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Old 07-22-2021, 03:24 PM   #1
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Exclamation Tire change life hack

I was coming back from Cape Cod this past weekend in my 2002 Coachman Leprechaun, a 31ft Class C on a Ford E-450 chassis. This motorhome has a pair of wheels on each side of the main axle. I ran over some road debris on the highway which shredded the inboard passenger side tire.

Changing a tire along the shoulder is always risky, so I continued about 15 miles on the single tire to a rest area where I found a nice level well paved area to park. I chocked the other tires, then took out some 4x4 and 2x6 wood blocks and my 6 ton bottle jack and proceeded to jack up the motorhome at the frame just behind the tires.

Whenever possible, I prefer to jack up the frame rather than the axle. The axle is a round surface. I'm nervous that the jack could slip on that surface easily. Bottle jacks have a small base as well, and they are prone to leaning over if used on soft ground or if subject to any force other than up and down.

To operate the jack, I had to go a little bit under the vehicle, which is always dangerous. So I loosened the lug nuts before jacking but kept them finger tight. If the jack toppled over the good tire was still supporting the motorhome and I wouldn't be trapped or crushed.

At the max height of the bottle jack, however, the tire still wasn't off the ground. The length of the stroke of the bottle jack wasn't enough. I could have built up a set of a blocks to take the weight and then jacked a second time on a taller set of blocks, but that seemed like lots of extra work. As I was jacking up the frame, the axle was sagging on the spring. If I just take the sag out of the axle the tire will be free of the ground.

I took a quick look in my box of random tools and realized I had a smaller old bottle jack in there too. The old jack probably 2 ton. I found it for a dollar at a garage sale and the label was worn off. I knew wasn't strong enough to lift the motorhome. I slid it under the rear axle and used it to take the sag out of the spring.

Once I lifted the axle, I was able to get the good and the bad tire off the hub. This is, of course, the most dangerous moment since if the jacks topple the hub can go to the ground, trapping or crushing me. Being careful not to have any part of my body under the motorhome, I quickly put the spare and the good tire back on the hub and finger tightened the lug nuts. Now I could breath easier. I tightened up the lug nuts in an alternating pattern to make sure they are even. I dropped the jack under the axle and finally the jack under the frame.

This worked out really well. But I will remind everyone that changing a tire on the side of the road with a heavy rig is dangerous, and if I didn't have a good place to do the change I would have called AAA or a professional with a jack that has a wide stable base. I'm also thinking about getting a better jack with a wide base myself.
Mike And Keri
2002 Coachmen Leprechaun 313QB (purchased 2020)
Towing a 2004 Acura TSX or 2014 Honda Accord on a dolly
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Old 07-22-2021, 03:40 PM   #2
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A couple places sell add-ons /kits for big bottle jacks lice a curved or C on top but they are pretty expensive
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Old 07-23-2021, 08:06 AM   #3
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Now that you got the shredded tire changed you are going to change the one beside it that was overloaded for 15miles……right?
Don & Gerri
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Old 07-23-2021, 08:34 AM   #4
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Quick note: Your write up sounds like you tightened the lugs finger tight, then used alternating pattern, then lowered jacks to put wheels on ground.

I would not have fully torqued the lugs until the wheels were on the ground, you probably did same since you appear to know what you were doing. But others reading your write up may miss that.
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Old 07-24-2021, 04:41 AM   #5
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Frames aren't that great for jacking, they get a lot of their strength from the shape and cross members. If you do jack on the frame the jack should be under the vertical portion or reinforced section. The further out on the flange the greater the chance you'll bend it.

You really should jack the axle to change a tire. It only has go go up 2-3" to clear the ground. The higher a jack is extended the more unstable they become.

