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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
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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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 :eek:
 

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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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This is very good info Bill and Heruide, thanks for sharing. Very good descriptions and photos, thanks!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
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.:icon_smile_pu_close
 

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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
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
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?
:no:
 

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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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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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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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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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Tires again...

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 :icon_smile_bbq:
 

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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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David, I'm stepping outside my comfort zone as my knowledge is limited to folding trailers. I also tried to located a manual for your fifthwheel but failed.

However, a wheel is a wheel so here goes.

Rockwood/Forest River recomended torque for folding trailers wheels is 90 to 95 foot pounds.

Here are the recomended torques from Fleetwood.

First stage

20 to 25 foot pounds for all steel and aluminum wheels

Second stage

Steel wheels
10 inch - 35 to 40 pounds
12 inch - 35 to 40 pounds
13 inch - 50 to 60 pounds
14 inch - 35 to 40 pounds

Aluminum wheels
13 inch - 35 to 40 pounds
14 inch - 35 to 40 pounds
15 inch - 50 to 60 pounds

Third stage:

Steel wheels
10 inch - 75 pounds
12 inch - 75 pounds
13 inch - 75 pounds
14 inch - 90 pounds

Aluminum wheels
13 inch - 75 pounds
14 inch - 75 pounds
15 inch - 90 pounds

Hope this helps.

Ruide
 

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Tires and nuts

David, I'm stepping outside my comfort zone as my knowledge is limited to folding trailers. I also tried to located a manual for your fifthwheel but failed.

*** Edited for Brevity ***

Ruide
Ruide:

If we ever end up at the same camp site, I owe you a drink of your choice. You have gone above and beyond the call of duty here. :10001: and I thank you!!

I'm pretty sure with my 31' 5th Wheel, by Forrest River, I'm running 14" rims. I'm positive they are steel as being here in the Gulf coast area, it is humid enough and there is just a touch of rust on the edges. Something that would not happen if they were aluminum. (Also my late father was a metalurgist and some of that did rub off by osmosis to know the difference between steel and aluminum.)

I've picked up on discussions in other locales about aluminum rims on RVs, in particular FR RVs, and the need to constantly check and or tighten the wheel nuts. It didn't make sense to me to put aluminum rims on something that weighs as much as an RV does given the fact that aluminum is a fairly malleable material with time and stress.

When we bought our first RV, then later traded it for our 5th wheel, my ever smart wife videotaped both walk throughs at the dealer when we took possession. Well, I took the camera, downloaded the file to my desktop and converted it to a DVD. I made 3 copies, one of which stays in the trailer. I can not tell you how many times these have saved my butt when I've forgotten something about the trailer. I remember the guy saying the wheels are only torqued to about 50 ft-lbs when it leaves the dealer but to check them myself to 90-95 ft-lbs and that they already did that for me.

I never had a nut come loose and after my adventures with valve stems (another post) I found none of my wheel nuts were loose when I had to get those four tires off. But, I want to make sure I'm in right range when I get her prepped for our next trip.

David :icon_smile_bbq:
 

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David, I'm just glad that I could help. Even though I'm currently in your fair city (I'm at MD Anderson), the doctors have prohibited me from camping. So it might take me a while to take you up on your offer for a drink at one of your camp grounds :icon_smile_bbq:... but when I do I'll certainly let you know.

Take care.

Ruide
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Another true story about flat tires and camper. I went to lunch yesterday with a friend of mine and he told me a story about his ex son-in-law and the camper he bought last year. In a way it's sort of funny, as you can see there were a lot of typical mistakes for first time camper owners and how not using common sense can get you into trouble. Please bear with me, as this may be a long story.
I'll call this person, Chris (actually this is his real name). Chris bouth a 26 foot travel trailer last summer. This last weekend, on a whim, he and his girlfriend decided to make the trip to Lake Catherine in Hot Springs, Ark. He had a flat not far from his turnoff to the Lake and since he didn't have a jack (mistake #1) he slowed down and was able to make it to the camp. He found someone that was able to change the tire for him and put on the spare. On Sunday the weather was looking bad, so they decided to leave early and head back to Memphis, Tn. About 75 miles up the road, he had a blowout on the spare and when it blew, it knocked of the valve stem on the other tire and now he was sitting there with 2 flats, no spare (mistake #2) and no jack to change a tire, even if he had a spare. He dropped the trailer along the interstate, drove about 40 miles to Littlerock, Ark and after several stops and a couple phone calls located 2 tires, already mounted at a Tractor Supply Store. He had no tools so he purchased a 4 way lug wrench and a 2 ton jack (really should have bought a bigger jack). After getting the tires back on the traler he was able to return home with no other problems. Trips like this will ruin a vacation, no doubt.

There were a few things he should have done prior to taking off on a trip of 100 plus miles.

First off, check the tires really well, including tire pressures and overall look of the tires. Camper tires sit a lot and even with tires with low mileage, the main issue is weathering. Some places call this lot rot. Most tralers sit on concrete or blacktops and they absorb a lot of heat and dry out after a couple years.

Second, never leave home without a jack or a Trailer-AID". In a pinch you can also stack several pieces of 2x6 and form a pyramid to raise the camper.

Thirdly, NEVER leave without a spare. On any flats I have had, the first stop as soon as possible is have the flat repaired/replaced and now you have a spare.

If anyway possible, try to get the camper off the interstate where there isn't as much traffic before changing the spare. Now keep in mind, knowing your camper and a ideal of the weight of your camper is a big plus. I would never try to limp in somewhere with my camper as it weighs too much for 1 tire. On smaller campers you may be able to drive a few miles at reduced speeds on one tire, but when you have dual and triple axles for a reason. There are a lot of weigh placed on each tire, when you lose one of 2 or 3 tires on one side, the other tire or tires have to bear weight that probaly exceeds what they are designed for. What could happen if you operate at any distance or speed at other than what the tires are designed for is just asking for additional problems. That is the reason that your tire pressures are so important.

When I heard this story yesterday, I remembered my orginal posts and really wanted to share this with you. Always prepare your trips, or you will end up having the worse time camping :thumbdown:, instead of enjoying your camping experiences :thumbup1:.
 

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We just call roadside assistance :)

Most insurances, credit cards, AAA, etc have some kind of roadside assistance that can cover your trailer.
 
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