Now in Crawfordsville, Indiana

Now in Crawfordsville, Indiana

We are now in Del Rio Texas

We are now in Del Rio Texas

Travel to Iron River MI/Tire Problems/TravelPlans Change

August 25 - 27 2013   

Ok, Sunday August 25 will be a good story to tell in the future.  Today we leave St Ignace for a 230 mile trip to Iron Mountain MI in the UP (Upper Peninsula).  Patty is taking the wheel again so she can get practice with the rig.  We get packed up to leave around 10 am which should get us to Iron River around 2pm CTS; we gain an hour as we enter Central Standard Time.  

We are driving along the Lake Michigan shore line on US 2. Then at 60 miles Southwest of St Ignace the TPS (Tire Pressure System) started alarming.  When the TPS alarms it flashes the location on the graphic panel and also flashes the tire pressure in real time.  Quickly I determined it was the front driver side RV tire that was losing air somewhat slowly. 

This was a failure just like we had 3 weeks ago in Pennsylvania on I 81 but the tire on the opposite side of the RV.  We had plenty of room to pull over and Patty did a great job of getting into a flat section of grass that was someone’s side yard. 

We were stopped before the tire pressure got below 60psi or about 20psi below what the tire is running at when hot during travel.  Cold inflation pressure is 80psi.  I got out of the truck and went back to the tire and could hear the air coming out and could also feel the air.  The hole was in the side wall at the tread start point.  This was not road debris and was just like the last bad tire and in the same location but on the opposite side of the tire.

We called our road side service provider Coach-Net to come out and replace the tire with our spare.  Within an hour and half we were back on the road.  

West Coast of Lake Michigan.  Very windy today.

Here we are in someone's yard waiting on the tire service people from Coach-Net.

Because we lost the 1-1/2 hours, we thought we may cut our distance for the day and just stay closer and not go to Iron River.  We decided to keep going because we would still be there by 4pm.  4PM is sort of the latest we like to get to a campsite.  Also, we were somewhat uneasy and this site has no one answering the phone on Sundays. We usually give our next campsite a call when we are on our way just to make sure we can get in.  This gives us some time to make other plans if there are any issues with our first choice campsite.  

US 2 is a very nice route to take in the UP.  There is very light traffic and we are passing houses and farms which is much nicer than an Interstate ride any day.  

I am still a little upset about the tire failure that is just like the one 3 weeks ago.  These tires only have 8K miles on them, the pressures are correct and we are only moving at 55 mph on this route.  So I was surfing the internet off and on as we are traveling along looking at tread separation to see if this is what we have.  No, tread separation is not what we have and, by the way, I really do not want to be involved in a tread separation.  If only I knew what was coming up!

After my internet research, I had a conversation with Patty while she was driving telling her about the tire issues I was finding.  At this time, with 2 tires going flat slowly, I didn't like it, but I wasn't too worried about driving with them.  We always seemed to have lots of time to get off the road.  We decided that we would look into changing out the current tires and wheels with a much higher load range of H from our current range of E.  The load range H is rated for 4800 pounds where the E load range is rated for 3500 pounds.  Besides, a lot of our RV-Dreams friends changed out their tires and wheels to this configuration because of the blowout problems.  We didn't want to do this change now, we would wait till we were in our winter site in Texas in January.  Again, if I only knew what was about to happen!

At a few minutes before 4pm just 7.5 miles from our campsite in Iron River, KABOOM!!  The explosion was loud enough you can hear it in our truck cab from 50 feet away and with the radio on! The TPS started to alarm and I knew immediately we just had a blowout from tread separation! Patty and I both looked out the mirrors and saw tire and RV debris flying off the RV on the passenger side.  Because we had the TPS and we have had experience with tire failures before, Patty had us completely off the road in about a tenth of a mile.  Again, it was great that we had space to pull off the road.

After we stopped I quickly got out of the truck and immediately knew this was bad from the metal sticking out of the RV.   I raced back and found the tire shredded and the lower sheet metal facade all beat up and ripped.  There seemed to be no damage to the fiberglass or to any structure. There was however hydraulic fluid dripping of from the rear leveler hose so it was probably damaged.  It looks bad but it may not be as bad as it looks.  Right now I just didn’t know for sure. 

Our first look at the damage.

Note the long tread flap which at speed just beats against everything.

A view out the back of our RV showing the path off the road.  Note the pieces of tire and the white object at the top of the pic which is the fender trim.

We again called Coach-Net, but this time we were going to need a tire as well.  We are a long way from any civilization and it is Sunday evening.  The chances of getting an RV tire here in a reasonable time were probably poor and I was right. After about an hour on the phone with Coach-Net, they got a guy 2 hours away in Wisconsin to come out with a tire.  Due to construction from where he was coming from he didn't arrive until 8:45pm in the dark.  Patty and I have now been there for almost 5 hours.

During the 5 hour wait we fired up the generator in the RV and turned on the AC.  The temperatures were in the low 90s outside and the mosquitos were everywhere.  

Right after we knew we had somebody coming we unhitched the RV and I went to the campground to find a camp host and make sure we had a place to go.  I also wanted to see the site in the daytime just in case it was dark when we arrived. We were in luck, the campground host had a nice back-in site we could have for the foreseeable future and it would be easy to get into even after dark.  So off I went back to the RV and hitched back up.

