The Lone Ranger – Re-centered H1’s and 37” take offs

I have been running on these used Nitto’s and H2’s for about the past 3k miles or so. While they worked pretty well, two of the Nitto’s were getting a bit thin so I wanted to replace them. I got a bit of sticker shock at how much the dang things were going for (about $400 per tire to my door for the 37×13.5xR17 mud grappler). I’m a little bit too low dollar to be running tires that pricey.

Once I became aware of that price road block, I started searching for an alternative to my tire needs at which point I became aware of Trail Worthy Fab’s re-centered H1’s with 37” take off’s. On the surface, it seemed like a good deal, and the end, I feel that it was worth it. However, my dealings with TWF has left me with a bit of a bad taste in my mouth. Nearly to the point that they were very close to having CC fraud charges filed against them for non-delivery of product. I’ll post a little more about that saga at the end of this post, but for those skimming this post, buyer beware.

Onto the good stuff. I went with the flat centered 8 bolt rims as I felt that the 12 lug wheels weren’t necessary for my ‘lightweight’ rig. I had to go with the flat center as I wanted the most backspacing that I could get (4.5”). I also opted to get the PVC bead locks as well so that I would have a true double bead lock wheel setup.

Bringing them Home:
Sara L.: Build and Misc &emdash;

Off the Truck:
Sara L.: Build and Misc &emdash;

Primed:
Sara L.: Build and Misc &emdash;

Painted (you can see the PVC inserts):
Sara L.: Build and Misc &emdash;

Assembled (torque the lugs in steps, 65 ftlbs, then 75 ft lbs finial, there should be a maximum spacing of .0015” between the wheel half’s at this point):
Sara L.: Build and Misc &emdash;

And then on the truck:
Sara L.: Build and Misc &emdash;
Sara L.: Build and Misc &emdash;

It definitely changed the look of the truck going to these wheels. I’m not sure I dig the color, but I doubt that I’ll have time to change it any time soon. So far I’m very happy with the on road ride (very low noise compared to the Nittos, and balanced pretty good though I need to add a few more bb’s). I’m also digging the fact that these are steel, so no more worrying about killing one of those H2’s on a rock.

It might also be my imagination, but they seem to roll easier as well, even though they’re heavier than the other wheel and tire combo (currently about 150 lbs a wheel).

Now for the buyer beware part. I’ll preface this that I tend to be a very calm person, and having spend most of my working career in small shops I tend to give the ‘little guys’ a lot of leeway. So don’t paint me as the typical impatient consumer. That said here’s the cliff notes:

– Placed order 7/5/11, was quoted 3-4 week lead time
– 4 Weeks passed and nothing from TWF
– TWF seems to try to disappear, not return phone calls/emails/etc
– Finally get a hold of TWF and get a ship date
– Get another Ship date
– Get yet another Ship date
– Wheels and tires show up 6 weeks and 3 days after order, but no Spares
– Try to get a hold of TWF (rinse and repeat)
– Get a ship date for the two spares
– Ship date passes
– Call again (rinse repeat)
– Spares finally show up 7 weeks and 2 days after they’re ordered (bare in mind, these are just Fed ex’d)
– Buyer Beware as there is some major communication issues at TWF

Long Story:

When I placed my order, I called and went back and forth a few times with Andy. Every time he picked up the phone quickly, and responded to emails in a timely manner. I finally placed the order on 7/5/11 from TWF and was quoted a 3-4 week lead time to get my order. No worries, plenty of time before my trip out west (or so I though).

At the 4 week mark, I called TWF to ask if my order had shipped yet (also sent an email). I got nothing but crickets from them which I thought was odd as they usually picked up right away before. After a few more tries I finally got ahold of Andy (using a work phone number, keep that in mind) to which he told me that there was a hold up and they had to wait for the rock rings to show up. He assured me they would ship out the next day (Friday). No worries, stuff happens. I’m not pissed, but it would have been nice to know (drop me an email, return my phone call, whatever).

At the 5 week mark, I still hadn’t gotten any information on whether or not my order shipped. So again, I go through the same song and dance, leave messages, send emails nothing nothing nothing….. I still wasn’t pissed at this point until I saw that Andy had posted over on Pirate 4×4 LESS THAN 5 MINUTES after I had left my last message. That burned me good. In the end, I had to send a PM via Pirate to the TWF owner to get Andy to call me back.

When he called me, I was informed that there was a hold up with the PVC inserts. Again, stuff happens, I wouldn’t have been pissed if I was kept I the loop here. But when your customers can see you posting on the interwebz, and not returning their phone call, that’s crap. Especially when you’re toting your ‘awesome customer service’ when you’re on that site. Again, I was promised that the tires/wheels would ship out that Friday.

The six week mark comes and goes, and still no shipping information, or word from TWF. Start the game all over again, phone calls, emails. I finally get through by using a different phone number than what I had used before. While I can’t say for sure that my phone number was being screened, it was very odd that the only times I could get Andy on the phone was when I used a different number. Take it for what its worth

When I get through to him, I’m assured that they are shipping out today, and that I would have a tracking number that afternoon. At this point I was ready to cancel the order and move on with life (I had less than 2 weeks before my trip out west, so needed tires NOW). But I figured at this point, what’s one more day. True to his word this time, I get a tracking number and the tires and wheels arrive 6 weeks and 3 days after placing the order. Well most of them showed up anyway.

You see, I ordered two additional spare 37” take off’s. These were missing from the order. Start the process over again of trying to get a hold of TWF. When I finally do, I get the “oops, we’ll ship those on Friday, I swear!” routine again. They wound up shipping out the following Tuesday, which got them to me 7 weeks and 2 days after placing the order.

Once I had everything, it all went together well, the workmanship seems to be of good quality (wheels spin true, welds look nice). However, 4 of the 6 tires had large amounts of grease inside of them. When I say large, I mean I pulled out about a ½ tub worth of grease out of two tires. And no, I’m not exaggerating…

So the moral of the story? I’m not sure there is one. In the end, I’m happy with the product, though at this point I have less 8 days before I head out west so we’re cutting it dang close. I just now got everything together and have put all of 50 miles on the setup (I was hoping to get a few more miles on it to shake it out).

After some research, it appears that I’m not the only one that’s had communication issues with TWF (there’s a few threads that pop up on google). I don’t particularly wish ill on TWF, I’m just posting my experience with them. At the same point, I’m not certain that I’ll spend any more money with them unless they can fix their communication issues. As I wasn’t pissed until I started getting the run around for 3 weeks. I don’t know about you folks, but this was a significant amount of money for me, so I get a little concerned when I can’t get a hold of a company that has changed me for product not delivered, yet I still see them posting on the internet.

Take my rant for what’s its worth….

Edit and Update 9/26/11

I just wanted to post what the resolution was with TWF and my balancing issue was. It turns out that I had a ‘bum’ PVC insert that was causing all of my issues. TWF Sent me another Insert and now life is good.

TWF went a step further and made things right which was nice of them considering how much of my ‘free’ time I had wrapped up into trying to solve this issue.

The bottom line is that my experience was out of the ordinary with TWF’s product, and I don’t think that my issues should scare anyone away from purchasing from them. The communication issues I was having sucked, but hopefully they’ll work on resolving them in the future. Things get dropped when you’re running a small shop, I get that as I have worked in several small shops during my career as a machinist.

Going forward, I’ll give them another shot if/when I have a need of their products in the future. So take that for what it’s worth.

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