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How to Change a Flat Tire

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  #1  
Old 12-28-2007, 11:05 AM
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Default How to Change a Flat Tire

Hopefully you haven't had to experience this vacation buster. In the last 2 years I have had the unfortunate luck of having 3 flats, of which 2 were blowouts, all happening on a camping trip. One of them I was in rush hour traffic, on Interstate 40 in Memphis, Tn. Now I can tell you, there are many things that go though your mind while in the middle changing a flat, mostly negative. Do yourself a favor and think this out.

Check. Before you leave on your trip, be it just a weekend, or a month long camping trip, check your tires for correct pressures, on both the camper and your towing vehicle. Don't forget the spare.

Organize. Place everything you need to change a tire in an area that is easy to get to. Unpacking a camper to find the lug wrench would not be much fun, especially in traffic. I recommend designating a storage area easy to get to and put everything you need here.

Patience. Take your time. This is not something you want to cut corners on. Remember, most campers are several thousand pounds.

Even if it's never happened to you, when you least expect it, you WILL have a flat. The last flat that I had, sounded like a cannon when off and actually blew off the wheel fender (that was an additional $135 to replace).

Your tire changing storage area should include:

Jack. Bigger is better here. Make sure that the jack can support the weight of your camper. Note: I have never liked the ideal of using a jack on my camper. If you are in traffic, Semi-Trucks are flying by at 60+ mph, the whole camper is rocking. I have a "TRAILER-AID". This is used on dual/triple axle campers. You drive up on it with your good tire and it lifts the camper up so that you can change the bad tire (with enough room to install the spare). I have included what it looks like. I keep mine in the back of my truck. It isn't that big and don't take much room, but I consider this a must. You can find them at just about any camper sales. They cost around $60.00, but trust me, it will pay for itself the first time you use it.

4 Way Lug Wrench. If you don't have one, get one. Some of these tires were installed by King Kong and you will need the leverage. Any parts place, Wally World, K-mart, Sears has them.

Gloves. If you have a blow out, the steel belts will tear your hands up, so gloves are a must.

Spare Tire tool. Most campers include a tool that you will need to lower the spare from it’s resting area.

Extras. Portable air compressor. Make sure that it has the capability of airing your tire to it’s max pressure.

This is how I prepare for a flat, so you may carry more than I have included. The blow out that I spoke of earlier took less than 20 minutes from the time that I stopped, until I was pulling away (I pull a 37 foot 5th wheel, dual axle).
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Last edited by bill0830; 12-28-2007 at 01:10 PM.
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  #2  
Old 12-28-2007, 11:37 AM
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Default Great Info

Thanks for sharing, great stuff
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  #3  
Old 12-28-2007, 01:32 PM
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good info. i havent had this happen, but i know it CAN anytime. I dont look forward to it however. I have had to change a few in my day on boats, trailers etc.. but not a camper
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  #4  
Old 03-04-2008, 05:48 PM
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Default Changing a folding trailer tire

Bill, Thanks very much for starting this thread. I've created three picture galleries with the instructions on changing a folding trailer tire. Granted, my focus is on a single axle trailer, however a lot of the information is applicable to dual axle trailers.

The galleries are:

1. Safety precautions
2. Tools including different jacks and lug tools
3. The process to replace a single axle tire

Of course I can't emphasize enough that it is important that one practice changing a tire at home. This way when you need to do this on the road you'll have the right tools as well as know the procedure. Also for those that are suffering with not being able to camp, this will give you and your family something to do during the next month or so.

Hope this is helpful.

Ruide
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  #5  
Old 03-04-2008, 05:57 PM
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This is very good info Bill and Heruide, thanks for sharing. Very good descriptions and photos, thanks!
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Old 03-04-2008, 06:41 PM
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Excellent info and pics guys!
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  #7  
Old 03-11-2008, 12:34 PM
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I would like to revisit this and get stories from the rest of you campers. Have you had a flat on your camper yet and are you really prepared. Please remember Safety first when it comes to you and your camper. Parking brakes, chokes and even a safety observer if possible. Don't hesitate to ask for help. You will be suprised at how many fellow campers will help out, usually without you even asking. If you see someone in a pickle, please take time to help out.
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Old 05-06-2008, 02:27 PM
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Bill:

I'm brand new here and I'll spare my own personal dissertation and quotes but I emphatically applaud your post. Very long story made short: We have a 31' 5th wheel, dual axle, from Forrest River and am otherwise very happy with it. We pull it with a F-250 diesel and have mainly explored Eastern Texas. We've had it for about 18 months.

DW and I noted it was tad down on one side in the storage yard where we keep it (covered, on level ground, w/ power). We show up Saturday to bring the tires up with the portable compressor I have and low and behold, one tire is dead flat on the left side and the other is but a few pounds behind. No biggie I thought, I'll just fill them up. Wrong. The minute I put any stress on the valves they crack and start leaking. Sensing an issue, I move to the next tire, start to fill and sure enough, it comes loose. I already have a dead tire, now a second one the same side is following suit. Same situation on the right side. I tired to fill the tires on the right, once the left side ones were taken care of, but the stems there were cracking in my hand. Without any effort, I could have a my baby resting on all four rims in a matter of no time.

