Honey is that our wheel?

Posted by on October 22, 2016

Honey is that our wheel?

We wish we had a camera focused on us when the DW and I looked at each other saying “That’s weird, what the **** is that … that looks like one of our tires … oh ***T, it is!”

This was one of those Oh S*** moments. We were going through the far right EZPASS lane at 5 MPH. While braking, we see a tire rolling by us that looks an awful lot like one of the tires from our car trailer!

The tire rolled in front of the RV, then hit the barrier, rolled through the toll booth and came to rest against the barrier.

“Oh crap, that’s one of our tires!” First quick glance at the backup camera showed the spare was still mounted … not good. We rolled through the toll, pulled into the breakdown lane and sure enough, the drivers side rear tire sheared off at the hub – all 5 lug nuts still in place.

This was about 400 miles into our trip tonight. We were pulling through the toll on I-90 NY heading towards Niagara Falls.

Just to let you all know … Axles and wheel bearings were done last summer, pre-trip checks include tire pressure checks, checking for wheel play, as well as pulling axle caps to make sure they are greased well and adding grease to the zerks as needed.

I also perform visual inspections, check car straps and most times will temp test all 10 tires and 8 hubs when stopped or filling with fuel. As it turns out tonight, I did not temp check any tires or hubs as we were again travelling in *heavy* rains. Guess I need to not be such a baby when it’s raining hard and make sure I temp test whenever I stop – pouring rain or not!

We had actually – just 48 hours prior – returned from a 900 mile round trip from home to TT Williamsburg and back. The trailer pulled fine on that trip. I did temperature test all wheels and hubs at stops on the way down and back, and there were NO sings of impending problems. During my pre-trip checks today, everything looked fine as well. Tire pressures good, no loose lugs, and no play in any of the trailer wheels.

My guess is that somewhere along the run tonight the wheel bearings gave out and when I applied the brakes to slow to 5MPH through the toll booth, the hub just had enough and let go.

It wasn’t funny and I am so glad we are safe … but it was kinda’ funny like a movie – seeing a wheel roll right in front of you. There’s nothing we can do about it but take a deep breath, be happy we were at low speed and laugh about it.

I called Coach Net to get us a tow, but as it turns out – because we were on the NY State Thruway, Coach-Net could not send a tow truck. We had to call the State Police who sent a Highway Licensed tow truck to get us off the highway. Once off the highway, we could call Coach-Net back to have them pickup the trailer. As it turns out, the State Highway tow driver recommended that I just strap up the axle on that side and get off the highway. We were actually looking at our exit when this happened.

This was a great idea, and saved us out of pocket money. Yes, this tow operator did get a $20 tip for his suggestion and honesty. We safely traveled the 15 miles to our destination with 3 wheels on the car trailer. The DW following behind me in the car.

Tomorrow I’ll call around and see if I can find a shop to perform repairs. We’re staying at the KOA Niagara Falls/Grand Island – and they close for the season on Tuesday. I’m here for work through the weekend, so hopefully we’ll be back on the road before they close for the season.

I’m just so glad we were not at speed when this happened….

— following day update

The failure I think we had last night was an electrical short. We have electric brakes on our trailer and what immediately stood out to me when I first looked at the assembly – on the side of the highway – was that the plastic jacket was completely missing on the wires that are attached to whats left of the brake assembly.

It was raining all day today, and my immediate focus this morning was to find a shop that could handle the repair, but I did get a couple of photos before I dropped it off. This one shows it pretty clearly. What’s left of the brake assembly is tied up with the yellow strap, and if you look closely, you can see that the wiring is completely exposed.

My experience tells me that this amount (length) of missing jacket did not happen between the time the wheel came off and when we pulled over. I believe that something during the drive caused a break or short in the wiring and the brake on this wheel was dragging and overheated. As I approached the toll booth and applied enough additional pressure to slow from 65 to 50 to 45 to 25 to 15 to 5 … the assembly just had enough and let go.

2 Responses to Honey is that our wheel?

  1. Kevin L

    HI there… I live in CT and have recently retired early. Want to purchase an Airstream but don’t want the taxes. Any suggestions. My town has a 48 mill rate!

  2. Tom

    I have had electric brake failure that drove me crazy in past years, TT had 2 axles with electric brakes, when applying brakes it would initially begin to brake, then brakes would let loose on harder tow vehicle braking. Turns out the when bracket with magnet was activated inside the drum, a wire with too much slack would rub against inside of drum grounding out and releasing brake. It must have taken the first few trips for the insulation to wear off then problem began intermittently. 5 trips back to dealer yielded nothing, them insisting trouble was in controller or tow vehicle wiring, so took it upon myself to begin inspection of TT system starting at plug all the way to brake assemblies, when I finally found this, on second wheel assembly I pulled, it was great relief and as a plus, easy fix. Crazy stuff happens with these systems. Glad you guys are safe and talking about it!

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