I haven’t had time to write up the end result. So here’s a few more photos of a broken woodsplitter. As a general rule anything that can be done, someone has done it and posted it on the internet. That’s one of the best parts of the internet… seeking someone who has done it before so you don’t have to “reinvent the wheel” (no pun intended). I found a thousand ideas about woodsplitters but only one person who upgraded a splitter of my make and model with larger tires in the manner I wanted. I forgot the link but I found it buried in an old thread about logging or sawmills or something. That guy had upgraded just like I wanted and it looked slick. (If I’d kept the link I’d have sent him a thank you note!)
So it had been done once and looked good. I dispensed with many “outside the box” ideas and settled on installing a torsion axle suspension directly on the hydraulic fluid reservoir.
- I’d go with five bolt hubs because four bolt hubs are annoying.
- I’d go with larger tires so I could roll down the road at 65MPH but I wouldn’t go too large. This was the $10,000 question. How large is too large? For towing there’s no such thing as too large (and full size car tires could be acquired for a song) but towing is only half of the equation. I didn’t want to lift the work area much above OEM height. Even a few inches of lift on the splitter beam might mean a thousandfold increase in sore backs! This means cool ideas like salvaging car tires from a junkyard were out of the picture. Also I’m vain and wanted it to look “almost OEM” and not “minivan axle welded to it”.
- I was worried about the topheavy thing for taking a hard turn while towing. I had my concerns about trailer tires which are inherently narrow. Tall and narrow means a higher rollover risk. The logical thing to do is put on an axle that’s a bit wider. Wide means more stable ride. But just like I didn’t want to lift the splitter beam I didn’t want to be leaning waaaayyyy over a wide axle. I figured a big lean of an axle that juts out is just another way to wear out your back. Also how many times can you step past an axle/tire that’s jutting out before you smash your ankle into it?
The moral of the story is that every change, no matter how crude and simple the machine might be, is a compromise between competing goals. Towing wanted big, tall, wide tires on a wide suspended axle. Working wanted small, short, narrow tires, on a narrow section of the machine with welded spindles.
Luckily I had time on my side. It’s better to spend 10 hours thinking and save 100 hours in the worksite than the other way around so I pondered for a few months. Also I couldn’t find a locally available torsion axle (I was looking for new parts and not salvaged). When the zombie apocalypse happens… we’re going to run out of torsion axle parts within hours! Has nobody thought of this?
One idea I had, that seemed clever, was to get snowmobile trailer tires. Those are super wide and short, the Fat Albert of trailer tires. I figured the extra width would make the towed object more stable against rollover but the super short tires would keep the splitter’s beam low to the ground. I thought this was the coolest idea ever, but in the end I didn’t do it. Once the welding was done it just didn’t seem necessary (and I didn’t feel like saddling myself with another tire of unusual dimensions).