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Old 12-06-2017, 02:53 PM   #1
inlikeflint
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Wheel sizes and hub spacers for '73-'87 P/U

Howdy,

I have one of those pickem'up bed trailers made out of a Chevy frame, rear axle, and 8 food bed, and I'm not sure where to find the VIN# (since that is usually in the cab)... so, I am left to speculate what sort of rear end of truck that I have.

I know it is a Chevy, the tailgate gave it away, and I know that if I want to get the right kind of real tail light covers, I have to have ones made for 1973-1987 Chevy truck. The wheel hubs have 6 lugs... so that might mean something. (I have a '96 Suburban with 8 lugs and lots of people are always asking me if I am interested in selling it... It's another story)...

Anyway, here is my dilemma;
I decided to get newer tires for my trailer. Preforably used because I use the trailer for junking, hauling, and dumping. The wheels are mismatched and kind of has a Fred Sanford thing going on. The tires are 235/75R15's and I was just going to get a set from a used tire store, and for some reason they want too much for used tires this size... so I searched my local Craigslist and ended up buying used wheels on newer steelies that were 16" ant matched my suburban's look and everything was lovey-dovey until I went to mount and then that is when I discovered that 265/75/R16 rubs on the inside wheel wells , but it looks really good, and I have the wheels, so I figured, maybe I can get some wheel spacers... (I only need two, so, I'm sure e-bay has my back or maybe an auto salvage yard might have a couple).


The question is... what measurements do I need to be concerned with? (Since my hub center is a little large) Every place I go to put in my vehicle year and model identifier tells me that I need 5 lugs and not 6... I realize that my current steelies are set out at about 5" instead of 3" like my old steelie and mismatched trailer style wheel are. I watched a few Youtube videos on how to cut the wheels out and re-weld them and I am confident that I could pull that off, but it would seem to me that If I just got a set of spacers I could just fix my problem for less than $60.00... so I decided to join this forum and see if anybody else can relate to what I'm babbling on about, and point me in the right direction.
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Old 12-06-2017, 03:15 PM   #2
wilkin250r
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Re: Wheel sizes and hub spacers for '73-'87 P/U

How much space do you need?

I've seen spacers in two styles. One is thin, and you mount the wheel and lug nuts to the existing lugs, but you're limited by lug nut length. Max thickness is about 1/2 inch, quite possibly less.

The other style of spacer is much thicker. You mount the spacer to the lugs, and then the spacer itself has a DIFFERENT set of lugs that you mount the wheel to. Because you must clear the existing lugs, minimum spacer thickness is about two inches.

However, neither of these options like to handle lots of load. Personally, I wouldn't go this route.
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Old 12-06-2017, 04:37 PM   #3
inlikeflint
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Re: Wheel sizes and hub spacers for '73-'87 P/U

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Originally Posted by wilkin250r View Post
How much space do you need?

I've seen spacers in two styles...
I was just thinking I needing enough to cover the loss between a standard stock 3.5" on center wheel mount to the new common 5" steel so about an inch or two.

The thread tips pop though the mounting holes, but then the wheel is on the inside wheel well. I've seen about 1.25" and I am thinking that should probably do it... what I am wanting to avoid is coming out too far and hitting quarter panels.

I don't think I am worried about load capacity and strength of a wheel spacer, It hauls mostly dirt, tree limbs, lumber, pallets, maybe something oversized like a couch or piano off of Craigslist. I can't imagine that a wheel spacer would be that much of a problem bouncing things from the dump and back on surface streets. I'm more likely have problems with the load falling though the rusted bed that has been sitting for three years with debris in it, or using the existing wheels with dry rot, on them. I had some other wheels, and thought I would make a go of using them. I'm not sure why spacers wouldn't be able to handle a load. (I might google around I guess).

Thanks for your input!
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Old 12-06-2017, 10:09 PM   #4
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Re: Wheel sizes and hub spacers for '73-'87 P/U

Sounds like a previous owner of the trailer or PU(while it was still a PU), swapped rear ends. One big advantage of these trucks is the wide range of parts that can be swapped in. One big disadvantage is the wide range of parts a previous owner can have swapped in and not documented.

The PO might have wanted the rear end originally on the bed for another project and just bolted on a random axle and sold the leftovers as a trailer. Might not even be a GM axle.

As you have noted, 5 or 8 lugs is the normal Chevy number for the years in question.

Before buying new adapter spacers and wheels, might price a used axle assembly from a salvage yard or ask for one on CL.
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Old 12-07-2017, 11:04 AM   #5
inlikeflint
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Re: Wheel sizes and hub spacers for '73-'87 P/U

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Sounds like a previous owner of the trailer or PU(while it was still a PU), swapped rear ends. One big advantage of these trucks is the wide range of parts that can be swapped in. One big disadvantage is the wide range of parts a previous owner can have swapped in and not documented.

The PO might have wanted the rear end originally on the bed for another project and just bolted on a random axle and sold the leftovers as a trailer. Might not even be a GM axle.

