Chains, Tensioners and Studded Tires? - Snow Plow Forum -†Let's Talk Snow Discussion Forums
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post #1 of 10 Old 12-16-2017, 06:46 AM Thread Starter
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Chains, Tensioners and Studded Tires?


I'm still pretty new to plowing, this is only my second winter. Last winter, mid-season I ditched the old plow truck I bought from the previous homeowner as it was becoming a money pit.

Now I'm plowing with my 2013 Chevy Silverado 2500 HD, with a Fisher V-Plow.

Combined I have about 3/4 of a mile of driveway and Class 6 town dirt road to keep clear. (In NH a "Class 6" road is owned by a town, but not maintained). My challenge is the top 500 feet of my driveway are paved asphalt, and VERY steep. Last winter only the top parking apron & about 100' of driveway were paved, and the rest of the hill was dirt. We paved another 400' or so late this past summer. Reasons being that, a) torrential rains in the spring and summer washed nearly all of the top layer of the driveway off, and b) the hill faces southwest, and the old parts of the paved driveway always melted nicely in the sun, even in sub freezing temps, so we figured the pavement would help keep the driveway ice free.

I have 2 sets of V-Bar chains that I used last year. On the dirt hill, it was a monster. This season I've have to plow twice, and I've had traction issues. The first time, I tried to plow without chains at all, as I was afraid the V-Bar chains would tear up the new asphalt. The guy from the company who paved the new section claimed he never uses chains to plow, even on driveways as steep or steeper than mine. I should NOT have listened to him, as that was scary. I should point out I don't have snow tires, as I figured last year with the chains they would be moot. The second snowfall this season, I used some ladder chains I had bought as back ups. They turned out to be inferior and the truck threw them on the first pass down the hill, I had them as tight as I could, but they didn't really fit that well. So I went to the V-Bar's, rear only.

Side note, the V-Bar's tore up the back of my wheel wells. I had them as tight I as could make them (I thought), but once the truck got rumbling UP this hill to get back on top, all hell would bread loose...

I still had moments where I totally broke traction & that is scary on my hill.

So, there's my long background story.

What I'm interested in hearing from you all is

1 - What can I do to get better traction?

2 - Should I use the chains of the front as well? (I have another set of V-Bars I used on the front last year on the dirt hill)

3 - Should I consider studded snow tires instead?

4 - What are the best chain tensioners to use? The chains have 3 cams on them & I use the rubber type 5 arm tensioners. Would the spring type work better?

5 - On the inside the tire link-up, should I just put the hook on the last link on the other side of the chain, or is it appropriate to "choke it up" a bit for better tension on the outer side? I guess I'd have to wire up the loose links or cut them off...

Lot's of questions, I know, but I'd like to stop tobogganing down my driveway with a plow. Bad things happen.


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post #2 of 10 Old 01-21-2018, 11:25 PM
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I AM EVEN NEWER TO PLOWING THAN U THIS IS MY 1ST YEAR.....But I have an old truck (yard truc) as I am also from N.H. I know u know that but I was told by a lot of friends and professionals to never try to plow uphill only if you have a good head start and can use your momentum to make it should you try. I also have regular chains on back as my Yard truck will only go into 2high!! so I'm just doing what I can....but by moving my truck to a higher piece of my property I have to now only plow downhill. so it seems to work I'm not sure what others think but would love to hear from those with a lot more skill and time plowing it helps us newbies out a lot!!
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post #3 of 10 Old 01-22-2018, 04:52 AM Thread Starter
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Pretty much the only way I can get a decent "first shot" down my driveway is that I have my plow truck stationed at the top of the hill. After I get the first shot down, I can sometimes plow on my way back up, but it depends on conditions, the consistency of the snow (slipperyness) and the depth.

One of the keys I was taught is that after your initial first pass, don't be too aggressive as to how big a "bite" you try to take out of subsequent passes.

If you need to get back up a slick area, (or just initially up) going up in reverse can be your friend. Also, make sure you have plenty of counter weight in the very rear of your truck bed, not only to compensate for the weight of the plow up front, but that otherwise there is no appreciable weight over your rear axle for traction. "Sand tubes" are a good choice.

On my driveway, when it gets "slick", being "chained up" on the front of the 4WD (too) is the only way I don't skate down the road sometimes (and sometimes even then). The other thing is that sometimes, you have to allow the truck "free reign" to run down in low gear to run, instead of your natural inclination to ride the brakes.
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post #4 of 10 Old 01-26-2018, 08:14 AM
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what the ?

why on Earth would you go through the hassle of using chains without proper tires and ballast/counterweight? put some studded snows on it and put a min of 1000 pounds back there.
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post #5 of 10 Old 02-02-2018, 02:09 AM
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Cool I can't do my driveway w/o chains

I use chains to plow my steep driveway. Start with an set on the back (every other link is a V-bar) and as the weather gets worse, I put chains on all 4's. I don't use V-bar's on the front, just regular twist cross links.

I have camlocks on all 4's and never use rubber snubbers or springs as the steel in the camlocks does not stretch. I put them on, drive a little and then take up a link and re-tighten the cams. If you can't play a tune on your chains, they are not tight enough.

