This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.

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2016 Travels February


Last time Bus went to the local Toyota dealer’s for a service, they could not remove the front wheel nuts in order to check things behind the wheels. They did not have a special tool and were reluctant to exert too much force on the lever they did have, in case they stripped or broke the studs.

On the way home from the dealer, John had taken Bus to a truck tyre place and they undid the wheel nuts, to establish that it could be done, and then re-tightened them. Back home, John could not make them budge again with the “normal” gear he had on hand.

We were told at Toyota, and had not known until then, that the wheel nuts on the two front wheels undo in different directions on the two wheels: one clockwise, one anti-clockwise. Something else to remember…

When we first bought our caravan, back in 1997, we had both gone through a steep learning curve, in order to understand how everything worked, and potential issues and pitfalls. For most years of our vanning, we felt knowledgeable and secure in this.

Acquiring Bus was a whole new ball game. A much more complex one too. For the last four years I had haunted online forums that featured Coasters, and motor homing in general. Neither of us liked the sense of not necessarily knowing what was happening with the vehicle or house systems, or about potential hassles.

After this problem with the wheel nuts, we decided it would be wise to buy a “nutcracker” – a special kind of tool that helps undo wheel nuts. More research ensued, then eventually John drove to Kyneton and bought the chosen tool, which cost less than $100. He wanted to inspect it, in person, to make sure it came with the right sized fittings.

Another fact we had discovered was that the outer and inner back wheels have different sized wheel nuts. Suppose there was a reason for that, but I never found out what it was.

Six wheels on Bus, plus a somewhat inaccessible spare. And all this complexity. We’d had six wheels on our Defender and Trakmaster rig, plus a couple of spares. The KISS principle applied there – all the wheels were the same and interchangeable: Defender wheels. We had been spoilt, clearly.

John already had a tension wrench for doing up wheel nuts again.

We hoped we would never have to actually use these tools ourselves. The wheels were a bit too heavy for us to be manhandling them ourselves, these days. The thinking was that if we did have to call out Roadside Assistance to change a wheel, at least we would know that the appropriate tools will be on hand.

Nothing to do with tools….Couey’s latest game…ball in pool

I had been concerned on our previous trips with the rig, that if the Terios got a flat tyre while we were flat towing, we probably wouldn’t realize until unnecessary damage had been done to the tyre. I discovered that there were warning devices available for just such situations. So the next area of research was into tyre pressure monitoring systems – TPMS. John was keen to have these on the Bus wheels as well as on the Terios, so we needed a system that managed ten wheels in total.

John decided to buy a system from a Melbourne based firm, so he was able to go to the outlet and talk it all through with them. This was not going to be a cheap exercise!

He fitted the monitors, which replace the valve cap on each tyre, and then set up the receiver unit in Bus. Another screened gadget to add to the proliferation on the dashboard! And the rats’ nest of leads that all plugged into the extension gadget that in turn plugged into the lighter socket.

The receiver unit, in theory, showed the situation with each wheel in sequence – its pressure and temperature. The unit beeps – loudly we discovered, when a tyre is under the set parameters he entered. Getting the whole thing to work with each wheel registering in its turn, took ages, with John fiddling about outside with wheels and me inside Bus letting him know what was showing on the screen. Each of the ten wheels had to be checked and some pumped up. Good thing he has an air compressor. I kept telling myself it would be worth it.

The day after the installation, John took me out to Bus to demonstrate the unit again. It beeped. One front tyre on Bus was down to 12psi. John worked out that he had not screwed the monitor unit on properly and it had leaked air overnight. That was remedied.

We did no further testing before our next trip. Mistake….