Last week, I was driving our 2022 Freightliner Cascadia home from Charlotte, NC as usual. The distance from Charlotte to Laredo is 1,382 miles. If I plan my run well, I can avoid all of the traffic congestion in the bottleneck areas. This allows me to complete this route in two days flat, with typically half an hour to spare. Often, I can accomplish this task, and it allows me to spend more precious time at home. On this occasion, I happened to enter the Atlanta area right at the end of what I consider to be, the window of opportunity, regarding traffic flow.
Well, as it turned out, the motoring public was not able to circumvent the I-285 loop without crashing into each other. (I say “crashing” for a reason - from my vantage point, there are very few “accidents” on our nation’s highways, but I’ll have more on that in my next entry). This crash would cause me to get delayed, enough that it changed my schedule of when I was expected to get home. An extra ten-hour break was going to be required on my “2-day dash”.
I called home to let my wife know that I was thinking of stopping early while parking spots were easy to find and avoid the traffic delays right ahead of me. I might as well split this trip into even 8.5-hour days. She did not like the idea, but said I should do what I thought I needed to do. As I pushed the button to end the call, I turned in to stop at the Petro Express in West Point, Georgia.
As I turned into the driveway, my tire monitor started blaring. It indicated that I had a low tire. In this case, I not only had a low tire; I had a tire that was rapidly leaking air from a large puncture. Fortunately, I was already at the truck stop, and not alongside the highway, when this occurred. I exited my truck to inspect the offending tire. It was the curbside, forward axle tire on the trailer. As it turns out, my trailer tires were soon going to be replaced. I had a complete set mounted on rims back home in Laredo. This tire was beyond repair, and I did not want to purchase a tire out on the road. The good news was that the load on the trailer was light enough that I was able to lift the pusher axle on the Hendrickson OPTIMAAX suspension on our Cascadia. My first thought was that I was possibly not going to need roadside assistance. I was in a position where I could slide the trailer tandem all the way to the back of my trailer, and be legal the rest of the way home. I thought that if I could lift the forward trailer axle instead of the axle on the tractor, I would be in business again. As it turned out, it did not transfer enough weight and the Hendrickson lift axle on my trailer remained down.
Plan B was to have road service come out and take the wheel assembly off the pusher axle of the tractor, and swap it with the damaged trailer tire. The Petro location where I found myself stranded does not have a truck shop, therefore, I called Love’s Roadside Repair since I knew that they had a location within twenty miles of where I was stranded. After I got through all the computer prompts, I was greeted by Ezequiel, the roadside planner, who connected me to Stephanie. Stephanie told me that it would be a while before she could have someone come out to assist me, since every technician was occupied at that moment. She and I scheduled help to come out and meet me at the end of my ten-hour break. The next morning, my phone rang as I was waking up and it was their technician, Chris, asking where I was in the parking lot. He swapped the wheels, I did my pre-trip, and was on my way without having to purchase a tire on the road. I was able to lift the axle on the truck that now had the damaged tire. Many thanks go out to Ezequiel, Stephanie, and Chris for providing professional and accommodating service in my time of need.
An unpublished benefit of having the Hendrickson OPTIMAAX liftable pusher axle system on the truck and trailer, at times, can be like carrying around 4 spare tires.