FB Chain managing director Peter Church discusses how incorrect lubrication and over-tensioning can lead to a reduction in boom chain life in telehandlers, and why investing in a chain wear gauge can aid early wear detection.

Ensuring your boom chain is in good health is of utmost importance to telehandler owners. Proactive maintenance not only guarantees safe operation; it hugely reduces the chances of unscheduled downtime and improves total cost of ownership.

Ensure correct lubrication

When it comes to chain wear, incorrect lubrication is one of the primary reasons for reduced chain life. Friction corrosion, turned pins, metallic friction, stiff joints and noisy operation are all signs that something’s amiss with your lubrication method. This is usually due to either the use of an unsuitable lubricant or improper application.

Peter Church, managing director of FB Chain, the UK and Ireland’s leading manufacturer and supplier of industrial chain, explains that there are some common pitfalls when it comes to choosing the right product. “What many people don’t realise is that most chain lubricants are produced for transmission and motorcycle applications,” he says. “Telehandler boom leaf chain requires a lubricant with entirely different properties. As most telehandlers operate outdoors, the lubricant needs to be a high enough quality to stay in place even when exposed to the elements.”

FB Chain suggests speaking to the machine maker or a lubrication specialist to ensure you’re using the right formula.

But just purchasing the right lubricant isn’t enough; correct application is another area in which people tend to fall short, as Peter goes on to explain. “Many owners think they’re doing the right thing – applying lubricant regularly and generously – but there’s a bit more to it than that,” he says. “Due to the space limitation of the booms sliding over each other, retraction and extension chains are often flat and wide with multiple links, making lubrication difficult. This, combined with the fact that many boom chains operate under constant tension, means it is very important for the user to make sure the chain is slack before applying the lubricant. This enables the lubricant to penetrate between the link plates and onto the chain rivet pin.”

FB Chain advises articulating the chain directly after applying the lubricant so that it works into the chain joints before final chain tensioning.

Be wary of over-tensioning

Another common cause of reduced chain life in telehandler booms is over-tensioning. In most boom applications, the extension and retraction chains act against each other, and tensioning slackens the chain working in opposition. Over-tensioning of boom chains results in the chain being preloaded. This means that when it is in operation, it will be bearing greater loads than it was designed for.

“A few extra turns on the chain adjustor nut could add up to an extra ton onto the chain load,” says Peter. “An indication that chain is operating above its design load is turned rivet pins on the section of chain that wraps the chain roller. A simple way of keeping an eye on chain tension is to periodically measure the distance the chain sits in from the boom when unladen. When adjusting the chain, it may not be possible to carry out the full adjustment in one go; the boom may require an extend and retract cycle to allow the chain’s system to balance out.”

FB Chain recommends that users consult the operational manual for detailed chain tension requirements for their machine.

Invest in a chain wear gauge

Boom chains are generally around 5 metres (16 feet) long and 80% to 90% of their length will articulate around the chain roller, which generates chain wear. Once chain has elongated due to wear by 3% or more, it is unsafe and needs to be replaced.

“Keeping track of chain wear using a chain gauge will help with maintaining chain tension and ensure that the chain is not used beyond its safe working life,” concludes Peter. “The FB Professional Chain Wear Gauge is a user-friendly tool for measuring chain wear in imperial pitch leaf chain, forklift chain and roller chain. It is widely used in the thorough examination of lifting equipment (in accordance with the LOLER and PUWER regulations) and allows service technicians to easily spot potential chain failure long before the next service.”

Investing in an FB Professional Chain Wear Gauge is the best first step towards prolonging the life of your telehandler boom chain. And if you begin to see rapid chain elongation, then it’s time to review your tension and lubrication process.


February 2017

For further information, please visit: www.conveyorchain.co.uk

Or contact:

Peter Church, Managing Director

FB Chain, Works Road, Letchworth, SG6 1LP

Tel: +44 (0)1462 670844

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Oliver Halls, General PR Support

SE10, London

Tel: +44 (0)207 923 5860

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FB Chain Ltd. is the UK subsidiary of the FB Group, owned by Swedish company Addtech AB, a Swedish value added technology trading company listed on the Stockholm stock exchange. From its manufacturing base in Letchworth, England, FB Chain specialises in high quality industrial chain products for the materials handling and industrial process markets, including leaf chain and associated pulley and anchor bolt components as well as roller, attachment and large pitch conveyor chain. FB Chain is the only chain manufacturer to be represented by both the BITA (British Industrial Truck Association) and the FLTA (Forklift Truck Association) and employees are regular attendees at the esteemed BSI Technical Policy Committee meetings. FB Chain holds ISO 9001:2000 for the manufacture of chain and associated machined products.