What’s In A Word

Sometimes we cling to words like a drowning man to a straw…  Some people find comfort in their familiarity, some use them to comfort others and help.  However, some use words to feel superior while others wield words like a knife to cut down anything different.

This point was driven home to me the other day… just a bunch of simple comments posted on the forums.  Comments mocking the website’s use of the term “beadlocker” rather than beadlock wheel and implying the whole “How To Mount Tires on Beadlocker Wheels” story was of no value since the author was not versed in the vernacular they use.

These beadlocker comments are of course nothing and not the point… But it highlights the fact that some people are assaulted by words for being seen as different.  Some people constantly take an onslaught of slanders so others can feel good about themselves at the expense of others.

This post will not change anyone’s life but hopefully it will encourage readers to at least think about standing up for another who is under a verbal assault.  And I mean a real assault with verbal daggers about race, religion, age, gender or sexual preference.

To fully understand the affects of words and how to stand up for others, read one of the best perspectives on the subject, “Speak UP!” put out by Teaching Tolerance.

By the way:  google beadlockers we’re not along…

The Wheels On The Rig Go Round And Round

Yup, I’m talking beadlock wheels.  IHRA Pro Stock cars, CORR trophy trucks and vertical wall scaling rock crawlers all use them.  But how exactly do they work and what does it take to install them.

When an IHRA Pro Stock car travels down the quarter-mile in under eight seconds or an off-road truck airs down real low certain physics take over causing a tire to loose its grip on the wheel often resulting in the tire falling right off the rim.  Beadlocks over come this physics problem with a separate ring bolted to the wheel, holding the tire tightly in place.  Air pressure is replaced by bolt torque to hold the wheel on tight… in less than ideal conditions.

When it comes to beadlock wheels you’ll need to choose a manufactured wheel or cut up a steel wheel and build your own.  For our rig we decided to go with Walker Evens 17″ beadlock wheels.  Born out of desert racing, with 30 years of off-road racing experience, and more than 140 off-road racing victories we figured Walker Evens knows a thing or two about wheels.  The Walker Evens beadlocks are cut from cast aluminum rated at 3,800 lbs with grade 8 bolts and holes for valve stems that have been set back out of harms way.  Walker Evens beadlock wheels are cut to order and available with custom back spacing.  We opted for a 3.75″ back spacing.

The items required to mount the tires onto our beadlocks and balance them isn’t a long list but requires a couple of inexpensive specialized tool:

  • Valve stem tool
  • Valve core tool
  • Torque wrench
  • 1/2” Socket
  • 19mm and 21mm Socket (lugs)
  • Ratchet strap
  • Air source
  • Rubber mallet
  • Valve Stems (.453 rim hole, 1 ¼” long)
  • 8 ounces  per tire of Dyna Beads in easy open bag (how to balance off-road tires with Dyna Beads)
  • Valve core w/ filter (keeps Dyna Beads out of the valve stem)
  • New lug nuts

This mod is about as hard as changing a tire on the difficult scale but it is time consuming.  Plan for about one hour per tire, bring a stool.

  1. In our case step one… get the tires off the old stock rims.  You pull the valve stem core to empty the tire and use a hi-lift to push the tire off the wheel.  We punked out and took them down to Les Schwab, paid the $4 per tire and called it good.  After all this is how to mount tires on beadlocks, not how to take tires off a stock rim.
  2. Grab one of the new valve stems and using the valve core tool, remove the core than insert the new core fitted with the filter.  This step ensures the beads we will use to balance the tire don’t clump up in the valve stem. The core simply screws in and out.
  3. Insert the valve stem through the wheel and using the valve stem tool, pull the valve stem through until it seats in the wheel.
  4. Place your wheel flat on the ground and work the tire’s inner bead over the wheel.  Sounds simple enough doesn’t it.  This involves setting one side of the tire’s bead over the lip and than hurling yourself through the air and landing on the tire forcing the remainder of the tire over the wheel’s lip…  This may take a couple of times… and it isn’t pretty.
  5. Now that tire is on the wheel, open the bag of Dyna Beads and place the beads, bag and all, inside the tire…  that is all there is too it.
  6. Stop!  Are you sure the valve stem is inserted? Are the Dyna Beads in side? You really don’t want to find you forgot to insert them after you’ve bolted up the ring…  It could happen.
  7. Take your rubber mallet and knock the outer tire bead onto the lip the wheel so it sits on the wheel snugly and the locker ring will fit on top.
  8. Place the locker ring on the wheel and hand tighten all 24 the bolts. Use a crisscross pattern and ensure you don’t cross thread any of the bolts.
  9. Grab your torque wrench and start tightening the bolts in a circular pattern.  Walker Evens recommends first torquing the bolts to 10 ft/lbs than 15 ft/lbs and finally 18-20 ft/lbs.  Get comfortable this is going to take awhile.  My advice here is to really chase the bolts around at the 10 ft/lbs setting until they all are torqued…  It will take going round and round and round… and around but the work here pays off on the next two setting which will torque up much more quickly.  No matter how you do this, it is going to take time…  I’ve had dates that took less time than it took to get all 24 bolts torqued up correctly.
  10. Ever wonder how to re-inflate a tire if you roll a bead on the trail? Well here is your chance to practice. Take a ratchet strap, wrap it around the tire and tighten it down.  You will have a large gap between the back of the wheel and the tire bead but the tire should be pressing down against the wheel. Using your air source begin to air up the tire normally.  Caution! Unless you have a crush on a doctor or nurse at the emergency room and want a reason to visit them, keep your fingers out of that gap between the tire and wheel. As you inflate the tire, it will slide out closing the gap between the wheel and tire.  You will get a loud pop when the tire bead finally seats itself on the wheel.  When tire does seat itself, stop inflating, remove the ratchet strap and finish airing up to the tire manufactures recommended setting.
  11. Rinse and repeat for the rest of the wheels.

