Snow Chains for an Emergency





Introduction: Snow Chains for an Emergency

About: I miss the days when magazines like Popular Mechanics had all sorts of DIY projects for making and repairing just about everything. I am enjoying posting things I have learned and done since I got my first ...

Sometimes you need just a little more traction to get out of a problem on snow or ice without really needing a full set of tire chains. Some years ago we lived where we had more snow than we do in our present locale. I saw emergency snow chains in stores, but they were often flimsy and not satisfactory. I made my own for a very reasonable cost.

I apologize that I do not have photos. This system will not work on my current automobile because of too little clearance between the wheel rim and the disc brake caliper, and I no longer have the chain assemblies I made up when I made use of these.

For each of two wheels you will need--

One foot of chain--3/16 #30 is about the right size.

Two feet of 3/16 inch wire rope.

A 3/16 inch clamp for wire rope (It is disproportionately large in the graphic.)

You will also need a wrench for the clamp.

Step 1: Keep the Wire Rope From Fraying

Wire rope tends to fray, especially when it is handled as you will need to do for installing emergency chains on your drive wheels.

Braze the ends of the wire rope. The yellow represents braze material on the end of a piece of wire rope. It is not required, but you may want to make the ends of the wire rope a little pointed after you have finished brazing them. A little gentle grinding on an abrasive wheel will do the trick.

You can try using electrical tape instead of brazing, but it will not hold up well for long. Still, it could be a substitute for brazing. This would be helpful to those who do not have access to a torch suitable for brazing the wire rope.

Step 2: Insert the Wire Rope in the Chain

Bend the wire rope at its middle and slip one end through the end link in the chain.

Step 3: Push the Ends of the Wire Rope Through the Wheel Slot

The graphic is a cutaway view of your wheel and tire.

Place a piece of cardboard on the snowy ground. Reach around to the inside of your drive wheels. You may have to remove any full wheel cover hubcaps on your drive wheels. Stick the two ends of the wire rope through one of the slots in your wheel. Pull the free end of the chain around the circumference of the tire. Place the two ends of the wire rope through the end link in the chain. Put the two ends of the wire rope through the clamp. Snug it up. Tighten the clamp with your wrench. Double check to make certain these emergency chains will not interfere with your disc brake calipers, if you car has disc brakes on its drive wheels. Do not use these chains if they do not clear your disc brake calipers.

Get into your car and start your engine. Apply a little pressure on your car's accelerator, but do not spin the wheels. The emergency chain will grab once on each rotation of the wheel, but that is enough to get you out of some otherwise difficult situations.

Remove the chains from the wheels as soon as practical. They will wear a great deal if you drive with them on "dry" pavement, that is, pavement with no snow cover. But, you can replace any one part of these emergency chains without replacing the whole chain assembly.



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    20 Discussions

    Here in Brazil we know of a quite similar emergency tool , but it's only used in mud. It's called a "cabrita" (=goat kid), because you make something similar to your chain kit, but using a piece of wood attached to the tyre with rope etc., so when you drive the car, the wheels "jump like a goat", thus pulling the vehicle out of the mud pit. Doesn't work well all the time. I liked yours... Will try in mud ASAP... :-)

    4 replies

    I did about the same. There were three of Us were a long distance into the mountains in S/W Montana hunting. I had My younger brother open a gate and turned a little to the right to get on the road, and on a downslope with about a foot of snow. No chains and every time I would try gently to get on the road the further sideways I would slide down the hill side. We used Mechanics wire and the branches and a shovel. By going easy in 4 wheel drive We had gained back all but about 8 foot of mountainside. With only a bit of the roll of wire and a longer hike for branch sections. The sun was setting and it was getting colder. Luck of the Irish isn't all bad, another 4/4 came thru the gate to go back down the mountains and let hook up a log chain, and pulled Us onto the road. We were sideways trying to get last last 75 feet or so but made it dam sure wouldn't have without Their help. I think if I used "And no doubt will" this system I'll put the clamp facing out. I'm going to buy enough wire rope and clamps to do that. Yup. ~(:-})

    These chains would probably help. I remember my father putting very big tire chains on the drive wheels of our farm tractor one spring when the roads were very muddy. They helped, but the mud still made going anywhere very difficult. You might need more than one chain per wheel.

    Yeah, I may be wrong, I guessed it would take 3 chains in a triangular shape (=e.g. /\ ) would do the job...

    If you like these emergency chains now, wait until you use them to get out or stay out of a situation where you would otherwise be stuck and waiting for a tow.

    We are getting our first serious snow tonight and tomorrow here in southwest Idaho. I made and used these emergency chains 30 years ago and had almost forgotten them entirely. The coming storm brought them to mind while looking at the Instructables web page. I hope you can use them. They worked well for me a couple of times when I really needed them.

    Well, I have an AWD Honda pilot, with snow tires and an anti-skid system, so I'm good, but it would make a great gift!

    trust me never rely on your car to much in any bad weather condition thats how people die sure those things help but there not perfect and can fail or be in adaquite for a ive situation

    Dear Jug, If you read the first lines of my Instructable, you noted that I said these emergency chains are not for plodding through heavy snows when sensible people would stay home, but for a situation where you need just a bit more traction to make the difference between stuck and not stuck. Shortly after I made a set of these, I parked in the downtown area of the small town where we lived. It was an angle parking space and it sloped downward toward the curb. We had about four inches of new snow on the ground. My wheels slipped and spun when I tried to back out of the space. I took five minutes per wheel and put these chains on. The car walked right out of that parking space and I was on my way.

    Thanks, where I live there is no chance of heavy snow, the most we ever get is about 2 feet.

    Places that get a lot of snow do a good job of keeping the roads open. I lived in Milwaukee, Wisconsin for a year and never needed snow tires because even the city busses had hitches for a plow blade. I spent a dozen years in Chattanooga where a couple of flakes could shut the place down for more than a day. Chattanooga is also hilly and snow turns to slush on the relatively warm ground, and then freezes overnight for a base of ice.

    We only have one snow plow in the village. We live on an Island, so were screwed.

    Several times I went looking on the Internet for a solution to a problem I had. There were none. I had to solve the problem myself and then I developed an Instructable on it. Have a Merry Christmas despite being screwed or scrooged.

    Given to the right person, they would be much appreciated. My wife, for example, would not be a good candidate to receive these as a gift.