I'm not sure if it applies to this application, but this is a huge issue on banded belt drives on high hour equipment. As the pulleys wear the flanges in the central area hold the V portion from obtaining traction because the flanges are contacting the top banding of the belt.
You can cut the flanges on the pulleys down a couple of mm. on a lathe or just do it with an angle grinder. You don't have to do the ones on the outside. The difference can be unbelievable.
The spring is weak in the variable causing slow response thus not keeping belt tension on proper, or the inner shaft that the outer sheave slides on is worn and you will need new sheaves grab the outside edge of drive sheave with one hand on each side and see if there is play on it, hard for me to explain but it will wiggle quite a bit if they are worn,not a big job but we had to do it when we had tx 66's
The failure of the thrust bearing will cause less than the required tension on the belt and allow it to slip.
You should check the rear sheave set for excessive play as cnh007 suggested a little bit of clearance is fine but if it knocks when you rock the sliding sheave it is worn out and will cause belt slippage.
As you change the speed setting on the variable sheaves it does change the alignment of the belt between the front and rear sheaves, so it could look out of alignment at different cylinder/drum speeds.
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