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The leather belts were run with the hair side against the pulleys for best traction.
The belts needed periodic cleaning and conditioning to keep them in good condition.
Flat belts on flat pulleys or drums were the most common method during the 19th and early 20th centuries.
The belts were generally tanned leather or cotton duck impregnated with rubber.
In manufacturing where there were a large number of machines performing the same tasks, the design of the system was fairly regular and repeated.
Belts were often twisted 180 degrees per leg and reversed on the receiving pulley to cause the second shaft to rotate in the opposite direction.
Pulleys were constructed of wood, iron, steel or a combination thereof.
The loose pulley ('idler') allows the machine to be stopped in isolation – necessary for changing speed.
The stepped pulleys (left) provide three drive speeds for the machine tool (not shown), depending on which pair of pulleys is connected by the belt.