"The Tow Job"

I use my Bus as a work vehicle in my plumbing repair business. However, on the occasion to be described, it was pressed into towing service.   We had to tow my '64 Karmann Ghia vert 30 miles to Mike's shop.   The Ghia had sat in my garage for 10 years awaiting resto completion and it was time to let someone else work on it.

It was a hastily conceived trip and I should have smelled the odor of disaster in the air. First, the tow bar broke.  Fortunately we were near home and able to pick up a spare. Off again and flying along the highway I asked my partner if he heard a strange noise and/or smelled oil burning.  As we pulled over I knew we were in deep trouble.  There was that pungent hypoid oil smell and it was coming from the Ghia in tow.  (The Ghia had no engine, no interior and, most important, no shift lever!   10 years ago I had nudged the transmission into first gear and forgotten about it.)    As we sped down the highway the poor tranny was revved to ungodly rotations.   The extent of the damage was evidenced by the bronze shavings pouring out of the tranny case!

After a brief tear-filled moment we put the tranny in neutral and took off again.  Not another mile down the road there was a thump and the Bus started to handle badly.  My partner called out that he thought he saw a wheel roll down the highway!  Gingerly pulling over to the side yet again, we got out to survey the damage.  We had lost not only a wheel but a brake drum as well from the rear of the Ghia.

It had done a fair amount of damage to the wheel well as it tore loose.  It was then that I remembered that I had stuck the brake drums on 10 years ago with the intent of doing brake work.  So the cotter pins had been carelessly laid aside. On our ill-fated trip the axle nut had finally worked loose, resulting in the inevitable.

There we were in rush hour traffic with no way to hold the drum and wheel on the axle; (a thorough search of the roadside had not turned up the nut).   After some head scratching we conjured up a fair likeness of a castellated nut fashioned out of a galvanized pipe fitting.  We even drilled it out with the cordless drill to accept a facsimile of a cotter pin!  With the wheel thus firmly attached (more or less) we proceeded to the destination, albeit at a sedate pace.

I leave it to the reader to ascribe some moral to this story.