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Old 01-29-2011, 06:27 PM   #1
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From 14" wheels to 16" wheels

Is there anyone out there with 14" wheels? If so, have you checked to see if going to a 16" wheel is at all possible? I know I've discussed this on here before, but we still don't know. I called the factory's service department and asked, but they didn't return my call. I called back another time, but they didn't pick up. We thought is anyone knows, you'd think they would.

Another thing I'd like to know is, if there isn't room as is now, is it possible to rebuild the wheel well to enlarge it so that 16" wheels/tires will fit? Is this even thinkable?

We are so wanting 16" wheels with Michelin tires, we can taste it. What a bummer it was when we picked up our "new" baby in December and discovered she was wearing 14" wheels!! By the way, she's a 1999 25' Safari. I know there are a few other 1999 25' Safari owners out there -- what are you running, have you tried going up in size?

Thanks.

Deb
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Old 01-29-2011, 07:38 PM   #2
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Deb, according to what I see you have a 1971 and a 1999 Safari. Which are you talking about? It sounds like the '99. But it looks like there were Safari's in '98 and '00, but not '99 from the list I have. That list may be incorrect. Are 14" wheels standard on the '99's or did someone change them?

Regardless of all that, measure the tires you have and go to the Michelin website and check the outer diameter of the Michelin's you are interested in—people have mounted LTX and the Rib tires. Diameter of each tires can be found out by clicking "specifications". There are usually more than one LTX version available. All these tires have slightly different diameters. Divide the diameter in two and measure from the center of the hubcap all around and see if each tire will fit. I measured 3 or 4 times assuming I would get it wrong at least once. Getting the exact center of the hubcap is hard to do—tape or ruler will move—but it can be done. Also measure between the tires assuming you have 2 axles to make sure they won't hit each other. Since tires flex, you need some space all around each tire. Then to quadruple check yourself (good to do when you are spending more than $1,000) check the difference between the tires on it now and the tires you want to determine how much bigger the new tires would be and check all around to see if that measurement shows whether new ones fit. This is an easier way to check the distance between the tires on two axles.

Rebuilding the wheel well could well result in brain damage. There may be wires or pipes above it. Some have cut back the wheel cut out at the front and back of the wheels by removing the trim and cutting the metal and then replacing the trim.

Also check to see if Michelin makes a good light truck 14" tire—that would be the simplest thing.

Gene
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Old 01-30-2011, 12:50 AM   #3
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Gene,

Thanks so much for responding.

Yes, we do have a '71 Safari (23') and a '99 Safari (25') and both have dual axles. We just sold our '69 Tradewind and she pulled out of here last Monday, that was a sad day. We haven't listed our '99 on our info page yet.

I don't know if the 14" wheels on the '99 are original or not, but we assumed they were. My DH and I were both surprised when we found out the '99 had 14" tires, and more than a little disappointed.

We will measure using your instructions and hope that there will be room, but down deep I'm afraid that will be too much of a stretch going up two sizes.

We'll also check to see if Michelin does offer decent LT tires in a 14".

Thanks again.

Deb
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Old 01-30-2011, 01:57 AM   #4
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Hi, I noticed that some of the older 25' Safari's did have 14" wheels with five lug nuts and 10" brakes. Compared to mine, I thought that was too small on the brakes and tires. I met a guy in Arizona at a rest stop with a 25' Safari like this; His was the only one that I've seen [in person] so far. I think his was a 1999 model too.
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Old 01-30-2011, 01:12 PM   #5
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Going from 14" to 16" would mean either finding 16" wheels with 5 holes or upgrading the brakes and hubs and using 6 hole wheels. Upgrading brakes is a good idea, but your costs just doubled. You could even go with disk brakes, tripling or more your cost. Remember you also need a new spare and if you go with the same wheel (instead of a steel wheel) on the spare as the other wheels you can then rotate the spare with the other tires, but a 16" wheel may not fit in the tire carrier (we carry ours in the truck bed, but we could fit it in our tire carrier, but it is a very tight fit). Staying with 14" means no problems with the spare. I suppose another option is upgrading the 14" brakes to disks. My truck has 5 hole 18" wheels, so they are out there, but it takes really large lug nuts, so hole size may be an issue.

And, are the axles designed to take the extra weight of 16" wheels?

The trouble with lots of options is it gets complicated and money is more of an issue.

It can be difficult to get the service dept. on the phone. Try calling customer relations. Or, contact them by e-mail—it's easier to get an answer that way. The e-mail addresses are on the Airstream website, although you have to search for a while.

Hopefully someone on the Forum will have better answers and see this thread.

Gene
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Old 02-01-2011, 01:34 PM   #6
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16" wheels

inland rv.com/they have the answer & the wheels that will fit your rv. Andy R. will be a lot of help to help you. just pull up their web site. Andy knows the inns & outs on AS. have a good day. RB
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Old 02-08-2011, 12:55 PM   #7
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Well, I just got off the phone with someone at the service department at the factory, and they said that all 25' Safaris have the same amount of space in the wheel well. Since they are able to upsize the newer ones with 16's, and the fact that the wheel wells are the same size, we can do the same. They also confirmed that we would have to change out our axles to a six-lug, but that's fine. The most important thing here is -- we can put 16" Michelins on our 1999!! This is fantastic.

I had to leave a voicemail for another individual who does the quotes, so I don't know what the charge would be until he returns my call.

I'm putting this out there in case there are any others who are in the same boat and are considering doing the same thing.

