The sun was shining, the freeway was wide open, and it was my last load for the week on a Friday. If you are thinking that this sounds too good to be true, you are precisely right! On my way into downtown Los Angeles for what seemed to be an “icing on the cake” kind of day, my day took a turn for the worse quickly and a hesitation from earlier in the day would later prove to be a costly choice.
Starting off earlier that day, I was picking up some odds and ends for my new used trailer including new lights, mud flaps, and a couple of other items to dress it up a bit. While roaming the aisles of the parts store, something caught my eye that I hadn’t seen in there before. I picked up the item, a Quick-Fix air line repair kit from Sloan. Thinking I was already getting too many unneeded parts from my aisle wandering episode, I put it back on the shelf, which I would soon find out was a terrible idea! From there I went across the street to load my last load for the week and was set to deliver straight on through to Los Angeles from there.
Loaded to the gills with 1-gallon jugs of corn oil, I was soon cruising against traffic into Los Angeles, while the get-out-of-town traffic was sluggishly making its way across the other side of the center divider wall. As I approached what I jokingly refer to as the “nightmare junction”, a merging of two major freeways that split again only a mile after they come together, I heard the noise that no one wants to hear when going down the road. The noise I am referring to was the un-jarring sound of a rapid air loss from the tanks that was too fast for the compressor to even keep up with. Within a few seconds my tanks were drained to within their “low-air” warning levels on the dash and I knew it would only be a couple seconds longer before the protection valve would go ahead and engage the emergency brakes. I pulled off the highway as quickly as I could safely, which actually wasn’t that quick at all, thanks to the four-wheeler on my right side wanting to hang out between my trailer and the shoulder as they ignored my signal to move over! I was able to take the next exit offramp and pull safely aside out of traffic with my brakes fully engaged and starting to smoke.
After jumping out to uncover the cause of this mystery leak, I found right away what it was. A manifold that went directly to the right front drive-axle brake can had broken in half and separated from its location where it bolts onto the chassis. It seemed that a weak spot in the metal mixed with truck vibration looked to be its undoing, causing it to fall down unsupported onto the trucks rear driveline. In turn, the friction from the driveline quickly rubbed a hole through the brass fitting where the brake air line connected to the manifold. It was at that exact moment of discovery that I realized the un-purchased item I put back on the shelf at the parts store was probably the one thing I needed most at that point. With the only parts store within two miles (which I literally ran to) without fittings that big and no other options in my box of tools, I had to do the unthinkable…call road service to get me going before my load was late and the receiver closed for the weekend. Needless to say, a $12 purchase earlier that day could have saved me a couple hundred later on, which I am still kicking myself in the seat of my pants for now! Needless to say, I now have the Quick Fix kit in two different sizes and will carry some spare lengths of air hose in my box of tools from now on as well! Luck always favors the prepared…so be sure to prepare yourself even for the things you don’t think will happen to you!