December 11th, 2007


In which Ben learns why tire chains are inexpensive.

It's snowed about 8" in the last two days here, and there may be more on the way. I was tired of driving 3 mph, and still sliding around like moose on rollerskates. So I bought some cable chains. In retrospect, I should have taken that money and paid someone to smack me in the face. That would have been less painful.

The installation page makes this look easy, but don't believe it for a fucking second - I've had quicker and easier dentist visits.

There's two major problems with chains. The first major problem is that if it's snowy enough that you need chains, the ground is NOT going to be nice and clear like it is in the pictures. What's going to happen in real life is that it's going to be 20 degrees out, and you're going to be ankle-deep in slush, scraping your bare hands around inside the icy wheel-well of a car. Wrapping chains around your tires, particularly doing so on a typical passenger car that has about 2" of clearance between the tire and wheel-well... there's no other word for it, it just plain sucks. I can't even imagine trying to do this in a blizzard or other real emergency.

The second problem is with these particular cable-chains that I got. It's the way that they secure the two loose lengths of cable at the ends. They have this plastic S-clip that is so tight it requires a pair of pliers just to get the loose cable strand halfway into it. And have you ever tried using a pair of pliers while your hands are out of sight behind a car tire, inside the slushy wheel-well of a car, while you're ankle-deep in snow, and it's 20 degrees out? Did I mention it's also dark as night, because the sun sets at 4:30pm in winter?

I swear to god, if I had been born an indian, my name would have been "Many Lulz".

To the problem of chains being a bitch to wrap around the tire, I don't have a solution. Maybe I can figure out some kind of thing like insta-chains, except without the expensive air cylinders. Something that will bolt up to the bottom of the car, and you can swing the arm back and forth manually with a stick or something.

But for the problem of those damn plastic S clips (they could have at least used METAL s-clips, the cheap bastards), I have a very good solution. One so good and so obvious, in fact, that I'm sure it's been thought of many times before. The reason it's not being used? Although this design can be punched out of sheet metal, it's probably still a few tenths of a cent more expensive than those @#$% plastic pieces of crap.

MSPaint mechanical drawings FTL!

(You could also do a typical u-bolt cable clamp, but you have to be careful about anything on the outside of a car that has threads - they get clogged with dirt real fast.)

My point is, I'm some dumb jackass kid from Colorado, who just put chains on his car for the first time in his life twenty minutes ago, and even I can figure out a better way to do this! You think if I email them the above mechanical design, they'll give me my $35 for the chains back? Yeah, me neither...

Chains suck ass. I can't believe it's taken me 32 years to learn this.