Lots of full-time RVers with big rigs are very sensible and stick to traveling on paved roads. But we like to get off the beaten path, and sometimes that puts us on crazy, rough and rugged dirt roads.
As we were hitching up to leave, Mark did his usual walk around our trailer to make sure nothing was about to fall off and that everything was secure. To his shock, he noticed that the long bolt that goes through the equalizer on our trailer’s leaf spring suspension system had walked almost all the way out!
Holy Smokes! Our 14,000 lb. 36′ fifth wheel trailer was about to lose the bolt holding this vital piece of gear together!
We were miles from nowhere, and I immediately began scenario building in my head to plan various ways we might get out of this mess.
While I theorized, Mark calmly set about getting out his tools and tackling the problem right there in the dirt. His first task was to raise the trailer up so he could get the bolt properly aligned horizontally and tap it back into place with a hammer.
So, out came the 12 ton bottle jack.
He needed to raise the trailer up quite high to relieve all the pressure on that bolt, so he took a piece of wood we sometimes use under the fifth wheel landing legs and put it under the bottle jack to raise it higher. Then he took a second block of wood and put it on top of the bottle jack to span the c-channel tube that runs the width of the trailer.
Pumping away on the bottle jack, he finally got the wheels entirely off the ground and began tapping the bolt through the two sides of the hanger with a small hammer.
It took a little finagling to get the bolt to line up and go through the second hole on the back side of the hanger.
But he was able to get it aligned and he got it to go through.
The bigger problem, though, was figuring out what had happened to the nut that had been holding this bolt in place. It was nowhere to be found and undoubtedly was somewhere out on that nasty 3 mile dirt road.
So, now what?
Mark is a really amazing mechanic, and he keeps a magic container of potential spare parts in his Man Cave in the basement of our trailer. This magical container is a lot like the carpet bag that Mary Poppins carried.
Remember how Mary Poppins pulled all kinds of surprising things out of that bag, to the sheer delight and amazement of Jane and Michael Banks? Among other things, she pulled out a hat rack, a potted plant and a full-size standing lamp while Michael searched under the table to try to figure how she did it.
Well, that’s just the way Mark’s magic box of spare parts tricks works. When he needs a special little gizmo to make things right again, he fishes around in the box and finds just the thing while I scratch my head wondering how such a little container could always produce exactly what he needs.
A few months back we’d replaced the tires on our fifth wheel trailer and decided to replace the original lug nuts with locking lug nuts. A few of the original lug nuts also had cosmetic cracks on them which didn’t look attractive, so the new locking lug nuts were much nicer all around. Mark had decided to put a few of the old lug nuts in his magic box of tricks.
So, as he fished around for an appropriately sized nut, lo and behold, it turned out those lug nuts were the exact diameter he needed!
The thread pitch on the lug nut was not quite right, but the threads on the bolt had been damaged anyway as it walked itself out of the hanger.
While I held the bolt in place with a wrench on one side, Mark ratcheted the lug nut on the other side. He was able to jam the nut on the bolt and re-groove the bolt’s threads enough to make a super tight connection.
As I mentioned in my post about Bisti Badlands, it’s okay for a passenger car or van, but I would leave a bigger RV in Farmington and drive the tow vehicle or toad to Bisti instead!
Who would’ve ever thunk that a rough road could loosen the nut on a big fifth wheel trailer’s suspension and walk the bolt that holds the equalizer in position almost all the way out?!
And who would’ve ever thunk that a lug nut from the trailer’s wheels would give us such a great temporary fix to get us back on the road?!
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