What is the science behind tar snakes? - Stromtrooper Forum : Suzuki V-Strom Motorcycle Forums
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post #1 of 56 Old 05-21-2014, 12:35 AM Thread Starter
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What is the science behind tar snakes?

My local city added a fresh batch of tar snakes on the roads today. Why is it that they need to spread a 2" wide stream of tar to fill a 1/4" crack in the road? It seems to me that it would save on a lot of tar if they were a little more efficient and only filled the crack.

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post #2 of 56 Old 05-21-2014, 01:18 AM
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Just a guess but maybe the application tool they use puts out a 2 in strip so one tool does it all......covers various size cracks.

Also I don't think they just want to fill the crack I think they need to seal it from any water/moisture to prevent it from getting worse. That would require some overlap.

I do find them slippery on warm days in the curves.

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Last edited by chicago; 05-21-2014 at 01:27 AM.
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post #3 of 56 Old 05-21-2014, 03:32 AM
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no science, just attempting to keep water from penetrating the road's wear surface and further damaging the road



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post #4 of 56 Old 05-21-2014, 09:17 AM
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In 1872 Gruff Norton was told to fill cracks with hot tar

'All he had was an old tin watering can

He smashed the end with a brick and it widened to 2 inches
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post #5 of 56 Old 05-21-2014, 11:07 AM
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post #6 of 56 Old 05-21-2014, 11:56 AM
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I'm only guessing, since I'm not an engineer, but if they just put the tar inside the crack, there isn't as much surface area for the tar to adhere to when the frost and heave cycles begin in the winter time. If they overfill the crack and then spread out the tar on the road surface, there is that much more surface area that the tar plug can stick to. Plus the two inch wide strip on top probably provides a smoother surface to drive on, the way you feather out joint compound on a drywall joint rather than just stick a blob of mud where the drywall panels meet.

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post #7 of 56 Old 05-21-2014, 12:27 PM
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If they overfill the crack and then spread out the tar on the road surface, there is that much more surface area that the tar plug can stick to.
Yup, just like patching an inner tube. You don't reach for the tiniest patch that barely covers the pinhole.

When I had my Goldwing 1500 I found that some front tires would "grab" tarsnakes and jerk the handlebars rather than feel slippery on them.

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post #8 of 56 Old 05-21-2014, 01:03 PM
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Here it's far snakes but mostly a film of tar with chips of rock(?) thrown over it. So much fun in a curve.

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post #9 of 56 Old 05-21-2014, 02:34 PM
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simple. they measured a typical motorcycle tire contact patch, then added a quarter inch...

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post #10 of 56 Old 05-21-2014, 05:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by utahrider View Post
My local city added a fresh batch of tar snakes on the roads today. Why is it that they need to spread a 2" wide stream of tar to fill a 1/4" crack in the road? It seems to me that it would save on a lot of tar if they were a little more efficient and only filled the crack.
While doing my summer job with the D.O.T. the year I graduated high school, I got loaned out to the "Roadsavers" crew (a private company contracted to do the work) for 2 or 3 days as a flagger. Long, hard days, and I was only carrying a sign.

Anyway, I observed the way the work was done, and I'll just say this: I'd like to see anyone pour hot liquid tar (actually it's a rubberized sealing compound) into a crack and not have it spread out a little on either side. They want to fill the crack all the way to the top and then some, too, because they don't want water pooling in there again after they fill it. There was also a guy who came along behind the guy pouring the tar, throwing dust (Portland cement, I think) down on the freshly poured tar so that it wouldn't stick to cars' tires and get pulled out.

As with most things in life, there is a lot more to the seemingly simple task of filling cracks in the road than is apparent to the outsider. Each crack would get gouged out by a machine that looked a lot like a rear-tine rototiller, then blown clean with a leaf blower, presumably to encourage better adhesion. Then it would get filled with tar, by hand. There was one guy who did all the tar pouring - he was the expert at it, and it probably took more skill to do well than it appeared.

Yeah, tar snakes can definitely cause bikes to exhibit some squirrely behaviour, but it's a lot cheaper than fulling repaving a road, or even chipsealing it, and keeps the road from deteriorating even more. I'd sooner deal with tar snakes than big potholes.

Last edited by V-Strom Ry; 05-21-2014 at 07:10 PM.
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