Saturday, April 24, 2010

It’s not a TUMOR!

I know of at least two Arnold Schwarzenegger tribute bands that play songs like Get to the Choppa, If It Bleeds We Can Kill It, and of course, It's Not a Tumor based on the Governator’s movies. While I personally prefer ArnoCorps, you may prefer the Austrian Death Machine’s harder-edged sound. Regardless, there was a problem with our right front tire and it was not a tumor.

After the morning shift behind the wheel, Ann took over just south of Bakersfield. I leaned the seat back, tuned in a passable radio station (as is the duty of the co-pilot) and got out my iPhone to search for random things I didn’t need and couldn’t effectively research on a small screen with a weak connection anyway.

“It’s really shakey.” she said.
”Huh? Yeah.” without out looking up.
“Like I feel it in the steering wheel.”
“It’s a truck.” I offered helpfully. “I think one of the tires might be a little low. It’ll be fine.”
A few minutes later. “I mean, look at the steering wheel. It’s bouncing all over!”

Just then a Toyota truck passed us on the left and we both stared as the driver gently rested his hand on the steady steering wheel as he glided by.

“Maybe the trucks use the right lane and it gets rutted.” We’d been on washboard roads all week and I figured asphalt could develop the same pattern given the right combination of central valley heat and heavy traffic. A lane change quickly disproved my theory. “Alright, get off here and we’ll check the tire pressure.”

A check of all four tires found pressure within a pound all the way around.

“Lemme drive for a while, see what it feels like.” Subtext: “Move over, I’ll show you how to drive a truck.” Then… “Holy sh!#, it’s bouncing all over the place! Something’s really wrong! This is bad.”

We got off at the next exit. By the time we were going over the overpass towards a gas station, the left front wheel felt like it was square. With each rotation, we’d rise up and come crashing down the other side. We limped into the parking lot and jumped out to view the carnage. Nothing. Everything looked normal. Ann got out and watched from the side as I dangled my head out the drivers door and inched forward. Then we saw it…


What the?! We eventually found out that, while uncommon, this kind of delamination of the plies of the tire can happen around the area where a hole has been plugged. Sure enough, I found a receipt from the previous owner for a flat fixed on the left front.

Well, this is a shakedown trip so out came Debbie G and we got to work changing it and taking pictures of our deformed tire.

  IMG_8932 IMG_8942

 IMG_8948 IMG_8955

While we hadn’t yet received the Schrockworks rear tire carrier we’d ordered, we still had a full size spare and were back on I-5 speeding towards home in no time. After a week of rationing podcasts, we realized we were one “This American Life,” one “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me,” and one “Car Talk” away from home and a gluttony of pizza and Tivo.