What started out to be a routine drive suddenly turned into the worst day in our full-time RV life on the road.
On May 7th, 2018, John and I were returning from Hitchen’s Tire Service in Milford, Delaware and it was around 5 p.m. We spent the day at Hitchen’s replacing all twelve tires on AireInn (yes, our RV has a name) and the Jeep (her name is Nina).
We were only 27 miles from our destination of Circle M RV Resort in Lancaster, Pennsylvania when “The Fall-out” happened.
Buying 8 new tires
Before I share the harrowing details, I’ll explain why we drove 117 miles to make this tire purchase.
1. There is no sales tax in the state of Delaware, which saved us around $700 on the cost of these twelve tires.
2, Hitchen’s Tire Service is a certified member of our Michelin Tire program through the FMCA, which means additional discounts and more $$$ saving.
3. I’ll gladly endorse Hitchen’s Tire Service. The owners, Jason and Chum, provided us with swift, professional service. Additionally, they gracefully tolerated our presence in their warehouse as we documented the “born on date” of each tire.
4. Born on date? What? My non-RV friends are thinking we are nutty to replace tires that are only six-years-old. Actually, the truth is this: RV tires are made to roll and are healthiest when moving regularly.
Avoiding a blow-out
In the RV lifestyle, we expose our tires to irregular travel- sometimes sitting for three weeks, sometimes driving for two weeks straight. Yes, the tread may show absolutely no wear, but the internal steel belts are constantly reacting to internal and external elements.
The bottom line? Our rolling home deserves to have healthy tires. A tire blowout can mean expensive damage to our home not to mention possible harm to those of us who travel in them! Now back to the Fall-out story… Since we were relatively close to our RV resort, we decided not to hook the tow system to the Jeep and instead I followed behind John in the Jeep.
The Fallout Begins
It turned out to be a wise decision because all of a sudden a large piece of metal bounced in front of the Jeep. I swerved to avoid it thinking it might be road debris.
But then more metal parts started FALLING OUT from the underside of AireInn and onto the highway! Since we just had new tires installed I wondered if an axle had broken. In that split second, I almost expected to see one of our new tires roll into the ditch.
No sooner did that thought cross my mind when I heard a horrible screeching sound coming from AireInn. Her 450 Cummins engine was attempting to chug along without several metal components. John heard it as well and quickly steered onto the shoulder.
After placing orange hazard triangles in front and behind AireInn, we inspected the damage to our engine and embarked on a scavenger hunt to collect the “FALL-OUT”. I
The Waiting Game Begins
We called Progressive Insurance to report our breakdown not realizing that twenty hours later we would still be stranded on the side of the road.
Tow Company #1
We sat on the side of Rt. 222 in Conowingo, Maryland. Our Progressive Insurance Roadside Assistance called Tow company #1 but they did not have a Wrecker Truck large enough to accommodate our forty-one thousand pound RV. Plus they wouldn’t be able to come until 7 a.m.
Tow Company #2
At 7:30 p.m. the second Tow Company arrived and the driver assured us that he could manage the tow. As he attached his tow bars and began to lift the rear of AireInn we witnessed the front tires of his Wrecker rise off the pavement.
Umm. Scratch #2. John and I were told that Tow Company #2 called for their largest Wrecker truck.
Around 9:30 p.m., Chuck, The-Wrecker-Driver-Who-Will-Forthwith-Be-Referred-To-As-The-Bozo arrived. Even though we showed him the metal inscription on our front frame that read “Do Not Tow from the Front” and his boss even said tow it from the rear, The Bozo insisted. Wrecker Bozo began to lift AireInn, and we heard “CRUNCH!”
Yes. In less than five seconds time, the massive tow arms popped the frame away from the body, smashed the rails that our generator sits on, and snapped the generator tray release cord. Bozo’s response to us screaming “STOP!” was “Uh, duh, those rails float and I’ll just pull them down and it’ll be alright.”
Stressed and Tired
We called Bozo’s boss Lennie, the Tow Company owner, who ordered him to leave the scene immediately. Ten minutes later, Lennie drove up and apologized profusely for Bozo-The-Wrecker. Lennie also gave us his word to take full financial responsibility for the front end damage.
By now it was around midnight and we got a call from the night shift Roadside Assistance informing us that a flatbed tow truck would be the best way to be transported. At 2 a.m. she called back saying a flatbed Wrecker would arrive at 7 a.m.
We were exhausted.
Talk of the Town
As we crawled into our comfy king size bed, we lifted prayers of thanks for our safety, but also laughed at the fact that our heads were a mere three feet from speeding traffic! The next morning it became evident that our stranded AireInn had become gossip in this small community.
For instance, I drove to pick up coffee at a deli, and the clerk knew all about “that gigantic RV in front of Tracy’s house.” A dog walker named Charles who had stopped by the evening before, knocked on our door to check on us.
Lisa and Emory, a couple in a silver Corvette, stopped by twice to check on us and mentioned that several people at their choir practice had noticed us.
Tracy and her dog Frank came out several times to offer her home, food, and phones. Now it was 10:30 a.m. and Roadside Assistance called saying that Maryland height restrictions would not allow a coach as tall as ours to be put on a flatbed.
Way past Darn…
With our patience wearing thin John and I were way past “Oh Darn” and on our way to “Holy Sh*t!!” Just as we were about to lose all hope, an angel named Jack arrived in a pick-up truck.
Angel in a Wrecker
He asked our story and told us to hang on while he made a phone call. Jack assured us that Bank’s Towing would arrive shortly and would take good care of us.
Having completed his task of saving our sanity, Jack-the-Angel drove off. Sure enough, around noon Doug, a.k.a. The-Angel-In-A-Banks-Towing-Wrecker showed up with a monster truck. This professional had no problem hooking up AireInn and towing her twenty-two miles to the Freightliner Dealer in Elkton, Maryland. Yay! We were finally heading to a repair shop, but there is so much more to this story…
In my next post, I’ll share with you WHY those parts fell out of our engine compartment and WHO almost did not take the blame. Plus, I’ll fill you in on how the front-end of AireInn got repaired.