I made my spring pilgrimage to London, Ontario, yesterday to collect Towed Haul from her winter quarters. To be fair, the picture above isn't quite an accurate representation of the weather as I set off, but the wind was howling in from the south east and the rain was simply bucketing down. Fairly standard trailer collection weather, really.
I made my way out of town along Highway 2, the old rural road between Chatham and London, known along its entire length as Longwoods Road. If you're the really curious type, read this to find out how it became known as Longwoods Road; if you're not then carry on....
The motorway, Highway 401, is OK even in the bad weather but I thought I'd ring the changes and look at some slightly different scenery for a change, and so it was that I made my through the fields of Southern Ontario and little towns like Thamesville and Melbourne. Even driving without the trailer, the wind was catching the Toadmobile side-on as it tore across the open landscape. The rain was still pouring down and every now and then I disappeared into a cloud of spray as huge gravel trucks sped past me, more intent than I on reaching their destination.
I pitched up at Can-Am RV after about 80 minutes driving and saw Towed Haul out on the forecourt, which meant that I was expected; a good sign. It wasn't a straightforward pickup, though, as I had to have the experts look at the hitch setup, with a view to some adjustment. I hitched her up myself and stood out in the rain with Roger looking at the back of the Toadmobile.
"Your receiver needs strengthening" says he.
"It's already strengthened" says I.
"Plan B" says he.
They took both car and trailer into the shop to have a look at things from underneath whilst I sat and relaxed on a nice sofa and watched some the TV (and read a bit, too, but I don't want to come across as being overly highbrow). The technicians pronounced that a little bending had occurred in the hitch receiver box (that's the square hole on the tow bar, for the uninitiated) but fortunately it was fairly minor (they assured me) and set about doing a bit of welding to put things right. An hour or so later and it was all sorted; Towed Haul was back on the forecourt and the Toadmobile was sitting straight and level under the load. Result!
So pleased was I that I splashed out $41 on a new Carbon Monoxide detector.
Hitched up and ready to go, I noticed that at least the rain had stopped. I decided to go back on Highway 2 rather than the motorway and set off, feeling my way a bit as you have to build a bit of confidence again when you have three tons of metal behind you for the first time in six months. It was necessary to run one junction along Highway 402, the Sarnia road, and it was there that I realised just how awful the wind was. The webbing belt that keeps the towing mirror in place on the driver's door was vibrating so much that it made my teeth ache, actually distracting me to the point of missing my exit off the highway. I made a few adjustments on the fly and didn't have to go too far out of my way to get back to Highway 2, which was fortunate. I thought the vibration on the webbing would be better when I was off the motorway as I'd be down to 50 mph but no, it was just as bad and it was all down to the wind effect. I stopped to fashion a temporary pad to wedge against the webbing but all that did was change the pitch of the vibration; better, but still horrible. The kicker was that every time I was sheltered from the cross-wind by a stand of trees or something, the vibration stopped.
There was also the issue of controlling the trailer. Having 28 feet of high(ish) sided RV behind me in a wicked cross-wind meant even more concentration than usual. The gravel trucks coming the opposite way at 60mph make a real bow-wave of wind and that can cause some real difficulties with the wind-shear it creates as it passes. Only once, though, did the trailer sway off its course and even then it immediately came back onto track; thank goodness I was running with those sway bars done up tightly.
As the drive progressed I gained confidence; the repair work was certainly keeping things tight and responsive at the hitch and I arrived back in Chatham feeling quite comfortable again. The towering storm clouds stayed largely to my south, too, so I missed the storm that hit Blenheim and Ridgetown that afternoon.
Now Towed Haul is up on the driveway, awaiting a good clean inside and out before we re-stock her interior with all the stuff that makes up our mobile holiday home. That can wait until the weekend, though, because there's footy on the TV this afternoon!
Read the next gripping installment - when we do something gripping, or at least actually go camping somewhere.
Mr Toad - Airstreamer
The Old Blog