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Wednesday, January 4, 2017


I'm still doing some yardwork.  I wanted a trailerful (about 2 cubic yards) of compost, but getting replacement tires for the trailer in December really set me off schedule.  But it was scheduled to reach 55 degrees today, so I decided it is never too late to put compost around..

The trip was a comedy of errors!

First, I carefully placed the trailer hitch on the back of the car.  I put the tarp to cover the trailer in the back, a rake to level out the dumped compost in the trailer, and lots of bungee cords to hold the tarp down.  Off I went.  Do you notice something I missed? I had to return for something I forgot. 

The trailer...  Yes, I actually forgot the trailer.  Backed the car out of the driveway and drove away... 

Back home, attached the trailer, got to the nursery.  Set my tarp to be held down in the front of the trailer by weight of the compost and ready to fold over the top  to keep stuff from blowing out.

Went inside and placed my request for 2 cubic yards of compost.  Gave the clerk the coupon I had for $15 off a $75 dollar order.  Now, I knew the 2 cubic yards only cost $35.99 each, so I needed to spend $3 and change to use the coupon.  But there is always something cheap to buy.  Spend $3, get $15 off...

I should have known, when the clerk walked off with the coupon, with a puzzled look, something was wrong.  Something was.  They claimed it wasn't their coupon.

I am sure it WAS.  I clipped it out of the gardening section of the newspaper, and (moreover) I wouldn't have if it wasn't that one nursery I go to.  Anyone else, I wouldn't have bothered!   But I clipped the coupons out so carefully, there is no mention of the company offerring the discount.  

I was annoyed enough to want to check.  But NATURALLY, all the old newspapers  (where the ad the coupons were clipped from) were in the recycling box picked up yesterday!

But, on the other hand, I wanted the compost, would have bought it without any coupon, so I just made a slight joke about uncertainties of ads and paid for the 2 cubic yards of compost.  Then went out back to the trailer.

Where I suddenly realized the the covering tarp was set up sideways!  And the guy was there with a cubic yard to dump.  I had to wave him off for a moment, while I adjusted the tarp to fit the right direction.

So he dumped the first cubic yard.  1/3 of it stuck in the bucket-loader.  It had been raining the day before and everything was wet.  He shook the bucket, but stuff was still sticking.  So I showed him my rake and started loosening wahat was left.  I got most of it.

The next bucket was way overfilled.  He was trying to make up for the sticky compost I didn't get in the 1st.  Nice person.  I think I ended up with 2 cubic yards.

So I started to drive home.  After I reached 50 MPH, I realized the trailer was swaying back and forth.  I pulled over immediately.  Such swaying usually occurs when the trailer tires are mismatched in air pressure or the load in unevenly spread in the traile.

But I had specifically checked the air pressure in the car tires and the trailer tires.  And I had spread the compost evenly inside the trailer.  Since the trailer tires were new, I was worried that one wasn't holding air, or I had failed to tighten some lug nuts.

I checked and everything seemed right.  So I put the hazard lights on and set the cruise control to 35 mph while I drove home.  Moat of the time I could drive on the shoulder of the road.  (And rehearsed what I would say to a policeman if I was pulled over...)

Fortunately, it was all back roads the last 2/3s of the drive and I got home safely.  So then I had to disconnect the trailer from the car so I could put the car in the garage.

BTW, the car is a 2005 Toyota Highlander, 26,000 miles and garage-kept).  I obviously don't drive for the thrill of it, LOL!

But after unlocking and unlatching the trailer, it wouldn't release from the car's trailer ball.  That's happened before.  I just have to kick it a couple of times.  But when I did, it WASN'T usual.  The front of the trailer went right up in the air (and of course the back down to the ground.

Oops, I seem to have spread more weight of compost toward the back of the trailer...  The comedy of errors was continuing.   With less than my full weight on the front of the trailer, I could push the front down.  I'm guessing it took about 125 of my 170 pounds to do that.  BUT doing that, I couldn't also put anything under the back end to hold the trailer more level.  I tried adding a few cinder blocks on the front, but I sure wasn't going to get to 125 pounds.  And I couldn't lift the back of the trailer at all! 

I could have asked a neighbor, but that's not me.  The one I would have asked was gone (no car in the driveway).  Besides, I love a challenge...

The first challenge was to loosen the tarp folded under the back of the trailer (pinned down by the weight of the trailer).  My shovel was enough of a lever, so while I stood on the shovel handle, I removed the bungee cords back there and pulled the tarp edge out. 

That allowed me to fold up the tarp to expose the back.  I use my riding lawn mower to haul a 3'x4' yard cart.  I used to shovel material from the trailer to the yard cart and then haul the yard cart to the back yard and shovel it back out again where I wanted stuff.  I learned it was easier to use the yard cart to hold buckets that I filled up from the trailer and then manually dump them where desired. 

So I shoveled out the back foot of compost into the buckets, set the buckets into the yard cart, and drove them to the back yard where I dumped them to where I expect to plant tomatoes in a new place next year. 

And as I shoveled out the back 1 foot part of the compost, the trailer gently settled forward onto the front support.  That was a relief!  But it also meant that the amount of compost I shoveled out filling the 8 buckets in my yard cart weighed about 125 pounds.  Since the trailer is 8' long the compost weighed 8x125 pounds or 1200 pounds!  I did NOT realize how heavy the compost was. 

With the back foot of compost removed, I was able to remove the back of the trailer for easier shoveling.  It was late in the day, so I only got to fill up the yard cart buckets 2x before sunset. 

I secured the tarp over the compost so that rain wouldn't wash any away and went inside to clean up.  Wile  was dogn that, I considered why the trailer had started swaying while I drove home.  

There are 2 possibilities (at least).  One is that the trailer tires say to be inflted to 45 PSI and the car tires are inflated to 32 PSI.  I don't think that matters so long as they are the same on both sides.  Uneven pressure on one side would make a swaying, but that wasn't the case.

The likliest thing is that I pushed the compost around in the trailer wrong.  The trailer tires are in the middle of the trailer.  I'm thinking that if too much weight of the compost was behind the tires, it may have caused the problem.  In past loads, the trailer has never tipped up at the front before.  So if the weight is behind the trailer tires, that may have caused the rather scary swaying. 

In the future, I will make sure to keep most of the weight in front of the trailer tires.  I was good at geometry in school.  I can picture the trailer as a triangle of 2 middle tires and a front trailer hitch.  That seems more stable than having the weight behind the tires.

I've always said I try to learn something new every day.  This wasn't exactly one of the things I wanted to learn, but sometimes negative things are educational too. 

Now I just have to empty the other 90% of the compost, LOL!


Ramblingon said...

Mark, I hate the comedy of errors for you but I LOVED how you told it. Made my evening and week o' end as the Tabbies say.

Megan said...

I agree with Ramblingon - a great story. You had me when you admitted to driving off without the trailer. Ha!

Sydney, Australia

da bear said...

swaying is cause by back loading. Reduces your braking also

da bear said...

swaying is part of end loading a trailer. Ive done it before. Its not safe, as braking can be reduced.