Tim and Colleen about
Unhappy wheels and good Samaritans
Recently we lost a wheel which sheered off at about 80 kmh on a country Victorian road. The Van is only a year old and the accident was attributed to a combination of wheel nuts too tight, the ratchet arm of the parking brake being bumped on (my fault for not pushing it completely to the rear) and aluminum rims (All the above caused pressure on the studs which weakened and widened the aluminum around the bolt holes - causing wheel wobble and the result was sheered studs and a wheel left on the road).
We were stuck on the side of a narrow road, miles from the nearest town on a public holiday, luckily with mobile phone coverage. Our Insurance Company (one of the largest specialist caravan insurers) could not help with any roadside assistance, other than to process a claim (which was the furtherest thing on our minds at that stage - read your policy carefully and you will find that you are responsible for any damage/theft caused as a result of leaving your van after an initial breakdown. Another couple from QLD, on a caravan holiday around Australia, stopped and provided moral support, offered to boil the billy etc, but had no resources to help us (We did introduce ourselves but in the heat of the moment I have forgotten their names - if they read this again I offer my appreciation for their support). Along came Barry Burrows on his way out of town. Barry stopped, assessed the problem and took our hub into the nearest town, he co-opted a kid serving petrol at a Service Station to search the workshop and find some new wheel studs (which Barry paid for) before returning and performing the necessary repairs to replace the wheel and get us safely going again. Barry, who runs 'Hell West and Crooked Safaris' (I have his mobile number if any-one wants it) which caters for caravanning and camping tours, didn't want anything for his efforts or the 2 hours he spent with us and wouldn't give us a forwarding address so we could send anything to express our gratitude. He even traveled in the opposite direction to follow us for a few kilometers to ensure everything was alright. It all turned out reasonably well, the damage to the van was minimal and we got home only about 3 hours later than we anticipated. The Insurance Company covered our damage and the van should be back on the road by next week - with steel sunraysia rims.
The up side of all this was the experience we gained by our meeting with the other caravanners and Barry Burrows. I have resolved (I think I would
anyway) that I will go out of my way to try and help anyone else we may find in a predicament such as we found ourselves in - we may not be able to provide any great technical assistance but we can make phone calls, boil the billy or just be there to provide some support to a fellow traveler.