How to install tire chains on your dually, easily and quickly!

Posted: January 30, 2013 in GMC truck, snowplowing
Tags: , ,

DSC04243 (1024x768)Welcome to the first in a new series of instructional,  and we hope, inspirational “How To” articles here at Cool McCool’s Garage.  Todays lesson is “How to install tire chains on your dually”, or, “Miserable Jobs, 101”.   Note that we’re talking here about triple row chains, not those wimpy, girly man single chain sets you could throw on in the dark, in a blizzard, in a foot of snow.  No sir, these are a MANS tire chains!  Please forgive the lack of pictures of the first few steps, they’re really self explanatory.

First, gather your supplies.  You’ll need the tire chains, a jack, a screwdriver, a large prybar, some tarp straps, a come-a-long, some chain binders, extra chain, a hoist, a floor jack, and a colorful vocabulary of  “repair words.”  Also, it’s important to pick a day when the weather is bad, so as to prepare you for what you’ll be in for when you REALLY need to put them on.  Ready?  Lets get started!

DSC04245 (1024x768)Step 1:  Get your tire chains out of the box they were shipped in.  They will be in separate bags, so as to prevent them from getting tangled during shipping.  Don’t worry, they’ll still be tangled inside their respective bags, so you’ll still get to unsnarl and untangle the heavy chains.  It’s like a Rubik’s cube that weighs 50 lbs.

Step 2.  Throw the chains over the tire(s) with the hooks on the cross links pointing up.  This is important to keep the hooks from tearing the hell out of the side walls of your tires as you clank and vibrate down the road.

Step 3.  Repeat step 2 about a dozen times, because the inside dual chain will, I guarantee, fall in between the duals, wedging itself in so hard, by gravity alone, that you’ll be nearly unable to get it out.

Step 4.  Drag a heavy floor jack from your shop, out to the driveway (the truck won’t fit in your garage doors being too wide) and jack up one side.  Then, with the transmission in “Neutral”, and the front tires blocked so it doesn’t roll down the driveway, and over you, drag a chain in front of the lifted tire(s) and using the tire as a lever, roll the chain over the tire so that the latches are hanging loosely on the back (or front, depending which way you started) of the tire(s).  Now comes the fun part!

DSC04234 (1024x768)Step 5.   Hook the inside latch, as tightly as you can, and tighten it.  Now, go to the outside latch, and hook it, but don’t tighten it.  Next, catch the center chain hook on a link, as far up as you can, so that all three chains are hooked.  This will be impossible at first, because the center link will lack at least 2 inches from catching even the first link on the other end.  Now, spend several minutes, lying on your back on the wet concrete,  pulling violently on the upper part of the center chain.  This will cause the tire to roll down, and the chain to get even further from being able to reach.  Don’t give up!  Keep pulling, using a screwdriver, prybar, or other sharp ended implement to use as a lever to pull the chains together.  Colorful adjectives, or “repair words”, are handy to have available at this step…

DSC04235Step 6.  Now that you’ve gotten the center chain tantalizingly close reaching the first link, verbal encouragement and more tugging (with the trans now in “Park”), will let you hook the first link.  Don’t worry, this won’t be NEARLY tight enough, but keep going!  You’ll need to keep at this untill you can hook the chain on the second, or preferably, the third link.  You may find it necessary to unlatch the inside chain to gain som slack, which some more violent tugging and pulling will gain you, but will also result in the tire rolling forward and unrolling the chains from the tires.  Again, colorful expletives will be an invaluable aid at this pointDSC04239 (1024x768)!

DSC04237 (1024x768)Step 7.  Now that you’ve gotten the center chain hooked tightly, you can re-tighten the inside and outside latches.  The chain will appear to be “loose”, but don’t worry, it IS TOO LOOSE!  This is normal.   Now, unlatch both inner and outer chains, unhook the center link, and attempt to get one more link.  By having the chains latched and tightened, you (would think) you’ll now be able to get that extra link hooked in the center.  Simply repeat step 6, having the chain again roll off the tire so that you have to start completely over.   This builds character and appreciation for a good job well done!  After several attempts, you’ll have the chain back where it was, too loose but at least on the tires.  Good job!

DSC04240 (1024x768)Step 8.  This is where those tarp straps come in.  Of course, to do the job right, you need to make a trip to the hardware store to buy them, but we’ll skip that step.  The tarp straps you have will be too long (of course), but don’t worry, a knot in the center will make them the perfect length to stretch across the center of the rim, thus tightening the OUTSIDE chain only.  Of course, the inside is complicated by the brake backing plate and axle housing, so simply double the strap back on itself, don’t go completely across the backing plate.  Two should be sufficient.  Remember to catch excess chain dangling from the latches!The tarp straps give a nice “I don’t really know what I’m doing” appearance to the job, important for that “hillbilly” look.  Plus, when it’s really cold, they loose all compliance and will soon rot and break.

There, we’re done, and it only took two hours!   A quick trip up and down the drive, or down to the corner on the tarmac if you’re brave, will reveal the interesting additional “square wheel” type ride quality your formerly almost unbearably rough  riding one-ton pickup has.  Twenty miles an hour should be fast enough to get anywhere, because the noise of the chains will convince you that they may actually tear the fenders from the box.  They will flip the  mudflaps up onto the tires, but a couple more tarp straps should fix that.

DSC04242 (1024x768)Now, let the lake effect snows begin!  We’ll cover lifting a cement filled tire into the bed for weight on another installment of “Miserable Jobs 101”, some other day…

  1. paul mcclain says:

    Dang, those look like industrial strenght chains. I drive a semi and know the feeling of spending an hour on the side of the road installing chains only to watch them come off the first time the wheel spins. What fun. You can never get them to tight and I only use single tire chains.
    Paul McClain

  2. flynbrian48 says:

    Yes Paul, if I’d known what a pain they are, I’d have gotten single chains, and simply pulled the inside dual off and run on one tire. Much cheaper, and would have worked as well. Or better!

  3. george gard says:

    Years ago I put a set of dual wheels on my 1965 International 4×4. Strong and tough truck. One ton dually trucks hit the market after that. I think Chevy Ten thousand lb. GVW is what it was called. Anyway I have not been without a one ton since. Back then I had a set of tire chains that had two chains with a fabric strap that went through the hole in the rim with a buckel sinch. Four sets for each wheel. These were easy to put on and take off. I have been looking for another set of those chains and was wondering if anyone has seen them for sale. anyplace.
    Thanks and happy chain up day.

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