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Friday, May 25, 2018

Tire info in Owner's manual and on Certification label

I have been looking at the "Tire Placard" AKA Vehicle Certification Label for a number of 5th wheel trailers. I learned a few things.

A couple of manufacturers have upgraded the tires on the newer units. Some went from ST235/85R16 LR-E to  ST235/85R16 LR-F. The inflation went from 80 to 110 so they are clearly offering improved load capacity or giving you a better margin above the tire capacity.

If you have an older 5th wheel and have either ST235/80R16 LR-E or ST235/85R16 LR-E you might want to check and confirm if your wheels are rated for 110 psi. If so, you might consider moving on up to LR-F and doing the slight up-size if you have the needed clearance as the 85 series tire is a bit larger in OD.

I also found one model that went from 16" to 17.5" wheels. It appears that the new RVIA 10% load margin requirement achieved some better than expected results. While this may not help out those with older trailers just knowing there are wheel & tire options available that are approved by your RV company could be considered good news.


On a related matter, I wonder how many of you have ever read the section on Tires in your owner's manual. I was surprised to see that some manuals have pretty good and detailed info. They cover stuff like weighing each side of the RV and not just the total on the 4 or 6 tires. While this isn't as good as learning the individual load on each tire a side to side comparison may identify some load imbalance. Since I suggest that trailers run the tire sidewall inflation we are not looking at calculating a minimum inflation. BUT we still want to be sure you have at least a 15% margin on load, so you should use the heavier side of the RV when doing your"Safety margin" calculations.

I also found some clear info on "cold inflation" and operation speed which was better than I expected. Tire life and expected replacement age were not uniform brand to brand but some of you may be surprised to see that some manufacturers actually tell you the number of years use you should expect from your tires.


Hope to meet a few of you at FMCA GLAMARAMA in Michigan in a couple weeks or in Gillette, Wy in July.   Safe travels.

Friday, May 18, 2018

ST tire Belt Separation "Autopsy" "How To"


This info is from an inspection I did a while ago. Some may find it informative.  A friend wrote a post on an RV Forum of his experiences and the results of my "Cut Tire Inspection". He posted:

[image]"This summer I had a tire failure, 3 actually in all by the time I was done. If you are into the details of tire failures, this is one type of tire failure. This is a little long of a post, but there are lots of pics to go with the words and some background.

I'm not a tire expert by any means, just a machinery guy trying to figure out what went wrong with my rig so I did not repeat the same problem and could correct what went wrong. So I took this one as far as I practically could.

I caught the first failure here in my yard doing axle maintenance. When I jacked up the camper to put it on jack stands, my left rear tire would not clear the ground on the normal stand height. H’mm OK what’s up?
[image]
I looked at the left rear tire and it looked more round across the face than I remembered. Still did not know what the issue was at this point.
 [image]



I jacked it up some more and started to take the tires off. I took all 4 tires off and I could see one tire, the left rear looked different. It was more curved across the face of the tire than the rest. Laying it on the ground it showed up more not be square to the sides.

Here is a normal one

 [image]
After comparing the other 3 to this one rear left I measured the OD of the tire. Yup, it is 1” larger in OD circumference. OK something let loose inside this tire.
 I put this bad tire aside, finished up the axle work and put the spare on. I then tried to figure out what was wrong with this tire. Looking on the outside I really did not see anything much that was wrong with it other than about 180 degrees around the outside, the tire progressively was getting larger in OD up to a high spot then starting coming back down. Whatever was wrong with it created an out of round tire.

 [image]

I demounted the tire and looked inside. Nothing really looked wrong to me inside. I happened to have a fellow RV buddy who is a retired tire engineer who has done tire failure analysis most all of his career. We hooked up and he told me how to section the tire and send it to him. So here is how we did this. He told me how to cut out the side walls. I was shocked you can cut up a side wall this easy. There is inherent danger in doing this. Heavy gloves and a sharp knife is a must. Once you start cutting it out it sort of unzippers. You start above the tire bead and cut towards the OD, then start and cut around the circumference.
[image]

Now I had a donut. The hard part is cutting through the steel wire in the tire. Ideally you do this on a vertical band saw with a progressive tooth blade. The rubber wants to bite and grab the blade. I did not have a large enough vertical band saw so I used a Sawzz All. Here one really has to clamp this thing down or the rubber will grab and start shaking the saw violently. You do not want any blade pinch as the rubber bites into the blade. Need to back flex it to keep it pulling apart as you cut. I clamped it to some old saw horses and cut it apart.

[image]

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Now I looked at the cross section. Well nothing real exciting at the 90 degree point from the high point.



[image]

 So I curled up the sample to fit in a box I could UPS to him. Here it is
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I  sent him the tire and then started to investigate if I did something wrong to cause this failure. I always check tire pressure and run max cold side wall pressure at the start of every trip. I even have my own small compressor in the truck if I need it. So under inflation was not the problem.

I also do not tow faster than 60 mph. I do not need to, big truck or not this is a safety limit for me. So I was not overrunning the 65 mph max speed rating creating excess heat.

