September 8 Nasty tire failure on Utah’s I-80

Today was a travel day. We left the Fort Bridger RV Park and jumped back onto I-80 westbound. Peggy had noted one of our trailer tires looked funny to her a couple days ago but I checked it out and thought it was okay. After all, we had driven across quite a bit of Wyoming with the allegedly funny-looking tire without problems.
We passed through quite a bit of pretty Wyoming territory on our way into Utah although we didn’t seem to be descending out of elevations up around 7000 feet. Soon, we passed into Utah and the terrain slowly changed into red rock canyons and hoodoos and plain evidence that erosion is a powerful geological force. Right as we were getting ready to make the long descent into Salt Lake City we passed a massive low-boy tractor-trailer rig hauling a gigantic Kohler generator about the size of an ordinary bedroom. The incline became steeper and I looked in the mirror and saw the low-boy, now in the fast lane, accelerating downhill and blasting his air horns. I thought perhaps he had lost his brakes but I was wrong. As the truck came alongside our slower truck, we noted the driver was gesticulating wildly and also continuing to blast the horn.
It was then that I realized his truck and oversize load were just fine and that he was trying to signal us that something was awry with our truck or fifth wheel. All at the same time, I looked in the mirrors, applied the brakes and Peggy stated “We have a blowout!” My assessment of tire soundness I had made just a few days before was now in tatters. I wrestled the now misbehaving trailer over the texture strip next to the fog line that goes dut-dut-dut-dut-dut when you run over it and eventually to a stop. Our left trailer wheels were about 4 inches inside the fog line and our right wheels were at the very edge of the paving, in the marbles. What was formerly the tread part of the tire was tightly wrapped around the axle and brake assembly and portions of the sidewall dangled from the trailer rim like dreadlocks. There was no visible place where we could get off the road further and recently passed territory indicated there were no such locations for fraidy-cat drivers to get out of the speeding, downhill traffic. Cell phone service was zilch.
Like frightened deer, we started getting out lug wrenches and car jacks and levers and blocks to begin the tire change. Each time a truck went by at about 80, the trailer would sway in the draft. Our first task was to get the steel-belted carcass out from around the axle. The shredded tire parts were tenacious adversaries because the steel belting was now sticking out of the destroyed carcass and the ends were as pointy as cactus. Both Peggy and I donned gloves and after about 15 minutes of painful yelps and fervent cursing, we got the carcass loose and tossed the formerly difficult and prickly enemy into the ditch. Then, convinced I had loosened all six lug nuts, I climbed under the trailer and started jacking the trailer up. After about 5 minutes of labored breathing and discomfort, Peggy began to remove the loosened lugnuts. Unfortunately, in my senility I had only loosened five of the six nuts and the last one wasn’t coming loose until we put the wheel back on the ground to crack the last nut loose. I was gasping for air in the 7000 foot altitude and, since I am an old porker, jacking the trailer up again resulted in me making old steam engine noises.
I finally got our 12-ton hydraulic jack pumped all the way up and found that it was only about a quarter inch from lifting the trailer high enough to get the spare tire onto the hub. Peggy started hauling wood blocks from the truck and I blocked up the axle, pulled the jack, put blocks under the jack and pumped it up for the third time. Then we started making efforts to get the spare onto the lug studs and, considering it is a ten-ply tire and only weighs about 80 pounds with its steel wheel, we were able to get the cursed bastard with the help of some interesting applications of leverage. We were doing all this while skating about on the gravel marbles on the roadside which made application of force sometimes difficult. More cursing was involved.
After many senior moments and considerable heavy breathing, we finally were able to get all six lugnuts on and fairly tight. I then dropped the jack supporting the trailer and removed the wood block supporting the jack before re-inserting the jack and pumping it up for the fourth time to remove the wood support blocks Peggy had hauled over to make up for our jack with a penis that is about a quarter inch too short. It was then that we noted the spare looked a bit limp and could benefit from some inflation. We then broke out the air hoses and the air compressor and a portable generator to power up the compressor. After some more wheezing and bewildered looks, we got everything running and put some air in the spare. Two days ago we noted our electronic tire pressure gauge now was merely a container for storing a dead battery so we eyeballed the inflation.
After even more heavy breathing and completely covered in road edge grit, we put back all the tools, brushed ourselves off to the greatest extent possible and resumed our trip. I’m glad my trailer brake wiring was still intact despite being intimately entombed in a tire carcass because as soon as we got rolling, we dove down a long 6% downgrade for many miles as we drove into Salt Lake City. Once in Salt Lake, we turned south on I-15 and drove another 30 miles into Provo. We soon pulled into the Lakeside RV Park where the wifi is great and there are full hookups but the spaces are razor thin and, if the glass wasn’t in the way, I would be able to hold conversations with my neighbor without leaving the trailer or raising my voice. It looks like we will be making a visit to Les Schwab Tires, where I purchased the tires on our trailer that, so far, have a 50% blowout rate. Fortunately, there is one of Les’s stores just a couple miles from our RV park.
The miserable state of our tires can be seen, along with a beautiful roadside bluff, can be seen by clicking the asterisk *

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