Monday, September 16, 2013

8 Lug Wheel Adapters for Dually Conversion

Using wheel adapters to convert a single 8-lug pickup truck wheel to a dually (dual wheels) are a great alternative to installing dually axles. Adapters cost only a fraction of what you would pay for new dually axels, can be installed quickly, and provide additional load support and traction for your truck. Some of the most common reasons for conversion to a dually system over single-wheel include:
  • Bed load hauling - Adapter dually wheels increase stability. If you are hauling a big load in the pickup box and wondering every time the weight shifts whether that single tire might blow out, then you need the greater stability of dually wheels.
  • Campers - In addition, pickup campers are often top-heavy. If you want to use your pickup camper regularly and do so in comfort, then a set of dually wheels is the right choice for you. It is the optimum way to haul any load. It makes a world of difference when you are behind the wheel.
  • Trailers - Dually adapters allow the pickup to pull heavy trailers. Crosswinds and semi winds make pulling a trailer tough. Pulling a heavy trailer is easier with the stability of dually wheels.

Wheel and rim adapters extend the wheel enough to create a wider area to accept a second tire rim and wheel. Take a moment and study a dually wheel hub. A dually axle extends out several inches from the rotor to accommodate a second tire and wheel. Single mount wheel hubs extend out from the rotor only a fraction of an inch. An adapter supplies the same extension found on factory dually hubs. Most pickup trucks are going to require 8 lug wheel adapters for conversion.

The process of using wheel adapters to convert a single to a dually for an eight-lug pickup truck wheel is easy to understand.

1. Research your wheel hub and find an adapter with eight holes. Order the appropriate adapter. Also consider the construction of the wheel adapter. If you’re going to be carrying heavy loads, the wheel adapter will be stressed. Look for extruded billet material that’s designed to support hefty loads.

2. Jack up the truck as if to change the tire. Remove the single wheel and expose the wheel hub.

3. Be certain the studs are flush on the wheel hub surface.

4. Place the adapter over the studs so that the end of the stud is slightly inside the holes on the adapter ring. The idea is to provide the adapter with a completely flat surface. Tighten the adapter with lug nuts provided with the adapter. A conventional socket may not tighten the lug nuts in many adapters. You are recommended to use a thin walled long socket of either 3/4" or 13/16" hex, and apply with a torque wrench, tightening the adapter down to the torque designated by the instructions. Your inside dually wheel will now work fine with the adapter in place.

5. Pick out a set of dually wheel rims that match the stud hole number. Go for six-inch rims. For tires, use the same height tire you removed from the truck.

6. With the new adapter ready to take the wheels, put the rims and tires on, one at a time. Tighten down the lugs on the new adapter studs. With the two wheels on tight, you are ready to repeat the process on the other side.

7. It is important to break the adapter and rims in. The lug nuts can come loose in the first few miles. After driving the initial mile, get out and check the lug nuts. Do not take any long trips until you are confident the lug nuts are holding.

8. You must encase wheels in fenders. Your pickup’s conventional fender doesn’t accommodate two wheels, so you can either add aftermarket fenders, buy a new dually pickup bed or find a dually bed for your truck in a scrap yard.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Using Wheel Spacers to Widen the Stance of Your Car

Wheel spacers are used to widen the track of a vehicle, giving it wider wheelbase. They can be used for a variety of reasons on domestic & foreign cars, dual-wheel trucks and high-performance street rods. They enhance handling characteristics, but there are a few things to consider and understand before installing wheel spacers on a vehicle.

Wheel spacers are commonly made of circular aluminum billet metal and come in a variety of thicknesses, ranging from 1/4-inch on up to a full 4-inches in width. The spacers fit between the vehicle hub and the inside of the tire rim. They are manufactured to fit vehicles with any wheel stud configuration or number of studs, such as 4, 5, and 6 lug nut patterns. They can adapt a 4 lug nut to a 5 lug nut design, with several other possible options. The smallest spacers like the ¼ and ½ inch thicknesses do not require bolt-on accessories, but are slip-on in construction, requiring them to be sandwiched between the axle hub and the wheel rim.

Wheel and rim spacers are easy to install, requiring the removal of the wheels, bolting the spacers to the axle hubs and then reinstalling the wheels. A torque wrench is recommended to apply the correct amount of tightening pressure for the adapter and the wheel tightening sequences. Upon lowering the vehicle, the clearance between the tire and fender should be checked, as well the turning radius to insure free and unobstructed movement. Advantages of using wheel spacers 

  • Handling Performance - Wheel spacers provide some notable changes in the handling performance of the vehicle. Since they provide a wider stance, the center of gravity is more evenly distributed. This results in more stable cornering and sharp turns where the inertia of the vehicle is less likely to produce wheel lift or roll-overs. Cornering grip is also improved, reducing side-slip. In some cases where larger wheels have been added, braking stability response is elevated. The vehicle will perform better in directional straight-line tracking and will have a tendency to swerve less under rapid acceleration.
  • Visual Aesthetic - The aesthetic appeal of wheel spacers, along with the inclusion of wider tires, gives the vehicle that hot-rod look, similar to that found on formula race cars. The vehicle's stance looks stable, surefooted and aggressive. 
  • Adding Clearance - Wheel spacers are the perfect remedy for adding clearance between the suspension or frame and the tire. By bringing the wheel away from the suspension or frame during full-right or full-left turns, clearance is provided which keeps the tire from hitting or rubbing. They also aid in providing the needed clearance if over-sized tires are used, keeping tire contact away from the frame and suspension. 
  • Warning! - When spacers are used on domestic or foreign cars or trucks which have standard wheels, the movement of the tire outward can sometimes bring it directly under the fender lip. Such a condition is dangerous since hard bumps and sharp turns can push the fender into the top of the tire and cause a blowout. Suspension height can be altered and accommodate this condition by installing air shocks, knuckle spring boosters or leaf spring blocks to raise the body up and provide clearance. In severe instances, a lower portion of the fender can be cut away to allow clearance, and this practice is seen with hot rods and race track vehicles. 

A slight difference in increased steering pressure will be noticeable with the addition of spacers, giving it a heavier feeling. There is an increased risk of premature wear to the wheel bearings, tie rod ends and spindles, and this depends upon the amount of extension outward from the axle hub. For instance, it would not be advisable to use 4-inch wide spacers on a smaller compact car. Under some circumstances, the cheaper spacers will crack from repeated pounded or excessive loads. Using billet spacers designed from aircraft grade aluminum will vastly reduce the risk of cracking under pressure and repeated use.