I use white tires covers when the camper is at home. These tires are 3.5 years old at this point. I can say the first year they were only 50% covered until I have my present tire covers in place. There really was not much tire cracking. No side wall cracks, some very fine in tread cracks and there was a number of stone cuts in the valleys of the treads.

Next was weight. I had not been to the scales in about 1.5 years and I added some upgrades. So I loaded the camper with stuff for a campout and full fresh water as we do haul water to some camps. Went to the scales and weighed each axle with WD engaged. I could not get each wheel position at the scales so when I came home I used my force jack to get each wheel position. Here is the weight chart.
[image]

The failed tire location has 12.5% extra tire capacity or 318# from max load. There is some error in this data as my force jacked weighed a little heavy. It did however show me that the 4 tire locations are different. The front axle was pretty equal, the rear axle very different. My fresh tank sits right over the front axle which may have had something to do with the front being more even. At this point, weight did not seem to point to a glaring problem.

Since I could not find anything wrong, yet anyway, I bought a new Maxxis tire for the spare and we headed off on vacation. My tire buddy also was on vacation so he did not yet have my tire done.

On vacation I was 800 miles from home on the NYS Thruway and while gassing up, OMG… This tire right side rear tire does not look good. Dang, it looks like the failed one. So we pulled over in the truck lot and took it off and put the spare on. Yup, it let go too like the 1st one.


[image]
I was lucky a 2nd time I caught the failure before it let go. If you are going to have to change a tire on the road, the NYS Thruway makes a good changing spot… OK so now I have no spare…. I’m thinking of where I can get one when I get to my Mom’s house. Well…. No luck finding one close by. We did make it home OK. Another 800 miles.

When we made it home I was already working on changing tires to LT tires. When I jacked up the camper to take off the ST’s, OH boy, another one…. The tread was bulged. This tire would not even roll correct it wobbled so bad it would fall over.
[image]

So I dodged a 3rd bullet. I could not see this when it was on the camper, only when I took the weight off. The damage did not yet progress far enough yet or it was not out in the open where I could see it.

Soon my tire engineer buddy was done investigating the 1st tire I sent him. The tire failed for what is called “detachment” or what is nick named sometimes “slipped belts”. It is where the tread separates where the steel belts are in the tire tread from the main tire. Basically the tire unbonded itself inside the tread. Here is his analysis pictures.

He sectioned the tire sample I sent him and knowing what to look for started to see clues of the problem. You can see small separations at the yellow arrows.

His description was “Cut 1 was my initial cut away from the identified bulge area. There are small detachments identified. If this was all that was found in the tire it would not be a serious issue.”
[image] 

Then he sectioned again and he found the entire area let go.
His description was
“Cut 2 location was identified by careful measurement of tread depth and I found a location with more wear than in other areas. The large detachments between the belts on both shoulders can be seen”


[image] 

 [image] 
[image] 
 [image]
His description was “Detach 1a & 1b show the length of the detachment to be over 11" long” 
 And this one really shows the detachment separation.

[image]
His description was “Detach Width shows the width of the two detachments relative to the tread width”
asked him how did this happen? His response:

Why detachment?
There are a number of things that can cause this. They would primarily be a breakdown of the rubber that coats the steel. This could be due to a manufacturing error or simply the selection of a lower strength rubber which cannot tolerate the forces applied to the tire. Only lab testing can determine that. Sometimes detachments can be initiated by tread cuts or punctures but that does not seem to be the case of the tire I inspected. Detachments are one of the more difficult conditions to analyze as there is a need for a lot of additional background information and data.


From this investigation I have a perfect case to file a report with the NHTSA as I used the tires within the ratings. I have since filed 3 complaints, 1 for each tire. I’ll create a thread on how to do this filing. It is the only way we as RV’ers can help this cause of trailer tire failures become more known to the right people who can help. See here How To File a Tire Failure Complaint

There is now a growing understanding that for tandem trailer applications that a 20% more tire capacity reserve is needed to help hold up to the service of a multi axle trailer. In my case I am towing heavy, I am not overloaded, in relation to my tire capacity. When I upgraded I targeted to get as close as I could to the 20% reserve at the heaviest loaded tire. I had a choice of load Range E in the ST or go to 16" LT and deal with tire wheel well issues. I weighed the options and went LT. See here for more on the LT change ST225/75R15 to LT225/75R16 Conversion

While LT tires may not be for everyone, knowing your weights of each tire location and where you are in relation to the tire capacity reserve is something you can do. You can also not tow over 65 mph on ST tires, keep them at max side wall cold pressure at the start of each trip and use white tires covers over them when the camper is in storage.

Hope this helps someone in the future.

 

 

Friday, May 11, 2018

How do I set inflation on my TV and RV trailer?

Got this PM from someone who reads RV forums.

