Category Archives: Tires, Rims and accessories

Trick’in our Truck – for Safety, Comfort & Towing our Avion Travel Trailer

Lets face it, you can have a great route planned, your RV all geared up, food stocked, LP topped off,  campground reservations made BUT

BUT!!!! if your ride is uncomfortable, unsafe or not helping you with towing along the way—the TRIP CAN BE UNCOMFORTABLE, UNSAFE AND COULD END IN DISASTER for you, your truck and your beloved RV!

We purchased our 2011 GMC 2500 HD Denali Crew Cap truck in 2018.  It had just under 28K miles and in super condition.   It is a 4×4, 6 Liter gas engine with a 6-speed transmission and a 4.10 rear axle.   Here is a promo video of it when it was being sold by the dealership we bought it from.  It was a search on CARFAX that finally landed us our “Merlin”– so nicknamed because it was magical how our “must have list” of truck features was finally found….albeit in New Jersey!  So after calling them and putting down a small refundable “on hold” deposit with a CC, we made an overnight trip to NJ from our home in upstate NY traveling 5.5 hours to arrive as soon as the dealership had opened that morning.

OVERVIEW OF UPGRADES & SYSTEMS WE HAVE IMPLEMENTED SINCE PURCHASE:(Below this list we go into each upgrade in more detail with photos, etc.)

  1. Installed Sumo Springs Front & Rear Bump Stops,  Bilstien Shocks and SuperSprings Low Leveling Metal Springs on the rear to assist with suspension and overall handling.
  2. Installed ROCKSTAR Rear Mud Flap System to prevent rock chipping of trailer
  3. Installed DECKED Storage System in Truck Bed to increase storage capacity
  4. Installed Front Grill Guard to prevent excessive damage to grill and engine in case of accident or wildlife damage (affectionately called our “Moose Guard”- we live in the Adirondacks!)
  5. Installed Class 2 Hitch Receiver to hold spare tire or front storage flat rack on the front
  6. Installed WEATHERTECH Interior Mats to maintain carpet
  7. Installed Window Film in Cap to provide privacy and security of stored items or if using for overnight sleeping
  8. Purchased and use the TST brand, 507 model TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring System)
  9. Purchased and use the GARMIN RV specific GPS system
  10. Removed our back seat, covered back panel still utilizing the seat hooks and use bungy straps to secure items we use at every camp set up (other than boondock 1 nighters at Walmart, etc.)

Still to be done before we go full time in Spring/Summer 2023:  Installing a Meckman 400 AMP Alternator (to recharge our Lithium Ion Battleborn Battery system as we are driving)

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LET’S GET INTO THE “WEEDS” OF THE DETAILS!  we have included “where to buy” links where possible.  Feel free to reach out to us with any questions you have on any of the information we have in this post!

  1.  SUMO SPRINGS, BILSTIEN SHOCKS & SUPERSPRINGS INSTALL TO SUSPENSION:

Why?  We improved the ride and alleviated any “squatting” of our truck by adding additional suspension aids.

What? The old/original bump stops were old and very rough.  Sumu springs have a dampening cushioning effect which takes the rough ride out of the vehicle because they are open foam and they engage softly and become firmer with weight- hence a better ride when your truck is heavy and towing a heavy trailer.  We installed them front and rear.  We then added the SuperSprings to the rear.  They mount to the leaf springs on the back of the truck. These add support and weight carrying capacity to the leaf springs.  This helps alleviate the “squat” to the truck when hooking up our Avion travel trailer.  Use the link above to view the product and see a company video about these Supersprings and their application and purpose.

