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Old 02-27-2020, 10:41 AM   #1
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Larger wheels/tires for greater ground clearance?

New to Airforums, new to Airstream, new to truck & trailer combo. (Selling or trading in our 2015 26' motorhome.)

Getting close to purchasing a Flying Cloud 28RBT and F150 with heavy-duty payload and max towing packages.

Considering the dealer-installed 3" axle lift kit for the FC to get additional ground clearance. But also considering a ProPride 3P hitch.

Have read some comments on how low to the ground the hitch rides, so wondering if it's advisable/possible to upgrade the wheel/tire size from the standard ST225/75R15 to get a couple inches of additional ground clearance -- beyond what the lift kit provides -- without causing issues with wheel well clearance and/or making the trailer center-of-gravity too high.

Glad to be part of this community, and thanks in advance for your help!
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Old 02-27-2020, 10:55 AM   #2
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KandM-Travel. If you stay on paved roads the need for the 3 inch Lift is probably not necessary.

Having 16 inch wheels gives you a half an inch more clearance, but more security for traveling.

My 27 foot which is 28 feet long, and your 28 foot that is 27 feet long (Nancy tells me) there is more risk in Bumper Drag, even from Service Station ingress and egress. Length becomes a bigger issue once longer than the 25 foot Airstream.

Double axles are more forgiving than the Single Axle Airstreams.

A 3 inch lift will not hurt and is a great resale option that 99% of Airstreams do not have.

Having 16 inch Sendels/Michelins is an excellent combination if you travel a lot and these tires will hold up to about anything and anywhere you travel.

You may have tow vehicle issues... but that is something you no doubt considered and made a decision.

Airforum members and previous threads will give you a Bachelor's Degree in Airstream Tech and some day will be dispensing information like a dog barking when something moves in the dark.

Welcome to the Forums. An excellent source of information. And... most of it is true.
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Old 02-27-2020, 11:14 AM   #3
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There are a lot of threads on both lifting and increasing tire diameter. Both are effective to increase ground clearance. The threads mention that an inch or two is good and appropriate for poorer maintained campgrounds and reasonably decent gravel/dirt roads. Serious boondockers all seem to recommend three plus inches. I generally agree. The lift kits, people say, leave the axles a bit low if you travel on very poor roads with deep ruts and potholes in the tire track area but have high road centers.

On the other hand raising the center of gravity does have a negative impact on brake performance in very hard stops, and both trailer and overall handling stability including sway. For this reason, I and others, personally do not recommend raising the trailer, unless you reasonably suspect you will be traveling to places where more clearance is required.

Consideration of the pro pride hitch is a worthy effort, as it completely eliminates most stability issues originating from the trailer including sway when set up correctly. It does not and cannot address tow vehicle handling issues so don't get overconfident if you use hitches like this. Again there are a lot of threads and even more opinions on hitches.
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Old 02-27-2020, 11:26 AM   #4
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As far as larger tires go, you can only go to a 16" wheel and tire combo as anything larger will not fit into the wheel well. As has already been mentioned, going to a 16" tire will only give you and additional 1/2" height so if you are doing it for additional clearance only it is not worth it.

I have learned my lesson, I simple will not go anywhere that there is a chance that I will drag the a** end, including regular gas stations, which usually have entrance or exit inclines steep enough to cause a drag. Truck stops all the way
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Old 02-27-2020, 11:36 AM   #5
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When I upgraded from 14 inch wheels to 15 inch Sendel wheels, and from Goodyear Marathons to Endurance...I picked up just over an inch in height, the tire diameter increased 2+ inches. I measured the diameter of the new tires when I got them on the new wheels, and then measured the old wheel/tire and was pleasantly surprised. The overall tire diameter specs were 26.1 inches on the 14s and 28.3 inches on the 15s. Look up the diameter of the new tires compared to the old to see the impact you might see going from 15 to 16 inch.

I recently added a 3 inch lift and love it. I do go on some gnarly dirt roads, but I would have done it regardless not having to worry about tail dragging and especially dump valve dragging. I drove 2000 miles after the lift in insane winds in Nebraska and Wyoming and the rig was rock solid. Another side-benefit...so much easier to crawl around under there doing maintenance/inspection etc.

