I was contacted by a guy a few days ago offering some "NOS" belts he found in a storage locker, I told him if the belts were fairly new and were stored properly I may be interested. After looking at the photos he sent me I knew these had been around the block and were not suitable to resale to my standards anyway as they were over 30 years old and would only serve as interchange samples.
Now I see he has some listed on ebay charging what my price is for the new US made kevlars!
I thought I would post a bit of info about how to tell the age of these belts so no one else gets burned.
I have read numerous articles and have heard from most distributors that belts have a shelf life of 10-15 years on the shelf if properly stored, after that time span the materials will begin to break down and the belt starts to dry out, improper storage such as heavy folding, heat , sitting on a concrete floor or being in damp areas will rapidly decrease the belts life as well.
Here's how to date these Belts:
1) "Prehistoric age" - Anything Branded Bolens with the "Good Year" logo on it is really old, we're talking 40+ years. I Have some for interchange purposes dated 1966 they are crusty but cool to collect
2) Anything Branded "Bolens Corp" that is printed in the text below is atleast 30 years old and this font was outed in the mid to late 70's
3) 80's/90's era Anything branded with just the part number and no mention of FMC or Bolens on the belt, Some are from the 80's but most would be in the 90's (Some still good)
4) 2000's to Current -Sometimes hard to tell apart from the 90's Some of the part numbers will have no spaces between them but not in all cases, you have to be the judge on them. (Green light, these belts are mostly still serviceable) The newest belts will have the text size greatly reduced on the part numbers compared to all previous years.
Ways of checking the Belts integrity:
1) Belt is still soft and pliable , not stuck in a heavy bent position and can be easily moved around side to side in your hand.
2) Bend test, bend the belt backwards and if you hear cracking or it feels "Crunchy" when doing this the cords are shot and the life of the belt has been severely diminished.
Hope this helps put a better understanding on what to look for and know at least what your buying when looking at pictures of the belts.