Bead balancing vs. weights unscientific experiment results

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Bead balancing vs. weights unscientific experiment results

Post by MinamiKotaro » Mon Aug 31, 2015 7:17 pm

I decided to try balancing my tires with plastic beads, aka airsoft beads. I did this with Mom's VUE, Dad's old F150, my Beetle, and my Saturn.

Mom's VUE
Used 4oz of beads, as indicated for her tire size by a chart I found. Initially seemed to work great, much better than the $#!^ Harbor Freight balancer ever did. However, after a few days, it developed a bad shake over about 55 mph. We removed the beads and balanced it with the vintage Micro Precision bubble balancer Dad found, using the "four weight" method. This fixed it perfectly.

Dad's Truck
Used 4oz of beads, again according to the chart. Dad wasn't impressed with it and didn't think it was any better than it was before (done on the Harbor Freight balancer). He balanced it using the "four weight" method. He thought it was better, though I couldn't tell any difference. Could be that I just hate his truck.

My Bug
Used 3oz of beads. Worked FANTASTIC, all the way to 90mph, it was like driving on glass. However, just like Mom's VUE, it developed a shake after a while. Unlike Mom's VUE, the shake came and went at random. It seemed to be less on hot days, worse on cool days. We took the beads out and balanced using the four weight method. Nice and smooth.

My Saturd
Used 3oz of beads. AMAZING, even better than the Bug. The thing is like driving a nice, comfy couch. Unfortunately, it has also started to develop a shake -- but only at 65 mph. Any faster or slower, it's still silky smooth. Of course, 65 is the speed limit all the way from my house to work. I'll probably take the beads out and get the tires spin balanced somewhere, as the hole in the wheel is too small to fit over the cone of the Micro Precision balancer.

One thing I noticed was that the beads were very dirty when they came out, and the ones in the Bug were slightly moist. They had probably started to clump together from the dirt and moisture, which would account for the shake after a few days. The moisture probably came from the shop air at Dad's. He's got a dryer on it but it's old as hell and barely works but he's too cheap to get a new one. I think for bead balancing to work, the inside of your tire would have to be very clean and the air you use would need to be bone-dry. Getting some of the expensive ceramic beads would probably work a lot better than cheap-ass airsoft bbs, too.

The four weight method takes a while and requires patience but it seems to work great. The MP balancer is much better than the pitiful old HF one. I think our HF balancer has gotten damaged over the years because it seems like it used to work better.

Here's what the Micro Precision balancer looks like:


Compared to the Harbor Freight balancer we had before:

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Re: Bead balancing vs. weights unscientific experiment resul

Post by doc » Tue Sep 01, 2015 9:44 am

Interesting post. What is the benefit of beads? Better balance? Just get the weights off the rim for appearance?


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Re: Bead balancing vs. weights unscientific experiment resul

Post by risk » Tue Sep 01, 2015 10:24 am

Great post!

A lot of off-roaders use the beads because they will stay in balance even with mud on the rims/tires.

I've been looking at the beads for my truck but I'm still on the fence...

They are expensive, but there has to be a cheaper way to buy ceramic beads in bulk. I have tried searching but only come up with jewelry stuff.

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Re: Bead balancing vs. weights unscientific experiment resul

Post by Dale M. » Tue Sep 01, 2015 10:31 am

Idea of beads is they will shift by centrifugal force to lightest side of tire/wheel combination and even out weight to be consistent around full diameter of tire/wheel or in theory perfect balance....

Back in 70's (I think maybe early 80's) same theory came about by having a circular (ring) of tubing and "shot" in tube and it was clamped to rear side of rim and it also used centrifugal force to distribute weight evenly around wheel/tire and more shot would migrate to lighter position of wheel as rotation increased...

Sort of dynamic balancing on the fly....

Here is one such concept...

I-net search will turn up more I will bet...

As with example above, I think air soft pellets probably are not rigid enough to take the beating the forces at work create and they distort or clump together and it sort of all goes to poop after time becasue of material combinations and physics involved...

And yes the old bubble dancers were pretty good for balancing, learned to use one working at gas station in 60's... That's when attendant washed your windshield and checked your oil, did lube and oil changes and installed and balances tires... Nope, no beer sales....

Last edited by Dale M. on Wed Sep 02, 2015 9:44 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Bead balancing vs. weights unscientific experiment resul

Post by Ol'fogasaurus » Tue Sep 01, 2015 10:40 am

Like Dale I grew up using a bubble balancer but in the late 50s. On bias ply tires and the speeds we traveled then they did OK but now days, you usually see them only used at home which probably isn't that bad if you keep your speeds down. You really have to be careful with the units during setup making sure that they are truuly level and on a hard base. They are touchy/tippy during the balancing time as most of the ones I have seen or used the head was really small so it did not take much to disturb the tire when moving weights around before they were tapped into place. The same for inside or outside of the rim.

I also remember the period of time people were playing with stuff inside of the tire for balancing and beads were not the only thing as I remember. If I remember correctly, one of the big drawbacks was with draw-down panic stops and the potential of the weights shifting at the wrong time. Another thing was people adding leak seal inside of the tire and it and the stuff being used for weights might stick together and now you are in a not too good of a situation. :roll: :wink:

Anyway, have fun with it but be careful.


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