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Question For Tire Chain Users

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by darryl g, Jan 10, 2011.

  1. darryl g

    darryl g Senior Member
    from CT
    Messages: 380

    I have a question for those of you who use tire chains. I'm a noob as far as using chains go. I bought a set of chains for the rear of my Silverado last season in case I need them for big storms. Well it looks like one is on it's way. 12-18 inches forcasted for my area between Midnight and 6pm Wednesday. I'm running all season radials that still have decent tread depth but have kind of lost their bite. I've been doing fine so far this season but don't think they'll be too great in this storm...certainly less than ideal. I thought about getting a set of dedicated snows this season but just couldn't justify it at this point, especially since I do have chains.

    So the question is, do you just go ahead and chain up before it snows or do you wait until you really need them?

    I'm thinking I'd rather do it during the day tomorrow when I'm in no rush, it's warm and I'm in a fairly controlled environment rather than on the side of the road or something during the storm. It's easy enough to take them off if I decide I don't need them.

    I'll be out plowing with the storm as long as I can see where I'm going and there's a pretty good chance the storm will get ahead of the road crews, so things could get a little deep. If it gets really nasty I've got a good sized parking lot I'll just stay at. That's what I did during the 20 inch storm we got in December of 2009.

    I did put the chains on once last season just to make sure I knew how and it was pretty easy with the cams, but I'm certainly no pro at it.

    Thanks in advance.

  2. shovelracer

    shovelracer Senior Member
    Messages: 525

    Been there and done that. Putting them on in the middle of a blizzard is no fun, but driving around with them on is rough and dangerous if the conditions do not require it. Best bet is to wait till they are needed.
  3. Fairfax F150

    Fairfax F150 Junior Member
    Messages: 16

    Last year before a 26" storm, I put them on in my garage and lifted my F-350 up using a floor jack. Very convenient, and helpful. Went out after there were 3 or 4 inches, and no problems.

    I put the chains on front tires. Gave me great steering, and also had the traction I needed. If we get another storm in the Washington DC area again, I'll definitely put them on the front.

  4. darryl g

    darryl g Senior Member
    from CT
    Messages: 380

    Thanks for the replies. I think I'll go ahead and put them on since I won't be rolling out until 3 or 4 inches are down and all my accounts are pretty local. Chevy says no as far as putting them on the front of my truck due to clearance issues. I won't be using a jack, just draping them over and then driving forward. It worked fine when I tried it.
  5. HALH VT

    HALH VT Senior Member
    from Vermont
    Messages: 127

    Chains go on way easier in a warm garage, or even in a cold snow free parking area, than they do with the rear end of the truck off in the ditch in two feet of snow.

    If I have good tires, and the storm look like easy plowing, I will risk going "barefoot", if there is any chance of trouble, I chain it up. I also depends on the condition of the underlying surface, if it is icy, I want the extra traction for control, even it the snow itself is easy to push. If I were doing flat lots where the only problem would be running out of traction to push, I would wait. BUT, all my work is rural residential, no pavement, narrow, crooked, and often steep. I am more concerned with staying in control, and on the road, than with ultimate pushing capability.

    Putting chains on the front only gives great steering control, but it is a recipe for broken parts. With the weight of the plow and engine on the front, it winds up doing most of the work, and the rear end is just along for the ride, and to keep your tail from dragging. It works that way even if you load the rear heavily, there is so much more traction with the chains.
  6. My bowtie

    My bowtie Senior Member
    Messages: 279

    I have the chains with the tightening cams. Although they dont require bungies, use em.
    I had a chain fall off last yr and take out the break line..wasnt fun
  7. darryl g

    darryl g Senior Member
    from CT
    Messages: 380

    Chained up, loaded and ready to roll. Holy crap it's coming down out there!!!!!
  8. ABES

    ABES PlowSite.com Addict
    from MN
    Messages: 1,322

    I'd love to plow with chains but doesnt it tear up the asphalt? At least thats been the case with the V bars ive got on my 4 wheeler.
  9. theonlybull

    theonlybull Senior Member
    Messages: 405

    be sure to get out and check them after a mile or so, and every so often as the night goes on. they can make quite a mess when they come off.
  10. 2COR517

    2COR517 PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,115

    Your pulling up asphalt with chains on a four wheeler?
  11. ABES

    ABES PlowSite.com Addict
    from MN
    Messages: 1,322

    I shouldnt say tear up, it just scratches it up quite noticeably if I happen to spin.
  12. pohouse

    pohouse Senior Member
    Messages: 322

    IMO If you have only 1 set of chains, put them on the rear. Better acceleration and push when plowing snow.
  13. darryl g

    darryl g Senior Member
    from CT
    Messages: 380

    I like tire chains!

    Well I was damn glad I had them on. It was nasty out there! I measured 10 to 15 inches of accumulatin on my acounts. DOT measured 17.5 inces of snowfall here. Other plow guys were getting stuck and I just powered right through no problem. I plowed one guy out who ended up on the wrong side of a pile he was pushing and made a wall for himself that he couldn't get through, lol. I did spin them a bit and I don't think they dug anything up. I'll have to take a look in the spring. I have the square alloy ones that aren't as aggressive as the V bars. I'm sure V bars could scratch things up a bit.

