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Leather belts were fastened in loops with rawhide or wire lacing, lap joints and glue, or one of several types of steel fasteners.
Cotton duck belts usually used metal fasteners or were melted together with heat.
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.
A typical line shaft would be suspended from the ceiling of one area and would run the length of that area.
One pulley on the shaft would receive the power from a parent line shaft elsewhere in the building.
In the earliest applications power was transmitted between pulleys using loops of rope on grooved pulleys.
The belts were generally tanned leather or cotton duck impregnated with rubber.
The distance depended on the weight of the shaft and the number of pulleys.