By Ron Porter
Sunday, July 16, 2006
Things started off nicely enough. Our little car was able to pull the rig out of the shop.
And we're ready to go!
Unfortunately, about 30 minutes out of Dinsmore, we had a slight mishap. The right-hand tire on the trailer blew up! I thought that this was just simple stupidity--a flat with no spare on hand (a long and boring story about a spare tire that was frozen to the ground when we picked up the trailer and then no more thought given it). I managed to get everything stopped safely and sent Devy off to pick up the spare--I figured that with a blazing sun and 32C the spare should be unfrozen from it's home at the lake.
While she was gone, I started to pull the flat off. When it refused to come off, I crawled under the trailer (yes, it was blocked both from rolling and from falling!) to take a look. The new leaf spring decided that each leaf should be sent on its own way. They turned sideways and gouged into the inside sidewall of the tire. That not only let the air out, but locked things up. I should have known something was up just from the fact that there was a nice 100 ft skid mark on the road and melting at the contact patch. In any case, now that I knew what was really going on, I was able to get the flat off the trailer. The bigger issue was how to deal with the screwed up spring. There are no pictures of the un-leaf spring, because Devy had the camera with her in the car. How was I to know that there was going to be something worth photographing--it was just a stupid flat, right?
As you can see, I did figure things out. By adjusting the jack height and the blocking, I was able to get the un-spring to a 'neutral' weight, which allowed me to rotate the leaves back into position with some judicious 'tapping'. (Don't force it, get a bigger hammer!) Then I pulled apart one of the paint rollers for some heavy wire to strap around the leaves to keep them from twisting apart again.
I wasn't completely satisfied with that repair. I wanted to restrict the spring travel, thus reducing the strain on that poor little wire--it turns out that these wires aren't that strong; I broke two of them before I got one that seemed to do the job. Given the unreliability of the wire clamp, I also wanted to put something sturdy between the spring and the tire that Devy was picking up. Fortunately, the boat wasn't finished yet, so I had all kinds of lumber and stuff along. I grabbed a chuck of 1X4 oak, a monster C-clamp, and some rope. I clamped the oak to the axle. I then tied off the clamp to keep it from rotating and also tied off the oak for some additional protection against rotation.
I had the field repair complete by the time Devy got back with the spare (about an hour). We then limped the rest of the way to the lake at 20 kph. There were also a few inspection stops. At one of the inspections stops, I realized that it might have been better to put the clamp on the rear side of the axle so that any rotation would drag a trailing edge instead of a leading edge, but everything seemed to be stable, so I just left well-enough alone. We got to the lake safe and sound 8 hours after leaving Saskatoon. It normally takes us about 2.5 hours.