Bad News This Past Wkd: Trailer Trouble with the Bus
Tue., Jun. 30. 2009 12:12am EDT
With many movies these days, the best thing about them is the trailer. With our concerts this past weekend however, the worst thing was the trailer. After we played in Louisville KY Friday night, we noticed that our trailer had a flat tire. Thankfully, we were in the church parking lot, and although it's no picnic changing a flat when the trailer is full and already attached to the bus, we were able to do so.
The real problems with the trailer wouldn't occur till the next day on our way to Lake City AR. After driving for about five hours, we stopped at about 12:30 p.m. for fuel in Charleston MO, and our driver, Super Dave Johnson, noticed that the bus' trailer hitch was only barely hanging onto the bus. It could easily have detached at any moment, not only damaging our equipment but putting the lives of people behind us in jeopardy. Through God's grace, it didn't, and through His provision, the fuel stop was right next to a truck garage, and a Christian one, no less -- Faith Global Truck Repair. Although they weren't open on weekends, they had a phone number posted in case of emergencies, and their owner came out and re-welded the trailer hitch infrastructure under our bus.
A couple hours and a hundreds of dollars later, we were back on the road. About 40 miles after that, the bus generator shut off, turning out all indoor lights and power, including the air conditioning (it was literally about 100 degrees outside at the time). That had to be restarted from the outside, so we pulled to the side of the highway to do that. Unfortunately, it wouldn't restart, although the engine ran fine. Fortunately, Super Dave checked the trailer hitch and discovered that the new welding job had disintegrated, leaving our trailer barely hanging on once again, but we weren't anywhere near a truck stop. This time, a good Samaritan stopped by, went home and got a jack, and used his pick-up truck to drive our trailer 15 miles closer to our destination, to a truck stop in Hayti MO, as we followed him in the bus.
In the meantime, our concert coordinator for the night, Brother Larry Ward from Refuge Baptist Church, was on his way with a crew of volunteers from his church, an air-conditioned mini-bus and a pick-up truck with a trailer hitch. They drove 60 miles to Hayti, picked us up, and brought our trailer back to the church. Super Dave, Keith, and Tom M. drove our bus right behind them, although the AC was still out. Ironically, the driver of the pick-up truck was the cousin of Jim "Dandy" Mangrum, the lead singer of the 70's southern-rock group Black Oak Arkansas, the band named after a town just five miles down the road from where we were playing. To paraphrase their hit, this time it was Jim Dandy's cousin to the rescue.
By the time we arrived at the church to set up, it was already past time for the concert to start. The church drama team kept the audience entertained in the building next door, while the band and our team of volunteers sprang into action setting up for the show. The audience was very patient and still remained enthusiastic, even though the show started 1.5 hours late.
At the start of the show, Super Dave drove the bus to the nearby barn workshop of a church member named Tony, who is also a professional welder. Tony made significant efforts to reinforce the trailer hitch on the bus, as he and Super Dave braved the humid, mosquito-infested outdoors of Lake City. This time, the welding job seemed much stronger, and after the concert it held our trailer well on the 15-mile trip to our hotel in Jonesboro. The indoor power on the bus (including, most importantly, the air conditioning) also finally started working again, and everything looked fine.
Alas, it was not to be. On our way home Sunday early morning, we had to drive right past the church in Lake City, so we pulled into the lot to check the trailer hitch again. Once again, the weld hadn't held, and the trailer hitch was barely hanging on. To clarify, the part of our trailer that hitches to another vehicle is fine; the part of our bus that hitches to the trailer is not. So we emptied the trailer of any equipment we'd need for our concerts July 10-12 in Idaho, Utah, and Colorado, and left the trailer locked up in the parking lot at the church. Then we drove home.
Although the incidents with the trailer were discouraging, we are extremely grateful to God for sparing our lives and the lives of those around us. If we hadn't stopped for fuel when we did on Saturday afternoon, or if the power hadn't gone out later, or if we hadn't driven right past the church the next morning, the trailer could easily have broken off. We are also extremely grateful for guy who stopped by to help us by the side of the road, for the staff at the church who came to get us, and for Tony the welder.
What happens next? Well, we're still writing that part of the story. But you can help us write it. Please see the other articles in this week's newsletter.