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Old 03-26-2020, 01:56 PM   #1
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Prolonging tires and avoiding flat spots?

Hello, everyone! We’re currently full-timing in our Airstream travel trailer. We built a gravel pad with full hookups on family land and managed to, after a few hours, wiggle the Airstream into its semi-permanent location. If our current pandemic situation improves this summer, we’ll be taking the trailer out for a trip once or twice later this year. If not, the trailer will sit in one spot for a year (or more).

What can I do to avoid flat spots on the tires? We have the tires covered, so I’m not as concerned about UV damage. But when building the gravel pad we failed to account for a large tree that makes it very difficult to get the Airstream into its parked location. Because of this, moving the Airstream around periodically isn’t something that I’d like to do.

I’ve considered purchasing the Trailer Valet trailer dolly rated at 10,000 lbs. for a 27’ FC, but I’ve read too many negative reviews on its performance.

Which leads me to thinking I should simply jack the trailer up, using the jack points, a few times a year to rotate the tires a half or quarter turn. But to be honest, I’m scared of flexing the trailer frame too much, and too often.

I’m also looking at the Hosspads, or rubber hush pads to keep under the tires so they’re not resting on gravel full time.

Any recommendations on preventing flat spots and extending tire life when full-timing in a location that doesn’t provide much room to move the trailer around with a tow vehicle?
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Old 03-26-2020, 02:03 PM   #2
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Jack it up & leave it up👍...I do it every Winter, less strain on the tires & axles.

Bob
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Old 03-26-2020, 04:52 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jasper Ash View Post
Any recommendations on preventing flat spots and extending tire life when full-timing in a location that doesn’t provide much room to move the trailer around with a tow vehicle?
Yes, get the weight off the tires with jack stands. If it's permanent, take the tires off and store them indoors.
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Old 03-26-2020, 05:35 PM   #4
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Ditto to the above

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Old 03-27-2020, 05:59 AM   #5
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2 other suggestions:

1) Move the trailer periodically. You only have to move it a foot - enough to get it into a different spot around the circumference of the tire. Try to move it progressively - that is not back and forth.

2) Over inflate the tires. The burst pressure of a tire is way, way over the max pressure listed on the sidewall, so a mere 15 psi more is really nothing in the big scheme of things.
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Old 03-27-2020, 09:03 AM   #6
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The storage spot where we winter the AS is gravel. I just bought 4 cheap plastic cutting boards, one under each tire, and I inflate the tires to 100lbs. I have 16" LTX Michelins.
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Old 03-27-2020, 09:18 AM   #7
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[QUOTE=thewarden;2344927]The storage spot where we winter the AS is gravel. I just bought 4 cheap plastic cutting boards, one under each tire, and I inflate the tires to 100lbs. I have 16" LTX Michelins.[/QUOT

I would try to keep them off the wet if possible...

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Old 03-27-2020, 03:34 PM   #8
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No matter what you do flat spots occur after 30 days on radial tires. At that time they need to be rotated. I have never rotated my tires even though it sits 3-4 months between movements. However, I do have Centramatics and they smooth things out. On my long trailer, I see very little movement of object left on the table or counters. I have experience with large aircraft tires being overinflated to seal the beads and then not deflated to the correct pressure before flight.. You never felt such vibration and shaking. It is quit frightful!. So be sure and deflate them to the correct pressure before you travel.
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Old 03-27-2020, 03:38 PM   #9
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Thank you for the recommendations, everyone!

Is is safe to live in the Airstream full time while on jack stands? That doesn’t seem like a safe option when not in storage. I assume there’s a big risk of the AS slipping off the jack stands because of our movement inside the trailer. Also, do you place the jack stands directly under the main frame rail?

I have not thought about over-inflating the tires. I actually haven’t checked the tire pressure in a few months. Good reminder here...
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Old 03-27-2020, 03:53 PM   #10
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If you are parked on gravel over soft sand (typical FL) I suggest leaving it on the tires because rain and wind against the trailer might make earth unstable. You don't want the trailer falling off! If you do decide to use jack stands, use pressure treated wood or plastic jack blocks beneath each jack stand to spread the load.

