Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Eastern Canada Loop: Chapter Nine: The Blow Out

Up at dawn, Damit and I ride toward Nova Scotia and the ferry to Newfoundland. but first time for a truck stop breakfast.  Too many tourists, service is slow. 

Crossing Nova Scotia we take the dike road to Cape Breton Island, up CA-105 north to Sydney and the ferry.

Thirty-nine kilometers north of Port Hawkesbury there is a sudden loud POP and the rig veers to the left crossing the center line. Without braking and with the throttle lock holding the gas steady, we manage to steer Damit back to the right and off onto the shoulder, coasting to a stop.  

The driver immediately behind me stops to see if we are okay. He speaks perfect french, very little english.  We communicate enough for him to offer me the use of his cell phone to call toll free AAA, which relays the call to CAA for roadside assistance.

The rear tire is blown. Not sure what or how it happened, still has sufficient tread left.  Rim does not look to be damaged. We were doing about 55 mph at the time of the blow out.

Hmmmm, didn't bring a big enough patch to fix that flat. 

Eric, the CAA wrecker driver arrives 90 minutes after calling. We load the rig (sorry no photos) and he takes Damit and I back to Antigonish, NS, a town large enough to have a Walmart and various tire repair businesses. He said there is a small clean mom & pop motel near the Walmart, Keppoch Inn. We will be there until we can get a replacement tire. Being a holiday weekend, businesses will not be open until Tuesday, today is Saturday. 

Room 107 on the end will be home for the next four-five days.

Just up the road from the Baptist Church.

Saturday was warm and sunny, Sunday it rained...  all day. Good day to be off the road.

Monday was once again sunny, but the Tuesday forecast was for more rain... again. 
So Monday I jacked up the bike and removed the rear wheel. 

After searching the internet for hours and making numerous calls, no tire is available in Canada in the size I need.  165/80R15.  Located one company who offered to ship me the tire, in eight to ten days... which means it was being shipped from the states and has to pass thru customs.  No guarantee exactly when it would arrive.

Called Claude at Freedom Sidecars in PA to find out what alternative tire sizes would work. 

In this type of situation one analyzes what you have to work with, what the alternatives are, investigate those alternatives, their cost, time involved and choose the best course of action.  Many times there is no perfect answer. But indecision can be worse than no decision. I have found it is easier to correct course, change a decision, even a bad decision, than to procrastinate and never make a decision.  Too many people worry so much about making a bad decision they make no decision at all. 

Will never know the cause of this tire failure. 
Did I hit something on the road? Don't remember that. 
Was the tire cracked by hitting a pot hole or debris earlier in the trip? Very possible.
Should I go slower? Carry less weight? Was the tire defective?

What I can't control is what caused the failure. What I can control is where we go from here.
I cannot get the exact same size tire in a timely fashion.
The sidecar tire is the exact size I need for the rear wheel. 
I do not know which other tire size will fit on the rear due to limited clearance without trying them.
There seems to be more clearance for the sidecar tire than the bike's rear. 

Move the sidecar tire to the rear wheel for the bike. 
Order the only available though slightly wider tire for the sidecar. It will be a smaller diameter.
Then see how the rig handles.
That should get me back on the road asap.

Here the sidecar tire is newly fitted on the rear wheel. That part is done.

The sidecar sits on a jack stand waiting for the new tire to arrive, which they say will be Wednesday. The small garage a few doors down from the motel has ordered the replacement tire and is dismounting and remounting the tires for me.  They also lent me jack stands and a hand truck so I would not have to carry the heavy wheels/tires to their shop.

On the plus side, found the Snow Queen restaurant only five - six blocks away from the motel, serves great fish and chips.. but best of all...

... they make a chocolate milkshake the old fashion way.  The other half of the shake is handed to you still in the metal mixing cup.

While in Antigonish, have had time to write for the blog and catch up on laundry. 

Eric the CAA wrecker driver stopped in to see if I was okay.  Says the holiday traffic is still heavy, expects it to be so the rest of this week. 

Tomorrow the tire arrives, then back on the road to Newfoundland and Labrador.

More later,


  1. Ah so that's what happened.

    I would ask if you're going to now carry a spare pusher but am guessing you will wait to see how the other tire does on the sidecar side first?

    1. Can't get a spare pusher in the right size here. At least not in less than a week. Will watch the tires and see how it goes. Probably will reduce our speed a little.

      Felt the new bearings when the wheel was off, smooth as silk, so no issues there.

      Thanks for following along Dom.

    2. Jan - oops, adventure. Check for a spare in St Johns. Kevin and i met riders from NS who commented that they had to plan ahead 7 - 10 days to get tires. Struck me as strange. Guess not. The bmw dealer in St Johns is very good and probably a good resource. I liked him, the owner had grease on his hands and was back in the shop when i walked in.

    3. Thanks for tip Chuck. Am running an odd size auto tire on the rig. Walmart said they could get my second choice in a day or two. But the garage down the street offered the use of stands, moving one tire to another rim and a hand truck to take stuff down to them and back to the motel where the rig is. It's not moving from the motel parking lot under its own power until all three wheels are back on.

      Everyone here has been very helpful. Motel owner let me use their personal washer and dryer today, at no cost.

      Am seeing a LOT of adventure bikes go thru town. Everybody must be riding the Trans-Lab Trail this summer. Damit and I will get our turn on the trail asap.

  2. Pure speculation on my part. Maybe the failed bearing generated a lot of heat building up the tire pressure above its rating. And that may have weakened the tire.

    1. Is very possible that is what happened. The new bearings are smooth so they won't create much heat now.
      The way the tire cracked, as if it had hit the edge of a pot hole or something that cut across the tread, cracking the inside, creating the start of the separation. Don't remember hitting anything that hard this trip.

      Just before the rear tire blew, was feeling a vibration like the front tire was cupping. Now later, don't see any sign of cupping so it was the rear tire.

  3. Replies
    1. Thank you, just a slight delay, new tire is on the way.

  4. Jan

    Congratulations for the trip

    Estoy mirando su blog con atencion


    1. Gracias Nestor, Para conocer Labrador y Newfoundland es otro sueño mío. Proximo..... Sur America.


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