The service guy had to get the wheel off of the RV and then break it down to get the shredded tire off.  Then he had to put the new tire on the wheel and then remount it on to the RV.  All of this took about an hour and then we were back on the road headed to our campsite.  We got parked in our site and were hooked up by about 11 pm. 

Working in the dark. 

What a long day and we had lots to think about! We had a couple glasses of wine with PB&J sandwiches and called it a night.  Whew!

On Monday the 26th I setup my command center at the dining room table and started calling people.  We needed to call the extended tire warranty people to make a claim, our RV insurance company to make a claim (Patty handled the RV Insurance), and also decide about getting the upgraded tires and wheels.  I also needed to get a RV repair service to fix the RV.  All of this took us until 2 pm in the afternoon.  We were just waiting on return phone calls now.  We had not even been outside to see where we were in the daytime yet.

We made dinner and called it a night around 10 pm.

Tuesday the 27th we got the 2 tire extended service claims confirmed and we had an appointment with an RV repair mobile service.  Our RV insurance doesn't have a facility or an adjuster for over 200 miles from here, so they are going to work with whoever we pick.  

My suspicion was correct in that the damage to the RV was mostly cosmetic.  The only functional damage is the hydraulic hose that is damaged at the connection to the leveler cylinder.  

So, the bottom line now is that the cosmetic parts can be here and installed within 2-3 days after the insurance company gives the go-ahead.  That should happen tomorrow we think.  The hydraulic hose leak fix is still not determined. The RV repair service is trying to find out how and if this can be fixed on the RV.  If not, we may need to replace the hose. This hose runs all the way from the rear of the RV to the front or about 30 feet in the under belly of the RV.  We should know about that tomorrow.

As for the wheels and tires upgrade, we decided to bite the bullet and upgrade.  We just DO NOT feel safe with the existing tires and especially with the one original tire remaining on the RV.  This blowout was a wake-up call for us.  The tires are Goodyear Marathon 215/80/R16 Load Range E tires made in China.  There have been many, many reported problems with these tires.

The upgrade consists of replacing the wheels and the tires. The wheels will go from the current 16 inch to 17.5 inch and the tires to a load range H from the current load range E. This will give us a large safety margin with a completely different tire construction.  

We are using a company that has been recommended by many of our RV-Dreams friends called who are located in Ohio.  After a short talk on both Monday and Tuesday I ordered the wheels and tires complete including balancing and shipping and they will be here at the campground this Thursday.  The mobile RV service company will install them on site for $75 dollars.

After we got the RV stuff under control we went into town and did laundry.  Ho hum.  Then back to the RV for a delicious dinner of BLTs.

We are staying here in Iron River until we get this fix done. We originally planned to leave today to head further west. Since we are full-time we can be very flexible about our travel plans.  So, we are now planning on not going to Yellowstone this year.  We are still planning on getting to the Bad Lands of SD and to Rapid City SD before heading south to Bryce and the Grand Canyons.  If the stay is longer here in Iron River than the middle of next week, we will cut out the Bad Lands and Rapid City for this year too.

There is a bike trail that runs through our campground and a couple of cheap golf courses close by that we will visit in the time we are here.  There is also the Ottawa National Forest next to us with hiking trails.  We will have enough to do I'm sure.  We also have Alice’s Restaurant a few blocks from us to visit :) I wonder if we can get anything we want...

Entrance to our campground in Iron River.  The campground is also home of the towns Chamber of Commerce.

Our site for the next week or so in Iron River Michigan.

On a break, we walked 4 miles on the apple blossom trail behind our campground.

Funny sign on the trail.

NOTE:  I NEED TO SELL THE ORIGINAL 4 ALUMINUM WHEELS AND MOSTLY NEW TIRES.  ANY HELP PLEASE!!  These are fine for a lighter RV or trailer.  They are just too close to my weight limit for my comfort.

Stay tuned!


IL Camper said...

Mark, Glad you and Patty are alright. Sorry to read about the damage to your rig and the tire issues. Sounds like Coach-Net was a good choice for Roadside Assistance. How did you find a mobile RV repair? Looks like I may be asking about upgrading the wheels and tires when we get to the point of ordering our rig next spring. Learning alot from your experiences. Thank you for posting. Curt

Mark and Patty said...

Curt: Found the mobile RV service just by Google search on the map function. They are the only place with in 30 miles and the guy comes to me. New news, I put a claim in to Goodyear for the damage and cost of the new tire. We will see what happens.


IL Camper said...

Mark, thanks for the reply. Still trying to figure out how people access those kind of services. Too bad you won't make it to Yellowstone. I hope you do get to the Badlands. Was through there last summer on the way to the Sturgis rally. Very cool place and there is a KOA(if you like that sort of place) just about 4 miles down the road. As I said I am learning alot from your experiences and taking notes. The bigest thing I am learning is to be flexible and roll with the punches. Thanks again. Curt

Howard Chadwick@Chadwick – RV Doctor said...

A lot of things can happen in long trips, so better go on the road prepared. Good thing you didn't forget your spare, and you're lucky the tire gradually lost its air. You were given time to pull over safely at the very least.