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Re: A Very Pleasant Experience w/ Ranger & "Tire Chain Man"

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avatar A Very Pleasant Experience w/ Ranger & "Tire Chain Man"
March 14, 2009 02:21PM
Last weekend I planned on taking my annual snowshoe trip to Glacier Point. This is an event that I have great affection for and look forward to, a badly needed break.

Chains were required immediately upon entering the park. This was no problem because I brought my chains. So I park in the parking lot near the entrance and put on my chains (mine require rubber loops & clips to tighten the chain adeqautely). I put my chains on in about 5 minutes and was very satisfied. Just as I was getting in the car, I hear a loud "POP". Going over to the passenger side I see that one of the loops broke. BUMMER! Now what am I going to do?

There was a gas station about 7 miles back that sells chains so I was going to head there. Then I thought "There's usually a guy that puts chains on when chains are required". Sure enough, I looked and there was his truck. After seeing that chains were $75 I just couldn't buy from him, but decided to see if he might have the rubber loop that I needed. To my great joy, he did. However, they were a bit larger than the one that broke. I decided to give it a try nonetheless, because time was passing and I had doubts about being able to make it back to the gas station, buy and install chains, and make it to Badger Pass in time to snowshoe far enough down the road to set up camp.

So I left, with chains beating my tire well. Not happy, but I really wanted to make it. About 10 miles down the road, I wasn't surprised when one of my chains broke. Now it was late enough that an added delay made Badger Pass impossible. I considered going back to the gas station (just couldn't afford spending $75 for chains) but after everything, it just didn't appeal to me.

So I decided to look for a day hike on the way out of the park. I pulled into Merced Grove. Just as I did, a ranger pulled in. I thought "Great, he's going to give me a hard time about having only one chain". But he didn't, and I asked him about the trail. He was very helpful, so I asked another question (that I was sure would be a negative) "What about staying the night in the Grove?". Remember, I had no wilderness permit (was going to get it at Badger Pass). He said he was new to the park and didn't know, so got out his book and looked up the requirements. He couldn't find anything that said I couldn't camp there. I told him I had no wilderness permit, and he said that I couldn't rightly be expected to have one since the permit office at the entrance station was closed. He even gave me his card, so that if anyone gave me a hard time about being back there I could have them contact him.

Had a great night in the grove.

The next day, I snowshoed back to my car and saw something on my window. Getting closer, I saw that it was a pair of tire chains. There was a note that said "If these fit, they are yours." Well, they did fit.

All I can come up with is that the ranger told the chain guy what had happened to me, and the chain guy felt bad and drove down to leave the chains for me.

I drove down to the Valley and camped there, enjoying a great couple of days. It wasn't the trip that I had planned, but if it wasn't for a reasonable and gracious ranger, and a caring "chain guy" I would've had to go straight home.

avatar Re: A Very Pleasant Experience w/ Ranger & "Tire Chain Man"
March 14, 2009 03:02PM
It seems like people only share their bad experience too often. It's good to read something like this to remind me that there are actually nice people out there tongue sticking out smiley
avatar Re: A Very Pleasant Experience w/ Ranger & "Tire Chain Man"
March 14, 2009 05:10PM
dqniel wrote:

> It seems like people only share their bad experience too often.
> It's good to read something like this to remind me that there
> are actually nice people out there tongue sticking out smiley


I know that I've shared a few negative experiences. Thought that I owed it to the group here (as well as to those that helped me on my trip) to share the positive as well.

avatar Re: A Very Pleasant Experience w/ Ranger & "Tire Chain Man"
March 14, 2009 03:16PM
sierranomad wrote:

