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Old 01-08-2016, 03:52 PM   #1
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Need New Tires for 19' Bambi_Maxxis?

Hi there:

I am in the market for new tires for our 2005 19' International CCD Bambi. Someone at a recent Rally mentioned that Maxxis were the best tires to get for travel trailers. However in some of the threads, I am reading Michelins are popular.

I am an Bridgestone AT Revo fan for my 2003 Toyota 4Runner but when it comes to tires for my beloved Airstream, I am clueless.

Also, it sounds like 16s are better than 15s. We have a lot of missing rivets on the interior .... I would love any input...

Thank you in advance,
Laurie F.
Ventura, CA
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Old 01-08-2016, 04:15 PM   #2
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Hi Laurie

You can run Michelin P235/75R x 15" XL (extra load) LTX tires on the 19'. We have installed them on most of the 19's we have delivered and they work very well. The ride is dramatically smoother on the single axle. Should solve your rivet issue. Run these at 50PSI.

The 16" tire is a 225/75R x 16" Load Range E Michelin. It will also work but it will ride much firmer than the 15" tire. It does have more load capacity which would only be an issue if you have added considerable weight in modifications, extra batteries etc.

Andrew T
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Old 01-08-2016, 04:25 PM   #3
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I run Maxxis and I'm happy with them.

BUT. . .

My single axle Tradewind needs the extra load and those were the only ones in 15" that have the load capacity.

On a Bambi I would follow the expert's advice. See #2.
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Old 01-08-2016, 05:55 PM   #4
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I went with the 16's a couple of years back. Prior to the change I was popping rivets as well. When I went with the 16's it forced me to revise the set up on my Equalizer. Turns out the dealer had set it up all wrong. The drive is totally different now and we no longer pop rivets. The tires were a great upgrade from a piece of mind standpoint, but the rivet popping was always the way the hitch was set up. Whichever way you decide (and you can't go wrong with Michelin) make sure you go through your hitch set up.
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Old 01-08-2016, 06:40 PM   #5
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Thank you for the replies regarding tires. I will look into Michelin.

With regard to the hitch hook up, what should I be aware of? I don't am not following why that would be an issue with losing the rivets.... As far as I know, there is only one way we connect the hitch (with sway bars). Our automatic jack broke a few years ago, so we have to manually connect the trailer to the hitch... I wonder if that is the problem...
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Old 01-09-2016, 02:40 PM   #6
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Hi Laurie, we run Maxxis & love them!

Upon the recommendation of the AS restorer who did our PPI in 2012 who has owned & restored 100's of AS & other vintage kin "Silver Twinkies" - we've been running Maxxis 15" E rated on our 1960 Avion T20 (20'-6" L) single axle since July 2012, & will replace them with the Maxxis again in mid-2017, because they ride well, get great wear & little bounce on the trailer. Our Avion is about the same length, but a bit lighter than your "modern" AS, cuz they were all built with lighter but more expensive materials back in the day, than are the current AS line-up since about the 1990s.

The change-out for us will be due to age - any TT tire should be changed out every 5 years per the date code on their sidewalls - & some say regardless of how long they've actually been installed on your trailer, so make sure you get a recent dated set of tires - & not some old stock sitting on the shelves for a year or two or more!

The Maxxis STs are excellent tires .... period!

We like them so well, that I got a set of 5 of their LT tires for our 88 VW Westfalia camper van, since the OEM Michelins rated for it (8 PR, C or D Load) have been NLA for many years. They're a HUGE improvement over all of the other XL tires we've tried over the years!

So now for a few things in the above & in other threads which I'll challenge here though, which I'm sure will "bring the bats out of the belfry"!

1st - 15" or 16" tires will have NOTHING whatsoever to do with popping rivets at all, that's just urban myth. The tire/wheel size has nothing to do with the rivets popping, unless they are shortening the profile/sidewall height as noted below - & even then it's probably not the tires as the primary cause, as discussed in the 2nd section.

If anything, since the upsized tires/wheels generally would need to use lower profile tires with shorter sidewall heights in order to keep the same overall diameter as the "stock" wheel/tire combo in order to fit into the wheel wells properly + allow you to change them on the road - the 16" or any larger wheel/tires will offer LESS cushioning to the ride due to less sidewall height available to flex, than the OEM 15" in your case (this is not applicable if the tires are same profile - e.g.: 205/75R15 > 205/75R16, etc. since the sidewall heights are roughly the same).

Vehicles are designed with the tires as an integrral part of the suspension system & ride comfort, which is why cars/suvs/trucks with the big ole "wagon wheel" 20-22"+ wheels with ultra-low profile tires ride so rough - there jsut is not enough cushion there!

IMHO the primary reason people move to bigger tire sizes is for looks & tire availability (since tire mfgrs. follow the current car/truck styling trends for ever bigger wheels), whether in a trailer or powered vehicle.

But why go to the added expense of 3 new wheels (incl. spare) in addition to the tires in the first place!?

You'd be far better off to spend the extra money on fixing your rivet problem discussed below instead!


