Those in the south west know that a huge rain storm hit California January 18-22. Some of that rain made it here, and dumped a lot of virgin snow at the Las' rel='nofollow' target='_blank'>http://www.skilasvegas.com/winter/index.html]Las Vegas Ski and Snowboard Resort. I, like many others in Vegas, headed out to Mount Charleston to either ski or just play in the snow. My two older children were with me, ages 8 and 12.
I won't go into all the details, but while the snow was fantastic at Las Vegas Ski, the lines were HUGE. It also can be tiring keeping track of two children at different ski abilities, and helping with all their requests and problems. Suffice it to say it was a tiring experience, but I kept my best face on.
Let me backtrack to say that on the road leading up to Mount Charleston they are very liberal about putting up signs that say "chains or four-wheel -drive vehicle required on mountain." They put these up when there is just patchy ice on the road. Much less than the ice I drove on in Baltimore for nine years with no chains. However, with a minivan with a high center of gravity, and two kids in the car, I always play it safe and put the chains on. I might add that I seem to be the ONLY person who does this. I see plenty of vehicles in the parking lot there that obviously are not four-wheel drive with nary a single tire chain.
So when we leave I still have the chains on the tires. Although they probably lifted the rule by the afternoon, I figure I would keep them on until I'm sure it is safe to remove them. On my way out there is a huge traffic jam. It seems hundreds of cars headed out to play in the snow, and they caused a major traffic problem with a shortage of parking and making three-point turns.
After some time sitting in this traffic I figure I can just remove the chains in line. So I unhook one of them half way, and of course at that moment traffic suddenly starts moving ahead of me. So instinctively I get back in the car. Stupidly, I let the wheel turn several times before I stop to unhook the other half. I incorrectly thought it would stay in place a few revolutions at very low speed, and I didn't want to hold up traffic behind me. However, when I went to unhook the other half, the chain was all wrapped around the axel, springs, shocks, and other parts of the assembly I can't name.
So I decided to try to pull over as best I can to deal with the problem, and let traffic behind me pass. However now the car won't budge, because of chain wouldn't let the wheel budge. So, trying to keep my cool, I try to wave the cars behind me to let me pass, because at that moment there was no traffic coming the other way. Instead the man in the next car gets out and says "Need any help?" I said I couldn't move because of the tire chain, and asked if he had bolt cutters to cut them off. He said wait here, and from his vehicle quickly produced a set of pliers, the kind that can also cut wire. I didn't think they were big enough to cut the tire chains, but I asked to borrow them to try. But he insisted, "No, let me." So I let him, while I unhooked the chains on the other tire.
I didn't think he would be successful, but instead in just about 10 seconds he got back up with the chains in his hand and said "Here you go, can I help with the other one." He didn't even look winded or dirty. I thanked him as best I could, and suggested he hand me the other one after I drive up a few feet, which he did. So off I went, with my faith in my fellow man somewhat restored that there are still some selfless people out there. If it hadn't been for him, I would have caused a major traffic disruption.
If that ended here, it wouldn't have bothered to write about it. But yesterday I was cleaning up in the garage, and decide to throw away the chain that was cut off. So I lay the first one out, and it was fine. I almost just threw the other one away without examining it, but wondered how many times he cut it to remove it so fast. So I rolled it out, and it was perfectly fine too! I checked the other one again, and they were both completely intact. How that guy managed to remove it, without cutting it, in under ten seconds completely baffles me. I'm sure there must be a logical explanation, but danged if I know it. I guess the problem was just not as bad as it looked. Still I must admit I'm moved by the experience.
I'm sure there must be a logical explanation, but danged if I know it.
Sounds like an episode in one of those "Angel" TV shows ... or maybe "Twilight Zone" !
1) The guy's a mechanic and he knew exactly what to do.
2) He has had the same problem before and knew how to fix it
3) He used the pliers to open one link that was caught, removed the chain and closed the link.
The three opssibilities are not mutually exclusive. Hypthesis 1 also applies if he's a guy who likes to work on his own car on weekends.
Probably number 1 or 2. "Chains" is not the best word to desribe them, they were more like cables, so they didn't have links. I guess I was just lucky to have the right person behind me.
Ok. I concede I'm not familiar with snow chains. Maybe he bent something or, depending on the kind of pliers, used them to grip something to yank the thing out. Hell, he may even have been trying to cut it and the whole thing came loose! Something like that happened to me once trying to cut the rope around a package. Or he may ahve cut one strand and the whole thing came loose.
Too bad he can't be asked.