The Tale of the Fiat

When we pictured our final setup, this is what we came up with. Our shakedown trips made us – we thought – conclude that a Toad would be super useful. While this looks manageable, this clean setup belied problems to come.
Here’s what happened. First, the added double receiver for bikes and car added stress to the hitch, causing it to twist. Shout out to Buddy at Saunders Automotive and Trailer Center in Ellsworth, Maine for a quick repair of the hitch. After about an hour of backroads driving leaving Acadia, we pulled over in the Holden, Maine Post Office for a final check before getting on the highway south. We could immediately smell the hot brakes of the Fiat. The front brakes had been dragging – not locked – for long enough to melt parts under the hood and be near to actual fire. Had we proceeded to the highway, the car would have burned. The results could have been catastrophic.
This is what we think was responsible. The NSA Hercules tow bar uses a cable-actuated surge brake for the Toad. We believe the cable got stuck – perhaps where it passes through the firewall. We will never know why the brakes dragged and nearly caught fire, but we did get scared off of towing. It did not help that neither the manufacturer, NSA RV Products in Kansas, not the installer, Trailer Depot in Connecticut, would even entertain the possibility of contributing to the failure. So while we can’t blame either, we feel that their respective defensive positions showed a lack of integrity and unwillingness to learn what actually happened.
This is the cost of repair. Richie at Morall Brake shop in Brewer, Maine took very good care of us. The repair would probably have cost double in Connecticut. All told, we have about $5k into the aborted Fiat towing attempt. We’ll delay our final assessment of the situation, but we’ll probably sell the car.
We learned that downsizing is an ongoing process, and includes many aspects of our lives. We made it a point to enjoy Bangor while waiting for car repair. We stopped by Stephen King’s house and soaked in the friendly vibe of the lovely waterfront.
The wait time did afford us time for the highlight of our trip – a visit to the Bangor Police Department to see the Duck of Justice. Officer Tim Cotton (follow them on FB) writes with compassion about you the travails of day to day life – a message we need to try to embody ourselves.
It’s a lot of hard work to get this vibe!

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