Monday, August 16, 2021

What happened?

I wanted to give you all a follow-up on what happened last week.  If you missed it below is a link to our blog post on Our Worst Travel Day.

We had so many of you ask us… How did that happen?  What could have caused this?  As are we.  We came up with scenarios as to what would have caused us to lose (shear off) seven of our eight lugs on the driver side rear tire on the truck.

Scenario 1 - Over torque

When we were on the side of the road last Saturday a man pulled over to see if we needed help, he talked to Mike and said he was a master mechanic.  Mike told him the situation and he said that over torque could cause this as it happened to him.

Scenario 2 - Our torque wrench is out of calibration

I asked the mechanic that worked on the truck and he said it does happen.  Mike checked ours to his step-dad’s and that is not likely.

Scenario 3 - Forgot to check and re-torque

This could be the most likely scenario.  Mike just painted the rims a few days before our travels to Lewistown, then Fort Benton and back to Lewistown.  We forgot to recheck the torque on the tires before heading back to Butte.  The mechanic indicated that the lug nuts on the other tires were a little loose.

The mechanic had to replace the lugs by dropping the axle in the parking lot. Then they put on our spare tire since the rim lug holes were oblong due to the wobbling of the wheel.  This cost us $187.45 and we camped in Walmart parking lot for two nights.  We were going to try to just find a replacement (similar style) rim, but the style of rim we had was discontinued 8 years ago so it would be impossible to find a new one. We thought about going to a salvage yard but being these were custom wheels we were afraid that the offset, etc. wouldn’t match the existing rims. So we broke down and purchased new rims for all four wheels for $1,060.  Then the TPMS sensors in the tire needed to be replaced because of the rim style, that was $160.  Mike and I decided to replace our spare tire with one of the good old rims (since there was a size difference between our spare and tires), so that was $40 for a used tire.

I know this was a bit of money, but so grateful that it was not as bad as it could have been.  The mechanic said that when an issue like this occurs, the tire usually comes off the truck and as the truck drops down it will land on the loose tire and damage the fender, brake rotors, etc.. Luckily our one lug held the tire on and this didn’t happen to us. 

So what did we learn… 1. Not only check tire pressure before leaving, but also the torque on all tire lugs.  2. The Lord is with us.  He is with you as well.  

Travel safe.  Watch out for one another.  God bless.

Sunday, August 8, 2021

Our Worst Travel Day

Our worst travel day, yesterday (Saturday, August 7th), this is what happened…

We were staying with Mike’s Aunt Betty in Lewistown Montana.  While hitching up the camper to the truck, Mike stepped in dog poop.  (A sign of what’s to come.) He walked our dog Abby, earlier that morning and we forgot to pick up the poop.  After cleaning up his shoe and hitching up, we headed out on the road.  About eight miles down the road from Aunt Betty’s, we hear a noise (like something blew up or off) and the truck jerked.  I thought it was a tire, but Mike thought it was a head gasket on the engine as he started to see black smoke coming out the tailpipe.  So he pulls over, checks the engine with a quick glance and didn’t see anything.  He decides to take us a little further down the road to get us safely off the road.  As he was driving, he noticed the truck not driving correctly and the turbo sensor indicated that there was an issue.  We reach a big turn off area on the road to check the engine again.  This time he noticed the pipe from the turbo on the engine to radiator disconnected so he was able to fix it.

As we continued our trek to Butte, we kept the radio off and questioned to ourselves and each other every noise we heard.  Through Bozeman we noticed that the truck was not feeling correctly.  At first we thought it was the road, then Mike thought we lost a balancing weight on a tire as he experienced that before, I thought it was a tire.  We stopped in Whitehall for a rest stop and gas up before going over the mountains.  Mike checked the tires to pacify me.  He didn’t notice anything.  So we continued.  Not long on interstate 90, a lady (or angel) in an all-white class c camper towing a small all white car, pulls alongside us then pulls in front of us, slows down and flashes her lights and is pointing out the window.  Mike passes her but as we pass we see her waving at us and pointing at a tire, so Mike pull off the next exit, Pipestone.  We just made it off I 90, we stopped on the shoulder at the top of the exit and Mike could see our driver side rear tire barely on.  When we got out we saw with horror that our tire was only on by one of eight lugs and lug nuts.  Seven lug studs have been sheared off (gone, nothing holding them on).  This lady or as I call her an angel stopped to see if we were ok.  I think she was so afraid for us and others.  She saved us and others from a possible accident.  (I say lives but Mike says I exaggerate.)

Mike tried to tighten that one lug to get us down the exit ramp to the bottom on level ground, but the tire said “uh no” or it would have fallen off.  Mike could see how it was wobbling and not safe.  We called Coach-Net, our roadside assistance company, to send a flatbed truck and bumper pull hitch to come and get us and take us to Butte.  Mike called his Mom and step-dad that live in Butte to possible pickup lugs and nuts at the auto part store and bring them to us to fix and limp to their home.  When they arrived Mike and his step-dad Jerry determined that they couldn’t fix it on the side of the road.  We were towed (truck and camper) to Butte.  The camper was parked at the Walmart parking lot and the truck to the auto shop across the street.  Now we wait to see how much the truck repair will cost and take.

I say and believe the hand of God was over us, for numerous reasons… we just renewed our Coach-Net membership last month; the engine made us more aware of noises and signals around us; the lady in white spotting our tire is an angel from God; we got safely off the road and on the flatbed with one lug; the tow vehicle could take both our truck and home; it happened when it was still light out until 9 pm so it was safer to deal with this issue; it happened 30 minutes outside Butte, close to Mike’s Mom; Mike’s Mom had an extra vehicle for us to get around until our truck is fixed; I kept my peace during the whole situation yesterday (today I cried thinking about it and gave God praise); and on and on.  God is with us and He is good.

Be safe out there.  Watch other drivers and make them aware of issues you see.  Have a good roadside membership.  Our membership with Coach-Net covers the tow for the truck and camper.  Safe travels and God bless.