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Old 07-07-2010, 10:35 PM   #1
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Offering Advice on Spare Tires - from experience!

Awhile back I posted asking about whether we should mount a spare tire onto our bus to bring along. We decided not to bring it because basically it weighed a ton and it was too much work to worry about. Plus, my father-in-law pointed out that dualies in the back can handle the weight with one blown tire. So, this is our experience thus far and we've driven from Portland, Oregon to Mexico City and back to Ontario, Canada.

We bought new front tires and I highly recommend you do this. If one of these blows on a freeway, you're gonna have a hard time driving. They cost $300 each. It's worth the peace of mind.

We've had two flat tires in the back. Both times we heard them blow and it was loud. Both times we were able to drive on them for quite awhile, very slowly. We noticed in Mexico that many many trucks drove without both tires in the back or one completely bald, etc. Also, there is no way in hell my husband could have ever changed that tire on his own on the side of the road. For one, these old buses have some serious lugnuts requiring those special hydralic thingymajigers. So, both times we simply drove slowly to the nearest town and then found the nearest truck repair shop. They tend to have tires on hand quickly as truck tires blow or need to be changed very regularly. You can buy used re-treads for about $100 or new ones up to $400. It's really easy to do and we've never had to wait more than an hour or so.

So, that has been our experience and I hope it helps you along the way. If you've got dualies in the back, don't worry. They are easier to fix than you think. Feel free to write me personally if you have any other questions as we've been living in our bus now for six months and have put 7,000 miles on her. She's hanging in there thus far. You can also check out our blog with conversion answers and videos!

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Old 07-07-2010, 11:23 PM   #2
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Re: Offering Advice on Spare Tires - from experience!

i have heard that some buses have a rim that is in two parts and if you dont have the right equipment the pressure from the tire will blow the pieces at you...they are called widow maker tires.... this is deadly... make sure that you know what you have before trying to change your own tire...
which on a DIY website sounds terrible so here is a link
http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2007/05/359660.shtml
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Old 07-07-2010, 11:29 PM   #3
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Re: Offering Advice on Spare Tires - from experience!

The true widow makers went away with the 50's and 60's, but many of us do have locking ring wheels. These are somewhat more scary than a regular wheel, but are not widow makers. They do, however, require some safety protocol to inflate. Any shop that does tires shouldn't have a problem with them though.
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Old 07-08-2010, 05:34 AM   #4
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Re: Offering Advice on Spare Tires - from experience!

I for one like to bring a spare tire with me on long road trips. and all the necessary tools to change a tire if necessary. Even if you don't bring a spare, i would recommend bringing the tools along at least. If you have a flat front tire, you could swap that one out with a good rear tire to get you into town. Tire changing is pretty straight forward. I was fortunate enough to have the guy at the tire place give me a quick tutorial when he was putting a new (used) tire on my first bus. You can buy the jack and a 3/4" drive socket extension and breaker bar for around $50 bucks. Some heavy wood timbers make good jack stands. I do like to bring along a regular jack stand that i use in conjunction with the breaker bar and socket. (insert photo here)

Glad to hear your trip went well!
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Old 07-08-2010, 06:55 AM   #5
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Re: Offering Advice on Spare Tires - from experience!

I just signed up for my first year of Good Sam Emergency Roadside Service. One of the benefits is tire service - but the only free thing they'll do is install my mounted and inflated spare. If a front blows, I'm not sure that a mechanic would be willing to put a rear tire on the front and leave only a single on the rear, due to liability. I'm planning to carry a spare, even if it's a used just-below-legal-tread tire.
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Old 07-08-2010, 10:39 AM   #6
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Re: Offering Advice on Spare Tires - from experience!

never hurts to have a spare! also since these are larger vehicles we should have a hydraulic jack along to lift them with. I got a 2 ton hydraulic jobby from walmart for 20 bucks. And I know some of the bigger buses have hard to crack lug nuts but you guys should invest in a good breaker arm for them or the proper socket and air or electric gun for them. guys with air brakes or a compressor would have no problem with air lol.

and im lucky i made the 1000 mile trip home in my shuttle bus. no spare or anything. just made sure they were properly inflated before I left and checked them with a hammer when i stopped.

Also!!! check you valve stems!! my rear duals have these stupid metal valve stems that only a "straight on" air chuck and tester can get onto! I gotta get them changed out some day..
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Old 07-08-2010, 03:23 PM   #7
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Re: Offering Advice on Spare Tires - from experience!

For the price, you cannot go wrong with a 3/4" drive breaker bar with a 6 foot cheater pipe attached. A 200 pound person will apply 1,200 foot pounds by simply stepping on the handle. Jumping up and down will easily create 2 or 3 times that much force. It's tough to find an impact wrench that will generate 2,500 foot pounds or more of torque on the cheap.

