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Thread: 26" tire choice

  1. #1

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    26" tire choice

    My partner wants 26" tires on our instructional J3. Just so I don't damage my reputation around here, my preference is 8:00x4, and 99.9% of our landings are on pavement.

    I have never researched big tires, since I consider them useful only in places I cannot afford to operate in - but now need to know

    Best 26" - from a weight standpoint?
    - performance standpoint?

    Thanks - Bob

  2. #2
    Crash, Jr.'s Avatar
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    Well your only choice with 4" wheels is going to be an old Goodyear 25x10x4 if you can find them.

    If upgrading to 6" wheels then the Goodyear 26x10.5x6 is an excellent tire and won't wear too badly on pavement.

    Since most of your landings are on pavement I won't even mention the Bushwheels or Airstreaks for consideration. They are obviously a more specialized tire than what you need.
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  3. #3
    Gordon Misch's Avatar
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    Bushwheel 26 are lightweight and actually 26" tall. And expensive. Goodyear 26 are heavier, and less than 26" tall (24?), and less expensive.

    I had Bushwheel 26's when you flew my plane almost a decade ago. I liked 'em as all-round tires. Now I have 8.50s installed, with a pair of mounted 31s for when I think I might need them.

    FWIW - - -
    Last edited by Gordon Misch; 10-24-2020 at 08:59 PM.
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    Pavement ops? You'd be better served by extended gear and small tires,

    Opinion.
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    Yeah, Grove STC takes 6" tires through 26". That's what will be going on - and the 8:00x4s will remain close by.

    Thanks Gordon - good info.

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    Stewart - we know that big tires do not do well on pavement. This is not a performance enhancement mod. I think the choice will be made on the basis of weight, although not sure a couple lbs one way or the other would be significant. Kinda hoping he goes for aluminum wheels, but I think that part of the decision is done.

    Maybe when Covid goes away I will get more students 'cause of the gnarly look? On the other hand, will I be able to climb up that high to get in the front seat?
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  7. #7
    RVBottomly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bob turner View Post
    Stewart - we know that big tires do not do well on pavement. This is not a performance enhancement mod.
    We've got some small potholes on one of our taxiways. It's fun watching the big-tired cubs bounce right over them while the fancy airplanes pick their way around them.

    So there's that.
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  8. #8
    BC12D-4-85's Avatar
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    The Goodyear 26" will outlast any Airstreak or Bushwheel if flown on paved and especially hot sunny runways. They also require covers when not in use or will weather crack...not the Goodyears. My experience.

    Gary
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  9. #9
    wireweinie's Avatar
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    What Gary said

    Web
    Life's tough . . . wear a cup.

  10. #10
    FdxLou's Avatar
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    Bob
    Have you considered doing the Grove 6” wheels and brakes with smooth Desser 8.50’s? They are only 2” shorter than Goodyear 26’s. Cheaper by 1/2 and 20 lbs lighter than GY 26’s. They wear almost as well as 26’s.
    Lou

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    I am lucky he didn't want 29's!

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    hotrod180's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bob turner View Post
    Yeah, Grove STC takes 6" tires through 26". That's what will be going on - and the 8:00x4s will remain close by....
    So you're gonna do the Grove conversion to 6" wheels?
    How bout the Desser 850 smoothies-
    bigger, but inexpensive enough for pavement use.
    The 26" Goodyears are up to over $1600 a set,
    and they seem to me to be awfully stiff for use on something as like as a J3.
    Cessna Skywagon-- accept no substitute!