As you have noted, 5 or 8 lugs is the normal Chevy number for the years in question.

Before buying new adapter spacers and wheels, might price a used axle assembly from a salvage yard or ask for one on CL.

I was wondering about that... I measured the center bore and it was like 3-3/8 to 3-1/2... Then I found a page of chevy measurements for mountin wheels and the lowest they had was 70-78mm. When I went to mount Chevy steelies the center bore hole for hub-centric stuff was too small... So, I think what I am going to do is either go to an auto salvage and pick up a couple steel wheels that fit that hub at 16" instead of the mismatched 15"s I have then, track down a couple pair of common 245/75r16 that I have on both of my suburbans (And then send all the other stuff taking up space in my garage and yard down the road). I never thought about getting another axle, It wouldn't take much to swap it out. (Thank you for the idea!)

I did find a pair of 1" spacers with mounting lugs for about $27.00 on ebay, but it might be just as easy to pick up some steelies that actually mount to the axle I have. (I think) The floating off of the hub - hubcenteric thing has me sort of confused because my trailer wheel on the other side has a 4"+ center-bore hole and hasn't had any problems with loads, flexing... Something for me to digest today...
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Old 12-07-2017, 11:09 AM   #6
wilkin250r
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Re: Wheel sizes and hub spacers for '73-'87 P/U

The thin spacers that use your existing lugs, the reason they don't like to handle load is because every millimeter of space they take up is a millimeter less thread your lug nut is attached to. And if you're looking for an inch or so, this style will not work for you.

The second type that has it's own lug nuts doesn't like load because of two factors. First, because you need to clear the lugs, you're looking at much bigger spacers (2 inch minimum) which is a significant change on the stresses placed on your axle and components. Also, they're generally made of aluminum, softer than the hardened steel of your brake rotor.

But I also don't want to sound like "the sky is falling". You might be just fine, and I'm still willing to help find what you're looking for.
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Old 12-07-2017, 11:16 AM   #7
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Re: Wheel sizes and hub spacers for '73-'87 P/U

If you still wanted to go with wheel spacers, there are only a small selection of common lug spacing for 6 lugs. 6 x 4.5", and 6 x 5.5" being most likely, and you could easily tell the difference by measuring center-to-center of two opposing lugs.

There is also a 6 x 135mm, but that was mostly on newer Fords, I think we can rule that out as a possibility.
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Old 12-08-2017, 05:59 PM   #8
andyh1956
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Re: Wheel sizes and hub spacers for '73-'87 P/U

It could be a Chevy 4x4 rear axle...The $ you spend on spacers could buy a pair of 4x4 Rallye rims!
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Old 12-09-2017, 10:53 PM   #9
inlikeflint
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Re: Wheel sizes and hub spacers for '73-'87 P/U

Quote:
Originally Posted by wilkin250r View Post
If you still wanted to go with wheel spacers, there are only a small selection of common lug spacing for 6 lugs. 6 x 4.5", and 6 x 5.5" being most likely, and you could easily tell the difference by measuring center-to-center of two opposing lugs.

There is also a 6 x 135mm, but that was mostly on newer Fords, I think we can rule that out as a possibility.
I think I'm going to hit the salvage yard and pick up some steelies that fit. I'm trying to pinch my pennies, but at the same time it makes more sense to get new wheels than spaces. (I was going for spacers since I had wheels already).

i did a lot of sleuthing and about the ONLY center bore that i could find that came close to 3-3/8's to 3-1/2 was (87mm) a Ford F150, Expedition and Lariat... I'm guessing the original owner rotted out his old F150 bed and put C-10 bed on it as a replacement. There is no way to know for sure because these sorts of trailers are not titled or registered in my state. Unless there is a place on the frame that has tell-tale signs of who manufactured the frame... might be a part number on the differentials cover I could look up. (I could just stack some washers I suppose LOL!)

I have 245/75R16's on both of my Suburbans and I'm getting close to having to replace a set of tires, so I can rotate two of them to the trailer when I go to get new tires for the Suburban. That is why I wanted to move up to 16" from 15".

This was the page I found online to look up my axle in reverse. http://www.crawlpedia.com/bolt_patterns.htm
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Old 12-09-2017, 11:08 PM   #10
inlikeflint
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Re: Wheel sizes and hub spacers for '73-'87 P/U

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It could be a Chevy 4x4 rear axle...The $ you spend on spacers could buy a pair of 4x4 Rallye rims!
78.3mm would be the size of the center bore hole on the 4x4 wheel and I need 87mm... I thought about buying some Cragers or something like that to slap on the back... I'm hoping the salvage yard had a pair of steelies that will fit. The spacers where to make my other wheels fit that were not made for the axle.

I did call a newer salvage yard called LPQ? LQK? Some chain and asked them if they ever came across wheel spacers (The have to end up somewhere) and I the number connected me to Houston and the customer service rep was a ditz who had no idea of what a wheel spacer is. So, I learned that it's probably better to shop locally for parts first before you hit them fancy salvage yards.

Whoda thunk that wheels would be so much of a hassle?
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