|Start Point:||Custer, SD, US|
|End Point:||Spencer, IA, US|
|Weather:||Very windy with gusts to 50 MPH|
This day was going ok until we discovered that both rear tires on our RV had severe wear on the inside. That could only mean the rear axle was bent. I check the suspension often when we are traveling and I had noticed no problems the last time I checked. I did not know if the tire wear happened slowly and therefore we could limp home or if the problem happened in the last day or so and hence we would not make it home. The left rear tire had worn off all the tread on the inside third of the tire.
To add to the stress there were wind gusts of 50+ MPH. With a speed limit of 75MPH I would have normally set the cruise near that speed and relaxed. Instead we drove around 60-65 because of the wind and worries about exploding tires. Watch the video below to watch corn leaves and husks being blown across the road.
Very windy day in SD
Laurie had read a book about Dewey Readmore Books the Cat and the Spencer Iowa Public Library and wanted to visit. The cat was put in the book return one cold January night in 1988 and the library staff decided to adopt him. You can read about him here.
After the library visit I debated whether to try for another 100 miles or camp for the night. The day was late and I don't like to drive after dark. Also if we had more axle trouble or a flat tire I did not want to be changing a tire beside a 2 lane road in cold howling winds in the dark. That turned out to be a wise decision.
So we headed to the local campground, WalMart. It was dark now and the wind seemed even stronger. The camper was really rocking so I put down the rear stabilizers and also the front landing gear to stabilize it. We never do that. Our main slide out has an topper that rolls out on top when the slide out is extended. I knew the topper would whip loudly all night in the wind and probably be damaged if a strong gust got underneath it.
A quick trip to WalMart for dinner supplies and 100 feet of rope solved that problem. I wrapped the rope up over the topper and under the slide to hold the topper down in the wind. We had the Honda generator going so a portable electric heater was going as well as the RV propane furnace. Laurie made dinner while I pondered our options on the bent axle. The wind continued to howl and it was very cold.
My dilemma was do I try to get a new axle on the road or try to limp home. I figured I could get the axle replaced for around $500. I did not want to buy two new Michelin tires to put on the axle and have them ruined also before I got home. The cost would be $400+ for the two tires. I was up several times during the night surfing RV forums to see what others have done in the same situation.
An inspection of the rear tires the next morning in blowing snow and ice proved I made the right decision to remain in Spencer the night before and not drive 100 more miles. The left rear tire was down to the metal belt. It would not have gone 100 miles.
I could have put on our spare tire but it was the cheap "China Bomb" ST tire that came with the camper and I did not trust it at all. Finally I decided what I wanted to do. I would get a cheap LT load range E tire to match the others, it just would not be a Michelin. If the tire got us home and was not worn too badly I would make it my spare tire and get rid of the "China Bomb." Read about my "China Bomb" problems here.
I started looking for a Discount Tire location and Laurie brought up the excellent point that we were camped in a WalMart with a Car Center. I checked the web and they were already open at 7:30AM. I called them up and they had a cheap tire in the size I needed. I said I am 200 feet from your door, I will be right there.
They would not jack up my camper but gladly loaned me a floor jack and I had the tire off in a couple of minutes with the electric impact wrench I carry with my tools. Our Honda generator provided the power. WalMart replaced the tire in less than 10 minutes and a few minutes later we were on the road.
We made it home safely with tread left on the new tire so it will become the new spare. I will be replacing the two axles with something stronger for about $300 total and a few hours of my time.
I was not over weight on the axles because I have weighted our rig. However each axle is rated for 5200 lbs and our rig had 5100 lbs on each. That is not much room. The RV manufacturers in this country build a lot of crap and use the cheapest materials they can legally get by with. The axle should have not bent and should have also had a higher weight rating. I had previously upgraded the springs and brakes.
I will write up another blog to detail the repairs.
Thanks for reading about our adventures.
Elevation Changes During the Day
The day started at 5,583 feet and ended at 1,262 feet. The highest altitude was 5,856 feet and the lowest altitude was 1,249 feet.
Track Log for Today
You may be interested in the next article, Day 2 NC to my Folks.
The previous article is Day 19, Black Hills of South Dakota.
© Bobby Daniel