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Old 10-21-2010, 03:52 PM
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CardinalFJ60 CardinalFJ60 is offline
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Default snow chains - question on proper install, driving, etc??

I'll be throwing the chains in the 60 for the SNR this weekend "just in case". I just wanted to start a quick thread about best practices for installing the chains (Subzali style chains and maybe the Rudd ones from Bill Burke).

I've got the Bad@ss chains Subzali made me years ago and although he coached me through putting them on(thanks!!) ...I forget. and have never used them. So...maybe this is for Matt, but I'd love a refresher, as well as any tips and best practices for driving with them.

thanks!
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Old 10-21-2010, 05:10 PM
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This is just me personally, so it may not work for everyone.

1. I usually try to get as far as I can "barefoot". I'll air down my tires and all that before going to the work to put the chains on. But if I come upon a steep, slippery hill or some other condition that I judge is worth donning the chains for, I'll stop and just get it done before getting into a worse situation.

2. First is to make sure the chains aren't twisted. Before you leave, spend a few minutes and lay them out one by one on the driveway. Run along the side rails link by link and make sure the links cross each other at 90 degree angles without any twists. It's good to do this as a refresher, and it's easier to untwist the chains on the driveway than on the trail.

3. On the trail, I pull the chains out and place one either in front of or behind each tire, depending on whether you can drive forward or backward from where you're sitting. Make sure the latch is on the outside of the tire so you can get to it. Also check again to make sure the chains are not twisted, as sometimes that can happen just from moving them around. Finally, check to make sure the chains are facing outwards - check the hook that attaches the cross bars to the side rails. The two fingers should open away from the tire, and the smooth side of the hook should be against the tire.

4. Now move your truck a couple feet until it is sitting on the chains. It helps if you're a little off-center lengthwise so, for example, you have a "long" piece of chain on the front side of the tire and a "short" piece of chain on the rear side of the tire.

5. On each chain, flop the long end of the chain around the tire, and attach the inside hook a couple links up the chain. Then pull the outside as tight as you can, using the leverage of the hook, and hook it as far up the chain as you can reasonably get to. You want the inside and outside of the chain to be choked up the same number of links if you can, so the chain isn't sitting crooked on the tire. If you have cams on the chain, tighten them using a cam tool or the handle of a big pair of pliers.

6. Roll the truck a few feet back and forth, or whatever depending on how much room you have. This will recenter the chain on the tire and loosen it up a bit. Loosen the cams and re-choke the hooks on the inside and outside, as appropriate, and then retighten the cams. Check that the chain clears your brake lines. At this point you shouldn't need any rubber tighteners, but if it makes you feel better you can put them on if you have them. Do not air up your tires once the chains are on and tight; you will probably not be able to get them off.

I would go through these steps in your driveway or test it on the street a couple times to make sure you have the procedure down. Once on the trail, be aware that your steering radius will probably be reduced, and depending on your setup you may get rubbing when steering sharply and/or when the suspension flexes. Drive carefully until you get a feel for that. It is not recommended to drive with chains on a hard pack surface unless needed; it will be a very rough ride for you, so keep that in mind. I would not recommend spinning your tires when you have chains on; they can easily catch on something and break and axle or birfield if you're under a decent amount of power when it happens.

Also, chains dig. They do not float. So if you're in snow that requires float, you're only help is large diameter, wide floaty tires. Chains help with icy, slippery hardpack situations where rubber just doesn't cut it, or if the snow is soft enough and/or thin enough you can dig down and reach some solid traction.

Finally, a few things I would take along:
-Chain tool if you have it, to spread and contract chain links
-Cam tensioning tool (T-handle or L-handle), if you have it or large pliers that have appropriate handle cross-section
-Zip ties
-Rubber chain tensioners (optional)
-Baling wire and lineman's pliers just in case you need to tie something down stronger than zip ties can do
-Spare parts if you have them and have the tools

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Old 10-21-2010, 05:34 PM
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good directions, but i find draping the chain over the tire then driving onto it cleaner...you don't have to dig the chain out of the cold wet snow when you put it around the tire.
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Old 10-21-2010, 06:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nuclearlemon View Post
good directions, but i find draping the chain over the tire then driving onto it cleaner...you don't have to dig the chain out of the cold wet snow when you put it around the tire.
X2

and unless you have cam lock type chains that you can get cranked on super tight with a tool, I would recommend good quality HD truck type rubber tighteners. You don't need them to keep the chain on (if installed properly) but they do tighten the chain to the tire to keep it from spinning inside the chain. That will usually cause the chain to pop off, and for some reason it likes to go to the inside and wrap around your axle while removing your brake lines in the process.
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Old 10-21-2010, 07:02 PM
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I'm with Ige. I aways start with them draping them over to install. Often I can hook them up without even having to move the vehicle. Then re-tighten after driving 10 meters or so.

one of those threaded links works good for a trail repair.
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Old 10-21-2010, 07:13 PM
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Old 10-22-2010, 09:00 AM
leiniesred leiniesred is offline
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First of all, I'm with Matt. Rubber works better in Colorado bottomless snow than chains. On ice? OK, chains win here. air down. Way down. Just enough to hold the bead in all conditions. What PSI? depends on your tire/rim combo, the weight of your truck, and how tough the trail is. Me? I end up around 5-7 psi. It may take some experimentation to figure out a good pressure for your truck in the snow.