Capri Racer is giving you the best advice. Over inflate the tires and move the trailer a foot or so as needed.

For what it is worth>>>
I've stopped worrying about flat spots. For the last several years I've done nothing except cover the tires where exposed to sun and keep the tires inflated properly (I run them a little higher psi than Airstream recommends anyway) before storing and when I leave on a trip. Either of my trailers will sit in one spot for 4 to 6 months. One trailer is used primarily during winter in FL, the other primarily in spring/summer/fall for traveling.
It's been ~10 years on the 25' and ~7 on the 34', and two sets of tires on each trailer retired because of age... so far no issues.
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Old 03-28-2020, 04:03 PM   #11
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Interesting discussion since my trailer does sit (indoors) on a concrete floor with a piece of carpet under each tire. It typically sits from mid October to April or early May. I honestly have never noticed any flat spots or notable vibration when the trailer first gets pulled out of its garage. I usually have to travel about 2 miles initially on gravel and then paved roads at low speed prior to going out on the interstate.

I really only thought flat spots were only a trait attributable to the old bias belted tires that preceded the radial tire era. The last trailer I owned that used bias belted tires was my Hi-Lo which I towed from 1982-1998.

Jack
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Old 03-29-2020, 06:37 AM   #12
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What I know about flatspots in tires:

Everything flatspots, but it's a matter of degree.

Nylon is the material most noted for flatspotting, but polyester also flatspots, just less obviously. Steel even less so.

In fabrics (meaning nylon, polyester, etc), the biggest contributor is the glass transition temperature - the temperature where the material undergoes a change of stage.

Like the change from liquid to gas, or solid to liquid, there are other changes in the arrangement of materials that take place. The temperature where this takes place is called the glass transition temperature. Unfortunately some of these take place in temperature ranges that tires operate.

The severity of the flatspot is dependent on the ambient temperature (hotter is worse!), length of time, and the amount of load vs inflation pressure (light loads, high pressures = better!)

Most of the time these flatspots are temporary and merely operating the tire will work them out. (Takes a couple of miles). But if severe enough, a flatspot can be permanent.

Side note: I have a theory that says that even severe flatspots are temporary, but it takes a long time to work those out. I don't know how to test that theory with the tools I currently have. But I am aware that some folks have experienced flatspots they could not get rid of.

The best way to avoid flatspots is to 1) avoid heavily loading tires, 2) inflation pressure, 3) after high speed operations, gradually cool the tire down by driving slowly, 4) avoid parking on cool conductive surfaces (like concrete. Wood, carpet, gravel don't conduct heat as readily), 5) move the tire periodically to create a series of small flatspots, rather than one big one.

It is unfortunate that nylon flatspots, because it has this wonderful property of shrinking when heated - and that makes it well suited for restricting growth, like the centrifugal growth that takes place in tires. I do NOT recommend avoiding tires with nylon, because they perform Soooooo much better.

Tire manufacturers do have tricks to help. One is pretensioning the fabric when it is applied to the tire. Another is the use of different kinds of nylon. But even those tricks only minimize the effect.
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Old 03-29-2020, 06:46 AM   #13
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Flat spots? With modern radial tires used every few months?

Largely a non-issue IMO.

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Old 03-29-2020, 07:47 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jcanavera View Post
Interesting discussion since my trailer does sit (indoors) on a concrete floor with a piece of carpet under each tire. It typically sits from mid October to April or early May. I honestly have never noticed any flat spots or notable vibration when the trailer first gets pulled out of its garage. I usually have to travel about 2 miles initially on gravel and then paved roads at low speed prior to going out on the interstate.

I really only thought flat spots were only a trait attributable to the old bias belted tires that preceded the radial tire era. The last trailer I owned that used bias belted tires was my Hi-Lo which I towed from 1982-1998.

Jack
4) avoid parking on cool conductive surfaces (like concrete. Wood, carpet, gravel don't conduct heat as readily)

Drainage tiles

Bob
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