If you are going to have a bad luck experience, it is much easier to endure if you have good luck dealing with it. Such was the situation recently when a bearing seized on our trailer while leaving THE RALLY in Louisville, KY.
We were only six miles away from the Louisville Exhibition Center where The Rally 2010 was held. It was late Sunday afternoon and we were heading home – some 600 miles from our current location. As I turned onto I-64 East I felt a bump, but thought nothing of it. A few moments later a car pulled up along side of us blowing the horn while the passenger was pointing back at our trailer. I looked in my rearview mirror and saw a piece of plastic sticking out in the left wheel well area. I slowed down and turned off of I-64 at an exit directly in front of us. I stopped at a traffic light and noted the driver of the vehicle next to me making all sorts of gestures indicating that I had a problem with the trailer. The next turn was into a parking lot of a small shopping center. There I stopped and got out of the truck to see what all the commotion was about.
I couldn’t believe what I saw. The left rear wheel on the trailer was gone. I had been dragging the wheel-less axle down the highway amid a shower of sparks as the metal parts of the exposed brake assembly rubbed against the pavement.
I called my emergency road service provider. After explaining my situation, the associate I was talking with dispatched an independent trailer and tire repair service. The road service driver drove back down the Interstate and amazingly found the missing wheel. The tire was ruined and the brake drum broken in half – but the wheel was undamaged. Apparently the Nev-R-Lube wheel bearing had seized, causing the hub and drum to break off the trailer.
After much discussion and deliberation we decided the best approach was to chain the axle up to the frame and tow the trailer “as is” fifteen miles to an RV dealership that could make repairs. With only one significantly overloaded tire supporting twice its rated weigh and a road service truck in front and another behind us, we slowly moved back onto I-64, drove the 15 miles at a slow speed, and limped into the parking lot of Tom Stinnett RV Freedom Center in Clarksville, Indiana, It was a miracle the overloaded single tire did not explode!
As we were getting out of the truck a man pulled up in a car and got out. He asked us what was going on. I explained that we had been escorted here in hopes of getting some sort of repair Monday morning. The man then introduced himself as Tom Stinnettt, owner of the facility. He directed us to a site on his lot with a full hook-up and assured us that we would be promptly attended to Monday morning. He left his personal cell phone number telling me to call him if we needed anything .
I made some digital photos of the damage and attached them to an e-mail to Cedar Creek, the manufacturer of our trailer. I explained what had happened in the e-mail and closed it with the words PLEASE HELP!
The next morning I received a call from Dale Brubaker at Cedar Creek. Dale had already been in contact with Tom Stinnett and a rescue plan was in motion. Dale was sending a mechanic from Goshen, Indiana with two new axles. Tom was locating a new, matching tire and his body shop was going to fix the body damage on the trailer so it could be safely moved.
A little before 6:00 p.m. the mechanic arrived from Goshen, IN – some 275 miles and 5 hours north of us.. The axles had been made that morning and he was dispatched as soon as they were finished.
It took about two hours for the mechanic to replace both of the axles along with new brakes and springs on our trailer. The old axles were loaded into his truck and he was on his way back home.
About mid-morning on Tuesday Tom Stinnett had received a matching tire for our trailer and mounted it on the rescued wheel . Tom Stinnett’s body shop technician cut away damaged metal and secured the loose corner of the rear fiberglass cap so we could move the trailer safely.
We were exactly two days behind schedule when we pulled out of Tom Stinnett’s Freedom RV Center once again headed home. Thankfully, we arrived at our home base safely on Thursday after an overnight stop at a KOA in Huntington, WV.
WOW! These folks immediately came to our aid and did everything that anyone could hope for to see that we were quickly and efficiently taken care of. The response of Dale Brubaker at Cedar Creek, the Lippert mechanic, and the kindness and concern extended by Tom Stinnett were simply unexpected in a time when companies often deny any responsibility when something fails, leaving the owners hopelessly stranded.
The axles and bearings were still under warranty, but I doubt that I would have been treated any differently if they were not. These companies took charge of my seemingly desperate situation and did what we believe to be “the right thing”.
The damage to the trailer caused by the errant wheel amounts to several thousand dollars. Cedar Creek has stepped forward and said that they would cover the cost of repairs. There was no argument, delay or legal intervention. They simply said that they would take care of everything.
Sometimes when you are unlucky you get lucky. The luck was NOT being on top of a West Virginia Mountain far from help when the failure occurred. The luck was being taken to Tom Stinnett RV and having him drive by just as we arrived. The luck was no one was hurt. But, it wasn’t luck when Cedar Creek jumped in to provide the parts and service to make it all right – it was smarts on my part for purchasing a product from a company that has a reputation for doing the right thing when trouble develops.
Many, many thanks to everyone that prevented this mechanical breakdown from becoming an absolute nightmare.
“Character is doing the right thing when nobody’s looking. There are too many people who think that the only thing that’s right is to get by, and the only thing that’s wrong is to get caught.”