In October we set out on a travel excursion covering the North of the North Island of New Zealand. We did all the necessary checks as usual. With 2 new front tyres and alignment done, we hit the road. All went well and we reached our first stop where we spent 2 nights before heading further. We did not plan our trip in advance. We just had a general direction in mind – north.
The trip continues
We passed through Whangerei and were leisurely cruising along State Highway 1 towards KariKari Peninsula. Cruising at 80 to 90kmh, the road disappeared in the rear view mirror at a comfortable pace.
We were towing our Suzuki Carry Van behind. It doubled as an extra room for all the fishing gear and some groceries. Very handy of course for those little excursions exploring the nooks and crannies in the vicinity while the motorhome is having a rest in a camp site.
It was a Monday – Labour day, which is a public holiday of course. The road was reasonably quiet. Karikari Peninsual was still a long way away and we were approximately 30 minutes out of Whangerei. The area is quite rural and it seemed like the few people staying in the area made use of the public holiday to go visit somewhere else – not a soul in sight.
Suddenly, there was a sound like cow dung meeting the tar seal. Just once and it was quiet. The next moment we could hear a tumble dryer with a full load of washing going round and round. I calmly eased the motorhome off the road and came to a halt on the roadside.
With some luck on our side, the road was wide enough to accommodate the bus between the dirt and the yellow line. Some more luck had it so that we were parked level with almost no incline.
By this time I was certain that it was a tyre. As I got out, I could smell rubber. On a closer look, the left rear inner wheel was the culprit. The tyre was completely sheared off on both sides in the middle of the sidewall right around. It looked like it was cut by a knife, right through the steel reinforcing. Sad to say I did not get a photo of it but this picture is a close resemblance:
Immediately I knew that we may have a problem getting the wheel off to fit the spare. I got the 20 tonne bottle jack out and placed it under the rear side shaft. I chocked the wheels with some wooden blocks I use under the levelers. I got the wheel spanner and tried to undo the wheel nuts by jumping on the arm with full force, only to find the wheel nuts giggling at my escapades.
So I gave it up for plan B. I set off to the nearest dwelling up a side road. Nearing the gate, a pack of dogs came to greet me in less friendly terms. I stood my ground behind the safety of the gate until an elderly lady slowly limped her way to the gate.
The noisy dogs calmed down and I greeted and asked if she had any power tools or knew anyone with such items. She shook her head and started making her way back to the house. The only other dwelling in the distance seemed abandoned so I didn’t waste time trying to go there.
Plan C kicked in. I started calling all the emergency services. One guy, Lee, said he can help at $230 call-out fee. All I needed was a pipe to extend the wheel spanner. He gave me a number of another guy doing rescue services. I called him but he was not willing to come out for whatever reason.
I explored all avenues and called various companies to no avail. One company asked me to “hold on” and the next minute I was connected to Lee, the firs guy I phoned. He was a contractor for the major road service companies.
Without any choice left, I had to get the $230 pipe extension. Lee eventually arrived and in no time the 2 of us had the wheel off. We lifted the tread off the wheel just like the picture above and only the 2 round bead rings remained on the rim. The spare wheel was fitted and we were on our way.
…but not the end yet…
However, the ordeal wasn’t fully over yet. We carried on to our destination and reached the camp site without further ado. The next day, I started searching for another spare tyre.
I called all the tyre shops in Kaitaia which was the closest big town. Nobody could assist. I eventually called the bus companies and even though they had stocked up on the same tyres, they would not let one go.
Size 18 tyres have been discontinued, I was told, and very hard to find. I tried a last call to a tyre dealer which brought some light to this dark issue. Someone ordered a similar size and would only need it the following month. I booked it and drove in to town the following day to have it fitted.
When reaching the shop, I started inquiring on used tyres again. I needed a spare only and to fork out $590 was quite steep. Again luck was on our side and they found a good used tyre in the back yard which I grabbed for $100.
To make a long story short, we completed our journey without any further obstacles or need of the spare tyre.
The next step
The next step is to find 19.5 inch rims to fit my motorhome so I can get away from the 18 inch tyres. It will likely cost me in the region of $6000 for a set of new rims with tires but worth it in the long run. Remember, I will need to change 7 wheels!
The 19.5s can carry more weight too thus we will not run so close to the limits. I will do an article on that as soon as it has realized.
What could’ve caused it?
I inspected the tyre for any abnormalities – nothing. All I can ascribe it to is old age and the fact that it is a snow tyre. Some tyres seem to have a tight temperature operation range and even though it was a Brigestone, it still couldn’t handle the load at a higher temperature.
This is the 2nd tyre we lost even though the tread looked like new. The previous one also popped a perfect round hole, like that cause by a bullet, through the inner sidewall while parked on a perfectly flat sealed surface. We never heard anything. I just happened to notice one day that the outer tyre seemed a bit flat. Meanwhile it was bulging because of the extra weight it carried without assistance from the inner tyre.
Moral of the story
1. Don’t get a flat on a public holiday.
2. Do not use snow tyres in warmer conditions.
3. Try to undo the wheel nuts to test your equipment before you go on holiday.