I thought this would be a quick warmup, expecting a nice drama-free hike. But today I guess it was not to be.
The ascent and half the descent went smooth as silk, stopping at the last flat spot for a photo. My attention was drawn to Usery Pass Road, where a very loud Razor-like Red ATV was cruising down the road with a pickup following closely behind. As they passed the Usery/Bulldog Gate the pickup passed the ATV, and a moment later I saw the ATV turning around... they had missed the turn to the Bulldog Gate.
Just as they pulled up to the entrance gate, farther up the hill on Usery Pass Rd I heard/saw another red pickup accelerating down the hill, then I saw it pass the Bulldog parking lot and a moment later I heard tire squeal just in time to lose sight of the truck when my view was obstructed by a hill, which was when the tire squeal became a howl and I could tell by the sound the truck was spinning around, then I heard a loud muffled thump followed by the sound of gravel being thrown up.
My first thought was that the truck possibly had hit one of the wild horses since there is a spot where they cross near where the sound came from. So, instead of continuing my leisure descent, I trotted the rest of the way back to the Jeep, jumped in and drove down the road.
Just around a corner there's the red pickup stopped at a slight angle toward the center with the left front tire popped off the rim in the traffic lane. With no dead/injured horse in view and by the looks of the tire marks, going too fast for the corner, the guy hit the brakes, locked up and spun completely around, hitting the dirt embankment on the driver's side while going backward, then spinning back around to face forward again.
A young guy & girl probably 18-20 years old were standing behind the truck so when I pulled up behind them I asked if they were ok. They said they were, which it appeared they were, physically, anyway. Mentally? I could tell they had a good scare, probably including experiencing a life-flashing-before-the-eyes
moment. The girl told me the truck almost rolled over when it hit the embankment.
Ok, so here's the situation...
- Young kid with no money
- Only had a driver's license 6 weeks
- Spent what little he had on a cheap truck (literally a P.O.S.)
- RF tire had the bead off/on and some sand caught in the bead, but it still has enough air
- LR tire almost flat with the outer bead having popped off & partway back on
- LF tire is flat, popped completely off inner and outer beads
- And guess what? Yup, no spare, no jack, no tire iron, no key for the wheel-lock
So where do we begin?
Ok, RF tire is good enough as is so we'll leave it alone. The LR is just needs enough air to pop it all the way back on the bead, so we started there. I turned the Jeep around and backed up so my air line would reach, cranked up the air compressor and within two minutes the LR tire popped back on the bead.
The front of the truck is still in the road, so I told the kid to slowly drive it off the bike lane and all the way onto the shoulder. I mean REALLY slow because if we were going to have any chance at getting the LF tire back on both inner and outer beads, it had to stay straight on the wheel. Done... now the fun stuff begins.
With the flat tire, my bottle jack was too tall to put under the axle (it was a 4x4)
Ok, so a little digging was involved before jacking it up but luckily (for him) I had a small collapsible shovel and soon the jack was in action. Only problem, the tire was tall enough that the jack ran out of travel before the tire was fully off the ground.
For us to have a chance at getting the tire popped on fully, it needed to be able to be 'round' so we absolutely had to get it up high enough to put a ratchet strap around the tire, which would be used to squeeze the beads out far enough to put air in. That's when I handled the shovel to the kid and told him to start digging
Once he dug enough to put the strap around the tire I put the strap on and cranked it as tight as it would go. The outer bead looked good but with the inner part of the tire still on the ground, the tire was still misshapen enough it would not butt up against the bead.
More digging. By this time I dug out a pry bar and was breaking the dirt loose while the kid dug it out. Looking good!
Now we could turn the wheel and it was easy to re-install the ratchet strap all around the tire on the center rib of the tread. Ok, now the tire has a chance
to go back on the bead. First I pushed hard on the tire to try and seat on slightly on the inside bead, then all three of us (guy, girl and myself) holding the tire against the outer bead and hit it with air.
(Good thing I had an air compressor with a 5 gallon tank)
Just as it appeared the tire would pop onto the outer bead, we heard air coming out the back.
Oh great, I thought, it won't hold on the inside when we pull on the outside... but that wasn't the problem, the wheel was bent and no longer round
, so as the tire was getting enough air to make it round again, it was leaking faster at the bend.
Now, I had a hammer (Peter, Paul & Mary
anyone?) but it was a regular claw hammer... the mini-sledge I usually have in the Jeep is back at home. So, while laying down in the damp sand along the road, it's taking everything I have to start getting the bend out.
As soon as it seems it just may work, I used a spray bottle and wet the rim & tire all around on both sides, cranked the ratchet strap so tight I thought it would break, then the three of us working together again it's starting to work... the outer bead is moving toward us but before it would 'pop' back on, there's more air leaking out the back by what's left of the bent part.
Ok, I'm out of energy with the hammer so I gave it to the kid, showed him where to hit it and from which angle, and told him "Hit it as hard as you can for as long as you can" while I kept adding more air into the tire.
By now my compressor has been running for 20 minutes straight and it's getting HOT so something's gotta give or we're done here. And whadda'ya know, the tire pops on the outer bead with a bang followed moments later by the inner bead.
Still need more air in the tire so I kept adding more until it hit normal pressure, which happened just in time. Because that's when air is blowing out full force around the air compressor motor.
Whatever the problem, it can wait until I get home. Before leaving I told the kid at a MINIMUM he needs to get a spare, a jack & front brake job. The pads have been metal-to-metal on the rotors for some time and rotors are now junk!
"Is that why it squeals all the time?" the kid asks?
I almost wondered how he had enough brakes to squeal the tires, until I realized that is why it got worse... only the rear brakes where doing their job, so when they locked, the rear end was doing the steering. So, one more time, get it FIXED!
They offered profuse thanks, to which I replied, You don't owe me a thing, all I ask is you "Pay-It-Forward" if and when you ever have the opportunity!
And with that, I'm outta here!
When I got home I found the compressor had gotten so hot, even though there was a half inch between the two, the vinyl air line melted. And that is one tough air line! It took me 30 minutes to cut the old line off the fitting and install a new line. Even using Tracey's hair dryer to make the line pliable enough to push it back on the fitting, I simply could not get it all the way on. But it's on, it hold air again and that's all that counts.
Whew! And here I was all set to hit the gym after the hike. No need, the hike was plenty good for the lower body, and all the hammering and digging gave my arms a good workout. I think it's time to be lazy the rest of the day.