British Standard Metric Keys and Keyways

This British Standard, BS 4235:Part 1:1972 (1986), covers square and rectangular parallel keys and keyways, and square and rectangular taper keys and keyways. Plain and gib-head taper keys are specified. There are three classes of fit for the square and rectangular parallel keys and keyways, designated free, normal, and close. A free fit is applied when the application requires the hub of an assembly to slide over the key; a normal fit is employed when the key is to be inserted in the keyway with the minimum amount of fitting, as may be required in mass-production assembly work; and a close fit is applied when accurate fitting of the key is required under maximum material conditions, which may involve selection of components.

The Standard does not provide for misalignment or offset greater than can be accommodated within the dimensional tolerances. If an assembly is to be heavily stressed, a check should be made to ensure that the cumulative effect of misalignment or offset, or both, does not prevent satisfactory bearing on the key. Radii and chamfers are not normally provided on keybar and keys as supplied, but they can be produced during manufacture by agreement between the user and supplier. Unless otherwise specified, keys in compliance with this Standard are manufactured from steel made to BS 970 having a tensile strength of not less than 550 MN/m2 in the finished condition. BS 970, Part 1, lists the following steels and maximum section sizes, respectively, that meet this tensile strength requirement: 070M20, 25 × 14 mm; 070M26, 36 × 20 mm; 080M30, 90 × 45 mm; and 080M40, 100 × 50 mm.

At the time of publication of this Standard, the demand for metric keys was not sufficient to enable standard ranges of lengths to be established. The lengths given in the accompanying table are those shown as standard in ISO Recommendations R773: 1969, “Rectangular or Square Parallel Keys and their Corresponding Keyways (Dimensions in Millimeters),” and R 774: 1969, “Taper Keys and their Corresponding Keyways—with or without Gib
Head (Dimensions in Millimeters).”


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