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Old 04-23-2015, 12:24 PM   #1
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Front mounted spare tire?

I think this has been discussed but I couldn't find it, and maybe it's been awhile.

I'm wondering if anyone has used a front receiver mounted spare tire carrier. I've seen people with other trucks using them, but can't remember if I've seen a van. My concern is air flow to the radiator. I've seen comments about temp rises for the transmission, but I've got a somewhat lifted 4x4 and I doubt the tire could interfere with that, though I dunno.

Anyone with actual experience with something up front?
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Old 04-23-2015, 12:34 PM   #2
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Re: Front mounted spare tire?

Quote:
Originally Posted by rob_gendreau
I think this has been discussed but I couldn't find it, and maybe it's been awhile.

I'm wondering if anyone has used a front receiver mounted spare tire carrier. I've seen people with other trucks using them, but can't remember if I've seen a van. My concern is air flow to the radiator. I've seen comments about temp rises for the transmission, but I've got a somewhat lifted 4x4 and I doubt the tire could interfere with that, though I dunno.

Anyone with actual experience with something up front?
Christopher Thwaites here built his I believe..

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Old 04-23-2015, 01:30 PM   #3
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Re: Front mounted spare tire?

I could use the extra room that would free up on my back bumper but my beast runs too hot already. I wouldn't think of blocking the front end like that. Just my $0.02
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Old 04-23-2015, 03:16 PM   #4
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Re: Front mounted spare tire?

I have an E-350 with the V-10 (not an SMB, although my previous rig was!). The tire was mounted awkwardly on the rear (not tidily like my SMB was), and there was no room to put it underneath. I also had lots of extra "room" on the front axle weight rating and was tight on the rear. Like you, I looked around for data points and found few actual ones, and lots of "that probably shouldn't be done, air flow, warranty, Ford, etc. etc." (which I wasn't poo-pooing as it was a concern I had as well -- but none of it was exactly first hand).

Finally I found some posts by a fellow with a Born Free (small Class C on cutaway E-chassis with V-10) who had not only mounted a tire on the front, but had then subsequently driven to Central America - plus he ran a Scangauge. He said he noticed no real difference. Well that was good enough for me to try it. So, I mounted a Draw Tite front hitch (fits nicely) and then bought a tire bracket that is meant to go in a hitch. Put the spare on it and then started keeping an eye on things.

I don't think I noticed much difference (I waffle slightly as ambient temps were in the 80's when I made the mod, then immediately went up over 100 - ugh), and certainly there was no problem. The first longer trip I took, I had the spare on the front with the (solid) continental cover it had come with (which blocks all air flow through the rim), and I went halfway up a pass in 90+ weather, and then pulled over and took the center part out (so center of rim was open to the breeze). Saw no difference on the Scangauge for trans or engine temp. The tire does sit quite a way forward of the grille (with the "store bought" spare holder), so for all I know air speeds up around it and you get more flow... (I'm not saying that happens, but just that I also don't know that it's actually blocking much air either).

I tow, so not too long after that I had a larger transmission cooler put on. I *think* that may actually be blocking some cooling flow to the engine radiator. I hadn't recorded this situation before, so I can't be sure, but towing ~5,000# up a pass in 100 weather (I know, ugh!) the engine cooling fan would come on from time-to-time (it comes on around 200 and then goes off shortly when it gets back to 198 or so) . I'm not sure if it would have done that before the tire and/or the transmission cooler (I suspect the cooler is actually more of a block), but then again, you kind of expect *something* to be working a bit harder towing up hills in those temps. In "normal" driving things seem just about as they were before.

Okay, I've blathered on a bit. I'm reasonably confident that with a V-10, there is no issue with the tire up front. I think the bigger transmission cooler may block a bit of air to the engine radiator, but not sure (the transmission certainly does run cool though!). I figured I wouldn't mind having a front hitch for other possible uses anyway, so my plan was to try it and keep an eye on things and then if there was any problem just put the tire back on the rear (but leave the hitch on the front for future/other use). I've had it there a year now and see no reason to change it.

I had read where folks with bicycles up front found them visually bothersome (in their view, plus wobbling around). I can hardly even see the tire when I'm driving, and with one of those J-shaped hitch tighteners it doesn't wobble at all. Maybe a taller person would be able to see it a bit more (I'm not tall). I like having the spare off the rear and between taking X weight off the rear (plus overhang "leverage"), and adding it to the front, I made a little dent in the rear axle weight as well. I would do it again.
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Old 04-23-2015, 03:37 PM   #5
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Re: Front mounted spare tire?

Thanks; that all makes sense. I have the V8, and usually run about 191. I've gotten considerably hotter than that going up real steep stuff, with even the tranny getting hot as well (hottest I've seen was probably a May day going up the Cerro Gordo road in 4WD, and obviously traveling slowly). I have a front grill guard, so it would stand forward aways.

