I got up early this morning to begin my quest and get the boat trailer fixed. I started at the boat shop just down the road. They wouldn't do a service call and really didn't carry many parts for boat trailers.
Next I went into Dalton and inquired at Ray's filling station. Again, they wouldn't do a service call but would fix it if I could bring the trailer there. They suggested borrowing some sort of flat bed trailer to use to move the boat trailer. They even considered letting me use their flat bed car trailer but my truck is too tall and the back end of the car trailer would have been to close to the street. I decided to go back to camp and ask the owner, Mike Schultz, if he had something I could rent or borrow.
I found Mike and told him I had a problem. He told me that I had already used up my allotment of problems. I said I thought I had too but here I am. He didn't have a flat bed trailer but thought his pontoon boat trailer might work. It's basically a trailer with two rails that go between the pontoons for moving those boats. If my boat trailer would sit on the rails, it might work. I was willing to give it a try.
Lewie and I took the pontoon trailer to the public ramp. The boat trailer was a bit heavier than I anticipated but there were two guys there loading their own boat and they gave us a hand. With four guys lifting the boat trailer, it was easy. I strapped it down and Lewie and I went to Ray's.
They removed the old bearing without much difficulty however the threads on the end of the axle where the bearing nut goes are damaged. They could be cleaned up with a large nut die but Ray's doesn't have one. Additionally, there's some damage to the middle of the shaft on which the bearings ride and they don't want to repair it. Lewie is appalled because all they have to do is grind down the middle of the shaft since the only place damage matters is on the ends where the bearing races go. I don't really know but like I told Lewie, unless we are willing to do it ourselves, we have to go with what we're told.
The guy removes the entire axle and tells me he's seen a lot of parts at Mill's Fleet Farm in Fergus Falls. They even have complete replacement axles but he had no idea of the cost. I leave the boat trailer at Ray's and take off with a greasy axle and one of the tires in the bed of the truck.
We get to Fleet Farm and there is an axle that seems to be right based upon measuring. It's only $106 and it's ready to go. New bearings, hubs, grease, everything. Things are looking up.
After paying for the axle, we have to go into the yard to pick it up. The man brings the axle and when we lay it next to the original one, it's not quite right. It's a little short and thus won't bolt up to the trailer without modification. The guy agrees to go back and bring out one of each axle they carry. None are right. Either too short or too long. Things aren't looking so good any more.
He tells us about Smokey's Machine Shop in town although he's sure it's not open on the weekend. We go by it anyway to see if there's posted hours or a phone number. Nope. Apparently if you want his services, you just have to show up and hope he's there.
It was around 3:30 pm and time to give up for the day. There's nothing else I can do until Monday. Lewie and I start back for camp.
The back road out of Fergus Falls has a speed limit of 35 mph close to town, 45 mph a little farther out, and finally 55 mph once you get out of town. I was in the 45 mph zone nearing the 55 mph zone. My mind was wandering about what I was going to do. Moving the boat from the public dock to the Ten Mile Lake docks where I could keep my eye on it and bail the water out when it rains seemed like a good idea. At that moment a Fergus Falls police car appears over the hill heading toward town. I glance at my speedometer and notice I'm doing 50 mph. Yep, he flipped a U-turn right in the middle of the highway and lit me up. I haven't had a ticket in over 20 years but now my new shiny commercial license will be tarnished.
I pull over and wait for the officer to approach. I know to sit perfectly still with both hands on the wheel to keep officers from getting nervous. Must be something about my description of 6'10" and 450 lbs. coming back on the radio that scares them. This guy was no exception as he approached with his hand on his gun. He asked, "How's your day going?"
I explained only the events of today, leaving out the previous 2 - 3 months of one problem after another. I told him that since there was nothing else we could do today since it was Saturday, we were heading back to camp. I was thinking about my next steps and not paying close attention to my speed.
He asked what type of work I needed done and at that point I got out of the truck and we stood by the pickup bed looking at the axle and chatting. After a bit he asked for my license and told me he would just give me a written warning instead of a full fledged citation. That was a relief! My commercial license remains untarnished.
Lewie took us to the steakhouse for dinner. The rain was pouring down as the lightning cracked overhead. I kept a watchful eye on our boat tied to the docks across the street from the steakhouse. I didn't know how much rain water it could hold before beginning to sink. After supper I went to the boat and turned on it's bilge pump. Quite a bit of water was pumped out. The rain was letting up a bit so I figured it would be OK overnight. At least tomorrow is Sunday and I'll be forced to fish since nothing will be open. On Monday I'll resume the boat trailer repair challenge.
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