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Aerostar Ford Aerostar

Seventeens

 
  #1  
Old 03-22-2013, 12:12 AM
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Seventeens

My Aerostar gets 17" inch wheels.
These 17x7.5 with 225/55's are a +3 from the stock 14x6.

In the rear, a 5mm offset would put the 225's fender flush but this is not recommended because it would not allow much load on the soft stock springs.
Instead, target 10 to 15mm for 225's and this should still allow enough clearance inside for chains.
For 235's, grow inward to the 15 to 20mm range. Maybe still good for chains, maybe not.


The Aerostar was not designed with wide tires in mind.
In front, a 15mm offset put the 225's just slightly outside of fender flush, but the running boards make this perfectly acceptable.
This offset leaves 5mm from tire to the ball joint holder, constant thru all steering angles.
Fender clearance was 3/4" at the rear, 1-1/2" on top and plenty up front.


Background:
While restoring the van including new paint, I wanted to pull forward the tire/wheel combo into something more contemporary than my current 15x7 Gen2 explorer wheels.
Then while researching spacer/adapters it suddenly it occured to me that I already had four 17" wheels in deep archive that were in a look consistent with Aerostar SportVan.
The big oddity is that these are a rare wheel option from the Mercedes SLK bin and were earmarked for use on my Mercedes 190E-16V.
Doing the math it was more cost effective to adapt these MBZ wheels rather than procure a set of Ford 17's.

Custom engineering by Motorsport Tech (in Sparks,NV) translates between bolt circles (ford 114.3 v mbz 112) while pushing the offset out from 37mm to 12.

For tires I settled on Kumho 225/55-17 Ecsta LX Platinum, front/rear.
These combine All-Season/Touring with at least some snow/ice skills.
They won't win any fashion contest but they do get good reviews from touring types.
These are load rated 101W.
I was borderline 235 for the rears which have a 103 load rating. May go there someday.

Was 15x7 Explorer Gen2 with 215/65:


My rear adapters are both hub-centric and wheel-centric.
It was later found that my wheels are so tight around the bolts that the wheel-centric lip was redundant.
This feature also prevented their use on the front axle where the long hub extends all the way thru the adapter and into the wheel.
Fronts are full bore hub-centric only and actually cost less than the full feature rears.


Cavities in the wheel allow use of the original lug nuts. Otherwise, shorter nuts could have been used.
 
  #2  
Old 03-22-2013, 08:21 PM
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That is awesome!!! I seriously applaud you. There are not too many people 'crazy' enough to run 17" wheels on an Aerostar. I posted a thread a couple/few years ago asking about running 17s and got mostly negative responses telling me that was not possible and/or realistic ( ). I ran 16" x 7.5" Mustang GT wheels without spacers or adapters on my `88 work van for many years without any issues and figured 17s are very possible.

How much of a difference can you tell with steering and handling?

I'm curious how those adapters and the wider stance affect steering; specifically when the steering is maxed to one side and moving slow, like in a tight parking lot. Those 17s with the 1.5-2" (?) adapters must result in unheard of handling for an Aerostar.
 
  #3  
Old 03-22-2013, 10:04 PM
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Motorsport still owes me the front adapters. {Got them, they fit}. It will be a couple weeks before I get road time.

The adapter width compensates for the much higher offset of mbz wheels compared to the ford wheels and merely adapts the offset back to normal.
So stance changes little other than the 10mm additional tread width.
The overall tire diameter did increase and so I'm expecting better fuel economy yet stronger cornering.

There have been other suspension changes recently (bushings, shocks & rear bar) so any handling improvements can't only be credited to the tire/wheel combo.
 
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Old 03-22-2013, 11:28 PM
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The problem with the 17" wheels is you have to use very low profile tires to keep overall height the same. That doesn't work very well for a heavy van or truck, which really needs more rubber between the wheel and road. With sufficient rubber, the tire will taller.

The other problem is with trying to use the 17" wheels from the Cobra Mustangs; they're too wide for the Aerostar. Maybe the Mercedes rims are narrow enough to fit.
 
