Category Archive: Maintenance

What Cicadas, Marathons and BLM Automatic Clutch All Have In Common…

We recently read an article in The Washington Post, “Billions of Cicadas Will Ascend Upon the Northeastern United States as Another 17-Year Cycle Concludes.” In addition to introducing us to the website Cicada Mania, the article got us thinking: At BLM, we are like cicadas. Just because you don’t see the cicadas while they’re hibernating, it doesn’t mean they’re not evolving and moving forward, getting ready to come out from hibernation to do their thing.

Maybe you’re not familiar with cicadas? The cicada is an interesting insect, “best known for the songs sung by most, but not all, male cicadas.” According to Cicada Mania, the cicada life cycle begins as a rice-shaped egg deposited in tree limb grooves. The egg hatches and the cicada feeds off of the tree until it grows and falls off of the tree to the ground, where it digs to find roots to feed on. The cicada remains active underground, tunneling and feeding for up to 17 years, depending on the species. There are many different species of cicadas, all hibernating for different periods of time. One breed of cicadas hibernates for 17 years before coming out and serenading us, announcing its presence to the world. In general, their hibernation process prepares the cicada for success once it emerges into the world.

Regarding the activity that’s going on underground while a cicada is hibernating, the same is true about BLM Automatic and our automatic clutches: Just because you may not see us or hear about BLM Automatic clutches all the time, it doesn’t mean we’re not there for you, ready to “come out and make our presence known” when you need us. Our clutches are, in fact, working behind-the-scenes every single day, all around the world. They’re often needed, and given more opportunities for visibility, after tornadoes or major storms. But whether or not you see or hear about them, BLM Automatic clutches are always prepared to do the jobs at hand. At the same time, BLM employees are working behind the scenes, too. So, you may not be thinking about clutches — or us — all the time, but you can rest assured knowing that just like the cicadas, we are busy doing our thing. We’ve been in business since 1932, designing and manufacturing centrifugal clutches for all types of small and large applications, and we have been, and continue to be, in this business for the long haul.

And since we’re being so philosophical in this blog post, we’d like to point out that this type of thinking also applies to marathons, where going the distance takes time and commitment. There’s no rushing or immediate sense of urgency because, as a marathon runner, you are trained and prepared. There’s planning, consistency and persistence that takes you to the finish line. At BLM, we are like marathon runners, too, and we are NOT at all like sprinters. We are here for the long haul, consistently designing and manufacturing centrifugal clutches for small and large applications, and we’ve been in business for almost 85 years – that’s five 17-year cicada cycles! A very long time!

Whether you’re running a marathon, or you’re a cicada ready to emerge after a long hibernation, or you’re an automatic clutch ready to do your job, remember: Good things take time, and there’s a lot of work and preparation going on behind the scenes!

Tornado Season Is Here: Be Prepared For Cleanup Operations With BLM Automatic Clutches In Your Chippers And Equipment

The official 2016 “Tornado Season” has arrived in the U.S., with tornadoes already striking the East Coast and southern states in the late winter and early days of March. More tornadoes and “clusters” of tornadoes are predicted for the spring months. One recent report (Tornado Clusters Becoming More Deadly and More Common), says, “U.S. tornadoes are becoming more likely to strike in clusters. A NOAA study, published in October 2014 in the journal Science, showed a rise in the number of days with multiple reported tornadoes. Another study, published in July 2014 in the journal Climate Dynamics, found a similar clustering of tornadoes.” According to another weather resource,, a website dedicated to providing “the information people seek on tornadoes in the United States,” the U.S. can expect the tornado count to be “near normal this spring,” with 511 tornadoes being the average number of tornadoes occurring this time of year each year from 1991-2010.  

The expected occurrence of hundreds of tornadoes and more clusters of tornadoes means there will be lots of cleanups ahead. Fallen tree branches and scattered dirt and debris tossed by the tornadoes and other major storms this spring will require chippers, saws and other equipment to handle cleanup tasks. BLM Automatic Four Block Series clutches are commonly used in chippers used by municipal, utility and construction workers across the U.S.

We like to think our clutches help make everyone’s job a little easier, especially after a tornado or storm. BLM Automatic clutches do help make the cleanup of fallen trees and branches more efficient and easier to manage for the people involved in what can be a very stressful time. You don’t want to worry about a chipper starting or equipment being overloaded when you’re dealing with a tornado’s or a storm’s aftermath. Whatever the post-tornado or post-storm procedures might be, BLM Automatic clutches play an integral role in getting the cleanup and repairs done as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Whatever the application, if it requires starting assistance and/or overload protection, our clutches can help do the job. BLM Automatic customizes the clutches we manufacture based on our customers’ needs and the specific applications. But, we produce two standard designs: BLM Automatic Four Block Series clutches with ¼-50HP, and Six Block Series clutches with up to 3,000HP. As we previously mentioned, the Four Block Series clutches are commonly used in chippers, and they’re also used in tampers, concrete pumps, mortar mixers and conveyors, and in many other applications. Six Block Series clutches are used in large and varied industrial and commercial applications.

But, getting back to talking about tornadoes and the spring cleanup season, we hope the predictions are wrong and this year proves to be a quieter year for tornado occurrences. Either way, please stay safe, and rest assured knowing that you’re prepared for cleanup operations with BLM Automatic clutches in your chippers and cleanup equipment.

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.

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.