mountain driving

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I just got a job working at a ski area this winter and need advice with a few things. The road to work is a 15 mile long highway with little opportunity to stop when traffic is behind you. First, I just did a SM420 conversion and have not had a chance to make a shifter. I actually forgot if I have to stop to go in and out of 4wd on my J30 transfer case. It makes a difference because if I have to stop then I might as well get out and just shift by hand or just lock/ unlock the hubs. I don't have much time to fabricate a bracket to attach the old (floor, oem shifter). What kind of chains do people recommend? How do you drive with them and how do you install them? Do I need them on 4 tires or not? I don't have locker or limited slip, nor do I want one now. I have 33x12.5 bfg mud tires on 15x8 rims. Should I just air down instead and how low (psi) for 40 mph max driving? Any tips on other systems that might fail at single digit temperatures?

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Pablo
 
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Never driven with chains but from what I've heard, if you're trying to claw your way up the mountain w/ only the rear wheels spinning, you should have the chains there.

Also, I'd suggest getting your tires siped. Got my muds siped for last winter and they worked great in the snow (though I was using 4wd)
 
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Don't really know the exact details for the SM420, but it sounds like it won't matter too much. Truthfully, 4wd doesn't help handling too awful much in slippery conditions at highway, or even at 25mphif its icy. It sounds like you are probably running a road that normally has a high (>35) speed limit. Cruisers are just so heavy anyway, stopping is really the most difficult challenge, not so much the handling at these speeds. Anyway, 4WD: it is as good for getting you into the ditch as it is for getting out if you just aren't careful. That being the case, if you really need to switch to 4, you are probably going to already be going so slow that you can justify stopping in the road to do it. It's your life on the line at that point, so if people behind you have a problem... :flipoff2:.

With chains, I'd go all four. When you put your chains on, switch to 4wd at that time. Chains should allow the front tires to really aid the handling in conditions that merit chains. This is probably the only exception to the into/outof ditch theory.

Anyway, that's my 2.

Cheers
Dale
 
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Well, assuming you have some way to shift the transfer case from inside the cab, it's easy to figure out if you have to stop to shift into 4hi. Make sure your hubs are IN then try shifting into 4hi going real slow, say 5 mph. If it grinds you have to stop. If it goes in you should be fine. Shift it while on a straightaway so the front wheels are both rotating at the same speed. Should be able to shift at most any speed.

I've always put the chains on the front tires of a 4WD vehicle. Less tendancy to push the rear end around.

I don't like cable chains. They give less traction and they tend to slip around on the tire. But tire manufacturers recommend them for steel belted radials to keep from damaging the belts. And they're much quieter at speed. I don't worry about it because I slow down with chains on. So I use heavy duty link chains on whatever tire I'm running.

Cables would work well for you driving up the mountain and back. Links are more knarly and will get you further off road in mud and gumbo and such. No chains will get you back onto the road if you drive off a cliff. :D
 
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I drive on snow floor most of the winter, here, starting the last two weeks. I would have to say the best place you could put your money is into good, narrow true snow tires. They will beat out your "mud and snow" tires significantly. They will stick to the ice/snow better, and narrower tires dig into the snow better than wide tires that float. I disagree completely about 4 wheel drive not helping you on slick roads. I have been playing with it lately (I have vacuum shift, so I can shift "on the fly"). Going up a relatively steep road on ice, on my mud and snows before changed them out, I was in 2wd. I tried it both pulling my trailer and without. Two times I started to skid out and flipped it into 4wd. Skid stopped immediately. Front wheel drive can pull you out of a skid that rear wheel drive pushes you into. I leave my front hubs locked anytime I am on or on and off snow floor. Chains will be RAREly necessary if you have good snow tires.

GL!
8)
 

60wag

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I've always thought 4wd (part time - no center diff) used on icy highways was a mistake. To pull out of a snow filled hole, great, lock it up and go but if you're already moving and you gas it hard enough to loose traction, you lose traction on all 4 tires which makes steering impossible. With the front drive off, all the power goes to the rear which makes it even easier to break traction - which forces you to go easy on the gas and not downshift too hard. It also keeps the front wheels turning at the right speed even if the rears are going 2000rpm. I'd make getting the tcase shifter functional a top priority. That way you can keep it in 2wd when it should be, and 4wd for pulling the Corolla full of ladies out of the ditch.
 
