Rim Drive vs. Chain Drive: Powered Reel Winders Differences

Felling offers two different types of hydraulically powered deployment (payout) / retrieval  (take up) systems for utility reel trailers, Rim Drive and Chain Drive. Let’s take a look at what makes the two drive systems in powered reel winders different.

Rim Drive System for Utility Reel Trailers

Rim Drive System for Utility Reel TrailersWith a rim drive system, a pneumatic tire connects directly to a hydraulic motor. The tire engages the rim of the reel via a hydraulic cylinder. It’s adjustable for different reel widths by sliding the assembly back and forth. This set up can load and power any given reel size that can be loaded with the trailer. This option is great for paying off fiber optic cable to figure 8 for deployment and retrieving cable that is left over. It’s also an excellent choice for aiding in the payout of material from heavier reels and then winding up the material that wasn’t used.

This rim drive system option includes a gas driven power pack, which replaces the standard 12-volt hydraulic power pack that comes standard on our Utility Reel series self-loading reel trailers. This power pack is equipped with a Honda GX 240 (approx 8hp) engine with electric start and includes a lockable steel enclosure, 15-gallon hydraulic reservoir and hydraulic oil filter. It creates 3 gpm @ 3,600 rpm and 3,000 psi. Learn more about the rim drive system for utility reel trailers in the video below.

Chain Drive for Utility Reel Trailers

We consider the chain drive for utility reel trailers our heavy-duty take up / payout assembly. This assembly is equipped with a low rpm / high torque hydraulic motor. Chain Drive System for Utility Reel TrailersThrough chain driven gear reduction it provides 2,100 lbs of line pull on a 24” diameter drum. It connects directly to the reel bar via a 2” square removable drive pin. The reel bar has a cross arm attached that engages directly with the reel. In this application, there is no slippage. When equipped on our Utility Reel series of self-loading reel trailers it can be set to load and drive a reel 72″or 96″ diameter reel.

Unlike the Rim Drive assembly that can only be equipped on our FT-R self-loading reel trailers, this option can be equipped on any of our products with reel carrying capabilities.

This option includes a gas driven power pack, which replaces the standard 12-volt hydraulic power pack that comes standard on our Utility Reel series self-loading reel trailers. This power pack is equipped with a Honda GX 390 (approx 13hp) engine with electric start and includes a lockable steel enclosure, 25-gallon hydraulic reservoir and hydraulic oil filter. It creates 8 gpm @ 3,600 rpm and 2,250 continuous psi. Final reel speed is approx 22 rpm. Learn more about the chain drive system for utility reel trailers in the video below.

Rim Drive Application

The Rim Drive is used anytime aid is needed in deploying or retrieving material from a reel. This option is ideal for paying off fiber optic cable to figure 8 for deployment and retrieving cable that is left over. Communications, Power and Gas Utilities can all benefit from this option.

Due to the drive relying on friction created between the pneumatic tire and the reel rim determining torque or available line pull is unpredictable, therefore this is more suited to a low torque demand application.

Chain Drive Application

The Chain Drive application is suited for applications that require positive engagement of the reel with the drive assembly. Through this positive engagement and high torque capability many applications are possible. Retrieving long lengths of material is achievable. Having over 25,000 in lbs of torque enables this to be used as a light duty puller in both underground and overhead applications.

Another benefit is the ability to “hold” the reel stationary when the directional control valve is returned to center. This is especially beneficial when paying out or rewinding material vertically, which is a common operation in oil and water well applications.        

Learn more about the utility reel trailers and telecom trailer solutions on our website or call 1-800-245-2809.  You can also fill out this simple form, and we will reach out to you!

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