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Old 08-30-2010, 10:38 PM   #1
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Watch Out For Alligators!

What a trip.
I was on the road in Wyoming, to a little town called Wheatland.
I was about 30 miles North of Cheyenne, I saw the critter, on the line between the lanes. I had the train in tow, My toad the "Donkey", and my much loved PWC, known as the water Yamaha. I started to make a slow drift to the right, but not too far, as there was a smaller critter there too.
At the same time, I was being passed by a faster and somewhat larger 18 wheeler. As he passed the creature in my eye, it suddenly jumped to the right. I heard myself exclaim, Oh, thanks! I tried, but in vain, to make a drift to the left, at a faster rate than the one to the right. ...to late. caught it with the front tire, (left) just a small bump, then a very large bump, followed by a loud crash, then major vibration. all in, maybe three seconds.
I slowed down, to lessen the vibration, as my teeth were ratling, as was everthing else. I saw the sign for the next exit, only a 1/4 mile away.
As I came to a stop on the shoulder of the off ramp, I felt at least relieved, it was still in one piece, although not for long. I crawled underneath, to survey the damages. The exhaust tail pipe, once smoothly bent to the left, and exiting in front of the rear tire, was in the shape of a well used pipe cleaner, and smashed on the end from the run in with the tires.
The driveshaft rear carrier bearing support loop, was bent to the left as well. So, to let the exhaust cool, I started on the shaft. Topside to dig out the great tool box. then with a few pounds of chrome vanadium steel, in my hands, I crawled back, under the beast. some turning, some hammering, some prying, and the burning rubber smell would be all fixed.
Now for that Pipe, yes! I have a hacksaw. Now where to whack it off?
Then the great misery, the large (and very deep) spiral dent in the rear section of the driveshaft, the vibration. Well, nothing I can do with it here. So out from under, clean up the tools, (and me) and back in the pilot seat. Whoa, there's that vibration again. ok, well 40 it is, mph, that is. On to Wheatland, our destination, well almost. dump the tanks, grab a last minute grocery stop, fuel to the top, and off to the lake.
Next day, made a few calls, got no help. so unhitch the toad and go to town to see what, if anything I can find. A local shop said they could do the work, but just not today. It was friday after all. The local parts store refered me to the local shop. Ok, lunch time. After a quick hot dog at the A&W, I had a last minute brainstorm, and made a turn into the local Ford Dealer, Laramie Peak Motors. The parts counter man, listened to my sad story, and said, (just what I had thought he would say) "We have no shaft". But, then he said something I wasn't ready for, "I'll call the shop we use". "They are a little far away, but good". I said "cool".
He got Frank, on the phone, and told him, my sob story. Frank wanted to talk to me! He gave me directions to his shop, and told me he could take care of it today. WAHOO! 83 miles north, hmmmm. What the hell, "Road Trip" Jumped in the Toad, and hauled tail back to the lake. Got sidetracked with a little refer repair for a friend, but hey, that's me.
grabbed a few pounds of that chrome vanadium stuff again, and got the rear section of the driveshaft out. threw it in the toad, and we were off.
rolled into Glenrock, WY. About 3:15pm Talked with Frank, at Wilderness Ridge Driveline and Fabrication, and asked if I would have to come back and pick it up tomorrow. Frank said, "there's a few places in town, you can get something to eat, and have a beer, and I'll have it done at 5:00".
After a trip each way through town, we settled on, the
"Fort Diablo" Steakhouse. Very Friendly staff, and what seemed like, quite a following for dinner. I was too wound up to eat, but we did take them up on Franks suggestion. 3 times! Shhhh.
We rolled up to the shop at 4:45, it was drying in the sun. My newly retubed, (and painted) Driveshaft. Life is good. I took care of the financial duties, chatted with Frank some more, and loaded up the toad again. Me, my Brother-in-law's Brother, and the driveshaft. Left Glenrock at 5:02, arrived campsite, 6.28pm. (and that was with two bathroom breaks), installed the driveshaft, got a beer, and sat down to watch the sunset. "Watch Out For Alligators".

Damn, I'm Good!
"I've got dozzens of friends, and the fun never ends, that is, as long as I'm buying."
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Old 08-31-2010, 06:57 AM   #2
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WOW, thats what you call bad luck and good luck in the same incident.

