Saturday, June 28, 2008
Trailer trouble on the home stretch
We left Madawaska at 7:30 this morning, hoping to make it to Kalamazoo by early evening. But by 10 a.m., our right wheel was rubbing on the fender and smoking. We pulled over and spent close to two hours removing the fender, then discovered that the U-bolts connecting the spring to the axle were loose. We tightened them, but that left the trailer listing to the right. That's when we realized the true root of the problem: one of the leaves of the right side two-leaf spring was missing. No doubt it had jostled loose and fallen off on a bumpy road this morning. So we set off in quest of a new spring (and perhaps some assistance installing it) on the Friday before Canada Day, when everyone else was busy buying fireworks and beer.
We pulled into a truck garage first, where a kindly service manager assessed our problem and agreed that we might not be wise to continue driving with the trailer looking as it did. He didn't carry small springs like ours and wasn't supposed to work on any vehicles other than trucks, but said he would try to help if we could find the part. He sent us off with directions to the local Canadian Tire, a nationwide chain of stores that used to specialize in tires but has since expanded to sell nearly everything but food.
That Canadian Tire location no longer carried springs, but the service manager there called four others to find one that did. Long story (and long afternoon) short: We wound up in London, where a service manager and mechanic embraced the challenge. They didn't have a two-leaf spring, so they modified a four-leaf spring, and while they were at it checked the wheel bearings and made some needed adjustments.
We tipped each of them with a six-pack of good, dark beer. By 8 p.m., we were on the road again, our trailer humming happily behind us.
What struck us about this afternoon is this: Everyone we encountered tried to help, even though they were getting ready to leave for a national holiday weekend. They all went out of their way to do whatever they could to help solve our problem.