Just my experience.
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Old 02-27-2020, 12:21 PM   #6
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With >25k miles on my trailer, I have yet to have a clearance problem with my PP hitch. I've been in plenty of COE and state parks and all had roads that were flat enough. I'm not into way out in the boonies camping were roads can get gnarly. My thought, if you aren't heading out west to BLM dispersed camping spots, you will be ok.
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Old 02-27-2020, 03:07 PM   #7
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I have a ProPride hitch, and my FC30 is nearly 31’ long. When backing it up my driveway, I tend to drag the trailer bumper and/or drag the spring bars due to the geometry of how the street intersects my driveway. I considered going with 16” wheels, but I don’t think the 1/2” ride height improvement would do anything significant for me. Instead, I put on a 3” lift kit. The parts were not very expensive, and the installation labor was quite reasonable. No more driveway scrapes for me anymore!

If you want to go with 16” wheels, do it for choice of different tires or do it for aesthetics; Don’t do it for extra height. The 1/2” benefit isn’t worth the cost of new wheels, tires, and mounting.
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Old 02-27-2020, 07:17 PM   #8
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we did the 3" lift kit . then moved to an alum two step under the door

moving from 15" to 16" gave us another 1/2 inch. we could not notice the difference with the new tires
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Old 02-27-2020, 10:12 PM   #9
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We have a FC 28RBQ with the 3" Dexter lift. Lot of benefit for not a lot of $. Eliminates most of the dragging concerns and stance looks better behind a truck. As for 16" tires, if just for height, a lot of $ for little benefit (1/2"). I would go with the lift, to start, and if still not satisfied, upgrade to larger wheels/tires. Enjoy your new AS!
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Old 02-28-2020, 05:26 AM   #10
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One thing lightly touched on so far is the aspect of a properly setup hitch. To expand on this a bit more, when elevating the trailer's ride height, it will require an upward adjustment to Airstream's published desirable ball height (per the owner's manual) for maintaining a proper amount of weight transfer to the tow vehicle.

Another option to increasing ride hight is to swap the OE axles for a set with a lower down angle.

In any event, whatever the final answer turns into in terms of increasing ride height, consider making a notation in the owners manual so that the next owner knows how to adjust the ball height.

But the real question is why is the height adjustment necessary? Offroading? Or is there a bit of overthink happening over concern of the hitch dragging?

To the bigger picture, looking to get a good understanding of the new pickup / trailer combination is definitely a good thing to explore. If the F150 is going to have a 6 cylinder motor, my vote is to spend more time on the care and feeding of the F150 as Ford's maintenance schedules are a bit optimistic (per observations in the owner communities).
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Old 02-28-2020, 09:16 AM   #11
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JayTheCPA... good ideas. Experience will be your teacher.

My going to a F350 Diesel 4x4, towing a 2019 27 foot, transition from the 25 foot was very easy. The Equalizer hitch shank can be flipped. No opportunity to drag... ever. You need to be careful with some Shanks, as if you flip it, the tail gate and shank may connect causing a dent.

I like the Equalizer Hitch... for me. Simple. You can change it. The number of WASHERS can be an experiment... I am at 4 washers. Some say start at 5, other have a blank stare.

Other hitches could have a problem. I would be the least experienced in the Hitch Department, other than the Equalizer with 1000# bars.

Tires ONLY. Probably nothing. Add the 3 inch Lift... estimate, test... repeat if necessary.

There are Experts in various hitches. Salesmen... are more focused towards their product.
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Old 02-28-2020, 09:29 AM   #12
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You folks are amazing! Posted my first questions yesterday, and wake up this morning to 9 very helpful experienced-based and balanced responses. Thanks!

The consensus seems to be that (while there may be some downsides) the 3" lift probably makes sense for us since although we don't anticipate camping in overly rough areas you never know the condition of the spot where the next campground might put us -- not to mention the occasional unwelcome bottomless pothole or high driveway entry / speed-bump. It also sounds like while going from the older 14" wheels to 16" may have been a useful move, going from the newer 15" to 16" maybe not so much.

Ray, we appreciate your thoughts on some makes/models of 16" tires being useful for reasons not directly related to clearance -- and we'll certainly take that into consideration. Yes, we have tried to educate ourselves on the pros and cons of a 150/1500 series tow vehicle vs. a 250/2500 -- and in the process observed that for many the discussions can get as heated as those on politics and religion. (Thanks as well for your most recent reply, making it 10 total to date.)

