Troubleshooting Feed Problems – Part 2

The Drain Brains explain how to diagnose and fix a power feed problem on a cable drain cleaning machine.
Troubleshooting Feed Problems – Part 2

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In the last article we talked about how cables that become kinked or tangled inside your drum can masquerade as power feed problems. Remember, if the cable is so stuck inside the drum that you can’t move it in or out by hand, the power feed won’t either. It’s not nearly as strong as you are!

On the other hand, when the cable moves freely in and out of the drum by hand, suspicion falls squarely and firmly on the power feed. So, let’s look at where problems can arise in this device.

The power cable feeds on General Pipe Cleaners’ machines all utilize the rotation of the cable along with a simple mechanical action in order to drive the cable in and out of the drum. There are just a few moving parts inside the feed body, and it’s usually obvious which parts are causing the problem.

Start by removing the power feed from the front of your machine. Find the rear of the feed body and explore the opening with one finger, where you will find three metal wheels or roller bearings evenly spaced inside the unit. If everything is working perfectly, all the roller bearings will rotate easily. However, if you’re having problems and you’ve done your homework, the odds are that one or more of the bearings will be frozen in place. When this happens, instead of driving the cable in and out of the drum, the feed mechanism acts like a vice, preventing any motion whatsoever. In effect, it becomes the anti-power feed, frustrating any efforts to use the machine in the manner in which it was intended. 

The solution is to replace the frozen bearing with a new one. All of our power feeds use roller bearings with steel jackets that are considerably harder than the metal used in our Flexicore cables. If anything is going to wear out because of the metal-to-metal contact between roller bearing and cable, it will always be the cable. Rollers usually get sick and die when the sealed bearings at their core either leak or are penetrated by dirt and grime. Since the only solution is to replace them, and since all the rollers were subjected to approximately the same environment, we strongly recommend changing all three of them at the same time. And while you’re in there, clean and lubricate the interior of the power feed. We recommend marine grease, but any high-viscosity lubricating agent will do. 

There are other problems that can befall your power feed, but they tend to be few and far between compared to “frozen” feed rollers. Simply go on our website,, in order to check out the schematic and parts list associated with your machine; we have every power feed listed separately. Or call the Drain Brains in our customer service department at 800/245-6200. They’ll be able to walk you through the process of bringing your power feed back to life!


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