Frequently Asked Questions

Roller Chain

The drive ratio is a function of the number of teeth on the large sprocket divided by the number of teeth on the smaller sprocket, not the sprockets' diameters.

The maximum recommended ratio for a single reduction is 7:1. In practice, the practical single reduction limit is affect by: the minimum size of the small sprocket, the maximum size of the large sprocket, and the need for sufficient wrap on the small sprocket. For ratios larger than 7:1 a double reduction is preferred.
The connecting tools are specifically designed to pull a single strand of chain together at a time, however multiple strand chains can be connected by pulling on strand with the connecting tool and holding the remaining loose strand(s) up and inserting the connecting link. Please note that very large multiple strand chains may overload the connecting tools.
Yes, the Diamond Chain pin extractor is designed to remove the press-fit cover plate from a chain, single or multiple strands. Removal of the cover plate is generally sufficient to allow the chain to be easily disassembled, with the exception of Diamond's press-fit riveted multiple strand chain series.
Review the drive requirements and surroundings. For chains requiring no rusting and being used in acidic or caustic environments, consider using stainless steel chains. For chains exposed to moisture only, consider using plated chains (such as Diamond ACE or Nickel Plated chains).
Proper lubrication is critical in achieving the maximum wear life of any roller chain. As the chain articulates around the sprockets, the pin and bushing wear. This wearing causes the elongation, or "stretch", in the chain. Lubrication of these surfaces through proper lube application or the utilization of Diamond Duralube or Ringleader O-ring chains can greatly increase the wear life of the chain.
Carbon steel based chains can routinely be used where temperatures are between 18°C and 177°C
Riveted chain is constructed using pins that extend through the plate on each side a small amount and are then "riveted", or sidemashed, on their ends to add some additional strength to the hold between the pin and plate. Note: the riveting, sidemashing, is NOT what holds the pin and plate together, the interference fit between the plate hole size and the pin diameter hold the two together.

Cottered chain is constructed using pins that extended through on plate a small amount and are sidemashed and the second side a further distance, with a cross drilled hole, for inserting a cotter pin. Note: cottered chain is also manufactured using an interference fit between the plate hole size and pin diameter, however the plate is easier to remove following removal of the cotter because grinding of the riveted pin end is not necessary.
Many applications require two or more chains, normally with attachments, to run in parallel with "flights" joining the chains together forming a conveyor or transfer type system. In these cases it is critical to have the chains ordered as a set, matched for length and installed on the machinery with the same relationship to one another as when they were matched.

Diamond Chain Company offers two degrees of precision matching for chains used in parallel operation. Class I matching insures the chains, within a given set, will not vary in overall length by more than 500 microns/meter Class II matching is much more stringent and assures that the longest and the shortest chain, in a given set, will not vary in overall length by more than 167 microns/meter.

Multiple strand chains manufactured using slip-fit center plates are most common and are well suited for drives of moderate severity. These chains are designed for ease of disassembly throughout the entire length of chain. The chains can be shortened or sections can be added quickly with minimal effort. However, with the slip-fit center plate design, the user may experience accelerated fatigue failures in exchange for the ease of alteration in the field.

Multiple strand chains manufactured using press-fit center plates were originally developed by Diamond for service in applications that require the utmost in multiple strand chain capacity. Multiple strand chains with press-fit center plates have significantly greater fatigue strength than their slip-fit center plate counterparts, because press-fit construction assures rigid, permanent support for the pins at each tension point with no relative movement, which can cause wear or fatigue. While the press-fit construction does provide the increased fatigue resistance that is often essential in critical applications, the user does give up some convenience because the chain's length can not readily be altered in the field. For this reason press-fit riveted multiple strand chain should always be ordered in the exact pitch length required, including a Bushed Center Plate Link (BCL) connecting link.

The proper chain tension is critical to achieving acceptable service life as excessive tension can cause accelerated wear or chain overload and excessive slack can cause rough chain operation and possibly result in the chain skipping a sprocket tooth, resulting in a catastrophic failure. For the majority of slow and medium speed drives, the total mid-span movement in the slack span of the chain should be approximately 4-6% of the drive's center distance. For drives operating at high speeds, impulse or reversing loads, the total mid-span movement should be reduced to 2-3% of the center distance. Drives with vertical centers should also be adjusted to the smaller percentage. If the drive is designed to incorporate shaft adjustment or an idler, the amount of movement or "take-up" should always allow for the removal of two pitches of chain.
Roller chain can be measured relatively accurately by measuring the tight span of the drive, when the drive is OFF, by measuring from center of one pin to the center of another. The more pitches (pins) contained within the measurement increase the accuracy. If the measured value exceeds the nominal by more than the allowable percentage the chain should be replaced. The maximum allowable wear elongation is approximately 3% for most industrial applications, based upon sprocket design. The allowable chain wear in percent can be calculated using the relationship: 200/N, where N is the number of teeth in the large sprocket. The relationship is often useful since the normal maximum allowable chain wear elongation of 3% is valid only up to 67 teeth in the large sprocket. In drives having fixed center distances, chains running in parallel or where smooth operation is required, the amount of wear should be limited to approximately 1.5%.
Following assembly, an initial load is applied to the chain, which is called a pre-load. This loading approximates the recommended maximum loading in service and is done to align the various chain components such as pins, bushings, and link plates. The benefit of pre-loading is that it helps greatly eliminate the initial elongation often found in "lesser" chains. Elimination of this initial elongation can increase the chains useable service life therefore pre-loading is very important. Diamond Chain Company pre-loads every standard and heavy series chain it manufacturers.

