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Old 08-14-2016, 04:04 PM   #1
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1978 25' Tradewind
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15 inch vs 16 inch wheels

I am going purchase 27 ft flying cloud. Read about people going with 16 inch wheels. What are advantages and the science of doing this? Disadvantages?
Thanks
Larry
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Old 08-14-2016, 04:13 PM   #2
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Hi Larry. There are a lot of threads here that discuss why a 16 vs a 15, as well as several threads that cover using a 15" Michelin on double axle Airstreams. I haven't found the search feature to be too helpful in the app, but if you go to Google and search for "Airforums Michelin 16" you'll see several threads to get you started.

One caution - these topics tend to offer more heat than light from time to time and everyone is willing to spend your money for you 😀

Happy camping!
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Old 08-14-2016, 05:10 PM   #3
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The deciding factor for me was the lack of 15 in. tires that I would consider putting on my trailer.

I travel at speeds well beyond the rated limit of those tires that were available when it came time to buy tires.
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Old 08-14-2016, 05:16 PM   #4
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16in Michelin LT tires come with an E load rating, ideal for Airstreams. The 15in are not load rated that high & considered to be passenger car tires, some on this forum use them with success. It's your call!
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Old 08-14-2016, 05:23 PM   #5
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As mentioned, many threads on this topic, but mainly, a lot of people feel that "ST" or "Special Trailer" tires are not very reliable and susceptible to blowouts that can cause very costly trailer damage.

Those that feel that way prefer to use LT "Light Truck" tires and so far they seem to be doing well by comparison - may be early days to judge I don't know - I did go for them after experiencing problems with Goodyear Marathon ST trailer tires. Very happy with the LT tires after three or four years use.

Thing is that for the heavier Airstreams you cannot get a suitable LT tire in 15" size son that is why people switch to 16" wheels.

The Airstream factory now offers 16" rims and LT tires as an upgrade on certain models - I think it is standard on their top of the line trailers now.

The preferred tire brand appears to be Michelin.

I have noticed in teh last years or so that other brands of trailer manufacturers seem to be selling new trailers with LT tires.

Incidentally all ST tires (to my knowldege) are rated for 65mph. maximum, not so for LT tires.

65MPH is probably plenty fast enough with a trailer in tow but I will admit that when on interstates I prefer to keep up more with traffic flow and often find myself driving around 70 "ish!"


Brian.
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Old 08-14-2016, 05:33 PM   #6
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Your request for the science behind the choice is going to a little harder to find, particularly here. I looked for that answer from the tire manufacturers and was never given a technical answer, just told that ST must be on trailers unless trailer manufacturer lists otherwise as shown on the tire placard. As mentioned above there are numerous threads on this subject that even have a couple tire experts posting. Have fun reading.
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Old 08-14-2016, 09:02 PM   #7
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1978 25' Tradewind
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveSueMac View Post
Hi Larry. There are a lot of threads here that discuss why a 16 vs a 15, as well as several threads that cover using a 15" Michelin on double axle Airstreams. I haven't found the search feature to be too helpful in the app, but if you go to Google and search for "Airforums Michelin 16" you'll see several threads to get you started.

One caution - these topics tend to offer more heat than light from time to time and everyone is willing to spend your money for you 😀

Happy camping!
Thanks for the tip on doing a Google search. Now , I have lots of studying to do.
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Old 08-15-2016, 04:34 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by goliad1 View Post
Thanks for the tip on doing a Google search. Now , I have lots of studying to do.

I don't know whether to say "you're welcome" or "I'm really sorry" 😀

You'll find that I'm a person who went with 15" Michelins which are not officially LT (light truck) rated tires but P (passenger car) rated tires. Michelin doesn't recommend using their P or LT tires on trailers but Airstream uses their 16" LT on some models and of using a P tire on a trailer, you should reduce the load capacity of the tire by 9% and be sure that leaves you with some capacity. In my case, fully loaded for camping, my trailer comes in at 6000#. The 15" Michelins I use have a reduced capacity of 1985#/each or an average of 485# of headroom.

Works for me. Others would recommend the 16" version with larger wheels for the larger tires and others would recommend staying with the GYMs that come with your trailer.

Good luck!

Good luck!
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Old 08-15-2016, 07:37 AM   #9
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As you read through old tire threads here on AirForums, you will see me posting quite often on this subject. I am an avid proponent of the 16" Michelin LT tires, having had some very bad experience with the Goodyear Marathon OEM trailer tires.

As far as the science behind it, it is mostly junk science with tire manufactures standing behind ST tires as the only ones that can be mounted on a trailer. On the other hand Airstream mounts 16" wheels and Michelin LT tires on their Classic trim level trailers. They also mounted them on the Eddie Bauer trailers. What's with that?????

On my 2005 Safari 25FB I finally upgraded to 16" Michelins after about four years of dealing with ST trailer tires which included three catastrophic highway failures (blowouts). All of this tire grief occurred withing the first 30,000 miles on the 2005 Safari. During this period, I replaced 13 ST tires. After I upgraded to the Michelin LT's, I traveled another 60,000 miles without a single tire issue. When I bought our new 2015 Flying Cloud, I immediately replaced the five OEM tires and wheels with the 16" Michelin LT's. We did this upgrade ourselves, and it ended up costing us about $1,000 as we were able to sell the OEM tires and wheels for $600.

As a final note to the OP, if you are the kind of Airstreamer who occasionally tows the trailer across town to the lake for the weekend, you will probably be just fine with the Marathons. On the other hand, if you intend to travel far and wide at highway speeds, you might want to seriously consider a tire upgrade.

Best wishes in your pursuit.

Brian
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Old 08-15-2016, 08:42 AM   #10
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Lot's of good information in the above posts. Bottom line, 16" wheels appear to give you more options for the tires than do 15" wheels.
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Old 08-15-2016, 09:18 AM   #11
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We changed to 16" Sendel wheels and Michelin tires for much greater reliability on our frequent long distance travels. If all our camping was within a few hundred miles of home we would have kept the original tires.

$1500 for new tires and wheels minus $500 from selling the originals. $1,000 upgrade on four new wheels/tires, kept the original spare.
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Old 08-15-2016, 11:25 AM   #12
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Tires

I have a 2016 27' Flying Cloud that I put the 15" Michelin XL on.
Couldn't be happier I also installed TST monitors for another bit of assurance.
Appears the trailer actually feels like it tows a bit better as well. Being in the tire business myself and having the knowledge regarding ST tires from China I seen magnitude of problems over the years. Either choice would be good for you.
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Old 08-15-2016, 11:26 AM   #13
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I just replaced the 10-year old Carlisle Radial Trail tires on my '67 Tradewind with 15" Carlisle Radial Trail HD's with D load and 81 MPH sidewall rating. Never had any problems with the original Carlisles, they just got too old.
Wasn't broke . . . didn't fix it.
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Old 08-15-2016, 11:33 AM   #14
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I have had two tread separations in two years and done a significant amount of damage to my trailer with ST tires less than two years old with very low mileage.
I live in Florida (hot) and drive 70 MPH. I have read this forum extensively for a year regarding tires. It is clearly time for me to switch to 16' wheels with Michelin LT tires.
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