  13. #13

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    I have a set of Goodyear 26's with tubes, only have 49TT on them, like new. $1200 + shipping.
    Located in Carefree, AZ.
    John
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  14. #14
    Crash, Jr.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hotrod180 View Post
    and they seem to me to be awfully stiff for use on something as like as a J3.
    Hasn't been my experience. I run mine pretty low on pressure and they work fantastic both off airport and on pavement with my J3

    The 850x6 Desser "tundra" smooth tires are a good option. They are nearly as big as a 26 GY (~25") at around 23-1/2" inches measured. The downside of the Desser 850 smooth tires is that they are just 4 ply and definitely extremely thin. Price is good but just be aware that they have fully half the tread thickness of a 26 Goodyear. Whether that means they will wear out in 10 years instead of 20 years is up to how they're flown but I have no doubts they will still last a good long time. I will say that they are far better than a normal 850x6 in the size department as I have had a few returned to the store as they wouldn't fit Airglas nose forks or some wheel penetration skis made for more typical 850x6-6 tires.

    Bob, whatever you do just try some big tires and go land that J3 on one of those hilltops or sand bars that you "can't afford to operate on". I promise you'll get addicted. The J3 when light and with a good set of tires is an absolute blast off airport and a good performer, right up there with a Super Cub.
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    These are the best pics I have to show the size of the Desser 8:50’s. 3 years, about 350 hours 50/50 pavement and other. Holding up well so far.
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  16. #16
    skywagon8a's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crash, Jr. View Post
    The 850x6 Desser "tundra" smooth tires are a good option. They are nearly as big as a 26 GY (~25") at around 23-1/2" inches measured. The downside of the Desser 850 smooth tires is that they are just 4 ply and definitely extremely thin. Price is good but just be aware that they have fully half the tread thickness of a 26 Goodyear. Whether that means they will wear out in 10 years instead of 20 years is up to how they're flown but I have no doubts they will still last a good long time.
    This sounds like they would be good candidates for a bedliner application from the start. Then as it wears down add another coat. The tires should then last forever.
    N1PA

  17. #17
    Dave Calkins's Avatar
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    Hi Bob. The 26” goodyear smooth tire is a heavy tire. It Does have a stiff sidewall. It does wear well. I dont categorize it as a “tundra tire”.

    Crashjr likes his. I wont argue. He has access to the best tire for his J3 for tundra and rock landings. .....and he has 26 Goodyears? (lotsa questions for you Gabe)

    I had an -11 with McCreary 8.50x6 tires 30 years ago and I thought those were great tires. I did grapefruit-size rocks with them. Never will I do that with the J3 I have now.

    The Desser 8.50x6 is very light. I have not flown them.
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  18. #18
    BC12D-4-85's Avatar
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    Airframes AK should consider producing a tougher more weather resistant tire compound. Something reasonable in size like 25-26" suitable for paved ops plus some mild back country. I've had the Goodyears and Airframes approved on my Taylorcraft. The Goodyears were stiff and heavier than needed or the Airframes. The 10-12# air to reduce slippage contributes to their lack of flex on a light plane. The Airframes have visibly deteriorated in the last four years - weather checking and sidewall splitting - sitting more than flown - even the part that contacts the ground fractures on the surface at rest especially in winter. Maybe there's some middle ground to be filled by another product that's one up on Desser's. Just asking.

    Gary
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  19. #19
    Crash, Jr.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skywagon8a View Post
    This sounds like they would be good candidates for a bedliner application from the start.
    Seems like a long run for a short slide. Those 850's are still going to last ages and then after 7-10 years you just fork over another $350 per and keep rolling. I don't understand this intense frugality in the pilot community where people jack up planes and slather goo on their tires so eek a few extra landings out of them.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Calkins View Post
    Crashjr likes his. I wont argue. He has access to the best tire for his J3 for tundra and rock landings. .....and he has 26 Goodyears? (lotsa questions for you Gabe)
    Long of the short of it is that my plane came with 26 Goodyears and I don't get tires for free, just at an employee discount which though decent is still quite a chunk of change to fork out for Bushwheels. Don't get me wrong, I'm going to upgrade to 29" Airstreaks as soon as money allows as I'm starting to hit the limitations of the 26 GY's in chunky terrain and especially some of the really hammered/rutted strips like Bold and out on the Knik.

