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11 March 2007 - 23:16

tires & flares

So, about the blown tire on Friday...

No, Bonnie, I wasn't flying low. But yes, probably cruising at 50 mph or so, racing from the third lek of the morning to the fourth, about six miles distant. But I was on a bladed road which the gas companies have recently covered with what they call "scoria".

It's not scoria, of course. Scoria is a ceramic-like rock that has been baked and cracked by heat from naturally-lit coal seams underneath. Lots of that in the prairie states, not so much here on the Divide. No, what the gas companies call "scoria" is basically crushed rock that is not crushed as fine as gravel.

It has large, sharp chunks in it. You can see it in this photo.

Along with the cattleguard that lifted us up high enough off the ground. And the trough my blown tire left in the road.

First flat with the new rig. Natch, since it's only got 2600 or so miles on it. So in addition to having to change a tire, I also had to find the jack. Under the rear seat, passenger side. Which was actually fairly handy, since it was only a matter of moving a single food box and several coats to get to it.

The spare tire under the bed has a lock on it, which is new.

But the problem was... the tire.

A "Hankook". From Korea.

Knew these were crappy tires as soon as I saw them, but the papers for the new truck had already been signed. Clever saleman... we reviewed and signed all the paperwork before he brought out the truck. Only thing that saved my conscience was that Ford screwed my boss and my neighbor with the same tires on their new rigs, just a couple weeks before mine.

Now that I think about it, it woulda been nice if either one of them had warned me...

But I and my neighbor immediately pressured the boss to let us buy new, real tires. But, as usual, the new Fords come with a new, unique rim. Right now, these Hankooks are the only "All Terrain" tires available in the US of A in the proper size.

And they're crap. They're "All Terrain", provided all the terrain you drive is smooth asphalt or concrete. And even then, they're apparently worthless on water, and don't turn so good either.

They're crap.

Something like a four ply rating...

You'd better have at least six if you're going off asphalt, and for off-road I'd want at least eight ply rating.

So, I was a little smug when I called the boss on the cell, and let him know I needed a new tire.

And a new wheel.

Did he want me to buy more crap, or real tires?

I spent an hour and a half in eldest son's favorite coffee shop that morning. Waiting for the five new tires to be installed on the rig.

Horribly expensive. Each at least five times the cost of a Hankook, but cheaper than the Coopers. Not quite aggressive enough for our mud, but hopefully not so aggressive as to dig me into our dry sand.

I guess tomorrow morning we'll get them muddy...

Oh, the boss asked I save the four remaining cheap Hankooks. We'll store them for four years up in the regional office garage.

And then, when I trade this rig in...

We'll give them back to Ford.

Cell phone rang as I did paperwork at the coffee shop window bar. I expected it to be the tire place, letting me know the truck was done.

Nope. A television reporter.

It's been three years since I've had TV reporters calling me. This can't be good.

He asked about the flaring off the gas pipeline in the desert. Not sure how he got the story, or why he thought it was a story, but I can guess.

So I told him what I knew. Which isn't much. Accidental release of hydrogen sulfide into the pipeline. They've been flaring gas off for two weeks, now. Day and night. Deputies parked out there to keep anyone from getting too close to the toxic fumes.

The reporter's coming down (170+ miles) this afternoon, for footage.

"Can you be available for a guide?"

Ummm, no.

But you don't need one. You can see the flame twelve miles off...

Do I know anyone in the company who can tell him more? Or even what company?

Umm, no, again. But me, I would just drive up to one of the half-dozen trucks parked around the flare, and ask one of them.

Those guys ought to know...

Didn't watch the news that night. Or last night either, so don't know if he got a story or not. But nothing tonight.

Listening to: Alyth.

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