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Old 03-23-2013, 09:16 AM
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Quite right, and that is why the 101 tire rating looked interesting b/c my previous fronts were at 93, rears 95. Probably has a stiffer sidewall. Empty, I'm suppose to be a mere 3300 lbs, no problem. But over the next year I'm sneeking up on a built-to-tow objective that adds 650lb tongue plus camping crap, driven over washboard gravel. Thats when I go to the 103 rated 235's. It's for the additional sidewall.

Diameter would then be 27.2" rather than stock 25.9 and this would reduce my 4.10 diff on 235's to an effective 3.9 on stock. This would be a welcome change as I transition into a built-to-tow engine. At that point a new speedo output gear will be swapped in to bring the speedo back into spec and allow the trip computer to calc the correct economy and range.
 
  #6  
Old 03-23-2013, 10:19 AM
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Lower profile tires will wear out quickly especially on the sidewalls with the kind of weight they are being asked to carry. I would have opted for a 15" rim instead, with a bit more rubber. Going slightly oversized isn't a problem. Explorer rims from I think '93 on work great on Aerostars, they have the perfect width and offset.
 
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Old 03-23-2013, 10:50 AM
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Here are the other candidates.
IIRC, the Lincoln Town Car 16x7 is in the correct offset and needs nothing. Good if you like dish.
The late Explorer 17x7.5 has a high offset (44mm) and that's the reason I had researched adapters. If I didn't have the mbz with its "cute" faux 3-piece bolts, this is where I would have ended up. Compared to the mbz, the Exp Gen3/4 looked a little ordinary but it's personal pref.



17x7.5 Explorer Gen3/4


The 16x7 Ranger Sportrac version of the Explorer style


After getting 17's on there I find them not all that radical.
The 17's didn't take me as far into "sport" as I thought they would and instead look typical, normal for a vehicle this size.
Perhaps 18's are required for the sport look I was targeting.
Noteworthy, the Aerostar did start to lose it's identity and so the conclusion was that the identity is somewhat tied to the smallish stock tire/wheels.
After this visual update to this less common older van, most people would not realize what they are looking at.

Out on the road, there really isn't a comtemporary comparison to the Aerostar Sportvan but the current crop of compact/crossover suv's provides an indication of where wheel size/style/marketing is at.
For instance '13 Escape has an (omg) 235/45-19 option for the terminally fashionable. Uh, try that one off-road.
In 16's I'm finding: Rav4 215/70, CR-V 215/60, Sportage 215/70.
In 17's: Rav4 225/65, Escape 225/65, CX-5 at 225/65, Terrain 235/60, Subaru Outback 225/60.
In 18's: Rav4 235/55, X3 245/50, Sportage 235/55.
In 19's: Escape 235/45, CX-5 225/55.
 

Last edited by RojoStar; 04-01-2013 at 07:50 AM. Reason: size comparo
  #8  
Old 03-23-2013, 03:17 PM
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When you say late explorer, what are you referring to?

Mine came off a 1996 and needed no adapters.
 
  #9  
Old 03-23-2013, 04:14 PM
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Explorer Gen3, 2002->2005
That's when Ford switched from 12mm offset to 44.
Most likely there are off-the-shelf backwards translations.
 
  #10  
Old 04-14-2013, 07:07 PM
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Yesterday I put in about 40 miles on the new setup and have a few things to report.
First no immediate technical difficulties with fit.
Second, responsiveness: there is a much closer coupling between what you want to do and what the van does. If you don't want to go there, don't even think it.
Third, you will get to know and remember your local road surfaces, wondering why the city doesn't fix these roads suddenly gone bad.

The good news is that I nailed the fronts.
The rears, not so. Although fender flush may look cool, its impractical and they need to come inboard a little.
Also, the rears were done in 225's and it should have been 235's for the ultimate bling impact.

News flash...As part of my built-to-tow mission, I'm retrofitting explorer axles and brakes leading me to scrapping my current adapters and starting over. Arrrgh.


 
  #11  
Old 04-15-2013, 01:23 AM
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For the rear axle, wouldn't an 8.8 from a 4.0L Aerostar be a bit easier to retrofit? Can still get rebuilt with 4:10 and Trak-Loc as desired.