Roller Chain Components

Connecting links are used to join the two ends of the chain together and are provided in two different configurations, depending on the application.

Slip-fit, the most common and most popular, are provided for general chain applications and allow the easy slip fit assembly of the cover plate over the pin ends. This slip fit construction does not have the same integrity found in the assembled chain and can reduce the chain's working load capacity by as much as 30%.

Press-fit connecting links are provided when the integrity of the connecting link needs to be equal to that of the base chain. This design utilizes pitch holes in the cover plate that are smaller than the chain pins, requiring the user to press the cover plate onto the pins before installing the spring clip or cotter. While more difficult to install this type of connection provides the greatest load carrying capability.

Offset links, also known as ½ links or crank links, are used to make a chain an odd number of pitches in length, often used to shorten a chain by one pitch. Offset links are available in two different configurations.

Single-Pitch offset links, slip-fit type, are furnished with a slip-fit pin unassembled in the linkplates. A flat is milled on one end of the pin preventing it from turning in the linkplate once installed.

Two-Pitch offset links, press-fit type, are an offset link and a roller link assembled together. The press fit construction of this assembly greatly increases its structural rigidity, reliability, and durability. For these reasons, the two-pitch offset assembly is recommended in preference to the single-pitch offset. However, due to the reduction in the chain's working capacity offset links, of either type, are not recommended in performance oriented drives.
A roller link is in the interior assembly of the chain consisting of two bushings press-fit into each of the linkplates, including rollers. It should be noted that the same roller links used for both single and multiple stand chains.

Roller Chain Failure

Cracked riller linkplates are often a sign of fatigue failure due to the cyclic loading. The fatigue life of a chain can be improved by increasing the overall chain size (i.e. 16B up to 20B) or by reducing the dynamic load on the chain.
Shock loads that are greater than the components yield strength, approximately 55-60% of the chains tensile, are the cause of this problem. Increasing the chain size (i.e. 16B up to 20B) or working to eliminate the shock load on the drive system are some of the ways the chain

Roller Chain Lubrication

Lubricant applied manually with an oil can or brush is acceptable for slow speed drives, generally not over 183 meters per minute. When lubrication must be accomplished with a minimum amount of oil, it is advisable to equip the system with either felt pads or brushes which are fed by lubricant from a reservoir and carefully positioned to direct oil into the clearances between each row of link plates, in the slack span of the chain.

Bath type (B) lubrication is applied to the chain by allowing the oil level within an enclosed casing to cover the chain at approximately the pitch line at its lowest point of operation. This type of lubrication is most desirable for chains operating up to approximately 457 meters per minute.

Pumped type (C) lubrication is applied to the chain by pumping it onto the chain, under pressure, to the upper edges of each row of link plates across the lower span of chain just prior to the chains entry into one of the sprockets. This type of lubrication is most desirable for chains operating in excess of 457 meters per minute.
Ambient Temperature °CSUS Viscosity @ 37.8°CSAE Engine oilISO VG Grade
-6.7 to +4.4200-4002046 or 68
4.4 to 37.8400-65030100
37.8 to 48.9650-95040150
48.9 to 60.0950-145050220

Rough Roller Chain Operation

Check the sprockets closely for misalignment or damage and realign or replace as needed. The wear marks on the interior of the inner plates is likely caused by the teeth of the sprocket.
Check the chain for excessive wear or slack in the drive. Check the sprockets for excessive wear. Replace any worn components and re-tension the drive properly, being sure not to overload the drive.


Hardened tooth sprockets are recommended for any sprockets of 25 teeth or less and/or when the sprocket will operate in: Drives that are heavily loaded, Operated in abrasive conditions, High speed drives, or Drives requiring extremely long life.
The recommended minimum wrap angle of the smallest sprocket in the drive is 120°. The wrap angle can be reduced to 90° if good chain tension adjustment is maintained. If chain tension is not closely maintained with less than a 120° wrap, the chain can jump teeth, resulting in damage to the chain and/or the sprocket.

Note: For a sprocket ratio of 3:1 or less there will always be 120° more wrap on the small sprocket, regardless of the center distance.
The smallest sprocket is usually the driver or input sprocket. As the chain enters and exits, it rises and falls as each pitch engages and disengages the sprockets. This movement, called chordal action, causes chain-speed variations (drive roughness) that may be objectionable in some applications. These variations can normally be minimized by increasing the size of the sprockets. To minimize the negative effects of chordal action, the following are suggested guidelines for the minimum number of teeth in the smallest sprockets: Slow speed drive (Drip type lubrication) - 12 teeth, Medium speed drive (Oil bath type lubrication) - 17 teeth, and High speed drive (Pumped lubrication) - 25 teeth.

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ASME / ANSI Roller Chain

Diamond Series

Diamond Chain's extensive ASME / ANSI product assortment provides industry leading wear life and is available in a variety of base materials, finishes, and lubrications.

Attachement Roller Chain

Infinity Series

Available in ANSI 25 through 240 and ISO 05B through 032B. Includes single and multi-strand, heavy series, and solutions for specialized applications.

Oil and Gas Chain

Sapphire Series

Includes ANSI 25 through 160 and ISO 05B through 048B single and multi-strand, and select maintenance-free, and attachment solutions.