I also agree that having road side assistance change the tire for you is a good idea when available. Although i don't mind using such a service, i also like to have the ability to be self reliant should the need arise.
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Old 07-08-2010, 11:15 PM   #8
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Re: Offering Advice on Spare Tires - from experience!

Yep, we definately were not interested in carrying a whole lot of extra equipment and a 300 pound tire 7000 miles on a bus that gets only 7 mpg. Money saved on carrying the extra 500 lbs. plus the realization that everywhere you look and everywhere you hang out living in a bus, you see that trucks are being worked on and have many many tires around. You aren't as limited as you think. It's definately good to think things through but you, at some point, just gotta go live on it and figure out for yourself that moving crap and equipment and tools around, just isn't worth it. It's more for someone else to steal anyway. We've spent a total of $105 on one tire and $160 on the other. The tool we brought to turn the lugnuts bent the first time we tried to use it. We had to have the hydraulic lugnut remover Happy travels!
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Old 07-11-2010, 04:11 PM   #9
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Re: Offering Advice on Spare Tires - from experience!

I carry a mounted spare & tools to change it. Would never even DREAM of not carrying it. Used it twice on my B700.

DO NOT DRIVE ON ONE DUAL TIRE! THIS IS EXTREMELY DANGEROUS AND COULD CAUSE A FATAL WRECK! ONE TIRE OF A PAIR OF DUALS IS NOT ABLE TO SAFELY CARRY THE WEIGHT OF A CONVERTED BUS!
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Old 07-11-2010, 05:04 PM   #10
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Offering Advice on Spare Tires - from experience!

CHILL. I would never suggest someone "drive" on only one tire - only that you can drive on one! It's not dangerous unless you're going 60 as opposed to on the side of a highway with your hazards on - no need to freak about it!

This posting was only a suggestion for those of you out there that have never actually lived in your vehicle or traveled on the road with it. We've now done three countries and over 7,000 miles with two flat tires. Both flats were in Mexico and Canada and both were fixed within the hour they popped. It's that simple, is all I'm saying. You don't need to bring all this other stuff with you because although yes, you can change it yourself on the side of the highway using pieces of wood to hold up a 27,000 lb. bus with cars flying by you and a 300 lb. tire to get off your under carriage and also put back on (try that one in 100 degree weather on the freeway first, you know, for fun practice) - WHAT I'M SAYING IS THAT YOU DON'T NEED TO! You'll live without a spare. Truckers rarely bring spares and they are the ones that know their ****. They are the ones that drive these bad boys professionally and know how to live without carrying the whole house with them to do it. Take the information for what it is worth while you are converting and thinking about bringing stuff. Yes, you need tools in case you break down or your toilet starts leaking but hell, you don't need everything! It simply takes up tons of space, tons of weight carried and your tools are valuable commodities that can be stolen. Plus, the tires to replace, don't cost very much and both times we were not charged for having it done - tools saved, time saved, hassle saved. Just advice given from experience actually served on the road. $275 spent total for two flat tires along the road, without a spare! Good luck.
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Old 07-12-2010, 07:45 PM   #11
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Re: Offering Advice on Spare Tires - from experience!

I've driven on one tire plenty of times, always empty in out-of-service buses. At my last job, we drove them to the junkyard like that all the time. City transit agencies often auction them off like that, with a disclaimer that the vehicles aren't in roadworthy condition. Drive slow, go easy on the corners (not sure about the physics of taking a corner with the outside dual missing, but I wasn't taking a chance). If a rear tire blows on a highway with no shoulders, the lesser of two evils is to drive on 5 to a safe place and change it. In a school bus, they tell us it's okay to drive a short distance on 5 tires with kids aboard, just to get to a safe place to wait for help.

With that said, the varying weight of a conversion (especially with full water tanks) can be dangerous, even if it doesn't overload the capacity of the remaining tires. Also, a blowout can damage the sidewall of the tire next to it, putting more stress on the tire carrying more weight.

One more thing, any item placed in the rear overhang will not only place its own weight on the rear axle, it will also shift some of the weight from the front axle. A 1,000 lb appliance centered over the rear wheel will put 1,000 lbs on the rear wheel. A 1,000 lb appliance in the back corner will place more than 1,000 lbs on the rear wheel, and pull the difference off the front.
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Old 07-12-2010, 08:30 PM   #12
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Re: Offering Advice on Spare Tires - from experience!

the singles on a dualie must be a trend. seen a few cube vans going around with just the outside duals on.. dunno what reason for..
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Old 07-24-2010, 09:06 AM   #13
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Re: Offering Advice on Spare Tires - from experience!

