Monday, September 20, 2010
Lucky In Love and Bearings...
My brother Keith called me on the way over to my house last Sunday with our boat in tow. The trailer was making some noise while he was driving and he was concerned about it. Upon his arrival we took a few laps around the block to give a listen and we both agreed we had a wheel bearing starting to fail. Not the kind of thing you want to hear when you are leaving Monday morning for a 335 mile trip to go fishing. I had a birthday party to attend that afternoon for my nephew Johnny, so I planned to start to work on the trailer the next morning, delaying my departure to go catch a few crappies.
Shirley (my wife) and Scruffy (my dog) were quite disappointed to hear the news about the trailer as they were both very excited about getting away for a 5 day trip to the north woods. After jacking up the trailer I decided to watch a few videos on YouTube showing how to replace and/or repack trailer bearings. Good thing I did, because I quickly learned a few tips and pointers to make the job a little easier and saved myself a few headaches and some vacation time. It always helps to have the right tools for the job, and in this case I was missing a few along the way.
The big mistake that I made was thinking that the left wheel was where the noise was coming from and in fact it was the right wheel bearings. Oh well, once I saw that the left side wasn't damaged I knew I would be replacing both sides. Trying to save money and time I only purchased bearings for the one side. Back to the store for more parts, only to find they didn't have another set of bearings. Shirley was kind enough to go to a few other stores to track down the parts for me, returning just before evening. If you have never had the pleasure of removing 20 year old wheel bearing races from your trailer hubs it is something you must experience. Especially when the seals leaked and the bearing races were rusted. I was lucky we noticed it before being in the middle of nowhere.
We finally left on Tuesday at noon for our trip to St. Germain WI. The weather was perfect for driving and we made the trip in about five and a half hours. I went to unhook the trailer from our 2006 Chevy Trailblazer when I noticed transmission fluid all over the chains. We decided to call it a night and we would have it looked at in the morning. Shirley made a good dinner for us and we relaxed for the evening.
The next morning we drove the truck over to Parsons of Eagle River (Chevy, Buick) http://www.parsonsofeagleriver.com and had them take a look at the transmission. The service department was busy, but great, and they drove us into town for some breakfast. I knew it would be a few hours before they had a chance to look at it, so Shirley and I spent the afternoon walking around Eagle River in a steady drizzle, window shopping and a visit to the Depot Museum. Parsons called us early afternoon to tell us they had found the trans fluid had come from the overflow not the seal, and it may have been overfilled. We were told not to worry but recommended a transmission flush and fill when we got home as a precaution, and to check for any debris in the fluid.
We arrived back at the cabin late Wednesday afternoon to a steady rain. I took Scruffy for a walk and quickly returned to the comforts of the indoors, after a few lightning bolts and some loud rumbles of thunder. No fishing on this day, and another great night of relaxing with my wife and dog in the cabin. A pork chop dinner and a couple of good beers while watching Prince Poppycock try to win America's Got Talent. The rain continued into the late night and we went to bed with the sound of heavy rain hitting the skylight in the kitchen.
Scruffy woke me up early on Thursday morning for his walk. We went about 2 miles down the road and back with the squirrels chattering and jumping from tree to tree wondering what he we were doing in their neighborhood. The rain had ceased now but the wind was blowing from the northeast with a full cloud cover. Shirley won't fish in this but I was hopeful that it would brighten up by noon.
The weather got a little brighter and the wind eased a bit so we decided to launch the boat for the remainder of the afternoon. It was around 1:00pm when we started to fish and we had plans to go out for dinner that evening so I knew we only had until 5:30 before having to return to the launch site. We drifted the upper east bay of Little Saint Germain lake with crappie minnows under a split shot rig and after trying a few different locations we managed to find a few takers. The crappies were all between 9 to 11 inches. Not huge but perfect for eating. Shirley continued to catch them on the bottom while I suspended a slip float with a Cubby mini-mite jig. The bites were quite light and the float was the key to get them to hang on to the minnow a little longer. We ended up with a good mess of crappies by 5:30pm and headed back to the launch, packed up the boat and returned to the cabin. It was the only fishing we did for the week, having to leave Friday morning for home.
Our dinner at the Pub-n-Prime was very good as usual and we enjoyed the few days together relaxing in spite of the weather and the car/trailer repairs. I am quite lucky to have met Shirley and have the wonderful marriage that we have. It wasn't the best vacation I could have planned for her, but we did what we could afford with me being unemployed and the availability of my brother Kevin's cabin. I always said that fishing isn't about catching fish. It's about the time you share together with family and friends fishing, and on this trip with Shirley that was certainly no exception.