Monday, October 21, 2013

Dragon Tales: 10/13 Vist, Post 2

Or, The Saga Of A Trip Almost Ruined But Saved By Kamal.  Thankyou, Kamal, and Discount Tire in Maryville, TN!

I arrived on the Dragon late on Thursday morning, after driving through rain of Biblical proportions on I-75 all the way down from Lexington, KY.  It stopped raining on the other side of the mountains (Knoxville), but the Dragon was still damp--wet in places.  That checked one of my boxes--I've always wanted to make hard-ish passes in the damp (but not in pouring rain).  But the road was crowded, so I packed it in after six passes.  After all, I had two more days to play.

I was back at 8:00 on Friday morning, and thus begins my tale of woe and redemption.  The Dragon was already crowded-ish, with touring bikes and mini-SUV's.  Great Smoky National Park had just re-opened, and some of these folks may have been "leafers."  So it was tough to make an unobstructed pass, even when I used pull-offs.  Rule Of Thumb: you need to give your Obstructor two minutes or more to avoid catching him again.  And I spent part of the morning learning how to use my GoPro video camera by making mistakes.  (GoPros are easy enough to use unless you are ETC, Electronic Technology Challenged, as I am.)

The real "fun" began just before noon, when I was making a northbound pass.  I heard a loud sound, a kind of pop/crack, which made me think I'd just run over a walnut shell about the size of an orange. Of course I got out of the gas as soon as I heard it.  The left rear tire began to deflate rapidly, and the TPMS light came on.  Props to Michelin: the tire did not fail explosively.  The Dragon Gods were on my side, and I reached the pulloff where Kamal was shooting for about 1/8 of a mile later with a "whump, whump, whump."  He waved me in.  (This is a "thumbs up" that nobody is approaching from the opposite direction, so you can cross the road safely).  Being lazy, and not wishing to be impolite, I sat and chatted with Kamal for 20 minutes before pulling out the jack.

Chez Kamal.  If you are going to pull across the road to stop, get an "all clear" signal from the photographer before
making the turn.  Kamal's Civic is a Dragon-slaying beast.  Most of his mods are in the four corners of the wheel
wells, but he's also got "forged everything," from the pistons down, in the engine, too. 

When I got the tire off, this was what we saw:

I thought my day was done, and maybe the whole trip was down the tubes.  What were the chances that anybody in Robbinsville handled Michelin tires?  Kamal thought for a New York Minute and said "I've got you covered.  Go to Discount Tire in Maryville and tell them I sent you.  You'll be back here before the sun goes down."  He gave me street directions that even I could follow.  I mounted the space-saver spare and motored slowly into Maryville.

Kamal was dead right.  Discount Tire could get my Michelin in a day.  I opted instead for a Yokahama of identical size and similar construction (a 4-season tire like my Michelins, with a similar tread pattern), which was in stock.  They had me in and out in under 1/2 hour.  I was back on the Dragon, making passes, in under two hours.  That does not include 40 minutes of fine gearhead conversation with Kamal.

My savior, Kamal, doing what he does when he's not building engines or working on his
Demon Civic.  If there is any "local" involved in the hospitality and tourist trade who's
not friendly and helpful, I've yet to meet him/her.  But Kamal went way beyond that:
he turned a trip that could have been toast into French Toast with extra syrup.

My Willie Nelson shot: "On the road again, so glad to be back on the road again!"

The Culprit: this is what blew my tire.  The chromed piece has a counter-sunk hex head on the closer end.  It looks to
be an accesory piece from a cruiser bike.  I have no idea how or why the softer end was the one that punctured the tire.
Killboy's theory is that the front tire threw it at the back tire at an angle which barely "worked," so to speak.  The
Tech at Discount Tire, who saved it for me, said that the soft end scored the inside of the rim.  So it obviously
went in deep and hard.  It's 3-7/8" long--a bit longer than the height of the tire.  Killboy's theory is at least
plausible: the incident occurred in a tight left-hand bend, with the left-front tire unloaded and thus
positioned to kick debris toward a dropped-down left-rear tire.  But the physics involved in
this puncture still boggle my mind.


Watchtower said...

Excellent post!

Was wondering if the car felt any different with the single Yokohama and 3 Michelins?

Pilote Ancien said...

Not that I can feel, but the Yokohama is on the back, just following the front around (on this front-driver). I made several hard passes on the Dragon after it was installed, and did 600+ miles home. All of this was in dry weather.

I suspect (don't know) that there may be an issue with two different tires up front, where all the work gets done, when it comes time to rotate tires. But I still have the first set of tires on the o.e.m. rims.
So my Diabolical Plan is to rotate when the wear on this set is about equal to the old ones, and swap out the Yokohama for the best old tire--back on 4 o.e.m. tires with 30% of tread life left in them.

Kate said...

I'm just glad you weren't hurt! Silly me ;-)

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