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Old 09-04-2016, 07:51 AM   #1
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Trouble with Tires

Going to post some lessons learned as I'm able, but wanted to share a letter I sent this morning to the Virginia State Police:

LTC Daniels;

In a sad and disheartening time of degraded respect and selfless conduct toward others, I want to thank you and your organization for what you do.

My wife and I were traveling Friday, September 2nd, from the Knoxville, Tennessee area to Staunton, where we were going to spend the weekend with our daughter, granddaughter and son-in-law; an Air Force pilot who is in the processing of changing duty assignments. Staunton is about the half-way mark between Dover AFB and our home.

We experienced a catastrophic blowout on our Airstream trailer at mile 295, but were able to safely leave the travel lane and pull off the highway. I say catastrophic because when the tire blew it created a long strip of rubber that did significant damage to a window, the wheel well, and underbelly of the trailer, requiring more than a simple tire change.

By the time I could put out a warning triangle, traffic cone, and begin assessing the damage, Captain Robert Chappell had seen us from the south-bound lane, taken the next exit, and was already positioned behind us (on a curve), with his cruiser lights flashing. His uniform was immaculate, and his conduct and professionalism were absolutely exemplary. He set out flares for us, and — simply because of his presence — drivers suddenly started responding to the “move-over” law. in 44 years of driving this was actually my first experience on a highway apron, and to have Bob there was extremely reassuring.

We have a roadside service and a tow truck was dispatched, but it took almost an hour for them to arrive. They then had difficulties starting their on-vehicle air compressor, and had to call a separate service truck to assist. During that entire time, Captain Chappell never left our side. Of all the readiness equipment we’ve purchased for our relatively-new RV, we haven’t yet purchased reflective vests (which Bob gently recommended we do). On at least three occasions when I had to go to a compartment on the left side of the trailer to retrieve chock blocks, etc., Captain Chappell placed himself behind me, in harm’s way, to shield me from oncoming traffic. I’m not absolutely certain, but in my book that's service far above the call of duty.

Because he had to leave to attend a funeral, Captain Chappell called for assistance, and we were joined by Sergeant Travis — (with significant regret, I can’t recall his last name). Again, an outstanding appearance and demeanor. His professional conduct toward his superior officer showed me with a single glance that Division IV enjoys a high degree of leadership and standard of excellence. Travis was every bit as helpful and professional as his commander, and I was left with the distinct impression that — had I met every officer in the division — I would not find an exception.

What would have otherwise become a terrible experience has been completely mitigated by the fond memory we will carry forward of the Virginia State Police and the service you so selflessly give. We’re keenly aware that these are difficult times for law-enforcement officers, but want you to know that there are a lot of less vocal Americans who support you unequivocally, and will stand by you just as you stood by us. It was an honor and a privilege to meet Captain Chappell and Travis; if I can ever be of any service to you or your organization, please don’t hesitate to contact me.


Sincerely,


Mike Monnett
LTC, U.S. Army (Retired)
Program Manager,
Nuclear Stockpile Systems
Y-12 National Security Complex
Oak Ridge, TN 37831


P.S. If you follow social media, be sure to look for Bob’s name on Facebook’s Airstream Addicts and Airstream’s Members’ Forum. I’ll shortly be letting all our fellow Airstreamers know they’re in good hands while traveling in Virginia.
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Old 09-04-2016, 07:58 AM   #2
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Lesson Learned #1

1. We heard the Airstream leadership loud and clear at Alumapalooza #7 when they said "We stand behind our tire manufacturer."

I'm sure they have good reasons for taking that position, but as of now I have no confidence in Goodyear Marathon tires. In reading the threads, have you wondered about the people who've had problems with the Goodyears? Have you, too, wondered how good the care of the tires has been? The age? Keeping the proper inflation? Avoiding silicone products that actually degrade the tire's ability to avoid oxidation?

