The 14" Tyre Experiment

As noted in the earlier 'Issues and Fixes' pages of the website, for overland travel anyway, the T244’s overall gearing is most definitely on the low side and the ride, especially if you travel ‘light’, is definitely unforgiving. A further issue is traction. Though the trucks in standard trim aren't a disaster on soft ground, the rather skinny standard 12" tyres - even when aired down - do not offer much contact patch. Some conversions are up around the 10.5 tonne mark in full travelling trim and 10.5 tonnes bearing down on four small contact points on soft ground means only one thing... So, it seemed logical to me from a very early stage to combat these (and other) shortcomings by fitting taller and fatter tyres. There are many larger tyre-size options available but research suggested that 14R20 tyres would not only offer the most potential improvement, but also that this size is fairly easily obtained anywhere in the world. Now, simply fitting larger tyres sounds easy, and is: but it’s not without the need for some careful research. The biggest perceived-by-some hurdle to overcome is wheel width. The standard T244 rims have a nominal width of 8", but according to data obtained from just about all of the major tyre manufacturers, the (simplistic) minimum recommended rim width advised for 14" tyres is 9". Preferring originally to go with this generic wisdom, I made public my desire to upsize. This enthused a couple of fellow T244 owners, and the search began…

Enter the Polish military. Research by the two fellow T244 owners suggested that the wheels from older Polish military STAR trucks, seemingly by pure chance, had exactly the same hub aperture dimension and wheel stud number / positioning as standard T244 wheels. The relevant STAR wheels were also 9" wide and had the major benefit of being two-piece split rims - making changing tubes and tyres on-the-road both much easier and much safer than with the standard three-piece locking-collet affair. In spite of this promising start, hurdles remained. Sourcing and importing these wheels was not so straightforward. Helpfully, a well-regarded German associate stepped in to assist (thanks Tom). Unfortunately, on arrival in the UK, the shipment (comprising a total of 15 wheels) saw some wheels damaged, some with missing / broken retaining studs and some missing / incorrect retaining nuts. A life-lesson followed. The wheels were delivered to the above-mentioned fellow T244 owners who sorted 10 perfectly good and fully complete ones for themselves; and thereafter delivered to me: one good one, two with damage / missing parts and one that turned out to be irreparable. The fifth I never saw as it was a total wreck and simply scrapped - by them - at source. In spite of all three of us paying exactly the same amount in anticipation of receiving a set of wheels each, they each got five uncompromised ones; I got one. The individuals concerned even now maintain with a great deal of conviction that they divided the wheels randomly and acted perfectly honourably in the transaction. I hold a somewhat different view.

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