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Old 07-01-2012, 09:14 AM   #225
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As with all tires on Airstreams, don't forget to periodically rotate ( per AS manual recommendations ) and balance the tires. I use every 5k miles as my marker. Each time the mechanic carefully inspects the tires, rotates and balances them. Ahhhhh....peace of mind driving down the road!
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Old 07-02-2012, 03:02 AM   #226
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As with all tires on Airstreams, don't forget to periodically rotate ( per AS manual recommendations ) and balance the tires. I use every 5k miles as my marker. Each time the mechanic carefully inspects the tires, rotates and balances them. Ahhhhh....peace of mind driving down the road!
A proper tire balance is the tire, wheel and hub and drum, as an assembly.

Centramatic balancers serve that purpose since they keep the running gear in balance, every mile the trailer travels, since they continuously and automatically monitor the balance as well as correct it.

Their video fully explains as well as demostrates what and how it does "what it does".

Andy
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Old 07-02-2012, 06:29 AM   #227
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rotating tires

OK, I know this is a dumb question from a new owner, but bear with me. If I recall correctly, to rotate a radial tire you move front to back on the same side, correct? To do that, one would have to utilize a jack I assume. I had been cautioned about using a jack on an Airstream and instead use one of the drive-on devices which lifts a flat tire off the ground by raising the good tire. So how do you handle jacking up your Airstream when having the tires rotated? Thanks in advance.
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Old 07-02-2012, 06:42 AM   #228
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Rotating trailer tires only hides possible axle, alignment, running gear issues. A trailer with properly balanced gear, in-spec alignment, and weight distribution will wear all the tires evenly.
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Old 07-02-2012, 09:00 AM   #229
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Rotating trailer tires only hides possible axle, alignment, running gear issues. A trailer with properly balanced gear, in-spec alignment, and weight distribution will wear all the tires evenly.
I must agree. I now have a little over 30,000 miles on Lucy's 16" Michelins. I run them with Centramatic Balancers at 72 psi. The wear is even on all tires. I have not rotated these tires and have no intention of doing so.

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Old 07-02-2012, 10:12 AM   #230
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We have Centramatics too and the tires are wearing evenly. But I have 5 Michelins and wheels, so I watch closely by measuring tire tread and if one tire is wearing a little more, I switch it.

My understanding is radials can be moved around without regard to which way they roll. When radials came out, you did have to have them roll the same direction, but that is no longer true. I have been rotating tires for decades that way without any problems.

There are jacking points at the rear of the trailer. AThere should be plates riveted under the trailer that show where to jack the trailer. Sometimes they fall off and you have to figure out where they were. They are on the frame and several feet behind the rear wheel. Using some boards under one wheel of two or three also works fine.

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Old 07-02-2012, 08:44 PM   #231
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Well, we finally converted from 15-inch to 16-inch wheels so that we can run LT instead of ST tires and get the blowout nightmares behind us. Special thanks to those of you who provided advice and gave me the confidence to finally make the switch.

The following is a compilation of others' experiences and opinions, and personal research on 16-inch wheels and tires. Hopefully, the photos and details below will help others with 19-foot Bambi's that have been contemplating this conversion, to decide for yourselves if this is the permanent fix you seek. (Other Airstreams seem to have more clearance in the wheel wells, so this isn't such a hard decision to make.)


A Little Background...

Without going into a lot of detail, we had a blowout on our 2005, 19-foot Bambi near Mexican Water, Arizona in July of 2008. We were on Highway 160 just east of the junction with Highway 191, on the Indian Reservation (that's about half way between Kayenta, Arizona and Cortez, Colorado, near the Four Corners area), when we saw one of our three year old, Goodyear Marathons (that used to be on our trailer) come shooting out of the wheel well like an ICBM coming out of an underground silo, smoking and slinging chunks of rubber, and head out across the desert. Because we were on a wide sweeping curve, I decided to pull half off the shoulder to keep from being side-swiped by cars and semi's. Bad idea -- The dirt is Lake Powell sand (really soft, like sugar) and the trailer immediately sank up to the frame with the bare rim and what was left of the bead, partially buried in the sand. There was no way a jack was going to get under the frame. So, I figured I'd just pull back up on the shoulder. No way, now I'm stuck in the sand.

