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Any Advice/tips For Putting On Tire Chains?

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#1 Likesspace OFFLINE  

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Posted November 29, 2014 - 04:25 PM

Earlier this afternoon I decided to put the tire chains on my DB to get it ready for snow duty.


I didn't have much time to spare but figured it would be a fairly quick job.

Now I don't know why I thought that this would be a quick job since I've never put a set of chains on that weren't a total pain but so far I'm not even close with this particular set. 


I know the chains fit because I took them off of the tractor.


What I don't know is why when trying to put them back on, I am coming up at least 6 inches short of being able to hook the ends together.


I basically laid the chains down and drove the wheels over them.

I then tried to bring the ends together and like I said they won't come close to hooking up.


Now the tractor did have the Allstate knobby tires on it when I bought the tractor and I've since switched to the Ag style tires but the knobby tires were 16" rims and the Ag tires are 15" rims. 


I was honestly concerned with the chains being too long but as I said that's certainly not the case here.


So, do I need to jack up one side of the tractor and wrap the chains around the tire instead of running the tractor over the chains and then trying to wrap it?


I'm at a loss and could use some advice if any of you are experts and installing them.


Thanks a lot.



#2 Titus OFFLINE  


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Posted November 29, 2014 - 04:30 PM

When I put tires on, I jack up the rear, use jack stands for supports, if the chains are tight to begin with, drain the air from the tire, and have patience. A prayer or two helps.


I lay the chains on top of the tire, hook the inside 1st, then work on the outside tension-er. 

Edited by Titus, November 29, 2014 - 04:30 PM.

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Posted November 29, 2014 - 04:38 PM

The actual tire profile could make a big difference, plus the height of the cleats on the Ag. tires, even though you went from 16" to 15's. And, you may need to jump the cross chains across some of the cleats, to get the ends closer. Lots of times, there's more slack there than a person realize's.

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#4 hamman OFFLINE  


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Posted November 29, 2014 - 04:44 PM

When I put chains on I also raise the tractor and put jack stands under it. I lay the chains over the top and work them down to bottom. I straighten them as I go. I latch the inside latch first. Then I fasten the outside latch. You sometimes have to use a screwdriver to latch both sides. I wire the latch so it doesn't come open. I then take a bungee and stretch it across the outside of the chains. 

On your tires it may be as DJ54 said the profile may be different.   Good luck.                                                                                                Roger

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#5 boyscout862 ONLINE  

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Posted November 29, 2014 - 05:50 PM

I've been using chains on cars, trucks and tractors for 47 years and have never jacked up a machine to put them on. I lay out the chains(fully spread out) in front or in back of the vehicle and drive on about 1/4 to 1/3 of the way. I pull the chains over the top of the tire and attach the inner chains. I then pull the outter tight to see which inner link I should use. I reattach the inner chain at the correct link and then latch the outter. I pull and adjust the chains and reattach until its as tight as I can get it. Then I do the other side. I drive the vehicle for 10 yards and check for tightness of the chains. If I need to tighten, It may require shortening the inner chain first and then latching the outter. When it can be driven without loosening, I add the spreaders and use wire to attach loose chains. I've done this on the side of the road in blizzard conditions several times so that I could keep going. I now keep the cable type "chains" in my cars. Its cheap insurance.


Make sure that there are no twists or kinks in your chains and try adjusting several times. A bungee cord may help with holding the ends. Good Luck, Rick

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#6 glgrumpy ONLINE  


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Posted November 29, 2014 - 05:56 PM

On my PK had to remove some of chain when putting on ag tires. They were slightly smaller OD than turfs I guess?  If yours are as tall or taller than the stock ones were, the high ribs might be taking extra to get over them. Even on turfs, the chains want to fall into the edge grooves of the tread and you have to keep working them up and out of those to get more chain closer to join. You should be able to hook inside hook first, even if you have to allow chains to pull in quite a bit, then try working them tighter on outside, moving links over the treads and such as you go. Use constant pull/tension while doing this, or it may all just flop loose again as you are working with it. Might try little less air in tire or all out even, but if new rubber, it isn't gonna give much even with that. AND, I also jack mine up and turn wheels as I go to install, but I like mine open on top or far rear to work with them easier in view.

