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Old 07-25-2014, 11:49 PM   #1
tbear853
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Default Balancing with Air Soft BBs .... for real!

Well .... as a "supplemental method" anyway.

Last month I swapped on a new set of 235/55-17 Goodyear Eagle RS-A tires in place of my 2008 Mustangs OEM Pirellis that were showing cracks in the tread grooves. The wheels are chrome American Racing Torque Thrust M 17"X 8.0" with 30mm offset. The TPMS sensors are located opposite the valve stems. We balanced the tires several times until we got them as perfect as the machine would allow and as a result, most all the added weights wound up nearest the valve stems. Several ounces actually .... each wheel.

Well, they were at least as well balanced as the Pirellis (also weighted heavy at stems) .... but not really "glass smooth". In the last couple of drives on really smooth roads I noted some slight tire imbalance. I have been considering breaking them down and removing the TPMS altogether. I've never needed them before, got along just fine without them.

Many will scoff at the following part ..... that's OK. Was once a time I would have as well.

I was interested in trying a "supplemental balancing" system, or "maintenance system" as some put it. Been reading about it mostly on 4x4 and some MC website forums I visit. A few years ago I tried it using "Ride On" liquid tire seal & balance liquid in a pair of Gold Wing tires and they were silky smooth .... same thing except for the mess it can make. Did some investigating and found that bead balancing isn't recommended as a total balance system for 65 or lower profile aspect car tires .... but I have read several industry articles on static imbalance that creeps in when one is balancing a tire dynamically, seems it's more possible with wider low profile tires .... and a couple suggest bead balancing as a means to fine tune the tire statically once the dynamic balance is done.

But in searching for stories / articles outlining actual experience with low profile tires as a supplement to dynamic balancing ...... I found none readily popping up .... just a few who had read what I read on industry sites.

Today I removed each wheel, one at a time and rolled into the basement, aired down, broke the bead loose on the one side only being careful to avoid the TPMS and poored in 3 ounces of Red Jacket 6MM .15gr Airsoft BBs. I bought a 10,000 count container of them for a little over $15 at Walmart a few days ago. My math tells me that it takes about 189 of them to make an ounce. I did not count out 567 of them beady little things ..... rather I just weighed them out on a postal scale. Reinflated the tire to seat and adjust to 34 psi and after applying some cleaning and paint to that wheel's brake rotor ..... reinstalled.

Tonight we drove over to Penny's Diner in Low Moor, Va. and used Interstate going over and old US Rt60 coming back. Wide variety of speeds, some hard acceleration, bumps, RR tracks, I'm telling you for a fact that those 3 ounces of plastic beads smoothed it out so there is NO imbalance felt at any speed. I hit bridge gaps and other thumps and if the beads were dislodged, they rebalanced before we could feel it. "Wife Unit" even commented on how smooth it was.

The thing is when stopped, I know that the beads fall to the bottom of the tire .... but as soon as you accelerate, before you even feel any imbalance .... that same imbalance is causing the beads to form up and they balance again.

I've read of copper coated lead BBs turning to powder, but lead is heavy in relation to volume and not very tough so I can see them beating the crap out of each other. Steel is more dense than these beads so smaller size = same weight ... but then maybe that concentration is why they don't seem to work as well in low profile wider tires? Dyna Beads are ceramic I think, very small so they can be inserted through a valve stem with the core removed.

These plastic beads don't have the mass per volume as steel or lead or other heavy media, so an ounce will spread out over a larger area. They are also pretty tough and so they should not turn to dust. I'm sort of believing that their 6mm diameter and lower mass is a plus here in these 235/55-17 tires.

In the next week or so I will be putting another set of 225/60-16 tires on my '92 Thunderbird Sport with it's 16x7 wheels. It costs so little to try, I am going to simply poor 4 ounces (more because it'll be the primary) of these same beads into each tire before inflating to try them out as a primary method on a 60 series tire. The web sites that say their beads won't work so well on these tires refer to much smaller more dense ceramic or glass beads .... but these hard red plastic BBs will spread an ounce out across a tire fast (being 6mm diameter each and 189 being an ounce). Worst thing that can happen is I have to vacuum the beads out and balance them dynamically first.

I'll post results here.

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Last edited by tbear853; 07-26-2014 at 07:20 AM.
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Old 07-28-2014, 10:53 AM   #2
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Interesting. I know a few truck guys whom balance this way and like it.

Is there no issue of wear to the inside of the tire?
How did you decide to use 3 ounces? The articles you read recommend this?
Looking forward to hearing about how they did on your Thunderbird.
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Old 07-28-2014, 07:01 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NTO_GUY View Post
Interesting. I know a few truck guys whom balance this way and like it.

Is there no issue of wear to the inside of the tire?
No wear with these plastic bbs as they are only 0.15gr in a 6mm ball .... lot lighter than a similar size steel ball or ceramic ball. They really only should move in relation to the tire at start up and at stop, rest of time just riding pretty much same spot round and round.
Quote:
Originally Posted by NTO_GUY View Post
How did you decide to use 3 ounces? The articles you read recommend this?
Looking forward to hearing about how they did on your Thunderbird.
Yep, anywhere from 3 to 4 ounces. It doesn't have to be precise, just needs to be enough. Any excess will balance itself out I'm told and I have no doubt it did .... 'cause there wasn't 3 ounces of vibration in my tires, maybe not even any in some .... but that 3 ounces in each eliminated all vibration.