Maybe rear brakes from a '88 police Crown Vic or similar, 11" drums and proper bolt pattern. Should be less changes than going all-disc.
 
  #12  
Old 04-15-2013, 08:08 AM
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Exactly, plus Explorers are known for wheel bearing failures, which is not exactly condusive to towing. I think the Aerostar and Explorer Axles are about the same load rating.
 
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Old 04-15-2013, 09:17 AM
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Can of worms already. It has been my intent to do the built-to-toe in another thread which I will start asap. It's a much bigger topic and includes the axles and we can endlessly talk about it there.
 
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Old 09-20-2013, 11:00 AM
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Originally Posted by RojoStar View Post
...built-to-toe...
You were just trying to be funny, right?

*******

Now speaking diplomatically...

This forum does not allow users to edit posts beyond a 30 day limit.
Therefore you get this new post to cancel an implied endorsement that occurred early on in the thread.

***********************************************
**** The wheel adapter supplier used in this project, ****
******** Motorsport Tech of Sparks Nevada, ************
***** is hereby removed from my Approved Vendor List *****
***********************************************

Background: Over a 30 year span I've worked with perhaps 2000 vendors in various nooks of engineering, manufacturing & construction
and this one stands out. If the owner/operator EVER gets around to returning money, I will be shocked and surprised.

The tire&wheel combo in the pics above traveled only about 40 miles, then the front hubs were modified to Explorer brakes.
A second run of hub compatible wheel adapters failed to meet critical contract specs, then disappeared down an RMA hole at Motorsport.
Speaking diplomatically here, after months of vendor's non-action the loss was finally written off.

I could round up another vendor or do the machining myself but I've got dozens of other projects going on.
The short term expedient move is to dismantle the Seventeen Inch tire/rim stack and return the van to 15" explorer wheels.
The 17" mbz rims will likely go back over to where they came from, my Mercedes W201.

Looking forward, I've got an investment in 225/55-17 tires so these will probably go onto 17" explorer rims of which I have one already.
The built-to-tow 8.8 explorer axle is scheduled for next year and will be resized to work directly with the later Explorer rims.
Therefore, I will need adapters only on the front hubs, and these could be an off-the-shelf design from any competent and responsible vendor.

 
  #15  
Old 08-15-2018, 12:48 PM
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Five years later...

Originally Posted by xlt4wd90 View Post
...The other problem is with trying to use the 17" wheels from the Cobra Mustangs; they're too wide for the Aerostar...


**** Five years later... ****
Cobra Mustang's on an Aerostar.



Had to read this thread above to remember where I was back in 2013, why I hadn't been on seventeens in the interim.

*** The short version ***
Five years ago I was experimenting with MBZ wheels I had laying around, and did some adapters.


The adapters then were rendered obsolete when I migrated the front brakes to Explorers, having a larger hub diameter.
(Side-bar, since that time I have acquired milling equipment that can quite easily bore up the adapters)
After a 2nd set got seriously messed up by an evil machine shop, the project got shelved, the tires hauled off from the wheels, which are still up for sale.
Instead I've been running around for all this time on Lincoln Town Car's with 225/60-16's.



Still yearning for a more contemporary look, two and a half years ago I acquired the wheels featured here.
These reps are knock-offs of what you can find on a 1993 Mustang Cobra (fyi, 5.0liter, 235hp), except these are for 5-lug hubs.
The distributor of these reps is out of Katy, TX. Produced in China iirc.

I liked the flush face, hidden bolts, twisted turbine.
Some of the same styling ques as the orignal Aerostar EB's.
These wheels do a one-up on both the Aerostar and my Explorer 15 wheels by giving you a leftie and a rightie.


Explorer, left & right. One of these is backwards.
People roll their eyes, chuckle, walk away.


*** Cobra engineering notes ****
As quoted above, there be dragons.
Up front, they are simply too wide.
These reps, with an ET of 29.5mm, are too far inboard, colliding with the upper ball joint holder up front.