When you select your wheels, check which type of lug nut is required.  Our stock FJC wheels used a flat mag style lug nut and bushing.  The Walker Evens require a cone style lug nut…  of course.  We opted for the titanium colored aluminum racing lug nuts from Gorilla Automotive.  They are strong, super light and high on cool factor.

With the tires mounted and balances, it was simply a matter getting them onto the rig.  Since you have the torque wrench out be sure to use it…  According to the Toyota manual, lug nut should be torqued to 85 ft/lbs.

After care:

  • After 25 miles, re-torque all your lug nuts
  • Walker Evens says to re-torque the beadlock ring bolts every other week for the next six months.  No one said cool was maintenance free.

With the extra back spacing and our 2″ long travel kit our rig’s front stance is now 82″ wide…  great for stable speed, bomb down desert roads and play in the off camber stuff…  not so much for squeezing through gate keeps.  Every thing is a trade off…

Get The Lead Out (it is all about balance)

No more shakes and shimmies, better gas mileage and longer tire life what’s not to like…

Spinning tires wobble if they’re not perfectly balanced.  To avoid having your off-road truck shimmy and shake while bombing down the back roads, usually means taping lead weights on the sides of the wheel until a bubble level reads top dead center.  The trouble with lead weights is that they are difficult to  place exactly right, they can fall off on an off-road adventure when wheels and rocks meet.  Additionally as the tire wears the weights are no longer in the right spot. Heavy mud terrain tires require a lot of weight in order to achieve balance.

We recently installed our Toyo Open Country M/T on new beadlock wheels and instead of the usual lead weights we decided on tiny high-density ceramic Dyna Beads from Innovative Balancing…  So how can a few ounces of tiny ceramic beads balance a 75 lbs tire?  Well for those of you who where eating pizza in Mr. Hand’s physics class when he covered centrifugal force, here is how the tiny beads dynamically balance a spinning tire:

  1. beads are placed inside the tire (big space filled with air…  not inside the rubber…  just want to be clear) and sit at the bottom tire when the rig is at rest
  2. as the rig begins to move the wheel starts to roll and centrifugal force distributes the beads all around
  3. every time a heavy spot on the tire goes up on the rotation it pushes the beads down and away from the heavy portion of the tire
  4. quickly the oscillation frequency reduces and the beads move less and less
  5. when the wheel achieves perfect balance centrifugal force holds all the beads in place

These little beads will work on 18 wheelers, RVs, trucks, cars, motorcycles.  If it has wheels, the laws of physics hold true… Ok that’s enough but this will be on the test.

Checking the charts, our 295/70R17 E rated tires required between 6 and 8 ounces of Dyna Beads for each tire. Innovative Balancing sells pre measured bags so we order up a bunch of 8 ounce bags.  The beads themselves come in two sizes, standard and bigger…  we went with the standard size since they offer a couple of installation options but you do need to install their filtered valve stem core.

Since we were mount tires onto new wheels, once the tire was on the wheel we place one 8 ounce EZ Open bag of beads inside the tire cavity and than set the tire and aired up…  yeah that is it.  The EZ Open Bag is designed to open and release the beads the first time the wheel starts to spin.  Your other option is to remove the valve stem core and pore the beads in.  A clear plastic break-bleed hose works well  to guide the beads into the valve stem or you can buy Innovative Balance’s applicator (little bottle w/ clear plastic hose).  Just keep tapping the hose and valve stem  (or tape a pocket rocket to the valve stem) to keep the beads flowing.

