Tire Carving 101
Cuttin' rubber for traction & performance
We receive lots of feedback from our readers and fans, and we’re constantly impressed with their keen eyes and level of technical genius. You guys elaborate on the technicalities of any subject and catch things we miss or we screwed up—as we all do! We have learned from you. Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?
Over the past few issues we have covered some hardcore mega truck races and the insane lengths drivers go to so they can compete and win. These superfast race rigs are all designed for extreme performance and unique looks while killing the competition. A complete race truck has it all, from go to show. And when we say “show” we don’t mean parking lot show ’n’ shines, we mean advanced fabrication that stops admirers in their tracks.
Carving the tractor tires is something dedicated drivers demand, but it’s a modification any serious mudder should consider. After receiving more than a few emails from inquisitive fans, we packed up our gear before heading out to Spiker Tire and Wheel in Lakeland, Florida. The plan was to get a quick lesson in cutting tractor tires from one of the best mega truck drivers in our sport, Keith Spiker.
There are a few great reasons to take a hot knife to your brandnew rubber, like better traction and performance through a lighter-weight tire. To someone who has never used a hot knife before, we recommend testing it out and learning a few skills on an old set of rubber, not the $1,500 worth of tires sitting on the shop floor.
Mack Meadows has been carving tires for over eight years, and from what we’ve seen he clearly knows what he’s doing. His tool of choice is a 250W tire grooving iron that can be picked up for under $75 at most hardware stores. Starting from the outside with the knife and moving inward, Meadows removes a single strip at a time while rotating the tire for better leverage. We have a new set of new IronMan 16.9x28 tractor tires, which are an eight-ply tire design. These will be going on our buggy, and we’re not looking for race performance, so Meadows decided to only make one pass around the tire. Race rigs and hardcore bog trucks are known to make two or even three passes around the tire to remove as much weight as possible. We were able to remove nearly 30 pounds of rubber from these tires while also adding a deep scoop into each paddle/lug. This modification will give the tires additional traction in the sloppiest mud and muck around.
Carving a complete set of tractor tires is something almost anyone can do in a single day with a little patience. Meadows tells us that practice makes perfect. It can be performed while the tire is mounted on the wheel, but don’t go too deep or cut the lugs too thin, or they won’t last!
Once all the tractor tires were cut and scooped, Spiker’s crew threw them into the back of our tow dualie and we were off to mount them on our new and badass 28x12 Plan B Fab wheels. Spiker and his crew have been selling, carving, and racing these types of tires for nearly 18 years. They regularly ship tires all over the country to some of the baddest trucks on the planet. Check ’em out!