What is Leaf Chain?

What is Leaf Chain?


Leaf chain only consists of link plates and pins which is the simplest steel chains.

It is commonly used on forklift trucks, telehandlers and in other material handling applications.

As the link plate found on the standard roller chain, the link plate of leaf chain also has the same figure of 8 shape.

Leaf chain is also called balance chain and cable chain.

MAXTOP Leaf Chain

Comparison of Leaf chain and Roller chain

Chain Type
Components

Running Over

(genereally)

Application
Plate Pin Bush Roller

Roller chain

1. Outer plate

2. Inner plate

sprocket Any kind of Industrial machines
Leaf chain

1. Outer plate

2. Inner plate

X
X
Sheaves

Forklift

Telehandler

Other matierial handling

Leaf Chain Construction

Lead chain construction (Eng.)

Roller Chain Construction

roller chain construction

Extended Reading

What are the types of Leaf chain?

Standard roller chains can be categorized into American type and European type.

Leaf chain also has the same distinction.

There are three main types of leaf chain series.

  • AL series have the same plate thickness and pin diameter as the ANSI standard roller chain of same pitch.
    E.g., under the same pitch of 1/2”, ANSI 40 and AL4 have the same plate thickness and pin diameter.
    AL series are commonly used for light load application.
  • BL (LH) series is constructed of thicker plates and larger pins than AL series of the same pitch.
    The plate thickness and pin diameter are the same as the ANSI standard roller chain with a pitch one size larger.
    E.g., BL4 has the pitch 1/2” which is same as the ANSI 40 but the plate thickness and pin diameter are the same as the ANSI 50.
    BL series are commonly used for heavy load application.
  • LL (EL) series are made to ISO standards so they have the same plate thickness and pin diameter as the British standard roller chain.
    E.g., under the same pitch of 5/8”, 10B and LL10(EL5) have the same plate thickness and pin diameter.
    LL(EL) series are commonly used for light load application.


Series
Type
Leaf chain v.s. Roller chain
(Compared under the same pitch)

Application
Link Plate Pin
AL American
same thickness
as the ANSI roller chain
same diameter
as the ANSI roller chain
light load
BL(LH) American

Same thickness as the ANSI roller chain with a pitch one size larger

Same diameter as the ANSI roller chain with a pitch one size larger

heavy load
LL(EL) European
same thickness
as the British roller chain
same diameter
as the British roller chain
light load


Leaf chain lacing combination

The lacing combination of standard leaf chain can be from the smallest 2x2 lacing to the largest 8x8 lacing.
The first digit refers to the quantity of the outer plate and the second digit refers to the quantity of the inner plate.
The following photos will help you to understand.

leaf chain lacing combination


How to identify leaf chain part number?

From the above, we have learned the types of leaf chain and the lacing combination. These are also a part that forms to the leaf chain part number. Let us take some examples as the following.

The first two letters refer to the leaf chain series.

The last two numbers refer to the plate lacing.

The numbers in the middle (can be one or two digits) refer to the chain pitch code.

Part Number Series
Pitch Code
Lacing
AL422
AL
4
2X2
AL1022
AL
10
2X2
BL588
BL
5
8X8
BL1666
BL
16
6X6
EL844
EL
8
4X4
EL1644
EL
16
4X4

However, the pitch code doesn’t directly refer to what pitch it is.

The unit of pitch is usually expressed as inch and the pitch codes only refer to the numerator of the fraction in inches.

They have the rules as following.

  • AL series: It is measured in 1/8 inches so the denominator of the fraction refers to 8 and the numerator of the fraction refers to the pitch code.


AL Pitch Rule


  • BL (LH) series: BL is the chain number stipulated by ASME B29.8 while LH is stipulated by ISO 4347.
    Both are the same chain but has different expression on the pitch.
    • BL is measured in 1/8 inches, same as AL series. The numerator of the fraction also refers to the pitch code.
    • LH is measured in 1/16 inches so the denominator of the fraction refers to 16 and the numerator of the fraction refers to the pitch code.

BL(LH) Pitch Rule

From the above, we will get the result as following.

Pitch Rule of BL & LH

  • LL (EL) series: LL is the chain number stipulated by ISO 4347 but they also be named as EL by some manufacturers. Both are the same chain but has different expression on the pitch.
    • LL is measured in 1/16 inches, same as LH series.
      The numerator of the fraction also refers to the pitch code.
    • EL is measured in 1/8 inches, same as AL/BL series.
      The numerator of the fraction also refers to the pitch code.


LL(EL) Leaf chain Pitch Rule

    From the above, we will get the result as following.

    Leaf chain LL10 & EL5


    Series
    Numerator
    Denominator
    Example
    Part number
    Pitch in inch
    Pitch in mm
    AL
    refer to the middle number
    8
    AL422
    4/8 = 1/2
    12.7
    AL1022
    10/8 = 1-1/4
    31.75
    BL(LH)

    8 (BL)

    16 (LH)

    BL588

    5/8
    15.875
    LH1088
    10/16 = 5/8
    15.875
    EL(LL)

    8 (BL)

    16 (LH)

    EL1644

    16/8 = 2
    50.8
    LL3244
    32/16 = 2
    50.8

    ※ 1 inch = 25.4 mm




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