34 Replies

What was your January 1, 2016 like?  Well let me tell you about mine.  At the end of the year I had a little spare cash sitting around but I knew that I needed to get at least 3 houses, maybe four roofed this summer.  Then I saw an add at Menards for shingles on sale that were being discontinued.  I really wanted a certain color of them since I had done a deck and back porch in that color.  About 350 miles away I found a store that had a lot of them, so I got online and ordered 50 squares plus roof wrap, ice gard, plastic cap nails, roofing nails, etc.  Well that is a lot of weight so I borrowed my friends large brand new dump trailer set up to haul over 15,000 pounds of weight.  I bought an adaptor for my truck wiring, checked the brakes, checked the tires, checked the lights and headed to get it.  I had to cross the mountains and it was a bit icy.  When I got the shingles I headed back home going well below the 80 mph speed limit due to the weight.  I took a longer less steep route home.  A little over halfway home things went bad fast.  The trailer suddenly began fishtailing wildly throwing the pickup around.  By hitting the gas I could pull it in briefly but it immediate fishtailed wildly and one cannot slow down going down a long hill by constantly hitting the gas.  Eventually the side of the road seemed the best place to be but the trailer decided to take us a different direction and pulled the truck back onto the interstate so it could flip in the middle of the road.  It was an amazing ride, one I hope to never repeat.  Imagine over 3,000 shingles flung across the interstate.  Eventually multiple tow trucks righted the trailer and I and other kind passerbys threw shingles onto it and my truck.  The result of the investigation showed the ball had broken off the hitch.  The back of my truck had many jab marks knocking large dents into it.  The ball had a single weld thinner than you little fingernail.  Apparently even 2 5/16 inch balls have light duty models.  I borrowed one my friend used as the one I usually used was loaned out.  I had C class I should have had used a B class.  The chains that kept my truck tied to the 15,000 pound trailer down the long hill were amazingly strong, and never broke.  The emergency break away brake set never kicked in as the lanyard was longer than the truck safety chains.  The tow truck bills, hiring a semi to take the trailer home the next day all added up.  Since I only had liability insurance on my beautiful 22 year old truck nothing was covered, not the trailer nor the shingles.  Five thousand dollars of shingles, three thousand in towing and hauling fees, a new dump trailer to replace the one I broke, and more labor to try to salvage some of the shingles changed my New year cash surplus into the biggest cash hit since I started investing.

    A couple of things I would like to share with you.  

Be very careful in inspecting your equipment and check the weight rating on the ball of the hitch, I never knew they had one.  The tow truck driver had seen 3 such failures that year.  It had 3 different sizes of balls on it, and was bought for only $19.99 at O'Reillys.  My last hitch was $39.00 for a single ball.  You apparently get what you pay for.

Check your insurance.  I thought the borrowed trailer would be covered by my insurance it was not.  Don't tow until you know.  I normally use an old four horse trailer for hauling shingles but this load was too large.

Don't get cocky and think that a $5,000 reserve will be enough to get you by just because it has been years since you had a major problem.  I was lucky and had the ability to cover the money in a line of credit.  I had hoped to save about $3,000 on shingle costs by buying early.

Last, if you see a guy with an upside down trailer in the middle of an interstate with over 3,000 shingles flung about please stop and help him, he has had a bad day.

  I was very lucky in that many kind folks stopped and helped and all made sure I was was OK.  I hope to salvage about half of the shingles, the problem is the plastic wrappers on the back blew off when they scattered.  So even undamaged shingles will melt onto whatever they are stacked on as soon as they warm up very much.  You cannot really do a roof in January very well in Wyoming.  Thanks to real estate investing I had the ability to weather this storm.  If needed I could use the equity I built up in a property to cover it, still the loss of an amount equal to gross rents for 3 houses for a entire year is an unpleasant thing to consider.

This brings up a final thing I think all investors need .... resiliency.  There will be good times, there will be bad times.  Like a marriage you are in for the long haul, not just the fun exciting times.  Hard times will pass and you will be stronger for having endured them.

Thanks for listening and I hope I have helped some of you avoid some of the problems I related.

Please feel free to share a story of your own of bad days that came and how they passed.  I would also appreciate any advice on what to do with a few thousand shingles that have a few chunks missing and upon getting warm will turn into a huge melted blob.  I am thinking I should try to roof a garage or 2 that don't leak but are looking worn.

@Jerry W. wow sorry to hear about that issue.  I too, bought shingles at Menards for a project when they were on sale before Dec 24th.  But my contractor picked them up at the yard.  I wouldn't undertake such a huge project myself! (Either that or I'd have them delivered.)

Wow Jerry thanks for sharing. Cant say I have any advice on what to do with your damaged soon to be blob. The worst that has ever happened to me towing was a 32' boat hopping off of the ball because I was told it needed a 2" ball when it was actually a 2 5/16". Luckily was not going very fast and was able to stop without much damage. One great takeaway from your post that I will remember is to check the trailer e brake line length and make sure it is shorter than the chains. I also use the 3 way cheapo ball hitches so I will make sure to check it before towing my current boat any distances. Thanks again for sharing.

@Jerry W.

Glad to see tail didn't wag the dog harder and your still in fine shape!

I've had a trailer come off a ball before (innards of the coupler broke) and run up under the backend of my wife's station wagon - and expensively scary ride itself, but nothing like flipping the load you had.

Sorry to hear it happened, but someday you'll be able to laugh about it.

Thanks @Dawn Anastasi and @Jeff Brower .  I was so happy to get shingles for $16 per bundle instead of $30 per bundle.  I am amazed at how many folks stopped.  One lady used her truck to throw shingles on and took my number.  She called two days later, asked how I was feeling and meant it, then offered to bring the load of shingles to me 135 miles away in the middle of winter for free.  I thanked her but said just dump them, or use them if you have a dog house or something that needs shingles.  They are great for traction when you are stuck.  I offered to everyone who called, and there were several, to please call me if they came by my town so I could buy them a cup of coffee and some pie.  Those are the kind of people you want as friends.

