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Discussion Starter #1
I am still running the factory Sear's 23x10x12 turf tires on my SS18 for rear tires, and wondering how they are for plowing snow. I have weights for the rear wheels.....

Wanting to get chains for them but if there gonna suck I didn't wanna get chains for them if I'm gonna replace them with agri's and then have to get chains for those.

Don't really have the money to buy a set of rear Agri tires and then chains too. I'm thinking the original Sears turfs I'm running with non v bar 2 link chains will be fine.....but have no experience yet plowing with the tractor.

Thanks
 

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All I've ever used on my Suburban's is the Sears turf tires they came with,with chains,wheel weights,and fluid ballast in the tubes (I use tubes with fluid vs tubeless,yes,its more difficult to load the fluid into tubed tires,but your rims wont suffer if you decide to use something besides windshield washer fluid or RV anti-freeze)...the tread pattern on the Sears turfs is a more horizontal ,self cleaning one than most other turf treads,they deliver great traction in my experience..

The AG tread tires I tried sucked in snow,and the chains kept ending up down in between the lugs,also I found backing up almost impossible if I got the tractor hung up on a snowbank,the tread is directional and works best in only one direction..special diamond design chains are available for the AG tires but are very expensive,and may not help any as far as backing up goes..the Sears turfs are practically impossible to get stuck with,if they are loaded and chained up,and you use wheel weights.

I also added nearly 200 more lbs of additional weight on the rear hitch plate too,in the form of cast iron brake rotors and some cast iron weights I had off an old walk behind tractor...I would say the chains & fluid,plus wheel weights are what makes the biggest improvements..save the money you'd waste on new tires ,get the original turfs filled,and add chains & weight and you wont be sorry..

Some here who use soft tread compound ATV tires say they work well without chains...
I have not found any for sale cheap enough to try them,but would like to,since my Sears turfs are over 40 years old and getting hard and starting to crack..(had one fail last year,luckily I had a few spares)..

My SS-12 was climbing up to the top of piles my truck's plow made yesterday,pushing a full blade of snow so wet & heavy it looked blue,and if I didn't put the clutch in,I bet it would have gone right over the other side..it is slow,but powerful..it only has a 6 HP Briggs powering it..

I can only use first gear,high range to push heavy snow,second gear high for "transport",and light snow pushing,if it gets really deep or heavy,there isn't much it wont push in first gear low range..sometimes it would be better if I had more ground speed,but I figure the lower HP wont destroy the transaxle as quickly as a 12+ hp engine might..the fact it seems "underpowered" in ways may make it better at pushing snow,it wont just spin the tires too easily,instead it chugs along,never breaking traction..
 

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Awesome man, thanks for the info. It's kinda what I thought. The tread on the tire seems like a good platform for the chains and the combination of that with proper weight distribution (wheel weights, hitch weight, etc.) Seems like they'll be good. My only worry is like yours they are now 43 yrs young.
I actually have a feeling that once I start using them to plow they are gonna crack too. Wonder if I should just pull them off and put tubes in them before the failure? I haven't had to touch them (air up) since I filled them last spring.....amazing....

I am running Firestone tri ribs up front....
 

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I've had a few old tires crack right thru when I went to break the beads,they were so old and petrified--so it is a toss up whether it is worth installing tubes...if the tires seem flexible enough to withstand being removed,then you might be able to get away with removing and re-installing them--but if you think they will just rip,your better off just using windshield washer fluid or RV anti-freeze "tubeless"--those wont harm the rims,at least not for a few years at least..

I picked up a pair of old 12" rims & tires a friend had in a pile behind his garage--his dad was an old friend of mine and he collected a ton of parts and dozens of old tractors,he passed away over 10 years ago,and his son was cleaning up the yard--I was surprised to see the tires had "GE Elec-Trac" molded into the sidewalls,so evidently they came from one of those electric tractors..

Unfortunately the tires were hard as rocks and when I tried inflating them,I could hear cords ripping apart!--and huge cracks in the tread appeared,so there was no using them--the rims were full of fluid too,so I fully expected them to be all rusted to death inside after I got the tires off--,but to my surprise,they looked brand new--despite plain water being used to fill them,or perhaps they just filled up with rain water when they sat around for years..the water appeared to have some kind of clear oil mixed in with it,maybe water pump lube,or vegetable oil--whatever it was worked well to protect the rims.
The fluid was frozen into a block of ice when I first got the tires & rims,it was summer when I dismounted them--so I doubt the fluid was anything but plain water..
 

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Don't really have the money to buy a set of rear Agri tires and then chains too.
Rather than AG tires and chains, perhaps HDAP tires might be enough. My R322TX has HDAP tires without chains and they work well plowing snow. Granted it is AWD.
Keep in mind that chains can mark up your driveway surface.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I gotcha thanks for the input man....yea from what I've heard as long as I get non v bar chains they won't mark up the driveway, bit I have no experience yet.
 