Our research drew our attention primarily to the risk of exceeding the truck's payload capacity and/or rear axle weight rating, and are comfortable that bump up of those numbers with the F150 heavy-duty payload package (with a max payload of 2,600 lbs and max rear axle rating of 4,800 lbs) will keep us well within our goal of at least a 20% buffer between actual and max weights. On top of all that, the fact that our truck-to-be has to double as a "daily-use vehicle" seems to make the 150 our best choice -- while at the same time requiring that we understand the relative disadvantages compared to the much heavier and therefore more stable 250 and drive accordingly.

(As an aside, and as you noted, it is certainly curious that a 26' FC is 26'11", a 27' FC is 28', and a 28' FC is 27'11" long according to the AS website.)

BayouBiker, thanks much for highlighting the potential risks of the higher center of gravity resulting from lifting, including of the driver perhaps being over-confident when even very good hitch doesn't preclude all possible issues. Caution in such things is the way we roll, and your advice helps us focus.

thewarden, many thanks for responding our question regarding the limits of wheel/tire size with respect to wheel well clearance. Although we don't have a significant clearance issue with our current motorhome, we have gotten used to searching for the larger gas stations (Racetrac and truck stops) just for the increased maneuverability with the RV and car in tow.

pcskier, your idea of carefully researching tire sizes for 16" wheels makes a lot of sense as well. We'll probably start with the lift kit and explore the larger wheels/tires as we get more miles under out belts, and will keep the potential benefits and possible wheel well clearance issue in mind.

SailorSam205, the fact that you have an F150 with ProPride hitch made your comments particularly applicable to our hitch clearance question. Thanks!

jaybauman, your lift kit and wheel/tire size comments were also very helpful. Since you have the far more capable 3500 tow vehicle you didn't have to consider tongue weight (especially with the ProPride) as much as we do with our F150 plan. The dry weight of our planned FC 28' purchase is 6,275 lbs with factory-installed options. We're anticipating not exceeding 7,000 lbs fully loaded, but (if the 15% tongue weight we've read about for AS trailers applies) that would be 1,050 lbs + a 200 lb hitch. Haven't called the ProPride folks for their input yet, but from the raw numbers it appears that the 1,000 lb version of the 3P would fall short, meaning we should also go for the 1,400 version that you have. If you have a moment, we'd be interested in your thoughts on that.

waninae39, you hit on another topic we'd been thinking about with respect to the lift kit -- specifically the additional 3" from the bottom step to the ground. If you have a moment, please share with us more details on your step solution.

StuartsDad, thanks much for the confirmation of where others generally think we should go regarding the lift kit and larger wheels/tires.

JayTheCPA, the issue of ball height (as it relates to weight transfer to the tow vehicle) generated by application of the lift kit and the potential advantages of swapping out the axles are topics we hadn't seen elsewhere, so we're especially grateful that you mention them. We'll definitely discuss with the dealer service rep before proceeding with the lift kit. "Overthinking" is my middle name when it comes to safety, so it's very possible that I'm doing that with respect to potential 3P hitch dragging (which SailorSam205 addressed above) -- but would likely decide in favor of the lift kit for the other reasons mentioned, with the idea that avoiding just one instance of dragging the trailer underbelly or destroying the holding tank drain pipe probably makes the lift kit worth it. But will absolutely not make that decision until discussing the related issues you raise with the dealer's service folks.

Thanks again to all of you for the feedback!!!
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Old 02-28-2020, 11:13 AM   #13
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On our 1990 29 1/2 Square Airstream Land Yacht, we changed out the 225/75/15 tires for biased 700x15 and gained several inches in height. Also, it seems the biased tire isn’t subject to “radial squirm” like Goodyear or Michelin radials because sidewall is stiffer at Load Range E, consequently we have witnessed with infrared gun, the tires run cooler. An instance outside Ontario Oregon where air temp was 104, and at 65 mph after stopping the tire temp was 108
Same trailer outside Sedalia MO after the International Rally air temp was 105, and the 225/75/15 Super Cargo ST tires were 142 degrees.
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Old 02-28-2020, 05:47 PM   #14
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Thanks much, Coloradobus! We do appreciate the tire details -- especially the temp differential info.

