LT255/85R16 Tire Delivery Part 3

Long before my route was paved there were much hardier travelers who passed this way. I stopped for a brief photo and took a moment to reflect. Lately I’ve been reflecting on how thoroughly spoiled we are with easy, efficient, convenient long distance travel. Several decades ago vehicles were not as low-maintenance and relatively trouble-free as they are now. Before the transcontinental railroad, traveling across The States was a serious, life-threatening endeavor. As modern motorized backcountry travelers there is always the possibility that our machines and computers will fail and we will be reunited with primal overland travel; walking.

Beckwourth Trail

Below is a poor grab shot through windshield glare and at a substantial distance  as I drove through the small town of Quincy, California. It’s not everyday that one sees an nicely restored original Bronco with uncut rear fenders, and nice, narrow original size tires.

First Generation Classic Ford Bronco, uncut fenders and small, narrow tires.

Onward further into the country where I met Brian and his family—very kind people. Brian and I visited for over an hour, talking mostly about trucks and tires, before I started reversing my path.

After several miles I drove down a dirt road where I enjoyed lunch. I really like having a tailgate for picnics, one of the advantages of a pickup over most utility vehicles.

 

Excellent Highway Fuel Economy

After lunch and enjoying the sights and smells of the forest, my fuel economy mission resumed. Theoretically, there are many ways in which to improve fuel economy. Though if your vehicle is outfitted the way you like it and your maintenance is up-to-date, the best way to increase fuel economy is to drive slower and pay attention to your driving technique—there is more to it than simply lowering your top speed.

My not-so-speedy-delivery was a 183.7-mile all highway roundtrip, on which the 3UR-FE 5.7L aluminum Toyota V8 consumed 9.761 gallons of gasoline. The math says that’s 18.81 miles-per-gallon. Excellent.

I’d love to attain this type of economy all the time, but mixed driving, living at altitude, and driving up and down mountains makes it nearly impossible. Though for a lifted truck with a big gasoline-powered V8 engine, and reasonably large & wide 33-inch LT285/70R17D tires (Dick Cepek F-C II), being able to top 18 miles-per-gallon is an accomplishment. Some of the credit has to go to the very tall sixth gear overdrive, which lets the engine lope at very low revolutions-per-minute when lightly loaded, and use little fuel.

Road Traveler – Rollin’ Forward and Sippin’ Fuel

Copyright © 2012 James Langan

LT255/85R16 Tire Delivery Part 2

With a bed and trailer full of tires & wheels I was off to see my tire guys for dismounting, mounting, and balancing so I could get my 4WDs off jack stands and rolling again. A few days later I loaded the bed of the Tundra with the Bighorns and Cooper S/T treads, as well as one old Multi-Mile Wild Country TXR so Brian would have a proper 255/85 spare.

Years ago the TXR was a big seller for the western tire chain Les Schwab. I really liked the void ratio of the TXR—not an A/T nor an M/T—and I purchased a few sets over several years. However, they were not the most rugged tire and tended to cause a steering wheel wobble. The last rig I ran the TXR on was my 2005 Wrangler, which was not as tolerant of their idiosyncrasies, so I moved on to better tires…and have yet to stop.

A load of LT255/85R16D tires, a Multi Mile TXR in the foreground.

I had a few goals for this little trip; deliver the tires, meet my new friend Brian, enjoy a country drive, and conduct a mileage test. After fueling at my local filling station and resetting the trip meter, it was time to roll with a goal of keeping my speed at 65 mph or less.

Through the cities and into the fertile Sierra Valley I drove. It cost, but one of the features I enjoy on the new Tundra is the satellite radio. There are a few stations I like, but I seem to listen to Outlaw Country often, Steve Earle came on singin’ Hillbilly Highway.

Copyright © 2012 James Langan

LT255/85R16 Tire Delivery Part 1

Stranger Danger Online

The world may be full of dangerous people, and jokes about meeting people “on the internet” can ring true when you hear a horror story or two. However, there are lots of very honest, honorable, and friendly people in the world, and many of them are online—just like the rest of us.

Is Mr. 255/85 Selling His 255s?

I received a note from a guy named Brian asking specific questions about the LT255/85R16 tire size. After a few emails I decided he was a nice family man and agreed to sell him two sets tires, which I’d been contemplating selling for a while. These sets, one of Maxxis Bighorns and another the Cooper S/T, were used but still had about 14/32 of tread remaining.

I’ve been a user and advocate of the 255/85 size since purchasing my first set in 1998, but I have been using more 285s, mostly because there are many more tread choices. There just are not that many 255s made these days, and some of the better, tougher, and longer wearing designs don’t track well on my 4Runner, further limiting my options. The 255/85 is still a great size, I’ll likely never stop singing the praises of this 33×10″ tire, they’re still what I prefer running on my F350.

Cooper S/T 255/85R16D, Cooper S/T MAXX 275/70R18E, Dick Cepek F-C II 285/75R16D

By rural western standards Brian lived nearby, about 80 miles, but had a very busy work schedule that was going to prevent us from meeting for several weeks. I offered to deliver the tires if he paid for my fuel.

Tire Swap Fest

The Maxxis Bighorn 255/85 tires I sold were still mounted and being used on my F350. The Cooper S/T treads were mounted on a spare set of TRD FJ Cruiser wheels for the Mall Crawler. Selling these required lots of tire changing and even some tire purchases but it will take me a few posts to share the whole story. Imagine that, James buying and testing tires. Though buying and swappin’ tires is much easier and less expensive than swappin’ women—just sayin’.

