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Old March 16th, 2006, 03:16 PM
Posts: n/a
My experience with RUD chains

Here is my recent experience with RUD chains. I found out a few things the hard way but nothing can teach quicker than missteps. Thought I would post my efforts – maybe someone else will not make the same errors I did.

I knew we were in for a dump… that day and the day before we got some serious accumulation. And I had this feeling…. Better put the chains on now, this afternoon, cause tomorrow it just might be bitch to get them on, and perhaps impossible to get out. I decided to use my camera and document my process.

Here is the weather and my DSII with one chain installed. Notice the flat tire/wheel chock kit to the left. I used that to save my knees from freezing – the kit did not protect my knees. Installing any type of chains in snow in Levis is a mistake.

Clearly a day for RUD's:

I have carried my RUDs in my trusty Pelican case in their original vinyl slip cases since November. Tip: check to see if the mounting instructions are included. Both my slip cases only had the removal instructions. I had to go back inside the house, log on to the RUD site, print the mounting instructions, put them in a plastic sleeve and go back outside. It is highly unlikely that you will have internet access when you install the chains on the highway.. Secondly, make sure the plastic tie that binds the two zippers together for each slip case is cut before you carry your chains. I had a very hard time cutting the tie – my hands were cold and I could not get a grip, my ski gloves totally sucked. Ski gloves are warm and toasty for skiing and they are totally useless for any mechanical task.

Eventually I ditched the ski gloves and put on my never-used PMI gloves. What a difference! I could feel what I was doing, I could do the work – and my hands stayed dry and warm almost through the whole process (but I was experimenting with different approaches in attempting to correct an error).

You can seem the snowfall is increasing, and the back of the DSII is getting a dusting. My black Pelican case now has a snow outline which makes a nice contrast, giving my Disco a festive holiday flavor with a nice Christmassy look.

Thanks to John for recommending the gloves! This job would have been very, very difficult without them.

Here the left rear tire with the RUDs installed:

Here is the red hook that joins the chains together. The notice that free swinging hook is oriented aft, towards the rear of the DSII. The direction of the hook is important.

Here is a close up of the hook. Again, the free swinging hook which joins the chains is oriented aft, towards the rear, of the DSII:

Here is a finished tire with A marking the correct orientation of the hook and B marking the problem area:

The more I looked at this tire, the more something just did not feel right. The chain was tight against the wheel, it looked good but there something about ratchet system (B) did not look right. I uninstalled and reinstalled the chains several times and still B did not look right. It felt off, and I clearly could not solve the problem.

It was at this point I called Bill Burke and asked for help. I talked to Rachel and explained my trouble. She said she would call Bill, who was in California and tell him I had called. He was great!!! He called me at home within a half hour! What service wayyyyyy after the sale (this was the first time in two years that I used the chains I bought from them). As I carefully described what I did, it was clear that B was the problem area. From my description, Bill recognized what I had done incorrectly and instructed me how B was supposed to be done and how it should look. Here is a close up of the problem area:

As C shows, the force exerted by the blue chain makes the whole thing feel wrong: The larger flat piece of the ratchet system with the oval opening is not flat against the tire. While the ratchet system will work in this configuration and you still can thread the yellow tightening chain through the ratchet, in this position the ratchet would have caused noise during driving and might have worn the side of my tire. When you install the chains, make sure the _flat_ piece of the ratchet is against the tire, and the shorter piece with the square opening outward, towards the road. Since the chain is not flat against the tire, the gap might be susceptible to material becoming wedged against the tire.

Here is the correct way the ratchet should look:

To install the chains in this correct position, there are two requirements:
1. The red hook as shown in several pictures above (A) has to point to the rear and
2. The yellow tightening chain must be threaded through the larger flat plate in this manner:

In this position, the ratchet locks the yellow chain in place by the force of the blue chain. In the incorrect manner as shown above, the ratchet holds the yellow chain more by tire pressure that pinches the yellow chain. As I said earlier, the incorrect way will work and will feel tight but there will be more rubbing pressure on the tire, and the tire makes more noise..

