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Friday, March 29, 2013

Dual Tire Hose Extenders? Tips to avoid problems.

Some general comment on extensions for owners of Motorhomes and dually pick-ups.

When I was racing, I towed a 26' enclosed trailer with a 1-Ton dually and had steel braided hose valve extensions. We ran about 78,000 miles with no problems. When I got my Class-C my first add-on was  TPMS followed by steel braided extensions. With only 16,000 miles there have been no leaks or other  problems.

Now there are TWO main things that I would consider a MUST. 
First you need bolt in metal valves.  
Second you need a hard attaching point on the outer end of the hose to prevent movement of the hoses. The hoses come in different lengths so you should run the shortest hoses that allow you to easily bolt the outer end down and you need to support the end of the hose when pushing on it with your tire gauge or air chuck.

I have seen a claim that a metal valve failed because of fatigue from the hose but without significant movement of the hose there should not be enough to stress the valve stem.
Metal valve stems should be replaced or at least have all the rubber O-rings and gaskets replaced whenever you change a tire. The rubber parts age just as the rubber on your tire ages. Replacing when you replace tires eliminates the need of keeping track of the age of the O-rings and seals. There is a rubber interior to the hose and this will also age, so when I replace my tires I will get new hose extenders along with new valve rubber parts.

I have seen spring clips that are supposed to retain the steel braided hose but they don't look too solid to me. I have not looked at the rubber "grommet" that fits the hand holes but have to wonder if they hold the braided steel line solidly. Clearly they do not support the hose end so there will definitely be some movement.

You can see in my set-up that I have the hose firmly attached to my hub cap. I do hold the extender hose when ever using a gauge or air chuck.
Valve extender hoses can work and make adding and checking the air on dual applications much easier. All you need to do is to pay attention to a proper installation that minimizes any movement or rotation of the hose extender.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Quality of complaints filed on Chinese made tires

One of the challenges of writing this blog is to have topics that you the readers find interesting and informative.
At times I feel I am just a broken record as I repeat Know the load, Inflate the tire, Report failures to NHTSA. One thing I do to try and get new ideas, is to read posts on various RV forums on people's questions on tires or statements of their problems. I also monitor which of my topics have drawn the most viewers. My most popular post to date was from Jan 2012 on Chinese tire quality.

I also note there continues to be references to "China-bombs" on various forums so I thought I would review the status of complaints to NHTSA on some tires some think are made in China, for without complaints that provide the information needed by the investigators at NHTSA, there will never be a recall and without a recall there is little real incentive to some companies to improve the quality of their tires.

Here are some current complaints:
Some say the Greenball brand is a "China Bomb"
01/25/2013 there was a complaint about GREENBALL TOW MASTER ST225/75R15 The claim the tires suffered sidewall cracks. There was damage to the RV.  I note that the tire manufacturer was not notified of the problem and that the tire DOT serial was not provided to NHTSA.

12/19/2012 there was a complaint about GREENBALL TOW MASTER with the claim "TIRE BLOW OUT in Sept 6" No tire size, mileage or DOT serial was provided to NHTSA

11/13/2012 there was a complaint about GREENBALL TOW MASTER size 225/75/15. The claim that both the front & rear passenger side tires failed at 1,000 miles. DOT NUMBER WAS NOT AVAILABLE.

10/24/2011 GREENBALL CORPORATION TOW MASTER TIRES, SIZE FT 205/75R15, SERIAL NUMBER: 9DUL2810 on a 2012 Heartland

Note the 9D indicates the tires in question were made by   P.T. Industries, Karet Deli, Indonesia
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I then looked at another non-US made tire  MISSION brand
 09/26/2012 MISSION ST TIRES, SIZE: 205 75 R15 are incorrectly identified as made by General Tire. Two tires "exploded" but no DOT was provided.

