Saturday, January 17, 2009

Tired and cold in SC

We are at the Wal-Mart in Walterboro, South Carolina (map).

It was 23° here when we went to bed last night, and the same temperature when we got up this morning. I suspect it dropped somewhere into the teens overnight. We ran the Webasto all night to keep the bays warm; even so, when I went to walk the dog this morning, I discovered we were completely out of air. Apparently the compressor quit, between being overwhelmed by the air loss and hard-starting due to the cold. This afternoon, I'll pull it out and check the oil, just in case.

We had an uneventful drive here from Jax on I-95. However, we became increasingly concerned about the condition of our right tag tire, whose tread was wearing down perilously close to the belts. Long-time readers of this blog know that, two years ago, a careless tire shop bent the tag axle on that side, and we've been unable to persuade anyone to replace the axle for us in all that time, even though I managed to acquire a used but serviceable replacement.

That wheel position, consequently, eats tires, and we last dealt with this about a year ago, while we were racing across the south to respond to the wild fires in California. On that trip, under the gun as we were, we plunked down good money for a pair of brand new Firestones, replacing the left and right tags simultaneously. A bit more than a year and perhaps 20,000 miles or so later, the left tire still looks new, whereas the right one had plenty of tread on the inside shoulder, but was worn to the nub on the outside shoulder.

I've been monitoring the tire pretty carefully, and we noticed in Fort Lauderdale that the tread was near critical. Ever the optimist, I was hoping I could nurse it to DC, and deal with the whole issue after we were out from under any time pressure. On yesterday's pre-drive inspection, I grew concerned that it was not going to make it much more than another day, and checking it during a mid-day rest stop confirmed it. Since it was Friday, I was concerned that we'd have difficulty finding a tire if we waited until the morning, and I resigned myself to spending a couple of hours on the Internet and the phone finding an open tire shop with our size in stock.

Sometimes you just get lucky, and, on our way in to Walterboro we spotted a billboard for Hills Tire Service. It was 4:30, and a quick call revealed they were open until 6. We were able to pull right into the shop, and I asked what they had for used tires in our size. In another stroke of good luck, they happened to have a pair of the exact same Firestones we already had on the tags. The guy quoted me $125 and I talked him down to $100 for the better of the two, apparently take-offs from a fire apparatus, with an acceptable date code from 2006 and close to 70% tread still left (fire departments, generally, do not screw around with their tires).

It was a flat $24 for mounting, and, as often happens, I had to lend them my bottle jack to lift the axle, as their shop unit was too tall to fit. The whole changeout took less than half an hour, and we were back out the door with more-or-less matching tag tires, $138 poorer. (They charged me a disposal fee for the old tire, and I wasn't going to argue that they had already collected the disposal fee from the fire department.) We were just in time on this tire, as the belt was just starting to show through.

By this time it was sunset, but it was just a five minute drive here to the Wal-Mart. We ate at the only establishment in walking distance, the chinese buffet in the adjacent strip mall. We actually like these sorts of places, but we always have to remember that "all you can eat" is not "all you should eat."

Today we will continue north, stopping at the Flying-J in Dillon for fuel, and ending up somewhere near the Virginia border for the night.


  1. Sean & Louise
    If i had known that you were going to be spending another night so close by, Sandra & I would have driven down for the evening.
    Did I let you know how much we enjoyed our visit last month? Thank You!
    Well, I'm sure we will cross paths again soon.

  2. Bob, what a sweet offer! It never would have occurred to us to ask you to drive that far. But next time we're anywhere close to you, we'll be sure to give you and Sandra a shout. We, too, enjoyed our visit.

  3. Sean & Louise,
    Next time your in our area and have a day or 2 we'll change out that bent tag axle! Or I can actually refer you to to other great shops with in 3 hrs of me if I'm on the road at the time! But since we are in the middle of trying to aquire another bus company and their equipment & drivers I really feel I'll be in the shop much more than on the road in the future. I also can highly reccomend Said (pronouced Sah-ead) in Orlando anytime repairs or services are needed! FWIW! BK


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