is what the poor UPS dude has to drop off. This is actually
2 complete sets (one for me, one for my wheeling buddy Chad: 8 locks
= 16 rings) and weighs 130 lbs with all the nutcerts, bolts, and
crack in the fiberboard shows it was not treated well by the shipping
folks. Probably dropped and it's own great weight caused the
damage.....the cracked fiber board is of no consequence but ..............
the unfortunate problem was, as it was packaged, the fiberboard
didn't fill the gaps completely between the next-to-outside and
outside rings. As it was obviously dropped, it's own weight
caused one of the outside rings to warp where there was no fiberboard.
As Chad was leaving for Xmas when they were delivered, he kindly
offered to take possession of the warped ring, and work it out with
Scott at Rockstomper. I don't know the final outcome yet,
but here's a quote from Chad that he posted on POR just before Xmas
"I sent pictures
and explanation to Scott, he has said he will send us a new ring
and then go after shipping agent (UPS) for the damages. While
I haven't actually got the ring yet, I am confident that this
will be done. I am also confident that the damage was the result
of shipping damage, I simply can't see how else it could occur."
up the package and look at all the goodies inside! A total
of 256 grade 5 3/8" bolts, 256 Grade 5 washers, and 256 3/8"
nutcerts. Personally, I would much prefer to use Grade 8 hardware
for its superior strength, but this would likely increase the price,
and so it is not surprising that Grade 5 is shipped - and it's probably
The rings are all
1/4" mild steel. The inner and outer rings are identical
in dimension, except that the inner rings have larger holes for
the nutcerts to seat in. Both have one edge that is slightly
rounded. This is of no consequence on the inner ring, but
is nice on the outer ring, as the rounded shoulder seats against
the tire. All the rings are completely smooth and burr free,
and all the punched holes are of exact dimension without burrs.
are really very easy to install, but it does take some time.
First clean up the outside edge of wheel with a wire brush in an
angle grinder or similar. Next, the inner rings are simply
placed on the outside edge of the wheel. Since they are exactly
the same outside diameter as the rim, it is easy to center them
by "fingertip feel and eye". If the wheels are used,
there may be some little gaps where the wheel is dented a bit,
If they're not too large, they can easily be welded up as the rings
are welded on, with the added bonus of "trueing up" your
wheels at the same time. I did this, and so when the ring
was placed on, I tacked it in place as it sat, without clamping
it down to force it to conform to the not quite true wheel rim.
Hey - does my ass
look fat in those jeans?
prevent heat warping the wheel, I welded them on in stages, laying
a bead as shown at left, then rotating the wheel 90 degrees and
repeating until I was done. I used my trusty Lincoln SP125+
MIG machine with Argoshield (20% Argon, 80% CO2) and .023 L-56 wire.
shot of the bead. Note you can see the tack welds as well,
and the little gap I filled where the rim wasn't completely true.
thing you have to be very careful of when welding in stages like
this, is integrity of the weldment where the beads join.
Especially in this case, since the weld must be 100% airtight -
any tiny pinhole will leak like crazy. In the pic you can
see the heat affected zone, and where it narrows at the ends of
the beads. Once all the beads had been done, I went back,
ground down the joins a bit, and re-welded them all until the heat
affected zone appeared equal all the way around.
I tested my first
one as follows. Take any liquid with a high "creep",
such as diesel or penetrating oil, and pour a little in the crack
between the edge of the wheel and the inside of the inner lock
ring. Roll the rim around a while. If any liquid creeps
through the weld, air will surely leak.
the ring has been completely welded on, it's time to insert all
the nutcerts. First you just drop them in the holes, make sure to
drop them in the right way round, shown in the picture.
the installation technique. Take one of the bolts supplied,
place on it one of the washers and a spacer of some kind.
Thread it into the nutcert, then grasp the nutcert with vice
grips to stop it spinning, and hit the bolt with the impact.
It only takes 30-40 ft lbs to cinch them up and seat them, so don't
go crazy. They aren't the sturdiest of things, and you can
strip them or break the threads loose from the housing fairly easily.
An important tip - don't clamp the vice grips on the nutcert until
after you've threaded in the bolt, otherwise the jaws of the
vice grips can deform the nutcert and it's threads - they're steel,
but fairly light and weak, and if you crank the vice grips on them,
they will squish.
My set of locks
only came with a total of 3 spare nutcerts, and I ruined 5 during
the install (2 were my mistake - I cruched them with the vice
grips, 1 had bad threads, and 2 came apart while being installed),
leaving me 2 short. I chose not to wait, so just welded
a coupe of 3/8" nuts on the back of the ring. A few
more extras in the package would be nice.
the fancy installation tool I used, just a big nut with one of the
supplied bolts and washers. Another tip - you need a nice
smooth consistent impact gun for this for best results, but they
can be seated by hand - it's just a LOT more work.
picture shows an unseated nutcert (red arrow) and one that has been
seated (blue arrow). Note that the threads don't pull all
the way up flush with the top of the ring.
shot of the installation process, but really just a poseur shot
of my purty welding job :-)
the wheel with the inner ring welded on and all the nutcerts installed.
they are, all done, and just hanging around with the un-mounted
Swampers, waiting for paint!
are the outer locking rings hung up waiting for paint.
the paint I used. A good zinc self etching primer is a must
for the bare metal. The Car Quest enamel didn't impress me
much, so I shall be returning to using Tremclad next project.
one all painted up
the outer rings all painted and ready for installation
|| I painted
over the weld as well.
done and drying.
never done any kind of "manual" tire changing before,
always used the big machine at the Military Auto Club before, so
I didn't know how easy or hard it was going to be to get the tire
over the outside edge, especially with the extra profile of the
First step was
to liberally apply hot soapy water to the tire bead and outside
edge of the wheel.
|| I went
shopping for some tire spoons, but they were almost $50 each for
the big ones at the trucking place, so I bought a couple of plain
old 36" wrecking bars for $6 each.
the tire over the wheel, and start the bead over the edge.
it around, then place knees or feet (red arrows) to keep on part
that is already on, on while using pry bar to lever the rest of
the bead over the edge.
it will pop over the edge and look like this.
is what it looks like from the back side with the inner bead of
the tire over the outer edge of the wheel. The inner bead
of the tire will seat on the inner bead surface of the rim when
it is aired up later
order to install the outer locking ring, I picked up the tire and
wheel, and placed it on the top of an overturned 5 gallon pail.
