Wednesday, July 31, 2013

I can change a tire in less than 30 minutes

What prompts a title like this?

A little over a week ago, we left Alabama. We were heading to Ohio to spend a week with family and friends at Memorial Holiness Camp, a camp meeting that I (Jason) have grown up attending. As we were driving north to the outskirts of Birmingham, we heard that dreaded noise: POW! I immediately began to pull over while checking my mirror. I saw the fragments of what used to be my trailer tire finding a new home along the Alabama Interstate Highway. Thankfully, it was a merge from the left ramp that I was taking, and the faulty tire was on the drivers side, so I was able to work out of the way of traffic.

I quickly assessed the damage, saw that it was only cosmetic and could wait, and then began the process of changing the tire. I have learned a few lessons from a year ago (read that adventure here), and pulled out my tire changing kit.
It includes:
1-6 ton hydraulic bottle jack
1-12 ton hydraulic bottle jack
1-18 volt impact driver
1-Air compressor with hose and fittings
1-Set of deep well impact sockets
1-High visibility vest (not pictured)
1-18 volt high torque impact driver (added after this incident)

I quickly had the trailer off the ground and the tires swapped out. I don't have a photo of this exact tire, but catastrophic failure is an accurate description. We were soon on our way, chalking this mishap up to horrible Alabama roads and the unofficial state animal, the road gator.

Having kept two tires from our first set that we changed out in St. Louis, we found the nearest Walmart to have one of them mounted to our rim. It may be hard to find a tire, but finding a place to mount a tire to a rim is easy and cheap. We were soon back on our way.

About 30 minutes later, we heard the same sound again. Sure enough, another tire has bit the dust (catastrophically), this one on the passenger side.

Not letting the situation get me down, I hopped out and speedily got this tire changed as well. I'm starting to think to myself, 'I am getting pretty quick with this tire changing business'. I wasn't done.

We once again found ourselves hunting for the closest Walmart to mount the second of our 'spare spares' to a rim. Those gentlemen had us in and out in no time. It was time to hit the road again, trying to figure out how far we may make it with the delays.

By now I am driving a little more cautiously. We make it across the state line into Tennessee, breathe a sigh of relief thinking that we are beyond the horrible Alabama roads and should have some smooth sailing through the Volunteer State. Wrong.

We use a tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) on the trailer tires so that we are always up to speed with their pressure and temperature. The system will alert us when the tires are outside of a preset pressure range or exceeding a set temperature. In the case of a catastrophic failure where the tire comes apart in .0125323 seconds, it does not give much warning. With our third tire, it started beeping with a warning. I did not even give it a thought, I just started to decelerate and pull the trailer to the side of the road. I'm glad I did. In less than 15 seconds, the tire went from full and rolling to stopped and flat on the ground. A piece of steel belt had punctured the tire, causing a rapid air loss. Off went that tire and on went the last spare.

That meant it was time to find a place for the night, and hope that we could get there. We were able to make it 10 more minutes up the road to a campground about an hour south of Nashville. This was not even half way to where we had planned on getting for the day.

But we were safe and in one piece.

The next day we were able to find a place 30 minutes north of where we were camped that could get us a new set of tires, including a 'spare spare'. After some back and forth, we had a new set of tires and were on our way. Even with all of the delays and such, we still made it to our destination about 6 hours later than originally planned.

*     *     *     *     *

Overall damage was just cosmetic to the under skirting, which I was able to mostly bend back into place. Having one jack has been handy, but having two jacks seems to be invaluable. More info on the air compressor can be found here.
I used the impact driver with a socket adaptor and the impact sockets, but I would not recommend long term usage. It had enough torque for the lug nuts, but the adaptor was getting stuck inside the chuck with all of the hammering. We had already planned to get the high torque impact, this situation just upped our timeline.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park

So, we've been in Alabama now for about six weeks. While Jason is working at an industrial facility nearby, we've settled into a wonderful state park to call "home" while we are in the area.

Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park is the site of the original ironworks facilities and blast furnaces that supported the Confederate Army during the US Civil War. The original furnaces are still in place today, as well as a number of other historical landmarks and several other historical buildings that have been moved to the park for preservation and to open them up for the public.

We have loved this beautiful hidden gem, which is as charming as Central Alabama itself is. After looking at a few of our photographs of the park, I'm sure that you'll agree.

One of the original furnaces within the park.

Tannehill State Park sits within three counties. Jason found the marker while hiking one day.

Original slave cemetery tucked away in the woods.

A miniature train takes visitors from the campground area to the Pioneer Farm area.

The Country Store and campground offices, circa 1905.

Craft cabins are open on the weekends to watch local artisans create paintings, pottery, quilts, wood carving, musical instruments and more!

One of the many streams that flow through the park, including a crystal clear bubbling brook swimming hole!

Country church, circa 1905. Sunday services are still held here weekly.

Pre-Civil War era cemetery adjacent to the church. The cemetery has been restored, but the original grave markers are still where they lay.

Working grist mill that still grinds corn. You can bring your own to grind for $20/bushel, or purchase for $3/lb. in the Country Store.

Fancy meeting this guy on the hiking trail...
Yes. He is a rattler.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Air Compressor

I have been wanting to upgrade to an air compressor that is capable of easily airing up our tires as well as being portable. After doing some research, I found one that also runs off of 12 volts DC, so as long as I have a running vehicle, I have a working air compressor. I bought a Q Industries MV 50 compressor.
It is a popular compressor amongst four wheeling enthusiasts because of its capability to air up a tire in just a few minutes. The compressor is meant to be used directly next to the tire. Once you turn it on, it is pushing air at full boar with no relief unless you are connected to a tire. The little hose that came with it wasn't going to cut it for my needs, since I want to be able to reach any tire with out having to move the vehicle. So I put together a T with a quick connect to hook to the compressor, a pressure relief valve, and another quick connect for my hose. It works out perfectly setting the relief at 80 psi, since the most pressure that I will need is about 70 psi. It gives me a quick and convenient way to air up bike tires and toys as well.
I added a tire adaptor with pressure gauge to make things easy on that end, and also some blower nozzles for cleaning up. So far, it has proven to be a mighty little compressor in filling up tires. It comes with a storage bag, which holds everything perfectly.