Well, anyway, four and a half hours later, after a mile hike on a desert highway in 110+ degree heat with no hat, no water and wearing sandals, and a high-speed ride locked in the back of an Arizona Highway Patrol car in search of a slightly elevated ridge 15 miles away that had cell phone service so that I could call our insurance company, a tow truck finally arrived to figure out how to change our tire and get us back onto solid ground. By the way, having lived in Arizona for over 30 years, I already know the following:

1. Stay with your vehicle; don't hike to the nearest gas station in the heat of the day, especially when they don't have a tow truck and their pay phone is broken.

2. Wear a hat and sturdy shoes, carry extra water, and stay out of the sun as much as possible; don't go hiking on the highway in 110-degree weather in sandals, without the hat and ice water you left in the truck.

3. Don't accept rides from strangers (unless they are police). The highway patrolman said that he would take me to a phone. When we drove right past that gas station/restaurant at about 80 mph, I realized that I was locked in the back of a car with no door handles, not wearing a seat belt (there weren't any), and I didn't know where we were going. (Uhhhh, HELP!)

4. Weigh your decisions carefully. If you are on an Indian Reservation in Arizona and you need a tow truck to come from 90 miles away, on the Sunday afternoon of a three-day holiday weekend, do you want to it to come from Colorado or New Mexico? (I'd like a local, please...)

Uh-oh, I'm making a short story long, now... Sooooo, $450 dollars later, we were back on the highway, headed for Cortez, Colorado in search of the elusive 15-inch ST trailer tire that isn't a Goodyear Marathon. And, the only regular tire store in town that has a 15-inch ST tire is... the Goodyear Store. Well, you get the idea.

Anyway, later, back in Phoenix, I researched tires and decided that 16-inch wheels and Michelin XPS Ribs were the bullet-proof solution to blowouts. So, our tire-guy, Paul (old-timers always have tire-guys, yard-guys, paint-guys, etc. It comes from being so old that they finally remember you when you keep coming back in for more stuff. This can be accelerated by owning an Airstream that has lots of tire failures, so they can remember you faster!) -- Oh yeah, so Paul helps us pick out some 16-inch wheels. However, a couple of days later when everything arrives (how did you guess, all special order stuff) and we get the XPS ribs installed, they won't fit into the wheel wells. (I'll explain why later in this saga.)

So, plan B: Special order the 15-inch, Maxxis ST tires.

Jump ahead two years -- I finally got Centramatics from Santa (and Andy), and I decided to install them a week ago, on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. I figured it would take about 15-minutes per side. So.., three hours later, I got one side on, after playing with the Centramatics for awhile and wrestling with the one tire. Then, I finally remembered that you have to let the air out first. And, I found out how long it takes to pump a tire up to 80 psi with a little, portable air compressor. (By the way, that's about an hour.)

Now, I'm pooped... It's 4:30, so I decided to take the trailer up to Discount Tire before 5:00 PM when they close, and they can install the other Centramatic. By now, I'll gladly pay double what I was trying to save, just to have them do it; and that's for just one side! So, they got the wheel off, and... the belt was separating. Dang! At least, I got the extended warranty. After the big blowout, I was running scared, and I paid extra for the warranty, when I normally would just take my chances. It paid off this time. Unfortunately, I thought the Maxxis tires were the "final fix" for blowouts. Now, I'm back at square-one. -- So, that's how we revisited converting to 16-inch wheels and XPS Ribs.


A Little Analysis...

Alright, before we spend a hunk of money on this, I need to figure out why the 16-inch wheels didn't fit two years ago, and why they should work now.

After rethinking what happened before, I remembered that I told Discount Tire not to jack up the trailer on the axles, and they put the jack on the shock mounting bolt and jacked up the wheel, instead of the trailer. So, the wheel was still all the way up in the wheel well, which reduced the clearance between the hub and the outer edge of the wheel well. Also, they ordered 7-inch wide truck wheels that had a slight offset (don't remember how much). So, if I order 6-inch wide trailer wheels with zero offset, this time (which is what Airstream recommends), the cross-section width of the tire should be narrower.

