Monday – August 17, 2009
A break down, a detour, and a very long day.
We woke to a nice, clear day and prepared to leave camp. The first issue I faced was with the hydraulic system. I was not able to retract the supports or any of the slides. The pump would run but nothing else happened. This was the first time I've needed to extend the front supports to their limit. I was concerned that this may have caused a problem being that the ATF in the reservoir tank seemed to be lower than usual. I added a quart of ATF to the tank and, after running the pump for some time, it started to pump again. Next, I had to siphon off some of the excess ATF from the tank as it was starting to overflow once everything was retracted.
Finally, we were on the road by 8:45 AM. I had decided to take US 89 north to Babb and then MT. Hwy 464 back to Browning to avoid some mountain climbing. I had no sooner turned onto Hwy 464 when I felt a tug and saw that I had a tire problem. I managed to pull to the edge of the road, but was on a very dangerous curve. Upon inspection I found that I had a very serious problem-- a broken axle. The wheel was broken, the tire ruined, the brakes and master cylinder leaking and the Nev-R-Lube axle was destroyed. I had no forewarning of this problem. I just felt a tug on the haul and noticed the tire dragging. I was lucky that I was only going about 25 mph when this happened.
One of the first motorists to come upon us pulled over and offered to help. This lady took me down the road a short distance where I could get a cell phone signal and call for help. I barely had a single bar for a signal but managed to reach Good Sam Emergency Road Service. I decided to wait where I was for a return call and I assured the woman who assisted me that I would be okay and would walk back to my vehicle. I learned that she was a school teacher in Babb and didn't even get her name before she left.
Well, I never did receive a call back from Good Sam. I walked back to my rig and found a State Hwy employee at the scene. He assisted me with removal of the broken wheel, etc. and we then limped up the road a short distance to a roadside pull-off. Luckily I could make and receive calls from this location.
A while later, I called Good Sam once again and learned that Bolsters Towing from Kalispell, MT would be responding. I next received a call from the tow truck driver (Todd)at Boisters Towing and learned that he expected to get there in about 2 to 3 hours. We learned that we would be towed to Pierce RV in Kalispell. I called these folks but instead I reached Pierce Mfg. Rita at Pierce Mfg gave me the correct phone number. When I called these folks I learned that they would not even be able to look at my problem until Thursday at the earliest. Pierce RV recommended that I contact Pierce Mfg. I called Rita back and she was very helpful. She told us to come on in and that we could stay in our rig for the night in their yard.
We settled in at the pull-off for the wait and even walked across the road to the Leaning Tree Cafe and had a cup of coffee and a hamburger. Nancy enjoyed a piece of peach pie. The wait for the tow truck driver turned out to be 3 hours. It took us another two hours to load the 5'er on the lowboy type trailer. It was quite a process with ramping timbers and backing my 5'er onto the flatbed. There was no room for error.
Before we left that location, the school teacher stopped again, on her way home from a meeting,to check on us. We learned that her name was Linda McCabe. It's always a comfort to know there are nice people like Linda who are willing to help strangers in need of assistance.
Once we had everything secure we were finally on the road following our rig to Kalispell.
Todd, the tow truck driver was a real pro. There were a number of overhead hazzards that Todd had to navigate under.
We arrived in Kalispell at Pierce Mfg. Co., Inc at 8:15 PM. It took another hour or so to unload. I managed to park the rig out of the way in the yard of this business. Rita, the owner's daughter, came out to greet us and pointed out a good place to park for the night.
We climbed into bed, very tired by 10:30 PM, wondering still what we would be facing tomorrow.
It was a noisy night being parked next to Hwy 93 just south of Kalispell.
*** A special note: Nancy took today's mis-adventure very well, even taking several photos to document the story for a laugh some day down the road. She was also very helpful in passing directions along while I was helping with the loading and unloading the RV from the lowbed trailer