Project RockReady: 1977 K-5 Gets Interco Super Swamper TSL Radials!
Hmmm, what can be said about Super Swampers that has not already been said? Probably nothing, but I am going to give it my best shot...
To start off with, these are not the original TSL's that Interco started out with (for those of you who do not know, TSL stands for T hree S tage L ug and refers to the distinctive tread pattern of this Interco tire), it's their TSL radial tire. I have to drive the old K5 everywhere I wheel it, she is way to big and heavy to tow and I do not have a tow rig anyway. She is also a daily driver and grocery getter and bla bla bla, you have heard it all before.
I have ridden on nylon or bias ply tires before and they were just not for me. They get flat spots from sitting in a fairly short time and you have to drive for a few miles to get them warmed up before they give you a good ride again, they also have to have the air pressure much lower to flex on the trail. The good side to the bias ply tires is that they are GUT STRONG, they usually will take much more of a beating on the sidewalls than their radial brothers.
The radials on the other hand have no such flat spot problems to them and are much more easy to live with for every day driving. Interco builds their TSL Radial's with a very tough sidewall as well, I have abused these tires on the Nasty Rutted and Rock Strewn, not to mention root infested trails of Tellico and have come away with just a few rub marks, no cuts or tears. They are holding up very well, are not near as obnoxious on noise as I thought they would be (I can hold normal conversations in the K5 at speeds up to 80 mph, whoops, did I say 80, I meant 70, honest). The ride is very smooth and vibration free, being that I have 36x14.5x15's they did take a little bit of weight to get balanced.
The extra width of the 14.5" tire was a welcome addition to the old K5, it really makes for a better grip on the rocks and in the ruts, not to mention on the soft sandy spots that I sometimes encounter. On the same spots that I was slipping and sliding on last May (running my old 12.5" tires) I was able to drive right up and over (part of this is due to the more aggressive tread pattern of the TSL Radials than the tires I had been running, um err, BFG Mud T/a's Not that their is anything wrong with them, I just wanted a more aggressive tire).
I mounted and balanced (yes I MOUNTED AND BALANCED, whoee, man were these heavy!) these tires on a set of 15"x10" Forged Aluminum Alcoa wheels. Tire and wheel together weighed in at 102 lbs. That made for one heck of a lift to the spare tire carrier. Once bolted on the K5, they gave it a much wider stance and really made it look awesome.
The tires are a 6 ply rating and have a maximum load of 2910 lbs. when inflated to 35 p.s.i. The true outside diameter of the tires when inflated on the wheels I used was 35 1/2". I got a maximum width of 14 1/2" from the outside edge of one lug to the outside edge of the opposite sides lug.
I have run them on rocks, sandy mud and hard packed dirt. I am not fond of gumbo mud, so you probably won't ever see me in any unless its an absolute must. If I can drive around a mud hole I will. On the sandy thin mud the tires did very well, they did not gum up and slung out the sticky crud as soon as I was through it, right up and all over the sides and hood of my K-5. On rocks and hard packed dirt, they just grabbed and conformed to whatever they rode over. I had much less slippage with these tires than I did before running my BFG's. The heavy lugs made for a huge advantage on this type of surface as well, they would take a much firmer bite on a ledge or lip and not want to let go. I was able to take a little harder line on a couple of local rock ledges that I was not able to climb before.
I have not had the tires on the K5 long enough to give any kind of mileage estimate, they do ride very smooth and the sound that they make is quite appealing (well at least to me anyway, heads turn all over when you hear a set of swampers humming on pavement).
All in all I would have to say that these are the best off road tires it has been my pleasure to drive on. Great Looks, very good on road ride, awesome amounts of traction off road and tough and dependable. Makes a great combination for me and unless Interco makes something better in the future, these will be my next tire of choice when I wear out this set.
See ya on the trails!
Any questions or comments please feel free to e-mail me.
Interco Tire Corp.
P.O. Box 6
Rayne, LA 70578-0006