Making Snowchains for the Tamiya Bullhead

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Too bad there's no snow yet.

A while ago, I saw that a company called icMAX Technologies was making snowchains for the Clod, Bullhead, USA-1 and Nitro USA-1. Problem is, they originally wanted $60 for them. The price dropped to $34.95 in November 1998. There was no way I was going to pay that much for something I was sure I could make for much less money.

Just so you know up front, my snowchains cost $16 and 6 hours to make. With these plans, I'd guess you can make the chains in about 2 hours. My chains also have a shortcoming: when making tight turns, the chains rub against the bumpers. (As I understand it, the icMAX chains don't have this problem.)

Using the same ideas I did, you could make snowchains for just about any truck. Bear in mind, they'll look exceptionally stupid on a small car with this big chain. Also, clearance (both suspension and steering components) should be taken into consideration. That said, I think the Traxxas Stampede and Tamiya King Blackfoot would be good candidates for some snowchains.

The Quick-And-Dirty Method

Each snowchain requires almost 9 feet of chain. (Total: 36 feet.) There are two types of chain you can use: 1/16" Jack Chain and 1/16" zinc-coated Jack Chain. The zinc-coated stuff will resist rusting.

Use small needle-nose pliers to bend the chain to separate the links. Each snowchain will require two circles, each 26 links long; and 13 crosslinks need to be made: 6 with 11 links, 7 with 10 links.

Connect the crosslink chains to every other link on one of the circle chains. Follow this pattern when assembling: 10 links-10 links-10 links-10 links-10 links-11 links-11 links-11 links-11 links-10 links-10 links-11 links-11 links. You'll have something resembling a cartoon sun radiating beams of light. Put the tire on the center of this "radiating sun." Set the other circular chain on top of the tire. One by one, connect the links to it. See photo.

Leave one hook on the inner (closest to the car chassis) circular chain open. This way you can take the chains off whenever you want. See photo.

A Little More Detail

If you want to make a set of snowchains for a different car, you may want to do a "mock-up" first to help guestimate lengths, such as I did to figure the size of my chains.

I used string to help me figure this all out. I had to guess at the majority of this stuff. The circles on the sidewalls of the tires were measured by the "this looks good" method. The crosslinks were originally just a bunch of foot-long pieces of string. After I tied them off, I cut the extra string off.

Once a suitable mock-up is made, measure the lengths of the required pieces and add it all up. (Use a piece of string to help measure so you don't have to take the mock-up snowchain apart.) I near fell over when I figured out that it took nearly nine feet of chain to make one snowchain for the Bullhead.

After you buy the chain you'll find that, for example, you actually need 10-3/4 links to make one crosschain. Obviously that won't work too well. The way I worked around this is to alternate the number of links in the crosschain--that's where the 10 link-11 link-10-link-11 link pattern comes from. I considered other methods of handling this little problem--using zip-ties, mostly, but decided that wimpy plastic and tough chain don't go together.

It'll take quite a while to get all this done. I spent nearly two hours making the string snowchain, and another 2-plus hours making the first real snowchain. After the first one is done and fitting properly, the others are easy--just count links and connect.

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Older Comments (7)

Dan & Sherree & Patrick currently uses Facebook for comments. Older comments are still here for readers, though. Read old comments »

Great I'm going to make myself a pair of snow chains........ Very Cool!

Not enough info. Im confused!!!!!

Even in mud there doin great!!!

when i decide which truck i want i might just make some

Traxxas Stampede (electric) or traxxas E-Maxx?

miight end up buyin stampede cos its cheaper but its only 2wd wanted a 4wd really

Where did you buy the 1/16" zinc coated jack chain? I can not find any here in France!

What are the dimensions for 1 / 10 1.9 "?

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