> Last weekend I planned on taking my annual snowshoe trip to
> Glacier Point. This is an event that I have great affection for
> and look forward to, a badly needed break.
>
> Chains were required immediately upon entering the park. This
> was no problem because I brought my chains. So I park in the
> parking lot near the entrance and put on my chains (mine
> require rubber loops & clips to tighten the chain adeqautely).
> I put my chains on in about 5 minutes and was very satisfied.
> Just as I was getting in the car, I hear a loud "POP". Going
> over to the passenger side I see that one of the loops broke.
> BUMMER! Now what am I going to do?
>
> There was a gas station about 7 miles back that sells chains so
> I was going to head there. Then I thought "There's usually a
> guy that puts chains on when chains are required". Sure enough,
> I looked and there was his truck. After seeing that chains were
> $75 I just couldn't buy from him, but decided to see if he
> might have the rubber loop that I needed. To my great joy, he
> did. However, they were a bit larger than the one that broke. I
> decided to give it a try nonetheless, because time was passing
> and I had doubts about being able to make it back to the gas
> station, buy and install chains, and make it to Badger Pass in
> time to snowshoe far enough down the road to set up camp.

Are yours the "Z" type chains that require tighteners? I understand those are a lot easier to install.

You could carry extra chain tighteners. I've seen them sold at Wal-Mart, and here's an example. Most of the chains that come with tighteners have plastic clips that don't typically scratch wheels. You could also use bungee cords. I carried a few extra ones with plastic shelled/coated hooks. Three per wheel does the trick, although two may be enough to properly tighten the chains. I could only find 18" ones when 15" would have been ideal for my wheel size. If it's a bit too long you can tie a knot to shorten them.

http://www.tractiontirechains.com/store/template/product_detail.php?IID=223&NID=52&tiresize=&SID=809bd549c7097e394e92ee9a80670625



I do drive a Subaru and I've never been asked to produce my chains. I always carried chains when the conditions required me to do so.
avatar Re: A Very Pleasant Experience w/ Ranger & "Tire Chain Man"
March 14, 2009 04:54PM
Yes, those are the type; and they are a lot easier to put on. Now I know to carry extra rubber loops, bungee cords...or something.

avatar Re: A Very Pleasant Experience w/ Ranger & "Tire Chain Man"
March 14, 2009 05:37PM
i see that guy all the time (the chain guy)... nice to know there are people still in this world who are willing to help out once in a while and not expect any money in return.. my hat is off to him.
avatar Re: A Very Pleasant Experience w/ Ranger & "Tire Chain Man"
March 15, 2009 07:39AM
Oh - these are probably less likely to break, but they'll probably also scratch wheels. They're "spring tighteners" which have some sort of metal loop in the middle and spring hooks. You could probably find one with the correct number of hooks for your application.

http://www.cabelas.com/link-12/product/0006612520203a.shtml



avatar Re: A Very Pleasant Experience w/ Ranger & "Tire Chain Man"
March 15, 2009 05:25PM
Thanks, YPW. But I think I'll just carry extra rubber loops. Don't want to scratch the wheels.

avatar Re: A Very Pleasant Experience w/ Ranger & "Tire Chain Man"
March 15, 2009 05:32PM
IS the picture above with the rubber elastic "chain tighteners" an example of "cable chains"? I was strongly advised to carry those, as it was said that they were the easiest to install and adjust. I bought two pair about a week ago (4 X 4) but I have not really experimented with them (I have never yet been required to chain up with the rig that I use)(famous last words)

B
avatar Re: A Very Pleasant Experience w/ Ranger & "Tire Chain Man"
March 15, 2009 05:35PM
After seeing someone stuck with their tires spinning inside the cable chains I have decided to avoid those.

avatar Re: A Very Pleasant Experience w/ Ranger & "Tire Chain Man"
March 15, 2009 06:29PM
Traction devices are complicated and often vehicle specific. It is much easier to troubleshoot in your garage than at night on a snowy road. In the past, cables were supposed to rotate on the tire and tighteners were not recommended. However, I see that some now require tighteners.

Traditional tire chains are a different animal, bulkier and may not fit many vehicles (especially front wheel drive) that have limited clearance under the wheel wells, even if they technically "fit" the tires. These traction devices almost universally benefit from chain tighteners. Check your owners manual.

I have found that throwing a collection of zip ties (those plastic ties for electrical purposes) in the bag is often helpful to secure loose chain or cable ends. Also useful to have an old blanket to lie on, old gloves, and a big plastic bag to throw all the wet junk in after you take them off. In the "old days" we made chain tighteners out of old inner tubes.





