Chain Off – Chain On

Tractor Chain on Ground

We got a bit of snow last night accompanied by two power outages as Mother Nature cleared the dead wood from the forests. While plowing today all of a sudden Will came up to me urgently pointing at the tractor. From my vantage point I didn’t see anything wrong at first.

Then I peeked over the edge of the tractor and saw that the ice chain on his side had come almost completely off! Yikes!

I was in the road at that moment so I eased gently forward incase anyone came by and needed to pass. Will and I got all the clips and binders undone dropping the chain to the ground. I backed off of the pile of links and then Will hooked the chain to the bucket so I could pull it up our driveway to a safe place to put it back on.

The chains are very heavy so the easiest way to put them on is to spread them out like this on the ground and then back the naked wheel up over the chain until the tractor is parked in the middle. One then lifts the ends, only about a third of the weight at a time, up to the top of the tractor wheel and binds them back on. That last bit is a tad tricky. Easier with two people.

Chain Wear

While doing this we also repaired a link that had come off and I examined the wear on the chain. It is pretty dramatic. The thin links on the right used to be thicker than the dark links on the left. Soon they’ll break through. These studded ice chains are thirteen and a half years old. I figure I have another two years on these chains before I’ll start seeing lots of broken links. We’ve already replaced a few with binders.

We use the chains year round which is well worth the extra wear because the $800 chains protect the far more expensive rubber tires of the tractor from the sharp rocks on our land much like a bulldozer riding on its tread. With the chains we have great traction on ice, snow, gravel and stone. The chains are hard enough to leave marks in some stone. The only problem is in extremely cold weather ice becomes so hard that the studs won’t bite in – then I skate over the ice like a graceful elephant.

Outdoors: 30°F/20°F 8″ Snow
Tiny Cottage: 65°F/59°F

Daily Spark: Pigs flow like water.

About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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9 Responses to Chain Off – Chain On

  1. am in the pm says:

    Last paragraph midway ” We the chains on we ” ?

  2. Charles says:

    When I put on chains, I invariably seem to end up doing it alone.
    It would be nice to have a helping hand.
    I make it easier on myself by laying out the like you, but I roll the tractor just onto the end of the chains.
    Then a strap or even just a bale tie goes from one side of the chain, through the rim to the other side of the chain.
    Continue to drive the tractor onto the chain.
    The wheel lifts the chain up and over for me.
    Connect and tighten the chain as needed.
    Not No heavy lifting, but less anyway.
    If you are feeling particular fancy, do both sids at the same time.
    I’m not fancy.

    I have seen descriptions of jacking up the tractor to slide the chains underneath then lift them up and over.
    All that labor with a perfectly good tractor sitting right there.

    • Good solution. The one time I did it alone I again put the tractor in the middle and then ran a rope up over the top of the tire and used that as a pulley to draw the ends up to the top and hold them tight while I reaffixed the binders.

      One of the things I love about tractors is when I need to jack one up it simply reaches down to the ground and does a pushup lifting it’s own wheels off the ground for me. In the front the bucket loader or fork is the tool for that and in the back it’s the backhoe or backhoe stabilizer legs. There have been times I wished our vans had backhoes and bucket loaders on them for this sort of auto-jacking…

      For those who do not know, Charles is my farming brother down near White River Junction where he and his wife raise goats and very delicious turkey. We just had one of their turkeys for Thanksgiving. I here rumor that they have a few still available so if you’re interested in getting a locally raise Turkey let me know and I’ll put you in contact with Charles.

      • petra says:

        I imagin that having a bucket loader could be vary handy for parking a big van in the city while making deliveries as you could just move the other cars around but they might nit appreciate it!!!!!

  3. Sal says:

    I do almost exactly the same procedure as Charles- I work alone and when a chain comes off it’s going back on with my labor only. There’s no way I can lift the 600LB chains up on to the back ag tires by myself- I let the tractor do the work with a helper strap.

  4. Nance says:

    I have never put chains on a car tire but I heard my dad tell many a time how he did. He was born 1914, came of age during the 1930s. Survived The Great Depression. Lived and farmed in Iowa’s rural countryside. There were no gravel roads and not many pavements, then. He drove mud roads, with, and many times without chains.

  5. Farmerbob1 says:

    Why not just get a long piece of rope and tie it to one end of the chains, then stretch it out inline with the chains. Drive the tractor back over the rope, then wrap the tire with the lightweight rope, tucking the end of the rope under the tire to hold it in place. That will allow you to just back up over the chain, and the rope will do all of the lifting for you. After the chain is in place, snake the rope out from between the chain and tire, drive the tractor forward a few more feet, and then finish removing the rope from under the tire.

    Straps might work better, if the tread on the tire isn’t sufficient to guide the rope.

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