Surco spare tire carrier install and review

nutterbutter

2004 LTV Free Spirit T1N
Suggestions, review, and short write up for the Surco TS100-B Rear Door Spare Tire Carrier for the T1n:

Someone rear ended my T1n while parked, and damaged the LTV continental tire carrier that was attached to the trailer hitch. I never liked it anyway--you need a wrench to lower the tire to be able to open up the driver’s side rear door.

I purchased the Surco TS100-B for the T1n. Made in USA. I believe it is the same one pictured in all the various sprinter accessory sites. As far as I can tell, it is the only one sold for the rear door of a T1n, but I could be wrong. Oddly, is not listed on the Surco website, but a mention is made in their PDF catalog.
http://www.surcoinc.com
http://www.surcoinc.com/downloads/Surco_catalog.pdf

It arrived in a giant box with the corner a little torn. Bag of hardware included, but no instructions. Called Surco about instructions possibly missing, was informed that no instructions are included, as it is usually installed by companies. The engineer on the phone was happy to explain where all the hardware goes.

Unlike others who have said the hardware included does not fit, it all fit for me. Using just the included hardware will make a working tire carrier. I made a few upgrades to the hardware to make for a better install.

Installation:
Gather the 3 large carriage bolts, 3 large washers, 3 large nuts.

Purchase:
1 large carriage bolt that is 1” longer than the originals (you will be discarding one original carriage bolt)
3 more washers for the carriage bolts
3 more large nuts
3 washers that fit OVER the square portion of carriage bolt.

The large carriage bolts are what hold the wheel to the carrier. Having one longer carriage bolt makes it a LOT easier to align and get the wheel onto the carrier. The extra nuts/washers will lock the carriage bolts in place.

You MUST install carriage bolts before fully installing carrier to door. Don’t be like me, and have to loosen/remove the door hardware to get the carriage bolts in afterwards.

Note: I have a 2004 Long Tall with 16” stock wheels and tires. There are a bunch of holes/slots in the carrier for different wheel sizes. This setup works for me--does not obscure the license plate, does partially obscure window. Can’t be any lower.

There are two square holes on top for the carriage bolts. Ignore the lower square hole. For strength, I wish the square holes were part of the solid metal plate and not welded on. Install one long+large carriage bolt, and one large carriage bolt to the two square holes. Doesn’t matter which gets the long--whatever suits you works.

Gets installed in this order Bolt Head [metal carrier] large washer, regular washer, nut. Tighten the nut. This holds it all in place .

Install the third carriage bolt in the long lower slot. Install loosely, as you will have to locate it in the vertical slot to line up with the wheel as a final step.

At this point, you may want to lay the whole thing on the ground, and make sure your wheel fits the 3 bolt location properly.

Mounting carrier to door:

The 2 smaller carriage bolts go through the holes in the rear door hinges. On the outside of the hinge goes a washer, lock washer and the matching nut. My suggestion: file/grind off the top of the rounded head of the carriage bolt about 1.5-2mm. Make sure it is very smooth. The top of the bolt makes contact with the hinge bolt when closed, and creates a little springy pressure to close. Grinding it a bit creates better clearance.

Remove interior door panel. Mine was just those plastic connectors you pull hard on.

Loosely fix the nuts on. I let the carrier find a spot it was happy to hang in. Line up the 3rd hole on the door and mark the center. Get a nail or awl, and a hammer, and put an indent on the center. This will help the drilling. Get a drill bit and drill a hole the size of the last non carriage bolt.

I purchased some very thin neoprene gasket material (about 2mm thick), and cut it the same size as the square flange of the carrier that will make contact with the door. Cut a hole in center of neoprene. This was to prevent rubbing/rust/water. (My neoprene material came in a LARGE sheet. If you are in the area and want a square for your install, let me know.) I had some white paint on hand for another issue, and put a couple drops on the exposed metal of the hole. I placed some leftover marine grade Goop adhesive on the square plate/washer to hold it in place and prevent any water intrusion. Some type of glue on the plate is helpful to hold it in place, as the space inside the door is very tight. There was a steel reinforcement beam right behind in my door, and I dropped the lock washer and nut a couple times trying to get everything together.

Gets installed like this:

Purchase an additional washer.

Bolt head, additional washer [steel carrier flange] neoprene gasket [door sheetmetal] square plate, lock washer, nut.

It’s a tight fit inside the door. Bolt can’t fit the other direction in my door.

Tighten up the three points on the door good and tight. I would put some miles on with the tire installed, and re-torque the 3 bolts before putting the door panel back on.