The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.
-- Carl Sagan
avatar Re: A Very Pleasant Experience w/ Ranger & "Tire Chain Man"
March 15, 2009 06:44PM
Frank Furter wrote:

> Traction devices are complicated and often vehicle specific. It
> is much easier to troubleshoot in your garage than at night on
> a snowy road. In the past, cables were supposed to rotate on
> the tire and tighteners were not recommended. However, I see
> that some now require tighteners.

Some require tighteners because they have no other way to take up the slack. That also makes them easy - they don't have to be readjusted.

> Traditional tire chains are a different animal, bulkier and
> may not fit many vehicles (especially front wheel drive) that
> have limited clearance under the wheel wells, even if they
> technically "fit" the tires. These traction devices almost
> universally benefit from chain tighteners. Check your owners
> manual.

They call it "Type S clearance". There are actual thin chains that meet the requirements, but most traction devices these days use cables and rollers. I've seen Security Chain has some cables that use special corkscrew pieces instead of the more common crimped-on rollers.

Security Chain has a product that's supposed to be even tighter than the class S requirements. I thought of getting a set. Back in Feb 2007 I saw a 2WD truck where the owner was trying to install a set of the truck equivalent (Super Z8) at the south entrance. The only chains I currently have are Cobra brand ladder-type cables. I tried installing them in my garage and they were a royal pain and likely would come off. It probably would work better with bungees or tighteners.

http://www.scc-chain.com/Traction%20Pages/Trac_SZ6.html

> I have found that throwing a collection of zip ties (those
> plastic ties for electrical purposes) in the bag is often
> helpful to secure loose chain or cable ends. Also useful to
> have an old blanket to lie on, old gloves, and a big plastic
> bag to throw all the wet junk in after you take them off. In
> the "old days" we made chain tighteners out of old inner tubes.

$6 at Wal-Mart, although it may be hard to find this late in the season unless you're in Reno or some other place near lots of snow.

Tire cables aren't as strong as chains. In any case, the speed limit under chain conditions is 25 MPH, and all the warnings that come with traction aids say that 25 MPH shouldn't be exceeded. I thought that the three biggest causes of failure are driving too fast on them, using them for too long before replacement (they have a short life of a few hundred miles), and/or driving on them in dry pavement. I thought that once the conditions don't warrant them, they should be taken off to prevent damage to the chains and the car.

Re: A Very Pleasant Experience w/ Ranger & "Tire Chain Man"
March 15, 2009 09:34PM
Bee wrote:
> adjust. I bought two pair about a week ago (4 X 4) but I have
> not really experimented with them (I have never yet been
> required to chain up with the rig that I use)(famous last
> words)
>

There's nothing worse than learning to fit chains (or learning they don't fit) when you're kneeling in several inches of snow along the roadside while it's snowing hard and your hands are freezing. Put them on at home, tensioners and all, and if you haven't done it in a couple of years, do it again before you go where you might need them.

I use regular tire chains, not cables, and had put them on several times but not in a couple of years. Staying in the valley in Feb., I had put them on at the lodge for the snowy roads around the valley, and taken them off as the snow melted. Leaving the next day and heading toward Midpines, I got to where my front wheel drive was getting a bit worrisome, so pulled to the side, and was mighty glad I'd recently put them on, had the extra links wired back already, and knew it was all there...tighteners, hooks, and all. Had I had to "relearn" it might have been a miserable job, and there was no one around if I couldn't do it myself.

4WD with snow tires get through most of the time (R1-R2), but I know a couple of times this year when it was R3 and there were no exceptions enroute to the valley or Badger.

Something some may not know...if it's R-1 which means mud and snow tires or chains, your car's tires may qualify. Look for a "m+s" on the sidewall near the tire size, which means mud and snow. Tread needs to be 3/16" or more also.





Gary
Yosemite Photo Galleries: http://www.pbase.com/roberthouse/yo
avatar Re: A Very Pleasant Experience w/ Ranger & "Tire Chain Man"
March 15, 2009 09:56PM
Sierrafan wrote:

> 4WD with snow tires get through most of the time (R1-R2), but I
> know a couple of times this year when it was R3 and there were
> no exceptions enroute to the valley or Badger.

