Sent: Sunday, July 01, 2001 7:16 PM
Subject: Ride the painted pony
Previously, on Unsafe At Any Speed....
I was doing my impersonation of a Ford Explorer,
on my way to MD and 5 new alloy wheels at my parents house to remedy the
Spent Sunday the 23rd researching tires via
the web and visits to local tire stores which my father had scouted out for
me. By the end of the day I had decided on a specific 1st choice tire
with an acceptable alternative. The Explorer tire recall was making
supply of my desired tire scarce as it is a popular replacement. Sears
was going to try to order from "the warehouse" on Monday (but they
really wanted to sell me the Michelin, so I suspected that they would tell me
it was "unavailable"). As a backup, I went to NTB (owned by
Sears, so I could get the national balance/rotation coverage from Sears) and
asked them to find it. Sure enough, Sears couldn't get the tire, and NTB
"critical ordered" it or some such thing. While taking care of
this on Monday, my new shocks arrived, whereupon I spent the afternoon
installing them. Here is a picture of the old shocks:
I guess I shouldn't have been surprised that they
were manufactured by the "Campfire" corporation, who should probably
stick with their core competency as the worlds oldest brand of Marshmallows.
The replacement shocks are Bilsteins, which are very firm and greatly improved
handling and body roll in turns, even with the old tires.
The new rims had arrived the previous week and are
South African factory alloys for the Vanagon that are 15" diameter with a
6.5" width, both dimensions 1" larger than the stock steel wheel,
allowing me to put a MUCH wider tire on. The tires I selected are the BF
Goodrich LongTrail Radial T/A, an SUV tire primarily for Highway, but good for
mild offroading, rain, and light snow. As for the size, heh heh, I got
the largest I could put on without modifying the suspension or body to get
them to fit, 225/70 R15. Compared to the tires already on the van 185/75
R14, these tires were 1.58" wider, giving me over 3 inches of extra tire
width in front and back. The new tires are also 5.6% larger in
circumference, which was a concern as it would change the final gear ratio,
reducing the power available at the wheel on the road. The hardcore
gearheads out there will rebuild their 3rd and 4th gears to compensate, I was
hoping not to have to do this.
On Tuesday the tires showed up and I had them
installed, here are some pics of the installation...
Now that's a Tire!
After installation the drive home was awesome!!!
I didn't have to lean into the passenger seat on right hand turns so as to not
The larger tires have had negligible effect in
getting going in 1st and 2nd, with the bonus of extending the range of those
gears, but the loss of power is noticeable in 3rd and 4th, but I think it will
After the tire installation, the next big
outstanding item on the list was to have the alarm installation
completed. Switches had to be installed on the sliding and rear door to
trigger the alarm when opened. This was very important, because I know I
can't live without my radio. Since then I have been doing a few last
items like repacking the van so I can (hopefully) lift the pop-top myself,
getting a roof bag for the luggage rack over the cabin (the plastic garbage
bags were getting annoying), and arguing with Sprint over their service.
The plan from here is to head out tomorrow (the 2nd) back up to NY, NYC, and
Connecticut to visit friends before heading to Chicago for a short visit, and
then onto who knows where....