2nd - Regarding popped rivets - I'm sorry to say that you guys with new ASs that are popping rivets is either due to too much time on rough roads or off-road - or else it's just the lower quality control seen in the modern ASs in many areas, as obvious from all of the other posts on here about failures of stuff on their new AS trailers.

For those folks with rivets popping on old vintage kin - well the Silver Twinkie design is a semi-monocoque aircraft inspired design where the skin takes some of the stress/strain & adds to the stability of the structure of the trailer, while minimizing the required weight of the framing structure. So those skins & rivets are constantly moving ever so slightly as the skin & frame move & resist movement, & eventually the holes in the skins/frame & the rivets themselves just plain wear out & pop out.

So if you have popped rivets in either case - new, vintage or in between, either have AS fix the rivets if it's still under warranty, or go to a trailer repair shop to have them do it for you, or else go get yourself a rivet gun & the proper type of blind rivets for the interior, exterior or belly pan installation & do the work yourself.

Vintage Trailer Supply (see ads on here & click) sells them all, including a riveting kit with the drill-mounted Olympic rivet shaving tool to make the Olympic rounded top blind pop rivets look very close to the OE buck type rivets (that require access to both sides of the riveting, vs. blind or pop rivets - read their explanations at VTS website for more on rivets). Their exterior rivets are round-top or acorn like those on mast AS & kin, belly pan rivets have a larger flat head for the higher vibration area of the belly skins, & a smaller flat rivet as used on most aluminum skinned interior panels (they also have aluminum washers for where the rivet holes are enlarged a bit).

I got mine on sale before the holidays, & will be tackling our Avion's belly pan's missing rivets when I have time & dry weather before the next vintage trailer rally outing in March!


3rd - The difference in design between ST trailer tires & LT light truck tires, is that the STs are designed to reduce rolling resistance to make towing easier, with better TV mpg, stiffer sidewall design to resist side-to-side movement in sway control + to minimize heat built-up in the tires from flexing, & to carry the loads of trailers specifically.

Whereas LT tires are designed to do much of the opposite on a powered light truck van/pick-up/suv vehicle & TVs, where they need traction to put power to the road - not minimum rolling resistance, they want flexible sidewalls so that the tread patch is maintained in turns, & are designed to carry the loads + power application - but then since they flex more than STs they'll create more heat from flexing as they're designed to do.

This going to LT debate is IMHO mostly driven by folks using the cheaper ST tires on their trailers & having blowouts or other tire failures - rather than the ST just being a poorly designed tire itself - they're purpose engineered for trailers - LTs are not. It's also partly due to buyers wanting more tire options or a particular brand (e.g.: Firerock/Bridgerock, Badyear, Bubbleguy/Michi, etc. to use Fred Flintstone names to protect the innocent ).

Also, there are far more factors involved in over stressing tires than the maker or if they're ST - since heat is the enemy to tires & cause most blowouts. Here are a few:

If under-inflated, they'll flex too much & build up too much heat, risking blow-outs, tread separation or other tire failures.

Likewise if you're driving through the desert in 90-100+ heat, with pavement temps in the 150-200+ degrees - which is not good for tires, as evidenced by all the "Gators" on the Interstates from even heavier duty HT 18-wheeler tires!

There are also DOT formulas for down-rating tires' load ratings in certain cases, so you have to check that & make sure that it's rated for more than the rated axle weight - less the down-rate % - if this applies to your situation & trailer &/or TV tires.

Moreover, if you look at ST tires, they are rated for 65 mph - so if you're exceeding that speed consistently, then you're tempting fate. Auto XL & LT tires are rated for higher speeds, but NOT in a trailer application, so ditto there - they are NOT a "magic bullet" to tow at 70-80 mph!

Many states like CA limit cars/pick-ups/suv's to 55 mph while towing a trailer, while others allow 60 or 65 mph anyway - due to the many concerns & complications resulting at higher towing speeds. Such as much more tire & sidewall heat generated at higher speeds, much increased braking distances for a combined rig & those growing almost exponentially with speed, as well as increased sway & other handling problems, concerns with road debris, potholes, rough pavement & irregularities, etc., etc.

I've read at least a couple of the LT tire gurus whose ST problems were due to the above heat &/or speed issues, & it's only a matter of time before they also have them with their vaunted LT tires too - barring a change in the driving habits & checking equipment.

This latter is the most important thing you can do for tire safety & longevity. Check & fill your tire pressures to spec before every trip, & every 500-1000 miles or so on long trips. Also carefully check your tires sidewalls & treads for wear, cracking & other signs of impending doom before every trip & at every stop (EVERY), & if they're getting too hot on trips (hand to sidewall, but be prepared to pull away quickly if hot) - then plan an extended stop to let them cool down if it's a hot day, &/or slow down if you've been running at 75 mph + recheck the tire pressures, & by checking out the L & R side mirrors at those trailer tires to see if anything is amiss while towing (& this applies to the TV tires too).

Do not assume that your TPS system (tire pressure sensors) will tell you when you need air - they're only a fail-safe warning for impending doom on a towing trip, or in any driving. Prevent the problem with regular, often & pre-trip tire pressure checks on any & all vehicles - powered or not.

