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Light Overland Vehicle Tech Tech issues, tips and hints, prepping for travel
Under 3500kg vehicles, e.g. Land Cruiser, Land Rover, Subaru etc.
Photo by Ellen Delis, Lagunas Ojos del Campo, Antofalla, Catamarca

I haven't been everywhere...
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Photo by Ellen Delis,
Lagunas Ojos del Campo,
Antofalla, Catamarca



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  #1  
Old 30 May 2017
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Can I use snow chains on studded winter tyres?

Hi guys

I'm preparing for a winter trip across Russia, from Magadan back to Europe. Plan is to stay as much as possible on ice roads, only using regular all-weather roads when there is no safe alternative (by safe I mean a winter road which is used by others).

So on ice roads I anticipate lightly compacted snow, and fresh snow if it has recently snowed. On all weather roads I anticipate hard packed snow or ice.

I am going to buy six tyres, most likely in Russia. My options are:

Unstudded northern winter tyres (e.g. Nokian Hakkapeliita) - these will be legal in Europe when I leave Russia / Baltic countries, but I understand do not give the same level of control on ice and hard snow.

Studded northern winter tyres - these I understand are excellent for hard packed snow and ice, making driving much safer, but they are illegal in most European countries, so I will need to have at least four non-studded tyres for when I cross out of Russia.

Snow chains - I have never used these, but I guess these are good for fresh snow that is not too thick. I imagine they are pretty bad on hard ice though?

So my question, finally, is whether I can use snow chains in studded tyres? A winter traveler told me no, but frankly I don't really see why, as the chain should not be moving radially about the tyre?

I need decide what my tyre selection will be. Right now I am thinking 2 studded tyres and 4 unstudded (all winter of course), and two or four sets of chains.

The truck is switchable RWD / 4WD and so I was thinking studded on the rear axle and unstudded on the front and spares, so that I have a set of Euro-legal tyres. Then the chains can go on when the snow gets a bit thick.

Any wiser suggestions? Maybe four studded instead? From previous winter driving in RWD, I found that it was the rear axle causing the problems rather than the front, hence my thinking to have studded only on the rear.

I will be travelling alone in some pretty remote places safety is important; a small off into a snow bank could lead to a very unpleasant wait for a tow.

Thanks for any input,

EO
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  #2  
Old 30 May 2017
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You can chain up studded tires. Your only problem is that tires with deep, lugged treads are more difficult to stretch chains around, since the chains get caught in the lugs. I use cable chains, which can be driven on at higher speed, are lighter and work just as well under most circumstances. Of course, preferences vary.

Conventional wisdom says that studs go on all 4 tires, never two. Chains go on all drive wheels. And don't forget that you can have studs added to tires once you reach Russia, if that's what you want.

Of course, preferences--like mileage--varies. Hope that's helpful.

Mark
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Old 31 May 2017
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The non studded winter tyres, while not giving quite the same grip as studded, are actually bloody good, my wife's Mini Cooper S has had Nokian Hakapeliitta R's on it for 5 Canadian Winters now, they are very good. For the Toyota Hilux I would however use studded tyres if you are going off the beaten track and carry cables or chains - chains are better in deep snow, but as Mark says, the cables are not bad at all and run much smoother. How much weight do you carry in the back of the Hilux? if its pretty light it will not help, most people put some weight (sandbags etc) in the load beds of their pickups over here to improve rear wheel traction over the Winter.

I would not run different tyres on the front and rear axles, either go with 4 x studded, or 4 X non studded Winters - maybe drive to Russia on regular tyres and leave the regular tyres with someone, ready to pick up for driving in Europe when you return.

I have run Blizzaks on the Discovery for a long time, maybe not quite as good as the Nokian's, but with the Discovery's permanent 4x4, CDL, supple suspension and traction control they give amazing grip - I even towed a stuck 7.5 ton truck up an ice covered steep hill in January in Banff.


Nice rebuild on the Hilux by the way
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Old 31 May 2017
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I've not had a lot of experience with using chains on ice but a number of times I've used them on our LR Discovery when I've had no alternative and found they were better than not using them. Most of my winter ice/snow mileage is in the Alps (we have a flat in a ski resort) so it's up or down hills. You really need chains on all four wheels under those conditions - you'll either swap ends (downhill with chains on the front only) or have no steering (chains only on the rear).

Chains come in all sorts of different designs but whether there's much difference or not I've no idea as we've stuck with the diamond back square link type with "e-z fit" hoop style back. If you've got "knobbly" style tyres on the truck I can imagine though that these would be a pain to fit correctly. If you don't know much about chain types have a look at this link:

http://g-ecx.images-amazon.com/image..._2011-2012.pdf

Chains are (essentially) horrendous to drive with. Even fitted correctly they clatter and bang around and on some vehicles they wouldn't have to loosen off much to take out hydraulic lines / dent wings etc. You're not supposed to do more than 30 mph on them (easy to see why once you use them) or drive on tarmac with them. In practice though you often find patches of snow alternating with bare road and nobody takes them off. Otherwise any trip would take forever.

