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Old 03-16-2011, 05:44 PM   #1
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Tires / Rims Question for a 1984 Coachmen Leprechaun

I recently purchased a 1984 Coachmen Leprechaun - Class C - 26 ft. It's built on a Ford E-350 Econoline Chassis.

I know very little about general automotive stuff and even less about the actual motorhome aspect. My brother who is far more knowledgeable and mechanically inclined is helping me get it road-ready and fix it up. He's very helpful but still we both need answers to many questions. Please bear with me if I ask anything that might be very basic. I'm just learning.

Here's the first one: What kind of tires or tires and rims do I need?

The RV has 2 axles, 6 wheels (dual rear wheels). The front tires are marked 31x10.50 R16.5 LT and the back (at least the outer left one that is legible and easily accessible) is labeled 9.50 R16.5 LT (I can't make out what the outer one on the other side says). There's no 30-something number preceeding the 9.50 so I'm a little confused about that. None of the tires appear to be the same make/brand as the others. I imagine they were replaced at various times with whatever was available.

As far as I understand it, the 10.50 (or 9.50 on the back) is the width of the tire, the R 16.5 is the size of the rim and it's a Radial type tire. And the 31 is the size of the actual tire. And LT stands for Light Truck. Also they're marked M / S which I think stands for Mud and Snow - as in ok for driving in mud and snow. Oh and they're rated load range D. I understand that's sufficient for the weight of this vehicle but that ones with an 'E' rating would be preferable. Is that all correct?

The front tires look decent both in terms of tread and condition of the sidewalls. They should pass inspection and be safe to drive on, I think.

The outer rear tires, however, have somewhat worn tread and have wear/dry rot on the sidewalls a bit. So I think, at least to pass inspection, they probably both need replacing. I'm not sure about the 2 inner back tires since they're hard to access and inspect visually until the outer tires are removed, but I'm going to guess they probably need replacing too.

So, all in all, I probably need 4 tires.

Since I'm REALLY low on funds, I've been looking on craigslist for used tires. And I've discovered that 16.5's are practically impossible to come by. The same goes for junkyards - they don't seem to have them. So I've come to understand the 16.5 size is being or has already been phased out. Again, please correct me if I'm wrong. So I understand that unless I can find 4 good 16.5's, then I'll need to replace all 6 tires, front and back, with replacement tires and rims.

This is where everyone I talk to seems to have a different opinion, is confused or unable to answer.

The answer that I came up with is that I'll need 235/85/R16 with an E load rating. Or possibly 215/85/R16. Does that sound right? Keep in mind, it has dual rear wheels so the width has to be correct.

Also, I understand the lug pattern has to line up. Mine has 8 lug nuts and I've seen craigslist ads for tires/rims with the 8 lug holes but am not sure if the pattern/measurements are the same. It seems that they're all different. How do I figure out what will fit? Most of the ones on cragislist that might possibly work are quite far away so if I want to buy them I'd rather pick them up in a borrowed vehicle that gets better gas mileage. And if they won't fit if there's a way to get at least a decent idea about fit before going to buy them, then I won't have to spend the money to drive really far only to discover they don't fit.

The RV is built on a 1984 Ford 350 Econoline Van chassis (dual rear wheels) if that helps answer the question.

And, please don't tell me to go to a regular tire store and get new ones or pay their prices for used ones. The reason I bought the RV in the first place is because I'm currently in a very tough financial position, need a vehicle and a place to live and can't afford both. So I combined the two and will live in the RV for now. I cannot afford the "it'll save you money/make sense in the long run" mentality. Right now I need the cheapest solution which, I understand, will probably only be cheaper in the short term. In the long run, I'll be in a different situation. I do appreciate the fact that the long run mentality is usually the best, but I'm sure you can understand that right now that's not a possibility for me.

Thanks in advance for any advice.
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Old 03-17-2011, 03:15 AM   #2
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Try and find a used rim salvage shop, I bought four dually rims for $160 locally, they were standard 16" Ford Rims that I later ended up trading for a set of Dodge 16" rims which are a bit different.

Once you can track down a set of rims, you'll likely be running either a 235/85/16 or a 215/85/16 and will need to track down a used tire shop that can get you some load range E's in the right size. (Check the tire width with a tape measure to make certain that it won't be too close together on the new rims.