My understanding is that by the time R3 conditions are declared, Caltrans will typically completely close the road. Don't know how the NPS handles it. In any case there's the chance that conditions get so bad so fast that chains may be the only way to get going, especially if there's ice.

> Something some may not know...if it's R-1 which means mud and
> snow tires or chains, your car's tires may qualify. Look for a
> "m+s" on the sidewall near the tire size, which means mud and
> snow. Tread needs to be 3/16" or more also.

Caltrans specifically says 6/32" - i.e. the same. I've never seen anything more than a cursory glance at the left front tire from anyone - including Caltrans workers, CHP, or NPS rangers.

http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/roadinfo/ChainRequire.pdf
avatar Re: A Very Pleasant Experience w/ Ranger & "Tire Chain Man"
March 15, 2009 11:39PM
Sierrafan: but I know a couple of times this year when it was R3 and there were no exceptions enroute to the valley or Badger.

yes, I drove that road on the weekend of Feb 21-22 and there were times even with the 4x4 I thought I might be in over my head. I was gritting my teeth when i got to the checkpoint because I saw NPS turning folks around ahead of me. Looking back, i probably should have chained up, rather than thinking that NPS "let me off the hook". I guess that I should do some fitting up with the new chains, so that I dont have to stress out every time I drive to the mountains (which is about every other weekend).

B
avatar Re: A Very Pleasant Experience w/ Ranger & "Tire Chain Man"
March 16, 2009 07:47AM
Do studded snow tires substitute for chains in California?





The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.
-- Carl Sagan
avatar Re: A Very Pleasant Experience w/ Ranger & "Tire Chain Man"
March 16, 2009 10:36AM
Frank Furter wrote:

> Do studded snow tires substitute for chains in California?

Not really. However - they are legal anywhere in California during certain periods of the year.

Any "snow tire" (really just M+S) substitutes for chains in the following ways:

R1: any car with adequate M+S tires doesn't require traction control devices.
R2: any 4WD/AWD car with adequate M+S tires doesn't require traction control devices.
R3: any car must put on traction control devices.

BTW - studs don't particularly help with snow and may decrease traction slightly on dry pavement. They work great if there's ice. Chains also work great on ice.

Really though - I'm looking to get the diagonal style chains for my wife's car as well as mine. They're supposed to be easier to install compared to ladder chains. There seems to be two techiques with ladder chains. My instructions said to lay it over the top and fasten at the bottom, followed by driving it 20 feet and retightening. It's a pain to do that. I guess the traditional way was to lay them down, drive over them, and lay them over the top, then drive and retighten. Maybe add chain tighteners or bungee cords to help take up any slack.

The diagonal chains are supposed to be easy. Sweep under and clip at the bottom. Clip at the top - first in the back, then in the front. Use the tighteners and all slack should be gone with no other means of adjustment. Repeat on the other wheel and drive away. The diagonal shape is supposed to be better because there's almost always some of the chain/cable on the ground at all times, when the ladder chains only contact the ground at each segment.
avatar Re: A Very Pleasant Experience w/ Ranger & "Tire Chain Man"
March 16, 2009 09:30AM

At times snow tires/4wd is acceptable. When deemed necessary though, chains are also required.

Re: A Very Pleasant Experience w/ Ranger & "Tire Chain Man"
March 16, 2009 09:40AM
Hot Diggidy Dog,
The show answer is no but that doesn't mean you can't have them.
(studded tires do not subst for chains, you must always carry chains
regardless of tire / 4wd, etc.)
Here's a faq from CHiPs.
http://www.chp.ca.gov/html/answers.html

Ok, now I have to address the wilderness permit snippet:
"he said that I couldn't rightly be expected to have one since the permit office at the entrance station was closed"
What he probably should have said was "it's ok big boy, you can
go ahead and go in this time since it's winter and all and it's self
registration, I won't make you drive to the entrance and self-register.
The self-reg box is open 24 hrs a day but I will let it slide since
you could come back next weekend and your slip may still be in the box."
It's pretty straightforward, to camp overnight in the wilderness you need
a wilderness permit.
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