Staun Products Inner Beadlocks, and Alcoa Forged Aluminum Wheels Get Put to the Test.
By Lance Clifford 12/1/07
I don't have a bling-mobile.
I'm often asked, "how come you don't have a tricked out buggy?"
And the answer is simple. I like to drive my rig on the road to the trails, and I tend to beat on my stuff, and I neglect to do much maintenance to them. I'm a function vs. looks person, and I like to be comfortable in my old age. Roll up windows and A/C are cool!
With function in mind, when it came to choosing a tire and wheel combo, there were a few things I took into consideration. I wanted a very tough wheel that could take a pounding. I didn't care about the latest bling, with flashy beadlock rings, etc. I just wanted a tough rim with a top quality beadlock that would keep my tires locked onto the rim no matter what. Another consideration was the fact that I prefer not to attract the attention of Johnny Law, and flashy beadlocks tend to do just that. I am pretty sure that beadlocks are NOT illegal (in California), but I have certainly heard of people getting hassled by law enforcement for running them on the street.
After a little bit of research, I felt that a forged aluminum rim was going to be the best balance between weight and strength for my truck. It didn't take long to figure out what company I would go with. Look around, and you'll notice their products everywhere. From aluminum foil, to big rig rims, to aircraft parts, Alcoa was the logical choice for a real forged aluminum wheel.
After a little bit of research on the Pirate4x4.com Bulletin board, I checked out Staun Products for internal beadlocks. How does a Staun Internal Beadlock work, you ask? Basically it divides the inside of a tubeless tire into two air chambers. The one nearest the beads (the Staun) effectively "clamps" the tire to the rim with 50psi of force. This means the remainder of the tire's air space can confidently be deflated to any pressure you desire.
As we all know, a standard bead lock mechanically clamps the outside tire bead to the rim with 24-32 bolts and washers. Very few beadlocks have an inner locking clamp, but they are available, but are typically VERY expensive, and make for a very heavy rim (consider 24-32 bolts for the outer bead, and another 24-32 bolts for the inside bead!). The Stauns lock both the inside and the outside beads to the rim. Although it is less common to lose the inside bead, I have done it many times in the past typically while snow wheeling or in the sand where I like to run my tires very low.
Staun Internal BeadLocks are light weight (about 6 pounds for the 17" units I purchased) and from what I've read and the feedback I've gotten from rock crawling pros such as Cody Wagoner, Jason Scherer, and Jeff Mello who all run Stauns in their rigs, the Stauns are effortless for any tire shop to balance.
Yet another benefit to the Staun internal beadlock is the fact that it can be used as a "run flat". Think of it as a tire inside of a tire. If you cut a tire, and pop it, you still have a fully inflated 1" tall "tire" inside your damaged tire. This might be enough to get you back to camp or civilization.
Well enough of the benefits of this wheel and beadlock combo. Now it was time to select a tire for my truck. I wanted something that got great traction in all terrains, but I certainly didn't want a lame looking all terrain tire. I also like to drive my truck around town, so it needed to have great wear and handling characteristics on the pavement.
With the tire wars heating up in competitive rock crawling, rock racing, and desert racing, there is one clear winner. The consumer. The tire companies have all kicked up their offerings a few notches, and us consumers are the clear winner here. I have seen Nitto Tires making a huge presence at all of these events, and was intrigued by their very cool looking tire. I decided to take a chance, and try something different. I picked up a set of 37 x 12.50 x 17 Nitto Mud Grapplers.
Fast forward a couple of months. With my busy schedule, I hadn't made the time to install the Staun beadlocks. I had been running the Nittos and Alcoas for about 2 months, with good success, but I was running my tires with a little higher pressure than I normally run. Even with the higher pressure in the tires, I managed to de-bead a tire on the Rubicon on our last trip. It was time to get off my butt and install the Stauns! It just so happened that I found out that Harry from Staun USA was going to be in the neighborhood for the W.E. Rock Donner competition, so I conned him into stopping by the Pirate headquarters to assist me in the installation. It turns out it was a pretty effortless install, but it really does require two people to make it go smooth.
First order of business is to jack up the truck and put it on jackstands. Harry finds it is easiest to remove all four tires at once, and work with them in stages.
As you can see, these Nitto Mud Grapplers and Alcoa wheels already have some hard miles on them. I have put them through their paces on the Rubicon Trail, various snow runs, and all over town. So far they have worked flawlessly, except for a blown bead on the trail. The Stauns should fix that problem!
This trick tire tool made by Tyre Pliers made easy work of breaking down the beads by hand.
Harry lubes up the tire with Windex to prepare it for removal.
A couple of tire irons and a little elbow grease, and the thick Nitto sidewalls peeled off without too much of a fight.
