Friday, 18 May 2012

Wagon Wheels

Since we are trailering Iris to the new marina, and since that involves rocketing down some of the busiest highways (or quietest back roads) in the area for over an hour, I thought I better get the trailer ready to go.  Step one in trailer preparation was to air up some pretty flat tires.

When we bought our trailer last fall, it came with 4 small tires, and a larger size spare. At haulout, it was pointed out to me that the only tire I had that was actually a trailer tire was the spare. All the others were undersized and had a low load rating. Since the trailer was only going about 10 minutes between the house and marina it wasn't a big deal, but with an hour-long trip this spring I was having second thoughts about the tires.

Maybe just once I could get away with the existing tires. After that the trailer would be a yard trailer anyways, and only rarely see the road.

I got out an air compressor and took a look at the tires.

Tire 1:

Completely flat. When I added air it hissed right back out of the valve stem. The rubber stem was cracked. I would have to replace the valve stem. Oh well. I could use the spare in its place. Remove tire 1, set aside.

Spare tire:

This being the only trailer tire, I had much confidence in it. Plus, its tread was like new. I aired it up. Water hissed and bubbled out of a slice in thesidewall. Oh well, I already needed to repair one tire, might as well look into fixing this one at the same time.

Tire 2

This one had held air all winter, so that made me happy. I put a pressure gauge to the stem and it read double the recommended inflation. I let air out. As I waited for the tire to deflate I noticed a series of cracks where the tread was separating from the tire. Since the trailer was already jacked up for removal of tire 1, it was easy to remove this tire as well. It would have to be replaced.

Tire 3

I wandered around to the other side of the trailer and looked at the next tire. Dead flat. As I added air, it too showed signs of tread separation. I jacked up the trailer and removed this tire, stacking it with the other 3.

Tire 4

With 4 tires already stacked for replacement, there was no point in even trying to pretend there would be nothing wrong with the last tire. I just took it off and stacked it with the others and then started calling around for a shop to replace the tires.

It was surprisingly difficult to find replacement tires of the right size and load rating. Certainly Princess Auto carries them. The ones at princess auto are already mounted on rims and ready to go. They were also expensive - which is uncommon for Princess Auto. Canadian Tire was my next call. They also had some availability of product, pre-mounted on rims, also expensive. I was starting to see a trend and was ready to bite the bullet and just pay whatever I had to. Then I called around to some local tire shops. Eventually I came across Duff Tires of Newmarket. They offered trailer tires at a great price and fast service, but I only had about half an hour to get the tires to them. Some quick effort by Chuck and I and we were on our way.

We made the 40 minute drive to the tire shop in, well, 40 minutes, arriving as they were closing shop on a Saturday afternoon. I was half expecting to be told to come back some other time, but instead the staff welcomed us, helped off load the tires from the van, filled out the paperwork and wished us a great weekend. The fellow who helped us had "honour" and "respect" tattooed on his forearm, and I can say he lives to his mottoes. The folks were great.

This week, work has run late a lot, so the tires have been waiting for me since Monday, but last night I finally got out of work in time to make it back to pick them up. I called before leaving the office, and then made the 75 minute drive in, well, 80 minutes, arriving just after the shop had closed.

I was met at the back door by the same gent who had checked me in when the tires were dropped off. He laughed about me being late (again), helped load the tires into the van, and then walked me to the front of the shop where he checked me out with an easy-going and friendly demeanour. Total cost for the tires came out to $550 for 4 new tires and the best of the old tires set aside as a spare.

Despite not expecting (or wanting) to replace the tires, these guys did a great job for us. I'll have to add them to my A-list of services. Now I just have to hope the tires last a few years. I see UV covers in my future.

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