And I rarely plow uphill. No need to tear up the pavement trying to push snow uphill. Tires? I have good winter tires with no studs and 500 lbs. in the back for ballast. And I take it easy, plowing slowly.
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post #6 of 10 Old 05-09-2018, 05:42 AM
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Thanks for the advice, Billy. This actually makes a lot of sense. I think I wasn't tightening the cams enough when I was doing this. Definitely need to remember this for the next season.
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post #7 of 10 Old 11-01-2018, 04:32 AM
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Seasoned Canadian plowing veteran here..... DONT USE CHAINS. They will ruin your truck (not just body) and driveway.
Outfit your truck with the tallest narrowest tires you can find..... Ideally at least a 33" tire but you may need a body lift for that. Don't use anything wider than a 245 series (width) tire, go narrower ideally. studded is even better if legal for on road use in your area.
Rear ballast you want 1500lbs (minimum) with the majority of that weight directly over the axle if possible (any weight behind the axle is taking away from front wheel traction when plow is lowered.
I probably have closer to 2000 lbs in my personal (non plow) pickup all winter, and I run a sander / Salter unit in my plow truck bed holding about 2 yards or more when filled. My personal truck will rarely see 4x4 because there is so much traction from the added weight. Without the weight I have to run in 4x4 full time (not plowing just driving)

The taller tires are harder to turn, meaning it's harder to break traction. Things go bad when you break traction. They also provide a bit more clearance.
The narrower profile means higher psi in regards to traction.... (Not tire pressures)
Narrower profile also cuts through the snow and slush meaning less "ride up" on snow or hydroplaning in slush or water. This concept of tall narrow tires should be implemented on all vehicles during the winter. Unless you're driving in super deep snow all the time (arctic trucks have huge balloon tires)
Adjusting tire pressures as well.... Obviously higher pressure in the front to maintain good driveability when plow is up..... Lower pressures in rear for added traction, but not too low.... It will depend how much ballast is added or if the truck tows a trailer etc.
If you put 2000 lbs in box but only run 40-50 lbs of air, the rear end may feel splashy or sway and dip when you wiggle the wheel or turn a corner..... this is the tire sidewall flexing and giving out.

Plow in 4x4 high range not low range... 2500hd... That 6.0 engine has plenty of power, no need for the added gear reduction. 4wd high will also lower the risk of breaking traction. Which is essentially your worst enemy and precisely what you want to avoid especially plowing across hills.
Be gentle with the gas, take small bites, don't ram banks, stop short of hitting previously piled snow. You can always find a farmer or rent a tractor/ loader if the banks close you in or become an issue.
Make a map of terrain with all grade changes ditches obstacles marked.
Install markers in the fall outlining the drive way or road.
It sounds as if you could benefit from salt or sand as well. You could spread sand or pickled sand after plowing. This will help everything melt, while providing traction under the next snowfall. This is one of the situations where the narrow tires will get down to business and bite the previously applied sand.
When clearing super hilly drives I've had to go in backwards (up the hill) dropping sand as I reversed.
I've spent many many many hours trying different setups. Invested A LOT on different setups.
Everything I just told you above, was explained to me many years ago.... But I thought I knew better.

If anything is unclear, message me or post your thoughts. If I remember anything else, I'll let you know.
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post #8 of 10 Old 11-03-2018, 09:30 PM - Addict
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Try Square link they provide the traction better than vbars and do not dig into the pavement.

Pewag makes a great set.
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post #9 of 10 Old 12-13-2018, 11:36 AM
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Seasoned Northlander plowing vhere..... You can use chains They will not ruin your truck if installed properly.
Chains can be hard on paved drives, so don't spin the tires..
Use sufficient counter weight located next to the tailgate.
Not over the read wheels., also the front end with its engine has enough weight on it.

Outfit your truck with the tallest and narrowest tires you can find but their is no need to go over board, just avoid getting wider tires.... studded is even better if legal for on road use in your area.
Also,The narrower profile means higher ground psi in regards to traction.
Narrower profile also cuts through the snow and slush meaning less "ride up" on snow or hydroplaning in slush or water. This

Adjusting tire pressures as well.... Obviously with all this added weight you don't want to lower your tire PSI,
Run what it sayes in the door jam and you may want to add 5-10psi to the front becuse of the added weight.

Plow in 4x4 high range, 4wd high will also lower the risk of breaking traction. Which is your worst enemy and precisely what you want to avoid. But,, don't ride the clutch get out of it, with a auto, use first And don't start with a pile in the blade.
Then give her enough,So your not just spinning the toquork converter.

And remember to come to a compleate stop before shifting from 1st to R and visa versa.

When stacking snow ram the banks don't stop short of hitting previously piled snow or you will gun out of room to stack snow in no time. Plow a pile of snow, let it set, it will get hard enough that when you plowing snow next time you can let the pile help to stop you by letting the plow ride up on the old pile of snow, but stop short of letting the plow go over the pile or you could be shoveling, i call it running the pile, not every one has a farmer near buy that wants to come out and dig you out.

Carry a shovel...

Flag or stake ditches & obstacles and the low side edge maybe even the up hill edge so your not digging in on curves.
salt or sand any pavement befor it snows providing traction under the snowfall.

I've spent many many many hours, years trying different setups and methods
Any questions just ask, if we haven't allready addressed then in your other thread.
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post #10 of 10 Old 12-13-2018, 11:39 AM
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Also you can use chains on old bald tires as the tire tred adds littel to traction when your chained up.
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