    I would say I'm not so impressed in the 26 Goodyears as I am not all that disappointed in them. They just straight up work pretty well and have saved my butt a couple times on ground that was softer than it looked from the air. A 26" or especially a 29" Airstreak would be absolute worlds better and give an even higher margin for safety but you work with what you have. I know for sure I'd take 26 GY's over 850's any day.

    Quote Originally Posted by BC12D-4-85 View Post
    Airframes AK should consider producing a tougher more weather resistant tire compound. Something reasonable in size like 25-26" suitable for paved ops plus some mild back country. I've had the Goodyears and Airframes approved on my Taylorcraft. The Goodyears were stiff and heavier than needed or the Airframes. The 10-12# air to reduce slippage contributes to their lack of flex on a light plane. The Airframes have visibly deteriorated in the last four years - weather checking and sidewall splitting - sitting more than flown - even the part that contacts the ground fractures on the surface at rest especially in winter. Maybe there's some middle ground to be filled by another product that's one up on Desser's. Just asking.

    Gary
    Not really a lot of point to making a smaller/thicker Bushwheel that would just end up being basically a 26 Goodyear or a Desser 850x6-4 Tundra but at 3x the cost. Plus if you want to make them thicker and stand up to wear better they just end up becoming stiffer as well and vice versa. There's no free lunch when it comes to tires or anything for that matter.

    I also don't think people realize how specialized the materials and build are on Bushwheels/Airstreaks. You can't really just easily change something major like rubber durometer or thickness or especially composition without affecting how one layer (let's say your tread) interacts with another layer (air bag or sidewall radial plies). I'm no engineer but I remember when the heavy tread versions were being worked on and the Airstreak 2.0 as well and getting a tread layer that was just 1/16" thicker than the norm to play nice with the other plies and not delaminate or come out of the mold all messed up took a ton of trial and error (and engineering/machine shop time $$$) to get right.
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  20. #20
    BC12D-4-85's Avatar
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    Thanks Crash...I'll never own another Airstreak with a 4-year life span. Not slamming your product for others that need them just saying throwing $500/year away is a problem for some that can't cover the cost or use the extra cushion. It's all been discussed before and apparently there's no fix besides hiding the tire from the outdoors when parked (see the ICA document).

    Gary
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  21. #21
    Crash, Jr.'s Avatar
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    No offense taken; not my product I just sell them. I totally understand the weather checking/wear aspect and it's certainly one of the reasons I'm holding off on buying a set until I know I am going the places that would justify the cost of ownership of those tires. You definitely have to keep them covered when outside and leaving them directly in contact with cold/moist ground can cause the porous rubber to absorb moisture that then freezes/expands causing cracks where it's touching the ground. 4 years is certainly a little soon to be seeing really hard weather checking. You might drop me a line and maybe we can see if there is something that can be done with those tires if it's as bad as early as you are indicating.

    I'd like to kind of divert back to Bob's original question though. Since he was specifically asking for larger tires for 99% pavement use with just some light off airport exploration I don't think the Bushwheels/Airstreaks would be appropriate at all due to being specialized for off airport usage and the tread wear on pavement being so extreme.

    I think the best recommendation would be the 26 Goodyears over the Desser 850x6 Tundra for a couple reasons. The main one is that the softness of the tire isn't going to be a prime consideration for just light off airport usage. Landing areas are likely to be smooth sand, light gravel, or grass in which case the bungees in combination with the larger rolling diameter should smooth out most surface irregularities. The main benefit of larger tires in this case would be to increase footprint to prevent a nose over on a surface that was softer than anticipated and a larger rolling diameter to bridge over unseen potholes or roll over unseen sticks/rocks/obstacles. The 26 GY being larger though stiffer than the 850x6 Tundra would accomplish both of these things better while at the same time having much more tread for a better lifespan on pavement where, again, it will be landing and taking off 99% of the time.

