Thursday, February 2, 2012

Weighing RV. Wheels and Tires. Lug Nuts. Rubber Valves. Flashers. Future RV Now. Fort Ross.

For"tRaVersing or RV day":


Why should I weigh my Trailer tires individually?

"Many times when I give a seminar or class to people from the RV community on proper application of tires, I get asked the above question by trailer owners.

Motorhome users seem to understand that knowing the actual load on each corner of their RV will allow them to select the tire pressure they want to run as they balance Ride, Tire Durability, Fuel Economy and Steering Response.

Owners of trailers say they have been told that all they need to do is to run the max inflation on the sidewall of their tires. Almost all the time, that is the information on their placard per the trailer manufacturer’s guideline so that recommendation seems reasonable.

Recently I have been having a discussion via email with an owner of a large 5th wheel trailer.
He even believes that because the load changes on every trip and almost every day it could be “dangerous” to get the trailer weighed as that could mislead the trailer owner to think it OK to lower the pressure to just match the minimum needed to carry the measured load.

I would like to offer a different view on why it is important to get the trailer weights on each tire at least once.

More than half of the trailers that have been weighed over the years have been found to have a tire or other suspension component exceeding its maximum load capacity. We all know what happens to people who “Assume” something. When you get the trailer weighed, it does need to be with all the stuff you normally carry on your travels. Knowing this load you will have the facts to see how critical it is to re-distribute the load side to side or front to rear. You will also know if your unbalance has overloaded one or more tires even when the total load seems OK.

You will also know if you have proper loading on your pin. I have heard that some axle manufacturers consider having one end of an axle loaded to more than 50% of the total axle rating as overloading the axle. This means that even if you have changed wheels & tires to not overload those components you might still be overloading the axle if you are not careful.

Another thing to consider is the “Reserve Load”. That is the “safety factor” between the actual load and the calculated maximum for a component. Most cars have a 12 to 18% reserve load. One of the other benefits of having a good sized Reserve Load is that it will allow you to occasionally bring home that big load of stuff you just had to buy at the flea market and not overload a component. One way to identify a minimum cushion would be to look at the load capacity of your tires when inflated to a pressure of at least 15 psi below the max inflation and to be sure your load does not exceed that level. A 20 psi cushion would be even better. Reserve load helps compensate for the unbalance that occurs due to side loading because of road crown and wind side loading.

You are probably asking yourself why trailers can’t lower their tire pressure the way motorized units can. The reason has to do with the mechanics of axle spacing and tire side loading whenever you turn a corner. Trailers with two or three axles put enormous side loading on the tires, wheels, and axles whenever they turn corners. A quick look at the tire distortion when you see a big twin axle trailer park will confirm that the tire needs to be as stiff as possible when side loaded. Since we all know it is the air that carries the load we also now realize that it is the air that stiffens the tire and as a result will lower the side deflection and loading.

BOTTOM LINE: Next time you are fully loaded please go to the effort of weighing your trailer and go the extra mile to do the multiple weighing and the math needed to calculate the actual load on the individual tires. Remember a blown trailer tire can lead to substantial damage and financial loss. "



Uneven Tire Wear on Travel Trailer

Posted by RV Doctor

"I noticed that my travel trailer tires seemed to be wearing unevenly side to side. I measured to ground, the side with the most tire wear and it is about 3/4-inch lower to the ground than the other side. This is after replacing all the tires and checking inflation. I then weighed both sides of the trailer and found that the side with the most tire wear was about 500 pounds more. This is the side where the refrigerator is directly over the tires. We presently have over 15,000 miles on the trailer. Is there anything we can do to make the trailer level. I know because of the design there is little that can be done to equalize the weight side to side." Jim, (North Augusta, SC)

Read Gary's response.


Gentle care for lug nuts

"Here's another area of RV tech that few of us give much thought to--until we have a flat tire on the road. These characters play a critical role in RV safety, yet often get little more than lip service. Here's some thoughts--and tips--on dealing with lug nuts.
Lug nuts and their mates--the lug stud--are designed to be torqued to a given point. The nut and stud, when put under twisting pressure (loosely translated "torque") actually stretch a bit. When the pressure is taken off, the metal snaps back, allowing the nut and stud to mate. One technician describes this process as a sort of welding that can later be taken apart.

So what happens using the "quick and dirty" method of just jumping on the lug wrench or slamming the lug nut with an impact wrench until that clattering noise stops? Likely you'll have a lug nut that's either too tight, or too loose. Either one can lead to problems--even to disasters. Too loose, the wheel's bolt holes can be scoured and create damage; unwelcome vibration; even uneven tire wear. Too tight, the stud can be stretched too far, weakening it; and if on a wheel equipped with a spindle, the spindle itself can be damaged. And in the catastrophic category, too loose or too tight can actually lead to the old "drive 'til the wheels fall off" scenario.   So what's to be done?"    Read More:


Quick post on rubber valves

"I continue to see posts from RV owners saying they have "Rubber" valves. This even though most rubber valves are only rated for 65 psi cold. There are some rubber valves rated for 80 and even some rated for 100 psi but these are not interchangeable.
How can you tell if you have the correct rubber valve for your application without dismounting the tires?
A quick examination should give you an idea of what you have.

What to look for:
First unscrew the cap. See if the the only metal you see is the threaded part right under the cap. This is just over 3/8" long.

This valve is usually about 1-1/4 long outside the wheel. Is designed for a hole in the wheel of 0.453 and is rated at 65 PSI Max Cold inflation.


If you see metal even with the cap on like this:

It is either a 600HP series which is rated for 80 psi Max Cold inflation or a 801HP series rated for 100psi Maximum Cold inflation.
NOTE these are NOT interchangeable as the 600 is designed for a rim hole of 0.453" while the 801 needs a hole diameter of 0.625".

