HOMEMADE SUPER STUDDED TIRES
Paul Dudley #42 5/17/14
I use all GRADE 8 hardware:
- 1” long ¼”x20 bolts (you may need to vary your length by how deep the tire tread is)
- 1/4”x20 nylock nuts
- 1” diameter ¼” fender washers.
-Amerseal tire sealant, get a gallon at NAPA. Part # 765-2696 (may be called LiquiTube).
- Secret ingredient: LOVE
Choosing your tires:
No matter what, if you race on the ice you will also be racing on snow. Advantage: snow tire. When you hit snowy patches and your super studs no longer provide grip, deeper tread lugs will help dig down to the hard ice faster. I believe the best tire to use will be a generic snow tire with big lugs to support your super studs and evacuate more snow. Style points for run-flats!
Choosing your bolt pattern:
Make some kind of a stand for your tire. I like to stand mine up in another tire. Start by laying out your pattern with thumbtacks in the tread blocks. I’ve used between 50 and 165 bolts and they both work. Less bolts takes less time, costs less to produce, are easier to mount, less to go wrong, are more sideways on the ice, and more predictable when you hit a snowy patch…more is faster. I recommend having a rough number in your head of how many bolts you want to use, then build a pattern in your tread blocks that fits that number. Don’t worry about having exactly the right number of bolts; just follow your pattern. I believe a goal for your pattern should be to cover as many different slip angles as you can. To do this, imagine the contact patch hitting the ice from all different steering angles. Do you see any angles where the tire will just have a few straight lines of bolts instead of an irregular group of claws? If so, consider modifying things to cover that slip angle. (Does this really matter? I don’t know.) Make sure your bolts are not so close that your washers will overlap.
Drilling your holes & installing your bolts:
Remove your tacks and mark each tread block to be bolted; I like whiteout for this. Next drill your holes in the marked tread blocks (from the outside-in). I use a ¼” wood bit.
Okay, now you have a bunch of holes in your tire. From the inside-out, thread your bolts through the holes with a fender washer on the inside against the tire carcass. I use a cordless drill for this, but anything will work. Then stick a fender washer on the protruding bolt thread on the outside and loosely thread on a locknut. I usually do about 15 at a time so to stay in the same part of the tire. Snug down your bolts (knowing that you will do final torque by hand later); I use an air ratchet for this. Repeat on all your bolts. Final torque is a feeling to me, but it’s probably 30-40 lb/ft.
Preparing to mount your new super-studded tires:
It’s time to apply the tire sealant. Pour a puddle of it inside the tire and smear it around with a paintbrush. Be generous and make sure your cover every edge of every washer. I think I use around ½ gallon on a set of four tires.
Mounting your new super-studded tires:
The more bolts you put in your tires, the harder they will be to mount. Also, the closer you put your bolts to the edge of the tire, the more the side wall & bead will be sucked in & deformed, making it difficult to mount. Once you have inflated your tires on the bead, let all the air out and put a few more squirts of tire sealant in through the valve stem (the sealant comes with a pump and nozzle to facilitate this).
Balancing your super-studded tires:
You don’t have to do this. I don’t, but it’s not a bad idea. I usually just jack the car’s drive wheels up and mount the super-studded tires. Fire up the car, put it in third gear, and go have a sandwich. The tire sealant will do some balancing of its own.
Sharpening your super-studs:
You don’t need to sharpen your studs; they will work fine as is. They will feel crisper if sharpened and have slightly more overall grip. Bolt cutters will work, but it takes a lot of effort and does not work as well as a stud-sharpener. A stud-sharpener is a drill attachment that goes over the end of each bolt and sharpens it down to a pencil point in a matter of seconds with little more effort than you leaning on it. They can be had in all different angles; I got a 45 degree unit and am happy with it. Pick one up at a snowmobile retailer. This step should wait until the tires are mounted on their wheels. Once they are sharpened, THEY ARE DANGEROUS!!!
Odds and ends:
Consider upgrading to a valve stem with a steel sleeve instead of the all-rubber variety. Ice, snow, and big steering angles can cut a valve stem in a hurry. If your wheel is a generic steel wheel, you could even weld on a sleeve around the valve stem to protect it like the demolition derby drivers do.
After lots of hard use, heavier cars can break Grade 5 bolts or deform interior washers bad enough to cause a slow leak, so make sure to use quality components.
Consider making a spare tire.
Add “tire plugs” to your bring-list.
Always keep an eye on your tire pressures. You are racing on a tire with 100 holes in it!
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