One of the most common modifications done to an offroad vehicle is the tires, and like many things in life, modifications on a vehicle have consequences. When our rig rolled off the assembly line it was equipped with a 285/70/r17 AT tire which specs out to 32.7 inches or a small “33”. For a factory tire, it is a pretty respectable size and on a short wheelbase vehicle, they can be quite capable, but we don’t have a short wheelbase vehicle. This is one of a number of reasons that we went to a much larger 37×12.5r17 Falken Wildpeak MT01 tire, and that change leads to a lack of sleep.
As you can see, the Falkens are over 4.25 inches larger than the stock tires. While this was a big improvement for the off-road capabilities of the truck, and they really look great, it really did affect my sleeping.
So, how does a tire keep you from sleeping? Simple, the new spare tire is far too large to fit under the bed in the factory location so it has spent the last 8 months strapped to my sleeping platform. Now I may not be great at math but I do know that a 37″ tire on a 48″ wide platform does not leave enough room for my shoulders.
Luckily the guys over at Wilco Offroad have a number of options to solve this problem.
After talking to them and reading through their website, the choice was clear, the Hitchgate Classic Offset was the way to go.
The Hitchgate from Wilco comes in two large boxes which have been filled with expanding foam to ensure that it arrives safely and without any scratches or chips in the powder coating. It does need to be assembled, but it truly only takes a few minutes with basic hand tools. I was able to do mine by myself in the dark while wearing flip flops. (OSHA Approved of course)
Now anyone who has ever used hitch-mounted accessories may be concerned with the noise associated with the tube moving in the receiver. Well, Wilco solved that with a simple, and well-executed design. The front of the tube has a wedge and bolt system they call Wedgelock, and it is exactly what it sounds like.
You simply insert the tube like normal and then using a 3/4 socket and 12″ extension tighten the bolt on the inside of the shaft. As the bolt tightens the wedge slides on the tube and stops all movement. Then you simply insert your standard hitch pin to secure everything in place.
Once the Hitchgate is on, you mount your spare using the included bolts and lug nuts. The way the universal mount is, it will fit at least 20 different lug patterns and will support up to a 40″ 150-pound wheel and tire combination.
I wonder if I can use that as an excuse to put 40’s on the truck?
I was very happy to see that by using the outer of the two holes for the hitch pin, the tire is just far enough back that I can open the glass on the shell without having to open the swing out. This may not seem like a big deal, but since the fridge will be moving to the shell to accommodate a larger car seat it will be quiet convenient. It also gives room for the optional jerry can carrier that I will add as the budget allows. For now, I used the mounting holes and some miscellaneous hardware to mount the Hi-Lift Jack.
The Hitchgate is rated to tow 7500 lbs with a trailer tongue weight of up to 750 lbs. It is also designed and built in the US and comes with a lifetime limited warranty.
And that is how the Wilco Hitchgate Classic helped me sleep like a baby.
And yes, I do realize that my rim for the spare tire is hideous, but for now, I will just have to dream of bead-locks and cover this mess with a Trasharoo.