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Making snow chains size 10.5

It's nearly two years since snow chains entered my life, in January 2010. The size 10s I had bought for the Jaguar X-type were hard to fit first time around, which I put down to my inexperience. But second time around they were nearly impossible, so by November 2010 I had decided they were one size too small. Since they were by this time firmly and usefully in place, nothing happened until January when the 35-minute struggle to remove them at 4.30 am in heavy snow en route for the airport (admittedly after they had been frozen/rusted in place for two months) very nearly cost us our plane to Bangkok. We made the airport only after the flight had started to board, and our heart rates didn't return to normal until half an hour after take-off.

I was determined to avoid a repeat performance this winter. My supplier Snowchains Europroducts' offers a part-exchange scheme so I bought a pair of size 11s. It was deeply disappointing to find they were too loose, and the offchance of a chain flying off the wheel spells damage or even danger. After many phone calls and emailed photographs, they suggested the solution could be to shorten the perimeter chain to achieve what I now think of as size 10.5. Andrew of Snowchains made it sound easy: you open up a link, move the chain along, refit the chain and if it's a good fit simply close the link, cut off the surplus and the job is done. Here is the test fit, which had to be done on carpet so I could still return the chains if this all failed:

ChainsWide.jpg

and here's a close up showing the dangling blue links:

ChainsClose.jpg

This was great progress: the chains were now a doddle to fit and remove, and my friend Andrew at Snowchains was enthusiastic about my photos. He said they showed as good a fit as they achieve at their centre in Kent and almost made me feel I could apply for a job! However, I felt that our front tyres could do with an upgrade, and fearing that the new tyres might be slightly different in size from the worn ones that they would replace, I thought I should retest the chains before cutting any links. So this morning I took my carpet, chains and tools to J K Tyres of Springkerse so as to refit the chains after the new tyres were in place. On the driveway outside, the task was slightly harder than before, but only very slightly and not remotely like the nightmare of the size 10s. Each chain was on and off inside three minutes. They kindly helped by cutting through the spare links for me: this was hard enough to break one pair of their snips and took a lot of hammering and manual strength using a second, stronger pair. I was suitably grateful.

So now I have all-season Klebers on the front axle and, after only 22 months, size 10.5 chains that I can both fit and remove. Conclusions? Probably it won't snow at all this winter. Will I care? No: I shall take great delight in having spared everybody a snowy winter by finally having solved my chains problem. And, as with assembling flatpack furniture, I feel I have acquired some hard-won knowledge which may never, ever be useful to me again. It includes the unwelcome discovery that 225x45x17 may sound like a precise tyre measurement, but tyre sizes vary more than chains manufacturers realise!

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on November 8, 2011 8:41 PM.

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