Deb
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Old 02-17-2011, 03:12 PM   #8
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I would check with Tredit (do a Google search) to look for wheels for your AS. They carry a good assortment of styles and bolt patterns. We purchased our 16" wheels from them at a very reasonable price, and then purchased tires locally and had them mounted and balanced.
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Old 02-18-2011, 08:43 AM   #9
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48Bob, thanks for the information. We haven't done anything yet as we've been waiting for the weather to warm up around here.

We are still debating whether to just change out the hubs (or are they drums?) from 10" to 12" to get the six-bolt style, or whether to do the whole thing and buy new axles for the the wheels and tires.

Another thing is -- how much of a help would disc brakes be versus electric? Our TV is a 3/4-ton GMC, so my DH says let it do more of the stopping. I just keep thinking it would be nice to not have to worry in mountains. Now, we don't live in the mountains, but we do plan to pass through them once in a while.

Thanks again.

Deb
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Old 02-18-2011, 02:06 PM   #10
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All things being equal, disc brakes are superior to drum brakes. All things are never equal.

They are very expensive and some people have had problems with them, but that may not be typical. Some love them. I have no doubt the threads on brakes will give you more information than you want to read, but you'll learn a lot. I think I've seen posts indicating two axle discs plus the actuator are well over $1,000 and maybe approaching $2,000. Keeping the drum brakes in good condition is what we have decided.

A 3/4 ton truck (or any truck) can do some of the stopping, but it's lot to ask of those brakes to stop the trailer too. You want the trailer to apply it's brakes slightly before the tow vehicle. Brake controllers can do that. It tends to keep the trailer straight.

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Old 02-19-2011, 04:12 AM   #11
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Installing disc brakes won't mean that it's OK to ride the brakes down long grades. Engine-braking should still be used for the mountains. While discs undoubtly improve braking performance on cars and trucks, especially with regards to fading when hot, and in very wet or other extreme conditions, your drum brakes will still help stop your rig fine, as long as you are aware of their limitations. After all, many vehicles continue to use drum brakes without incident (including semi's).

Also, one shouldn't rely on the tow vehicle for a lack of braking power in your trailer. If you want to see how much braking is provided by your trailer brakes, find an isolated area where there is absolutely no other traffic, pedestrians or other obstacles you wouldn't want to run over, and plenty of room to stop; and disconnect your trailer brakes. Then, try stopping from as little as 20-25 mph, using only your tow vehicle's brakes. It will be a real eye-opener...
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Old 02-19-2011, 05:57 PM   #12
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From time to time someone reports on the Forum that they had a heart stopping ride down a long downgrade, usually in the west, but not always. Sometimes there's an allusion to pants wetting. If my memory is correct, it seems the problems are reported to be insufficient tow vehicle braking, but could have been because trailer brakes were maladjusted, worn or not working.

Drum brakes on a trailer need frequent adjustments unless you have the newer self-adjusting brakes. My opinion is that electric drum trailer brakes aren't all that great and thus need to be maintained well to work properly.

They are much more susceptible to fade when wet than discs—if you travel through a couple of inches of water, it's good to ride the trailer brakes lightly for a while—you can use the brake controller manual lever for this—to dry them. This is something everyone knew when everyone had drum brakes a generation ago, but maybe people have forgotten or never knew it.

But we've not had a problem with braking—it just takes a longer distance because of the added weight. The '07 Tundra has very large brakes and stops well, but with another 3 1/2 tons, I wouldn't want to rely on them alone or with poor trailer brakes. At one point we had 3 wheel braking on the trailer because the wires on one brake came apart—that was a splice done at JC. I didn't know until we returned from a trip and I looked under the trailer for some reason. I soldered the wires.

Discs would be better, but I haven't wanted to spend the money and so far it's been ok with drums.

So, having all the brakes working as well as can be seems very important to me. If the trailer brakes are not in good condition, it will take longer to stop and in a panic stop situation, stopping may include the rear of the vehicle in front, a tree, animal, human, pot hole, etc.

Gene
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Old 04-08-2011, 11:39 AM   #13
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AirCruiser - have you been able to get a quote for all the upgrades? We're looking at 16" wheels on our 2011 23FB which came with 14"ers :-(
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Old 04-08-2011, 08:41 PM   #14
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Yes, we did. We called JC and they wanted, and I think this is right, around $5,000.00 to change out the two axles and five wheels/tires (Michelins). It's been a little while, but I think that's what it was. Please call them to confirm.

We ended up ordering the axles through Andy at Inland RV and I just picked them up today at the factory. Wow, that was quite a one-day drive for me by myself, but my DH couldn't get off work so I just did it. I left around 6:30am and was home with the two new axles around 6pm. Worst part was that it rained a lot of the way there.

Axis was really good about loading them for me and making certain they were tied down well. Very friendly people to work with.

We still have to order wheels and tires. We also bought centrimatics from Andy while we were at it. I seem to recall reading on a thread here that you must make certain there is a minimum of space (clearance?) behind the wheels for the centrimatics. I barely remember reading this, so I'm doing a search to see if I can find that thread.

I can't see your info while typing this, but do you have 14" wheels on your AS now? I had a really hard time trying to find others with 14" wheels to discuss our options with. We debated and talked between us since December, and then just did what we felt was right. Although, I did make that call to JC to make certain that there was enough space in our wheel wells for them. JC said that all Safaris irregardless to year have the same amount of wheel well space, and that they are upgrading newer ones with the 16" wheels/tires. So, if they are doing it to some and they all have the same amount of space, then it will work for us too.

Good luck.

Deb
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