How to Slow Roller Chain Elongation

Whether they are transmitting power to equipment or products from one point to another, roller chains are an integral part of any industrial operation; and reducing downtime and the frequency of replacement is an ongoing goal. A common, creeping issue is that of chain elongation, or “stretch.” Contrary to how it might sound, chain elongation is not the result of any parts lengthening, but rather the result of wear.

Links in roller chain are held together with pins and bushings, which are the most critical parts when it comes to elongation. As articulation occurs, these pins and bushings begin to wear, bringing them closer to the edges of the links and thus lengthening the roller chain.


It all begins with selection. Roller chain created from high quality raw materials, properly fabricated and assembled will outlive lower cost alternatives and can reduce costs in the long run. Heat treatment also plays a significant role in roller chain life, creating a hard surface for maximum wear resistance and durability.


As with nearly any moving part in an industrial setting, lubrication is key. The roller chain drive’s specifications should determine the type of lubrication, method, and schedule; and should be closely adhered by. In the case of roller chain, proper lubrication not only reduces wear but can also act as a cushion for impact loads as well as help dissipate heat.


Lower quality chains often experience an initial elongation as soon as they are put into use because they have not been preloaded. After assembly, quality chains are put under the recommended maximum load at which time final alignments are made to the pins, bushings, and link plates. This helps ensure that when the roller chain comes into use in your facility, that sudden initial elongation phase is eliminated; extending its life.

When it comes to selection, MDS has got you covered. Shop our extensive inventory of roller chain, including double pitch, double strand, single strand, stainless steel, and heavy duty roller chain.