Problem 2 is that I wanted to stay with a 225 tire width.
At least in the round-shoulder General RT43, that width worked on the LTC's.
That section width does not encumber turning radius, and had only minor sheetmetal contact, until I gave it more sway bar and damping.
However, 225's on 8-1/2 inch rim width is a bit of a stretch.

The solution was to have some Livonians narrow the front wheels by 1 inch to a net 7-1/2 inch making them the same width as the MBZ's attempted 5 years ago.


Since narrowing takes material off the inboard barrel, the (centerline) offset then moves outward by half that amount.
So now the front offset is 29.5mm minus 1/2 inch equals et 17mm.

They are then wrapped with 225/55's.
Lol, these are the exact ones hauled off the van 5 years ago after putting on 40 miles.


Unrelated, in the interim, the Kumho Ecsta 4xii all-season became my go-to tire for the rest of my fleet. Quiet, competent, good value.

Close call but the Aero stayed with Kumho Ecsta LX Platinum because...
1) I have existing inventory to either use or by forced to discard.
2) The results of this experiment were unknown, so I did not want to invest in yet more 225's that might also have to be discarded.
3) I did want to sample Kumho's grand touring tire, to compare against their all-season mates.

Fyi, the cost of narrowing a wheel was actually twice the cost of the wheel itself.
Therefore I wanted to avoid paying to have the rears match the fronts, especially since the rears did not share the same clearance issues.

That brings up the issues of rear vs front tire size.
Instead of stretching 225's on 8-1/2 inches making them look stupid and oddly different from the fronts, we went staggered and now have 245/50-17's in back.


The stretch/bulge is therefore the same on the 7-1/2in fronts and 8-1/2in rears and so is the diameter and alignment to the sheetmetal.
They look identical except that the rear width extends inward.

The clearance is not chain friendly, but I was willing to trade this away since I only extremely rarely see snow.
The immediate work around for snow is to remount the LTC 16's for when I'm in the mountains (of Western US), in the off season.
A more ambitious solution would be to modify the rear wells on the inboard side, tubbing the sheetmetal in about 3/4 inch. Note essential for casual highway cruising but looks doable.

*** BTW ***
* One can not just steal these off a '93 Cobra since the originals would be 4-lug, not 5.
In the rep world there are plenty legacy style 5-lug'ers out there.
Since mine are both left & right unique and front & rear unique, each corners is unique, can not be rotated.
Steel, very heavy compared to the aluminum alloy LTC's. The problem is not steel vs aluminum but just more metal than is necessary.
Will likely slow the vehicle 0->60, and I might someday to a back-to-back.
The good news is that I Will not have to worry about bending them.

* A little fine tuning with thin shims brought the final ET rear to 26mm, and leaves us with 8 threads left on the studs vs the original 10.
Front also got a 3mm shim.
In other words, the re-engineered wheel dimensions where almost spot on to application requirements.

* With the rears staggered AND with my recent permanent refresh of the limit-slip, the chassis tuning could stand for a beefier rear sway, to get back to shed some more understeer.
Currently on Hellwig 7/8, would have to migrate to the Addco 1-1/8, assuming both are solid, same tempering etc.

*** In summary ***
Style: '93 Mustang Cobra, but in a 5-lug
Front: narrowed to 17x7.5 et17, 225/55, shim 3mm thk 70.5mm bore
Rear: 17x8.5 et29.5, 245/50, shim 3mm thk 64.1mm bore
Tires: Kumho Ecsta LX Platinum, grand touring.
Very little clearance, might not be chain friendly.

*** Update ***
After further consideration, a 3mm shim is OK for the front but needs more in the rear to stay clear of the springs under all conditions.
A 10mm adjustment was my original plan and that looks correct. Any more and I'll have sheetmetal conflict under heavy loading.
Net ET would be 29.5 -10 = 19.5mm
Unfortunately that blows my drop-dead budget for threads, forcing me to haul the axles out and migrate to longer studs.


2 tons going out.


6-1/2 tons going in.


Another 10mm of thread, against 10 millimeters of shim equals no change in the thread count.
The new studs have a shoulder section about 0.010" larger diameter than stock, so I run a file briefly before installing.
And the shoulder section now extends into the drums, requiring that the drum be drilled slightly to accommodate.

 

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