Well, I'm here to tell you that as a pretty new AS owner, I got paranoid quickly about wheels and tires. I check the pressure regularly, I use the torque wrench every travel day, and I keep the tires covered when not in use. My tires were manufactured the 13th week of 2013, and our plan was to convert to 16" wheels with Michelin LT tires early in 2017. Didn't make it that far.
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Old 09-04-2016, 08:04 AM   #3
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Lesson Learned #2

2. TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring System).

Yup -- bought mine from TST at Alumapalooza, and it was up and running. I heard the tire blow and was already decelerating and moving to the highway apron before the alarm went off.

That resulted in a strip of rubber about 3' long tearing up the under-belly behind the starboard wheel well, ruining the wheel well, and tearing up the shower plumbing. Additionally, in a bizarre circumstance we simply can't understand, the starboard-side bedroom window shattered. Absolutely no marks on the aluminum side, and the window screen is intact.

We're still strong believers in a TPMS, but want to warn you that they're not perfect. This blow-out was too quick even for the alarm.
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Old 09-04-2016, 08:22 AM   #4
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Lesson Learned #3

3. Emergency Equipment. I'm not breaking my arm to pat myself on the back because we weren't completely there, but we did have a warning triangle and traffic cone. If you've read my letter to the Virginia State Police you'll know that a cruiser with lights on trumps the heck out of anything you carry, but it sure beats nothing. You'll also note that we've thus far failed to obtain reflective vests. It wasn't an oversight; I just haven't yet found any that aren't made in China.

Please don't wait for an emergency to have gear on hand. Additionally, ensure you stow it on the passenger side of your vehicle or trailer to avoid having to expose yourself to traffic.
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Old 09-04-2016, 08:33 AM   #5
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Thank You

Thanks for posting ALL of this. We need to remain aware of these possibilities. Thanks too for writing the letter. Our police officers need to hear this. They do great work.
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Old 09-04-2016, 08:35 AM   #6
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A tip of the hat to the VA State Police.

Travel safe.
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Old 09-04-2016, 08:40 AM   #7
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Sorry for your misfortune. When we purchased our preowned 2008 in 2013 it had the original Marathons so they were over 5 years old. I replaced them with 15" Michelin MS2 235/75x15. I will be making the 16" upgrade, probably next year.

Glad you had a great experience with the Virginia State Police.

Kelvin
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Old 09-04-2016, 09:02 AM   #8
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Hey Woodsman. If you have not yet found refelective vests try to plan a trip to Alaska and you'll find them available just about everywhere in Canada. I figure they just might be a requirement or at least a recommended " Must Carry" item up there. In any case I take your advise seriously and should look for them myself. Yup, I don't have one either. YET
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Old 09-04-2016, 09:30 AM   #9
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OP, first off sorry about your incident and thank you for posting the positives about the LEOs.
I do have some questions.
Date of tire production?
Est. miles on tire?
Cold air pressure tire was set and pressure at time of incident?
Average and max speed you tow?
Ambient temperature and temp of tires at incident?
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Old 09-04-2016, 10:02 AM   #10
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Good for the State Police for helping, we appreciate them.

Another example why we spent our tire money on a top quality tire upgrade first when we got our new Airstream, considering TPMS second.
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Old 09-04-2016, 01:24 PM   #11
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Lesson Learned #4

4. Roadside Service. We read all the reviews and ratings, and settled on Coach Net. We've had both AAA and Good Sam in the past, and really had no issues; we just think the majority of the positive postings involved Coach Net's ability to deal with the trailer as well as the vehicle.

Truthfully, any of the three providers would probably have contacted the same towing company, but we are appreciative of Coach Net's excellent service, clear and concise communications, and effort to ensure responsiveness.
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Old 09-04-2016, 01:31 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AWCHIEF View Post
OP, first off sorry about your incident and thank you for posting the positives about the LEOs.
I do have some questions.
Date of tire production?
Est. miles on tire?
Cold air pressure tire was set and pressure at time of incident?
Average and max speed you tow?
Ambient temperature and temp of tires at incident?
Tire production date was 1313, so the last week of March, 2013. Clearly not old, with about 7,200 miles on the tires.

The cold pressure was set at 65º that morning, and at the time of the blowout the tires were all riding at 71º. Temperature was mild on Friday, and we left about 4:30 a.m., so ambient temperature was still pretty cool -- about 70˚. Tire temperature as we passed Wytheville was 80º.

