The plain cast-iron pulley has been used in the foregoing discussion as a basis of design. A pulley is, however, such a common commercial article, and finds such universal use, that special forms, which can be bought in the open market, are not only cheaper but better than the plain cast-iron pulley, at least for regular line-shaft work.

Cast iron is a treacherous and uncertain material for rims of pulleys. It is not well suited to high fiber stresses; hence the range of speed permissible for pulley rims of cast iron is limited. Steel and wrought iron, having several times the tensional strength of cast iron, and being, moreover, much more nearly homogeneous in texture, are well suited for this work; one of the best pulleys on the market consists of a steel rim riveted to a cast-iron spider. Such an arrangement combines strength and lightness, without increasing complication or expense.

The all-steel pulley is a step further in this direction. Here the rim, arms, and hub are each pressed into shape by specially devised machinery, then riveted and bolted together. This pulley is strictly a manufactured article, which could not compete with the simpler forms unless built in large quantities, enabling automatic machinery to be used. Large numbers of pulleys are built in this way, and are put on the market at reasonable prices.

Wood-rim pulleys have been made for many years, and, except for their clumsy appearance, are excellent in many respects. The rim is built up of segments in much the same way as an ordinary pattern is made, the segments being so arranged that they will not shrink or twist out of shape from moisture. The hubs may be of cast iron, bolted to wooden webs, and carrying hardwood split bushings, which may be varied in bore within certain limits so as to fit different sizes of shafting. The wooden pulley is readily and most often used in the split form, thus enabling it to be put in position easily at any point of a crowded shaft. It is often merely clamped in place, thus avoiding the use of keys or set screws, and not burring or roughening the shaft in any way.