Tires are probably the most vulnerable part of a skid steer. On busy worksites, frequent flats are not only costly fixes but also time-consuming. So the perfect solution to avoid this problem altogether is to foam fill tires on a skid steer!
When it comes to foam filling the tires, you can always go to a professional or buy foam-filled tires off the rack.
However, this project is not a very difficult one to undertake yourself and does not require a lot of tools.
How To Foam Fill Tires On A Skid Steer
- Step 1: Make sure you have all your tools handy. You’ll require the following: Skid Steer Jack, Torque Wrench, Valve Stem Remover Tool, Drill Machine, Drill Bit (appropriate size), Tapping Screws, Expanding Polyurethane Foam Spray, Cutting Blade, and a Wooden Base.
- Step 2: Remove all four tires from your skid steer, deflate them and remove the valve core with the valve stem remover tool.
- Step 3: Drill a couple of pilot holes on the tire sidewall 90 degrees from the valve stem (top and bottom). These holes are there to monitor when your foam filling is complete.
- Step 4: Place the tire flat on a wooden base, insert the foam filling straw through the valve stem and start pumping in the foam. Make sure you have enough foam compound on hand before beginning this step.
- Step 5: Stop once the foam starts bleeding out of the pilot holes and let the tire rest for a few hours. Make sure you are slow and thorough in your application.
- Step 6: Clean up by cutting the excess foam using the cutting blade and seal the pilot holes by drilling in the tapping screws.
- Step 7: Replace the valve core, seal it and you are good to go.
- Step 8: This step is optional, but it is always a good idea to re-pressurize your tires after filling them with foam.
What Kind Of Foam Do You Use To Fill Tires?
The best foam to use for this project is expanding Polyurethane (or PU foam). This type of foam is easy to apply and fills the entire space inside the tire forming a solid layer.
They usually come packaged as ready-to-use spray cans typically used as sealants. However, you can also choose to use the two-part Polyfill, a liquid version of the same thing.
Whichever type you choose to use, make sure to read the instructions on the product first.
Are Foam Filled Tires Dangerous?
Filling a Skid Steer tire with foam has its pros and cons.
As foam replaces air, it has some obvious advantages. The tire will not get a flat or lose air pressure over time. This means you can freely operate your skid steer in construction sites without having to worry about the surface condition. You also do not have to worry about refilling your tire with air.
Most users of foam-filled tires also find them to be more stable and offer better control and maneuvering. The only downside is that it adds a bit of extra weight. This puts more pressure on the drivetrain and leads to an overall loss in mileage.
However, the benefits definitely outweigh the drawbacks in this case.
How Much Does A Foam Filled Tire Weigh?
Skid Steers generally use 10X16.5 tires. These tires with their rim weigh anywhere between 90 to 100 pounds each. Filling them with foam will usually add another 30 pounds to the total weight of the tire.
So for four tires, you can expect to add as much as 120 pounds more to the overall weight of the vehicle.
How Much Can You Save By Foam Filling Your Tires?
This is where the main magic of foam filling your Tires happens!
Major savings come not only in the form of the cost of repairing a flat but also in the form of idle man-hours, missed deadlines, equipment changes, and filling the tires with air.
According to some estimates, on commercial skid steers, you can expect to save up to $6700 after 7 flats. That kind of saving makes foam filling skid steer tires a no-brainer for many contractors.
Is It Legal To Foam Fill Your Tires?
Yes, filling your tires with Polyurethane foam is allowed under US FMCSA Regulations, Part 393, Section 393.75.
Do Foam Filled Tires Need Air?
The whole point of foam filling your skid steer tires is to avoid using air.
However, it is beneficial to re-pressurize your tires after filling them with foam. This allows the air to fill in all the crevices that the foam might not have expanded into and keeps the tires taut.
This becomes a must if you happen to notice some areas where the foam has not been able to expand properly during the filling process. In which case, it is better to fill the tire with air rather than leave those deformities on the tires.
How Much Foam will you need?
It is hard to gauge exactly how much foam you would need to fill all four tires of your skid steer, but we can estimate.
As mentioned earlier, each 10X16.5 skid steer tire needs about 30 pounds of foam to fill completely. A 24 oz. can of PU foam can expand into 20 liters of foam in volume. Therefore we should need a maximum of 2 cans per tire, 8 cans in total.
How Much Does It Cost To Foam Fill Your Tires?
According to our earlier estimation, it would require 8 cans of expanding PU foam to fill all four tires of your skid steer.
The cost of which is approximately 105 dollars.
Should I Foam Fill the Tires myself?
Yes, you can follow the steps mentioned in this guide to foam fill your tires. However, there are professional places that will do it for you.
They are generally better in their execution and use the latest technology to give you a perfect result every time. But it is also going to be more expensive. A tire shop can charge up to 5 dollars per pound of foam.