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Old 05-05-2013, 09:03 PM   #1
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Spare Tire Change on Berkshire 390

Another guy and I had to change a blown tag axle tire on a tour coach in Alaska two years ago, to avoid a LONG wait for help to come the 400 miles to us (after they finished their last call).

So... I spent some bucks tooling up to do the same on my Berkshire 390. After I got the auxillary air tank, a 1200 ft lb impact wrench (the spec for wheel nut torque is 350 to 450 ft lb - a 550 ft lb gun is not up to the task), all with 1/2" fittings and a 90 psi regulator together and assembled, I found that it's more than 31" from the ground to the bottom of the raised rail (mandatory jack point). I'm afraid my 20 ton bottle jack and some 2x12s are far short of the task. I can't use 4x4 cribbing under the jack, because the jack handle insertion point has to be near the ground to avoid getting under the bus, so to speak (NEVER do that)

The leveling jacks look awful tempting, but should never be used to support anything close to the full weight of the corner thay are mounted on.

At this point, I'm going to have to design a raised rail jack system, I guess, or wait while AAA makes the 400 mile trip if I go to AK.

Any hints on this?
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Old 05-05-2013, 09:32 PM   #2
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We went up last summer and never saw an HM, 5th wheel or trailer with a flat. Saw one motorcycle with a flat and that was it. with good tires you should not have a issue, but then best of plans kick you in the rear sometimes. Have a great trip.
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Old 05-05-2013, 09:49 PM   #3
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"...if I go to AK."
That is a lot of prep for an IF trip.
IF you get a flat on this IF AK trip, why not roll to the next safe place to stay and wait for service after the call?

If I get a flat and I need to destroy the tire and rim on my truck or trailer to get to a safe place then so it shall be.

I went to AK with my folks (Dad drove a 1973 GMC Jimmy and pulled a 21 foot Kit Companion TT) when I was young. We had plans and a "schedule". It was a great trip. However, we did not have the option of staying for 2 to 5 days when we found a really nice place to stay.
We went from PDX to AK and back in 30 days.
If we go, I will spend at least 2 months to make the same trip.
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Old 05-06-2013, 12:17 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Twisty View Post
"...if I go to AK."
That is a lot of prep for an IF trip.
IF you get a flat on this IF AK trip, why not roll to the next safe place to stay and wait for service after the call?

If I get a flat and I need to destroy the tire and rim on my truck or trailer to get to a safe place then so it shall be.

I went to AK with my folks ... ...when I was young.
The word "if" can denote conditional state, as well as uncertainty - I didn't mean to imply I wasn't definitely going. As a professional pilot with over a million miles in the air, as well as on the ground in two and four wheel vehicles, I've learned not to leave too much to chance.

Good luck with "rolling to the next safe place to stay and wait for service after the call" with a coach full of 90 year-olds. At 69, I was the second youngest on the coach, so the other guy and I changed the tire, rather than wait for AAA to finish the previous service call, go back to the shop, change shift, then drive 400 miles (do the math, and you'll understand).

Needless to say, the cruise line treated us royally aboard ship later.
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Old 05-06-2013, 12:42 PM   #5
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where did you store the spare? in the basement? i would imagine that takes up quite a bit of valuable space... anywhere to mount the spare i wonder...

you could save some space with moving to a 3/4" torque wrench that has up to 500 ft lbs. and similar break bar to remove the lug nuts. 2 wrenches will take up less space than that extra air tank and impact gun (not as fast or easy mind you )

as for the jacks, how about making an extension to the handle?

i've spoken to rv techs who have admitted to using the leveling jacks to lift and insert jack stands before. not sure i would want to do that as normal practice but in a pinch and alone on the road, i would (and then lower them on jack stands of course). i've seen how easily the auto leveling mode has lifted my 390bh's tires off the road when trying to level.
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Old 05-06-2013, 03:38 PM   #6
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where did you store the spare? in the basement? i would imagine that takes up quite a bit of valuable space... anywhere to mount the spare i wonder...

you could save some space with moving to a 3/4" torque wrench that has up to 500 ft lbs. and similar break bar to remove the lug nuts. 2 wrenches will take up less space than that extra air tank and impact gun (not as fast or easy mind you )

as for the jacks, how about making an extension to the handle?

i've spoken to rv techs who have admitted to using the leveling jacks to lift and insert jack stands before. not sure i would want to do that as normal practice but in a pinch and alone on the road, i would (and then lower them on jack stands of course). i've seen how easily the auto leveling mode has lifted my 390bh's tires off the road when trying to level.
I agree on all your comments, and did in fact use a BIG wrench and breaker bar on that coach in AK, however the wheels on my Berkshire 390 are recessed far enough that I'm not sure a 12" socket extender would work well. We would have been SOL with the cruise tour bus in AK, if it had been the drive axle with recessed wheels, rather than the tag axle wheel.

The bottle jack has to be on the ground so that the pump handle is also close to the ground. You don't want to be under the coach when you have it on a jack, although we were in AK, but we had two bottle jacks, and the raised rail of a Freightliner XCS chassis is 31+" off the ground.

Wooden cribbing (4x4s, laid on their side, not end grain) would do well under the jack, but the jack pad would penetrate the wood if used on top of the jack. Half inch steel plate would take care of this. Ive seen wooden cribbing routinely used legitimately (approved by site lift manager) to support tens of tons, but those applications were not "wobbly" as a vehicle resting on its tires can be. The problem is the jack pumps up 6 1/2" to a total extension of 19", and there is another 17" to go before contact with the bottom of the raised rail. A 2x12 under the jack reduces this to 15 1/2", and that translates to eight 4x4s in pairs, laid in crosswise layers on the 1/2"steel plate, up to the bottom of the rail. The time to try this is when you don't have a flat. If I got a flat on a narrow high crown road (like the Top-of-the-World Highway in AK), I wouldn't even try to change it.

I would only use the leveling jacks to purchase another inch or so if I needed to get a jack under a rail (as on a chassis having a lower rail).

When you start researching the equipment needed if you go the pneumatic route, you will very quickly discover that a serious (1200 ft lb) air wrench is a costly item, and there is an accumulator tank (12" dia x 24" length), with a regulator and a 1/2" ID snubber hose between the tank and the air gun, and an assortment of 3/8" NPT fittings. It's easier to stop a MAC Tools truck and buy the air impact wrench off the truck, than to find the heavy stuff online. The tank hooks up to the 125 psi chassis air source on your Berkshire with a smaller diameter, 50 ft hose and 1/2" fittings, so you have to wait a minute for accumulator tank recovery between wheel nuts. All my hoses are engineered polymer (the green stuff from Sears or Pep Boys, also available online). I anticipate pre-constructing the wooden 4x4 cribbing pieces and 1/2" steel plate into a single unit, so that I can deal with placement of one item, not nine items, without getting under the vehicle.

When I get around to getting a spare, it will just fit in the back of my towed vehicle with the back seats down, but of course I'd have to drive it around town everywhere I go.
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Old 05-06-2013, 03:50 PM   #7
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yeah, i'm familiar with the configs for high powered air tools. i was involved with a pro grand am race team for a spell. they used n2 cylinders with regulators to power all air tools. and also to run the air jacks in the race cars for the quick pit lifts...

the 31"+ reach is an interesting dilemma... i haven't even looked underneath to figure out a game plan yet.. you are ahead of me on this i wonder if there is any other safe lifting points... maybe something that FCCC designed so you can use more conventional tools?
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