Comparing the cross-section width of the 225/75x16 Michelin XPS Rib versus the 225/75x15 Marathon, both on 6-inch wide rims, the width is nearly identical. In fact, almost all of the other dimensions are the same, except for the tread width (the XPS Rib is a little wider) and the overall tire diameter (again, the XPS Rib is about 1 inch larger, which translates to 1/2 inch loss of clearance in radius, per side). So, if I can get the XPS Ribs into the wheel wells, there should be plenty of clearance (I just need to remember to let the air out).

OK, time to try this out -- It should work this time.

Discount recommended the Sendel T02 or T03 wheel (see exact specifications near end of this entry), and I decided to get XPS Ribs instead of the Michelin LTX M/S 2 light truck (LT) tire. Basically, I figured if I was going to do this, I should get the best. I know that I am almost certainly going to end up throwing away a weather-checked tire in about five years, that still has lots of tread left; but it will be worth it to end this tire madness. No more new tires every two years after a blowout on the road. No more wheel well damage. No more worrying when the speedometer creeps up to 65 on the highway when you aren't looking. -- Nope, it's worth the extra money, for the peace of mind.

So, we got the new wheels and tires, today. Attached are photos, and the exact wheel specifications appear below. As near as I can tell, the wheels visually appear to be the same size, even though I know that they are just slightly bigger around. The slight interference getting them into the wheel wells seemed the same as with the 15-inch wheels and tires they replaced (both deflated). And, the height on the trailer is very slightly higher and closer to level, with the new tires; although, if you didn't know I switched wheels, you probably couldn't see the difference by looking at the trailer from across the street.

If you decide to consider this conversion, it's entirely your choice. However, I personally regret having waited two more years and buying two extra tires to come to this decision. The XPX Ribs are the most expensive tire I have ever purchased, but my wife and I look forward to the coming years on the road with "normal" tire problems (nails and stuff), instead of catastrophic failures. Goodbye Marathons!

=====================

Wheel size: 16x6
Bolt Circle: 6x139.7 (same as 6x5.5)
Offset: 0 (zero)
Center Bore: 4.25
Load Rating: 3,200

Note: The clean tires in the photos are the XPS Ribs, and the dirty ones are the Maxxis tires. The last photo is of our wheel boot. It isn't supposed to fit 16-inch truck wheels, but it fits better on the new 16-inch Sendel wheels than on the OEM Airstream 15-inch wheels.
OMG, tears to my eyes; thanks for sharing. Still laughing.
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Old 07-03-2012, 06:53 PM   #232
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I am new to this thread. I did read most of it, and I think I understand the basics. I am now afraid to tell my wife about this. Spending another $1200 - $1500 on a brand new trailer to replace 5 new tires is likely to cause havoc.

Ho hum, so now the tires are no good also? Great. I can now have the privilege of doing so more shopping.

My Tires: Goodyear Marathon ST225/75R15 Load Range D (2450# @65PSI)

Now, on the surface, that would seem to be an acceptable spec for my 25' FC. So, now what's wrong here? Is it that the tire doesn't meet that spec? Or, is that spec insufficient for this trailer? Are all these Marathon tires blowing because they are "defective"? Are they blowing because they are not supposed to be used for such trailers?

If people were simply reporting that they wore out early, I think that would be somewhat comprehensible. But lots of blowing out sounds like a significant safety problem to me.

The two common tires to buy seem to be the Michelin XPS Rib and the Michelin LTX. The former seems to be specifically an RV application, the latter a light truck tire.

Is there any commonly available data on which is doing better (less blowouts) on trailers? Gee, I don't know if I can get any happier.
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Old 07-03-2012, 07:37 PM   #233
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If you read this thread from start to finish know that these posts take place over almost a 2 year time period. With reported issues and very few reporting a un-eventful tire experience. People that have a good tire experience seldom look to post in threads like this.

If the trailer you have in your profile is the one in question you have some newer tires. Likely less than a year old. Given the weight rating of those tires and you have 4 of them then at max presure they are rated for 9800 pounds of load. YOur trailer is going to be rated to handle about 7500 #'s max may be less. (As long as you don't over load your trailer) So the reserve capacity in the tires is pretty large. This is the point in moving to 16" wheels is the selection of tires with greater weight capacity is much better.