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Well, I'll bet there are situations where rear 2wd IS better than 4wd on snow or ice, but I know I have pulled out of a skid, or not skidded under conditions where I was skidding with 2wd (black ice). I just know because I drive these conditions every day, and I do real life experiments. Remember, in a '40, you have more weight over the front wheels, so they naturally have better traction. The situation is even more exaggerated in an empty pickup, which I also have a lot of experience with.

I also agree that laying off the gas is critical to avoid skidding. And I really like being able to shift on-the-fly for changing conditions.
 
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I live in the Utah mountains and frequent the ski resorts and snowmobile areas regularly. I lived at a ski resort for years and have done more than my share of snow driving. That being said, here is my experience.
If your hubs are locked you can put it in Hi4 while moving.
The reason skinny snow tires work better is mostly because they have a decreased footprint area resulting in increased PSI of the contact area.
4WD will get you farther than 2WD period. It does however require adjustments in driving style.
4WD will also act as anti skid somewhat by keeping both axles turning at the same rate lessening the chance of vehicle swapping ends.
Chains are necessary if you are pushing snow of serious depth or are driving on smooth ice up or down grade.
An open diff will give a higher level of control because it only spins one tire at a time leaving the other to maintain directional control.
Drive with care. Learn the capabilities of yourself and your vehicle and try different aproaches to problems. Remember, what works for one may not work for another.

Good luck 8)
E
 
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i just got a job up at the ski area too, and i'm wanting to sipe before it gets to be too late... one thing nobody has ever told me is if siping is actually cutting out a chunk of the tire or just slicing a thin line into the lug?
 

yooper

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[quote author=IDave link=board=1;threadid=7708;start=msg64695#msg64695 date=1069180283]
Well, I'll bet there are situations where rear 2wd IS better than 4wd on snow or ice, but I know I have pulled out of a skid, or not skidded under conditions where I was skidding with 2wd (black ice). [/quote]

Me too. About a million times. Winter is looong here. Seriously thinking about getting Nokian snow tires this winter.
 
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[quote author=chuglife link=board=1;threadid=7708;start=msg65041#msg65041 date=1069230917]
i just got a job up at the ski area too, and i'm wanting to sipe before it gets to be too late... one thing nobody has ever told me is if siping is actually cutting out a chunk of the tire or just slicing a thin line into the lug?
[/quote]

It's just slicing a bunch of thin lines into a lug. I got mine done at kal-tire for 10 bucks/tire last year and it makes a world of difference with the mud tires. DO IT! :D

http://www.can4x4.com/articles/siping.html
 
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[quote author=IDave link=board=1;threadid=7708;start=msg65153#msg65153 date=1069261984]
Is this just good in mud or is siping helpful in snow?
[/quote]
Huge improvement for snow driving.
 
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I lived in Park City Utah for years, and , plowed lots of snow too. The most important thing IMO is slow down, then, good narrow snow tires. I used Armstrong Norseman snowtires, and I would buy them again if they were still available (are they?). Never had a single complaint about them. When I did use chains, it was so that the back wheels did more than just come along for the ride. The plow put about 650lbs extra weight on the front when attached. When there was any snow on the ground I kept the chains on, with or without the plow. they added a lot of stability, no skids, and of course they gave some traction. Don't even think about speeds >35mph though. High speeds and chains are a great way to customize your paint and body work, yank brake lines loose, and other neat carnage. I drove around in 2WD to save a little MPG.
 
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[quote author=78 One owner link=board=1;threadid=7708;start=msg65252#msg65252 date=1069275941]
Don't even think about speeds >35mph though. High speeds and chains are a great way to customize your paint and body work[/quote]

Hah, been there, done that. Luckily at a slow enough speed it was just the trim on the wheelwell (on my pickup).
 
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I shift at up to 45 mph, now that I rebuilt the case. Quiet as mouse and smoothe as a sled on snow. I have vacuum shift. Don't know if you can do that with a mechanical shift.
 

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