ecosystem is important.  Whether it is the way that we protect our agricultural crops in order to protect the honeybees that are integral to their growth or by using clutches that are more energy efficient but still provide the power needed to get the job done.

Construction Equipment and America’s Housing Recovery

This past March, home prices in America reached their highest gain since 2006. According to recent statistics, spring home-buying season is seeing aggressive demand, and throughout the country, building and renovating is flourishing for the first time in a long time.

With spring being the season of renovations and new projects, and the recovery moving forward, U.S. neighborhoods will see construction going on just about everywhere.  With all of this construction comes the need for equipment—good news for the equipment manufacturers—which will include curbers, tampers, chippers, saw mills, industrial mixers, and more. And each of these pieces of equipment requires a good clutch—one that will provide the quality and endurance necessary for the influx of work.

New communities are being built left and right (check out this article on what’s going on in Omaha), and with that comes new sidewalks, and therefore the need for curbers.  Other people are renovating existing homes and adding new areas and features—this is where tampers come in.  For some, spring means sprucing up your property and clearing debris—leading to the need for chippers.  Then there are the saw mills who provide lumber for all the jobs, and the industrial mixers that will handle the thousands of tons of concrete and paint that are being used throughout the country.

Whatever the job, whatever the tool — the homeowners and builders who are contributing to America’s housing recovery are counting on their quality. They might not know the importance of the tools, but the manufacturers certainly do. And they know that a good tool is a sum of its parts.  Without a good clutch, you’re in trouble.

So what type and size of clutch might you need? For sawmills and chippers, go with a 6-inch clutch, size 60, 25 horsepower and 3000rpm.  For tampers and curbers, a 4-inch, size 41, 10 horsepower 3600 rpm clutch.  And for mixers, an 8-inch, size 80, 60 horsepower, 1800 rpm clutch.

Every little part, person, and job leads to the big picture of America’s restored housing market.  Remember to think small before thinking big.

Getting a Grasp on the Different Types of Clutches and their Applications

Centrifugal clutches are available for a wide variety of applications. But, they may not always be the right type of clutch for the job. The type of clutch you need is determined by the job at hand and other factors, and depending on your application, you may require any one of these three types of clutches:

  • Electromagnetic clutch
  • Hydraulic clutch
  • Centrifugal clutch

An electromagnetic clutch uses electricity to engage and disengage. If you want to switch the clutch on and off at various times throughout the drive, this is the type of clutch you need. But, remember: If you don’t have an electricity supply, such as in instances of power failure, you’re in trouble, and the electromagnetic clutch won’t do its job.

Hydraulic clutches use fluid to engage and disengage. A valve system pumps the fluid and the clutch relies on the flow of the system to work. Your environment usually helps determine if you can and if you should use a hydraulic clutch. For instance: If  there is a perferation in the hydraulic line the fluid will leak out disabling the clutch and thus the machine it is on.

Centrifugal clutches rely on centrifugal force – a “natural force” explained by the laws of physics – to engage and disengage. (In case you need a physics lesson reminder, centrifugal force is defined as the outward pressure that’s exhibited around an object rotating around a central point.) Designed and manufactured for specific applications, centrifugal clutches are relied on for their independence and ability to function on their own, without the need for fluids or electricity. They can also be customized for single use products or one-of-a-kind specialized applications.

If your application requires starting assistance and/or overload protection, a clutch is exactly what you need. Just be sure to select the right type of clutch for the job!

Why It’s Critical to Keep Today’s Water Treatment Systems Running Smoothly

Water: It’s fundamental to all life, and the need for water treatment systems has become increasingly more critical as the population around the world continues to grow. From the “people perspective,” our reliance on clean water is obvious: We rely on water for drinking, bathing and cooking. Rivers and lakes are sources for our drinking-water systems, where pollutants need to be removed and then safe, clean water can be distributed to the population. Our wastewater systems collect sewage and used water, remove contaminants, and eventually discharge clean water back into lakes and rivers. Or, more recently, the “cleaned” wastewater is used for other commercial purposes, such as the ski resort in Arizona using wastewater to make snow.

From an industrial perspective, our reliance on water and water treatment facilities is deep-rooted and affects just about every industry out there: Farms need clean water for crop irrigation. Chemical and food manufacturing facilities need clean water as components of their products. Power plants rely on water for cooling and other industrial processes. Hospitals, restaurants, hotels, and other businesses and industries simply cannot operate without clean water. Overall, the need for clean water is widespread around the world.

A report from the American Society of Civil Engineers (Failure to Act) says, “Although new pipes are being added to expand service areas, drinking-water systems degrade over time, with the useful life of component parts ranging from 15 to 95 years. Particularly in the country’s older cities, much of the drinking-water infrastructure is old and in need of replacement. Failures in drinking-water infrastructure can result in water disruptions, impediments to emergency response, and damage to other types of essential infrastructure. In extreme situations caused by failing infrastructure or drought, water shortages may result in unsanitary conditions, increasing the likelihood of public health issues.”

To safeguard our water supply, the smooth operation of water treatment facilities is critical. BLM is dedicated to providing the clutches necessary for the back up systems that ensure that when electrical failures occur they do not impact water treatment delivery. BLM has been providing clutches for this application around the world, and we’ve been doing this for more than 80 years. In fact, many of the automatic centrifugal clutches in place and working at water treatment facilities today were made by us. There are only a few companies around the world that design and manufacture a wide range of centrifugal clutches. Clutches with a modular design allows for easy inspection, maintenance and service.