2.  ROCKSTAR MUD FLAP INSTALLATION:

Why?  After taking a long trip from our home in eastern upstate NY to MI we found a plethora of super small rock chips in the front of the 73 Avion we owned then.  They happened literally the last 15 minutes of the trip.  We had to go through a road construction zone where the crew was milling up the road- we were going less than 15 mph when it happened!  Now with these mud flaps we get far less mud, grime, and rock chips on our precious Avion (we now own an ’87 and use a Hensley hitch which is different than the GenY hitch in photos shown)

What? We got lucky that our local auto detailer (who had rehabbed our Avion rock guard and spare tire cover) had this ROCKSTAR mud flap system for sale in his shop- so no shipping fees!  He was ready to retire it from the showroom since it was a few years old.  We got it for less than half the going price for the same guard system.  This is the full bumper type that is installed, not just flaps screwed on.  The system CAN be completely slid off and removed if desired but it is very heavy and awkward for one person to do.  We have it installed by sliding  it over our 2.5″ hitch receiver which a 2″ hitch insert in it-the guard is fastened to that insert and locks in place.   Besides…we think it looks pretty jazzy!

Considering installing mud flaps?  Please read our more in depth article that covers installation tips, etc. Read more….

Link to Amazon listing– very similar to ours

3. DECKED TRUCK BED STORAGE SYSTEM WITH DRAWERS:

We cannot say enough about this system.  Yes, it is pricey, and we also paid to have it installed professionally by our local auto detailer.  But we have found over and over again it is a lifesaver.  It has actually increased our bed storage capacity since it covers over the wheel wells making a flat surface area to allow for more large storage totes.  It’s flat surface can now even fit a double sized air mattress easily to do overnight sleeping in the truck bed very easily and comfortably- + added bonus, you are not laying on metal truck bed.  The 2 full slide out drawers serve as awesome, double LARGE tool boxes-easy to pull out and access everything easily and within sight.  Kevin recently purchased some of the DECKED tool boxes that are made to fit inside, this is an option but not necessary.  Previously, he used other canvas tool bags, tool cases, etc. before this just fine. These drawers negates the need to have multiple tool kits packed in the truck cab or loosely flying around the storage with other RV gear. Your tools are all in one place and always quickly available-which for us is key!

Another plus of this system for security purposes, is that anyone looking into your truck bed through the windows will only see a floor.  They will not see any tools (which tend to be eye candy for many).  You really cannot tell that there is a DECKED system installed since the tailgate covers the drawers completely.  There are also two small, easy access storage compartments on either side end of the floor top.  We keep bungies, flares and other safety equipment in them for easy access.

Hey…it even has a built in bottle cap opener in the center!

Here is a Link to their site

4. & 5. INSTALLED FRONT GRILL “MOOSE” GUARD & HITCH RECEIVER FOR OUR SPARE TIRE:

Why? We have seen way too many front grills demolished by deer & moose hits and vehicle accidents.  We live in the NY Adirondacks afterall!  We also know that our full time RV life will include many areas where there are very large moose, caribou, deer, bison, etc. as well as crazy drivers. 

What? In order to better protect our truck’s major asset—its engine and grill–we installed this beefy grill guard 3 years ago. We did have to remove the factory tow hooks off the front to do the install, but the grill guard has built in hooks on its beefy frame.  Because the guard was heavy enough steel, we had a local welder install a hitch receiver on the front so we can now put our spare tire mount on the front.  We will carry our bikes on back of the Avion.  We actually have found the weight added by the grill guard and the spare tire has helped to equalize our our truck’s weight distribution especially when hooked up to the Avion and its tongue weight. 

Bonus!  This front grill guard also makes a dandy beach towel drying rack!

Here is a link to one we found that is very similar to ours on Amazon

6.  Installed WEATHERTECH interior mats 

Why? Let’s face it, as RVers we spend a lot of time in our vehicles in all sorts of weather, juggling all sorts of drinks, snacks and foodstuffs while plying the highways and byways of our country.

What? Our local auto detailer loves us!  We purchased these from them as well after carefully reviewing a whole lot of online sources and reviews.   These mats are molded and custom fitted to this model year-they fit perfect, do not slide around and are so easy to remove to hose off.  They protect our carpet from dirt, grime, stains, mud, snow, ice, etc.  Once we go full time in Spring 2023 this truck will be our home, this will be our everyday, only vehicle.  We want to do the best we can to maintain its condition and cleanliness.

