Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes

Unwelcome Road Hazards


One of my concerns with traveling 720 miles in one day across five states is encountering breakdowns on the highway. I am usually pulling a loaded trailer so there are more tires to contend with. I always carry a spare for the trailer along with a jack and wrenches. My first experience was a couple years ago, and the flat was on the trailer. I had just stopped for fuel in New London, Missouri and I noticed a low tire on the trailer. I pulled over to the air hose at the station and pumped up the tire. I could hear it hissing out as fast as I put it in. Since it was 100 degrees and the noon sun bearing down, I decided to pull into town and find a shady spot under a tree to change the tire. What I found was a repair shop and I pulled up and asked the guy if he would do the job for me. He wheeled his five-ton floor jack over and buzzed the lug nuts off with his air wrench. After changing the tire in about two-minutes he told me he had a tire to replace my spare. Another five minutes and the spare was full of air and good to go. I asked him what I owed him and he said $20. I handed him $40 and he looked at me and handed one of the Andrew Jackson’s back to me.

Last month I had another road hazard. I was coming home one night and just as I swung into the turn lane I heard a bang from the area of my rear tire. Sounded like a gunshot. This was not good, I thought and sure enough, my low tire pressure light came on within in a couple minutes. I backed onto the concrete in the garage and there in the driver’s side rear tire was a shiny, large chunk of metal sticking out of the face of the tire.  My first thought was to change the tire, but after removing all six lug nuts I found that even with a fence post pounder, I couldn’t knock the rim off the hub.

So, the next attack was to plug the damaged tire. I could not pull the object out so I drove it in. Then I had a hole almost big enough to put my little finger in. I got three repair cords in the shank of the tool at the same time and squeezed the tube of glue liberally over all three. Then I plunged them into the face of the tire and slowly worked the tool back out. I pumped the tire up to 40# of air and went to bed. The next morning there was only 20# of air in the tire. I pumped it back up and drove for the tire shop.

I had been laying water and electrical line in a two-foot deep trench in the hot Tennessee sun and the wet chirt soil. Chirt soil is the standard ground covering down there and it is gravel and clay mixed together. Add sweat and it will stick to you like mud.

So, when I walked into Barrett’s Tire shop in dirty jeans and a ripped sweat soaked-shirt and asked for a 275/65 R18 tire, I might have not looked like a promising customer. The girl looked at me and said, “we have an entry level tire for $149.” I said, “I want the best tire you have.” Her look back at me was one of disbelief and pity. “But that one is a Cooper and it costs $229.00.”  I handed her my card and said put it on and I would like to see the object that pierced my tire.

Thirty minutes later the Ford F-150 was sporting a brand-new tire and I had I my hand half a wheel weight that was the culprit expensive delay. I was thankful this had happened a couple miles from my home and not out on the busy Interstate somewhere far from help. Both events occurred at a place where I could easily resolve them.


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