Friday, March 4, 2016

Wheel Life

A lot of people have told me that the roads out here are tough on tires.  One of the people at the garage we go to lives farther out from us, and he said he's tried about every kind of tire.  We kind of knew this because on our first trip out to view the Vintage House, we had a flat the next day.

We've had flats in "town" (Billings) but mostly we were able to pump the tire up and quickly get it in and fixed.  The tire place was just a block away.  However, living 25 miles out now is a different story.

On my to the recycling center last week, I hit the first cattle guard and then heard a metal on metal sound while I felt the truck "pull" a little.  I immediately stopped and checked the tires, the axles and the wheel wells.  Nothing.  I shrugged and kept on going.

I dropped off my garbage then started for home when I saw I had a flat tire.  It was completely flat.  And of course, no cell phone signal though I could text and had data.  Go figure.  A guy pulled up behind me and offered to help.  He works for the county and said this happens to him all the time.

"You need to unlock this to lower the spare tire," he said.  I stuck my key in and pulled out a plug covering an access hole.  "Behind your seat there should be rods to put in there to lower your spare tire."  I rummaged around and there was a package of tire rods.  I would have never figured this out by myself.  In no time flat, he had my spare on.  His tools were ready to go - a nice sized lift, battery operated lug nut loosener thing and the muscle to go with it.

"Next time," he said, "you can do it yourself now.  Just put the jack there," he pointed out the underside of the axle, "and make sure it's steady.  I usually carry around a block of wood to put on the ground."

I nodded and tried to look capable. With many thanks and a friendly wave, I was off on an unplanned trip to town to get my tire fixed.  Which is usually an hour wait time.  However, we had a problem.  It wasn't the tire.  The wheel was broken.  Something had gotten inside and scraped it up.  That was probably that metal on metal sound I heard.

One week later because they had to order the wheel and a couple hundred dollars poorer, the truck is rumbling down the gravel roads again.  The tire guys said this is rare, so I'm hoping they're right.  Because the gavel roads, they're just more fun to drive on.

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