If it were me I would run what you have. Keep the tires inflated to near max. And always check pressures and the entire wheel/tire assembly in the morning before you move the trailer.

However if you are convinced to changing to a larger wheel and tire, don't let me stand in the way. The economy would accept your cash and the tire dealer would be very please to sell you tires and wheels. They will take your old ones in trade and re-sell them because they still have life.

Just my opinion like all of the rest of the opinions posted.

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Old 07-03-2012, 09:33 PM   #234
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BFG 15s

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Originally Posted by redwoodguy View Post

My Tires: Goodyear Marathon ST225/75R15 Load Range D (2450# @65PSI)

Now, on the surface, that would seem to be an acceptable spec for my 25' FC. So, now what's wrong here? Is it that the tire doesn't meet that spec? Or, is that spec insufficient for this trailer? Are all these Marathon tires blowing because they are "defective"? Are they blowing because they are not supposed to be used for such trailers?
Super Trouper says:

After reading all the threads here I took a tour around other RV and Boat (trailer) threads around the net. What I found is a general dislike for the Marathons because of the way they fail. On a utility trailer you might just bend a fender when the tire explodes but on an AS those fast moving steel belts cause a lot of expensive damage.

We had our 27FB for about 8 months last Nov. The PO had lost one of the Marathons (no damage) but I didn't want to take the chance to lose another catastrophically. I also didn't want to re-wheel the trailer so I followed Perry's lead and bought P235/75R15XL 108T BFGoodrich® Long Trail T/A® Tour light truck tires. They run fairly cool and have been happy for about 4000 miles. I noticed that the trailer rode smoother (fewer pillows strewn about). I bought from a local tire co and had them put them on and service the bearings etc. Took about an hour and a half. Tires are about $144 at Wally World online today.

16 is the way to go if you got the $$$ but so far the BFG's are doing fine. They run at 50PSI. The weight capacity is close but passable. Speed rating is 186 MPH which should cover most of my trips.

Brad
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Old 07-03-2012, 10:36 PM   #235
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Brad,
You are touching on my prime concern, which is catastrohic failure. I have to place emphasis on reliable towing. Unlike the fella earlier, I cant walk miles through some desert, etc. etc.

I'll have to gather more data on real failures. The 16-inch combo may just be good insurance and bring my trailer up to the standard I was expecting. When I bought the new trailer I thought the tires were high-end premium units. Best of the best.

Good thing I am reading these forums.
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Old 07-03-2012, 10:41 PM   #236
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tire pressure for 16 inch E rated

I have also switched to 16 inch E rated tires. I purchased the Goodrich. I see some people are running anywhere from 50 lb pressure on up. If you go bY the weight charts one would probably run a pressure on the lower side. Does Airstream give any recommendations. Higher pressure means harder ride (I guess). Any thoughts. My trailer is a 25 ft 96 excella. Weight unloaded around 5800, loaded probably 7000 lbs.

PS. I had 4 1/2 year old Marathons. Tread came off one tire. Did about $4500 in damage. I sure don't have a lot of warm fuzzies for them. When I took the others off, one of them was also about ready to go. Insurance paid, and I have a claim into Goodyear.
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Old 07-03-2012, 10:44 PM   #237
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Looking at some numbers the 27 could be as much as 9000#s GVWR. With a tire capacity of 9800#s I would be nervous. Not saying the BFGs have that capacity. It is just when tire capacity is marginal this becomes an issue. Moving to 16's would give you a load more capacity.

This applies to all long twin axle trailers. (Say 27' and up) and the longer single axle trailers. In fact the single axle trailer have more to fear as one tire failure puts you in a place that isn't too fun. The triple axle units have other issues escpecially when bending around corners and tire scrub. So a shorter double axle trailer like Redwoods has lots of left over tire capacity and I just don't see issues if the tires are properly maintained.

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Old 07-03-2012, 11:15 PM   #238
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Jasper,
Did you inform the appropriate people about that major tire failure? That's a shocking story.
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