For me, I'd prefer to stick with a purpose built ST tire, follow proper tire safety procedures, & speed limits - & yes I do find my speed creeping up since we got the Hensley Cub which eliminates sway & vastly improves both trailer & TV handling, but I catch myself & slow it down.

This ST vs. LT debate is ongoing, with hardliners on both sides - but ultimately you have to do what you're comfortable with, & live with it, learn from it, then make the next decision based on your own experience, needs, preferences & budget.


Good Luck & Happy Trailering!
Tom
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Old 01-09-2016, 02:54 PM   #7
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PS - I don't see where nor how the hitch set-up would cause rivet popping, if they were riveting properly, & it's not an age & wear issue on an older trailer - as I discussed in my post above.

The rivets are going to pop in areas of the highest stresses & vibrations of the entire trailer structure - &/or where they were improperly installed &/or undersized or under-strength rivets were used - & once those have popped - the rivet popping will go away, regardless of tires, wheel size, hitch set-up, or anything else.

Those wheel & hitch factors & changes are most probably just coincidental with reaching the end of the "problem rivet spots" above, & in actuality was due to those other factors.

Laurie - also look at the Maxxis STs for your Bambi - aside from the Michelin advise above. Also, with a small Bambi, if you have a decent Equalizer/Blue Ox/etc. on up to a Hensley/Pro-Pride WD hitch with sway control, if you set it up according to the instructions & guidelines on websites like this & from the manufacturers - then you'll be fine & won't be causing rivets to pop.

You folks with rivet problems need to fix the rivet problems themselves, & not go hunting around for other issues. One loose factory rivet alone that was in correctly installed - or Joe at the factory grabbed a= the wrong underweight/under=spec rivet from his apron pocket - could cause several nearby rivets to pop out. So either the new warranty, or a good shop, or you need to replace those rivets & soon!

Fix the rivets ... & deal with the tires & hitches as their own issues folks!

Cheers!
Tom
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Old 01-09-2016, 03:05 PM   #8
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Wow, I guess opinions vary!
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Old 01-09-2016, 03:22 PM   #9
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great info, I also have a 2005 19 bambi, in need of tires. I looked at wheel wells and I don't believe you can fit a 16" tire in the well. I am thinking of maxis had them on another as and did several trips to Alaska no problems.
any opinions from the forum on the Carlisle brand and their new tire their advertisng makes some good points. thanks everyone and I did not mean to hijack thread just trying to participate
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Old 01-09-2016, 03:50 PM   #10
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Many folks on this forum with 19' Airstreams have installed the 16" SenDel T03-66655T wheels and Michelin LT 225/75R16E LTX M/S2 tires as sold at the factory service center in Ohio.
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Old 01-09-2016, 04:47 PM   #11
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Many folks on this forum with 19' Airstreams have installed the 16" SenDel T03-66655T wheels and Michelin LT 225/75R16E LTX M/S2 tires as sold at the factory service center in Ohio.
Agreed. But 16" wheels and tires will not fit inside all wheel wells.
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Old 01-09-2016, 04:48 PM   #12
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St radials are made the same as p or Lt radial, look it up, the st has heavier cords ,so they have a heavier weight rating than p.and the st are china manufactured...
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Old 01-09-2016, 04:50 PM   #13
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Many 19' Bambi owners have switched to 16" wheels and tires, as this model has a higher load per tire than most other Airstreams. Most of us tried other brands of 15" ST tires before switching. However, many found the reliability to be about the same as the GYM.

Note: Just my opinion, but the P235/75x15XL would be overloaded on later 19' Bambis, which weigh approximately 4,500 pounds. Even if 450 pounds is deducted for tongue weight, this is cutting it too close for me.

The photos in the link below show the differences in clearance between the 15" OEM GYMs and the 16" wheels and LT tires we put on our Bambi:

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f465...tml#post944334

As of this writing, our Michelin XPS Ribs are 5 years old and have about 35-40,000 miles on them, with absolutely no problems. (Tire and wheel details are included in above link.)

==========

Additional comment:

ST and LT tires are not made the same, as evidenced by their weight:

OEM GYM 225/75x15 ST = 31 pounds (2 steel belts)

Michelin LTX MS2 P235/75/15 XL = 32 pounds (2 steel belts)

Michelin LTX MS2 LT225/75x16 E = 38 pounds (3 steel belts)

Michelin XPS Rib LT225/75x16 E = 49 pounds (3 steel belts, plus sidewall = 1 ply steel)
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Old 01-09-2016, 05:13 PM   #14
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Thanks for this amazing amount of information.

We are at the 5 year period and that is why I was searching for new tires. With the rivets, I just figured this was just another example of poorly made *new* Airstream trailers. (We have lots of exterior skin problems, as well). This was the first I heard that it could be related to the quality of the 'ride'. At any rate, I am back to shopping for Maxxis. My husband thinks I should by the rivet gun but I'm thinking I should leave this up to an expert. Considering taking it to the AS dealer in Westminster....
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