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dtbw 10-23-2003 03:37 PM

Valve stem failure on '02 Bambi
Yesterday while in north eastern MO (I44), I was cruising along about 75 (the legal speed), when I looked back in the rear view mirror and realized that the Bambi was slightly tilted to the curbside. I quickly decided that I should pull off and see what had happened. I really had no idea what had happened as there had not been ANY change in the way the Bambi was pulling or the truck was handling. The stop was uneventful as well. I first looked over the Hensley and all looked well, and then I went to the curb side only to find a totally flat tire. I then realized that it was VERY obvious that the valve stem had catastrophically failed. Apparently the failure occured only seconds before I noticed the tilt as the tire itself was still relatively cool and undamaged. Thank goodness I had the spare tire option. Change to the spare and finished the remaining 300+ miles back to Dallas. I kept checking the other tire's valve stem as I was concerned that it too might fail.

This might be a warning to all the late model Bambi owners to have those valve stems checked. It looked like the stem had been under mechanical flexing as there was little round pieces of rubber just rearward of the stem on the rim. I also was very surprised that at least with the Hensley, a blown tire did NOT change the handling of the rig...period. I plan to have all three of my tires valve stem replaced with the more durable metal stems.

Stefrobrts 10-23-2003 03:52 PM

Wow, when we were discussing what kind of hitch I should get, you and I emailed quite a bit about the hensley, and one of the highlights was that it was supposed to handle blowouts better than a regular hitch. Sounds like it really did the trick for you! Sorry you got to test it out, but I'm glad everything was ok (and you had a spare). That could have really bummed out your trip :eek:

dtbw 10-23-2003 04:31 PM

The incident yesterday made me all the more glad I invested in the Hensley. Traveling the Interstates on the trip up and back to the factory also made me glad I had the Hensley as the the over the road truckers have taken over the Interstate system. Never once gave me any issue as they blew by me, but I did notice quite a few SOB units tail ends weaving in the breeze after an encounter with one of the big rigs. The valve stem failure also pointed out to me the importance of having all the equipment to handle a blown tire on a single axle trailer. I had already investigated and determined that the jack that came with my Sport Trac would extend sufficiently, handle the weight of the Bambi AND fit under the jack point when the tire was flat. So it only took me a few minutes to change the tire although I should have checked the pressure in the spare before leaving as it was down to 45 PSI, so I had to spent a few more minutes having my little 12V air compressor bring it back up to 65PSI. I was glad it was the curbside tire. If it had been the roadside tire, I think I would have just called the Thor Roadside Assistance and let them handle it.

Tin Hut 10-23-2003 05:00 PM

Glad you came out of that ok Dave. That's why you should always have the Corvette follow you as a trail car to report problems. Looking forward to seeing the new metal valve stems in December. Get the caps that light up when you drive!

john hd 10-23-2003 07:40 PM

i don't think rubber valve stems are rated for 65 p.s.i.

your switch to metal ones is a good choice.

why so much air?

i would have guessed that 50 p.s.i. would be enough.

could be wrong!


Porky Pig 10-23-2003 08:09 PM

If that Bambi has D rated Goodyear Marathons ... they are rated to handle 65 pounds.

dtbw 10-23-2003 09:14 PM

Yes, they are D rate Marathon S tires
The 19' Bambi is heavier than you might realize and YES, the Bambi runs D rated Marathons ( I just went out to verified that they were D rated tires). The Bambi gross weight is 4500# with the empty being a bit over 3600#. I routinely run with full propane and fresh water, but normally empty gray and black tanks. With the normal stuff I carry (food, bedding, hoses, etc), my normal running weight is between 4200-4300#s. The axle used is the heaviest of any A/S and is rated at 4300#. As the hitch weight is about 500#, the axle at max would be carrying about 4000#s. D rate Marathons have a capacity of 2650# @ 65psi, that does give a total carrying capacity of 5300#, so I could run them a bit lower, but certainly not as low as 50#. I do not like running tires with reduced pressure as it tend to cause them to run hotter and failure is more likely (remember the whole Firestone/Explorer fiasco). Since entire running gear is setup for the heavy loads, it would indeed be strange if A/S were installing valve stems that could NOT handle the max pressure of the tires. If they did so, they did NOT post any warnings of a max reduced pressure. I also know that the tires were NOT overinflated as I personally checked them before leaving Dallas and as I was leaving Jackson Center (they actually read about 62 in Jackson Center as it had been chilly overnight, but NO air was added). As I am having all three valve stem replaced, I will soon know if incorrect valve stems were installed. Regardless, metal stems are going back.

