Sunday, May 20, 2012

What Do You Eat A Tire With, or New Wheels and Tires

Back in November, I mentioned the teeth rattling shake I was having at speed (read "Shake Rattle and Roll"). Then I reported that after taking it in to a local shop, they found a convenient workaround - swap the spare tire in (read "Safety Fast") until I could learn to replace and adjust the spokes to
"true" the bad wheels. That worked great for a few months as I researched the planned procedure. Then, while crawling under the car to change the oil, I noticed a broken spoke on the front wheel. Looking a little closer, I found three more on the same wheel. There are only 48 spokes on the whole wheel, so having that many missing can't be safe. I was forced to swap the lumpy tire back in and stick to a slower speed. This carried me for a few weeks until the lumpy tire developed a flat. I really shouldn't have driven it at all and am lucky it didn't fail suddenly on a highway.
30 inch tire spoon from Northern Tool

Friday, May 11, 2012

Ejected From The Passenger Seat, Sliding Across The Pavement

The weather has warmed up and I've finished some projects, allowing me to enjoy some great driving. One morning recently I hopped into the car, put my bag on the seat next to me and headed off to work.  It was a little overcast and cold, so I put on one of the hats I've learned to keep in the door pocket - bright orange.  A few minutes into my drive I approached a double left turn, that I like to take "with gusto", allowing the car to relive a small amount of the glory it had when it made a splash at "LeMans" in 1955, where it was famous for its ability to handle in the corners. In reality, and especially for any blog readers out there of the law enforcement or insurance agent persuasion, this means the corner is taken a little faster than the other cars can comfortably do but still within all safe and legal limits. Not so much as a squealed tire. But hey, it livens up the commute.

MGA at LeMans in 1955. This is basically what I look like
on the way to work most mornings.
In the throws of the corner, I heard a sickening sound from just behind me to the right - not quite a bang but clearly related to the metal of the car body. I could also make out some movement - a part of the car was flying away - a softer thud, and a horrible grinding sound. I glanced to the right and found the passenger door wide open. A scene from the night before replayed in my head - I could remember my oldest getting out of the car and not fully closing the door. What a relief, the sounds were just the door overcoming the friction holding it partly closed and flying open in a centrifugal reaction to the turn.

A relief that is, until I realized fully what had happened. As I turned the corner, my computer bag with my MacBook Air and iPad hit the unlatched door and flung it open. The bag was then ejected from the passenger seat, hit the road and went sliding across the pavement. The traffic behind me sped past it, around it, and over it, hopefully not truly over it. I pulled off the side of the road and spotted the bag. I got out and ran over. A passerby waiting at the light had gotten out of the car and was picking my bag up for me. I met him in the middle of the intersection - still wearing my bright "hunter orange" hat - and thanked him for his help. Back in the car, off to work, certain I was carrying a bag of expensive broken glass.

Luckily when I got to work I found the bag had some minor "road rash" on the bottom, but the laptop and the iPad worked fine. Nothing short of miraculous. I double check the passenger door now before I leave the garage.