    The only problem was that I still needed them for a couple of accounts that I hadn't plowed at all yet and the roads were starting to get cleared. So I had to run them on cleared pavement for a while. It was still wet and I took it slow but I couldn't wait to get them off. I kind of felt like an idiot running chains down main street at 25 miles and hour when people are doing 40. I did have to snug them up after a while. You can hear the difference in the sound of them when they get loose. I checked them every time I got out of the truck to make sure they were still snug. The ride is definitely a little rough but no teeth chattering, lol.

    But man what a difference they make. I pushed right up a pretty steep driveway pushing 9 inches of pretty dense snow no problem. And it was way better for stacking. I didn't get stuck in my pile or anywhere else once and I was backing over some pretty big piles. This was a tough storm and I'm damn glad I had them. In 4 low with the plow in V mode there wasn't anything I couldn't get through. I think it gave me a real advantage. The only problem was the last bit of my route when I still wanted them on but needed them off due to cleared pavement on the main roads.

    Here's a pic of a factory lot I do. I you look close you can see that I have them on.

    2011WeatherBombSnow 001.jpg

    2011WeatherBombSnow 002.jpg
  14. justme-

    justme- 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,138

    Practice putting your chains on and off when the weather is good- it's easy when you get used to it. Had them for years- only put them on when I need them- and when I need them I mean I NEED them. Only used them for 1 client the past few years because the drive is a steep hill with no room for error (cliff type drop off on right), but dropped them this season. Used them the other day to get up a steep drive for a wave down (his plow guy never showed up- 14 inches).

    Chains must be kept tight, loosening them by 1 link reduces life span by something like 50%- always run spreaders (or bungies) and NEVER spin the wheels with chains on. That is what damages the pavement and really wears the chains. Also keep the speed under 25mph with chains on (again for long life- they wear really fast at speed).

    Takes me about 10 minutes to chain the rear up the first time in the season, less once I've done it a couple of times, even in the cold at night in the snow. No reason to drive with them on if the truck is setup right (good tires, weight balance for traction, 4wd working) in 95% or the storms.

    incidentally- I keep my regular set of chains in a plastic tool box in the bed of the truck, layed in so I don;t have to untangle each time. I also keep spreaders in there, a rectangle of plywood to separate (layer) the 2 chains and to kneel on, some plastic zip toes (to secure the extra links, and side cutters to cut said zip ties. I try to keep the extra links zip tied so I don;t have to "find" the right link each time too- saves a little time.
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2011
  15. 2COR517

    2COR517 PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,115

    Very good advice all around. I will add that I eventually cut the extra links off my chains. I was using the plastic zip ties, but they just didn't hold up. Between the cold temps, heavy chains, and the pulling and tugging, I was constantly re-tying them off. And its the swinging links that cause the damage.
  16. darryl g

    darryl g Senior Member
    from CT
    Messages: 380

    Sounds like some good advice. I didn't do anything to fasten the spare links but there were only 2 of them. I have the spring tensioners, not the rubber bungie ones. The cams make it pretty easy to get them snug.
  17. dcwn.45

    dcwn.45 Member
    Messages: 45

    I just hook the dangling link with the bungee I have
    Only chained the rears for plowing I think chaining all 4 will be too much traction and lead to breaking stuff
    I have driven a lot off road on hunting trips with all 4 chains, amazing what you can drive through.
  18. justme-

    justme- 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,138

    My ol man used to love showing me how to drive into things I said we couldn't drive into- with his K5 blazer, running boards and all season tires (except in mud season then ha had General mud diggers on the back)...taught me a lot. It really IS amazing what you can drive through when you take your time and go easy.

    Even with Cam type chains you want to run spreaders or bungies- the cams will often slip especially when they gat worn from use. On a front that can cost you a brake line.
  19. darryl g

    darryl g Senior Member
    from CT
    Messages: 380

    I've been talking to some of my buddies who plow around here the last few days. They all got stuck, one for 1.5 hours with his 1 ton dump with V box and that's with another truck and 4 or 5 guys on site. He had 80% of his route left to do when mine was 80% done. All it takes is to get a little squirley pushing a heavy load and get a tire off the edge of the pavement sometimes. Or back-drag a little too much and then try to back through it. I'm famous for getting stuck in my piles with my new rig (2003 Silverado 2500 HD with Boss 8.2 V XT). I think it's because I'm not used to the plow picking up so fast so I leave too much snow in front of me when stacking and drive into it and pack the undercarriage.

    I inspected my chains and I will say I'm a little surprised at how much wear I put on them in just one storm. It's not like they're worn out or anything but I'm guessing I took 10 or 15% of the life of them off, maybe even 20%. But they probably more than paid for themself already in increased productivity, so that's a trade-off I'm willing to make.

    Chains aren't something you see people using around here like in Maine and Vermont and out in Colorado/Montanna/Wyoming. We don't usally need them.
  20. terryrwood

    terryrwood Junior Member
    from Atlanta
    Messages: 4

    Instant Tire Chains...

    If I ever get silly rich I'm installing a set of these...
    At $1700 a set I think I could pay an illeagal to live in the boot and put mine on when I need them.....