Sometimes short and sweet is best, especially when things don’t exactly as planned. No, we didn’t have any trouble mounting General’s newest all-terrain, the Grabber ATx, on the exceptionally nice Method Race Wheels MR105 beadlocks we selected. Actually, that went down without a hitch. What didn’t exactly go as planned was getting our cantankerous 1978 Cherokee Chief to cooperate long enough to do a full-length test on the newest Grabbers. We managed to get some back road, highway, and moderate trail driving under our belt before the vehicle’s mechanical issues waylaid our plans.
To give it to you short and sweet, the new General Grabber ATx enjoys an updated sidewall and shoulder tread design compared with its Grabber AT2 predecessor—which was pretty darn good in its own right. The ATx is whisper-quiet on the road, grabs like gangbusters in the corners, bites hard on dirt roads and loose-soil climbs, and thankfully when it’s time to push your nonrunning FSJ to the curb, it rolls glassy-smooth with little rolling resistance.
We’ll be back with an LS drivetrain soon, but until then, on to making lemonade with our lemons. Here are some at-home beadlock mounting tips to see how we got this project’s new rolling stock mounted under it.
Inside each Method Race Wheel box you’ll find an instruction sheet with torque values, 5/16-inch Grade 8 bolts and washers, a tire valve, and of course the wheel and beadlock ring. Beadlocks are used in harsh off-road environments such as mud and water, so we always lay our parts out and run some antiseize over the beadlock bolt threads before installing them.
It helps to lay your tires in the sun to warm them up at least 20 minutes before you begin your at-home installation. The sun will warm up the rubber and make the bead bundles slip over the wheel a bit easier.
Installing the valve core is an obviously necessary step that’s frequently overlooked until you have slid the tire over the wheel. Lube the valve core with a little soapy water or window cleaner and pull it through the wheel, making sure the shoulder seats flush.
Ensure that the tire valve is seated firmly with no gap. Visually inspect for a gap and give it a decent push with your finger to make sure it’s not going to pop out as soon as you go to air up your tire for the first time.
You will want to lube the inner bead bundle with some soapy water. Or if you’re super-lazy like we are, a couple squirts of window cleaner will lube adequately and evaporate without any residual mess.
Lay the wheel flat on the ground and work the inner bead over the inner beadlock surface. The most effective way is to use your knee and body weight on the outer sidewall to drive the inner bead over. In any case, be careful you don’t slice or tear the inner bead bundle as you work it over the wheel.
Once you get the inner bead over the beadlock mounting surface, prop the whole wheel and tire assembly up on a small cooler, ammo can, or box to keep the tire off the floor as you install the beadlock ring and hardware. This particular cooler has been assembling beadlocks since 1999 and has seen every size from 33s up to 42s.
Use a soft dead-blow or rubber mallet to evenly shoulder the outer bead onto the inner beadlock mounting surface. This step is crucial to ensure that the ring seats evenly and the tire rolls true and round.
Lay the beadlock ring atop the tire and insert all of your mounting hardware, tightening each bolt a few turns by hand. Once the hardware is in, give the tire sidewall a few squirts of lube (soapy water or window cleaner) and get ready to have some fun with your torque wrench.
With the tire centered on the beadlock mounting surface and all the hardware installed, begin incrementally torqueing all the mounting bolts in a crisscross pattern. Method Race Wheels includes a cheat sheet to give you the proper torque specs. For our cast wheels, using antiseize, Method recommends a value of 15-20 lb-ft. We put ours to 10 lb-ft first, then did the final rundown to 20 lb-ft. Don’t over-torque.
With the outer beadlock ring properly torqued down, charge your air compressor and remove the core from the valve stem. Give the inner bead surface a quick squirt of your chosen lube and air up until the inner bead seats over the wheel’s safety lip.
Once we seated the inner bead, we installed the valve core and inflated our tires to 32 psi for our heavy FSJ. A good safety measure when airing up beadlocks is to use an air chuck with a remote lead, like this unit from Power Tank. This way, in the unlikely event of a bolt or material failure, your body parts will be outside the blast area.
General Grabber ATx
Size Tested: LT285/70R17
Load Range: E
Maximum Load (lb): 3,195 at 80 psi cold
Sidewall Construction: 2-ply
Approved Rim Width (in): 7.5-9.0
Tread Depth (in): 16/32
Tread Width (in): 8.5
Section Width (in): 11.5
Overall Diameter (in): 32.7
Weight (lb): 57.5
Sizes Available: Initially 12 sizes ranging from 33 to 35 inches for wheel diameters of 16 to 20 inches.