1. #1
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    Default Tire chains vs Auto chains

    We are discussing spec'ing a new rescue with automatic chains. All of our current trucks use the standard tire chains we all know and love to hate.

    My question: We experience deep snow and ice conditions often during the winter. How well do auto chains work in deep snow (1 to 3 feet) and are they effective if an apparatus gets stuck?

    We also have incidents during the warm months when we are out in muddy fields. Do auto chains help then? I don't expect anything short of a heavy wrecker to help when a tender sinks to the frame, but we do see a lot of slippery clay mud on the back roads.

    Thanks for any help!
    Rob

  2. #2
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    My experience:

    We have On-Spot instant chains on several vehicles.

    They are great for slippery roads and driveways (ice), and small snowfalls.

    When you start talking deep snow, the system is not able to function. Why? Because it relies on a spinner wheel to be able to be forced into contact with the inner sidewall of the tire to spin the chains into position. In deeper snow, the snow actuall "holds back" the spinner wheel/chains and the chains just drag beside the tire, not being able to be spun under the tire.

    I'd venture to say the same would happen in mud also.

    I would not give them up, though. We use them all the time on icy driveways and roads. Top speed for ours is 35 mph. They work very well if you get stuck on ice too. Just spin the wheels at up to 5 mph, and drop the chains.

    For deep snow, I'd recommend 4WD.
    Last edited by Resq14; 12-22-2003 at 06:57 PM.
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    I agree with Resq14. We have them on our 96 Pierce Contender. They work well for icy roads and snow up to about 8" of dry powder. You need to be moving at least 5 MPH for them to work.

    The advantage is when you have a mix of dry and slippery roads. In our area the state highways are normally plowed and sanded with county and subdivision roads in a lot worse shape. It is a lot faster to "drop" the chains when you need then rather than staying chained up all the time.

    I don't think they will work well in mud due to the chains are mounted on a wheel that rides against the inside of the tire. They are "thrown" under the tire. The mud will probably be too thick to allow the chains to work.

    You might ask the manufacturer about mud performace.

    Stay Safe
    IACOJ

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    We were going to put them on our last pumper/tanker, but you can't have them if you are going to have an air suspension system.

    At least according to the ALF plant where the truck was built.
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    Originally posted by rcrompm46
    We were going to put them on our last pumper/tanker, but you can't have them if you are going to have an air suspension system.

    At least according to the ALF plant where the truck was built.

    I would call the chain manufactuer, I've seen food service delivery trucks with air-suspension and onspot chains. The onspots on our ladder mount to the u-bolts that hold the axle to the leaf springs. Assuming you mount the air bags the same way they should work.

    -Nick

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    We use On-Spot automatic chains on our in-town apparatus. For our hillside (base of the mountains) apparatus, we use two-rail chains.

    I agree with the other contributors regarding snow and ice conditions. From a non-fire perspective, I've had some experience and success with two-rail chains on 3-4" mud.

    On disadvantage about On-Spot chains is the inability of them to be effective when driving in reverse. The positioning of the wheel on the front half of the tire and the length of the chain prevents the chain from being slung against the rear of the tire.

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    Our "On Spot" chains will work in reverse. The main problem is you still need to be doing at least 5 MPH which may not be possible.

    Stay Safe
    IACOJ

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    RUDD also work in reverse. They assist in hard pack conditions. Mud, and deeper snow (2" to 3") and they become ineffective, even on Ice the "Insta Chain" style are not overly effecive after you are stuck.

    If your working in mud, Yes chains or belts help, but a locking diff will make a large difference also.

    Just like four wheel drive or any traction aid though, you want to engage it when you think you might need it, not after your stuck.
    Last edited by CAPN22; 12-30-2003 at 03:17 PM.

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    Same here on the reply.

    While we play it by ear on each storm, generally over 8" the Chains start to go on.

    On-spots are great for changing conditions we get a lot -- especially our ambulance that heads north and gains elevation going to the hospital. Often wet roads here, snow there.

    Some years the real chains never come out of the basement. Others I've seen us keep some trucks in chains for weeks on end.

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    These worked great last night in icy conditions and worked just as well today in 8" of snow .
    The engines and quint (2 sets) got regular chains slapped on today


  11. #11
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    my town have to 3 truck with on-stop chains. On-stop chaine work very well in snow and ice not to deep. We have them on are new pumper and recsue and A-1. We have two 4wd pumper one is a pumper tanker. In deep snow E-1 or E-4 are frist out.

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    We stopped "chaining"our apparatus over 10 years ago regardless of snow depth.With the amount of water and equipment we carry,if they won't go in the snow on the agressive rear tires we put on one of two things happen automatically.First we have our own 24/7 Town dispatch center.If we have a call in a questionable condition the 10wd tanker/brush unit is assigned.On the same box a plow/sand truck will be pulled off it's route and DEDICATED to FD use until such time as the emergency is abated.We have overlapping plow routes and extra equipment so normal snow removal is barely interrupted.That being said,the new Rescue pump we're building will have On-spots or equivalent.Chains in conventional form are a major PITA and I don't miss them one bit.T.C.

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    Originally posted by Rescue101
    the 10wd tanker/brush unit
    Holy Hell!
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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    Most likely a 6x6 (10 wheels)

  15. #15
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    K1500,You be right;A Mack 5 ton with 1100 gallons on and a HP pump.T.C.

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    I agree with about everyone, that on spots only work if the tire is able to spin.

  17. #17
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    Thumbs up

    We have on spot chains on all of our trucks , they work well in ice and snow, up to 5"-6" deep but on one run in Feb. to the county we found that they had iced into a frozen ball after we had finished with an extrication ,and we could not move . we had to break the chains apart and used a dry/dust absorbant to get traction .overall they have been exceptional over the chains that we would have to put on and remove with the road conditions- we were not allowed to run wheel chains on dry pavement but with the on spot we can lower and raise them anytime.

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