GT tires that will fit... RECOMMENDED
Hi There, Just recently signed on to this forum.
GT partly gutted off ebay for $5433 in January 2011. Seems like a lot to pay for a rebuildable core, but after years of searching, and much restoration experience, I knew a few thousand $ over-priced “up front cost” will be a drop in the bucket over the years of rebuilding.
Paid in full so I could get Title, legal plates and insurance. Drove 500 miles down into the hills of Tennessee to get it. I had one day to get there and one day to get back. I expected the GT to be worse than described, and it was
worse. Seller turned out to be a used car salesman and knew less than nothing. His claim of “road-worthy” was grossly misrepresented (He said his mechanic had gone through the wiring and brakes, so I guess he “went through”, but didn't “fix”!!) I'll skip some details, but dysfunctional tow-light harness, no brakes... dragged out of the woods and washed condition... but... nearly perfect skins, and that's what I wanted most... Excellent original skins, perfect vinyl walls and flawless plastic bath and bulkheads... To me, that made it worth it. Everything else is easy. I was a finish carpenter/general contractor in the historical restoration biz, and a race car fabricator for IMSA. We'd wear out thirty tires in a 24 hour race. I know tires too well.
I can tig, mig, gas and arc, know paint, plastic, wood and metal. All phases of household and automotive mechanicals, electric, plumbing, hvac. I have nearly (I say nearly, 'cause one can never have them all) every tool to build houses and restore cars.
So far, It's been fun and easy to work on it, but I am very disappointed with the build quality. I understand that Airstream does not need to employ certified air-frame mechanics, but maybe they should hire fabricators that can read a tape-measure and use a framing square. Why are they built with such disregard? I've seen bamboo and thatch huts built to closer tolerances. Really Not Kidding!
Even though over the phone, the seller claimed tires were good to tow, I did have the foresight to bring a pair of new 235/75/15 XL Michelin LTX M/S2 tires mounted on new AS steel rims, “spider” balanced (that's what they call the six-lug mount balance plate), with steel valve stems... Yes, I'm very aware of the endless inquiries and debates this forum has on brands and sizes and ratings and ranges and... blah blah... don't care to argue. Every tire choice is a compromise.
I had read in this forum that a modern radial tire “might” have to be deflated to fit into the wheel-house. Slight understatement. Even tho the axle arm angle was totally correct, I could not get the new deflated tire squeezed and wiggled into the wheel-house, so went to local tire shop for bigger tools. Owner of shop couldn't get them on either, and walked away, urging me to buy his smaller Chinese trailer tires.
I'm thinking of greasing them up and using thin plastic shims to protect the moldings and maybe fabricating some kind of clamp... Then, emerging from of a cloud of cigarette smoke, over by the back door of the shop, I heard, “Ah'll git dem tars in dere fer ya.” punctuated with the classic flicking of the butt onto the ground and grinding it out with his boot, then a long exhale of smoke. He was about 6' 8”, 300 pounds with hands the size of fielders mits. With little effort, he squeezed the sidewalls of the deflated Michelins close together enough to slip into the wheel-houses. So it is true, they'll fit, and once they're in, there's plenty of clearance, but don't plan on a roadside tire change without a “gentle giant”. I privately tipped him very well, and paid his boss for two tire changes.
BTW, the seller's “good to tow” 7.00/15 tires were rotted junk, and wheels were so rusted out, that I was later able to push a scratch awl through one of the pits in the steel rim and deflate the tire. Hard to believe, huh? (Did I mention he was a used car salesman?)
I'm no rookie at towing. I duct taped all the windows and doors and wagged it back to Ann Arbor through freezing February wind, ice and snow... No equalizer hitch, No brakes (Not unlawful in MI if under 3000#), No signal lighting(hand signals are still legal in MI). Yes, I agree it was foolish, risky, almost illegal, exhausting, stressful and a tad irresponsible... but it towed flawlessly
in all respects, and is now resting peacefully in my driveway, beaming with gratitude for it's rescue, and eagerly anticipating it's restoration/upgrade, and getting back on the road. oops, forgot not to anthropomorphize it... (I'm told they don't like that.)
Bottom line: For a 1968
Globe Trotter, the LTX Michelins RULE!
Photos of the “untaping”, good skins, good floor, demo interior, (I'll re-cut and reuse all that fine ash interior)