Our second assignment had come to an end, despite the pleas of Florida Hospital staff for me to stay longer or become a permanent employee. Our next stop would be Houston, TX to visit some friends before arriving at my next assignment in San Angelo, TX. We started out from Flagler Beach, and after a quick stop at a scale house to recheck the weight of our rig, we were headed west. We were making good progress across I-10 with the F-350 and fifth wheel in the lead and Heather in the van behind me. We were approaching the Florida-Alabama line around sun-down. The F-350 was earning its keep by pulling our heavy trailer without any noticeable hardship. This trip it was the trailer that had the issue. Due to the mechanics of a fifth wheel one does not feel as much sway or vibration from the trailer as other types of towed trailers, so I did not notice that one of the wheels had become loose and was wobbling around on the axle hub. It was only after Heather was showered with glowing broken wheel studs and lug nuts and watched the wheel spin off across the freeway median that I became aware that there was a problem. I do have to say that I was glad she was in the van behind me or who knows how far I would have driven without any idea that I was one wheel short. I am also glad that our trailer is a tandem-axle model, which kept the wheel-less axle from dragging on the pavement. We took the nearest exit and pulled into a truck stop for what turned out to be the night. We made a call to our roadside assistance company and a mobile repair truck was dispatched. The tech advised that he could fix it and get us back on the road, but he required parts from NAPA, so it would be the next morning before he could get it done.
So, we were stopped for the night a little earlier than we had planned, but everyone was safe. We started to get ready for bed and Heather walked into the kids’ bedroom and looked down at my motorcycle, which gets parked next to the kids’ bunk beds while traveling. She watched as a black widow spider scurried back under the fuel tank of the motorcycle. Well, needless to say the kids did not get to sleep in their own beds that night. Instead, they both slept on the dinette that converts to a bed. I am sure it was not as comfortable as their own beds, but given the circumstance, it was better than the floor.
In the morning the repair tech showed up, removed the axle hub, removed all 6 sheared wheel studs, put new studs and lug nuts on, and reinstalled the hub and wheel. We were rolling yet again! We arrived around nightfall that evening in Houston at our friends’ house without any additional issues. We visited with them late into the night and part of the next day before pulling out again for San Angelo, TX. The rest of the trip from Houston to San Angelo was uneventful, and we arrived with all wheels attached. Needless to say we now check all lug nuts and wheels at least every morning, if not more frequently.