Let’s Talk Tyres!


Excuse the jaunty yet practical-sounding title, but just for a change we’ve dipped out of Knumptydom to share a revelatory, nay, almost revolutionary, experience.

When we acquired our motorhome three years ago, it became clear from the documentation that it had spent most of its time on the Channel Island of Jersey. How it came into our possession through a dealership on the outskirts of Birmingham remains a mystery, but it had been well-maintained and – unlike many of the options we’d already viewed – sported tastefully understated upholstery thankfully sourced from the stylish but apparently extremely limited Non-Vomit-Inducing Range.

It did, however, have a particularly noisy, rattling cab – which over time we became used to, even though it rendered the radio virtually useless, even with the volume control wound up to Threshold of Pain level.

As with a lot of other motorhomes, ours spends most of the winter months going nowhere – remaining foursquare and static on a patch of hard-standing at the rear of our house. Having replaced the worn front tyres during the summer last year, this January we replaced the worn rear tyres – and the effect has been transformational. As we immediately experienced setting off for March 2018’s maiden voyage, peace & quiet reigned supreme; the rattling had reduced significantly; we could converse at a comfortable level and even the subdued and reverent tones of Radio 4 presenters burbled at an audible level for the first time in our journeyings.

Moral of the story? Well, presumably (and yes, as advised in the motorhome press, but ignored by those of us who thought we knew better) leaving a 3.5 tonne vehicle resting on its tyres for any length of time (either on Jersey and/or the outskirts of Birmingham) is going to misshape them imperceptibly – to the point that their insignificant lumpiness was obviously contributing to a significant amount of cab noise, which we’d just assumed was normal for a motorhome.

Yes, it’s an expensive remedy if your tyres haven’t actually worn out, but even visual inspection hadn’t identified that our tyres had even become misshapen, so we didn’t attribute our excessive cab-noise to this issue.

Come the autumn, then, we’ve decided it’ll be well worth the inconvenient effort of jacking the van up to take the weight off the tyres, which will hopefully preserve their innate and beautiful roundness which, in turn, will permit future in-cab social conversations – and Radio 4 – whilst journeying.

And OK, just for you insatiable fans of Knumptydom, here’s an added bit of tyre-related malarkey, resulting from our trip through France, when we struggled to find anywhere to pump up our well-journeyed tyres. Who’d have guessed that we should have been looking out for ‘gonflage’, when we had instead been erroneously seeking ‘pompe du pneus’?

As it was, we eventually found an unmanned roadside service area, primarily featuring several DIY car-washing bays, alongside which was a simple coin-slot air-compressor unit where we were able to check and gonflage our tyres. What fascinated us most, however, in this completely automated environment, was a free-standing, outdoor, baguette-dispensing machine. Shall I say that again? A baguette-dispensing machine. In exchange for yet more coinage, we could have helped ourselves to a baguette (freshly-baked, judging by the aroma) and delivered through a Perspex slot in much the same way as you might grab a can of Coke or a bag of crisps from the machine at your local swimming pool.

This passive machine, standing sentinel amidst gonflage and arid car-wash bays, provided us with much intrigue for the onward leg of our journey, as we speculated on how often it would have needed to be replenished, and how fresh the contents would remain, standing in the sunshine (or more accurately, the rain) all day long.

Finally, what made this particular conversation even more fulfilling as we hurtled further southwards in search of better weather? It was our ability to hear and be heard at autoroute speeds, at last made possible by our lovely round, and now properly inflated, tyres.

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