RUDs use a cable lock system:

The hex nut attached to the cable is placed into the opening, pulled tight and fits roughly into its female component. Again, here the PMI gloves made the job easier to feel the correct fit.

However, there can be difficulty in disengaging the cable lock system after driving. Therefore, carry your trusty blade or side mounted Swiss tool kit. This is not a good picture of the problem, and it was taken before driving with the chains, but look closely:

The top portion of the cable lock is exposed to the elements and there is a gap :

When driving snow gets packed into this opening. We wheeled for an hour in the mesas behind the house. BTW: The chains did all Bill said they could do and more. The DSII with chains is a phenomenal vehicle. I have to admit I felt utterly bad-ass wheeling through drifts, meadows, and hills! Back to the cable lock: Snow gets packed in the opening and can form a perfectly clear cylinder of ice. In two of my chains, ice was firmly molded into the locking system, and I used my ever ready Benchmade to pry and chisel out the ice. I am not sure why or how this occurred, the cable lock is low against the back side of the tire, it is not in contact with the road. Only two of my chains had this problem – I could not press the ends together to unlock the cables. A tool can be useful when disengaging the cable lock.

To take the chains off, it is a good idea to orient the red hook to the 12:00 O'Clock position:

Do NOT take the chains off in a position as shown below!! This is absolutely wrong:

If you take the chains off with the red hook at noon, the cables fall away from the wheel and lay them selves flat on the ground. You take one end and simply pull the chains out from under the Disco. IF you take the chains off with the red hook in any other position other than 12 O’Clock, as shown above, the upper portion of the cable with all its chainy goodness will right drop onto your brake lines –and they do drop with force. In the snow it would extremely difficult to disentangle the chains from the brake lines. You cannot and must not pull the chains out while they are tangled with the brake lines. While I did not make this mistake when I removed the chains in the snow, I did make this error when I practiced after the snow storm. I had to lay on my back, scoot under the Disco and gently lift the chains upwards off the brake lines. I would NOT want to do that in any type of winter conditions.

Getting ready to hit the the trail:

I put the RUDs on in the afternoon, that night, it snowed another 8 inches. The wind was fast and furious and the snow heavy at times. I woke up to winter wonderland. I knew the chains were on the truck and I felt damn proud of my foresight -- damn proud! However, going to the truck, the door, seeing I left the back windows open about 5 inches, I felt like a total moron:

Here I was faced with potential mess. If that snow melted while I was using my hands to scoop the snow out, I was in deep shit. However…. A moment of clarity came to me. I realized I had my PowerTank in the garage! 10 minutes with the doors open and using the PowerTank (the snow was incredibly light – true New Mexican powder) ALL that snow was blown out the doors! A simple remaining wipe with a dish cloth and dash and seats were dry and clean. There was a little snow dust left in crooks and corners that I could not blow out before melting, but the inside was very, very clean. The PowerTank proved its worth in an entirely unexpected way. Had I not the PowerTank, the inside would have been a soggy mess within 10-15 minutes as the sun was heating the Disco rapidly.

In summary, I took a long time installing the chains, and that was due to installing forwards and backwards in futile attempts to solve the ratchet problem. The chains do install quickly, but not quite as easily or as quickly as the advertisments claim. However, had I experience, I have no doubt I would have remained far drier than if I had installed the usual ladder style chains. RUDs are remarkably engineered -- of that there is no doubt. They are pricey but I have never seen chains that performed as well as these. Their off-road capabilities work in synergy with the DSII.

However, there are key points which simply are not covered in the instructions. The locking ratchet might be clear to others, I was puzzled to the point I needed to call Bill Burke.

I have been cautioned that using chains on a lifted DSII with 265 R16 tires would be dicey as the turning radius would be affected and the lack of clearance might cause rubbing, or possibly interfere with brakes lines. I experienced none of these problems. I turned hard once and felt the chains rub -- and that was during some rough wheeling and tight turns. There is plenty of clearance and the concerns of loosing turn radius are exaggerated. I drove city streets, pulling in and out of parking spots and had no problems. RUDs and a DSII are a formidable combination.
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