Every chassis manufacturer will have a jacking/lifting point chart. Now you're home you should find the chart for your chassis, get under the vehicle and familiarize yourself with Ford's recommendations. It will make it easier and safer next time.
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Old 07-24-2021, 06:30 PM   #6
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Rather than putting the jack under the axle it should be placed under the spring perch - it's a flat surface, and there's less chance of damaging the axle housing...
Alan Hepburn - San Jose, Ca
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Old 07-24-2021, 07:32 PM   #7
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We always placed the jack under a U bolt when jacking pickups or 10 wheel dump trucks.

Its flat and plenty strong for lifting the tires.
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Old 07-24-2021, 07:50 PM   #8
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If you have AAA why did you not call them?
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Old 07-24-2021, 10:57 PM   #9
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The AXLE is the MFR RECOMMENDED Jack point, the flat under sprint on many, but inside of spring on the E450SD chassis... all in the FORD ECONOLINE OWNER MANUAL; YES, Frame jacking is NOT recommended, nor is DIFFERENTIAL JACKING and requires jacking VERY HIGH to lift the wheel because of spring drop; ******FURTHER, BECAUSE OF THE PARKING BRAKE ON DRIVESHAFT AND HOW a differential works, FRONT AND REAR CHOCKS ON DIAGONAL TIRE REQUIRED ******
(TerryH.) 2000-GS Conquest Limited 6266 Class-C 99-E450SD V10
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Old 07-25-2021, 07:00 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by wildtoad View Post
If you have AAA why did you not call them?
Just guessing but probably because he didn't want to wait for hours for someone to show up. If it were me and conditions were safe to do it I would have done the same.

Thought I might have to do it the other day, someone dropped something on the highway and at least 5 vehicles were pulled over with flats in a 1/4 stretch of the highway.
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Old 07-25-2021, 08:37 AM   #11
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If it were me, I’d make or buy a round axle adapter for a bottle jack and jack under the axle.

I’ve changed hundreds of 22.5” truck tires due to the work I used to do (demolition trailers, roll-offs, garbage compactor trailers to landfills) many many moons ago, and I’ve never jacked under the frame. Sometimes on the shoulder of the highway (not a lot), in the dark (half the time), in a snow storm (a couple of times). Not fun at all. A 30 ton bottle jack and breaker bar and socket were standard equipment in every cab.

But jacking under the axle or spring means the least amount of jacking and the least amount of vehicle lift, as you only need to get the tire(s) to clear the road by a fraction of an inch. If the vehicle is properly chocked, it won’t move so jack stability isn’t an issue as long as it can’t sink into the ground. Getting under it to place the jack isn’t dangerous, and jacking the wheel just clear isn’t dangerous since it’s only moving up a few inches and only your arm is under there anyway. Just don’t get under the wheel well while on the jack with no wheel on that end, but you shouldn’t have to to change a wheel anyway.

These adapters come in different sizes and are cheap insurance. If you can jack under a flat pad, it’s not needed, but I believe those E450’s have the axle under the spring with no flat area or even u-bolt end to jack against.
Tom & Jeri
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Old 07-25-2021, 08:51 AM   #12
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Damn I spoke to soon, I just checked my tires today and it looks like I ran over whatever was on the road that got the other people because I have one thats going flat in the rear. :(
Going to pump it up today and see if it holds air, if it does I will drive it to a tire shop tomorrow, if not I will be changing it in the campground I guess or since we have time maybe call AMA and see if they have anyone in this area they can send for tomorrow before we leave.
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Old 07-25-2021, 11:41 PM   #13
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edit, should read "the flat under SPRING.."(NOT "SPRINT") (and) "and (ADD TEXT) FRAME JACKING (end add) requires jacking VERY HIGH to lift the wheel because of spring drop";
(TerryH.) 2000-GS Conquest Limited 6266 Class-C 99-E450SD V10
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Old 07-26-2021, 10:23 PM   #14
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Yup, that mating overloaded tire most likely. Has internal damage.
(TerryH.) 2000-GS Conquest Limited 6266 Class-C 99-E450SD V10
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