It was another wondermuss season for Millicent. She traveled 7117 miles and did not have to be towed. And if we don’t count the little mishap with the clogged fuel filter when I first started her in spring, she didn’t even impede traffic, much.
The best part of the 7117 miles was that I was not onboard for most of it. Co-owner Peter used her for most of those miles. Millicent is noisy, and she rides roughly, which gets old after about… two miles. So I have interior sound deadening
near the top of my Winter To-Do List.
Now let’s talk about The Case Of The Defective Tire.
Loyal readers (who have nothing better to do that walk around thinking of this) may be aware that Millicent was equipped with el-cheapo Chinese front tires by the name of Double Coin. These were brand new in 2006, and were barely beginning to show appreciable wear now.
Well, when I went down to Peter’s house to bring Millicent back home the other day, I found a fist-size bubble on the shoulder of Millicent’s right front tire. Palm-size, anyway. Mostly on the sidewall, but an inch or two under the tread also. Ready to blow.
Of course, this can happen to any tire, as a result of hitting a curb or pot-hole or some such, or by pure fluke. But I never saw it in 27 years of trucking for a living. So I’m all done with cheapo tires.
A friend in the tire-business tells me that all tires should be discarded after six years, regardless of wear. He says it is in the nature of the materials that they deteriorate from time, ozone, UV-rays and whatnot.
Well, I had a set of car tires that I stored for ten years, and it did not take long before three of them had disintegrated at speed. So maybe my friend does know something about it.
But holy bananas, tires are expensive. Millicent’s new Toyo came to 500 bucks installed.
How long will I dare drive on the other Double Coin?
I’m thinking of buying a 1” pneumatic impact wrench and carrying the remaining Double Coin as a spare. I always intended to call road service if we had a flat, but there is no reason I cannot change my mind.
There was a peculiar episode with this new tire. The store, a Les Schwab, asked if I wanted the tire balanced, and I said yes. But what he did was place a paper bag of sand – sand! – inside the tire when he mounted it. Supposedly, the sand – it is actually a plastic material -- moves around and figures out how to balance the tire as it rolls. This ten ounces of “sand” cost 30 Dollars…
…And lasted less than ten miles before I turned around and made the clever fellow do the whole job over and vacuum every grain of crap out of my nice new tire. It runs perfectly now, without any balancing, as such tires usually do.
The sand actually does find its way to the light area of the tire when the tire rolls steadily down a smooth highway for an extended period. Trouble is, the stuff falls out of place every time you stop, and even moves around from changes in speed, to say nothing of how it gets knocked out of place by bumps. And when the sand is out of place, the tire shakes like a haunted bed.
My gut told me right away it was a Fundamentally Bad Idea, but the store had already mounted the tire when I learned about it.
Les Schwab has great friendly service, but they are prone to pushing these dubious profit-padders.
He did give me the $30 back. So the new tire actually cost only