I recently had an unusual thing happen while towing my TT involving two flat tires inside of 5 minutes while towing my brand new 30' TT to my second campout. Nothing like it has ever happened to me in 18 years of RV'ing, but I thought others could benefit from my experience.
It started Friday evening around 5:30 PM in the traffic swarming out of the Bay Area on I580. I was on Altamont Pass for anyone familar with the area...not a fun place to have a breakdown.
The culprit was a broken section of the leaf spring pack on one axle that had worked its way out of alignment to create a very efficient knife for slicing into the sidewall of the closest tire, twice!
With the help of AAA road service, Good Sam road service, my dealer, Discover RV of French Camp, CA and a fantastic fellow from Amigo’s Tire and Brake in Tracy, CA, I was able to safely spend the night in my trailer by the side of the road and get two new tires and a new spring pack installed in time to make the potluck dinner that Saturday Night with the NorCal Starcraft Camping Club.
The Starcraft warranty system kicked in the following week and I soon had a check for my part of the weekend’s damage (Good Sam paid for the rest) and a great story to tell.
How did it happen? No one is sure, but the springs had been broken through for some time, prior to my buying the trailer. Over the course of my driving 200 miles or so, bringing the trailer home, going on the first campout and now, driving to my 2nd outing, the spring pivoted enough to stay in the pack but contact the inside wall of the tire. Neither the first AAA driver nor I saw the spring when the 1st tire was changed. Why not? I’ll say it was due to the excitement level, the darkness, the mind-numbing noise of the traffic going by and my desire to get going.
The second driver (for the 2nd flat) noticed it when we jacked up the trailer (in a much quieter place) to spin the tire to see if we could find the leak and if the Slime I carried might stop it up. His “Dude, you are not going anywhere tonight” introduced me to the sight of the spring sticking out where no spring was supposed to be. (He also helped me later to find and retrieve my thin, dark cellphone in the jumble of things in the cab of the van at 10:30 PM when I misplaced it and was pretty frazzled by the whole experience of the evening,…but that is another story…)
I learned a couple of things that night and the next day:
- Always try to determine what caused your tire to fail in the first place (if it’s not all shredded and beyond inspection).
- If you are at all handy, make sure you have the tools and a jack to remove the flat and replace the spare.
- A pint of Slime and an air compressor is a good alternative to carrying a 2nd spare tire.
- A really good flashlight, a headlamp and/or a stable, point-able flashlight will make life a lot easier if you are trying to do any work on your trailer at night.
- Your cell phone and a Good Sam road service plan (and a way to keep your phone charged on the road) can make all the difference in the world.
In my case, while AAA came out to change my tire and try to help me with getting to a safe location, it was Good Sam who, Friday night, organized the “rescue operation” for Saturday morning, called me to confirm I was ok, found a service provider that would come out to where I was on the side of the road and covered the expense of that service call. They made a difficult situation much, much easier to deal with and I am very happy that Starcraft included that membership with my new trailer. I am also very glad I had both services.
Stuff happens when we are out intending to have fun. This experience showed me that a little preparation, some basic knowledge and a charged-up cell phone can turn a modest disaster into another kind of adventure.