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Old 05-03-2009, 08:59 AM   #1
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Balancing Tires with Powder/Firestone FS 560

Once again, I am in the process of learning something new. Can anyone expound on this method of balacing tires. Is it constantly reliable, does it constantly move? My recent tire service couldn't really explain much about this method other than to say it is too difficult to balance out this size tire with the traditional method.
I use 19.5, and, recently just purchased 8 new Firestone FS 560. On the short drive home after picking up my unit, I detected a slight vibration. This was not on an interstate, but merely a highway, fairly smooth. I do not yet know these tires well enough, as some tires even out after coming up to temperature. I drove less than 5 miles on them so far.
BTW, I removed Michelin XRV, they had a ton of tread left, looked great on the sidewalls, but, get this, after exposing the build date, I think they were original equipment tires on my 97 National Dolphin, all were stamped with just 3 digits, and there was no other way to interpret the numbers, (and my dealer rep stated also, that prior to 2002, Michelin used 3 digit codes and after, 4 digit). All mine ended in 96!!! Thirteen years old!!! Can this be?? I just can't believe these tires could be that old, as my unit has 86000, but I am hard pressed for any other explanation. Unless PO put new tires on that were warehoused for several years???
I did have a tag axle blowout at the end of last season, scared hell out of me, and that is when I decided to pursue new tires when spring arrived and I got unit out of storage.
Also, I had to purchase this middle of the road, cost wise, Firestone. Yes, I would love to been able to afford Michelin replacements, but just could not do. Anyone out there have any experience or comments about the FS 560?
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Old 05-03-2009, 12:29 PM   #2
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I have read many threads on powder or beads (Some folks say "Sand") as a balancing agent, I finally figured out how it works, though I'm not sure I can explain it,

Some folks swear by it. But still others who have tried it swear at it. Here are some facts

If you use powder/beads to balance, then every time, EVERY TIME you stop moving the powder/beads will fall to the bottom of the tire where they will sit, so every time the light turns GREEN, you are out of balance, EVERY TIME, this can be annoying.

Second, if you use any type of tire pressure monitoring system, and you should, Trust me on that, YOU SHOULD use a TPMS. use of powders can mess you up big time, Beads I don't know about, but powder will mess 'em up.

My suggestion: Have the tires "Trued" (Make sure they are ROUND and I mean ROUND, then balance them the old fashion way.. With lead weights
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Old 05-03-2009, 08:53 PM   #3
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Equal (powder) can blow out the valve and into the TPMS sensor, but beads (Dynabads) won't. And being out of balance at 5-10 mph is a non-issue. You will never know. By the time you reach a speed where balance is detectable, the power or beads will be doing their job.

An alternative is an external balancing device that works on the same principle but does not put anything inside the tire. Centramatic is the most widely known brand, but there are others. Cost a bit more than internal type, though.
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Old 05-03-2009, 09:07 PM   #4
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I have used the Centramatic on both of my Dodges. Just had to get some different spacers for the new unit since the brakes were disks all around. Even tho my tires/wheels are balanced b4 install, these have made the ride smoother so if I were to get the 5th on the road for long term, I would probably use these on the 5er. The nice part is that they have various holes for multi-fit and can be used on a different unit when purchsed. I learned about them from trucking, so for the initial investment, they are in the long run cheaper than paying for balancing 2 or 3 times a year. They did improve my tire life, as I was getting about 32k and now can get 44+k on same brand/size.
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Old 05-04-2009, 08:52 PM   #5
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I have had Equal in mine for several thousand miles. Very smooth ride as opposed to weights. Just make sure that they put the proper valve core in when they install the Equal. It keeps the Equal from screwing up your valve stem mounted pressure monitoring system. With that done, I have had no problems with my Pressure Pro system.

I was going to go with Dyna Beads but did not have time to get them in before I changed tires. I wouldn't mind the Centramatic, but right now the cost puts that out of reach.
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Old 05-04-2009, 08:59 PM   #6
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There's tire and rim balancing with weights...always start with that. Then, if you want total "wheel" balancing (tire-rim-brake hub and hub external and internal parts) you need to move to a dynamic system like Centramatic.

'The Centramatic Continuous Wheel Balancer consists of 20-gauge steel galvanized mounting plate with an aluminum balancing tube attached. Shot sized balancing weights are inserted into the balancing tube lubricated by a synthetic moly oil. The balancer mounts behind the wheel and centrifugal force redistributes the balancing weights opposite of out of balance points as the wheel rotates. The Company claims the dissimilar metallic composition of the balancer, i.e. steel mounting plate and aluminum balancing ring, dissipates wheel/tire heating while in operation. This feature is called "ThermoFlow" by the Company. Basic rules of thermal physics apply as different metals have different coefficients of contraction/expansion with convection heat transfer migrating to the metallic content with the highest coefficient of expansion/contraction, i.e. rapid transfer from the wheel/hub/tire assembly to the steel mounting plate to the aluminum tube. The Company has been manufacturing the balancers for sixteen years concentrating on the heavy duty trucking market and RV applications with over 400,000 sets on the road, according to the Company.'

http://www.centramatic.com/balancer.html

I have them on front steer tires and rear duals....you don't know what a vibration free ride is till you spend the money for them.

See what top line motor coaches are equipped with the 700 Series Balancers
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Old 05-04-2009, 11:39 PM   #7
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The other thing none of us metioned is that the Centramatic units stay with the unit installed on not with the tires that get changed. The cost of beads/equal etc is not necessary each tire change (over time they probably equal the cost of the Centramatic's). And since they are (Centramatic) movable between vechicles the cost is minimal at tire changes. They stay on the wheel installed and do not need to be moved with the tire assy. Initial balance of the tire is good but the thing I really like is if I "throw" a weight, the balancers will compensate. Better for those who tow with an off-road or "rough" use ride that could throw a weight. Yes, the initial cost is high (for some) but you can do one axle at a time and I would start with the steer axle.

just another of my 0.000002.5
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Old 05-05-2009, 09:22 PM   #8
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I also just replaced my 19.5 XRV's with FS560's along the balancing powder. Like you I have only driven a short distance at 60MPH but felt no difference than before. I was told to make sure to purge any air line prior to airing up the tires to avoid mixing moisture into the powder. BTW I had 2 sidewall blowouts on my 6 yr old XRV's within a month.
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Old 05-06-2009, 06:13 AM   #9
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Thanks for the information. Wow, the Centramatic idea sounds good. I will have to log some more miles to see where I stand on the slight vibration. I also need to be sure of the characteristics or feedback of the Firestone's before I give my opinion. Seems that my first impression was that they were not tracking as precise as the Michelin, but again, I have not put the miles down or been on differing road and traffic scenarios. Thanks again everyone.
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Old 07-20-2009, 08:16 PM   #10
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Mr. KTB, I see you have advertised your product on about 6 different threads about tires tonight. I was not aware that antifreeze was new and/or revolutionary nor that the EPA recommends it for tire balancing!
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