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Monday, February 24, 2014

Measurable vs Meaningful

It is important to understand the difference between these two terms. Sometimes people assume that if something can be measured it is important.
Over the years as technology has advanced it becomes more and more easy to detect ever smaller quantities of material or forces.  As an engineer I too often hear people expressing concern over some new discovery of x parts per Million or even x parts per Billion of some contaminant to air or water, or foreign material in some product. Some of these numbers are important and meaningful while others are not really significant so there should not be a cause for concern. The challenge is to know when some measurement is meaningful.

Some of you are asking yourself what this has to do with RV tires. Well if you have read many of my posts here in this blog or on various RV Forums you no doubt have seem me and others saying you need to know the actual load on each tire and not just guess. Also we tell you how important it is to have the proper inflation in your tires.

What made me think of a need for this topic is the occasional complaint I get from some that think we are suggesting a need to get their RV weighed every time they travel or add an item to their packing list.. They basically say they are not going to do that so ask "Why bother to weigh the RV at all?"

Lets step back and look at tire Load & Inflation tables. For highway use tires the tables have 5 psi increments and depending on the size tire that 5 psi increment can provide as little as 110# additional load carrying capacity for a small ST type tire to 320# or more additional capacity to a large Class-A tire. If we do some simple math that means on a single axle small Trailer you would need to adjust your inflation if you were to increase the load in the trailer by 220# but the Class-A RV with rear duals and a tag you might be able to tolerate (8x320#) or 2,560# additional load (assuming perfect load distribution).

If your hobby was going to yard sales and picking up cast iron lawn ornaments it might be possible for a couple good sized items at (115# each) to be meaningful so you would need to increase your tire inflation on your small teardrop trailer (assuming you were not already running the tire max). The owner of the 40' Class-A on the other hand could probably pick-up a couple dozen items that each weighed 105# and if the load was perfectly distributed still not be overloading the tires.
Now clearly we can count (measure) the difference in the additional load of the two 115# items and the load of twenty four 105# items. In both cases the additional load is easily measured but while 120# could be very meaningful to the small trailer owner an increase in load of 120# would certainly NOT be meaningful to the Class-A RV owner. Maybe you now have a better understanding of the difference between measurable and meaningful.

In a previous post, I provided information of the accuracy of pressure gauges, showing that I find that 10% to 15% of the gauges I have checked are off by 5 psi or more. While my personal gauges are certified accurate to +/- 0.5psi, that is way more accurate you you "need" if you are setting your cold inflation to give yourself a 10psi Safety Margin over what is needed for your normal full load. If however you are running loads that fall just below the load indicated for the cold inflation you are using, then BOTH your gauge needs to be more accurate than +/-5 psi and your scale reading needs to be accurate to less than half of the load increment in the table.

Example: Tables for a 255/80R22.5 show 4,805# @ 95 and 4,975@ 100 psi so your gauge needs to be at least +/- 2.5 psi from actual certified measurement and your load needs to be measured to an accuracy of at least +/- 85# if you are using 100 psi as your cold inflation.

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