JodynJeep 10-24-2003 12:39 AM

I know of two other people who have the new single axle CCD / Bambis that experienced the same blow out problem - all in 900 miles of using their respective trailer...

WayWard Wind 10-24-2003 08:55 AM

David--Appreciate the tire info regarding the Bambi. I will for sure check THIS out. We just returned from a 3700 mile jaunt, which included Jackson Center, for some warrenty items touch-up. Wondering when you were there & if maybe we crossed paths & didn't realize it. The info I've received via this forum regarding tires, has for me, put a whole new outlook on tires. During the trip, I checked them daily & also each time we stopped & was amazed at the pressure changes. Shared info such as this is just some of the reasons this site is great. Thanks to all who offer thier expertise. BTW David, I also put our first ouch in the back of our Bambi. Accomplished this great feat by also backing up. I backed into the ONLY other non-horse drawn vehicle on the street in Sugar Creek Ohio on a late Sunday evening. What a sick feeling. Some things I'll never learn.

dtbw 10-24-2003 09:12 AM

I arrived in Jackson Center, Oct 16 as I had an appointment the the new CEO of A/S the morning of the 17th. My appointment with the service center was on Monday, the 20 and they finished all the work about noon on the 21. I was ready to roll when the finished, so I hit the road and drove back to St. Louis that night. I did see a couple of Bambis on the trip up and back, both between St Louis and Dayton. As I was leaving Tuesday, a new '04 Bambi pulled in with a nice big dent on the middle rear segment.

As for the tires, I, like you, am very anal about checking them. At every stop for gas (in my rig that equals about 200 miles), I do a complete walkaround and look for anything unusual as well as an interior check. I usually don't check the tire pressure other than at the start of each day's travel. The good news is now I know that a blow out is NOT a big deal on the Bambi (at least with a Hensley). Yes, it was a pain and thankfully it was the curbside that failed since it would have been dangerous to try changing the roadside tire with all the truckers zooming by at 75-80 MPH. I thought about calling Thor Roadside assistance, but since I was well off the road, it was the curbside and I had all the tools and knowledge, I just elected to do it myself and get back on the road. Had it been the roadside, calling Thor would have been a no brainer. Renewing the Thor Roadside Assistance is no longer a question and $80 is pretty reasonable.

BTW, I use the the water valve tool you made me on every trip. I really appreciated your efforts. I meant to show it to the Director of Engineering when I met with him, and totally forgot. You SHOULD show A/S your design and see if you can get them to enter into a contract for you to supply ALL A/S with the rear plumbing setup like ours one of those tools.


JPAIRSTREAM 10-24-2003 11:30 AM


john hd i don't think rubber valve stems are rated for 65 p.s.i.
I have found this link that there are Rubber valve stems that are rated at 65 PSI.

Silvertwinkie 10-24-2003 11:42 AM

Well, I sure hope they '03 has rubber valve stems and they are rated at 65psi....:eek: I've put well over 1,000 miles on 'em too with another 350 miles for the trip to Piqua in December to trade her in for the new "SS"! :)

Be an awfully short trip I suspect if the weren't rated at 65psi. ;)

One of the reasons (not the main one) I went to the 25' was due to the dual axles so that if something happened to one or even two tires, I still might be able to get out of a bad situation...Glad to hear you were OK David.. :)

jcanavera 10-25-2003 11:17 AM

I run full pressure on my tires regardless of the load in the trailer. I've never lost a tire in 25 years of towing and I attribute that to being very pro active in their health. I watch pressure, at rest stops I walk the trailer checking tire and bearing temperatures and looking for any tire defects. I also replace the tires at year 5 regardless of the tire wear.

One other thing to consider is that a tire has an optimum speed for its max load factor. Tow over that speed and its weight carrying capacity actually decreases below what is stamped on the sidewall.

RV-Self at a tire seminar handed out some tables from Michellan which documented that fact. If you look at your owners manual you will notice that A/S says you can tow even though you have one tire flat. You will also notice they say at "reduced speed". The reduced speed issue is the fact that a single tire on a tandem axle can handle higher loads than what is stamped on the sidewall, if you lower the tow speed.

I don't know if Goodyear has produced such a table for public consumption but even if not understand that speed has a direct relationship to tire towing capacities even though that information is not stamped on the sidewall.


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