I posted this over on the short bus forum:
viewtopic.php?f=36&t=6321

I had 20 years on the road with my cube van-I would never dream driving around without a spare. I had 4 tires blow out on 4 consecutive trips on the rear (I will NEVER buy a Firestone tire again! Plenty of tread and always fully inflated-tread seperation-just like on the Ford Explorers.) There would be no limping to the next town-the big flap of tread beat the hell out of the wheel well. There was a thick piece of metal acting like a mud flap-the loose rubber filpped it around on top of the tire once-took over an hour to get the tire off.
Alot comes down to just common sense-do you ever check you pressure? Have you ever tried to remove a tire in your driveway when you have time and not traffic zooming past you? I just did all this-found one of my (rubber) valve stems on an inside wheel was leaking-I chanced to metal ones + put on those hose thingies so you can get air to inside wheel easier. I also cleaned the threads on the lugs and put never-sieze on them and torqued them to spec. If I ever need to remove them, I'll have a far better chance than a lugnut that has been rusted on for years.
Hopefully being this prepared means I'll never need to change one. Isn't that how it works?
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Old 07-24-2010, 12:11 PM   #14
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Re: Offering Advice on Spare Tires - from experience!

For me, carrying a spare is a must. I dont wander the roads, I always have a destination and more often than not a time schedule. A flat tire, a wait for road service, a limp into the next town to search for a 8-19.5...burnin' daylight!

Limp to a safe spot and change the darned thing! I can do a tire change on the spot in less than 30 minutes start to finish, just moved 4 of them around the other day in 105deg heat index. Not fun, but no worse than spending an hour in the same heat mowing the lawn!

I figure the weight of the tire, jack and stands at about 2.5% of the vehicle weight, negligible effect on mileage.

But, to each his own!
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Old 07-25-2010, 12:28 AM   #15
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Re: Offering Advice on Spare Tires - from experience!

Quote:
by sdwarf36 » Sat Jul 24, 2010 7:06 am
Quote:
also cleaned the threads on the lugs and put never-sieze on them and torqued them to spec.
Ahh, what did your torque them to. The listed lugnut torques are for dry nuts.
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Old 07-25-2010, 01:13 AM   #16
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Re: Offering Advice on Spare Tires - from experience!

I don't think we could change the tire on our bus. For starters, I can never get the silly things off (I do not weigh 200 lbs!) much less maneuver one of the tires into position... I can't get the tires off my Jeep and we carry a breaker bar for that. With my luck, David's back would go out just as he's ALMOST got it into place. Which would leave yours truly to change the tire. I know how, I just don't think I'm physically capable anymore (Does this mean I'm getting old or wise???) . The tires on the Class C are an handful (16.5X8?) and we've changed tires on it twice. So we will need to get a road service.

For those of you who might be traveling around Chattanooga and have bus trouble.. includes tires... the little yellow accident response truck is qualified to change tires on buses... that includes the big highway coaches. They know a bit about diesel engines too. So if you breakdown on the road, call the HP to send them or flag them down. They are great and the service is free (unless they have to provide an item). There should be same around the bigger cities in TN (at least there was when we left).
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Old 07-25-2010, 09:40 AM   #17
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Re: Offering Advice on Spare Tires - from experience!

Tire changing tip!

Dont lift the tire onto the axle/hub!

After removing the bad tire, lower the jack so the axle/hub is a little below the natural ride height. Roll the tire into the wheel well, Center it on the axle/hub with the top tilted inward. If it is a stud mount {no hub}, maneuver the tire so the top stud peeks through the hole, top tilted inward.

Raise the jack slowly with small lifts until the wheel just slides into place. If it is a dual, now is the time to work the 2nd tire on.

Dont lift the tire, let the jack put the vehicle exactly where you need it!
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Old 07-25-2010, 07:07 PM   #18
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Re: Offering Advice on Spare Tires - from experience!

Quote:
Originally Posted by bus-bro
Quote:
by sdwarf36 » Sat Jul 24, 2010 7:06 am
[quote:3vz58ont]also cleaned the threads on the lugs and put never-sieze on them and torqued them to spec.
Ahh, what did your torque them to. The listed lugnut torques are for dry nuts.[/quote:3vz58ont]

Good point-didn't take that into account. But I'd bet its whole life the lugs were "torqued" by air gun. "chuk chuk chuk-that should hold them."
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Old 07-25-2010, 11:28 PM   #19
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Re: Offering Advice on Spare Tires - from experience!

Kal-Tire gave me crap for having copper coat on the lug nuts. said to never use that stuff. I know you need it a little or some times the rarely used vehicles hate to part with their nuts
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Old 07-26-2010, 06:58 AM   #20
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Re: Offering Advice on Spare Tires - from experience!

Have you ever dealt with the effects of their sudden disappearance?

Dont lube your lugs!
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