Monday, November 26, 2012

GH2 – Snow tires – Have you mounted yours yet?

This applies only to those in snow climates. But have you mounted your snow tires yet?


You don’t use snow tires? Are you obtuse? Dense? Touched?

Here’s the deal. Since the mid-90s manufacturers have been systematically changing the snow tire formulas such that what they ship on cars are closer to old-school summer tires than they are to all season. This because all season tires wear out quicker because they need softer compounds. (I think that was the reason given when I read this.)

The problem, of course, is that these cars also end up in the snow belt and that makes the tires unsuitable for winter driving. It is my understanding that you can be charged for reckless driving or some such if you end up in a ditch. The point being that snow tires will mitigate the risk of hitting that ditch as they have vastly better grip in snow and on ice than do summer tires.

So … sometime in November, you need to swap the tires over. I did mine on Saturday and Nick did his today. Here are some images of my tire swap …

I’m going to pass on labeling every image. They were all shot with the GH2 and the wonderful 14-140 all in one lens, generally wide open. Very nice images from this combo.

Here, I have retrieved the snow tires from the garage.

Only I was wrong … those are Nick’s tires. A decade of swapping the CR-V tires had me on auto pilot. Smile

Before I put them back, I photographed the system I have used for a long time to ensure that the tires are rotated every season. Each set of tires gets rotated on every swap.

So this year the tire was on the driver’s rear wheel. Next spring, the tire will be installed on the driver’s front wheel. It’s that simple.

Here are the tools of the trade. Well, the cheap version for the wannabe anyway. The jack is the cheapest 30 buck jack Canadian Tire sold on sale one day. The air wrench is an inexpensive Sears Mastercraft complete set that was maybe 50 bucks. The hose was an extension I bought to reach the driveway. And that is really all it takes to do this quickly (30 to 45 minutes ion total.)

And of course we cannot forget the compressor. This is my second compressor as the first one packed it in. That one was the 3 gallon Porter Cable and had a cheap plastic knob that simply failed eventually. This one is MotoMaster, which is the Canadian Tire house brand, and it has twin tanks that hold 4 or 5 gallons of compressed air. Nice. It can feed two hoses, but that would only be useful for small drains like a brad nailer.

Never pay full price for this stuff. Canadian Tire is always cycling through their products and putting them on sale. I caught this on sale at about half price (under $100) which was a steal. Very happy with it.

A view of my much nicer looking rims on the snow tires against the ones that came with the car. The tires I bought are Altimax Arctic by General Tire. Consumers Reports rates these as the second best ice tire after the Michelin X-Ice. And the reason I buy these instead of #1 is two-fold:

  1. The Altimax is rated better on wet roads by quite a bit, the X-Ice is rated better on ice by a small margin. We get more wet roads than pure ice. Easy choice.
  2. The Altimax is a much cheaper tire. By quite the margin. No brainer.

Normally, I would put cheap 50 dollar black painted steel rims on the snow tires, but I ordered everything from in Chicago, and they have the lovely machined aluminum rims for 79 bucks. That was irresistible … and the kicker is that they offer dynamic balancing for free. These are the smoothest tires at all speeds that I have ever driven. So good choice Smile

The after image ….

And now let’s move on to the random imagery portion of our program today. The street in the late afternoon sunlight … note the incredible sharpness of the branches … very nice for a kit lens.

Here’s a shot of the buds for next year’s Lilacs. The branches in the background are barely a foot behind, but shooting at 280mm equivalent throws them nicely out of focus. The bokeh on this lens is very pleasing to me.

This is the same bush at 28mm from about the same distance. The branch I focused on is the one right in the middle that is branched to the right as well. I shot the branch that goes straight up.

A similar shot.

A slightly different angle.

The top of a neighbour’s tree across the street.

A view down my side street. A huge bird’s nest in the second tree breaks the monotony. Note the very sharp branches.

A shot of one of my new 6” fence posts and the neighbours’ houses across the street.

And that’s that. Get your snow tires on Smile