We'll work with the dealer's service reps (and seek out additional expertise if needed) on the issues raised by JayTheCPA to get smart enough to make a lift kit decision, then likely go with the stock wheels/tires for the first trip and look into various options that might improve/mitigate this or that feature/issue as we gather experience.
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Old 02-28-2020, 07:21 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by StuartsDad View Post
We have a FC 28RBQ with the 3" Dexter lift. Lot of benefit for not a lot of $.!
I am also considering the 3 inch lift kit. Contacted JC a few weeks ago and was given a price of $1800 for them to do the lift, just curious what you guys have been paying?
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Old 02-28-2020, 07:42 PM   #16
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Larger wheels/tires for greater ground clearance?

Quote:
Originally Posted by KandM-Travel View Post
Thanks much, Coloradobus! We do appreciate the tire details -- especially the temp differential info.



We'll work with the dealer's service reps (and seek out additional expertise if needed) on the issues raised by JayTheCPA to get smart enough to make a lift kit decision, then likely go with the stock wheels/tires for the first trip and look into various options that might improve/mitigate this or that feature/issue as we gather experience.


I’ve got a 30’ international and propride. 3” lift as well. My trailer is only 3 feet longer than yours. Prior to the lift we would drag the rear end and it was awful - and I’d always be stressing about getting in and out of different parking lots with any type of incline. Also the propride spring bars would sit very very low to the ground.

No more!

We have done many modifications to our trailer - 3” lift is right at the top in terms of the best decisions we’ve made. Paid $600 for labor and bought the parts from eTrailer and it was worth every penny.

Stick with the stock 15” Goodyear endurance tires. They are turning out to be very reliable. I had 16” on my previous 25’ trailer and the lift was negligible. The only reason I went with 16” at the time was because the Goodyear endurance had not yet hit the market, and I insisted on running reliable treads (Micheline LTX at the time).

Enjoy and happy trails!
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Old 02-28-2020, 08:47 PM   #17
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To 69SoulShine. I think your dealer is trying to take advantage of you. Less than a year ago I had my kit installed for under $600.00 I purchased the kit direct.


I have 2016 F150 and the 3" lift made it possible to get into my driveway with scraping. I don't notice any difference in handling. I use a Equal-i-zer with a 1200 bars


I have plenty of power and get 11 mph towing and 17 - 20 just driving around with my 3.5 eco boost with HD tow package.


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Old 02-28-2020, 09:37 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by KandM-Travel View Post
jaybauman, your lift kit and wheel/tire size comments were also very helpful. Since you have the far more capable 3500 tow vehicle you didn't have to consider tongue weight (especially with the ProPride) as much as we do with our F150 plan. The dry weight of our planned FC 28' purchase is 6,275 lbs with factory-installed options. We're anticipating not exceeding 7,000 lbs fully loaded, but (if the 15% tongue weight we've read about for AS trailers applies) that would be 1,050 lbs + a 200 lb hitch. Haven't called the ProPride folks for their input yet, but from the raw numbers it appears that the 1,000 lb version of the 3P would fall short, meaning we should also go for the 1,400 version that you have. If you have a moment, we'd be interested in your thoughts on that.
Before I bought my hitch, I called ProPride and spoke with Sean Woodruff directly. I purchased the 1400 lb. spring bars, based on his recommendation for my 2019 FC 30 Bunk (published 6765 lb. dry, 8800 lb. gross weight). Based on CAT scale measurements, I estimate my trailer tongue weight to be just over 1100lbs for my fully-loaded trailer/hitch combo. With the infinitely-adjustable jacks, you can dial in however much weight distribution you want at any time. If you’re worried that the 1400 lb. bars might yield a harsh ride for your trailer, I can find only 1 single popped rivet in my entire trailer after 1 year and nearly 10,000 miles. Due to it’s hard-to-see location, that rivet may have already been missing when I purchased my trailer...either way, I’m not getting this crazy rough ride that some people claim from the 1400 lb. bars.
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Old 02-28-2020, 10:06 PM   #19
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$1800 to install sounds a bit steep to me. I ordered my kit via etrailer for just over $200 and installed myself (with a helper). If a shop has done them before, I would think they would charge at most four hours labor, but I never tried to find an installer.
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Old 02-29-2020, 02:32 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by 69SoulShine View Post
I am also considering the 3 inch lift kit. Contacted JC a few weeks ago and was given a price of $1800 for them to do the lift, just curious what you guys have been paying?


Greetings from about 200 miles N up I-95 from you.

Are you handy, got tools it’s a 2-3 bandaid job. I did one a couple years ago in my driveway on a 2008? Classic.

Gary
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