Sunday, January 25, 2009

Thump, thump, thump

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

We got a late start out of Greensboro, because we had some shopping to do. Not finding everything we needed at Wal-Mart, we drove across the street to Lowes -- we needed some hardware to secure the new fish tank while under way. We ended up buying lunch from a hot dog vendor in the Lowes parking lot, and it was after 1 by the time we were rolling.

For whatever reason, I was pretty tired yesterday afternoon, and I was ready to stop somewhere halfway between here and Charlotte. As we were researching stopping opportunities, however, we discovered we had a dinner club here in Greenville, and so we pressed on a bit further.

We were hoping we might just be able to park on the street downtown -- sometimes these city centers are deserted on the weekends, and we actually parked across the street from a club in the Chicago loop once. When we rolled past, however, there were police cars everywhere, with lots of traffic. We discovered there was an event going on at the nearby Bi-Lo center, which I later learned was the Monster Jam, a monster truck event, I believe.

This Wal-Mart was just a few miles away, and we pulled a scooter out to make the trek back in to town for dinner. The ride back was a little chilly, but it's still quite a bit warmer than we were at the beginning of the week. We had a nice dinner, 17 stories above the city.

Now that we're finally warming up, and our next deadline is more than two weeks away, our attention is returning to various problems we need to resolve. Chief among them is the tire situation. Somewhere between 30,000 and 40,000 miles ago, we replaced the worn steer tires, which had lasted barely 40,000 miles, with expensive Goodyears. I really did not expect, at that time, that we'd run nearly another full two years without fixing the bent tag axle.

But here we are, two years later, and the tag axle is still bent. The bent side already ate its way through a brand new Firestone in just over a year and less than 25,000 miles. And we're certain that the screwed-up axle geometry is also having an effect on the steer tires. Alignment is probably also an issue, although we had everything aligned right after the axle got bent, but we really don't want to try to align it again until the axle is fixed.

In any case, we are right back to where we were two years ago, with the steer tires so cupped that it feels like we are driving on the stone wheels from the Flintstones. In addition to rattling our teeth out, I'm worried that the constant thumping might be wearing the kingpins and bushings. So the time has come to do something about it.

My first choice, of course, would be to fix the bent axle, align all three axles, and put six new tires on (the tags are probably fine). And I will be searching in the next few days with renewed vigor to find someone who can change the axle, but I am holding out little hope, since we haven't found anyone yet in two years.

Failing that, we can put another set of new tires on the steers. I'm reluctant to do this, because the current situation will cause them to start cupping within just a couple thousand miles, and, once a tire is cupped, the cupping only gets worse over time, even if the underlying cause gets corrected. Alternatively, we can put the Firestones from the tag on the steer axle, and move these to the tag axle, on the grounds that the tag has a smaller effect on handling and vibration through the coach.

My last option would be to get some used tires for the steer, although this makes me nervous. That said, if I get new ones before fixing the axle, I intend to get the cheapest tires I can find. No point in spending money on high-mileage tread and long-life casings for a tire that I now know will last barely a year and 20k miles or so.

Today we will continue southwest to Atlanta. Even though we continue to head south, this route takes us along what is more or less an isotherm, so we don't really expect to get much warmer now until we are in far west Texas. If that proves to be an issue, we may ajust our route further south, from our planned I-20 corridor to closer I-10.


  1. Have you ever read Nick Russell's blog? He publishes the Gypsy Journal, and the link is:
    He has a bus conversion, and spoke highly of Chris Best in Cartersville, GA. It was in his Oct. blog.

    He might be able to change out your axle, or knows someone who can do it. And you're not far from GA.

    Hope this helps.
    Linda & John Huber

  2. Sean,
    Don't know which Goodyears you are running but the G670s are noted for not being a good steer tire as the sidewall is too soft and are prone to wearing & cupping on the outside. GY are ok for the drive and tag but not the steer. our choice is Michelin tires for the steer.


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