All in all we ended up doing all 5 tires. The guy at NTB told us, with concern, that the stems originally put on (by Forrest River) were standard low pressure stems, not rated much above 40 PSI. For a mere $5 a tire we had high pressure stems put on. None of the tires were damaged (from being flat) and didn't need replacing (Towmax tires) but for killing an afternoon and $25 later, we avoided what could have been a disastrous road trip. Aside from derailing my original Sunday afternoon plans, the upside of this event was that DW and I ended up working out our procedures for the real thing. Total truth: Had we been out with what I had in the trailer, we would not have been able to change out the tires safely. We would have been in deep manure. As such, I can't underscore you post enough.

IF they guy from NTB is right, why would FR let a trailer out of the yard with these kind of stems?

David

Last edited by dchaviland; 05-06-2008 at 02:32 PM.
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  #9  
Old 05-07-2008, 05:32 PM
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Well it's not only FR. The first 5th wheel we purchased was a Pilgrim, 30 footer. Same thing as you, but I found out with a blowout. The valve stems were the wrong size. There are different size valves and without knowing this, it would be hard to detect. I figured mine out when I put air in, I noticed they would leak. At first I thought it was the air inflater, but found out later that every valve was 1 size to small and they also were for low pressure, not high. Wonder where the quality control is, huh?
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  #10  
Old 05-08-2008, 12:36 PM
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Bill:

I'm glad, in a way to know that I wasn't the only one that experienced this. To your original post I would add including a large wrench capable of loosening the lug nuts. I have the 4-Way wrench but it doesn't have the leverage to loosen the lug nuts. I ended up using the 21mm driver, 1/2" drive with a non ratchet 22" wrench and slipped over the end was a 3 foot cheater bar and even having it nearly at 5 feet it took a little to get the nuts off. The cheater bar just became part of my permanent collection that never leaves the trailer.

In searching the net, I've also come across a 3 step procedure to get the lug nuts up to their recommended torque. 1st step is while still raised on the jack hand tighten and then wrench tighten until wheel starts to turn. 2nd step is to drop the jack and put a little weight on the tire and torque them to about 50 FtLbs. The final and 3rs step is to have the full weight of the trailer on the tires and then torque the nuts to 90-100 FtLbs.

I've usually gone from step 1 to 3 myself seeing no harm. Anyone have any other views?

David
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Old 05-08-2008, 02:19 PM
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David,
Thanks for raising the issue of torquing wheels. My last blog (dated May 3rd) was on this topic. I also have a photogallery with instructions.

Regarding your procedures, it might not be a bad idea to lower the wheel but not to its full weight and do stage two. However, most hydraulic jacks when released drop the wheel right to the ground and putting a "little weight" on the wheel is very subjective.

My biggest concern with the procedures is that it might lead some to think that you have to jack up the wheels to torque the lug nuts. I worry that might turn off more folks who really need to torque their wheels.

Ruide
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  #12  
Old 05-09-2008, 01:55 PM
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I plan on going back with compressor in hand. Right now the lugs are as tight as I could get them without turning the tire too much and then about another half turn when fully on the ground. Given the importance of this, I going to pop for dedicated torque wrench. I'd like to think that if I put them on with 95-100 ftlbs with a torque wrench, I'll be able to get them off with the same wrench, but I'll still keep the cheater bar just in case. I have a service contract with my dealer so I'll let him do the bearing repack but I'll still need something for Godzilla's air wrench when they put the tires back on.

Also, I was going to take the jack back out and bring each side up about 80% and tighten to about 50-60 FtLbs, then drop her full weight and go for the 95+ FtLbs.

Oh... tire pressure. I'd swear it says on the side inflate 50-65 lbs. Given the range, what would you recommend the pressure to be? The guy at NTB put in 50# and suggested leaving it saying the pressure will come up with load and heat.

Thoughts?

David
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  #13  
Old 05-10-2008, 01:01 AM
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David, Actually your tire guy gave you some bad information. What you really need to do is to weigh your trailer and determine the weight that each tire is supporting. Then use a tire load/inflation chart to determine the right tire pressure.

You can down load a load/inflation chart from this Goodyear web site and you might want to also want to down load and read the RV tire and care guide that is there also.

Hope this helps.

Ruide
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  #14  
Old 05-19-2008, 04:15 PM
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Default Tires again...

Quote:
Originally Posted by heruide View Post
David, Actually your tire guy gave you some bad information. What you really need to do is to weigh your trailer and determine the weight that each tire is supporting. Then use a tire load/inflation chart to determine the right tire pressure.

You can down load a load/inflation chart from this Goodyear web site and you might want to also want to down load and read the RV tire and care guide that is there also.

Hope this helps.

Ruide
Ruide:

This was good information. Now I haven't located a scale yet in my area but I'll be honest and say it hasn't been a priority since I last posted here. Mind you, getting a loaded weight of my trailer IS something I do want to do just for my own information.

May I beg a favor? My manual for our Forrest River by all accounts *should* be in the trailer. However, if I find that the manual is in another universe (temporarily lost) can you or anyone tell me what the lug nuts should be torqued to? I picked up a dedicated torque wrench just for the trailer.

Many thanks,

David
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  #15  
Old 05-19-2008, 07:43 PM
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I believe you are going to be looking at around 85-95 foot pounds, but thats from memory.

I am kind of old fashioned, get it tight and then turn it another half turn or so. But I am pretty sure 85 would be real close, but maybe someone can confirm this.
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