Life As An Itinerant Artist

Stories and anecdotes from fifteen years on the art show circuit. 

Stuck in Lodi again…

One Wheel and Rim... Gone!

The unthinkable happened this afternoon on my way back home. Left Albuquerque about 2PM yesterday, and made it to the border between Oklahoma and Texas before I decided to pack it in. Found a convenient rest area, and pulled the rig in between a couple big trucks to catch 40 winks. Crawled in the back and slept soundly for about 6 hours, and then got back on the road again about 5:30AM.

Stopped for gas a couple of times, and while I was filling the tank the second time in Joplin, Missouri, I did my usual walk-around the truck and trailer. It had been raining off and on pretty much all day, so I didn’t do the check first fill-up. Grabbed coffee and went on down the road. But in Joplin I walked to the far side of the trailer, and noticed that something important had gone missing. One of the wheels had simply disappeared.

This is something that takes a bit of time to register. I looked again in disbelief. How does a 15″ rim and tire detach itself from the trailer, and, more importantly, why didn’t I notice it sooner? Luckily, the second wheel supported the rig so I didn’t go careening off the highway. Very lucky indeed. But it’s Easter Sunday, and the chances of finding an open trailer repair facility are slim to none.

I parked the rig, and walked back to the lube rack at the truck stop. Asked for recommendations on a trailer facility. Got one, but no answer and no machine at the number they gave me. Went back into the restaurant and had me some french toast and eggs. Drank a pot of coffee. After eating, I went to drop the trailer, and found a convenient motel next door. Checked in, and parked the rig til morning. Nice room, BTW, which was a blessing since I wasn’t gonna make it home for Easter or even the day after.

Detail of missing wheel

Note that the lug bolts are completely sheared off, and that there is still grease on the hub.

Quite unbelievable. The bolts on the right rear wheel were just sheared off, but the brake drum still spins. The brake pads sound scrapey though. There’s still grease in the bearings, so it doesn’t look as if the bearings froze up. Very odd. The brake controller disconnected cleanly, too, leaving the connector and the wires. The fender was partly ripped away, too. Just unbelievable. I’m lucky, I guess, that the other tire didn’t give out. I only have the one spare, though, so I’ll need to get another rim and tire. All I can say is “YIKES!”.

April 12, 2009

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  1. As our friend Wendy Baxter commented, “You picked a fine time to leave me, loose wheel.”

  2. Wow, you are so fortunate that you didn’t lose the trailer. (I enjoy your blog – thanks!) Billie

  3. Update: the wires I found hanging were just additional connectors for the fender marker lights. Nothing disconnected. Brakes were fine after the wheel was replaced. The shop that did the work for me, Trailer Connection ( in Joplin, MO, did a fine job. They had me out of there the same day, even though the parts had to come from Springfield MO, 75 miles away. They did the work cleanly and didn’t charge me an arm and a leg. Total cost was around $150, of which about $40 was parts and freight. Very reasonable.

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