Tommy's Flat Tire Trauma

Nov 10, 2001

RAY: Many moons ago, when Tommy's son Alex was learning how to drive, Tommy thought he'd take him out in his '63 Dart and show him the rules of the road.

Alex was driving along, doing rather well, when they heard an unfamiliar noise. Tommy realized after a minute or so that the right rear tire had gone flat.

Realizing this was yet another fine opportunity to teach, Tommy asked Alex to pull off onto the shoulder. With the semis whizzing by at 70 miles per hour, Tommy hid in the bushes and told Alex from 100 yards away, "Take the jack out of the truck."

Alex jacked up the car, loosened the wheel nuts, and very carefully put them in the hub cap. But when he went to retrieve the spare tire, he inadvertently stepped on the hub cap and sent all but one of the wheel nuts cascading down the nearby hillside, never to be seen again. Out of the five wheel nuts, he managed to save one.

After administering an appropriate number of dope slaps, Tommy said, "We're done for!"

Suddenly, Alex said, "Wait a minute! Can you have four wheel nuts on every wheel instead of five?" Tommy said, "Yes, of course we can -- at least until we get back to town." To which Alex replied, "Well then, let's take one nut off of each of the other wheels, leaving four on each wheel, and we'll have four for the tire we're changing."

Three hours later, they're still waiting for help. Why couldn't they do what Alex suggested?


RAY: Well, the hint was it was Tommy's '63 Dart. And for a bunch of years, and I don't know exactly how many, Chrysler, on the driver's side of the car, made the wheel nuts left-hand thread, the idea being as you went down the road the wheel nuts would tighten themselves up as opposed to loosening themselves up. So, as your wheel turned, the nut would be turning in the same direction that it would turn to tighten it, and there'd be no risk of having the wheel nuts fly off.

TOM: So, two of the wheels had left-hand threads and two of the wheels had right-hand threads.

RAY: So, the ones on the left-hand side of the car could never be used in this little plan that Alex devised. And thus, they were stuck there because the best they could do was put two wheel nuts on one wheel.

TOM: Five, five, four and two.

RAY: So close, though.

TOM: Good one. That's a good one.

RAY: Do we have a winner?

TOM: Yes, we do. The winner is Margie Harrison from Charleston, South Carolina.

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