How to chain up: I'm with Ige. Drape them over the tire.

The C hook goes on the inside of the tire, the points on your ladder chains point away from the tire, the horseshoe shaped hooks that attach the ladder links to the sides have the pointy parts away from the tires. If your chains have cams, the cams go on the outside of the tires and are all undone.

Which end is the front? Well I was taught to put the long lever or the hook of the chain hanging down just touching the ground in FRONT of the tire. The extra chain is piled behind the tire. I suspect I was taught to do it this way because you won't run over the long lever and bend it by mistake when you back up.

Back up a couple of feet onto the chains.

Hook the c hook up first on the inside of the tire. Now hook the outside hook and cam the lever over. If your chains have cams, use that funny "T" wrench you found in the bottom of the bag to tighten the cams if you have them.

Chaining dualies with double rail chains, you hook the center, then the inside, then the outside.

If you are doing this in the driveway for the first time, consider cutting off all but one extra link from the ends of the chains. This way, you'll be forced to do them right and tight in the snow and you won't have 6 inches of loose chain flying around wiping out your brake lines and beating the hell out of your fenders.

After you drive about a 1/4 mile, stop and check your chains. See if you can tighten them one more link.

You won't NEED the rubber bands if the chains are on good and tight, but if you have them, they go in a simple cross pattern. The pointy ends of the hooks point away from the tires as makes sense.

Cable chains? I dunno. Throw them in the back for ballast?


Driving: Keep it under 30mph and they'll last a long, long time. Take them off only where it is safe to do so and the road is dry. You'll live longer and stay cleaner that way.
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Old 10-22-2010, 09:13 AM
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I've always run pizza cutters and even at single digit pressure a 33x9.50 just doesn't float well on anything short of a surface prepped by a Zamboni. I've been using 33x10.50 for a couple of years and they are measurably better.

So I will diverge from Matt and Stephen in that if I expect to need chains I do not air down. My chains are sized for nominally aired tires and if I air down they fit funny and loosen worse.

But my application is generally not snow busting in and of itself, but more not getting stuck when I park my truck while skiing. More than a few times I've parked my truck at a trailhead that is 2WD or maybe 4WD high accessible only to come back a day or two later to a full on snow busting adventure. This is often due to a comedian snow plow driver who apparently had an otherwise dull day. It was REALLY bad on Guanella when you could still drive up to the old ski area, they once just about totally covered my truck! This is also why I know how to use a Hi-Lift for a winch...

The way I find them easiest to install is on well packed snow or a solid surface. I lay my chains out flat on the ground and put a 4x4 block in the middle 'rung' of the ladder. I back up over the chains and park on the wood blocks. Then it's easy to wrap and tighten the chains. Takes no time to install all 4 that way. I do it by axle because lining up for wood blocks is frustrating.

However, practicing the Ige method is critical because if you do get stuck that is the only way to get them on in powder.
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Old 10-22-2010, 09:27 AM
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I'm with you Dave on the air pressure thing with chains on. Yeah, chains can be really hard to put on when aired way down.

I have run walmart white wall 28s, 31x10.50, 33x9.50s, 35x10.50, 36x13.50 and 37x12.50 all on the same truck. Each time I increased my flotation, I did better in the snow. After carrying chains around and not using them for about 5 years, I gave them to Subzali. Another member had given some of them to me. They were plain ladder type steer axle chains from a semi.
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Old 10-22-2010, 09:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by leiniesred View Post
I have run walmart white wall 28s, 31x10.50, 33x9.50s, 35x10.50, 36x13.50 and 37x12.50 all on the same truck. Each time I increased my flotation, I did better in the snow.
Better is relative. LOL! Going from horrible to just barely floating driving with egg shells on the throttle has been my experience with 33x9.50 on my overloaded rolling tetanus experiment.
Quote:
After carrying chains around and not using them for about 5 years, I gave them to Subzali.
I might use chains once or twice a winter, but man when you need them, you NEED them. Nothing like getting back to your truck at dusk, 4 foot pile of snow over the hood, 18" of new fluff, a half dead battery and no beer. YIKES!
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