Back to the large carriage bolts: put the spare tire on the carrier. See how having the longer carriage bolt makes it easier to line up? You’ll have to find the proper location of the bottom bolt to line up correctly in the slot. Remove tire. Snug bottom bolt down. Put tire back on. Place washers and remaining nuts on. Tighten. It’s hard to know exactly how tight to make these nuts, as it just pushes the tire onto the steel carrier. Seems important to make them all about the *same* torque/tension. Tightening one loosens the other 2. I may replace one nut with a nylock nut for peace of mind.

Make sure it doesn’t obstruct your license plate. Put some miles on, and recheck the hardware torque and you are done.

Notes:
Downside for me: The higher tire location compared to the continental obscures my backup camera a lot more. Even though van is shorter than with the continental kit, I see less. May make a spacer/arm to move camera out about 5 inches to see over tire.

Tire does obscure some of driver rear door window. Not much of a big deal in my RV, as the shower is behind the driver seat already, and I can’t see much out of that window anyway. May be an issue for some of you.

If you get rear ended or back up into something, this will likely increase vehicle damage greatly. I wish it just bolted to the door and not the hinges--a good rear ending would bend the body where the hinges attach.

Surco says they don’t see why you couldn’t install one of these upside down on the other door, and use to carry other stuff.
 

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syncro_G

Member
Thanks for the tips and writeup. I recently received my Surco tire carrier but it's still sitting in its box (also with torn corner)

Surco says they don’t see why you couldn’t install one of these upside down on the other door, and use to carry other stuff.
I wondered about that too. I thought it could make a simple platform to attach a bike or ski rack to.

I bought the Surco ladder and the swing out bike carrier bars that attach to the ladder. The ladder is polished stainless steel. It looks nice but would have preferred black to go with my sprinter. (I might have it powder coated one of these days.)

My one real complaint with the ladder is that the top part of the door where the ladder attaches to on a sprinter is not very stiff. So as you climb the ladder, you can feel the top of the door flexing out under the weight. Same goes for the bottom attachment point.

The bike carrier attachment for the Surco ladder works well for carrying bikes except that when in the unused position (splayed apart), the bars are at just the right height to hit me in the head as I close the back door -- very frustrating! So I have the inside bike arm crossing over the ladder and secured to the outside arm. It makes me wonder why they didn't just design it to flip up instead of to the side.
 
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Tooth Fairy

Away with the fairies.
The bolts are low tensile and not fit for the purpose.
The extra load applied to the door hinges is a real no no.
Im actually surprised that a company would put out a product like that without proper anchorage to something solid and substantial. :thinking:
 
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2011Winnie24J

New member
My Surco bike rack for the ladder on the back of my Winnie came without instructions and with mounting hardware that was unfit for the task. Surco was helpful, and sent some better hardware (after I went to the HW Store and took care of things). Overall, not real happy about experience and wonder what Surco's program is?
 

nutterbutter

2004 LTV Free Spirit T1N
Tooth Fairy: I think the bolts into the hinges is odd too, but as far as I can tell, it's the only door mounted spare tire carrier I've seen, and I haven't heard of any real issues. The bolts on my (former) continental spare tire holder were standard steel as well. Not grade 8, not stainless. There's not much to the rear door, but I suspect someone could have designed a direct door design similar to some of the carriers on the newer sprinters, but may have required much more drilling.

Pfflyer: More pictures. including closeups of the carriage bolt setup.

Another note: I replaced the left door striker piece recently. My old one was rather worn and not round anymore. I had read somewhere that it was an important part of having stiff doors and prevents flex. I didn't notice a difference, but it was cheap and probably a good idea if adding the spare tire mount.
 

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Tooth Fairy

Away with the fairies.
Youve got the back step so you could do a conversion and beef up of the back step to carry the wheel.
Here is one I did just recently for my Sprinter.
All the weight is carried by the 50x50x3 steel box section that is welded inside the step.




I bought commercially available axle stub to take all the weight, that id in turn welded to some gussets that are welded to the box section..

 
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derekhski

Member
I to have a Surco Spare Tire mount. As with all, no instructions, but saw others that posted explanations. Happy with mine, went on with reasonable ease. Added a tire cover picked up at a local 4x4 store, and now its clean looking on the rear.

Nice write up Nutter!

I like the idea of maybe mounting one on the opposite door also, and using for other goods, bike rack or Ski system. Hummm?
 

