Sunday, July 5, 2009

Trailers & Tow-trucks

This is a tale of stupidity...namely, ours! There are some elements in life you simply have to pay attention to. If you don't, you shouldn't be surprised when things go wrong. Trailers and tow-trucks is a phrase I don't want to have to repeat again after today.

For today was our free-mulch collection day from our local rubbish tip. But the story doesn't begin there. It had to do with our last trip with the trailer, to collect a load of blue-metal. This is used as the drainage layer in our wall and it was the last batch we needed to finish it.

Dave normally does this trip by himself, which was a good thing about a week ago. Otherwise, how could he call me at home after the trailer was experiencing problems? He was on his return journey after collecting the blue-metal from the landscape suppliers, when I got a call to ask if I could bring some tools - namely a mallet to knock the trailer mud-guard back in place.

He was only a 10 minute drive away, and I understood why he needed to pull over when I saw the extent of the damage.



This is a picture after we got home. I couldn't take one of the bent mud-guard at the time, as I didn't take a camera with me. We had to bash it back into place before we could move off again.

It was a nerve wracking drive back home, as the spare tyre was flat (doh) so we had to drive on the existing tyre. I followed Dave slowly in my car, behind his fully laiden trailer. To let other drivers know to be cautious, we both had our hazzard lights on. Thankfully it was on a country road and only held up a 3 tonne truck behind us, for about 5 minutes.



When we got home, I took the photo of the tyre which had it's tread stripped bare. It was a miracle we got home at all. You're probably wondering how the mud-guard got bent in the first place? Well, we'd done 3 trips with the trailer to the same landscape suppliers with no problems. Dave said with the last trip however, he felt the bobcat nudge the trailer as it was being loaded. He thought nothing was wrong at the time, and got out to pay the driver for the load.

It was that trip I had to go rescue him from the side of the road. Thanks Mr bobcat driver! We couldn't really approach the landscape suppliers for a repair bill afterwards either, as we had no "proof" it was done there. Dave should've been watching the fellow load the trailer at the time - we certainly will be doing that in future.

But with our free mulch day approaching on the weekend, we got the spare tyre pumped and changed it over. We even used the trailer to collect some hay bales and mushroom compost from up the road yesterday. Everything looked ready for our free mulch trip this morning. You can see what's coming already, can't you..?

Well the trailer drove to the rubbish tip, got loaded up, drove a few metres forwards so we could tie down the load. It was only driving out of the tip however (pot-holes with a heavy load in the back) that the mud-guard shredded the tyre again!!

And guess what? We didn't have a spare or someone we could call for a mallet!

Dave harrassed the poor office staff at the weigh-bridge for some telephone numbers and managed to call a tow-truck to rescue us. Did I mention Dave was rostered on to work this morning too, of which he missed about 1 hours pay?



This is what the damage looked like after the tow-truck dropped the trailer home today. Pretty bad huh? Needless to say, we had plenty of time before the tow-truck arrived to contemplate where we had gone wrong.

First mistake we made - rushing! The story of the tortoise and the hare has never been so relevant. Dave was rushing to get the last load of blue-metal to finish off our wall. Remember how I said we had a few misadventures building the wall - this was the mother of all misadventures. But our stupidity (or lack of forethought) didn't end there.

Second mistake, Dave didn't check the trailer after the bobcat nudged it. We never should have trusted the staff of the landscape suppliers to ensure our trailer was ready to proceed. How many of us just jump in the car and drive home again? It's been a lesson in FULL responsibility. We should've been monitoring the bobcat driver from outside the vehicle, because only then can we hold them accountable for damage.

Thirdly, and the most irresponsible mistake we made, was failing to fix the spare tyre before using the trailer again! Sure we straightened the mud-guard out and replaced the shredded tyre - but what about the spare!!! Oh, you can imagine the heads of shame that were hanging over that blatant oversight again - both of ours!

So what did this trip down wishful thinking lane, cost us in the end? One hundred and twenty dollars!! And before anyone makes the connection that it was expensive mulch for FREE mulch, we'd like to cop it plainly on the chin. The mulch was indeed free, but the $120 is what our failure to plan, cost us in the end. What an expensive lesson, hey? One hundred dollars for the tow-truck driver and twenty dollars for time lost on Dave's casual wage.

Needless to say, the trailer has been dry-docked and won't be used until the mud-guard is dealt with properly. I have to say, before we took off on our journey today, we didn't realise the problem was with the weight of the load. Trailers normally jump around when travelling, and with a light load, it doesn't push the tyre that far into the mud-guard.

In both cases we experienced problems, it was the weight of the load that pushed the tyre higher into the skewed guard, whenever we travelled over a bump.

So please bare in mind our tale of stupidity, when you next think of hitching up your trailer. Saftey and consideration doesn't end after you attach the safety chain. Get out and watch the vehicles loading your trailer - from the side they are loading it on. Make sure your spare could be used in an emergency and when it doubt, don't venture out!

Our next venture with the trailer will be ensuring it's 100% operational!

Take care out there.

4 comments:

  1. Its a terrible shame that you had all that hassle and spent that money but at least no-one was hurt.

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  2. That's precisely why we called the tow-truck the last time. We knew it had gone past any kind of "repair" and it wasn't just our lives at stake, but that of other drivers too.

    Money can be replaced, lives can't.

    You make a very valid point indeed. :)

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  3. You'll be up for a bit more money, too, to replace two shredded tyres! They don't look repairable.

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  4. Hi Darren. We got a quote recently to fix both tyres, and it comes to $50 for both. That doesn't include what it will cost to fix the mud guard though.

    Live and learn, hey. :)

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