Regardless of how the beads get in, you will want to install a new filtered valve stem core, unless you have a tire pressure monitoring system(TPMS), to keep the beads from clumping in the valve stem.  If you do have a TPMS, Innovative Balance said the TPMS will block out the beads without a filtered valve stem core…  but it also means you wont be poring the beads down the core…  You win some you loose some.

One safety tip from the Dyna Bead guys…  if you use tire bead soap avoid getting any inside the tire or on the Dyna Beads.  We did not use any tire soap so no worries.

So the million dollar question is…  do they work?  We took the rig out on the highway to see if there was any wobble.  We did not notice any wobble or shaking as we drove the back roads tooling along at 35 mph, starting out or stopping.  And at 70 mph the ride was smooth as a Ken Doll.  Not a jitter or shimmy from the steering wheel as we sailed down I5.  Big heavy tires are notoriously difficult to keep in balance sending them into a death spiral – Tire out of balance leads to uneven wear which leads to the tire becoming more out of balance, leading to more wear…  These beads dynamically balance the tire each and every time reducing wear, increasing mileage and ensuring a smooth ride.

So the next time Boy ask “when am I ever going to use physics in the real world”…  I have the answer and a smooth ride.

Update: after tens of thousands of miles and a second set of tires using the Dyna Beads we can tell you that we are very pleased with performance and will continue to use them to balance tires for our off-road adventure truck.

Off-Road Trail Bonus

Remember the Lady’s Off-Road Adventure?  I know you do… it was the previous post… While the women grabbed the spotlight, one of the moms got a surprise when she looked back and it was her son in the drivers seat of another 4WD rig coming up the trail.  And Mother like son, he did a great job…  but probably aged a little when the FJ Cruiser looked more like the space shuttle pointed to the moon than a truck driving on a off-road adventure.

And you can see how a good trail boss can walk you out of anything…  Nice job Jacob sticking with it and working through a though off-road obstacle.

Silly Boys Off-Road Adventures Are For Girls

Who ever said off-road adventures were for guys never met the women of the Northwest…

If you hang out on any one of a dozen FJC forums you probably ran across MrsCheweys post that started the whole thing :

Hey, are there any of you who love to ride in the rig while the boys drive off-road, but always wanted to kick them out and take the wheel?? I know I have (every time I get in the car with Chewey). So here is our chance, Wayne has agreed to lead a fun run in Tahuya for the ladies. Now boys, I know many of you would rather get a door ding then let your rig go on a run without you, so your are welcome to come along and ride in the passenger seat, THE LADIES GET TO DRIVE ON THIS RUN!!!!

The idea was simple enough, the women who normally occupied the co-pilots seat with their significant other would trade places and take the FJ reins for their own off-road adventure.  The guys would be supportive and ride along.  The women definitely lived up to their end of the deal…

Wayne was set as the trail boss for this run. An experienced leader as well as search and rescue training, Wayne performed his roll on the trail with all the patients of a Buddhist monk in the attainment of Zen.  At the trail head, the guys got the rigs ready, airing down and a few last minute checks, while Wayne held a drivers meeting explaining to all the women some of the basic functions of their rig, describing the trails we’d be running and covering how he would spot them through obstetrical.  Heading into the forest, with Wayne in front, Hula Betty and I next on camera duty and Cassidy as tail gunner, the ladies pulled in line as we hit the trail.

The off-road trails at Tahuya are perfect for learning,  lots of stuff to learn on.  The hills, ruts, bumps and tight squeezes are perfect for getting the feel of the rig, its capabilities and finding where the rig’s corners are.    At each obstacle, Wayne would drive through, run back to explain the line and than spot each driver through. And as expected within no time the rookie drivers  got the hang of it.

The real growth can from the passenger seat… at the first break there were a lot of comments like

  • “I had my hands over my eyes most of the time”
  • “Can someone let my husband ride with them, he just won’t shut up”
  • “How did I agree to this”
  • “Someone needs a hug”

But by the time lunch was over the guys were cheering as they watched their significant other take their FJC’s through snakey off camber turns or pick their own lines up the steep rutted hills.  But don’t think it was all that boring for the guys…  One high-center episode in the water allowed the guys to get out the rubber boots and winch in order to unwedge the rig and get it back on track.

Although Hula Betty never took the wheel, after all she is stuck to the dash, this was by far one of the best runs in a long time. Getting an opportunity to help others learn to enjoy wheeling and meet new friends, put a little more spring in Hula Betty’s wiggle as we cruised through the trails of Tahuya Forest.

The really great thing about this run, was watching as these women helped breakdown the stereotype that off-road adventure driving is a guy thing.  Hopefully before long, a posting for a “Lady’s Run” wont be necessary and guys will be asking if my daughter will let them drive her rig for a change.

Bonus pics on Flickr off-road adventure… just because.