    Plus 26's just look right on a J3 darnit! I need to post a pic of mine but a trim little Cub sitting on 26's strikes a certain pose that cant' be denied. Not too big, not too small, just right!
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    BC12D-4-85's Avatar
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    Thank you Crash, Jr. for the very honest and informative reply. Mine are 26" Airstreaks installed 4 years ago. If they fail to pass the next inspection that's that. Best luck to all consumers.

    Gary

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    this is what the 26”ABW look like next to 8.50 Dessers...just for reference if it helps
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    Steve Pierce's Avatar
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    Bob, why the bigger tires. I could see the 6" wheels for decent brakes but what is the mission for the bigger tires. Grove makes a magnesium wheel which would be lighter. Weight is everything to me even more so on a J3. Knowing what I know about how you have been flying that airplane I would say an 8.50 tire. The smooth Dessers are out of stock for a while now.
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    RaisedByWolves's Avatar
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    There was a wait for the mag wheels from grove. Ended up going with abw.

    Guess I should have saved the weather head fittings and small brake line. They were 200$ from Univair or something stupid like that. The tires are the desser 8.50. They are light.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
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  26. #26
    Cub Special Ed's Avatar
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    Im on the Desser smoothies (pa-11). Been on them four years. 85% pavement, the tread indicators havnt shown any wear ware yet.
    "There are 3 kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves." Will Rogers

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    I'm also on the Desser 8.50 smoothies, really like them, just wish they made one in a 26".

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    I just saw a set of like-new Gar Aero s with great looking tires on barnstormers last night listed under "parts".

  29. #29
    hotrod180's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bob turner View Post
    My partner wants 26" tires on our instructional J3. Just so I don't damage my reputation around here, my preference is 8:00x4, and 99.9% of our landings are on pavement......
    After all the comments by others about off-airport ops....
    re-reading your original post, it sounds like that will not be the case.
    And that your partner just wants bigger tires for the cool factor?
    I'd suggest just going with 850's--
    either Desser smoothies or plain old standard 850 GY's or Airtracs.
    Cessna Skywagon-- accept no substitute!

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    Steve - not me. I consider anything other than an 8:00x4 blasphemy. The mission is appearance. I will consider it ugly, and a giant performance hit, but the other two Cubs keep the 8:00x4s, and when I start instructing again I will swap back - or offer the airplane at $110/hr with big tires for those into such things. No, I do not teach off-Airport landings, although I have successfully done them with and without power.
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    And Hot: this is not Alaska. There are no places in SoCal to legally practice big props and long rocks. All of the giant-wheeled Cubs here are for “appearance” only.
    And on pavement, the larger tires (29 and 31) cut the crosswind capability to about half. They don’t dare join me on our 20 kt crosswind days (neither do the Cherokees - I have the 11th busiest airport to myself).

  32. #32
    Steve Pierce's Avatar
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    Learn on small tires what your feet are for.
    Steve Pierce

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    Alex Clark's Avatar
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    I used to own a highly modified J5 that had 4 inch wheels with expand-o brakes. She also had the 25 inch tires. But they required two adapters per wheel. And I broke the adapters a couple times when the wheels spun. I would never go back to those nightmares.

    The J3 / PA-11 I flew for many years had Goodyear 26 inch. They were used when I bough the plane, and still used when I sold the plane 14 years later. True that the PA-11 was on floats every summer, but to be truthful I was not very good about storing the wheel gear in a protected area during the summers.
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    Float and Tailwheel CFI,
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    http://www.floatplanealaska.com

    or http://www.dragonflyaero.net
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  34. #34
    Dave Calkins's Avatar
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    The weight of the 26” GY seems to be glossed over.

    I recall them weighing nearly as much as a 31” Bushwheel Radial.

    Yes they wear well.

    someone wanting them for looks alone is an idea that escapes my understanding.

    my J3 is on 8x4 with grove discs and calipers.
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  35. #35
    Steve Pierce's Avatar
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    Things I have weighed and the published weights:

    26” Goodyear Tires and Tubes 24-26 lbs.

