Well, the inevitable happened. I was going to post about what I saw at the Overland expo next and ignore the return trip, but here you go. Travelling up I-25 north of Santa Fe, New Mexico, I stopped at a rest area to hit the potty and check the Defiant’s wheel bearing and tire temperatures. Everything was stellar. Not ten miles farther on, I felt some weirdly bumpy pavement and while I was wondering what the deal was, I looked in the rear view mirror and saw that the trailer was no longer level side to side. Glancing out the right side mirror, bits of tire debris were spewing out of the trailer’s wheel well. That’s rarely good.
This happened immediately past the exit for greater metropolitan Wagon Mound, New Mexico, and I pulled off onto the end of the entrance ramp just beyond. Not much of that tire left, I can tell you. I checked for fire (which I have seen once before years ago), but everything looked benign.
That’s when I found that my 2-ton hydraulic jack could not fit under the dropped axle, since without the tire it was just too low to the ground. I managed to raise it some by putting the jack under what’s called the equalizer bar, but it was not enough. I put wood under the axle where it was, and considered my options. I could attempt heroics by jacking up the frame, but doubted I could get enough lift. Besides, nearly half of a 7,000 trailer leaning over toward the side of the road is a bit much to ask of a 4,000-pound rated jack, and its frame was flexing as it was. So after due consideration of options, time of day and probable success rate, I called Coach-Net, my mishap road insurance outfit.
That wasn’t too painful, except the part where I had to dig through the overstuffed glovebox to find the trailer’s VIN# on my registration. A guy came all the way out from somewhere civilized in a car, and we got the wood back out from under the axle so that he could use his gizmo, a tall plastic ramp called Trailer-Aid. He stuck that in front of the good tire and had me ease forward. Up the trailer went, and the “bad” axle behind it raised enough to get his bigger hydraulic jack under it. From that point on, it was easy-peasy. Dang, I gots to get me one of them things somewheres!
During the waiting time, I’d taken most of it to horse the spare tire from 30 pounds pressure up to 65 with my crappy 12V air pump. On the spare went in a couple of minutes, while the service guy told me that he’d been teaching repair at his local community college but had to quit because the mindless bureaucracy was driving him nutzoid. The final insult was that although he’d taught there for four years, he had to come in and prove residency in order to pick up his last paycheck. Brother.
He had driven past the same semi-truck shredded tires I had on his way up, and opined that I must have suffered a puncture since the rest stop. Running the fully-loaded tire on decreasing pressure must have overheated it and caused it to blow. Apart from installing pricey pressure sensors, there’s no practical way to know when your tire is going flat on a trailer like this once it’s rolling. But that’s just the best guess, and you can bet I’m keeping an eye on the remaining three Duro tires.
I do not love the thought of running sans spare, so he told me that my best bet for finding one would be to head on up the 63 miles to Raton. That I did, and arrived at 4:55 PM. That shop had one in my size and load rating, and they’ve allowed me to overnight beside the building. First thing tomorrow, I’ll be back on my way. As I’m still an hour short of my planned stop, it will be a long drive tomorrow, but a safer one. I don’t have my hopes up, but I may hit at least the one little RV parts place in town to look for a ramp before I hit the Interstate again!