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Fitting Jeep factory wheels on typical trailer hubs
11-30-2012, 09:04 AM
Post: #1
Fitting Jeep factory wheels on typical trailer hubs
I get a lot of questions from people who want to share their TJ Wrangler's factory wheels and spare with their trailer, but aren't sure what it will take to get them to fit properly. In this post I'll document what I know.

Factory Wrangler TJ and YJ wheels have a 5 on 4 1/2" bolt pattern, which is common on many trailer axles, and provides some hope that they may be compatible. And with a few concessions, they are.

Factory TJ Wrangler alloy wheels are "hub-centric", which means they are centered on the axle by means of a ring on the hub that fits into a recess in the wheel. This next photo shows the inside of a factory TJ "Grizzly" wheel. The recess in the wheel that fits over the hub ring is roughly 2.9" in diameter.

[Image: FactoryAlloyBack.jpg]

Notice though in the photo above that the center hole reduces in diameter towards the front side of the wheel. On the front side (this next photo), the center cap for the wheel fits in a smaller 1.8" hole.

[Image: FactoryAlloyFront.jpg]

Factory Wrangler steel wheels have the same "hub centric" center hole at roughly 2.9". Since they're stamped from a single layer of sheet steel, the hole is the same diameter front and back, unlike the alloy wheels, in which the hole is 2.9" in the back and 1.8" in the front.

[Image: FactorySteelFront.jpg]

A typical trailer hub has diameter of maybe 2.5", and the wheels are "lug centric". meaning they're centered on the axles by means of the tapers on the ends of the lug nuts. The center holes of the wheels do no make contact with the hubs.

Here's a typical trailer hub, with a roughly 2.45" center diameter:

[Image: TypicalTrailerHub.jpg]

Factory Wrangler steel wheels generally have enough clearance to fit on most typical trailer hubs as shown in this next photo:

[Image: FactorySteelOnTrailerHub.jpg]

It may be that the track width of a trailer axle (say on a Harbor Freight frame) is too narrow to fit a Wrangler factory steel wheel/tire combo without rubbing on the trailer frame. In that case, you can use spacers to widen the track width and gain clearance, however, you'll need to use lug-centric spacers, which are actually the most common ones anyway:

Lug centric spacers will generally have a large enough center hole to fit over a typical trailer hub and do not have the centering ring found on hub-centric spacers. Hub-centric spacers, such as the highly regarded ones from SpiderTrax in the photo below, typically will not fit over a trailer hub because the center hole has to reduce down in diameter to accept the centering ring on the inside surface of the wheel. This next photo shows a Wrangler factory steel wheel on a Spidertrax hub-centric wheel spacer:

[Image: FactorySteelOnSpiderTraxSpacer.jpg]

Notice how this spacer won't go on far enough to seat against the wheel mounting surface of this hub:

[Image: SpiderTraxSpacerOnTrailerHub.jpg]

So for factory steel wheels, common lug-centric spacers can be used to widen the track width; these are available pretty much everywhere and can be found economically on eBay.

But what about fitting Wrangler factory alloy wheels to trailer hubs? Lug-centric spacers can be used in that case as well. This next photo shows a Wrangler factory Moab 16" alloy wheel mounted on a Harbor Freight trailer axle hub. The center nut cap of the HF hub fits nicely inside the small outside center hole of the wheel.

[Image: FactoryAlloyOnSpacerFront.jpg]

The problem is that the HF hub itself is wider than the HF center cap, so a spacer is required to provide clearance for the wheel to go on the hub enough for only the center cap to clear. In this case, a 1.25" lug-centric spacer does the trick:

[Image: FactoryAlloyOnSpacerBack.jpg]

Hopefully the above has clarified things for people wanting to share wheels and/or spares between their TJ or YJ Wrangler and their 5-on-4.5" bolt circle trailer. If anyone's got any further questions I'll be happy to try to answer them.
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11-30-2012, 04:18 PM
Post: #2
RE: Fitting Jeep factory wheels on typical trailer hubs
Jscherb, thanks great info, I've talked with a few folks that got tripped up with hub-centric spacers that don't fit over the trailer hubs. Under the Dinoot Building Components page, under the Frame Parts tab, we have hub adapters / spacers available