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nutterbutter

2004 LTV Free Spirit T1N
derekhski: How's the spare tire cover holding up? Do you know exactly what model you have? I'm interested. How easy to take on and off?

Update on install idea: I *wish* I thought ahead, and purchased 3 new large carriage bolts. Two about 2" longer, and one about 3" longer. I want to use the center of the wheel for storage. The longer bolts would have let me purchase a plastic case to bolt onto the longer carriage bolts. I totally forgot about seeing how some RVers use the space to hold an extra sewer hose or hose adapter.

My hose adapter is similar to this:
http://www.campingworld.com/shopping/item/ez-coupler-90-degrees-bayonet-fitting/27867
After use, I'd rather have it OUTSIDE, but I have no place to put it outside.

Picture attached of something I've seen on a Jeep website.
 

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derekhski

Member
Nutterbutter, I bought a Smitty Built cover, basic black as to fit the tire size, sml, med or large, it was like $25 - 28.00 happy with it, the first one was loose, as the guy in the store recommended a larger size, but I test fit it before leaving, and when down on size. Its a tight fit, little extra elbow grease getting it on, I wanted it tight, so it didn't balloon and come off, but I hope to not have to ever remove it... As that would mean I'm fixing a flat.... I have only had it for about 1 year now, so far so good....

I like the Idea of the storage spot.
 

pdxkid

currently vanless :-(
We also have this carrier. It was a necessity after adding a 2" receiver hitch on our 118" WB.

Like everyone else, it came with non-functional hardware. I purchased large SS bolts (I hope they're strong enough!), washers, lock washers and lock nuts. This totaled about $15.

Unless I'm thick (entirely possible) the pre drilled slots and square holes do not line up with the bolt pattern of our 5 bolt 15" wheels. I then made a rubbing of the bolt pattern with paper and charcoal.

Back to Lowes... I purchased another SS bolt, washer, nut and locknut, some 2" flat steel stock and ended up drilling 2 mounting holes and bolting it on to match the 5 hole bolt pattern. another $15

It works now! I too padded all contact points with closed cell foam.

My:2cents:
 

derekhski

Member
I had no issues with the bolt pattern between wheel and surco units predetermined pattern
I did buy long carriage bolts like others
 

Arnie_Oli

Member
I am a out to see if I can get one of these shipped to the UK (as I can't find them in the EU), a year on, how are your mounts holding up?

I'll take your advice I think and give ours several coats of paint to help cope with the rust-o-rific UK weather when it arrives.
 

nutterbutter

2004 LTV Free Spirit T1N
Mine is just fine. No issues.

Put a large piece of cardboard on the ground during installation. Placing my rack on the ground a few times scratched the pointy corner. Had to touch up paint
 

desertdozer

New member
Has anyone put one of these Surco TS100 carriers on a late model, 2016, Sprinter? I cannot seem to find any info regarding fitment and years.
 

Arnie_Oli

Member
It obviously fits on the hinges and then around the door frame. If the width of the door to the bolt hole and hinge spacing is the same I don't see why not. Just needs measuring.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro which means I am probably lying under the van wishing I had a crawler and a large warm workshop I could park in.
 

desertdozer

New member
Just a FYI for any wondering the same a I ... The TS-100 or TS-100B will not fit the late model Sprinters, in my case 2016, you need a TS -200 ... surprisingly difficult to get this info confirmed.

Cheers
 

Fredb

Member
A shout out to "Nutterbutter" for his very thorough and detailed explanation. Just installed mine following instructions closely and worked out great.

Really appreciate the effort that went into the original post.:clapping:
 

FrankMD

New member
Hi,
I really appreciate all the information and all the pictures. I have some additional observations.
1. I used Nylok nuts to secure the bolts to the rack (The bolts that hold the tire.)
2. I put Nylok nuts on backward to keep the rim from getting sucked back as I tightened another set of Nyloks that hold the tire in place.
3. After grinding down the heads of the carriage bolts that hold the rack to the hinges, I found that the bolts did not bind, but I think the reason that the hinges and the door continued to pivot inward when you try to bolt the rack to the door is that, starting with the hinges and proceeding to the door opening there is a bit of an outward curve to the door. The rack looks as though it would mount fine with the door open but not with it closed. I found that I had to bend the tubing of the rack so I no longer had a gap between the Surco door mount and the door. I think that the manufacturer should mount those hinge brackets about 5 degrees inward and this wouldn't happen. Has anyone else had this problem?
I also had some worries about the weight of the spare and whether this carrier was designed to carry that weight. Has anyone had any problems with this? Thanks. Frank
 

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