Was following a MH once on I-75, he ran over a gator and it took out his generator. It was really just dragging on the ground. I stayed back a little ways as I was expecting a major gas fire at any minute. Lucky that he was only about a mile from a rest area and he made it there.

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Old 08-31-2010, 09:36 AM   #3
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Thanks for the story. I can imagine all of this. The beers surely helped.
Jim Walker
N Virginia
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Old 08-31-2010, 10:26 AM   #4
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Just goes to show that them critters can be found anywhere.
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Old 09-01-2010, 09:20 PM   #5
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small gator bent the crap out of my gen pipe a coupld weeks ago

Yeah, I had gator problems on I 5 north last month up around Teton Ranch. Truck in front of me hid it until it was too late and hit it on drivers side front. Little damage except bent the gen exhaust pipe back till it almost touched the front tire. Gators are serious problems.
Bob & Barbara
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Old 09-01-2010, 09:33 PM   #6
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Also great reasons to never drive beside a semi-truck, either stay back, or pass safely and quickly.
2000 Winnebago Ultimate Freedom USQ40JD, ISC 8.3 Cummins 350, Spartan MM Chassis. USA 1SG, retired;PPA,Good Sam Life member."We the people are the rightful masters of both the Congress and the Courts - not to overthrow the Constitution but to overthrow men who pervert theConstitution. "Abraham Lincoln"
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Old 09-07-2010, 10:35 AM   #7
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Great story but I have some questions:

I saw the critter
Alligator = retread tire fragment?

I had the train in tow, My toad the "Donkey", and my much loved PWC
You were towing a Toad and a PWC on a trailer? Not in Michigan you don't. Trailer behind a fifth wheeler is ok, but not two trailers. Things different out west? Or am I misunderstanding you?
Ole and Anne Anderson, Highland, Michigan
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Old 09-07-2010, 08:42 PM   #8
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Those "Gators" are not necessarily from a retread. Part of duties along with the mechanical shop was a tire shop when I was working. We had less trouble with the retreads than with some of the new tires we bought. We were a municipality and had a bid process for purchases and contracts so lots of times what we got were junk from the start. We had one brand that I never saw one wear out, the tread just seperated.
If you drive your vehicle slowly (idling) in a lot if you feel a "wiggle" you probably have a tire that the tread is seperating from the casing.

Glad the OP was not injured and was able to repairs completed so he could continue his trip.
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Old 09-08-2010, 12:42 PM   #9
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Yes, alligator=tire tread, recap or not.
Yes, Toad is a '88 Ford Bronco II
I tow that, 4 down, with a one place waverunner trailer behind.
It has brakes, so not a big deal to tow.

Colorado has no problem with it that I can find.
I've been told that AZ doesn't like it, but so far have had no problems there either. I used to tow a 32' Jayco, and a two place trailer behind that. never had a problem.
Never even had a cop look twice at it.
In fact, I had a tire blow out on the two place in UT, back in '99, I was on the side of I-70 changing the tire, when a state trooper showed up, he asked if everything was ok, and hung around abit, probably to see if i was drinking or something. He said "have a good night" and drove off. My Bro -in-law tows a boat and a two place, or used to. His Motorhome is too long for that now, so I tow it for him, and he tows the pontoon now.

As I understand it, colorado allows up to 75' if the first trailer has brakes.
AZ is 70' with brakes in the middle. I've towed two, al over the western half, of the country with no problems. mechanical, or law. I can even back them up if needed.
Damn, I'm Good!
"I've got dozzens of friends, and the fun never ends, that is, as long as I'm buying."
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Old 09-08-2010, 02:02 PM   #10
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Your right folks, those gators can pop up anywhere. I was going north on I-55 in Arkansas and following a semi. All of a sudden here comes a gator underneath the semi. It's just off the center of the road so I try to straddle it with the MH. I hear a thud then the toad breakaway light goes on which means the toad is breaking Oh Boy!! Get off to the shoulder and take a look. The gator came up on the toad hitch and knocked the breakaway line right out of the toad. Nothing else was damaged. Repaired the switch and connector and went on my way. Left the soiled pants on the side of the road (just kidding).

2012 Winnebago Journey 40U 2013 Chevy Equinox
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