Tire Chain Specs: Know the Differences

August 13, 2019

Across the traction chain industry, products are classified into two general categories: NACM (National Association of Chain Manufacturers) series products and non-NACM products.

NACM products include many traction chains that are constructed in a ladder style configuration. They generally follow a universal stock numbering sequence for each product type. NACM specifications outline dimensional guidelines such as wire sizes, chain link dimensions, lengths and widths of assemblies, and other attributes like case hardening specifications for cross chains.

Know Your Supplier

However, non-NACM products sometimes use the same part numbering convention as their NACM-series counterparts. It’s important to know whether the manufacturer of your chain is compliant with NACM guidelines. If you rely on part number alone to determine whether your traction products are NACM-compliant, you run the risk of using inferior chain.

Know Your Tire Chain Specs

#1 – Link Dimensions. For example, a product that would normally utilize 3/8” cross chain links, per NACM spec, may be manufactured with smaller 5/16” material to decrease costs. These variations can be confusing to distributors and consumers because two different brands of tire chains with the same numerical stock number can have different dimensions. Traction chain made with the smaller 5/16” cross chain links will not perform nearly as well as ⅜” in the field.

#2 – Number of Links per Cross Chain Segment. To cut corners, some non-NACM series products employ fewer, but longer, cross links to reduce cost. This measurement is known as pitch length. Incorrect pitch length can result in problems with tire fitment, the amount of traction the product provides, and durability.

#3 – Chain Weight. Check the weight! If a tire chain is manufactured to less than specifications, then the product will weigh less. In larger applications, such as Tractor and Grader, an undersized product may weigh 10, 20, or more pounds less than the standard!

Quality Always Matters

NACM has not yet created standard specifications for some types of traction products. Examples include cable products, pattern style chains, and many others. In some cases, the part numbering sequences for non-NACM products may still be similar between brands, but there can still be key differences in product construction.

For example, Laclede’s DUO Grip Tractor chains feature 3/8” H-pattern cross chains with each cross chain segment spanning every four links of cross chain. Some competing offerings with similar part numbers utilize smaller 5/16” cross chain, and the segments are stretched out over six links of side chain instead of four. The net difference can be 1-3 fewer cross chain sections per half pair. This leads to a substantial difference in tire fitment and product life.

Laclede Chain is ISO 9001 certified and a proud, long time member of the NACM. We manufacture and import tire chains built to NACM specifications and are always glad to help customers with any questions and product line evaluations so feel free to call our tire chain division at 800-547-4702 or drop us an email: traction.chain@lacledegroup.com.