Fed up with sliding about on foot and in vehicles during the recent icy weather? The Swedes, who know a thing or two about ice, have an answer – patented tungsten-carbide screw-in studs that lend grip to everything from a pair of wellington boots to a big tractor tyre.
They haven’t been available in the UK in the past, but now professional forester Paul Hodgkinson is bringing them into the UK as the sole distributor. He was at the LAMMA Show last week to gauge interest from both tyre companies and farmers.
The Maxigrip removable studs come in a range of sizes, according to tyre size. An 11mm depth stud is suitable for shoes, boots and ATV tyres (they work fine on standard 2wd cars too depending on tread depth). The 15mm one is for smaller tractors, pick-ups and 4x4s. The 18mm is for medium-sized tractors, telehandlers and trucks. The 25mm version is for large tractors.
The studs sit 3mm proud of the tyre and can be screwed in with a special attachment using either a cordless drill (set to screwdriver mode) or an air tool. Wheels and tyres can stay on the vehicle and it typically takes about 10 minutes to fit the studs to a 4×4 tyre.
How many are needed?
A pair of shoes would typically require 24 studs, an ATV tyre 60 and a tractor tyre 100-200 depending on size and use. The idea is for the tip of the thread to go in to about 2mm short of the carcass. So anyone using them on worn tyres needs to ensure there is enough rubber thickness and maybe use a smaller size. They can be removed once the bad weather is over.
The effect on grip in ice and compacted snow is amazing, says Mr Hodgkinson. Even better, he points out, is that all the tyre makers he spoke to at LAMMA said they were interested in the novel stud product being used in their rubber.
The studs also have several advantages over other grip-improving options, he points out. Snow chains work well but are expensive. They also can wear out pretty quickly (and damage the road) if left on when the snow and ice has gone. They are also illegal to use on bare tarmac.
Winter friction tyres work well on snow but are not so good on ice unless studded. Plus factory-installed studs are not removable, which means the expensive purchase of two sets of wheels and tyres.
Mr Hodgkinson wrote to the Technology and Standards Division of the Department for Transport (DfT) and the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) to check the legality of studs on the public highway. He was told that studded tyres are permitted to be fitted to vehicles when there is snow, ice, black-ice and frost on the roads, however they must not cause damage to the road surface.
Keeping them on throughout the winter would still mean the studs should last several years. They are designed not to damage the tarmac anyway.
Retail cost is £15 for a packet of 25 HM11 work boot studs, £97.50 for a box 200 HM15, £112.50 for a box of 200 HM18 and £125.00 for a box of 200 HM30. All come with a special fitment tool. They are available through www.conservationcrafts.com. Click on the Contact page and fill in the form.