Here is link to WeatherTech

7.  INSTALLED WINDOW FILM ON SOME BED CAP WINDOWS:

We installed this film early on after purchasing our truck.  We used household window privacy film purchased at Lowes.  It was very easy to use and install.  We have found that since the side slide windows have built in screens- we have not been able to install it there as the screening is unable to be removed easily.  We thought this was going to be an issue  however, now that we have put in our big black totes (with yellow tops from Lowes/Home Depot) they essentially block any views in from these side windows.   What you see is black tote side- so hence not really an issue anymore.  To date we have only covered the two odd sized large side windows in film for privacy when/if we sleep in the bed overnight or to provide some security of goods we have in the back.  We have NOT covered the back window yet because we still keep some totes out of the bed and can use the rear view mirror in cab to view rear when not hitched up.  Once we go full time and the back truck bed is fully loaded we may also install a limo film over all the windows. 

Link to Lowes- the actual film we used.  There are many other great design options available. Just be aware some are more transparent than others which may not give you the privacy you may want. 

Note- even though this is sold as household window film we have had excellent results using it in our truck bed cap.  It has held up well, no fading, peeling or failure due to swings in weather temperatures, etc.

8. TST Brand, Model 507- TIRE PRESSURE MONITORING SYSTEM

Another key safety factor (has saved our butts twice in just the last 2 yrs) is getting a Tire Pressure Monitoring System.  We have installed the monitors on BOTH our Truck AND our Avion Travel Trailer.  Some only install on their trailer.  In our opinion that is insufficient, as evidence by,  on a trip out to Indiana from upstate NY we got a signal our rear passenger side truck tire was losing air.  As it turns out, the valve stem had gone bad.  It was 9 PM at night and luckily we were on an interstate highway that had a large truck stop and the shop is open essentially 24/7 to assist truckers.  We limped in before our tire became too flat to travel-thanks to the TPMS warning!  It was fixed in less than 15 minutes and we were on our way.

Here is a great vendor (TechnoRV)  that we have purchased other equipment from. The link below is a current model, similar to what we have but with some improved features:

LINK to TST Tire Pressure Monitoring System 

Note- When we purchase new tires (we do at least every 5 yrs regardless of miles or condition) we will then order a new, current model TPMS system and we will be purchasing the type of sensors that are “internal sensors” that are mounted inside the rims, then the new tires are mounted and balanced-making the sensors less susceptible to weather conditions, with more longevity and less maintenance.

VERY IMPORTANT NOTE: If you purchase the type of sensors that mount on the tire valve stems–Due to the extra weight that the actual screw on monitors make onto valve stems it is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED that you switch out stock valve stems(rubber/plastic which even over time crack and degrade due to weather, sun, salt, etc.) with metal valve stems.  It is not a big deal but will greatly enhance the longevity of the system all around.

Presently, we remove our sensors after every camping season and store in our house since we store our trailer over the winter months.  We replace with new batteries in each sensor at least every other year to ensure they are fresh and sufficiently charged.  The monitor sensors come with a little locking clip that is used when they are put on and removed- this prevents theft for the most part.  Our system is about 4 years old now and we may replace with a newer bluetooth wireless type before going full time- but ours is working fine.  We have run the wire cable in the cab of our truck and Kevin prefers to keep it on his side of the dash when driving- I am responsible for the GPS and monitoring road grades, etc.  on my side of the dash. 

*You can also opt to have the sensors actually installed inside your tires if preferred.  Currently, we like having the option to take them off in winter months when trailer is not in use for right now but may do the internal application once we go full time.  Afterall, you should be replacing your tires every 5 years anyway.

9.  GARMIN GPS SYSTEM ( OR OTHER GPS SYSTEMS)

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We happen to have a Garmin GPS RV System- there are multiple screen sizes available now . It is about 4 years old and hopefully newer models have better voice command and display features.  For our needs it works for now.  We will tell you we do not always rely solely on this system and Luise will often be running her Google Map directions on her cell phone simultaneously especially when in more urban areas where it is easier to use the search feature quickly.  Please do NOT rely solely on Google Maps when towing your RV!  An RV GPS is programable to your trailer’s height, length, weight and width and the routing will steer you onto roads  you can do.  We live in the northeast where there are lots of old bridges and tunnels with weight limits and low heights from RR overpasses, etc.  Google will send you down a virtual rabbit hole!

