Remember what I wrote earlier about traveling in a thirty-year-old VW camper having its moments of frustration? Online, I found out more about VW camper tires than I ever needed to know. These old campers came with 14 inch wheels. And quality wheels in this size have become quite rare.
There are two schools of thought on what to do. We could find replacement light truck tires with reinforced sidewalls. Or we could upgrade the wheels to a more modern and accessible 15 or 16 inch wheel. There is a lot more to having the correct wheel size for a vehicle than just the bolt pattern. Just because the wheel can be bolted on does not mean that it will perform correctly. Both schools can support their respective ideas. Some VW bus suppliers even offer “wheel packages” to retrofit the wheels.
I stuck with the idea that VW had spent many hours of engineering to determine which wheels to create and use. These vans have been running around the globe for decades and countless miles on 14 inch wheels. So would ours!
After exhausting every tire provider for miles around, I found that the only way to get these particular size tires was to order them online from a VW bus specialty shop. Time was ticking away. With the tires ordered and their FedEx tracking numbers in hand, I made arrangements to have the new tires installed on Primrose on Tuesday of the next week. If they came in early, I’d pick them up, and have them installed immediately so we would have a more leisurely drive to the Panhandle Trace Hike.
The tires didn’t arrive early, of course. I pulled Primrose out of the garage on Tuesday morning and began some well-needed interior cleaning. At lunchtime, my friend Eric called to see when I’d be by his shop for the installation. I told him that Primrose and I were sitting in the driveway, waiting on the delivery.
With the windows washed, the carpets vacuumed and shelf protectors cut to fit, I had just about run out of work I could do on the van. At three o’clock in the afternoon, the tires finally arrived. They went straight from the delivery truck to the back of Primrose. I was out of the neighborhood almost as fast as the FedEx driver!
When I arrived, Eric was just finishing up a job, and ready to start on Primrose. With a little help from me, the tires were removed, replaced, balanced and installed. While I was reinstalling the wheels back on the van, I remembered a sign behind the counter in Eric’s office. It listed three hourly wages. First, the cost if Eric does the work. Next is the cost if you watch. The third was a much, much, higher rate, if “you” help. Oops!
Being an old friend, and because I didn’t use any of the “real mechanics tools,” he didn’t charge me the higher rate. It’s good to be on a first name basis with your mechanic!
The next morning, with Primrose loaded for her first long adventure, we headed for the Panhandle Trace.