If It Isn’t One Thing…

I am sure all of you are pretty sick of Steve and I telling you how crazy, bad, rough, or whatever negative adjective you choose, some of the roads are that we have encountered on the expedition. There are obviously plenty of other things to write about so this will be the last one for a while, although I am sure the roads will yield plenty of more interesting stories in the future.

Overall, both the Sequoia and the Tundra have held up extremely well and we have actually been able to make really good time compared to our own estimates and those of locals in the know given what we were told to expect. However, from time to time, things to tend to break and that is the nature of the beast. The funny thing is, when one problem pops up, it typically leads to the identification of another. For the last several weeks, we have been living with a slow leak in the rear driver’s side tire of Little Pepe. In order to give our portable air compressor a break from having to fill up the tire every 4 or 5 days, I finally got around to getting the leak fixed here in Ulaanbaatar. 


When the guy fixing the tire was removing the wheel from the car, he noticed that one of the lug nuts holding the wheel onto the hub was "soft." Given the language barrier that existed between us, I didn’t really know what he was talking about until he was able to pull the wheel off. Once the wheel was off, it was apparent that he was trying to tell me one of the six bolts holding the wheel onto the car had actually sheered off into the lug nut. There could be several causes for this and I started to wonder if the guys who had helped us rotate the tires in Malaysia had gotten a little trigger happy with their air impact wrench and over-tightened the lug nut, compromising the bolt.


After conversing with our Toyota support team back in the states, they were confident that an air impact wrench would not cause such a fracture in the bolt, even if the lug nut was put on too tightly. Basically, they said that the cause for the fracture was most likely a result of the strain and stress put onto the bolts and wheel over time from the roads we had been driving on. Fortunately, the problem is "easy" enough to fix… we just need to pull the hub off the axle, pound out the broken bolt and replace it with a new one that should be here in a day or so.

Actually, the problem could not have popped up at a more opportune time because we will be installing new lifts and coils on the trucks in a few days so we need to pull everything off anyway. Additionally, the road headed west from UB and into Siberia is pretty bad so I feel a lot better fixing the bolt here than on the side of a dirt road in the middle of a dust storm in Central Mongolia. However, it just goes to show you that you never really know what to expect when it comes to vehicle maintenance on a road trip around the globe.