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WSTEFFENS posted 11-01-2004 02:08 PM ET (US)   Profile for WSTEFFENS   Send Email to WSTEFFENS  
It all starts out very ordinary. It is the 13 of Auguest 04 (a Friday should have known better!) I load up the Youkon (my wife can get the entire house packed) and late in the afternoon, we head up to Michigan "Port Huron".

At about 10 PM we arrive at the house of DFM, and proceed to hook up the trailer for the 25 revenge, including the load equalizer hitch. (I leave my boat in PH all year, even though I live in Cincinnati) We hit the head, get our radio's set (we use incripted VHF hand helds between trucks) and then set out across the "Blue Water" bridge to Sarnia Canada at about midnight. The border crossing goes very easily no traffic no hold up. (one year DFM and I both got searched just because the guys wanted to look over our Whalers- yea old boats in good condition are rare )

This is the second year (we have been doing this run since the mid 80's) we decided to make it a late "run" to avoid the traffic in the "Bruce" Penn. East we go on 401 (The Kings Highway) every thing is on schedule and going fine. There is a detour to get to north 21 due to road construction, I made this the previous year by accident, so I remember the stop sign from "Hell" (blind sweeping RH turn and you are on the "T" before you realize it. I warn DFM as he is leading the convoy. We make the detour and make it to 21 north and are off to Tobermory.

We reach Goderich around 2:AM, there is a funny "Z" turn at the south end of town, Stop sign, LH for about 30 yards and a hard RH to a stop light. DFM makes the light but it changes for me,I have to stop. Here it starts to go "Bad"!

The light changes and I hit the brakes. From the RH front there is a "sickining" Pop, crunch and bang! the truck lurches to the right. The light turns green and I move forward carefully and it feels funny. I call DFM and tell him to stop I have Broken something "Bad"! I finally get to the north end town and we crawl under and look for broken parts, nope no ball joints or tie rods or half shafts are out of place. Thing is I don't have any front brakes! We decide to trade places I lead as it is impossible to turn a truck and trailer around on a 2 lane in the middle of the night. We make it down the hill and start on our way with great caution. Without a warning I get a very bad vibration on the line of running over the warning strips on the side of an Instertate. I find speed has no effect but if I "stab" the brake peddle it will go away?

This becomes the "procedure" for the next couple of hours! DFM and I talk he drops back about 300 yards as when I stab the brake peddle the truck "lurches" to the left. Thank god there is not traffic!

At Southampton we have to make a decision, its go or blow! This is the last GM dealer unitl the island. A final inspection at the north end of town shows no high temp problems with the caliper on the RH side, I make the choice to go for it. If I stay I will loose 3 days, if I brake I loose 3 days, We are off! My wife is asleep and hasn't knoticed a thing is wrong, as for me you couldn't stick an ice pick up my koozo!

I miss the turn from 21 to Rt 6 and have to back up about 150 yards to make the turn. Again thank god for no traffic! Ugg!, dark as sin, on a bad camber turn and no brakes on the truck.

The "hill" at Warton is the only real bad "object" for the rest of the run. However there is a stop light at the base in the center of town. DFM and I discuss the problem as I have no stopping power, DFM's wife makes the call! (remember DFM is a law enforcemtnt officer) The call is "BLOW IT!" Fortunately it didn't come to it, again thanks for empty streets.

We make it to "Tobermory" about 4:00 AM and make our Ferry revs. I get a couple of hours of sleep. We make the crossing without any hassle. The dawn makes for another run to "NA Lodge". The last object is the hill at "River Hill", a real steep sweeping RH turn that "T"'s into a main highway! DFM and I talk about the problem, "no brakes" and he takes the lead of the "train" and goes down the hill to check it out! When he gets to the bottom and makes the turn he radio's the traffic situation. I go to low gear 4wd and ease over the "hill". The "Granny" gear gets the job done and we are home free. It is at this point my wife realizes there has been a problem. She can sleep thru a nucular attack!

Result: 175 miles (app) towing no brakes, and a gcvw of obout 13,000#.

We unhitch and fortunatly the local GM dealer is open till noon on Saturday! DFM and I take the Yukon to the dealer, he can't fix it that day but we ask him to pull the suspect wheel. What is found is a Rotor that has broken off of its hub. I had no brakes as I had thought.
"McQuerry" the dealer, fixed the truck by Monday evening.

