Is adding chains to my 6x4 gator a good idea?
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Thread: Is adding chains to my 6x4 gator a good idea?

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    Lauraleigh's Avatar
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    Is adding chains to my 6x4 gator a good idea?

    Hi friends! Here in Michigan, we had quite a week of winter weather - bitter cold and a decent accumulation of snow. I brought the big tractor out to plow a path from my horse barn to my manure pile for the gator. I then took off in the gator, back end loaded with manure, with all the confidence in the world knowing the 6x4 was essentially a Sherman Tank, only to quickly have my confidence shattered, lol. I slipped and spun and ground to a halt. Huh? I was on my plowed path!? I locked the rear differential in and struggled to the manure pile and back. What I learned is as long as I don't "dilly-dally" I can make it to the pile and back, but if I stop at all I'm done for. Three days in a row I've been stuck while trying to turn the gator around as I back it into the barn. It seems the back 4 heavy lug tires seem to sit on top of the snow pack and just spin away without going anywhere!

    So my questions are these: Will chains help? Are actual tire chains or cable style chains preferable? I'm not sure how to select a size given the back tires are so wide? Do I put them on the rear most tires or the next axel up? And MOST importantly, are these going to do any damage to my concrete barn aisle????? A friend mentioned a style of chains that have heavy rubber straps that cross the tread area of the tires. Would those be a good idea?

    Thanks so much in advance for any guidance!

    Laura
    JD Gator 6x4 (gas), JD 1070 with 80 front end loader and 72 mower, JD F-911, JD RX-73, (2)JD RX-75, JD Brushhog, Woods landscape rake, Woods back blade

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    JD4044M's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lauraleigh View Post
    Hi friends! Here in Michigan, we had quite a week of winter weather - bitter cold and a decent accumulation of snow. I brought the big tractor out to plow a path from my horse barn to my manure pile for the gator. I then took off in the gator, back end loaded with manure, with all the confidence in the world knowing the 6x4 was essentially a Sherman Tank, only to quickly have my confidence shattered, lol. I slipped and spun and ground to a halt. Huh? I was on my plowed path!? I locked the rear differential in and struggled to the manure pile and back. What I learned is as long as I don't "dilly-dally" I can make it to the pile and back, but if I stop at all I'm done for. Three days in a row I've been stuck while trying to turn the gator around as I back it into the barn. It seems the back 4 heavy lug tires seem to sit on top of the snow pack and just spin away without going anywhere!

    So my questions are these: Will chains help? Are actual tire chains or cable style chains preferable? I'm not sure how to select a size given the back tires are so wide? Do I put them on the rear most tires or the next axel up? And MOST importantly, are these going to do any damage to my concrete barn aisle????? A friend mentioned a style of chains that have heavy rubber straps that cross the tread area of the tires. Would those be a good idea?

    Thanks so much in advance for any guidance!

    Laura
    Yes chains will help and the Gator will be a different machine running them to you traction wise. On Ice tires do not dig in chains lift the tire up and it sits on a little narrow chain that can get a bite on the ice. The big fat tires are like a sled on ice very little pressure per sq inch on the ice. To bad you can't run narrow tractor tires in the winter and regular fat type ones in the summer. If I owned a Gator I would have 2 sets of tire for that reason. I don't think the light weight gator will hurt the cement but it is a barn and a little scratching is not going to hurt anything.
    Last edited by JD4044M; 02-04-2019 at 08:56 PM.

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    Lauraleigh (02-04-2019)

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    jd.rasentrac's Avatar
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    Hi Laura. What's the tire pattern of your 6x4 - and how heavy was the manure load?! Have you used the differential lock? And... the 6x4 has no front wheel drive! If the streets are slippery here, I only use the 4wd and if it's getting icy, I use the diff lock. But than I don't drive with heavy weights
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    I knew two owners of 6x4 Gators. Both go rid of them because of steering problems on ice/snow. The went to 4x4 versions that the front tires were powered. Where the 6x4 excels is treading lightly.
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    Lauraleigh's Avatar
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    Thanks everyone! Silly question but, which axel is the drive one in back? The fartherst axel back or the middle axel? That’s the one I assume I would want the chains for?

    Laura
    JD Gator 6x4 (gas), JD 1070 with 80 front end loader and 72 mower, JD F-911, JD RX-73, (2)JD RX-75, JD Brushhog, Woods landscape rake, Woods back blade

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lauraleigh View Post
    Thanks everyone! Silly question but, which axel is the drive one in back? The fartherst axel back or the middle axel? That’s the one I assume I would want the chains for?

    Laura
    Both rear axles drive 6x4 (6wheels x 4 driven) like 4x4 or 4x2 in a truck. I think you could get away with just one axle but that is really an interesting question. When you go over a raise or berm only one of the rear axles will be on the ground at a time. If you have diff lock that locks up all four tires it might make sense to chain a front on one side and a rear on the other. Otherwise I would do the rear axle only as starting up a hill they would be the last ones in contact and going down a hill at the bottom they would also be the last in contact. They would only not be touching when cresting a ramp so to speak.
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    jd.rasentrac's Avatar
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    Here you see how the drive works

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    Part of your traction issue is likely due to having TOO MUCH contact area on those 4 rear tires for your load weight. This is also known as "flotation" and is what gives your 6x4 such a light touch on turf for its size...but it does interfere with traction on ice. You might try taking off a pair of rear tires and put chains on the remaining pair. If it were me, I would retain the rear tires since you probably will still want to use the dump bed feature...

    Chains on all four drive wheels would of course be ideal, but you still may skate around a bit when empty. It has not been mentioned yet in this thread, but you want to use "two link" chains -- chains with a cross chain every two links of the sidewall chain. Most highway chains are four link...

    Chains on the steering axle tires are a good idea if you find that normal steering is too slippery on the ice. those must be the two link style as once in skid, the tire/chain combination is not rotating and a four link chain may not be presenting any traction cross bars to the ground surface due to the increased distance along the tire's circumference.

    Here are some examples... Garden Tractor Tire Chains | Free US Shipping

    Chuck
    Last edited by Chuckv; 02-09-2019 at 09:37 AM.
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    Lauraleigh's Avatar
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    Thanks everyone! Great information. To answer a few of your questions, the rear tires have the heavy “farm tractor” style tread while the front are turf tires. I agree, too much surface area allows it to sit on top of the snow/ice rather than grip into it. Kinda like a dually truck vs std. one. Thanks also for the tip on the 2 link style chains - I never would nave known that!

    You guys are such awesome help! Really, really appreciate it!

    Laura
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