Now even if your cold tire pressure does not exceed the rated capacity for the valve you have I strongly suggest you consider switching to a bolt in metal valve with the appropriate rim hole size as if you run valve extenders or hoses or external TPMS you are probably applying more side load to the valve that it was initially designed to accept.

Also you should be running metal valve caps not the cheap plastic ones that probably were OE for if the valve core leaks due to a bit of dirt the metal cap can hold much more pressure than the plastic one.
NOTE if still in doubt you should have the valves inspected by a tire dealer. Call and ask if they have a Technician ASE Certified on tire inspection. If not, select another dealer."    From:


Using hazard flashers in bad weather.


"In the hill country out west it’s not uncommon to find 18-wheelers the hard climb with ‘warning flashers a'blazin. To most RV folks it just makes sense. After all, crawling up a steep grade and traveling far less than “freeway speed,” giving a bit of a warning to the folks coming up from behind is no more than sensible. What about RVers?
What about RVers? Towing a big trailer or hauling up the hills in the old motorhome, at times our speed can drop below the "norm." Most of us are courteous enough (and smart enough) to pull over into the right lane. But do we turn on the hazard flashers to give a little additional warning to those behind us?
What about in fog? The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) found that in daytime fog conditions just running tail lights isn’t enough to give folks behind a good warning–in fact, turning on tail lights gives no more visibility than if they were turned off. However, the NTSB found that even the lowest rated hazard flashers could increase visibility. For example, if you’re driving fog where your rig could be seen 300′ to the rear, by turning on your hazard flashers you could be seen 450′–this with the least of the light emitting hazard flashers. It seems to make sense that using hazard flashers when moving slow or when obscured by weather."


Weird RV comes from the future, is available in the present

Weird RV comes from the future, is available in the present

"In the market for a futuristic and slightly bizarre motor home? Aren't we all? You'll be the envy of the trailer park when you pull up in this 500 horsepower, 40-foot long monstrosity, which features a fireplace, a pop-up sky lounge with fog machine, and paint that glows in the dark.

If the design looks vaguely familiar to you, that's because it's based on one of Luigi Colani's striking truck prototypes. Yes, they look strange, but apparently the design is aerodynamic enough to give a fuel efficiency boost of about 20% along with what I have to assume is a fairly tremendous view of the road.

As for the rest of the RV (called the eleMMent), it's packed full of the sort of luxury that makes people like me feel guilty and uncomfortable whenever we're exposed to it, including about 500 square feet of usable area, a master bedroom with a 40" flat-screen TV and attached spa bathroom, a living space with a couch and table that turns into a bar and lounge at the push of a button, and an "integrated vehicle wash system," 'cause you don't want to have to worry about your strange new ride ever looking dirty."      More and 11 pictures at:


On This Day:

Russians establish Fort Ross, Feb 2, 1812:

"Staking a tenuous claim to the riches of the Far West, Russians establish Fort Ross on the coast north of San Francisco.

As a growing empire with a long Pacific coastline, Russia was in many ways well positioned to play a leading role in the settlement and development of the West. The Russians had begun their expansion into the North American continent in 1741 with a massive scientific expedition to Alaska. Returning with news of abundant sea otters, the explorers inspired Russian investment in the Alaskan fur trade and some permanent settlement. By the early 19th century, the semi-governmental Russian-American Company was actively competing with British and American fur-trading interests as far south as the shores of Spanish-controlled California.

Russia's Alaskan colonists found it difficult to produce their own food because of the short growing season of the far north. Officials of the Russian-American Company reasoned that a permanent settlement along the more temperate shores of California could serve both as a source of food and a base for exploiting the abundant sea otters in the region. To that end, a large party of Russians and Aleuts sailed for California where they established Fort Ross (short for Russia) on the coast north of San Francisco.

Fort Ross, though, proved unable to fulfill either of its expected functions for very long. By the 1820s, the once plentiful sea otters in the region had been hunted almost to extinction. Likewise, the colonists' attempts at farming proved disappointing, because the cool foggy summers along the coast made it difficult to grow the desired fruits and grains. Potatoes thrived, but they could be grown just as easily in Alaska.

At the same time, the Russians were increasingly coming into conflict with the Mexicans and the growing numbers of Americans settling in the region. Disappointed with the commercial potential of the Fort Ross settlement and realizing they had no realistic chance of making a political claim for the region, the Russians decided to sell out. After making unsuccessful attempts to interest both the British and Mexicans in the fort, the Russians finally found a buyer in John Sutter. An American emigrant to California, Sutter bought Fort Ross in 1841 with an unsecured note for $30,000 that he never paid. He cannibalized the fort to provide supplies for his colony in the Sacramento Valley where, seven years later, a chance discovery ignited the California Gold Rush."



I couldn't take Misty for her usual walk, as Jay had somehow wound up in Conroe overnight, and I had to go get him.  His mother wasn't up to going.  We stopped at one thrift shop and Krogers, then came back here. 

We took all the glassware off the yard sale shelf and washed the fragile items in the utility sink, as they were dusty. I wonder why, they have only been sitting there for a year!

Misty finally got her walk when I took Jay home.  She wasn't so chipper, as something had upset her tummy the night before.  I wasn't either, as she got me up to take her outside every time she had to heave.   She is the first dog that I have had that didn't just throw up on the rug.  TMI.  Sorry.

After lunch, I went back out to the RVport and emptied more boxes onto yard sale tables, while I waited for a couple who were coming to buy the other storm door.  Come to find out that he was in the USAF, and went to Lakenheath AFB, Suffolk, England, where I worked before I immigrated here. Small world. Very nice couple.

After yesterday's rain, it was a pleasant warm T-shirt day.

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