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Old 07-13-2018, 11:33 PM   #1
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Entire Wheel Assembly Sheared Off

We started on a 280 mile trip to Northern Michigan for a 12-day camping trip. We were 40 miles from our destination when I caught a red light in a small town. Two motorists using the left turn lane got my attention before the light turned green to tell me a trailer tire on the passenger side broke free of the camper about three miles back. It rolled into a fueling station (one of those places set up for commercial use that's not normally manned - like a Pacific Pride if those still exist) and struck a building. One of the two drivers told me it also damaged my TT. I immediately turned onto a side road and found a parking lot to survey the damage. I was probably doing around 55mph at the time and never noticed any change in towability before being alerted.

My tandem axle TT was now sitting on three wheels with the fourth just sporting a brake drum and five sheared lug studs. The only damage beyond the tire was a black plastic trim piece over the tires that was pulled away from the fiberglass wall. I unhooked the TT as quick as possible and went back to the fueling station and located the tire. Someone had already propped it up against a metal fuel pump guard waiting for the owner to show up I guess (it reminded me of when cars used to have hubcaps and people would prop them up for the owner to retrace their travels to find it). I raced back to the trailer and called the nearest RV shop. It was 35 miles away and they could not help. They suggested a second RV shop that was over 60 miles away in the other direction. Neither were on my way north. They also suggested trying a tire shop.

I tried and located a tire shop about a mile away. I removed the brake drum and headed to the tire shop. They replaced all five studs, five lug nuts, the grease cap and greased the inner and outer bearings since I had the brake drum handy there for them to do the work. I returned to the TT and reassembled the drum and bearings and placed the steel rimmed spare on. The aluminum tire I recovered looked OK until a closed look at the five holes the lug nuts seat into were too chewed up.

The time of discovery until I was heading north again was about two hours and about $66. Of course, I'll have to replace the aluminum rim to gain a reliable spare again. Here's a lesson learned.

I had just completed greasing all four bearing sets by removing each of the four tires just a few days earlier. My best guess was the last tire I did (the one that fell off) did not get the second retightening of the lugs once I had it back down on the cement to do so. They were beyond hand tight (initially tightened with a 20v power drill set at 6 (out of 20) to torque it down till I got the tire back down on a firm surface to finish torquing.

I was about 130 miles into my trip when I checked each hub at a rest area. The wheel that eventually fell off felt slightly warmer than the other three but not uncomfortable to the touch, just a bit warm. At 240 miles it sheared off.

I removed the flapping trim piece and attached pictures of how the two sides look at the moment. Use this info for what it's worth. I do from you guys all the time.Click image for larger version

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Old 07-14-2018, 06:29 AM   #2
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Thanks for posting this and thank god no one was injured and you were able to resume your trip.
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Old 07-14-2018, 07:16 AM   #3
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And also pointing out the importance of torquing lug nuts.
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Old 07-14-2018, 07:53 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by norty1 View Post
And also pointing out the importance of torquing lug nuts.
And checking them again after another 50-100 miles.
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Old 07-14-2018, 08:08 AM   #5
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Glad everyone is safe, including those who were following you when the tire came off.

Something similar happened to us in late 1990s...on our way to California (DW's Grandmother had passed away). It was a used Park Avenue 5vr & this was our first major trip in it. As we were crossing the bridge in middle of nowhere Utah on I-70, the passenger rear tire sheared off. DW was asleep at the time but the bump woke her up and she looked out the mirror to see sparks flying up. Of course, the closest city was 45 miles back. It took multiple attempts to call and DW was finally able to get 911 by walking back about 1/4 mile. A wrecker was sent out, he took the hub off and while he was there a group of motorcyclists had stopped watching us...he waited until they were gone before he left. Anyway we slept in the truck while the children were in the 5vr with strict instructions to stay inside no matter what they heard. The next morning a State Trooper was going east bound & just happened to see us between the hills. He wasn't aware we had been there all night and said we were very lucky. Never did find the tire...according to him, it probably bounced 3 miles away in the ravine. Our kitchen was in the rear so the water lines broke & there were electrical issues. I had checked the lug nuts at the previous fuel stop and everything was tight. According to the State Trooper, it is a floating bridge to accommodate the freezes and we hit it just right.

Oh, it was a full moon night too!

DW didn't make it out there in time for the funeral as we spent several days in St. Georges, Utah while the unit was being repaired. The owner's son worked on it after hours & weekend to complete it for us - of course, DW did cry when told they couldn't get to us for several weeks.
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