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Uncommonly Sensible

Keeping the "anal" in analytical... (While trying to remain civilized)

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Location: United States

Monday, March 01, 2010

My 2½ hour commute...

This happened a few Winters ago. The duration had less to do with ambient conditions than with freaky circumstances.

I left the building in which I work at 6 AM, right on schedule, but found that the left front tire of the "Camobile" (my conversion van) had gone completely flat. So, I attached my li'l handy-dandy compressor to the valve stem, plugged it into the cigarette lighter socket and waited.

After awhile (it's smallish and a bit slowish) it became evident that the tire wasn't being inflated, at which point I got out my namesake (the "jack") and raised it up to seat the bead on the rim.

Did I say it was completely flat? Well, it really, truly was.

Anyway, having gotten the bead seated, the tire began to inflate...but wouldn't go beyond 30 PSI. I listened closely near the tire, and as expected, heard the telltale hissing of a leak.

Damn and double damn!

At least with the (momentary) 30 PSI in the tire, I could pull forward to access the spare stored underneath in the back, which had been quite blocked due to my reversing into the parking space (as is my customary practice) to facilitate a rapid departure. I had to crank the spare down to the ground with the provided tooling, which took another little while, then swap it for the flat. Having been up underneath, it had an inch or so of rime ice frozen onto it in a few spots, so I smacked that off of the tread before installing it. Then I inflated it to the maximum recommended pressure. About an hour later (SLOW compressor!!!), I finally pulled out of the parking lot and headed for "La Casa de Camo". (My rambling estate)

A few miles up the road, the spare started making weird sounds, so thinking it was losing air I pulled over but could see nothing wrong. I chalked it up to its being of a different type (bias ply) from the other 3 (radial) tires, and continued on. A few more miles, and it was getting worse, so I got out and looked at it again with the same result.

2 more miles, while turning a corner, we...had...separation. The wheel went off on its own, whereas I came to a jarring halt with the disc brake rotor resting on the asphalt.
(Like the one in the picture above)

Near as I can figure, there was also some rime ice on the surface where the wheel mates up to the hub when I put it on, and I did snug it down tight...I've changed a tire or three in my day, and I do "know the drill".

My best guess is that after a while the ice melted, inducing a wobble that got progressively worse, but since I wasn't looking for looseness when I stopped (just proper inflation) the fact that it was no longer screwed down tight completely escaped my notice. Consequently, the wobble of the wheel chewed up the lugs, and the lug nuts (all 5) worked their way off. In fact, I found 3 of them right at the scene of the accident, where they had all let go at the same time. Conveniently, as it happened, because I used them to put the wheel back on after I retrieved it from somebody's (snow and ice-covered) lawn. The ice hypothesis I came up with later, but it fits the facts of the situation.

Pretty wild, huh? The damage to the rotor and supporting suspension components, plus an alignment (and new custom wheels) came to just under $1800 with associated labor.

Good times...


Blogger Hawkeye® said...

Sounds like an annoying and expensive day. You said this happened a few winters ago? What brought up such wonderful memories?

(:D) Best regards...

March 01, 2010 9:57 AM  
Blogger JR said...

Hey Camo,
Let’s hope that days like that are far and in-between… And in the SUMMER!!!

March 01, 2010 10:23 AM  
Blogger Allen Maddox said...

You do know how to have fun....

March 01, 2010 8:23 PM  
Blogger Bunny said...

Ah, yes...I recall the details of that incident. And, after I made sure to inquire as to your health and safety, and after expressing sorrow about the damage to your "Camobile," said "details" admittedly produced a bit of a chuckle on my end. Like Hawkeye, I too wonder what brought that not-so-delightful incident back into your stream of consciousness? ;-)

March 01, 2010 8:25 PM  
Blogger camojack said...

Annoying and expensive sums it up pretty well.

It happened in March of 2007; I've been meaning to post about it for awhile, but only just got 'round to it.

Few and far between would suit me just fine.

Yes, I do know how to have fun...and that ain't it.

Most of the narrative in this post was derived from an email I sent to you about it back when it occurred...

March 01, 2010 8:54 PM  
Blogger bob said...

Owww! And you came to a screeching halt. My teeth are still a bit wobbly thinking about it!

Of course, you are a survivor!

March 01, 2010 9:25 PM  
Blogger Bunny said...

Heh, yeah, you told me about it right after it happened. I remember telling you that I was so glad you didn't get hurt, and that it happened on a side street and not on the "freeway." :-)

March 01, 2010 10:00 PM  
Blogger Nick - The Survival Guru said...

Reminds me of a brand new set of four Z-rated tires that blew out (one)on the right rear wheel, 10 miles after I had them put on!

No. Sorry. Not garanteed for side wall blow outs.
Note I was taking my time at 55mph
instead of the usual 130 mph on that stretch of road. Bummer, especially the price. Goodyear sold me a bunch of *#^?><%@*& so I don't but that brand anymore.

nicky j./ angus the scot

March 01, 2010 11:04 PM  
Blogger mig said...

That's pretty amazing. I can imagine the tire bouncing away, maybe wobbling away. Ugh. I do feel for ya brother. I hear the squeak in the rear passenger side tire, bushells or what ever they are called. It's only a matter of time before those go. So Expensive!

March 01, 2010 11:11 PM  
Blogger camojack said...

Yeah, it was a rather sudden stop; the front bumper was resting on the ground there on the driver's side.

"Owww!" indeed.

It could've been quite catastrophic if it had happened on the highway, to be sure.

I hear ya...there are a number of brands that I won't buy anymore due to quality control issues.

It was definitely an unusual occurrence, and watching that tire bounce away was a unique experience...

March 02, 2010 12:19 AM  
Blogger Just call me Shelly said...

That sort of reminds me of the time I was heading up Hwy 41 between Vincennes and Terre Haute Indiana on bleak, late winter morning (3 a.m. ) when the right front spindle broke on my International cab over causing the front tire to roll off into a muddy corn field never to be seen again. There was no paved shoulders and thankfully if the front end would have dug into the mud the 45,000 pound load of liquid medical equipment would have crushed me to death. The way it was the spindle stayed right on the edge of the pavement for about a half a mile before the truck stopped.

I thought I blew a tire but to my surprise there was nothing but suspension parts sitting on the road. I was dead tired when it happened but the show of sparks flying past my passenger window sure woke me up. Yes, PST did set in about a week later.

March 02, 2010 7:52 PM  
Blogger Island Girl TLA said...

Murphy???? You sure your not related to me??????

March 03, 2010 2:13 PM  
Blogger camojack said...

At least you had no sudden stop anyway, but it sounds like a harrowing experience nonetheless.

Island Girl:
As in "Murphy's Law"? I guess it's possible that we're related somehow; I am ¼ Irish...

March 04, 2010 12:16 AM  
Blogger Barb said...

I'm just very glad the story had a happy ending.I know $1800 is a lot ,but you are here to tell the story ,and in my book ,that is a happy ending.

March 06, 2010 10:34 PM  
Blogger camojack said...

True; I'm glad it happened turning a corner on a 25 MPH street, rather than doing highway speed on the interstate...where I'd just been 2 miles before.

March 08, 2010 12:18 AM  
Blogger benning said...

It would've left me grinding my teeth, mumbling vivid curses, and ready to beat the beast to death with a tire iron!

What a crummy experience!

March 08, 2010 9:13 AM  
Blogger camojack said...

It left me doing all of those things. Did I mention that the road was also covered with snow at the time?

March 09, 2010 1:20 AM  

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