Scott Chaney - Owner of Compact Camping Concepts
Home of the DIY Explorer Box and Dinoot trailers, also Tent Topped camping
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01-05-2013, 05:35 PM
Post: #3
RE: Fitting Jeep factory wheels on typical trailer hubs
jscherb,
Thanks for the info on the wheels. The gears are starting to turn once again in my head for maybe a modification to my trailer.
Scott - TVenturing - nice job
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05-01-2013, 03:47 PM
Post: #4
RE: Fitting Jeep factory wheels on typical trailer hubs
One other point about putting spacers on a Harbor Freight frame to fit Jeep wheels - the stock HF lug nuts are metric, and won't fit the Jeep lug wrench. If you put the spacers on with the HF lug nuts, and get spacers with 1/2-20 threads, they'll likely take a 3/4" lug wrench, which is what the Jeep has.
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05-06-2013, 09:23 AM
Post: #5
RE: Fitting Jeep factory wheels on typical trailer hubs
One other detail worth mentioning... the HF wheel studs are 12mm x 1.25, and the lug nuts take a 21mm wrench. The lug holes in some wheel spacers are too small for some 21mm socket wrenches to fit in, so you may not be able to use the HF lug nuts to attach spacers. You might want to swap out the HF lug nuts for 12mm x 1.25 lug nuts that take a 19m wrench, they should be available at a well-stocked auto parts store (and BTW 19mm = 0.748", which means a 3/4" wrench will fit them just fine).

Finally... the Jeep's 1/2-20 lug nuts will thread on to the 12mm x 1.25 studs, but don't do it!!! 1/2" is larger than 12mm and the nuts will almost certainly loosen at the wrong time.
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05-09-2013, 07:35 PM
Post: #6
RE: Fitting Jeep factory wheels on typical trailer hubs
Well this answered about half a dozen of my questions on whether I can use JK wheels on my HF trailer. Now I just have to figure out the right spacers.
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05-10-2013, 03:30 AM
Post: #7
RE: Fitting Jeep factory wheels on typical trailer hubs
(05-09-2013 07:35 PM)sburggsx Wrote:  Well this answered about half a dozen of my questions on whether I can use JK wheels on my HF trailer. Now I just have to figure out the right spacers.

HF Trailer = 5 on 4.5
JK Wrangler = 5 on 5

Here are some links to adapters. They offer a choice of thickness, so you could custom tailor the width to the backspacing of your wheels and the width of your tires.

http://adaptitusa.com/5x450to5x500wheeladapter.aspx

http://www.roadkillenterprises.com/5-lug...t-pattern/

Depending on the size wheel/tire you plan to run, you might want to consider upgrading the axle to a 3500 lb. capacity axle with the proper bolt circle instead of getting adapters. For example, if you were running 37" tires (big, but not that uncommon on a trail-ready JK), some people would consider the 2000-lb. axle on the Harbor Freight 94564 trailer undersized. And don't even think about running JK wheels and tires on any of the lower capacity HF frames, the axles on those are c-channel sheet metal and definitely not up to the task.

Here's a place where you can get a 3500# axle for $122.99 (+$5.00 for the proper JK 5-on-5 bolt pattern), it's not really that much more than getting a pair of adapters: http://kmtparts.com/axles-spring-mounted...drop.html. You might need larger u-bolts and spring plates for the larger diameter axle, the axle place has them too, u-bolt/plate kits are less than $15.00 complete. You could still use the HF springs.

The pricing from the two sources above for a pair of adapters is in the $100-$110 range, although less expensive ones can be found on eBay. Considering the price difference, a 3500# axle sized to the proper width for your wheel backspacing and tire width, with the correct 5-on-5 bolt pattern, is very worth considering.
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05-10-2013, 06:27 AM
Post: #8
RE: Fitting Jeep factory wheels on typical trailer hubs
2x - If you want to running bigger tires and need to do a lug pattern change, upgrading to a 3500 lb axle is my preferred approach.

Scott Chaney - Owner of Compact Camping Concepts
Home of the DIY Explorer Box and Dinoot trailers, also Tent Topped camping
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05-10-2013, 02:00 PM
Post: #9
RE: Fitting Jeep factory wheels on typical trailer hubs
(05-10-2013 06:27 AM)Scott Wrote:  2x - If you want to running bigger tires and need to do a lug pattern change, upgrading to a 3500 lb axle is my preferred approach.

Sadly the $122 axle is about the same price as a set of Spidertrax spacers. It also looks like you can get it to any width you want. Going to run the stock 12" wheels at first, but will start figuring out where I want things to be once the trailer is together.
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05-29-2013, 07:19 AM
Post: #10
RE: Fitting Jeep factory wheels on typical trailer hubs
Since spacers are likely to be installed when fitting Jeep alloy wheels to a trailer, here are a few tips for working with spacers.

1. Always secure the lug nuts that hold the spacers to the hubs with thread locker. I use Permatex Red which is the strongest.

2. I always mark the spacer with a red Sharpie marker when I've applied thread locker, that way I can verify I've done it if in the future I'm not sure. You can see the red marks in the photo below.

3. Since the hub will want to spin when you're tightening the lug nuts holding the spacer to the hub, I use a crowbar that's the same length as my breaker bar. I can lever the two against each other to ensure I'm getting the lug nut tight enough.

4. Since I'm applying a lot of pressure to tighten the spacer lug nuts, I always do this hitched up to a vehicle, that ensures my wrenching won't topple the trailer off the jack.

[Image: SpacerTips_zps1bfae05e.jpg]
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