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#7 Sparky OFFLINE  



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Posted November 29, 2014 - 06:14 PM

I just got tired of the fight whenever the task comes up . I jack up the rear end , block it up and remove the tires/rims . Much easier on the back to install chains standing up .
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#8 Likesspace OFFLINE  

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Posted November 29, 2014 - 06:28 PM

Guys, thanks a million for all of the ideas.


I did end up jacking up the tractor, (one side at a time), and got the chains installed.

It's definitely not a job that I would want to do every day, but after reading these comments it wasn't as hard as I expected.


Once I got all of the slack worked out and kept tightening from inner to outer they are on and are pretty tight. I might still have to stretch a tarp strap or two if they start to slip. 


Thanks again to everyone who responded. I'm glad I didn't wait until it was 10 degrees and snowing before doing this job. 

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#9 shorty OFFLINE  



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Posted November 29, 2014 - 07:20 PM

I just got tired of the fight whenever the task comes up . I jack up the rear end , block it up and remove the tires/rims . Much easier on the back to install chains standing up .

This is how I like to do it now. And letting the tire flat, hook the chains and then air it up again. I don't have to use bungees for extra tenion then.

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#10 IamSherwood OFFLINE  


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Posted November 29, 2014 - 07:58 PM



Air out, and on a bench.

And if they're being real awkward, I'll add a quick link, and then remove it after

I've found all the slack.

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#11 GlenPettit OFFLINE  

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Posted November 29, 2014 - 08:37 PM

This is from the JD tech instructions, but applies to any chain and is good reminder >>>





How do I install tire chains?

Affected Equipment:
Riding Mowers

Getting started:

Safety is always a #1 priority, please follow the steps listed below:

o Work on a level surface
o Ensure your equipment is secure, use blocks if needed
o If possible, install your tire chains in a warm place

  • Removing the tires or wheel assemblies is optional. It can increase the chance of losing parts (such as axle keys and e-clips), but may make it easier to install the chains properly. You can also lift the rear of the tractor to make installation easier.
  • Chains get tangled in the box. Remove the chains from the box and untangle the chains from each other and themselves
  • Lay the chains out on the floor. Take a moment to identify all the parts of the tire chain. Notice that they have a regular hook on one side and a lever fastener on the other side. The regular hook goes on the inside, closest to the transmission. The lever fastener goes on the outside.


  • There is also a "right side up". The opening in the hooks for the cross links always faces away from the rubber tire.


Steps to install:

1. Drape chain over the tire. Make sure the open side of the hooks for the cross links is away from the rubber tire. The regular hook should be on the inside. The lever fastener should be on the outside.
2. Try to center the chain on the tread of the tire as close as possible. Make sure the cross chains are straight across the face of the tire tread.


3.  Hook the regular hook on the inside to a link on the other side of the chain. Use the tightest link possible without moving the chain from its centered position on the tread.


4. On the outside of the tire, hook the lever fastener through an open link on the free end of the rim chain. Make sure the extra links do not interfere with the lever.


5. Next, fold the lever fastener back 180 degrees. If the lever won't fold back all the way, try one link longer.  If the lever folds easily, try one link shorter.


6. Hook the end through a link on the rim chain.



7. Check the chain tension. When the tension is correct, it will be difficult to fit a finger between the tire and any of the chain links.  If the chains are not tight, release the lever fastener and move the regular hook on the inside one link shorter, then use install the lever fastener in a position one link shorter. If it is difficult to reach the shorter links, check for cross links that may be caught in the tire treads. Reposition the cross links so they are all as parallel to each other as possible, then try to hook the next shortest links. It may take several tries to get the correct tension on the chains.
8. Reinstall wheel and tire assemblies or let the tractor down, if necessary.
9. Test drive chains by driving the tractor about 40 feet. Recheck chain tension. Tighten if loose. The chains must be snug against the tires. If left too loose, they will fall off during operation.
10. Use wire or a nylon zip tie to secure any excess rim links. This will prevent damage to the tractor fender or transmission case.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: Do I really need chains?
A: Probably. Most tractors with turf tires do not have enough traction to operate in slippery conditions. The only exception is Heavy Duty All Tires (HDAP) used on some larger Lawn & Garden tractors which perform well without tire chains on slick surfaces.  Tire chains and additional ballast (either wheel weights or frame weights, depending on the model) are necessary for snow removal attachments.

