Once he had tried to take his chains off, he had got them woundy around the axles.
a paragraph in the short story "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" by James Thurber:
They're so damn cocky, thought Walter Mitty, walking alone Main Street; they think they know everyghing. Once he had tried to take his chains off, outside New Milford, and he had got them woundy around the axles. A man had to come out in a wrecking car and unwind them, a young,grinning garageman. Since then Mrs. Mitty always made him drive to a garage to have the chains taken off. The next time, he thought, I'll wear my right arm in a sling;they won't grin at me then.
question: Do the "chains" here mean "tyre train"? the chains to prevent skidding, if so, what do "axles" mean here?
thank you for your help and your time.