I worked in a mechanical garage for 40 years and never saw a failure of that sort!

For what it is worth.



InHerNet posted 11-01-2004 06:18 PM ET (US)     Profile for InHerNet  Send Email to InHerNet     
Having had the opportunity to meet you and Don in Port Huron over a year ago I can sit here and read your story with mental visualization. Sounds like a night of driving I would not want to do especially with the weight of your Revenge behind the Yukon with no brakes. Glad to hear you made it without having an accident. I am sure with your engineering background and Dons knowledge of safety you both figured the best route and action to take.
So other than the brakes, how was the trip?
WSTEFFENS posted 11-01-2004 07:41 PM ET (US)     Profile for WSTEFFENS  Send Email to WSTEFFENS     
The vacation went great! Good weather great times, I got to meet LHG and Susan and a bunch of great "Whaler" owners on their trip home to "Iron Bridge". DFM has the photos. We, DFM & I went out about half way across the channel to "escort" them home! Great day and weather! It was a "hoot!"

It is sort of on the line of flying A4's, you have to "pick and chose" your battles. Durring normal hours "daylight" it wouldn't have been safe! I don't think we saw more than a half a dozen vehicles on the road during the trip (125 miles). Would I do it again, yea, It is a calucatled risk. The underpinnings of the vehicle were not compromised. As I said "Go or Blow". By the way when I got to "camp" I got a lot of room as every one knew I had no brakes! Parking was not a problem!



LHG posted 11-01-2004 07:56 PM ET (US)     Profile for LHG    
Walt - Now I know why you and Don were beat when we arrived at Northernaire! That is some story.

Were you a Viet Nam era A-4 Intruder carrier pilot? So was my cousin. Maybe you know of him? But he never came home, and is still listed as MIA. That was 1969 and he was only 25.

WSTEFFENS posted 11-01-2004 09:01 PM ET (US)     Profile for WSTEFFENS  Send Email to WSTEFFENS     

No, I was't. I had a "Late" friend that told me "thank god you didn't get accepetd" you would have been killed. That was the late JBG! All I wanted to be was a "huey" pilot running "dust off" missions. It was an ugly time. Not unlike the current times! I Pine for your cousin, brave and true, his aircraft did not let him down! I am for ever sorry of the loss. The A4 was an exceptional plane. I have a tendencey to stick my neck out for my fellow persons. Guess I am lucky! A "Navy" pilot is a work of "art" I will alwawys (my dad was and instructor) be in my Area) be that way!

Thank god I didn't involved!



End of thread! on that subjuct! (War)

WSTEFFENS posted 11-02-2004 01:00 AM ET (US)     Profile for WSTEFFENS  Send Email to WSTEFFENS     
A second thought. If I sounded too harsh. Please accept my appology. I still regret the loss of your cousin. War is a bitcx! Was a bad time. I was very lucky.

Yea the ride north was was not fun. You call them as you see them at the time! Without DFM I would have had a lot more problems. That is why we travel in "pairs"! DFM is a good friend and a great sounding board. I would miss his pressence. You kneed a person to keep you on track!Also there is a "plant" that got watered at around 3 AM some where in the track.



PS: I am going to post a trip report that spans 3 years. It is a Hoot!

WSTEFFENS posted 11-03-2004 11:00 PM ET (US)     Profile for WSTEFFENS  Send Email to WSTEFFENS     
A follow up, My first choice was to fly "Jolly Greens" I love revolving wing aircraft. 10,000 parts tryng to kill the pilot! I was "chased" by several recruters, who wanted to make me a "Warrent Officer" as of my degree. I coudn't pass the physical. Seems strange as I passed the eye exam at the ODOT last week and I passed with flying colors. No corrective lenses. My eyes are better than in the late 60's (I am 58). Go figure. The twin 1500 hp turbins of a Skorski "Jolly Green" was a real turn on to me in my early 20's It would have been a "hoot" However the late "JBG" was most likely correct I would have been killed, as I have a tendency to call the gods of rath down on me when challenged. I just wanted to be the guy to get the real agressive guys "out".


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