Using them on tarmac / concrete road wears them out really quickly though and a flailing broken end is really not something you want. If you're using them over any distance (as you may be) you'll need to work out some method of fixing wear points / broken links. I've welded mine (they came with spare links) but I only use them for short periods. How you'd maintain them on your own over hundreds or thousands of remote miles, much of it in the dark I've no idea.
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Old 5 Jun 2017
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markharf View Post
You can chain up studded tires. Your only problem is that tires with deep, lugged treads are more difficult to stretch chains around, since the chains get caught in the lugs. I use cable chains, which can be driven on at higher speed, are lighter and work just as well under most circumstances. Of course, preferences vary.

Conventional wisdom says that studs go on all 4 tires, never two. Chains go on all drive wheels. And don't forget that you can have studs added to tires once you reach Russia, if that's what you want.

Of course, preferences--like mileage--varies. Hope that's helpful.

Mark
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gipper View Post
The non studded winter tyres, while not giving quite the same grip as studded, are actually bloody good, my wife's Mini Cooper S has had Nokian Hakapeliitta R's on it for 5 Canadian Winters now, they are very good. For the Toyota Hilux I would however use studded tyres if you are going off the beaten track and carry cables or chains - chains are better in deep snow, but as Mark says, the cables are not bad at all and run much smoother. How much weight do you carry in the back of the Hilux? if its pretty light it will not help, most people put some weight (sandbags etc) in the load beds of their pickups over here to improve rear wheel traction over the Winter.

I would not run different tyres on the front and rear axles, either go with 4 x studded, or 4 X non studded Winters - maybe drive to Russia on regular tyres and leave the regular tyres with someone, ready to pick up for driving in Europe when you return.

I have run Blizzaks on the Discovery for a long time, maybe not quite as good as the Nokian's, but with the Discovery's permanent 4x4, CDL, supple suspension and traction control they give amazing grip - I even towed a stuck 7.5 ton truck up an ice covered steep hill in January in Banff.


Nice rebuild on the Hilux by the way
Quote:
Originally Posted by backofbeyond View Post
I've not had a lot of experience with using chains on ice but a number of times I've used them on our LR Discovery when I've had no alternative and found they were better than not using them. Most of my winter ice/snow mileage is in the Alps (we have a flat in a ski resort) so it's up or down hills. You really need chains on all four wheels under those conditions - you'll either swap ends (downhill with chains on the front only) or have no steering (chains only on the rear).

Chains come in all sorts of different designs but whether there's much difference or not I've no idea as we've stuck with the diamond back square link type with "e-z fit" hoop style back. If you've got "knobbly" style tyres on the truck I can imagine though that these would be a pain to fit correctly. If you don't know much about chain types have a look at this link:

http://g-ecx.images-amazon.com/image..._2011-2012.pdf

Chains are (essentially) horrendous to drive with. Even fitted correctly they clatter and bang around and on some vehicles they wouldn't have to loosen off much to take out hydraulic lines / dent wings etc. You're not supposed to do more than 30 mph on them (easy to see why once you use them) or drive on tarmac with them. In practice though you often find patches of snow alternating with bare road and nobody takes them off. Otherwise any trip would take forever.

Using them on tarmac / concrete road wears them out really quickly though and a flailing broken end is really not something you want. If you're using them over any distance (as you may be) you'll need to work out some method of fixing wear points / broken links. I've welded mine (they came with spare links) but I only use them for short periods. How you'd maintain them on your own over hundreds or thousands of remote miles, much of it in the dark I've no idea.
Thanks for all your replies. I think studded tyres are the way to go. I am not sure that studs can be added to used tyres, but they can be removed, so I can take the studs out before entering Europe. I'll also be looking at at least one pair of chains, though I am not sure how often they will be used, I don't think I have seen Russians using them very much.

I'm not in the Hilux this time, I have actually bought a second truck, a Hilux Surf (3rd Gen 4Runner for those in the US) which has a petrol (gasoline) engine and a fully enclosed cabin to which I will be fitting a cabin air heater. Diesel and -50ºC don't sound like a good combination to me! It will have a fair amount of weight over the rear axle, but I've tried to keep it as light as possible as I plan to drive on frozen rivers / lakes and even the sea in Magadan.

Thanks for the link to the chain catalogue, seems like this is another big decision. I was recommended Pewag chains as being pretty good.

Cheers,

EO
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