Friday, November 2nd, 2012
12:54 pm - Flats  
As it started to get dark Wednesday night, I happened to glance out my front window at the truck and noticed that the right rear tire didn't look quite right. Closer inspection confirmed that it had lost quite a bit of pressure. Usually in these cases it takes time and a soapy sponge to locate the leak, but this time it was obvious. The head of a 2" drywall screw was sticking out of the sidewall at a 45° angle just inside of the tread. As it was getting dark, and since I didn't need to go anywhere, I left it for yesterday.

I've had lots of experience with flat tires. It seemed like the my Subaru would get one at least once a year. The truck has been much better, just once that I can recall*. That's good, because the frelling tires are a lot heavier than they were on the Sub, and I'm a lot older and nowhere near as spry. Also, the spare is in an awkward location. It hangs from a cable beneath the rear of the truck, which has to be cranked up or down as needed using the tire iron, and once it's on the ground, it had to be dragged out from beneath the truck. But I digress.

* Of course, the one time it did happen was the miserably hot July day that I had my blood pressure crisis, immediately after visiting my doctor. At the time we still weren't sure what the deal was or whether it was heart related or not, and I was under orders not to exert myself until I had my stress test. Oops. Fortunately, there was nothing wrong with my heart.

One good thing about being of a certain age is that when I was young, gas stations were a lot less concerned with OSHA and insurance regs. As a very young man I got to watch as a mechanic fixed the puncture that had left some friends and me stranded without a spare on the way home from Asbury Park*. What struck me was how simple the repair was. Remember that I was used to repairing tubed bicycle tires, not the tubeless automobile kind. Just find the puncture, remove the offending object if still in the hole, ream the hole out a little, stuff a rubber cement coated plug into the hole, and Bob's your uncle. I never forgot that, although given how often I've needed the knowledge, I suppose that's not surprising.

** Finding an open gas station a mile off the Garden State Parkway at 2 in the morning? Priceless!

Anyway, while I had the Sub I bought a little kit at Benny's that had the tools and plugs necessary for the job for, like, $5***. The plugs were still sticky and effective after all these years, and since the source of the leak was obvious it was an easy fix. I probably could have even done it in situ, but it was easier to roll the tire over by the side stoop and do the job there. That way there was less wear and tear on the tire (it hadn't bottomed out yet, which isn't good for it), and I also didn't need to drag an extension cord outside for the compressor. Did a leak test, which looked good, and the thing still looks fine today.

*** If you ever decide to get such a kit, get the one with T-handles on the reamer and plug insertion tool. Screwdriver style handles are much more difficult to use when trying to shove something into a thick piece of rubber.
---
I talked to Al yesterday, which reminds me that it was partly his fault that I had to go looking for an all night gas station at 2 in the morning. He now lives not all that far inland from Asbury Park (although he didn't back then), and his town is among the clobbered. No power, no heat (it's been colder in Jersey that it's been here), no nothing except that his gas hot water heater is still running. Halloween was officially cancelled**** in town because of the lack of lighting and heat anywhere in the area. He also lives in a much more built up area than I do, so there are a lot of non-working traffic lights. Schools are closed, so the local police have been using otherwise unused school buses to block highway intersections to prevent people from crossing, or even making left turns onto major highways, like say, Rt. 9 (that's highway 9 to you Springsteen fans). If you want to drive anywhere, you need to figure out ways of getting there (and back again!) using only right turns. Yikes!

**** And here I thought holidays only got cancelled in Rankin-Bass holiday specials.