But before I locked
down the outer ring, I had to insert my new homebrew "inside
the tire balancing" material.
|| I chose
to use 8-9oz of good old Daisy BBs. Bought a carton of 3000
for $8 at Walmart
|| I had
no idea what they weighed, so here is my ridiculous homebrew scale.
I suspended a stick from a wire, and placed 8oz of wheel weights
in a bag at one end, then just poured BBs in the other end until
it balanced. the margarine pots didn't work because the BBs
rolled around too much! It turned out that 8oz was just shy
of a quarter of the carton, so I used a shot glass to divide the
carton into 4 equal amounts.
how to get all those BBs in the tire without spilling them everywhere?
Simple (and silly too). I made 4 little Kleenex baggies by
wrapping them up in a tissue. Now I could easily drop them
all in at once, without spilling, and the tissue will break up inside
the tire, allowing them to spread out.
I'm as nutty as
clean the tire bead well....you don't want any leaks.
then install the outer locking ring with the rounded shoulder down,
against the tire.
is how the tire centers. The outside shoulder of the outer
ring fits perfectly against the tire bead, centering the tire on
the outer ring. And the outer ring is centered on the inner
ring, and therefore the entire wheel, by the 32 bolts. It's
simple and effective.
it's time to get happy with the bolts and washers. Start by
installing 4 in the clock positions, centering up the ring.
For the first few, you have to squeeze the rings together a bit
to get the bolts started (at least with thick beads on a Swamper
the bolts installed. Arrow indicates where the tire centers on the
it's time to torque the bolts to spec. Rockstomper recommends
10-20 ft / lbs. I chose 15 ft lbs, and used my beam style
torque wrench as it is more accurate at this low setting than my
"click" style. The first one I did I was very careful,
tightening them down a little at a time, using a big star pattern,
and carefully marking each one with the pen. What a pain in
the ass. By the fourth one, I was zipping them up with a gun,
and only applying final torque by hand. Even then, it takes
about 5 complete goes around them all with the torque wrench to
get them all close to the same spec.
The reason for
this is the one big weakness in the design (more on this weakness
and its affects below too). Normally, in a bolted joint,
the materials being bolted are far more "rigid" than
the bolt, and therefore, as the bolt is tightened, the joint initially
compresses a bit, then the bolt stretches, and as the rigid joint
is clamped, torque reading will go up sharply and evenly after
the slack is all taken out of the joint.
Not so when clamping
a steel ring over a piece of rubber, and especially when less
than half the ring sandwiches the rubber. The result is
an almost endless cycle of tightening one bolt, which compresses
the rubber, which loosens the adjacent bolt, which is then tightened.....and
on and on...round and round all 32 bolts. Using a star pattern
helped very little. The trouble is, the rubber is just too
compressible, and the ring doesn't clamp evenly over it.
Like I said, I went completely around the circle of 32 tightening
each one FIVE times with the torque wrench (and this was only
the final step) before they were any where near all at 15ft /
other effect of the design is the so-called "coning" of
the ring, again caused by the fact that under about 1/3 of the ring
is a big fat rubber bead, while there is nothing under the rest.
This means that the ring doesn't clamp down evenly, the bolt heads
do not sit flat on the outer edge leaving the bolt shanks unevenly
stressed, and the ring takes a shape much like a banked race track.
These next 2 pictures
clearly show the unevenly seated bolt heads. On the inside
there is a big gap while......
the outside the bolt head is up tight.
arrow shows outside of bolt head up tight, blue arrow shows space
under inside of bolt head. Many of the pics on Rockstompers
site show the same affect.
this is not a good way to load a bolt. I'm a bit concerned
about the bolts ability to stay tight with only half the head
experiencing any friction, and with the rings not clamping evenly.
things work out better than it seems, so time will tell if I have
problems with broken or perpetually loose bolts.
next 2 pics show the deformation of the outer lock ring caused by
this uneven loading. I had to disassemble one of mine immediately
after airing it up because one of my welds had a pinhole leak.
The bolts had been tightened to 15 ft / lbs and were in place for
about 5 minutes. On the right is a never installed outer ring,
that lies flat, on the left the just removed ring that shows the
deformation or so-called "coning", evidenced by the gap
the deformation is clear as the installed ring sits on top of the
flat never used ring.
This doesn't really
worry me, the ring went back on very easily (it wasn't at all
difficult to line the bolts back up as I had thought it might
be), but it is something to be aware of. In the end, all
4 tires are completely leak free as of initial installation (no
it is, all installed and leak tested
- look at all those bolts :-)
- beadlocks !!
one is super - size...you really can't have too many pics
of new beadlocks !
is.....when my wife got home, she came in and said "Honey,
the new wheels look great"...and she HATES my beast!
Well, time will tell I guess. Everything is great except that
I'm really not happy with those bolt heads like that....but it may
not become an issue, we shall have to see. I will update this
article with results and data as I get them. They look great,
were cheap and pretty easy to put together, best of all they are
thick and tough looking, and should hold up really well under trail