I keep the truck at 65 mph on cruise control. Max speed, 70 mph on two or three occasions while passing.
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Old 09-04-2016, 01:59 PM   #13
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Lesson Learned #5

5. TOOLS! This may sound like bragging, but I assure you it isn't -- I'm just terribly glad the Boy Scouts instilled the "Be Prepared" motto into my character. It served me well in my career, and it sure served me well on Friday.

We bought our 2014 Classic Airstream from a very nice widow in Las Vegas last October, and aside from bringing it home to Tennessee, we've visited the Mother Ship twice, and taken four short weekend trips. No issues at all, but -- probably like many of you -- we've really had fun shopping for accessories and things to make it ours.

Part of that effort was tools. If the towing company that came had been exemplary they'd be getting a lot of free publicity here, but while the guy was nice, there were some significant issues. His air compressor wouldn't operate, he didn't have the right size lug nut socket, and when he did get his compressor running it wouldn't remove the lugs (torqued to exactly 110 pounds).

Here's what we needed, and actually had on hand:

a. Shower curtain. We keep a couple of cheap ones primarily to serve as ground cloths, but when we found a window was shattered in the incident we were able to cut one and tape it over the hole to protect the interior.

b. Duct tape. Clearly, to tape the shower curtain up. Love that duct tape.

c. Breaker bar with extension and socket. I never thought I'd need this if a towing company was on hand, but they, as well as I, were grateful that I had one on board. I have no idea how long we'd have been there had I not bought one.

d. Air compressor. I bought a Kensun air compressor ($100), and two 12-volt extension cords. By the time the towing service arrived I had the spare tire out and inflated to the proper pressure. The Kensun, unlike the cheaper Chinese products, made pretty quick work of it. If you're reading between the lines, you'll correctly deduce that I only bought four tire monitors; I lack a 5th for the spare.

e. Torque Wrench. I checked everything I could find and then spent the money for the wrench Airstream sells. It's a monster, and spot-on accurate. Once you get a good one, it's no trouble to check torque daily while on the road, and you only need set it once. After the towing mechanic mounted the wheel, I stepped in to put on all the lug nuts, ensuring that he didn't use his air gun and over-tighten them. Here's what I believe is TERRIBLY IMPORTANT! Airstream tells you to check torque a few times after changing a wheel, and THEY'RE RIGHT. After 25 miles every single lug nut needed retightening, and after 50 additional miles they all needed it again. Please -- ensure you do this! Finally, a reminder if you're new to torque wrenches. Never, ever, ever use it as a breaker bar to remove the lug nuts; only to tighten them. If you do, you'll ruin the calibration.
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Old 09-04-2016, 02:19 PM   #14
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Lesson Learned #6

6. Spare tire. Confession time. I've watched every Long Long Honeymoon video, read Rich Luhr's maintenance book, read the airstream manual cover to cover, and -- well, you get the idea. Even after having done all that, and knowing I need to, I'd not yet gotten down and figured out the spare tire setup.

Please don't wait until you're system is saturated with adrenalin to do that. It's simple, and Airstream did it right -- the spare tire releases down and to the right, away from the traffic lane.

It's held in place with a pin and cotter; both easy to remove. I had two issues; both relatively easy to resolve. The first is that we were on a downhill slope, so I couldn't get the spare tire out of the cage. I had to chock the trailer and jack it up off of the hitch so the tire would clear the rack. No big deal, but with everything else going on I had to absolutely ensure the Equalizer was correctly configured once we were ready to hit the road again.

The second issue was probably more a function of my anxiety than an actual malfunction, but the pin that affixes the rack to the frame is on a bracket that swivels. Couldn't get it to swivel back into place once the spare was out, so I needed to tap it with a rubber mallet; it responded immediately. Please add "rubber mallet" to the tools lesson learned.

Finally, I need to get a fifth tire pressure monitor, and reinstall the new spare with the valve easily accessible from the front left side. That way I can ensure proper inflation without having to remove it.
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