Meanwhile, in inquiring about rear hitch mounted carriers I got a message from a guy at Detours who make the very nifty Knucklebone hitch mounted carrier (it drops SIDEWAYS from the hitch; very cool) http://www.detoursusa.com/knucklebone.php. But I would have to place mine about 10" offcenter in the rear, and he didn't think the knucklebone would work. But it just so happens he has a ladder with carrier on his van, and from the pics he's using tires as beefy as mine. It just mounts on the rear driver door. I'll post more info. My ladder is sorta wimpy anyway (it just loops over the top rim, with two bolts in the bottom); his has much more beefy attachment. In any case, the tire weights way less than I do...so maybe that'll work if he can fab me one.
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Old 04-23-2015, 06:18 PM   #6
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Re: Front mounted spare tire?

Viva, very cool info. Thanks!

One concern I have noticed, at least with my current Reunel front bumper, is that the receiver is about 6" underneath (or back) from the front surface of the bumper, so check your clearances whoever considers this setup. It might be necessary to use a hitch extender to get the spare tire/bike/whatever rack out far enough to clear the bumper. I remember a front receiver I had with a stock bumper on my previous van was still underneath, or set back a few inches too. Not sure about Aluminess which is probably the most common on SMBs.

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Old 04-23-2015, 11:59 PM   #7
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Re: Front mounted spare tire?

Good point on the bumper and checking about clearances. I should have mentioned that I have the stock bumper. With the stock bumper, the Draw Tite hitch receiver is just tucked in enough to look tidy, but not too much (I can look closer or measure if anyone would like, although I imagine most have cooler bumpers )

The piece that "plugs into" the receiver and then holds the tire (which I think is also Draw Tite; again, could check if anyone wants) sets it "out front" quite a bit more than just the receiver. It also angles it (top further back, bottom further forward). To my mind that doesn't give it huge style points. I also don't think it's really necessary on the van, but maybe it is on other vehicles. If I could weld I think I'd customize it to make it more vertical. I always liked the look on the old VW busses

It does make the rig a bit longer (but see "if I could weld" above, which would alleviate that somewhat).
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Old 04-24-2015, 10:24 AM   #8
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Re: Front mounted spare tire?

I have a custom fabricated front receiver welded to the frame, and integrated with a winch, under a stock front bumper but with a grill guard.

The most frequently sold front carrier is a Curtis with a fairly long tongue (12" to the vertical bar) with three mounting holes. It angles back a bit, so the tire is at about 25-30 degrees I'd guess. The vertical is 24", and the top ends up about 3" back from the front due to the angle. I don't think I'll have issues with it, but I am worried about whether with the dish in the wheel the tire will fit without hitting the vertical. Judging from pics I've seen with similar sized tires/wheels (33") it should be OK; I might have to add some sort of spacer.

I'm thinking of welding on some horizontal wings to the tongue so it can stand on its own. And then I'd mount my Hi Lift on it. I've already got a hitch extender and second receiver, so I could mount it higher or slightly more forward. Wanna preserve the angle of attach as much as possible. Might have to chop the tongue off and weld directly to that extender; we'll see. It occurred to me I could just build a mount to attach to my grill guard, which is pretty beefy. But it's attached to the bumper, which has some flex in it because of crumple zones and rubber in the mounts. So I kinda prefer the hitch; I figure I'd rather blow up the tire carrier than the bumper.
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Old 04-24-2015, 01:40 PM   #9
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Re: Front mounted spare tire?

Just for a further data point, I checked and see that I went with the Draw Tite tire carrier ( "Draw-Tite 6715 Hitch Mounted Spare Tire Carrier"). I was comparing it to the Curt version (before purchasing) and went with the Draw-Tite because it angles the tire a bit less (although it does still angle it) and I don't really like the look of the angle, so I wanted the least angled one.

I'm not sure about the Curt, but both the Draw Tite front hitch I got (Draw Tite 65001) and the spare carrier (Draw Tite 6715) have provision for the Draw Tite J-hook dealie that makes it not wobble (Draw Tite 63201) (this goes into an "extra hole" that is in the hitch product).

You can see all these products on e-Trailer - the page with the hitch itself has some customer provided photos that show it mounted on an E-450 (stock bumper).

I managed to mount the hitch with the provided fish wires and did not remove the bumper, but it was a challenge. I think it would have been easier to remove the bumper but I was in a campground and so was trying to make it look as much as possible like I was "not working on my vehicle." Having the bumper lying around in the campsite wouldn't have helped my image
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Old 04-24-2015, 03:08 PM   #10
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Re: Front mounted spare tire?

Fish wires??
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