Step one was to carefully measure where the hole for the valve stem of the Staun inner tube would go. Be sure to make sure that the center of the rim isn't going to be in the way before you drill. Give yourself enough clearance for the valve stem, and make sure you have a flat surface so the o-ring will seal on the valve stem.
Drill the pilot hole, and pray you measured right!
Follow up with a 5/16"bit, and you're good to go.
Be sure to deburr the hole, so it's nice and smooth.
Remove the old valve stem as a new special valve stem will be used.
The Stauns come packaged in a nice, complete package complete with installation DVD.
Here's everything you need to lock up a wheel. A tube, a liner, a valve stem, and some baby powder (included!)
Here we have installed the special Staun supplied valve stem. You can see there is a groove in the base of it. This allows air to flow through when the tube is installed.
Harry lubes up the tube with baby powder to allow it to slip and slide around a little while installing.
Additional baby powder goes in the liner.
Now it's time to put it all together. Harry props the tire (not the rim) up on blocks to ease the installation of the tube and liner.
Notice the workable gap created by propping the tire on blocks.
It's time to install the liner inside the tire. Make sure to line up the air strips with the valve stem. The valve stem must be inbetween the strips to allow air to get into (and out of) the tire.
Harry slips the liner into the rim being careful not to cut it on the sharp edges of the used rim.
The very last part of the liner can get a little tight. You need to make sure that the liner is on the smallest area of the rim, and the final part should slip right in.
Once again we need to make sure that the air strips are lined up with the valve stem.
Next is the installation of the tube. Make sure to install the o-ring onto the inner tube valve stem.
Carefully install the inner tube into the liner. Once again take great care not to snag the tube on any sharp surfaces!
Slide the valve stem through the new hole you drilled in the first step of the installation. Install the nut about 3/4 of the way onto the valve stem, but don't tighten it just yet.
Now that the tube is installed, it's time to put the outer part of the liner inside of the rim.
Once the liner is totally in/on the rim, you need to verify that the air strips are in the correct spot, and that the flap in UNDER the tube.
The best way to ensure the flap is under the tube, is to stand the tire up, and push the tire toward the outer bead, so that you can visibly see the flap.
Now it's time to put some air in. Make sure that your air strips are not stuck in between the bead of the tire, and the rim, or it will never seal! Tuck the strips downward, and back inside the tire.
Inflate the Staun to about 30psi. This will seat the beads onto the rim. As a precautionary move, Harry recommends deflating the Staun at this point, and then reinflating it to the recommended 50psi. This ensures the tube and liner are all seated properly.
Tighten down the Staun valve stem and check for leaks.
Show above is the optional 90 angled valve stem extension. I didn't elect to use these, as my air chuck fits on the valve stem just fine without it.
So how does it all work? Like an absolute dream! I've put over a thousand road miles and countless trail miles on this setup, and it drives down the road like a dream, and they have performed flawlessly on the trail. There are no vibrations, and the tires feel perfectly balanced.
Ok, so they work great on a trail rig, what about tougher conditions, like competitive rock crawling? Jason Scherer and I have been running Stauns and Alcoas all year on our competition Moonbuggy, "Tiny". Not only have they both performed flawlessly, but that's with a couple of hundered pounds of steel shot in the front tires punishing the stauns with every tire revolution. I have seen Jason stuff tires in holes and crevices that have made me cringe in fear of a popped tire, cracked rim, or worse, and we never experienced a failure.
Fellow top W.E. Rock competitor Cody Waggoner also runs Stauns in his Campbell built Moonbuggy, "Roxanne" without any failures.
Ok, so Stauns can handle competitive rock crawling without failures. Big deal, you say? Well what could be a tougher test than that, you ask? They already handle the street, trails, and competition rocks well, what else could there be? How about the most inhospitable terrain on the planet: the desert of Baja, California...
In 2006 Team Pirate4x4 shook up the desert world when we won the Baja 1000 in class 17 with our rookie run. With nowhere to go but down, our plan was to go for an unheard of two in a row and win the 40th Annual Baja 1000 in 2007. Our team spent many hours prepping the race vehicle, and leaving nothing to chance. When it came to deciding what to do about beadlocks, there was only one choice, and that was Staun. Not only did the Stauns perform flawlessly with ZERO flats, team Pirate4x4 once again finished in first place after 1,296 miles in the toughest race in the world.
Off the start we go...
1,296 grueling miles later, we're still running the same tires.
Team Pirate4x4 2007 - On the podium once again.
Team Pirate/Shaffer's Offroad competes in the Jeepspeed race in Henderson, NV with the same tires and Stauns they ran in the Baja 1000. Due to driver error, Mike hit a rock, and slashed a sidewall. Due to the quasi-run flat capabilities of the Stauns, Mike was able to drive 13 miles on a flat tire to his pit where he was able to have his crew change the tire. This is an amazing testament to the double duty of the Staun.