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Old 08-23-2014, 11:15 PM   #1
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Road hazard in the form of 18 wheeler tire carcas

Traveling down on I-35W about 10 PM on our way to Corpus Christi for vacation last week. I-35W has been under construction for many, many miles and years it seems. We were spending a stop over night at Waco North RV Park (don't, it was a dump despite 9/9/9 ratings) and as we entered the exit ramp pulling our 35' Rockwood (new in April) there was a truck tire carcass in the middle of the ramp. You know, the entire tread from some 18 wheeler tire laying in the road curled up. No dodging as there were concrete barriers on the right and construction equipment parked on the left of the exit with no time to slow down. I didn't want to straddle it for fear of taking out the truck oil pan, so I ran over it with my driver side tires...what a NOISE! Pulled down and stopped on the service road; got out with the flashlight to inspect for damage. The TV seems to have made it through without a scratch as I believe the full length step bar between the wheels kept the tire from flipping up and hitting the side of the (new) truck. The trailer wasn't so lucky. The lower J-panel on the driver's side was crushed in and split badly, the corner plastic trim piece was broken and almost knocked off. The front push out's J-panel was crushed at the front and bent up along the length; the j-panel between the push outs was then also crushed in but not broken. I inspected the axles and plumbing next and was surprised as well as relieved to see they had no damage and the tire was not wrapped around anything. Not sure how I could avoid this in the future, but the DW and I decided we just aren't going to do much pulling at night. Looks like it will be a couple of months in the shop to repair, but vacation would have been over if the plumbing dump connections had been torn off.
How do you keep this from happening? We are new to RVing, is it pretty much standard to be off the roads by dark? There always seems to be these tire treads on the highways in Texas, not sure if it is that way in other states.
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Old 08-23-2014, 11:24 PM   #2
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Hate to hear about this happening to you. The slang term for these treads is called a "gator" or "road gator"........and they will bite you.

Here is an Allstate Insurance tip:

http://blog.allstate.com/dont-let-road-gators-bite/

You think they are bad for a regular driver, imagine being on a motorcycle and one popping up fast. We were just talking about this the other day on a cycle forum I frequent where someone got killed after hitting one on a two wheeler.
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Old 08-23-2014, 11:46 PM   #3
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IMO Unless you are driving in a Porsche or some other vehicle that sits only 6" above the ground, you are always better off straddling a tire carcas.
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Old 08-24-2014, 05:24 PM   #4
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I was passing a tractor trailer on my bike when the trailer tire blew and the gator damned near took off my head. Got lucky on that one.
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Old 08-24-2014, 05:37 PM   #5
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Back to D B Traveler's original question: We try to avoid being on the road at night. Of course, we have the luxury of being retired (don't know about your situation) so we don't have to have a lot of "long days" to get anywhere. We can always go a day or two earlier.

Here is a bit of information that might ease your mind a bit. We, too, damaged the J trim on our Windjammer when one of our own tires blew on the way to the Goshen Rally earlier this month. FR fixed the panel right where the trailer sat at the fairgrounds. That panel comes off with about a dozen screws, once the trim strip between the white sidewall and the gold/brown J trim is removed. Pull out the rubber insert in the trim piece, and remove the screws that hold it. It is caulked pretty well, so you might have to pry it off. Be careful not to bend the trim strip...you can re-use it. The panel is one piece from the rear of the front door of the trailer (ours was the curb side) back to the front axle. Even if you don't want to attempt it by yourself, I'm sure your dealer can fix it in a matter of a day or two. The trim piece came from the factory already pre-finished. Shouldn't tie up your trailer for too long, especially if the dealer pre-orders the trim piece.

Good luck, and enjoy Corpus.
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Old 08-24-2014, 06:03 PM   #6
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Rather do like D B Travelers and tale it with tires of TV and hold on straddling stands a good chance of taking out oil pan then loose all power steering , brakes, everything immediate engine shutdown. could be rough trying handle trailer with no power. Then what in the middle of Interstate at highway speeds 70 75 around you. Something to think about!!!