Thanks @Roy N. , I do laugh about it now, but the laugh makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck, hehe.  I am sore in a lot of places but that is probably more than half from stacking shingles for a few hours.  It is also not a total waste, I think I can replace the axles on the trailer and weld it up and use it again.  We will see, it was less than a year old and the lights were still on even upside down.

@Jerry W.

Thanks for sharing and sorry about your luck.  I will definitely have to check my trailer hitch ball ratings as I never knew to do this, I typically only check hitch weight.  I'm sure the worst is behind you and you will now have a Prosperous New Year.

@Jerry W.

Wow. This story is terrifying. Thank god you weren't injured or worse. Thank you for sharing what happened in such detail. You've probably saved a life of someone else in the forum by sharing this story, and your ability to look for something positive out of this disaster is admirable. 


“The oak fought the wind and was broken. The willow bent when it must and survived.”
― Robert Jordan, The Fires of Heaven

Man I'm sorry to hear that but glad you are okay. I have had most of my properties roofed in the winter months ( I live in Kansas) when it is slow for my roofer. I always get a much better deal. Even if the actual temperature is below freezing if it isn't too windy the surface temperature of the roof will melt your shingles together quickly once installed. I would get as many of those shingles in place as possible as quick as I could.

Thanks @Rocky V. and @Eleena D. for the kind words.  It is funny one of the things that I hate is I keep thinking ack I could have used that to buy put down as money to buy two houses hehe.  Funny how your mind works.

@Dustin Hawks I am going to try to put a roof on a garage and see how it goes.  I may put boards weighted down with bricks on the leading wind edge side until they seal.  Hopefully it will work.  I have known folks who use a large torch to seal shingles.

DANG Jerry! Not a good day! Very glad to hear it wasn't worse, it could have been!

Now, down here, we get tickets for unsafe towing, overloading, impeding traffic, reckless endangerment, driving too fast for conditions and littering or illegal dumping! I take it you know a good attorney......LOL

I had a Pathfinder pulling my lawn tractor and the ball broke, trashed the front of the tractor and the back of the Pathy, not a good day but minor compared to yours. Now I use a class A hitch, two lock nuts threaded with safety wire, it's not going anywhere!

In a couple weeks, I'll be pulling about 14, 16" x 16' steel roof trusses, not really looking forward to it. 

Insurance? Check!

Vehicle inspection? Double check!

Legal? I hope so, LOL :) 

@Jerry W.   glad you can write about it and you were not hurt this could have not ended that well. 

I had a load of custom made hardwood flooring delivered to a winery parking lot when I lived in Napa  then my thought was I would drive over load it up in my pickem up truck and bring it over a few bundles at a time.. they weighed a lot.

well my truck had the plastic liner.. and the runs of the HW were 10 to 12 feet ( I had them custom milled) so the back of the pick up was down I figured they weighed so much no need to tie them I was only going 1 mile.

well I had to cross Silverado Trail and its 55 mHP so I punch it a bit and the load slips right out and lands smack dab in the middle of the hwy... wine tasters coming to a quick halt thankfully no one got hurt and I was able to rescue my HW flooring.. no damage it just kind of plopped down..

glad your OK  phew that had to be very scary.

@Jerry W.

I'll have to double check my tow equipment - I have a 3/4 ton duramax and have towed some heavy loads before luckily nothing like this has happened to me.  Glad you're ok

Was this a gooseneck or a bumper pull?  And the actual ball is what failed?  (Last time I bought a ball/receiver for my pickup I noticed they had different weight ratings for both the receiver and ball, I just bought the highest they offered at Tractor Supply in both not have a goose neck hitch installed.)

Sorry for the question is the wounds are still raw - would like to learn from what happened as I tow from time to time.  I've also borrowed before from someone, however I'll probably not have to do that unless I'm 100% certain they have the right equipment.

Wow @Jerry W. what a story!  Thanks for sharing. I find these encouraging in an odd sort of way. Because, as you said, we need to be resilient and you are showing it. It seems we often inky hear the biggest success stories, the home runs.  And I have a tendency what I'm doing wrong.  But we need to take the long view that three steps forward, two steps back is still moving us forward. 

@Jerry W.

Glad you are safe! That's what counts. Try a read of Marcus Aurelius' "Meditations" and you will feel better about what happened, I promise.

Ack, lets try again.  @Shane H. it was a bumper pull.  The ball literally broke off of the receiver.  The ball was still inside the hitch, and the receiver was still on the back of my truck.  I have at least 8 pretty good sized divits in the back of my tailgate and even the bumper.  To make matters worse I borrowed the hitch they were using to pull the trailer with.  I probably had it loaded heavier than they did, but it was probably over weight for what they were using it for too.

probably a real dumb question but can you restack the shingles with a similar plastic in between?  I know it would be very time consuming and tedious but......

Thanks for the numerous lessons learned from your story.  Hope you have a quick recovery!!!

@Ash Patel  I think you can put a heavy plastic between them, I am doing it on some.  That means each piece of plastic must be pulled off when you go to shingle as well.  I am going to try putting shingles on the garages of some of the houses I roofed last summer.  I have heard in Alaska they actually use large torches to heat the shingles to make them seal.  I could do the same here if needed but hope I wont need to do that.

@Jerry W.

That was a frightening story especially when you mentioned going down hills and icy roads. Thank God you're physically undamaged and no one else was hurt either. Not to make light of it but money comes and go. The situation could've been much worse. As the saying goes: You never lose because even if you don't win you learn. Happy New Year.



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