Balancing Wheels with Glass Beads

Based on Erica’s favorable review in this thread:

I ordered this kit:

I wanted to install through the valve stems rather than dismounting the tires.

The glass beads look to be about .03" and a valve stem opening (once the valve is removed) is .125" so it is easy for the beads to clog if counter-measures aren’t taken.

I read & tried several techniques. In the end, here is what worked for me.

I placed a Harbor Freight Triangle Detail Sander wrapped in a towel on the wheel and touching the rubber valve stem:

I made a tool from a bit of wiper blade stiffener and sharpened it to a point to unclog any log jams. A length of stiff wire may be just as good.

Now it’s ready to fill. They provide the tube and the bottle, the beads are fed slowly into the tube. Squeezing the bottle is neither necessary nor helpful.

If you do not rush, the beads will not jam but if they do then the tool is inserted and twiddled until things free up and flow:

If you take it slow it goes faster (no log jams) and you can get all 4 oz in there in under 5 minutes.

A test ride indicated to me that the tires were well balanced and the tiny but pesky vibration I was getting at 50-60 mph was gone.

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Hi Geo,
I have used them on my vintage cars(28 Ford Pickup and 29 Chevy Phaeton) works great. I used a small spanner/wrench to tap the valve stem to prevent a log jamb.
Not used them on my sports cars, yet.
Regards
Chris

Funny!

I used the same technique in the process of distributing finely-ground geological reference materials into small jars, from a hopper… works great!

Couple follow up questions, as I’m thinking about using these with my new wheels and tires:

  1. If I slip them in the side while mounting the tires, is there any reason I need to use the valve cores supplied with the kit or can I just leave the ones that came with the wheels?

  2. Is there any problem with letting them sit in the tire for an extended period of time without use? i.e., is there anything that would cause them to clump together. I assume if they really are just glass beads there wouldn’t be a problem. I ask because it will be at least a couple more months and possibly several months before I am actually mobile.

  3. How did you determine which size kit to use? Counteract’s calculator page didn’t seem terribly helpful, as it didn’t seem to have an option for my 185-15 tires.

Thanks in advance.

Can’t see any reason why you can’t put them in while installing the tires.

I don’t recall using any special valve on my car and bike.

I’d try maybe a half ounce in each tire and see what happens.

Scott,

  1. I would definitely use the included valves because they have filters on them to prevent the beads from getting inside and clogging it.

  2. Not sure. Mine has sat for a month or more with no issues. I have read complaints about other beads that said they could clump up. That’s why I went with these ones. They are smooth so don’t embed in the tire and they are supposed to be impervious to moisture. But I haven’t tested it for long sit ups.

  3. The kit of four packets was fine for my 205-70s. As Ray I think said, too much shouldn’t be possible (within reason), only too little. So if one packet each worked for mine it will probably work for yours. That said my wheels are alloy Minilites and have never required much weight to balance.

Thanks to both. Very helpful.

A half ounce would be pretty much a waste of time. First, IME, most tires have more than a half ounce of imbalance. Second, a half ounce imbalance is not at all perceptible. Three ounces would seem about right to me, based on the countless tires I have mounted and balanced. I’ve seen few, if any, that required more than 3 ounces. You must put in enough beads to offset the worst-case imbalance. Too many beads, within reasonable limited, will do no harm, as they will still spread out to balance the wheel properly. To few will render them useless, as they will be unable to balance the wheel.

Regards,
Ray L.

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Yes, the kits come with either 3 or 4 oz per wheel (or 6 if its a truck tire). I just wasn’t sure which amount to go with, but I definitely trust your wisdom.

I also think 3 oz would have been enough but when I shopped on Amazon the 3oz kit and 4 oz kit were the same price.

Originally I thought I might put 3.2 in each tire so I would have enough for the spare - but decided that was too much trouble and went with 4 oz in each road tire.

It is the work of a moment to swap the valves and use the ones with filters - they even give you the tool to do this.

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Thanks, Geo. I appreciate you sharing your experience.

Very much appreciate the info. Thanks