Friends of Big Bend National Park
Big Bend Conservancy

Over-estimating your experience or under-estimating the terrain in a place like Big Bend can result in serious injury or death. Use the information and advice found here wisely. Climb/Hike/Camp/Drive at your own risk.

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Tire questions

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Offline Reece

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Tire questions
« on: August 02, 2010, 06:24:28 AM »
Do you guys air down your tires when driving your 2WD's on the the rocky "high ground clearance" roads? Also does any one know of a jeep rental near BBR?

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Offline dkerr24

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Re: Tire questions
« Reply #1 on: August 02, 2010, 06:30:39 AM »
I've never aired down tires when I drove over the jeep routes around Silverton, CO.  I always just put it in granny gear and took the rough spots at a walking speed.

I always heard you only air down when driving on sand.

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Offline OldJeepr

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Re: Tire questions
« Reply #2 on: August 02, 2010, 07:57:11 AM »
The purpose of airing down is to put more surface in contact with the ground, i.e. a wider footprint. In sand or mud, this means you probably won't sink as deep but 'float'. Airing down for rocks is generally to allow for more traction when rock climbing. You shouldn't have to do any serious rock climbing on the 2WD roads, or the 4x4 roads either. Sand/mud is a possibility, but I wouldn't air down until necessary (i.e. stuck).  Airing down will tend to make the sidewalls more vulnerable to damage, and if you go low enough, you might even break the bead and roll the tire off the rim.

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Offline elhombre

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Re: Tire questions
« Reply #3 on: August 02, 2010, 09:02:33 AM »
I only air down in Utah.  I wouldn't (and don't) air down in the desert for all of OldJeepr's reasons.  The quality off-road tires cost around $200 for a reason.  The roads in BB are in pretty good shape.
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Offline Reece

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Re: Tire questions
« Reply #4 on: August 02, 2010, 07:32:43 PM »
Airing down for sand is 10-15 psi, I think.
I was thinking a "softer" tire...say about 20 psi might be less susceptible to rock cutting.

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Offline 04LJ

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Re: Tire questions
« Reply #5 on: August 02, 2010, 08:25:53 PM »
Airing down will be a waste of time. the 2wd roads have no surfaces that would show a benefit.
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Offline Reece

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Re: Tire questions
« Reply #6 on: August 04, 2010, 02:10:41 PM »
Hmm...I thought I ran over some pretty sharp rocks out there. Guess I've just been wasting my time.

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Offline presidio

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Re: Tire questions
« Reply #7 on: August 04, 2010, 05:47:18 PM »
Hmm...I thought I ran over some pretty sharp rocks out there. Guess I've just been wasting my time.

Airing down (never done it myself) is for sand and/or traction, not sharp rocks, plus there's no place in Big Bend you would have to do that. As with many things, slow and careful beats fast and flat. Soft tires = cut tires in rocky terrain.

With decent tires and some driving skill you really don't need 4WD for much of anything down there; the NPS only lets you drive on one sorta bad road....Black Gap...and that isn't much of a challenge either despite their breathless warnings about '4x4 required! never maintained.'
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Offline OldJeepr

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Re: Tire questions
« Reply #8 on: August 04, 2010, 06:07:59 PM »
There are some sharp rocks out there, but the 2WD high clearance roads don't usually have so much, but they can be bumpy. Whether to air down or not is pretty much a personal preference (except as noted earlier for loose sand/mud where it may be a necessity to get out). If you're running 8 or 10 ply tires on a pickup or suv, they're usually inflated to 50+ psi for the load rating, and that can make for a pretty rough ride on the rocky portions of the roads.  Dropping pressure to 35-40 psi will make a difference in the ride quality, but shouldn't bring them down enough to get sidewall bulge. Going down to 20 psi might give you more sidewall exposure. Softer doesn't necessarily relate to puncture resistance - that's more a factor of the tire construction (tread ply/sidewall ply). Even with the toughest tire, there's always the possibility of that one #&%@ perfectly pointed rock, so a plug kit, fix-a-flat, and a good spare or 2 is good insurance. My son and I drove a few of the 4x4 and unmaintained roads in Jeeps with off-road tires and didn't have any problems (but we both were carrying repair stuff and 2 (expensive) spares, but the peace of mind factor was worth it.  Oh yeah, I did drop the pressure from 50 to 40 - no way the Jeep is going to carry that much weight, and it was beating the heck out of these old bones.  Just have a portable compressor handy to air up before getting back on the highway and burning that extra gas.    

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Offline OldJeepr

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Re: Tire questions
« Reply #9 on: August 04, 2010, 06:14:34 PM »
Presidio, there's a definite difference between BBNP and BBRSP roads. The NP guys are ultra-conservative, while the SP ratings are more realistic.  Black Gap - never maintained - so where did the concrete come from at "the step"?

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Offline presidio

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Re: Tire questions
« Reply #10 on: August 05, 2010, 12:45:34 PM »
Presidio, there's a definite difference between BBNP and BBRSP roads. The NP guys are ultra-conservative, while the SP ratings are more realistic.  Black Gap - never maintained - so where did the concrete come from at "the step"?

Yep, the state park is a tad more challenging, but I don't recall anything there where 4WD (nice to have in any event) was more important than skill/common sense.

The Black Gap concrete must have been from when they 'maintained' it. Or, some macho :icon_eek: 4wheeler brought it out and improved it to bring the road up to their skill level. :rolling:

In 1972 I took a Datsun 510 sedan down Black Gap; no problem whatsoever.
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<  presidio  >
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Wendell (Garret Dillahunt): It's a mess, ain't it, sheriff?
Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones): If it ain't, it'll do till the mess gets here.
--No Country for Old Men (2007)

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Offline RichardM

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Re: Tire questions
« Reply #11 on: August 05, 2010, 01:12:48 PM »
In 1972 I took a Datsun 510 sedan down Black Gap; no problem whatsoever.
I don't suppose you have any pictures to share... :rolling:

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Offline presidio

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Re: Tire questions
« Reply #12 on: August 05, 2010, 05:28:18 PM »
In 1972 I took a Datsun 510 sedan down Black Gap; no problem whatsoever.
I don't suppose you have any pictures to share... :rolling:

Actually, I might...but I'm nowhere near my slide collection.  :icon_frown:
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<  presidio  >
_____________
Wendell (Garret Dillahunt): It's a mess, ain't it, sheriff?
Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones): If it ain't, it'll do till the mess gets here.
--No Country for Old Men (2007)

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Offline dkerr24

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Re: Tire questions
« Reply #13 on: August 05, 2010, 06:39:08 PM »
I think I found a pic of his 510 :)


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Offline presidio

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Re: Tire questions
« Reply #14 on: August 05, 2010, 07:05:27 PM »
I think I found a pic of his 510 :)



Right color, but missing 2 doors.

Cheap, basic, reliable transportation. I drove the hell out of it and it never let me down, though I did do carburetor repairs more than once on the side of the road (damn, it was a complicated mechanism...how I never lost the tiny screws and springs is pure luck). It even went off-road in Mexico once, as in very 'off road'...not even a track...cross country. The thing had an independent rear suspension so it was like a slower, underpowered version of the car in 'My Cousin Vinny'.

One time it had 5 hikers and full backpacks headed down a Mexican highway (1973). I don't remember how we fit all that in.
_____________
<  presidio  >
_____________
Wendell (Garret Dillahunt): It's a mess, ain't it, sheriff?
Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones): If it ain't, it'll do till the mess gets here.
--No Country for Old Men (2007)

 


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