To figure out if they match, take your spare with you and lay it on top of the new rim to see if the axle opening and lug holes line up, also check for inner/outer alignment pins to be sure that you won't have any problems with the rims not fitting because of pins.

Odds are, your rims are still using the 8 x 6.5" bolt pattern, given that you have 16.5 rims (Which are kind odd for a mid-80s rig).
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Old 03-18-2011, 02:27 AM   #3
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Thanks!

Thanks! All your info is extremely helpful.

And, doh! It didn't even occur to me to grab the spare for lug hole comparison. And thanks for the heads up on checking the pin alignment. I wouldn't have known to do that.

And when you say you got your rims for $160, did you mean you got all four rims for $160?

By the way, when I do get it ready to go, I promise to learn how to drive it properly. Today was the first time I actually drove it (just in the driveway - like Rainman) and I only drove 20 or so feet before I hit a metal fencing stake (bent the stake but didn't hurt the RV). I hit it with my rear bumper no less - and I was moving forward not backwards. Wow do I have to learn to watch that turning radius. I've hauled horse trailers before and haven't had any automobile accidents in the last 21 years so figured I could handle a 26 ft vehicle without hitting anything. Apparently not. No need to stay off the roads though. Lesson learned. I'll pay attention to the turning radius in the future.

Thanks again. I really appreciate the advice!
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Old 03-18-2011, 04:46 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nathrabeast View Post
Thanks! All your info is extremely helpful.

And, doh! It didn't even occur to me to grab the spare for lug hole comparison. And thanks for the heads up on checking the pin alignment. I wouldn't have known to do that.

And when you say you got your rims for $160, did you mean you got all four rims for $160?

By the way, when I do get it ready to go, I promise to learn how to drive it properly. Today was the first time I actually drove it (just in the driveway - like Rainman) and I only drove 20 or so feet before I hit a metal fencing stake (bent the stake but didn't hurt the RV). I hit it with my rear bumper no less - and I was moving forward not backwards. Wow do I have to learn to watch that turning radius. I've hauled horse trailers before and haven't had any automobile accidents in the last 21 years so figured I could handle a 26 ft vehicle without hitting anything. Apparently not. No need to stay off the roads though. Lesson learned. I'll pay attention to the turning radius in the future.

Thanks again. I really appreciate the advice!
Yes, there's an old Tire shop here in town that sells used rims for $40 a piece, so I bought 4 for $160. I later traded the four ford rims for 6 early 90s Dodge rims that I found by pure accident.

I only really need the 4 at the moment since the rear axle is being swapped on the pickup for an old motorhome rear end, but eventually I'd like to convert the front to use the dually wheels as well so I only need 1 spare .

The rule of thumb with anything big and rigid is its gonna turn like a boat, slow and wide.
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Old 03-18-2011, 03:12 PM   #5
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Definitely ditch the 16.5" rims and tires and go to the 16", they are MUCH easier to find - both tires and wheels.

When you are looking for rims, note that standard 8-lug pickup wheels won't work, UNLESS the pickup is a "dually" then they "should" fit. Always best to compare the new rim with an old one so you know both the hole pattern AND the center hole size are identical.

Also, I understand your limited on your budget but don't buy any old tires just because they have good tread. The older they are the greater the chance of a blowout on the road. Stay Safe!
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Old 03-18-2011, 05:01 PM   #6
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When I got my 80 Mobile Traveler last summer I was going to switch to 16" like my dually, but the hassle isn't worth it just put on new 16.5" tires and be done with it. The safety factor with used tires isn't worth the risk.
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Old 03-18-2011, 08:13 PM   #7
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just did this last year bought my 1984 midas freeport in December bought 16 inch wheels from local truck salvage went with 235-85-16s
better load handling 3042 lbs per tire very good clearance when mounted as duals and no clearance problems on the coach with the air bags down and got my speedo closer to right and will slow my tire revs by 50 per mile over the 16.5s note there two kinds of wheels hub piloted and standard mine was lucky enough to be a late 84 so 85 wheels fit and are easier to find here good luck

frank,cricket and harly the dog
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