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I use lug reinforced chains on my tractor and they dont scar up the driveway,provided you do not spin the wheels --using higher gears tends to make them spin and any type of chain will scuff up the tar if you let the wheels spin...I use first gear and have enough fluid ballast and weights to keep the tires from slipping ,you do need to use some finesse to avoid spinning them when pushing deep or wet heavy slushy snow..

I have scarred up the asphalt on my front walk in the past--in 2015 we had several back to back snowfalls of 2+ feet and I had to back up and batter ram the deep drifts in 3rd gear to move them back several times,and the tires spun a lot--but the "damage" is just cosmetic,a little driveway sealer brushed over the marks in the spring makes them dissapear..
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I gotcha tractor-holic....

Great input right there, thankyou.

So the lug reinforced chains you say you are using. Is that the same as v bar chains?

I hear you about operator control, low gear makes sense for keeping slippage minimal. All good info.

Thanks,
Pat
2441330
 

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The chains on my SS-12 plow tractor are just old truck ones I cut down to fit,and they are 4 link spacing,the cross links are not all the same--some have the "V bar" and some have a "square" pad type block welded to the links..they grab quite well...2 link spacing would be better probably,and make for a smoother ride,but I get by with these OK....
I have picked a few more pairs of truck chains up over the summer cheap that have the V bars,that will be used once the existing chains are used up..some of the cross chains have worn thru and came apart so I had to either replace them or use a repair link to get more use out of them..

The secret to success at plowing with a garden tractor is weight--fluid filled tires do the most to help,adding wheel weights and more weight behind the seat makes a night and day difference..
You can creep along slow in first gear and move a lot of snow without wheel spin ,sometimes you do need "ground speed" to get a pile moving though,and that is when you'll risk spinning the tires and scarring up your asphalt..

One year I tried using my old Yard-Man to plow,it is a 20 HP with a hydrostat,has 12" tires,but isn't really a "garden tractor",its more of a riding mower with a big engine,the chassis is pretty wimpy compared to a Sears Suburban..I put a blade on it,and was soon discouraged when the turf tires spun like crazy pushing barely any snow..thing was a cripple,I could barely make it up the driveway,and 4" of snow proved impossible to move with it..

I threw on a pair of old chains,and went out in my backyard and borrowed a big stone off the stone wall about the size of a large grave stone,and ratchet strapped it to the bagger rack on the rear of the tractor...the difference was amazing,it was like a tank after that,even with no wheel weights or fluid filled tires..the steering gears eventually started skipping again for the second time since I owned it so I "retired" it,it sits in the shed now..since I got several Sears Suburbans I haven't used it in at least 5 years..should resurect it someday before it ends up being scrap..
 

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Gotcha tractor-holic!! Any down side to fluid filled tires? How bout freezing with expansion during cold temps? Do the ever leak? I think I would go that route and add tubes if it's the best option all my with wheel weights and rear hit h ballast.....
 

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I run chains on my Sears ST/10X and it is a tank. Before chains it would barely push the length of the tractor into 6" of snow, put chains on and it turned into a bulldozer. I run 35lbs weights on each side and now a rear blade for counterweight (same set up was used pre chains also). I have ags on it now just to try and so far so good, but we haven't had a lot of measurable snow yet. This was last year


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Gotcha tractor-holic!! Any down side to fluid filled tires? How bout freezing with expansion during cold temps? Do the ever leak? I think I would go that route and add tubes if it's the best option all my with wheel weights and rear hit h ballast.....
The downside is the weight that you have to handle to install them. A 23x10.5-12 tire and wheel will weigh about 105-110 lb with a full load (75% fill) of Rim Guard and another 13 lb or so if 2-link chains are added.

I weigh my loaded tires before installation. A few years ago, I had occasion to weigh one of the tires from my retired GT and it had lost about 10 lb of fluid over a 17 year span. That 26x12-12 tire was filled with calcium chloride, and still weighed over 200 lb with the chains on. Original weight was 213 lb. Note that while CaCl is heavier than Rim Guard, it is also corrosive and rims generally rust out on about 12 years. This particular rim was on a tractor that was only used for 10 years before it was retired with 29 years of service (third set of rims).

My winter tractors for over 40 years get the rear tires loaded before they have to deal with snow. Those tractor have also been loader equipped for 36 of the 40 years and the loaded tires are left in place 12 months of the year.

Weight is the key for traction on hard packed snow. In addition, you want as many inches of tread block edges as can be managed to grab the hard pack, and those inches count more for traction than weight. Turfs have more tread block edge inches in contact with hard pack than any other tread pattern. The blockier HDAP and ATV tires rely on penetration for traction. If you look, you will notice that there is precious little penetration available with hard packed snow.

A 2wd tractor with chains has better traction and more pushing force available on hard packed snow than a 4wd tractor of equal weight and no chains.
 

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Here a link to a YouTube vid from last year. My ST16 with original turfs and 2 link chains pushing 10” of heavy wet snow. At about the 3 min mark I bang through the pile left by the town plow.






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