There were four other complaints field with various tire failures. All identified incorrectly as being made by General tire and no DOT serials were posted so we cannot identify the actual country of origin.
====================
I then looked for Power King Tow max
There are also problems with NHTSA data as this tire has been recorded as being manufactured by Cooper Tire Co. but I have looked for information and it appears the Powerking brand is imported  by TBC Wholesale

I did find there were 22 complaints on file and a couple actually provided the tire DOT which allowed me to identify the production plant as SHANDONG HENGFENG RUBBER & PLUSTIC CO., SHANDONG, China

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Bottom Line
SOme but not all tires that fail appear to be made in China. Also the NHTSA web site isn't very easy to use to find which tires have fewer complaints than others. One of the major reasons is what engineers call GIGO   Garbage In Garbage Out. 
People are not providing the tire DOT serial so numerous errors follow, making the complaint web site less than helpful, which means others can't gain knowledge needed to make informed decisions.

Monday, March 4, 2013

How to determine an RV tires size and load capacity

In this informative promotional video from Goodyear, learn how to "read" a tire and about what NOT to do when putting a new tire on your RV. This is only a few minutes long and well worth viewing.

How to "Top Off" your inflation pressure

Hopefully all the readers of this blog understand the importance of having the correct inflation pressure in ALL their tires. Be they on a 45' Class-A, your toad, a tow-dolly, regular passenger car or anything in between. The question is how do you get a few more psi of air for your tires when you check in the morning.

There are a number of different situations and I can't possibly address them all here, but I think you can review these suggestions and find a plan that will work for your situation.

I do need to separate out the few folks that discover they have a flat tire or one that has lost more than 20% of the minimum required pressure. NOTE: Tires that have lost 20% of their air are considered "flat" by the tire industry. You have a problem. Maybe a puncture or a failed valve or a tire that has been damaged. You should not drive on your flat tire. You need to change it if you have a spare and the proper tools and experience to do the job safely, or have it changed by a tire service truck and technician.

Now the rest of you who just need a few psi to get back to your goal inflation that provides the inflation needed to carry the load plus a few psi "cushion", there is a way to handle your situation. The options depend on how much air pressure you need.

If you need 80 psi or less one option is to carry a small "tankless" or "pancake" compressor rated at 100 psi and 1 or 2 Cubic Feet per minute (CFM). These are available for $20 to $60 at discount tool supply companies or auto parts stores. Some are 120V and some are 12v and can run off your battery or on-board generator. Just be sure you have enough extension cord or air host to get to all your tires.

NOTE You will have a tough time ever inflating a tire to the pressure the compressor is "rated" for so don't buy a 100 psi compressor is you need 100 psi.

If you have a larger rig like a Class-A, you probably need 90 to 120 psi and a compressor rated at 125 to 150 psi and 2 CFM or higher. If you have air brakes you may have enough on-board capacity and just need the appropriate fittings and host. There are small compressors on sale at less than $100 that claim to be capable of 125 psi.

One other option for those only a few psi low. Drive to the nearest service station at slightly reduced speed (10 mph under the speed limit would be max) and follow these instructions on how to inflate a hot tire.

1. Record your cold inflation.
2. Calculate how many psi each tire would need to reach your goal cold inflation.
3. Drive at reduced speed, hopefully no more than 10 miles, to the service station with air available. You might want to call ahead to be sure they have enough space or long enough hose to reach your rig. Not all service stations can accommodate a Class-A with a toad.
4. Measure your now warm inflation pressure
5. Add the psi needed from step #2 above plus 3psi to learn your temporary "warm" tire inflation
6. Inflate your warm tires to the temporary goal inflation calculated in step 5.
7. Confirm you have the needed inflation the next morning after the tires are at ambient temperature and adjust accordingly.

If you follow these steps I think you will find that your tires have the proper inflation or 1 or 2 psi more so you can set the inflation at your exact goal cold inflation using your digital gauge.

If you have any concerns then have a service truck come out to top off your tires.
Remember DO NOT DRIVE on any tire that has lost 20% or more of its air.