Within a couple miles of camp, I hear a loud BANG which resulted from a blown out tire on the trailer. (Some long-time readers might remember that I had blown BOTH tires on this trailer last year.) I had only brought one of my two Bi-Mart spare tires, as I concluded that brand-new tires from Les Schwab should last the trip without complication, ha. Changing the tire, it appeared that it was rubbing on the trailer frame. Since there was a little clearance, I assumed this to happen on rougher road, when the trailer bounces more.
Luckily, Les Schwab had a store in Sisters, so that was my next stop. While I wasn’t surprised that no one ‘ran out’ to greet me, it did take a bit to get service. After my third person, the answer was as follows:
- Those new tires are the ONLY ones that fit those rims, no skinnier ones available.
- What I’d need is a rim with a greater offset, to keep the tire further from the frame.
- They don’t sell ANY 4-lug wheels in the state, only 5-bolt pattern for trailers.
- I’m out of luck.
Inquiring, I found there was a Bi-Mart in town, so I decided to buy another matching spare to get me through the trip. These tires may be cheap, but they’re skinny, and did fine last year. Bi-Mart didn’t have any 4-bolt trailer tires either. It took the third representative to find that the Bend store DID stock them. We grabbed Subway for lunch, and were off to Bend!
Bend has been growing, so my GPS maps were inaccurate. I finally found that store, acquired the tire for $60, and changed it in their asphalt parking lot. During this time, both kids (separately) decided they had to use the restroom, so they took turns brandishing my receipt as an entry token. We also watered and walked the dog. Having matching, skinny tires, I continued south towards Klamath Falls, it was during this leg that my “Service Engine Soon” light turned on.
The sun was low on the horizon, so I decided to grab dinner before going to camp. There was a triad of fast-food restaurants on the hill, but I missed the turn, and was dumped on an expressway into downtown. Sorting out that confusion, I got turned around and headed back up the expressway. The truck felt sluggish, and I noticed white smoke in my side mirror. GREAT! I thought, I’m blowing smoke now, that light must be serious after all… That thought lasted about 4 seconds before the tire popped, and I realized what had happened.
I pulled over onto the edge of the expressway, inches from an 8-foot deep ditch. One careless driver could easily complicate matters, and walking on the passenger side was a steep, sliding endeavor. Approaching my brand new tire, I noticed the wheel was tilted at an odd angle…with wretched surprise, I realize the axle had failed! Aha, it was the axle giving way which was causing the tires to rub & expire!
At this point, a myriad of thoughts went through my head. I was tired, hungry, frustrated, and alone. There were no other adults to help me, eliminating several self-help scenarios. My hails by phone, text, and radio went unanswered, leading me to the conclusion that I must abandon the trailer. I removed everything I could, leaving behind only the 4-wheeler and RV fridge. The sun was setting, so I boogied south to our camp about 30 minutes away.
Explaining the situation to my brother, I decide to offload the camper, to rescue the 4-wheeler and trailer. My concern wasn’t so much that my property would get stolen, but rather that it might cause an accident. Whilst lowering my camper, however, one of the front jacks failed spectacularly, sending the camper into a forward tumble. While not a total loss, damage was caused to both the camper and my spirits.
It was 11:30PM by the time we got the quad & fridge loaded, and began our slow, precarious task of removing the trailer. While it seemed to straighten without weight on it, my brother had to ratchet-strap the axle up. I left it on the edge of a strip mall parking lot, and returned to camp. It was after 1:30 Tuesday morning before I went to sleep.
If my vacation had ended then, it wouldn’t have been worth the time, effort, and angst. Stay tuned for the next installment, and you’ll see why it was!
(No gallery this time, I was a bit busy/frustrated to take many pictures!)