    31" AK Bushwheels 33 lbs.
    29" AK Bushwheel Airstreaks 27 lbs.
    Used 26" Airstreaks 18 lbs
    8.50x6 with tube 18 lbs.
    26”x12”x6” ---- 26lbs
    29”x13”x6” ----- 31lbs
    31”x13”x6” ---- 32lbs
    35"x15"x10" ---- 40lbs
    35"x15"x10" Beaver Special---- 60lbs


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  36. #36
    Crash, Jr.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bob turner View Post
    And Hot: this is not Alaska. There are no places in SoCal to legally practice big props and long rocks. All of the giant-wheeled Cubs here are for “appearance” only.
    And on pavement, the larger tires (29 and 31) cut the crosswind capability to about half. They don’t dare join me on our 20 kt crosswind days (neither do the Cherokees - I have the 11th busiest airport to myself).
    Maybe I'm just ignorant of the dynamics of how smaller tires work, but how is the crosswind capability of the aircraft tied to tire size? Is it that smaller tires will skid if cross loaded whereas bigger tires will grip?

    I'm inclined to think the crosswind capability has more to do with the pilot than what tires are on the plane.

    Thanks for posting those weights Steve. I thought that 26 GY's were the same weight as 29 Airstreaks but it's good to confirm. The rest of your numbers are accurate except the 31's are coming out around 34-35lbs these days and the 35's coming in at 43-45lbs each. Nothings changed except I think some of the old listed weights are a bit optimistic.
    Last edited by Crash, Jr.; 10-26-2020 at 01:09 PM.
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  37. #37
    Steve Pierce's Avatar
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    I weigh everything and take a picture and try to file it for future reference but sometimes I am not good at the filing part. Seems everything to do with weights and airplanes is optimistic.
    Steve Pierce

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  38. #38
    mvivion's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bob turner View Post
    And Hot: this is not Alaska. There are no places in SoCal to legally practice big props and long rocks. All of the giant-wheeled Cubs here are for “appearance” only.
    And on pavement, the larger tires (29 and 31) cut the crosswind capability to about half. They don’t dare join me on our 20 kt crosswind days (neither do the Cherokees - I have the 11th busiest airport to myself).
    I'm not sure why that is the case, Bob. Personally, I much prefer Bushwheels in crosswinds, because they STICK where you plant them. It's really easy to put one tire down, and work the airplane around that tire with controls as you decelerate, with little chance of that tire skidding.

    I feel like I can land comfortably in as much or more wind with these tires than I can on smaller tires. Maybe it's just what you're used to?

    Another issue that folks haven't been discussing, though they're obviously taking that into consideration is that smooth tires don't throw as much junk at your tires in off airport or gravel ops. Hence the preference for the Goodyear blimp tires and the Desser smooth 8.50s, I reckon.

    MTV
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  39. #39
    Dave Calkins's Avatar
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    smooth tires are slippery on snow covered surfaces

    One reason my Desser 31’s on the 185 are not as docile as the grooved Airhawk 29-11x10 were. But the sidewall flex of the Desser 31 is very nice on Tundra and rocks and such.

    my preferences are becoming apparent.

    I have a set of 26” Goodyear blimp tires and tubes I am offering. in Anchorage, Alaska.

  40. #40
    Steve Pierce's Avatar
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    I took this Super Cub from Silver City, NM to Bentonville, AR on Aero Classic 31s on 10" wheels and SJ and I thought we had lost our ability to use our feet. It was a squirrel on the ground. Kept us both up that night trying to figure out what the heck. The next morning I found a pair of broom sticks and found out in the width of the tire it had 1/2" of tow in. Once I got it back to Bentonville we jacked my Super Cub up and swapped wheels and tires. My SC was docile as ever on the 31x10s and this one with the excessive tow in was docile on 31" Bushwheels. Was an eye opener to me.
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    Last edited by Steve Pierce; 10-26-2020 at 06:45 PM.
    Steve Pierce

    Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects.
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