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Old 08-24-2014, 06:08 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by D_B Travelers View Post
Traveling down on I-35W about 10 PM on our way to Corpus Christi for vacation last week. I-35W has been under construction for many, many miles and years it seems. We were spending a stop over night at Waco North RV Park (don't, it was a dump despite 9/9/9 ratings) and as we entered the exit ramp pulling our 35' Rockwood (new in April) there was a truck tire carcass in the middle of the ramp. You know, the entire tread from some 18 wheeler tire laying in the road curled up. No dodging as there were concrete barriers on the right and construction equipment parked on the left of the exit with no time to slow down. I didn't want to straddle it for fear of taking out the truck oil pan, so I ran over it with my driver side tires...what a NOISE! Pulled down and stopped on the service road; got out with the flashlight to inspect for damage. The TV seems to have made it through without a scratch as I believe the full length step bar between the wheels kept the tire from flipping up and hitting the side of the (new) truck. The trailer wasn't so lucky. The lower J-panel on the driver's side was crushed in and split badly, the corner plastic trim piece was broken and almost knocked off. The front push out's J-panel was crushed at the front and bent up along the length; the j-panel between the push outs was then also crushed in but not broken. I inspected the axles and plumbing next and was surprised as well as relieved to see they had no damage and the tire was not wrapped around anything. Not sure how I could avoid this in the future, but the DW and I decided we just aren't going to do much pulling at night. Looks like it will be a couple of months in the shop to repair, but vacation would have been over if the plumbing dump connections had been torn off.
How do you keep this from happening? We are new to RVing, is it pretty much standard to be off the roads by dark? There always seems to be these tire treads on the highways in Texas, not sure if it is that way in other states.
Agree with the I35W work never seems to end - I guess you have been in the I35W and Loop 820 mess lately.

The tire "gators" are one reason I don't drive at night - they're black and you are sometimes on top of them before you see them. I don't believe "gators" are unique to Texas highways alone - I have seen them in all the states I have traveled and I think they will always be a road hazard. I never run along side a big rig any longer than necessary. I think the truckers using recap tires in an effort to reduce operating costs contribute to the problem.
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Old 08-24-2014, 06:15 PM   #8
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Agree with the I35W work never seems to end - I guess you have been in the I35W and Loop 820 mess lately.

The tire "gators" are one reason I don't drive at night - they're black and you are sometimes on top of them before you see them. I don't believe "gators" are unique to Texas highways alone - I have seen them in all the states I have traveled and I think they will always be a road hazard. I never run along side a big rig any longer than necessary. I think the truckers using recap tires in an effort to reduce operating costs contribute to the problem.
You are correct about the recaps.

Here in ID there is a law that say you are required to remove road hazards created by yourself or your outfit, this mean truck drivers or the tire service are suppose to remove the "gator" from the road surface.

It is largely unknown and unenforced.
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Old 08-24-2014, 06:16 PM   #9
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IMO Unless you are driving in a Porsche or some other vehicle that sits only 6" above the ground, you are always better off straddling a tire carcas.
I would think you would be better off straddling a tire carcass ESPECIALLY if you're driving a Porsche or any vehicle that has only 6" ground clearance.
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Old 08-24-2014, 06:27 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Big Paul View Post
Rather do like D B Travelers and tale it with tires of TV and hold on straddling stands a good chance of taking out oil pan then loose all power steering , brakes, everything immediate engine shutdown. could be rough trying handle trailer with no power. Then what in the middle of Interstate at highway speeds 70 75 around you. Something to think about!!!


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Have never seen or heard of an oil pan getting taken out on a highway by a gator, have straddled tons and tons of debris in my years of driving and except for the few times I was NOT driving a truck, have never even so much as brushed up against it.

Now when I had my Mustang I did run over an aluminum extension ladder and 3 bags of concrete yet I did somehow manage to retain the oilpan and all of it's oil...
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