Sunday, September 25, 2011

Twas a Saturday Morning in West Yellowstone... and the Cowboy Was Starting to Relax...

***this is third in the 'catching up' posts... go back two posts if you want to read in chronological order***

When things seem to be getting better... don't relax too soon!!! That's just when that Murphy bugger is set to jump on you! Ya gotta keep ready to quirt that lil' no good saboteur before he can get to work!

I'd Set the alarm for oh-damn-it's-early, so we could have everything ready to go and make the slow haul to town, and still get there fairly early. Put the flashers on and rolled along, never quite catching up to 30 mph. Tried to make that run as gingerly as possible... knowing that Murphy bugger probably had his hand in this somewhere.

Luckily, the greatest amount of traffic was eastbound, as our lame rig limped west... and we made it all the way to West Yellowstone, without an issue...

... Right up to the point that I started the turn off the Yellowstone road onto Canyon street in town...Heidi made the comment as we got to the intersection that; "Wouldn't it be awful to have got this far and have something happen now?"


Oh how I wish she hadn't said that!

So... I'm halfway through the turn when the cable for the breakaway brake, snagged on something, jerking the pin on the brake... and slammed the rig to a halt... right in the middle of the intersection... uh ... Bad Words Dirty Names and Blue Smoke!

Took me a few seconds... while all the pedestrians stood there gawkin'... and some jerk in a car hollered and screamed... for me to figure out how to get the break away back together, and release the brakes.

But... that violent jerking-to-a-halt stop had done damage to the cracked pin box/frame that wasn't there before... What had been small cracks, were now ripped into open splits and a genuine mess... aaaaarrrrrrrrgggghhhhh!

One beam got torn nigh in two, several others got cracked good... ooooffffff. But, it didn't come apart all together, and was in a condition to pull back into place and weld. No long lasting non-repairable damage, so that's good.

How-some-ever... Can I say I was cursing myself for thinking I could limp the rig in ok? You take your chances... and take the bruises that come.

I can't count the thousands of miles I've drug a trailer of every sort... lil' utility to semis... Never, not once... in all those thousands and thousands and thousands of miles... have I EVER... had the breakaway brake engage... until the one day, I'm limping along with a cracked frame... that the dang thing will pull apart when it yanks me to a stop... Murphy! You lousy bum!

Well, once I got that breakaway UN-brokeaway... At five mph. with the flashers a flashin'... we crawled the last mile or so to the repair guys place...

I pulled the skin and everything in the way, out of the way... in preparation for his repairs... We jacked it up, pulled it down with a come-along, clamped it, banged it into place... added a bit of bracing... and with a bit of athletics, generally got it back together...

I can't say I'm happy with the welding...( honestly, with a welder, I could have done better) but it will get me down to the guy I do trust... and with a lil' coaxing, I think I can get him to help me do the job so I've more confidence in the long term...

This morning, we're sitting in a lil' space across the road. I have to replace all the insulation and skin and put the rig back together... With that done We'll haul back out to the paid-for camp we've got... to spend a last couple of days in Yellowstone... and hopefully... (Carefully looking each way for an ambush) do some Yellowstoning, without thinking 'bout broken this or that. :)

It's the price you pay for old equipment I suppose. Just like Old geezers... Old equipment gets fatigued and comes apart. So though you're not payin' the high dollar price of new, or nearly so, you don't get off free and easy. You've got to accept the weight of higher maintenance... and ... uh ... Issues. :)

Like I said in that earlier post... Some will say THE problem is the Fifth wheel to Gooseneck converter I've been using... to which I say, if THAT was the problem... I'd have had a problem a long time before the ten years and 70,000 miles give or take that I've drug this fiver around...

Nope, think what you want, I lay the majority of this problem on three things... One; I've got a LOT of weight (the weight of my solar power battery bank) in that front compartment, with virtually ALL that weight going on the hitch.

Two; I hauled most of those ten years with a badly modified suspension that was virtually rigid... and it took me way too long to find THAT problem. Bad Cowboy!

With the suspension mostly rigid, the concussion of road shocks was transmitted right straight to the hitch... Slamming it with every bump... Little softening by the springs. That slamming, compounded by the extra weight of my big battery bank, caught up with the rig over time.

Which brings us to good Ol' number Three... The metal fatigue of Old Equipment... Bad shop work plus a heavy load, thumping on aging metal = broken parts...

Kind of like Bad mules, pushed too far by cranky cowboys... thumping on their aging butts = broken parts!

And just to say it... I'd have to scold Jayco for building it that way, and me for buying it that way... but I can't say I approve any longer of the "Long Nose" extended hitch design. I'll be staying far from it in any future dealings.

But now, as I work at putting things back together what's to say? Well, I met a couple of really decent people as a result of the ordeal, and they helped me see, it could be worse... A WHOLE LOT worse, and, I might even have some fun at Bonneville next year as a result.

We didn't get left, stranded on a mountain somewhere, with either breakdown. We had the ability to repair the damage... the roof don't leak, and we're looking toward where we roll next... so... frustrating as breakdowns and failures might be... there's worse things... far far worse things...

Like... I could have been born ugly, rather than the good looking Cowboy Biker I are! :)

Or, I could be standing in that hardware aisle... slaving for wages.

Instead, I get to roll my old rig, a few more miles down a Ribbon of Asphalt... in the Freedom of the Rocky Mountain West.

So... putting things into proper perspective... To know that Freedom I have... It ain't Free :) and you gotta put some crap on the garden... to make the flowers grow! :)

Still Kickin' in Yellowstone

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Ted said...

If your so damn good lookin', why ain't you in the movies? LOL All kiddin' aside, it's sure the bottom line: you got to put some crap on the garden to make it grow.

Cindy Kingma said...

Sometimes I think that Murphy guy is the best Teacher. He is NOT a welcome one, but he sure can inspire (although with much grumbling) putting your brain to working on Issues that you might not have ordinarily wanted to find out. You told alot of people some things you learned and luckily got to fix, in an area where you got great help. And NOT on that lonely mountain, as you said. There is often a silver lining to those thunderheads. Crap on the garden is an outstanding way to phrase it!!! Hugs! Now have ya some FUN!

New Vision said...

I pull with a similar set up, and last year our pin box flexed returning from the Black Hills. I called our local RV dealer he said new campers on the lots have flexed first time out, it is not the adapter causing the problem. He suggested a local blacksmith shop to fix ours. Cost $450 they replaced the cracked frame behind the pin box with solid stock, and braced it with 1/4 inch angle iron. Amazing how poor the frames are made, by the way I have a Leland frame.

Joe said...

Holy smoke! That could have been a lot uglier if you weren't paying attention! I'm glad to hear you're all safe and still on the road.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your informative blog(s). Since I am the worrier in our group, Wes is outside checking the hitch, the batteries in our front compartment, the shocks and on and on and on....

Glad all is well now. Travel safe.

Snackmaster and Jan

Anonymous said...

I know the feeling. Sometimes it just seems the world is out to get you. You just gotta move on and look forward (a few beers don't hurt either).

You are right, it beats working for the man!

Don said...

You do have an interesting life! I've seen that brake cord kind of wrapped around stuff but happily it's never triggered the brakes. Actually, it's lucky you were just creeping along, it could have been at 70 mph or on one of those high narrow roads that Colorado has so many of. Best of luck!