Day 36 – Canada: Breakdown in St. John’s

Friday, July 10, 2009 – Day 36

We had lots of driving ahead of us and so we wanted to get an early start to the driving ahead of us. We wanted to visit Cape Spear and a fishing village on the East coast but our plans were quickly changed as we started to drive away. As we were pulling out for the day, the rear tire of the RV went over a curb.

I looked back and as we went over the curb I saw a burst of air blasting out from the area around the rear tire. I slowly got out expecting to see a completely flat tire but was surprised as it only looked slightly flat. This was definitely not how we wanted to start out the day.

Day Long Tire Repairs
In the rear of the motorhome there are two sets of tires side by side so I slowly drove over to a gas station across the street from us in St. John’s. As I paid my 50 cents to activate the air compressor filled the tire to the pressure level I thought was acceptable. This however did not seem to make a visual difference in how much air appeared to be in the outside back tire. A kind trucker stopped by to help so I pugged the compressor with another 50 cents. This is when we discovered that only one of the two tire valves for this side of the vehicle were visible. There was supposed to be a valve for the inside rear tire and another for the outside rear tire. As a result I was only able to fill the inside back tire with air, not the outside tire that had hit the curb. I was not even able to check the tire pressure. He suggested that we go and get the tire checked out at a tire shop… we drove one kilometer to the closest shop our GPS could find but they advised us that they were unable to assist with such a large vehicle. We continued on to another tire store that this shop owner suggested to us but after waiting 30 minutes for them, they advised us that they were also unable to work on such a large RV.
Finally at the 3rd specialty Tire shop they popped off the hubcaps to reveal the missing tire valve… what they did not mention to me was that the tire pressure was OK. They did however inspect all of my tires and informed me that they were all suffering from dry rot with the front tires heavily worn from being out of alignment. I was told that all 6 tires would need to be replaced if we wanted to make it back to the West coast of Canada. Yikes, all 6 tires. As I contemplated risking it and taking the RV to a US city or a larger city for some better tire prices… I gave in to the safety recommendation. We would spend the $1500 to have the tires replaced and an alignment done. As the tire shop had no time to do an alignment for us I called around other places to see if they could do it on the same day. After about half a dozen calls the service person said they could squeeze us in but that we would have to leave our vehicle in the shop for the day. Considering the 6 to 7 hour drive we had planned for the day it was not in our plans but necessary nonetheless.

We took a cab to a nearby mall where I was able to make an appointment to have a chiropractor adjust my back that was still in pain from a couple of days earlier in Halifax. As there were no cabs that could accommodate our entire family we had to take two taxis. After arriving at the mall we soon discovered that we would not be able to spend the day here. This was a ghost mall with most of the shops closed and the ones that were open were mostly professional services like gas companies and doctors offices.

After my much needed adjustment that only relieved the pain in my back and gave me some ideas on stretches I could do, we all had a quick bite to eat before taking another two taxis to a larger mall 8 minutes away. This however was a much more successful place for a family of 8 to spend the afternoon. We were able to get a few things at a dollar store, buy some groceries, get some needed supplies at a department store and line up to get everyone’s hair cut. Perhaps it was not a bad thing to have a day off to just catch up on some much needed tasks. A couple of hours later I received the phone call telling me that my vehicle was repaired and ready to go. I took a taxi to the repair shop and went over the repairs with the technician… it was then that I noticed the smell of propane. It didn’t seem too bad but it was there. After picking up my family from the mall and driving two hours down the highway we noticed the smell of propane outside when we stopped. I looked at the propane gauge and noticed that in the past day, we had used up as much propane as we had used up in the previous month. I turned the propane off and had it filled up at a service station. It was then that the technician noticed that we had a propane leak… it was not my tires that blew when we went over the curb in the morning, it was the propane line that snapped and was blowing propane by the rear drivers tire. Argh! We were in the middle of nowhere and would be until late the following day.
As a result we had to turn our propane off (which deactivated our fridge and freezer) for the next day.
Well behind schedule we drove on to Twilingate before arriving there at 1am. We had an appointment to take an iceberg tour in the morning and didn’t want to miss it.

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