you’ve ever blown a bead while off-roading, you have probably
thought about getting bead-locked wheels on your rig. There are
obvious advantages and disadvantages to beadlocks, but it’s
not our intent to go into them here. If you’ve decided beadlocks
are for you, but you just don't have the big bucks to by the fancy,
professionally built ones, like my friend Karl, here’s a relatively
inexpensive way to get them. Do it yourself!
We started with a set
of steel wheels that have seen their share of rocks. In fact,
a couple had severe cases of rock rash and were prime beadlock
material. The beadlock rings themselves were made by Carmen Manufacturing
and obtained from Bush Hog Racing in The Woodlands, Texas (800)
340-7223. Beadlocks with steel outer rings are $49.95 per
wheel and aluminum outer ring sets are $79.95 per wheel. We decided
to go with the steel outer rims for durability.
The first step in the
installation is to cut off the outer bead of the wheel. This can
be accomplished several different ways. One would be to pay a
machine shop to remove it on a lathe. Another is to remove the
outer rim with a plasma cutter. Since the machine shop wanted
at least $25 a wheel and Karl already had a plasma cutter, we
obviously chose the second method.
The lathe would have
made a straighter cut, but the plasma cutter worked just fine.
Yes, it required a bit of work with a grinder to square up the
edge prior to welding, but if you’re careful, and use the
groove of the outer bead as indicated by the arrows in the photo
to guide the plasma cutter, it won’t be too bad.
cut off the outer rim by the method of your choice, place the
inner rim on the wheel and measure carefully in numerous places
to insure the inner beadlock rim will be parallel to the inner
bead. Then, measure around the circumference of the rim to make
sure it’s centered properly.
certain it’s centered, tack weld it in place a few places
around the rim and double-check all of your measurements. Once
you’re certain that they are OK, finish welding all the
way around the rim. At first, we thought it would be a good idea
to only do several inches at a time to avoid warping, but we found
that this would only cause pin holes and subsequent leaks. To
stop this, seal the welds with a film of silicone, just in case.
When your wheel is
finished, clean it up, put on a coat of paint, and you’re
ready to mount the tire. Mount it as you normally would, from
the inside of your tire. Center the tire on the inner beadlock
rim, and place the outer rim over the tire.
You may need to use
several longer bolts, evenly spaced around the beadlock to start
drawing the inner and outer locks together. Then install all provided
bolts and tighten them down evenly in a crisscross pattern. You’ll
need to go around a few times before they are actually tight.
Air up the tire, check for leaks, and bolt it on your truck. Now,
only three more to go…
This article is to be used as a reference only. We do not recommend
that anyone without substantial experience attempt this modification.
Beadlocks can be unsafe and they can be very difficult to balance
and are more prone to driveability problems than normal wheels.
use caution when building and using beadlocks.
Remember to check your
beadlocks often, as it is common for bolts to loosen over time.
Also keep in mind that beadlocks are not DOT-approved in most
states. Ask your parent or guardian for help when using a welder.
Brinks is an avid four-wheeler and a contributor here at
ROCKCRAWLER.com. Jack resides north of Houston, TX
and frequents many events in the Southwest.
Jack at email@example.com