Pulling the Maxxis Bighorns from the F350’s OE forged aluminum wheels meant I needed to fit something else. I robbed the set of Dick Cepek F-C II in LT285/75R16D from the Mall Crawlin’ 4Runner and ordered replacements…

Stuff is missin'

Copyright © 2012 James Langan

17 Inch 4Runner Wheels For 285s

Wheel Shopping

I’m not a big custom wheel fan, partly because I’ve never run very wide tires so narrower OE wheels work well, and partly because wheel bling is not my thing. I’ve purchased exactly two sets of custom wheels in all my years of tinkering with four-wheel-drives, one set for my old F350, and one set for my 4Runner—both were later sold after very little use. There may be another set in the F350’s future if I stay with 285s, but that’s down the road.

However, I have purchased many sets of original equipment wheels—either take-offs or new—including an extra set of steelies for the F350, several 16-inch Toyota FJ Cruiser TRD wheels for the Mall Crawler, and now a couple sets of forged 17-inch TRD take-offs for the 2nd Gen. Tundra. Extra wheels are needed for tire testing, not because I have a wheel fetish, tires on the other hand…

It’s much easier to find take-off wheels for new or current platforms, when enthusiasts are removing OE tires and wheels and replacing them for appearance or something bigger. For example, it’s very difficult to find a nice set of 16×7-inch factory forged aluminum wheels for the 1996 F350. Few are modifying these trucks that ceased production in 1997, and the supply of OE wheels dried-up long ago. Ford changed the bolt pattern on the heavy-duty 1999 F-series, so newer OE wheels don’t fit.

17×7.5-inch 4th Gen. 4Runner 6-Spoke Sport Wheels

Six Spoke 17-inch 4Runner Sport Wheels

In the case of the 4th Generation Toyota 4Runner which ceased production just a few years ago, OE take-off wheels are not terribly difficult to find, but finding the exact style I wanted for a reasonable price was a bit of a challenge. The 4th Gen. 120 platform 4Runners were sold with 16, 17, and 18-inch wheels, and in a few different styles.

It should be clear from my Wheels, Tires and Sidewalls post last month that I prefer more tire and less wheel. But I wanted to procure a set of seventeens so I could eventually mount some of the 285/70R17 tires I’m amassing for the Tundra, onto the 4Runner. I was specifically looking for the earlier 6-spoke, 17-inch Sport wheels, not the later, 5-spoke design which is more common and the same or very similar to the 17-inch Tacoma wheels. These seventeens are 7.5-inches wide, just wide enough for 285 tires.

The 6-spoke seventeens are just old and uncommon enough that there are fewer offerings, and the prices are higher than other 4th Gen. take-offs. When it comes to shopping for used wheels Craigslist is a blessing (or is it a curse). I missed a local set for $250 a few months ago, and while I continued to search nationwide, I didn’t want to pay for shipping. After months of intermittent shopping, I found a set in Oregon that did not sell for the original asking price of $400.00. A potential buyer looked at the wheels but passed due to scuffs. The listing expired, but I stayed in contact with the seller, as a planned trip to Eugene, Oregon, was going to put us within 100-miles of the rims. Without seeing a good picture of the damaged wheels I made a tentative offer of $300, which was accepted, and weeks passed.

It was a two hour drive to meet the seller, but even at $4.00 per gallon for diesel, the cost to pickup the wheels was small. Driving the little VW TDI hatchback about 70 miles-per-hour the round trip fuel economy was 48.66 MPG.

The worst wheel.

Rim damage mostly from pound-on wheel weights.

We met the seller and inspected the wheels, which did have a few typical gouges near the rims from normal use. The one with the most damage appears as if it was mounted on the wrong tire machine, with a circular gouge near the center of the wheel. I would prefer no such marks, but I use my four-wheel-drives in the rocks and dirt, so there’s a good chance I’ll further damage these wheels during off-highway travel. I do not need, nor am I will to pay for new or perfect wheels. I offered him $250, he countered with $275 and I agreed.

Now what tires should I mount?

25.5-pound, 6-spoke 4Runner wheel

RoadTraveler–Rollin’ Forward

Copyright © 2012 James Langan

Real Road Trip TDI MPG

My recent post about attaining 56 MPG in our little VW TDI was a rare achievement, our normal fuel economy is less, but still quite good. A recent road trip to Oregon is more representative of our typical highway fuel economy. The trip consisted of a couple hundred miles of slower, two-lane highways through the Sierra Nevada and Cascade mountain ranges, then a couple hundred more on the faster I5 freeway. There were few ‘other’ miles mixed in, about thirty. All on one tank of fuel, as traveling 500-600 highway miles on a tank is no challenge for the little 1.9L TDI.

Over 500.3 miles we used 10.5 gallons of diesel, for 47.64 MPG. The pump clicked off a hair under 10.2 gallons, 49 MPG, too high, having made the same trip a few times. We’ll take 47.

We traveled mostly 65-75 mph, with lots of cruise control use.

47.64 MPG

Best Map of the USA

The quotes and links below tell the story well, but let me say that I still love printed, paper maps. We are all using computers right now, and they can be fun, terrific tools. And who would have imagined a GPS in a cell phone just ten years ago?

However, when I’m traveling in the backcountry I still primarily rely on my good sense of direction, traveling during daylight so I can see where I’m going, and paper maps. Paper doesn’t crash or need batteries, it just works.

I will buy one of these great maps, frame it, and put it in my shop, and another to use.

Created by one man in Oregon!

Imus Geographics, the creator’s site.

“This object—painstakingly sculpted by a lone, impractical fellow—is a triumph of indie over corporate. Of analog over digital. Of quirk and caprice over templates and algorithms. It is delightful to look at. Edifying to study. And it may be the last important paper map ever to depict our country.” Seth Stevenson, Slate.com Jan 2, 2012

The BEST paper map of the USA story

The Essential Geography of The United States of America

Kelso Cartography Link

 

Copyright © 2012 James Langan