West Midlands based automotive parts distributor, Midwest Motor Factors, has successfully hosted its free Gates technical seminar at GTG West Midlands, equipping more than 50 garages from across the region with the latest Gates updates and insights.
The evening event, held on 5th March, was attended by around 70 mechanics. They were given the opportunity to quiz experts about the practical issues that mechanics face every day.
Among the items on the service menu were the latest developments in both Synchronous Belt Drive Systems (SBDS) and Accessory Belt Drive Systems (ABDS). Among some of the other topics discussed were common installation errors, problems with specific engines, concerns about water pump integrity, preventive maintenance strategies, and causes of premature belt failure.
Stephen Thompson, of the Gates Technical Training and Support Team led the session, which began with some background.
Modern advances in belt construction make it harder to spot belt wear. When belts were made using Neoprene or Chloroprene, for example, a simple visual check could identify the presence of cracks in belts. Such cracks would establish that the belts were old and that their performances were in decline. EPDM (Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer) belts develop no cracks.
Common installation errors are significant causes of premature belt failure. Video footage was used to show how vibrations increase with incorrect alternator pulley selection. Insufficient or excessive torque settings lead to inevitable problems. SBDS tensioner installation on various engines, such as the Renault 1.5DCi, proved to be good case study material for a discussion about the choice of correct tools and problems with automatic tensioners.
The debate about installing new water pumps drew animated responses from the audience. The use of sealants is a controversial matter; a popular view was that sealants provided insurance against any surface irregularities that might exist between the new component and the existing point of installation.
Gates advises that the inappropriate use of sealant can compromise both the installation and the function of a water pump. It was emphasised that sealant use should be avoided, unless specifically recommended by a water pump manufacturer.
Another topic discussed was the fact that counterfeit parts are causing significant problems for the aftermarket. ABDS examples were quoted, and two similar Torsional Vibration Damper (TVD) pulleys were shown. They seemed identical, but cross-sectional internal views told a different story. The first pulley clearly featured rubber components, which are apparently designed to absorb vibrations from the ABDS. Such vibrations are transmitted through the belt, and there is inevitable damage to the associated components. The second was significantly cheaper, and had no rubber damping components at all. Mechanics heard that as no vibration damping was possible, premature failure was inevitable.
Gates wants garages to take the preventive approach towards drive systems maintenance, and installing belt kits is just one way that mechanics can make a significant contribution. Gates has made extensive ranges of problem-solving belt kits available to help them do so, and kits will help them to avoid comebacks.
Craig McCracken, Group Factor Manager, said: “The seminar was extremely well attended, and we were delighted to welcome such a large turnout. GTG provided the ideal setting for suppliers to communicate directly with garages outside of the work environment, with some fantastic topics being shared.”