Blown Tire Blues

Ken Steinhoff changing tire on Lila Steinhoff's car 01-26-2014 There I was, sleeping the sleep of the just, all snuggled up in my blankets against the unseasonable Florida cold, while Wife Lila was on her way to church. About six minutes before my alarm was supposed to go off (so I could ignore it, being Sunday and retired on top of that), my cell phone rang.

For a guy who used to be a telecommunications manger, I hate phones in general and cell phones in particular. I swear they have a sensor that makes them ring when I’m napping, in the shower or in the one-seat Steinhoff Reading Library. Oh, yes, I can go a week without getting a call, but let me be on my cell and that will compel the house phone to ring, not wanting to be left out of anything.

So, back to this morning: Wife Lila says she’s in a no-parking zone on the northbound lane of Parker Avenue north of Forest Hill with a blow-out.

I assure her I am on my way

Ken Steinhoff changing tire on Lila Steinhoff's car 01-26-2014While I’m trying to find garments to cover my body, she calls back to tell me that the sidewall is wrecked and that blowing it up is not an option.

“That’s the way blowouts work,” I said. I assure her I am on my way.

I stop long enough to get a manly tire tool and a heavy hammer in case some gorilla with an impact wrench put the tire on the last time.

I head south on Georgia, turn west on Forest Hill (to be passed by a plain black pickup truck with emergency lights running Code 3), go past Garden, Lake, Parker, I-95 and a myriad of other streets until I get to Congress, and drive north looking for Wife Lila’s green Honda Odyssey van. Three blocks north of where she should be, I pull into a parking lot, pick up my cell phone to find out where she is.

Just as I press SEND, I realize I’ve driven to CONGRESS and Forest Hill, about a mile past Parker. I confess to a brain fart and assure her I’m on my way.

I make a U-turn (unlike Ohio, U-turns are permitted unless prohibited), head back east on Forest Hill Blvd. and turn north on Parker, where she is supposed to be. Six blocks later, I pick up my cell phone to ask her where she is.

“Oh, I’m not on Parker, I’m on Lake.” That’s a block east of Parker. I assure her I’m on my way.

Yep. The tire was definitely flat. Something had done a real number on the sidewall.

Here’s where I made a couple of tactical errors

  • Ken Steinhoff changing tire on Lila Steinhoff's car 01-26-2014I bounced the doughnut spare on the ground a couple of times and thought it was in pretty good shape. I should have checked it with a tire gauge, then topped it off with the portable tire pump I bought in Cape last summer. This isn’t exactly the model I have, but they are all about the same at this price point.
  • She asked if she should pull away from the curb a bit more. I told her I thought I had enough clearance to turn the crank. I discovered after I had the jack started that I didn’t, but I didn’t want to take it out and start over. (I’m buying a REAL jack at my first opportunity. I had forgotten how wienie the Honda jacks are.)

It’s a good thing I brought the manly tire iron

Ken Steinhoff changing tire on Lila Steinhoff's car 01-26-2014Four of the five hub nuts spun off easily. Gorilla guy put on the fifth one. I had to resort to The Big Hammer to break it loose.

Putting the new tire on was no sweat. It looked a little low, so I was going to use the portable compressor to pump it up, but the power cord was too short. (Should have done it when it was off the car.)

Home was only a few blocks away, so she drove it to where I could get at it with my electric compressor. She’ll go over to Southend Service in the morning to get a new tire. Luckily it was one of the older ones.

Wow, I’m tired just talking about tires. At least it wasn’t raining, sleeting or 102 degrees. [Thanks to Wife Lila for documenting the experience.]