We have found our model of Garmin is very POOR in the audio command module.  “She” rarely understands our most basic commands by voice and it is extremely frustrating (hence using Google on cell phone instead to ask quick search functions).  This model Garmin also really in our opinion requires a passenger to use while on a trip.  There are many times where Luise will need to scroll through settings to find things we are looking for and also to toggle between showing map and the split screen of Map/Road Grade features if we are on exceptionally hilly/mountainous terrain.   Our model is one that handles truck/RV settings.  This is very important!  You must preset the parameters for your trailers height, weight, width, and length in order to have the system run best and safely for your towing needs.

*The grade feature really came in handy on our trip on the Skyline Drive and Blue Ridge Parkways through the Shenandoah Mountains in 2021.  Using the grade setting showing gives you some very good advance notice of when there will be significant climbing or downward grades allowing some preparation.  Plus its really fun to see just how high in elevation you are at any given point on your trip!

On the second photo above you will see where we are using the setting that shows a photo image of an exit ramp driving view which we really like especially when coming up on multiple lane intersections or ramps.  It gives the driver a clear vision of which lane you should plan to be in.  It is nice when this works, but not all exits have been photographed to show this feature in our experience.  When a photo is not available, a closeup of the exit ramp or intersection in graphic form will show up on that right side of screen.

Below is a good photo showing the road grade  & elevation visual on the right side of the screen.  You have the ability to spread out this graph based on how far in advance you want to see it by miles.  We have it condensed so what you are seeing is probably the next 10-15 miles (yes, we went from over 5K elevation with a peak grade of 21% grade to a low of 1700′ elevation of 3% grade with a few mountain peaks in between on the Blue Ridge Parkway!)

KIMG1954

10.  RECAPTURING SOME STORAGE IN TRUCK CAB- REMOVING REAR SEATS

Removing our back crew cab split bench seats are a bit of a consternation for us.  On one hand we would like them to transport grandkids when/if they camp with us or taking guests with us into town, etc. on a day trip. In truth, those occasions are very rare and we suspect that once we go full time, it may only happen a couple times a year. In reality, gaining some amazing storage back there that is super easily accessible on a daily basis has won out- at least for now.  We removed the split seats (may put one back in since we typically will only have one grandchild at a time camping with us).  Along the back wall of the truck cab, Kevin installed a 1/4″ sheet of luan type board sheet to encase the back but allowed the U shaped bench seat hooks (that hold the seats in place) and these are what we use to hook bungy cords to.  Stored in this space we can put items that we use a nearly every 2+ night camp.  This includes; our 2 folding recliners, 2 everyday chairs, a folding table, our large cooler and a small cooler for drinks,  a first aid and emergency roadside kit and bag of snacks for the roadtrip.  We have found it very handy to have this space available- especially if we have set up camp and/or plan to be away from camp for the day, or it starts to pour rain and we want to get our chairs and small Weber gas grill inside and under cover quickly! (Has happened many times!)  Once camp is set up and this above equipment is set outside, this space in the truck also provides a great place for us to store our Ebikes folded up safe and sound.

MORryde Suspension System & Kodiak 7K Hydraulic Disc Brakes -Major UPgrades to our ’87 Avion

Up on the lifts at MorRyde in Elkhart, Indiana. They do allow you to sleep on your rig and plug into shore power during the installation process….but up and out by 5:45 AM because they start working at 6 AM sharp!

Anyone who has an Avion (or Airstream for that matter) knows that the clearance underneath these silver babies is less than optimal and can really cause issues especially trying to do boondocking or dispersed camping-which is something we plan to do a lot of once we are full timing starting in 2023.  We found in our 28′ we had issues, but it was even more pronounced in our 32′  since our tail end extends that much further back from the tire axels. 

At times we were even limited as to what gas stations, parking lots or even campsites because of the “dip” from street to lot/site.  NO MORE!

After lengthy research, discussion with people who have installed it and with Technicians at MORryde and then more research we decided to take the big plunge and have the MORryde Independent Suspension System AND Kodiak (7K lb) hydraulic disc brakes installed on our 1987, 32S model Avion.  This decision is not for the faint hearted and a huge investment (just over $7K total for axels/suspension/Kodiak Disc brakes as of this post in Fall 2021) and this does not include the new 8 Lug tires and rims we needed to get for the hydraulic brake install we wanted.

Anyone who has the original MORryde suspensions on their Avion’s (late 60s into late 70s) knows that the center rubber sheer spring that hangs down (encased in steel) in between your tandem tires takes  a ton of the impact from road travel and it is certainly touted as one of the best suspension systems that Avion installed back in the day and any travel trailer can have.  We loved it on our ’73 and missed it once we started traveling with our ’87.  This new version from MORryde, called their “I.S.” (Independent Suspension) system basically replicates that type of system from the older Avion’s WITH ONE HUGE DIFFERENCE! 

We now have that 70’s type of MORryde Rubber Sheer Spring on EACH OF OUR TIRES!  The results is a super smooth ride, less wear and tear on the trailer frame–and with new axels and all these new components there is piece of mind that we will not likely have problems with axel failure/breakage and have a hard time trying to find the correct old “split axels- the Dexter Adjust-a-ride” we did have.

If you think about your suspension like we do, it is the foundation of your “house”.  It needs to be strong, in good working order and built to last.  Our Avion is our home (full time starting in 17 months, 3 days, 2 hours, 29 seconds but who is counting right??) and we want a strong foundation for the tens of thousands of miles we plan to do each year with her over some pretty challenging terrains.

For the sake of brevity, we will list PRO’s and CON’s of our experience, the system and the end results.  In the end, would we do it again?  yes, but read on!!

Inside our OLD external battery box is where the Kodiak hydraulic brake controller was being installed. We had to move our 2 AGM house batteries to under our streetside rear bunk temporarily as part of this project. Our next big project is installing our 6 Battleborn Lithium Ion batteries to underneath our curbsite bunk. The hydraulic brakes are awesome!!

PRO’s to our process-products-end result:

  1. Increased our ground clearance from 8.5″ (at low point of old axels) to over 15″.  No more worries about getting off road, into gas stations or parking lots. Our rear side frame and front tongue frame sit at right around 26″. NO more worrying about dips into parking lots from the street or uphill grades from street.
  2. The MORryde website has excellent information and videos.  And phone calls in advance to their tech folks were very helpful in our decision making to go with the IS versus the 3000 or 4000 systems. Your Avion may benefit from the other systems and worth inquiring about!
  3. The Kodiak Hydraulic Disc brakes are game changers!  Wow!  what stopping power and peace of mind.  So different than electric brakes!  Makes braking of the trailer feel totally “as one” with our tow vehicle. No more grabbing, no more concerns on long down or uphill travels.  These are beefy! Just the new brake system alone was worth the install!
  4. All new axels, rotors and all brake components so less chance of failure or need to hunt down vintage parts to fit/work. We like having a new, rocksteady foundation under our trailer.
  5. During install process we were able to examine the trailer frame since belly pan was removed (we had not done that prior) to see it was in excellent condition- even our Tech was super impressed with quality and condition of this 34 yr old frame!
  6. MORryde allows you to park the night before your appointment in their lot outside garage, then once install commences you are allowed back onto your “elevated rig” after the day shift is done.  This saves on hotel costs– our install took 2.5 days.
  7. The MORryde Service center staff are very good.  The Tech and Service Manager listened to our questions, were responsive to our concerns and talked us through the process as it was happening in real time. (BTW we were the first vintage trailer to get an IS install) They also gave us a tour of the entire facility so we could see these IS  systems being fabricated on site.
  8. We knew what our costs would be before they started and this was all reviewed with us in advance.  There was no type of upselling or gimmicks.  The products stand on their own and we really feel their shop labor rates were very fair.
  9. The Tech you get is assigned to your rig from start to finish and are highly skilled and trained.  They are very professional, the shop is clean, well managed and everyone is super friendly. (well you are spending a bundle too!)
  10. The waiting area during the day is stocked with goodies, drinks, etc. and very comfortable with overstuffed sofas and with WIFI and rest rooms.  You can also order and get a complimentary lunch from several area restaurants who delivers to the MORryde office.  No charge to you- we did Panera both days.
  11. To their credit, when an issue was relayed from us back to MORryde they made good on sending out new parts at their cost and covered the labor costs  in a refund to us to have this correction done locally at a shop we found near to us. Kudos out to Adirondack Truck of Queensbury!

CON’s to our process-product and end result

  1. We did not know that the rig was going to be lifted SO high. Originally we were told up by 4-6″ and we were fine with that. Then as install progressed we were told it changed to 7-8″. We now have a full 11.5″ from top of our tire to top inside of wheel well. Looks odd because all of us are used to seeing our low lying, stealth to the ground rigs.  To counter this somewhat we have purchased Fender Flares (aftermarket bought at Bontragers near Elkhart) to install by riveting on the exterior of the well lip to help mitigate the space visually.  We will temporarily remove the track you see below that we riveted on to slide our Zipdee Tire Shades into, then will rivet the fender flares on using the same rivet holes and refasten the tire shade track over top of this once again.  Due to the curvature of the wheel well opening (at approx. 1 pm and 11 pm locations) we are going to have to apply small sheets of anodized alluminum from behind to fill in those gaps.  Not an ideal fix, but its the best we have come up with.  If you have another idea please let us know! kimg3454
  2. Our frame, (measured at front and rear frame on tail before it rises upward) now sits at 26″ above the ground. Before this install it was approximately 18″. This height has resulted in perhaps a lessening of the aerodynamic nature of the Avion design. However on our trips since we have not encountered any issues with this even on highways with winds and Semi trucks zooming by- but we also use a Hensley hitch which certainly is a big help and have a high top cap on our pick up which deflects wind.
  3. No pre install weigh in like video’s said they would do.  When we watched the MORryde videos during our decision making process we really liked the fact that part of the process included weighing your rig so that the correct sheer springs weight range would be installed. We know our trailer is street side heavy due to Corian countertops and all appliance on that side. We had hoped this weighing step and install to account for this would solve any undo stress on one side of the axels/tires. Needless to say when we arrived we were told they no longer do that weighing part of the process. We were not happy with that explaining again we knew we were heavier on one side and in the end (keep reading full story) it would have saved a lot of angst as a result.
  4. We were not made aware that our specific I.S. axels were going to be wider than our original ones.  We were told this is due to the necessary deflection needed for the tires to toe out or in independently we now had our tires extending out about 2.5-3″ outside of the wheel well! We question the need for this still.  Was it really because this is the standard length for modern RV’s and what their shop is set up to make?  This was a total surprise to us and not a happy one .  We did not realize it until the entire install was complete. It really changed the look of the trailer profile. Hence another reason to purchase the aftermarket tandem aluminum fender flares at about $75 each. We have added another project to our list to rivet these in place after removing our tire shade track and replacing it over top the fender flares (a project just completed). ** The tires extending past our sidewall profile also can mean more damage should a tire fail, and certainly without the fender flare, way more road grime, water from wet roads, mud etc. spewing onto our vintage aluminum skin trailer body.  
  5. “Houston we have a problem!”  On our trip back to upstate NY (Lake George area) from Elkhart, IN- this is a 780 mile trip of all highways we found at our pit stops that some of our interior decor, drawers,  gear, and equipment that NEVER had bounced around or shifted before was now doing just that!  Wait a minute!!!!!!
  6. We were supposed to have a smoother ride, not a bumpier one!  We also noticed porpoising  (rocking nose down to nose up) of our trailer when hitting even slight road seam bumps that we had not seen before.  Houston!!???? another issue!
  7. Not all communications via email were responded to in what we feel was a timely manner by MORryde staff, especially with our issue after install was brought to their attention.  We do recognize that Covid-19 certainly had a part in this as did some staffing changes at MORryde.  We know everyone is busy but waiting weeks for a reply is not appropriate in this tech age.  Once a reply was gotten, we were instructed what measurements we needed to do and send to them.  With this information, MorRyde determined that indeed the WRONG SHEER SPRINGS had been installed *Yup, that weight thing again”- Avion’s are heavy!!-they are not the cardboard box trailers produced today.  Even though we had given them our weight parameters…someone obviously did not compute this correctly from the get go.  So what was happening was that the #2 Sheer springs originally put on at the shop were insufficient to carry our weight and were causing the axels to bottom out when hitting even mild to medium bumps in the roadways-trashing our trailer inside and pounding on our frame unnecessarily on that first trip.
  8. Sheer Spring REDO!  With new #3 sheer springs in hand, you can see the big difference in size! See photo below.  We had to take another day off from work and had a local shop (Adirondack Truck on Big Boom Rd, Queensbury- who were great!) take out the springs from our install and replace with these beefier ones.  We are very happy to report a 2.5 hr trip two days later on our next camping adventure proved we had no more jostling, drawers were shut, gear not strewn about–so issue appears to be solved and the ride is smooth as we had hoped for and been promised.  Needless to say, the issue we had caused us undo stress wondering what on earth we spent all this money for?  Did we ruin the quintessential look of our Avion only to have a bumpier ride?  In the end…the ride is better, the clearance is better and we have the peace of mind of a very strong foundation (suspension) and a new braking system second to none! 

Final thoughts read below…..

For those who wish to see some of the quick video footage we took during the install process here you go!

Welding of new brackets to support axels. Video link

New axels with highlight on the Kodiak Disc Brake system. Video Link

First axel being lined up for install. Video link

Our Tech, Matt doing the welding of first axel onto frame. Video link

Closer look at streetside axels after being welded to frame. Video link

Balancing and aligning our new tires on axels-Hunter System. Video link

In summary...it was a stressful project from start to finish.  We were under the gun to have our house batteries relocated before we left for Elkhart, then a 780 mile trip out there.  We did not get our Avion into the shop until 2pm on first day of appointment, ended up being there 2.5 days and missed two days with fellow Avioners at our SAF rally.  We were shocked by the resulting height of the trailer and over extended tires past our sidewalls. AND, the saga did not stop and we had to have our sheer springs replaced within a month due to a size miscalculation on their part of which they did send us the correct replacements and covered labor.   But all is well now and we are happy!

In the end…we have a super rugged, solid foundation to our home and now we have an AVION OVERLANDER® rig now….and that is the beginning of a new story!

PLEASE SUBSCRIBE TO THIS BLOG SOYou can stay tuned so you can see the debut of a new separate off grid adventure blog from us with a separate, additional URL at AvionOverlander.com that will only focus on off-grid, off road- boondock and dispersed camping adventures, tips and more—coming in 2023 when we hit the road full time and do a lot of boondocking and off road/off grid adventures! (not to worry thePewterPalace.com will not be going away and will continue to be the repository for our campground reviews, regular trips, projects, tips and more!)

As always, if you have any questions, want more measurements, etc. please do not hesitate to reach out to us at any time via direct email to PewterPalace87@gmail.com!

Till we meet on the road or around the campfire!

Baby’s Got New Shoes! (Tires & Rims)

Today in  90 degrees and 64% humidity…..we (well, ok Kevin did all the work, I did my typical go-fer job and took photos) installed 4 new tires and a spare onto our 1987 Avion 32S.

The tires that came on our 87 Avion were a mixed batch with DOT codes ranging from  2015 to 2018 (the spare).  3 were Load Star brand and 2 were Power King Tow Max STR.  We were not real comfortable with the miss match and ages.  So The Pewter Palace needed new shoes!

After  much research Kevin made the decision to go with new 16 Inch aluminum rims and 16 inch radial tires.  This effectively raised the trailer a 1/2 inch overall.  Not a lot, but since these Avion’s are notoriously low to the ground, anything helps.

There is a huge debate and preferences of radials to bias ply tires.  To each his own.  Our feeling is we are going to be doing a lot of long distance multi day travels on highways especially as full timers.  Radials can handle that 6-8 hour day of driving in high heat conditions better than bias.  But this is our opinion from research and we believe everyone had their preferences and their reasons and we do not plan to get into a debate over it.  If it works for you….then that is great.

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Here is what we bought to complete this project:

TIRES:

LT225/75R16 Michelin Agilis CrossClimate  M3JH02CX2220                                             (July 2020 price in NY@ our local tire store, Warren Tire, Queensbury NY, $240.95 per)

https://www.michelintruck.com/tires-and-retreads/selector/info/agilis-crossclimate

RIMS:

16X6 6-Lug on 5.5″ Aluminum T02 Trailer Wheel – T02-66655T                                     (July 2020 price, online-$121.99 per rim)

https://recstuff.com/trailer-wheels/aluminum-trailer-wheels/16×6-6-bolt-on-5-5-aluminum-t02-trailer-wheel/

CENTER CAPS FOR RIMS:

4.25″ Stainless Steel EZ Lube Center Cap CCS002 (July 2020, $10.99 each online)

https://recstuff.com/trailer-tires-wheels/wheel-accessories/4-25-stainless-steel-ez-lube-center-cap-ccs002/

METAL VALVE STEMS: (we strongly urge metal valve stems, why?  rubber breaks down over time due to exposure to sun, etc.  Also if you have tire pressure monitoring devices on the stems, they add weight and over time the rubber will flex enough that they will crack and you lose air out of the valve stem….been there…done that!)

High pressure, Bolt in Metal Valve Stems (0-131 PSI)  ($3.99 each)

https://recstuff.com/trailer-tires-wheels/wheel-accessories/valve-stems/high-pressure-bolt-in-metal-valve-stem-0-130-psi/

HERE ARE SOME PHOTOS TO SHOW COMPARISONS FROM THE 15″ TO 16″

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New Michelin 16″ on left…….original Load Star 15″ on right.                                                               Both are mounted on Aluminum rims.  We chose the new rims to match what is on our tow vehicle, our 2011 GMC Denali 2500HD, 4WD, Crew Cab, Gas Engine. Sorry due to close quarters in our RV garage I could not take the photo head on, so actually the 16 inch looks a little smaller…its not!

 

Even with the addition of the 16″ size there is still plenty of “head room” above the tire.  Original 15 inch is on right.  NOTE:  This FACE WIDTH  of the tires are the same width!

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We did have these tires professionally mounted and balanced at our local, very reliable Warren Tire shop here in Queensbury NY.  We always recommend having your tires balanced professionally!!

STILL TO COME….(due to shipping delays have to go on later when we do bearings and brake checks)

We have ordered Centramatic Balancers: 

GENERAL INFO ABOUT THIS PRODUCT:  https://www.centramatic.com/balancers.rhtml

OUR ORDER:   AJP-10″ Light Duty 6 on 5.5″   (July 2020, pricing  4 pc set, $199.00 online only)

https://www.centramatic.com/wheel-balancer.rhtml?modelNumber=200-223

Wheel Bearing Check and Brake Checks will be done before our trip to the Silver Avion Fellowship Rally hopefully (leaving in 8 days), if not this will be done upon our return.  We had been told by previous owner bearing and brakes are good….appear so, but we always like to create our own “new benchmark” on our trailers for our own piece of mind.

Happy and safe travels….hope this post has helped you!  We LOVE COMMENTS!

Be safe, hope to meet  you on the road or at a campground or rally someday!

Kevin and Luisa Sherman

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