Originally Posted by Inland RV Center, In
Traveller. Airstream "NEVER" used 14.5 wheels. Someone, many years ago, looked for "bargain" wheels, didn't consider safety, so they bought used "mobile home" wheels, which are 14.5 inch. Mobile home wheels are made for a very short mileage life span. That "incorrect" size has been perpetuated ever since. The correct wheel size is 15 x 6, with 6 lugs on a 5 1/2 inch bolt circle. Andy
Inland Andy's above stament is incorrect, which might be why he put "never" in quotation marks. Airstream used 14.5 inch diameter truck wheels and 700-14.5 tubeless tires in the 1958
model year, which begin the Fall 1957
and continued through Fall 1958
and perhaps later. The 18' Globe Trotter, 22' Flying Cloud and 30' tandem axle Sovereign
all used 8 ply 14.5" diameter tubeless tires and turck wheels from the factory. The 26' Overlander used 10 ply 14.5" tubeless tires when it came with the standard single axle, but used 8 ply tubeless tires when ordered with the optional extra cost tandem axle. This information is plainly stated on all of Airstream's Ohio plant sales flyers for 1958
. The California plant sales flyers are more vague, just specifying the number of plys without listing the tire and wheel diameter, but the ply specifications are 10 plys for single axle trailers and 8 plys for tandem axle trailers, consistent with ply specifications for the 14.5" tubeless type tires expressly used in Ohio.
The lower sidewall of a tubeless tire has a different profile than that of a tube type tire and requires a different wheel with a different shaped flange. A tubeless tire cannot safely be mounted on a tube type wheel, especially one having a different diameter. So to prevent mismatching, in the late 50s tubeless tires were made in "half inch" diameter sizes (14.5", 17.5", etc.) while tube type tires continued to be made in whole inch diameter sizes (14", 15"). Once tubeless tires and wheels became the common standard, they too became available in whole inch diameter sizes (14", 15", 16"), as today.
Either their experience with the relatively new "half inch" diameter tubeless tires on trailers was unsatisfactory during 1957-59, or perhaps trailer owners had a very dfficult time finding replacement 14.5" diameter tubeless tires in the rurual and remote areas they traveled, such as Africa. Tube type tires could be repaired worldwide, while tubeless tires were then just an emerging technology and required newer special equipment for repairs. Whatever the reason, by the 1960
model year Airstream returned to 6 ply or 8 ply 700-15 inch tube type tires for all trailers.