On our second day in the El Malpais National Monument south of Grants, we stopped for a beverage break at the entrance the lava falls. We enjoyed our break, got ready to set out again, and before heading out I parked my bike and trailer again for some reason. When the trailer hit the ground as it usually does when being parked, the trailer bed kerplunked to the ground… a key piece of the tubing had broken! We both stood there for a moment in disbelief! In the next moment the first of three vehicles stopped to check on us. A nice guy offered a ride in the direction he was going but really thought we should go back to Grants to find a welder to fix the trailer. After he pulled out, a big white truck pulled in to check out the lava falls. As Kevin and Jana left, they asked if we needed help, we explained that we were just starting to figure out what to do… they, too, suggested heading back to Grants – but since it was the 4th of July not to expect to much that day, we passed, they wished us well and drove off. The people in the third car were more in disbelief that we were out there on bikes than anything. When I asked if they knew of a welder in the direction of Pie Town… they said there really wasn’t much out that way (which was very true). Within about 10 minutes, the big white truck reappears and Kevin sticks his head out the window and says… I’ve got a truck full of tools, let’s fix it!
Kevin had a vision of finding a piece of steel in his truck that we could screw to the tubing to hold it together. Along the way he got the idea of putting something inside the tubing for extra strength. He found and disassembled an old oil filter wrench that had a piece of hard steel strapping just suited for the job. He then found and BENT the perfect sized drill bit to insert inside the tubing. So sorry we don’t have a photo of Kevin bending the drill bit with a pair of vise grips attached on to each end of the bit! Then it was just a matter of assembly… drilling holes in the steel strapping, inserting the now-curved drill bit, holding it all in place while screwing the strapping to the tubing with the perfect self-tapping screws. Zip ties and duck tape were applied for good luck and a professional look. Yikes! Way to go Kevin!
We probably would have recovered after a trip back to Grants but when we’re on the trail we have a strong tendency to not go backwards. The fix was so good that even though we asked about welders for the rest of the trip we never felt the need to fix it better than Kevin’s fix. It might have taken a bit more than 1/2 hour and we were tooling toward Pie Town feeling like something amazing had just happened. A big thanks to Kevin and Jana!
Note: we figure that cause of the break was that the trailer bounced a lot in the back of Eddie’s truck a few days earlier. It never occurred to us to be sure to get the weight off the fork during transport… live and learn!