"Good evening, I'm looking for some professional advice. I have a 2500HD pulling a fifth wheel, my steer axle is 4,000 lbs, drive axle is 5,380 lbs, and our trailer is 7,700 lbs. Tires on the TV are rated for 3,100 lbs a piece at 80 psi. The RV tires are rated for 2,800 lbs at 80 psi. Do you think I am ok to run 65psi in the steer axle, 70psi in the drive axle? What I've been doing is 75psi steer, 75-80psi drive, and 80psi trailer. Our TV tires are Michelin MS2 LT265/70-17 the load range chart says I can run much less psi. Also, our trailer tire's are Maxxis 8008 225/75-15 LR E, also the load range chart shows I can run less psi. Any thoughts on what you would do would greatly be appreciated, thank you. New Crusader owner"


To start with it is important to remember that we should never operate tires with inflation lower than what is needed to support the actual load on the tires.
As I have pointed out in my blog we first need to confirm the actual load on our tires. For TV we will find the side to side loading is usually 49/51 to 50/50 split so we can take the measured axle loads divide by 2 and then use the resulting figure when consulting the Load Inflation tables for our size tire.
I have links to many load/inflation tables and related info HERE. Once you find the MINIMUM inflation, I suggest you add at least 10% to that number to allow for day to day variations. Having said this, it is important to remember that the car company spent a lot of time and money evaluating many different tires at different pressures to arrive at the recommendation that is on the Tire Placard on the driver door jam. You should note that the Placard inflation may be higher than my above-suggested calculation as my calculation is only addressing load and not handling, braking or the fuel economy.
The scale weight for the TV for the above needs to be the reading with the RV & TV fully loaded as heavy as you ever expect to tow.

The RV tire inflation is different. Due to SIDE LOADING in trailer application, I strongly recommend running the tire sidewall inflation as your CIP. I think that if you review the RV Placard info from the RV company you will also find that they say to use the inflation number on the tire sidewall.

I know you were hoping I would just tell you to run xx psi here and yy there and zz on the trailer but without knowing tire sizes and Load Range for all your tires, I don't have enough info to provide an informed answer BUT I feel you now have enough info that after reading the sidewalls of your tires - Be sure to check each as they might be different on TV and RV and possibly even different F & R on the TV - You now know how to establish the correct inflation for your current vehicles and for any vehicles you own in the future.

I hope this information and instructions help. If not you can always contact me directly using the email under my video picture to the right.


Friday, May 4, 2018

How much inflation in my tires? Question from new RV owner

Recently read yet another forum post on the topic of "How Much inflation should I run. This post followed the standard format of:  A. I just bought an XXX RV. How much air do I need in my tires?  B. Numerous replies ranging from "I use xx psi" to "You must always run the pressure on the tire sidewall"  to the more correct reply of "You need to know your tire loads first". Some forum threads run to dozens of back and forth exchanges Some have correct info IMO while others are still using what I consider "Old Wives Tales".  I recently replied as follows.



1. Almost all tire Inflation/Load charts have identical numbers (maybe as high as 98% )so if you can't find your brand you can reasonably use another brand till you do.

2. Yes, the charts give the MINIMUM inflation needed but to avoid the need to adjust your inflation every morning (inflation changes by about 2% for every change of 10F) I and others suggest you add a bit so you are running the minimum + 0% to + 15%.

3. You should NEVER run lower than the minimum inflation shown on the chart.

4. Since all tires on any one axle should have the same CIP (Cold Inflation Pressure) you base the minimum on the heavier end. This is why we recommend "4 corner weights" to learn what the heavier end load is. Until you learn the actual load on the heavier end you can assume one end is supporting 53 to 55% of the total on the axle (the axle weight when on the truck scale).

5. How much to add over the minimum? I think you will find various suggestions in the range of +1 psi to +10%. Since I am offering advice to a wide range of users (ST trailer tires, LT and Class-A) with minimum inflations from 50 to 120 I prefer the percentage and if people want to have their CIP ending in 0 or 5 they can add the % then round up. ( Note the +1 Psi is from Tire Rack where they are advising owners of passenger tires that normally are running 30 to 36 psi)

6 Premature wear. Most LT and 22.5 size tires can be good for 60 to 100,000 miles wear so most RV owners will have their tires "age out" before they wear out so the minor wear difference, if any due to running + 5% over the minimum if overshadowed by variations in suspension wear, alignment variations, and driving habits. The center shoulder wear info is based on car wear rates primarily with bias tires or inflation differences greater than +/- 15% from the suggested CIP.

7. "Correct" inflation is not what the charts say. They are providing the "Minimum" cold inflations is every case.

8. Adding Load % and adding inflation % is done only to compensate for not knowing the actual heavy end of an axle. If you learn the actual heavy end when the RV is fully loaded to the heaviest you ever travel at, I do not suggest you need to add any more weight when doing your calculations. How much can you be out of balance side to side? I have seen a very small % of RVs with the load at 50/50 side to side. Most appear to be in the 53/47 to 55/45 range but a few have been found with over 1,000# heavier on one end.

9. It is important to realize that when we look at actual weights of RVs in use, over half exceed one or more of the weight specifications for tires or axle loading. IMO this is a clear indication of why so many RVs have tire problems.