Q: Can I deflate the tires to make chain installation easier?
A: Yes, but it is normally not necessary.  Deflating the tires adds another step to the process and only helps marginally. Also, it is easy to accidentally break the seal on the bead of the tire when the tires are deflated, making re-inflation without special equipment difficult.

Q: What is the white powder that's all over my new chains?
A: Some chains are coated with a rust preventative talc to absorb moisture during storage and shipping.

Q:  My tire chains fall off when I'm driving. What's wrong?
A: The chains were probably not tight enough. If they went on easily, they weren't really tight. It should take some effort to fasten the lever fastener to the rim chain link.  When installed correctly, it will be difficult to slip a finger between the tire and any of the chain links.

Q: Will using tire chains wear the black seal coat on my asphalt drive way?
A: Yes. Asphalt seal coat is a thin coating on the surface of the pavement. Metal tire chains will wear this surface off much faster than rubber tires. If you need more information on compatibility of tire chains and your driveway surface, contact your pavement installer.

Q: Will using tire chains damage brick pavers or concrete driveways?
A: Yes, but the color in most brick pavers goes all the way through the brick, so scratches in the surface caused by tire chains usually don't show very much.  Surface scratches in concrete are usually minor and do not show. If you need more information on compatibility of tire chains and your driveway surface, contact your pavement installer.

Q: I have a hill in my yard that I can't get up when I'm mowing because the tires spin. Is it okay to use tire chains to get more traction?
A: No. If you are having any trouble climbing a hill with out tire chains, then the hill is too steep to safely operate your tractor.

Q: My tire chains are rusting. Is there something wrong with them?
A: No, the chains are plated so they will resist rust. However, the plating will scratch off from contact with the pavement. Chains are also frequently exposed to water or salt. These conditions will cause light surface rust. This is normal and it will take many years for the rust to weaken the chains.

Q: Why are the chains so long? The dealer insists he gave me the right chains for my tractor, but they are way too long.
A: Chains are sized according to the tires size that they are intended to fit.  Different tire manufacturers and different tire designs will have different tread profiles even though the listed size of the tire is the same. The chains are made to fit all tread designs for a particular tire size. This means that the chains may seem too big or too long for some tires of a particular size and about the right size for other tires of the same size.

Q:  Can I install tire chains on the front tires?
A:  Generally, tire chains are recommended for use on the rear traction tires only.  If you have 2 Wheel Drive, tire chains will not improve traction on the front tires.  Tire chains on the front tires of Mechanical Front Wheel Drive (MFWD) or All-Wheel Drive tractors may have interference with steering components which may cause chains to damage the front differential.  Changing the tires to Heavy Duty All Purpose tires is a better option for tractors with front wheel drive.


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#12 Titus OFFLINE  


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Posted November 30, 2014 - 06:07 PM

And for the record for the naysayers about jacking up the rear end ;)


Space is limited, so I can't roll it back and forth.

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#13 Likesspace OFFLINE  

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Posted November 30, 2014 - 07:02 PM

Lots of good advice in this thread....


After having read some of the posts I went back out to the garage this afternoon and actually got an additional link on one side of the tire chains. Those suckers are pretty darn tight on both sides of the tractor, now.

After getting this link I took the tractor for about a 50 yard spin and the chains never slipped. 


I think I'm ready to go now. All I need is about six to eight inches of some heavy, wet snow to give her a try. After that I'm ready for some 70 degree weather for the rest of winter. 


Thanks again to everyone for their advice.

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#14 chieffan OFFLINE  

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Posted January 14, 2015 - 09:29 PM

I have a full size tractor with 12.5 X 38 tires on the rear.  I put a set of the heavy field chains on every winter.  These chains are  HEAVY.   I would say SIR and shake the hand of any man that can pick one up and walk off with it.  I jack up one wheel and hook one end of the chains over the lugs.  Then rotate then wheel by hand, keeping the cross chains in the right position and snug as I go.  When the lead part of the chain gets close to the bottom I hook a bunge cord on the inside and outside of the rim chains from the lead end to about a foot behind the other end.  I keep rolling the tire till I can hook the inside, and then the outside.  I roll the tire a round or tow to get all the slack out I can and tighten the hooks.  These chain run loose as there is never any speed involved.  I am after traction these give it to me, even though it is a real job to get them on or hung back up when they are removed.