The RV Shop

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Heading for the Oregon Coast

We are preparing to travel to the Oregon coast. This coming weekend is our 40th high school reunion. WOW are WE old! We enjoyed our class reunions in the past and look forward to seeing everyone. There will be many classmates that have never attended a reunion so will be especially fun to see them.

We will be taking our "little house" instead of our Montana. Yesterday we started transferring items from the Montana to the Komfort. Quite a chore, but do it a bit at a time. We try to keep the Komfort "ready" so there isn't to much to transfer, but we haven't used it since May so a little more to do. Dwain is taking shop tools back to the coast so he can use them while we are there in the late fall. We has 3 toy boxes to make for Christmas.

Here's hoping we don't have tire trouble on the Komfort like we did on the Montana...

Saturday, August 1, 2009

A Travel Adventure

We arrived in Wallowa on Friday. What a trip! I'm sure Dwain will post on this adventure, so will post on my experience as a passenger. You can view his comments on this site,

We left Ridgefield, Washington about 9 am on Thursday. Our intent was to travel to Wallowa, arriving by dinnertime. About an hour into our trip, the right, rear tire on the RV blew. It sounded like we ran over something, it was a loud sound. I didn't feel the vehicles swerving. We were fortunate enough to be coming upon a pull-off area for truckers. The tire blew with such force that it broke the plastic skirting over the tires and bent the fiberglass under. You could see black tire markings on the side of the RV and the awning. We checked the awning and it felt secure.

An ODOT truck stopped. They travel along the freeway, keeping it clear of debris. They saw the blowout, picked up pieces and brought them to us. Dwain changed what was left of the tire and put on the spare. It was a hot day and all tires were very hot.

We traveled to Les S. in Hood River. They sold us a new trailer tire and down the road we went, stopping regularly to check the tires. Dwain decided we would stay in Pendleton for the night. He didn't want to pull Cabbage Hill in the heat.

The next morning we had two flat tires. One had lost air, but the other, we had run over a nail. Are we having bad luck or what?!!! Off to Les S. in Pendleton. We purchased three more new tires.

We continued on to Wallowa and arrived safely and thankful. Although we had the potential of dangerous situations, our little fairy of safe travel saw us through again.

Now in Wallowa River RV Park our park friends are busy talking about our adventure and of advice. :>)

Exploding Trailer Tires

We were traveling back to Wallowa via Interstate 84 last Thursday when one of our trailer tires literally blew up. We were traveling at 57mph (according to Tom Tom GPS) when it happened. As you can see in the photo the tire skin ripped the aluminum skirt of our Montana fifth wheel from the front tire all the way to the slide. It also destroyed the fender skirts and bent the steel reinforcements just above the tire.
We had only traveled about 70 miles when it happened. Fortunately we were right next to the entrance to a large turn out that the truckers use in winter to install tire chains and the rest of the year to simply pull off the highway for various reasons.

It was a really hot day averaging over 100 degrees at the time the tire exploded. I checked the tire pressure on the remaining tires and found them at 89 to 91 lbs psi. They also appeared bulged like the skins were separating. They weren't but they looked that way. You can also see that I have my jack and spare tire out ready to begin changing the tire.

This image does a really good job of showing what the tire looked like when we stopped.

We had just passed a state highway incident response vehicle when the tire blew. They actually saw it happen. They also stopped and picked up the debris from the roadway and brought it to us in the event we would need it for insurance purposes. As it turns out our insurance company, GMAC, does not replace tires so that part didn't matter. They do cover the trailer however as a comprehensive claim.

I went ahead and changed the tire myself as I carry all the tools I need with me for just such occasions. I have the Good Sam Road Care insurance that would take care of it but I didn't want to wait. We were only about 20 miles west of Hood River, Oregon and I thought it would be best for us to simply go to the local Les Schwab Tire Center and get a new tire. I don't like traveling without a spare. Our tire had popped at about 10:30am and by noon we had a new one in place and were on the road again. The only thing that happened here was that the spare tire carrier under my trailer wouldn't work when the technician attempted to lower the cable and re-hang the spare for me. I learned later that he had stripped the gears by using his air wrench on it. I'll be contacting the store in Hood River about that.

My rig is pretty heavy in that it normally weighs 11,500 lbs combined axle weight. This doesn't include what is on the truck, only what is on the trailer axles. The tires specify 80 lbs as the maximum "cold" pressure. I had checked my tires before leaving in the morning and they were actually at 76 to 76.5 lbs. I decided not to add the additional four pounds per tire as I knew it would be abnormally hot. Tires normally increase pressure as they heat up and this can be from 10 to 20 lbs psi or more. They are designed to handle this so I normally don't change my air pressure after I set out. I thought that my tires were withing acceptable pressure range, and I still do since the repair shop only put in 75 lbs.

I wanted to have Curt's RV Repair in Island City, near LaGrande, Or. give me a cost estimate to repair the trailer damage, but I realized that I could not get to his shop before he went home. We decided to spend the night at the Wild Horse Casino RV Park. It's at the base of the Blue Mountains near Pendleton and has reasonable rates at $26.00 dollars per night. We would need electric power for the air conditioner so could not boon dock as we sometimes do. We would also be able to pull our rig up Cabbage Hill in the cool morning air which would be a little easier on the transmission than if I tried it after pulling for several hours and then hit that hill in the heat.

In the morning I discovered that I had another tire problem. both tires on the opposite side of the trailer from the one that blew up were totally flat. They are behind the hose in the picture. I was trying to show the poor sewer hook up for another blog in this image and didn't even notice the tire problem when I shot the image.

I attempted to pump these tires up with my compressor but could not bring them up to more than about 63 lbs. I discovered that the front tire now had a puncture at the outside edge of the tread and the rear one seemed to be leaking around the valve stem. I carry a tire repair kit for such times and I put a plug in the front tire. It helped but didn't totally stop the leak. (first time that happened!) I pumped the rear one as much as I could and then hit the road for the Les Shwab Tire Center in Pendleton. This time I bought three more tires replacing all the original remaining tires that came with the trailer. I should note that both tire centers only put 75 lbs pressure in my tires to "leave me some room" due to the extreme heat.

Damage to the bottom front corner of the slide caused by the exploding tire as the tread ripped off.

This tire had less than 7,000 miles on it when it burst, and had only been on the trailer 15 months. It had been the spare that came with the trailer until I had to put it on the ground in April of 2008.

I always feel the rim temperature of all the tires with my hand when we stop for breaks. This gives me an idea if a brake is dragging or a bearing is dry. These were all warm but not hot. I felt the tire treads this time and found that all the tires on the trailer felt much warmer than the ones on the truck. Later when I had the new tire on, it was significantly cooler feeling than the original tires as well.