Tire chain tips anyone?

This is the first winter my tractor has gotten stuck repeatedly while trying to plow. I ordered tire chains. After googling and watching several videos, I thought I got the right one on perfectly and the left not so well. Added a bungee cord to the left and that one is still on the tractor. The right one worked its way off after a while. When I tried to put it back on I couldn’t seem to get things right–always extra chain caught under the tire so I couldn’t center it well or tighten it enough. Anyone have pointers? I am draping it over the tire, tucking the front edge under the tire and driving forward 1/4 turn before attempting to hook the chain. Are tensioners (or bungee cords) necessary?

if you have a small enough tractor you can jack the tire off the ground and then put on the chains. Even better, If the tire is small enough and has not been filled with fluid and has no wheel weights, taking the wheel and tire completely off makes the job really go much easier.

Down the road, when your tires need replacing, many snow belt tractor folks swear by Carlisle Versa radial tires for snow plowing.

And a tip I saw this morning on my favorite tractor forum. Deflate the tire somewhat before you install the chains, and then re-inflate the tire after installation to create a tighter fit.

I’d heard the deflating tip before, sounds like a PITA. I thought of jacking it up, that may not be so bad. I’ve replaced my small tires twice, these big guys still look good. (Maybe they’re not? Could explain why I’m having trouble where I never did before. Though 2 places did work on the tractor in last 6-8 months and didn’t suggest new tires.)

Still hoping there’s a trick that’s easier that I haven’t thought of. I think the first time I tried, I was putting them on inside out. Definitely had the wrong hook on the outside, which the videos told me as well as how to do up the funky long hook.

Are weights highly suggested with chains? I have a ballast box that I put a sack of feed in (box + feed ~100 lbs?) before buying chains, did not seem to help.

I haven’t used tire chains with tractor yet - only on pickups. But I would never use tire chains without bungee cords. My husband would probably faint at the suggestion. Really good way to launch your chains into the nearest window when they inevitably come flying off. My work owns probably two dozen sets of tire chains for our work trucks and I’ve never seen a set that fit so well that they don’t need some kind of tightener.

They’re a PITA regardless of the vehicle they’re going on. I personally would use your method on getting them on rather than deflating and inflating.

Interesting that you have replaced front tires. Are your new front tires the same as the original front tires were? Tractor tires are matched front to rear by their rolling circumferences, and this is reflected in the engineers choice of original tires, and selection of replacement tires installed by tractor tire shops. It would not hurt to ask your tire dealer if the new fronts could have changed the dynamics enough to affect traction in the snow. There may be an imbalance between even stock new fronts and the old rears, if the original rears have worn enough to alter their circumference relative to the new fronts with 100% tread.

Agricultural tire shops are well informed about this.

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I saw some came with tensioners–when I asked the tractor mechanic if they were needed he didn’t reply. I think the bungee cords are probably better, some tensioners look like they could be really hard to get on if chains aren’t on perfectly. Do you only put bungees on the outside? So far I haven’t launched my chains because they usually fall off to the inside and are on the axle. The last time–the one I posted about–the right chain fell off the outside into the snow. Making me wonder about getting a bungee on the inside of the tire too…

The “inevitability” of chains coming off makes me feel better about my tire-chaining abilities. :slightly_smiling_face:

Interesting. I sure think they are the same as the originals were. Not certain if I replaced them this past year, but I think not. Do people use a smaller tire on front as the rear ones wear? I imagine the big ones would last 3 times as long (or more) than the small ones.

I’m going to ask a very stupid question here…another handy hint is to put the chains on then drive forward a few yards (at least 15 to 20 ft), and then readjust. You can sometimes get a lot of slack out of them that way.
I would avoid the jacking up method, unless you are doing it in an enclosed garage. In general, jacking a vehicle up on ice or snow is going to be fine…until it isn’t. If you are lucky, you just have the vehicle fall off the jack, if you aren’t lucky, it gets very ugly. I’d only do that if I had to, and putting tire chains on that way isn’t a ‘have to’.

Yes we only put bungees on outside of wheel. They are far from a perfect science. Don’t feel too badly if you’re struggling! I’ve learned some new swear words listening to my husband put them on.

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We use spring tensioners on both our tractor and 4-wheeler tire chains.

Our tractor’s tires about 5’ in diameter and we used regular bungees the first year but then upgraded to heavy-duty spring tensioners and they are so much better. They can be a bit of a PITA to put on because the springs are pretty heavy duty, but you use a lever chain binder to get them tight. https://tirechain.com/large-tractor-loader-spring-tensioner-adjuster-with-load-binder/

This is the lighter-weight version for our 4-wheeler - a similar design can be used on smaller tractor tires I believe and is pretty easy to put on: https://tirechain.com/atv-utv-spring-tightener-tensioner-bungee-priced-per-pair/

So depending on the size of your tractor tires and your use it might be worth eventually upgrading from regular bungees to purpose-built tensioners (spring or bungee).

Good luck to you - I helped my husband put the chains on the first year and there was much swearing and re-adjusting and re-watching of videos. But it does get better! (Or at least I think it does - he hasn’t asked me to help since.) :smile:

Good point on the jacking. I do have an FEL on the tractor, so could use that to help steady the tractor. (Using the FEL to plow, not an actual snowplow.) I think if I jacked it only a couple inches that would be enough to solve my can’t-get-this-thing-on-evenly problem. Might even do it in the garage–the tractor is in there with the one chain on now.

I did drive a bit and try to adjust the chains, but they weren’t cooperating. I tried backing, going forward, and turning the way that seemed like it would help center the chains, to no avail.

I like those tensioners better than the spring one I saw. IIRC, the springs all came together at a center ring, so it seemed like there may only be ONE place that hooking them would work. The chain portion seems like it would give a little flexibility that way.

I was impressed that my bungees didn’t snap. I think my tire are 12" radius, so maybe the smaller ones you linked would work. Maybe if I survive this winter, I’ll have a few more where I don’t need chains.

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Amazingly, in the snow from last night, my left chain stayed on and reasonably centered. :clap:

Last time I used the tractor, the right chain (I think) came off and one of the links had broken plus the inside hook was opened. Last night I hammered on a repair link and put a double eye snap on to fasten the chain. I think I’ll try using a bungee inside and outside on that one.

After I went to Farm and Fleet to get repair links, I found some I already had that could have worked. :angry: