Wheels and Tires

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Wheels and Tires

Postby Alan_H » Fri Mar 11, 2016 11:03 am

So, to start off with, much has been discussed regarding our trailers, including the benefits of different types of suspension, trailer designs and materials, hitch types, etc.

However, unless I am missing it, I haven't seen much discussion regarding either tires (tyres for those across the pond) and wheels.

Two topics in one discussion thread, as they both deal with the ride quality and are a combined rotational mass ( yes my engineering studies terminology is creeping in here a bit as well :R )

First question: Wheels.. Is aluminum a huge weight advantage over steel, or just a fancy dress-up? Huge as in, several pounds or just ounces. Also, corrosion factor, does a steel wheel or aluminum hold up better to environmental corrosives, i.e. water, mud, road-salt, etc.?

Second question: Tires... Radial or Bias and why?
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Re: Wheels and Tires

Postby Redneck Teepee » Fri Mar 11, 2016 11:21 am

Steel is typically 2.5 times denser than aluminum. Steel is about 3 times heavier than aluminum. (Steel is about .3 pounds per cubic inch, aluminum is about .1 pounds per cubic inch.) :)
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Re: Wheels and Tires

Postby Colemancooler » Fri Mar 11, 2016 1:44 pm

Typically trailer wheels are heavier construction than standard wheels , because trailers get abused. I don't think regular wheels would be a problem on a small trailer. I used to have aluminum wheels , they were much easier to mount than steel wheels, I am sure the extra weight affects stopping, economy, and power at least a small amount
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Re: Wheels and Tires

Postby absolutsnwbrdr » Fri Mar 11, 2016 4:17 pm

Aluminum, while lighter by volume, requires more material to make a strong wheel, compared to steel. So aluminum wheels won't actually save much weight. However, aluminum wheels are available in many many styles, and more importantly won't rust.

For comparison....

15" steel @ 18lbs.... http://recstuff.com/trailer-tires-wheel ... oCb9vw_wcB

15" aluminum @ 15lbs.... http://recstuff.com/trailer-wheels/alum ... oC34rw_wcB

Its up to you to determine whether corrosion resistance and style is worth the premium price.
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Re: Wheels and Tires

Postby Socal Tom » Fri Mar 11, 2016 4:59 pm

Alan_H wrote:So, to start off with, much has been discussed regarding our trailers, including the benefits of different types of suspension, trailer designs and materials, hitch types, etc.

However, unless I am missing it, I haven't seen much discussion regarding either tires (tyres for those across the pond) and wheels.

Two topics in one discussion thread, as they both deal with the ride quality and are a combined rotational mass ( yes my engineering studies terminology is creeping in here a bit as well :R )

First question: Wheels.. Is aluminum a huge weight advantage over steel, or just a fancy dress-up? Huge as in, several pounds or just ounces. Also, corrosion factor, does a steel wheel or aluminum hold up better to environmental corrosives, i.e. water, mud, road-salt, etc.?

Second question: Tires... Radial or Bias and why?


Radials will ride better than Bias ply, and that will be a benefit in a light trailer. The sidewall will take up more of the road vibration vs the same size bias ply

On a trailer, I think a steel wheel is the better choice because its more tolerant of abuse ( steel bend where aluminum will crack), however its not a huge factor for most, and my last rim was bent beyond recovery anyhow.
As for corrosion, but are subject to corrosion, its all about how well you take care of them.
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Re: Wheels and Tires

Postby Alan_H » Sat Mar 12, 2016 1:36 pm

absolutsnwbrdr wrote:Aluminum, while lighter by volume, requires more material to make a strong wheel, compared to steel. So aluminum wheels won't actually save much weight. However, aluminum wheels are available in many many styles, and more importantly won't rust.

For comparison....

15" steel @ 18lbs.... http://recstuff.com/trailer-tires-wheel ... oCb9vw_wcB

15" aluminum @ 15lbs.... http://recstuff.com/trailer-wheels/alum ... oC34rw_wcB

Its up to you to determine whether corrosion resistance and style is worth the premium price.


@absolutsnwbrdr that is the line of thinking I was on regarding the wheels. I followed the site you referenced, and just for S&G I looked at 13" wheels. a 13" steel wheel was 11.0 lbs. while the same size and bolt pattern aluminum wheel was 12.0 lbs.

Price is also a consideration, as most aluminum wheels represent at least a 2.5x premium over steel.

I surmise that some folks are choosing aluminum thinking they are saving weight, when in some cases they may actually be adding weight. Rotational mass does enter into the equation, but the equation ignores the type of material, and only is subject to the weight.

In a towed trailer, rotational mass has less effect as most of the time it is free-wheeling, however, additional weight in rotational mass during braking is actually a plus, as it enhances traction on tire to ground effect of braking, thus reducing likelihood of sliding.

However, weight advantage also comes into play in the total trailer weight consideration, especially for those looking to build light for either TV towing restrictions, and/or lower weight converting to better overall MPG.
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Re: Wheels and Tires

Postby RonS » Fri May 27, 2016 6:59 am

In addition to rotational mass, you want to take into consideration wheels/tires are unsprung weight. The higher your sprung/unsprung weight ratio, the better the ride quality. To increase this ratio, either increase sprung weight (add beer) and/or reduce unsprung weight. Seems many here are looking for light trailers, so while taking beer along is great, reducing the unsprung weight seems the better option. (and allows you to bring more beer and stay at your goal weight) :lol:
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Re: Wheels and Tires

Postby Shadow Catcher » Fri May 27, 2016 5:37 pm

If I were to do it again, I would go with derated axle with 10" brakes and 15" rims (easier to find tires).
What we have 14" rims and after hearing the damage caused by ST tires (all made in China) I switched to Micheline Harmony passenger tires. Each has a 1600# rating (the dry weight of the trailer). It does ride more smoothly and the speed rating is, well, as fast as we want to go with a tow.
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