I did this another place .... here's pics of my wheels with weights stuck on after dynamic balancing.
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Old 07-29-2014, 06:48 AM   #4
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Very interesting, thanks for the post. It'll be interesting to see how they last.
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Old 08-02-2014, 07:47 PM   #5
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The tires on my '92 Thunderbird Sport ....

Click the image to open in full size.

.... weren't worn out yet, but they were showing some sidewall cracking and well, they have been on it since fall 2007. Lately, in the last year maybe, I've been limiting this car to local drives for this reason alone, kept thinking I'ld swap .... and putting it off.

They are 225/60-16 Goodyear RS-As Pursuit tires that had been removed from police cars and left at a local garage for disposal. I had at one time, maybe 2 dozen or more that still had good to great to near new tread, most also had a puncture someplace which is usually why a good tire would not be run on a police car. Many times a tire is punctured and both on that axle get replaced together.

So today I pulled the '92 around and did each tire at a time (date codes ranged 2002 - 2004), removing and breaking down and swapping older cracked tire off for a near new more recent tire out of my storage shed where they been. I went out to the shed and went through my stacks, and pulled two that were nice, maybe 75% tread left and even wear across with 2006 date codes for the front and two that were closer to new but which showed sign of having been run on the front with excessive toe out off some troopers car, these were for the rear .... they both had same date code 4207 and dragging my hand across them tells me they were run right and left.

I stripped all the weights off the wheels, all total there was maybe 5 ounces on all 4 wheels. These Goodyears usually don't take a lot of weight, they are well made tires that just get beat up a lot in use. After mounting each tire to it's wheel I weighed out 4 ounces of those same "Red Jacket" 6mm 0.15 gr Airsoft BBs and poured it in from the top before airing the tire up. Then after seating, let air escape while get core ready .... then insert core and re-inflate to 40 psi each today. I'll check and adjust down tomorrow .... if none are flat ....

Mounted back on car ... and afterwards took a short drive over onto Rt 11 .... and I am very pleased.

I know what's written about bead balancing tires with lower than 65 aspect ratios, but I read all that as a "disclaimer" (not as a statement that "it won't work").

As I accelerate up passing 35-40 mph there is a very short time during which a few revolutions lead me to believe that one maybe has some very slight dynamic side to side imbalance, but it goes away really fast if accelerating by 45 mph and from then on until you slow to a stop, they stay smooth even if you slow to 25 and accelerate again. I ran up to a hair over 60. I will try them on interstate tomorrow.

Follow up 08-03-14 PM .... checked tires this morning, all 4 same pressure still, and none flat .... so seems I drew 4 with no holes. That's good. Aired down to 34-35 psi then.

Drove the '92 about 115 miles all total this afternoon to a meeting and supper and home .... and I must say ..... it surprised me. These are tires that are new to this T-bird, but as noted above .... they have some wear patterns. I expected maybe some noise, I have none .... they sound new? That's not the BBs doing, but just a pleasant finding.

Now, as to balance, they are , it seems very "balanced" once rolling. Only twice as I accelerated from a stop could I note a momentary "shake" type feeling that was almost non existent .... felt like a wide tire with dynamic balance off just a hair .... but only momentary and only twice .... most of the time there was no perceived imbalance at all from zero on up to 55 - 60 - 70+ mph. My roads were a mix, some 4 lane highway, some two lane good highway, some town, some new bypass, some interstate, and some bumpier paved side roads as we took a scenic detour home.

EDIT 1: In further driving the T-bird, some several hundred miles now, they will occasionally maintain a very very slight shake at 45-50 if you stay at that speed, but if I speed up, seem to get smoother and stay smooth when you drop back. Occasionally cures itself with a few more miles with no speed increase. I'm thinking it's the tire width and "flat floor" within the tire under the wide tread that lets the beads form up center and to either side maybe. You don't have that situation so much in 65-70-and taller aspect ratio tires.

As a supplement to dynamic balance like in our Mustang, it remains perfect.

EDIT 2: Today we drove the T-bird to Lewisburg, most all Interstate, near 75 miles one way. Mostly OK, but every now and then that cyclical temporary imbalance crept in and at 70+, and while just noticeable at 45-55, it was some irritating at 70 .... so I'm likely gonna remove all 4, break a bead loose, vacuum beads out, and balance them on a machine, and then .... I'll see where I'm at. If I never drove this car on Interstate, I'd leave as is because it really is pretty good at 55 mph .... but occasionally I do use this car on Interstate so I guess "that's that".

If higher speeds are in your driving, I'd say you probably don't want to use the beads or BBs as a sole balancing method on 60 series or lower aspect ratio tires. I do think they are "the real deal" on MC or trailer tires .... and older narrower car and truck tires.



No warranty as to satisfaction with bead balancing using Airsoft BBs in motor vehicle tires is expressed or implied.

Take Care ..........
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Last edited by tbear853; 08-11-2014 at 10:32 PM.
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Old 08-02-2014, 07:47 PM
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