So Steven and I took the old '69 GMC pickup we use as a farm truck over to the Carp's to pick up a load of straw. I only loaded 14 bales, as I didn't want to stack it too high in the heavy NW wind for the drive home.
Driving north down the county blacktop about 10 miles from home on the trip back, the steering wheel of the truck suddenly came totally off in my hands. (I know - you usually only see things like that in Indiana Jones movies)LOL. I had no ability to steer whatsoever. I had been going slowly, so I just gradually braked firmly, and the NW wind pushed the truck gently off the road, into the grassy ditch and partially up into a newly planted wheat field. I was blessed that this was an area of road that, even though there are no shoulders, the ditches are gentle, and it is Kansas flatland. There was no damage at all to the truck, and the hay load rode fine.
The whole experience was actually quite hilarious. I had noticed there was much more "play" in the steering wheel than before, but I wrote off part of it to "just being an old truck" and thought I'd check it out more when we got home. But we didn't make it home before the nut holding the steering wheel to the shaft vibrated itself clear off, and I was left holding the wheel with a moving truck.
Many vehicles went by, but none offered assistance - and I imagine we just looked like we were an old farmer's truck "supposed" to be in that field. Two sheriff deputies who just happened to be passing by did stop to see what the problem was. When I laughingly showed him our now-detached steering wheel, they thought that was also quite funny and unusual. (They were a couple young officers, early 20s, I'd say. Glad to give them some humor for their day). They confessed to not being mechanically inclined or of any assistance, so they went on their way.
Steven and I worked on trying to get the wheel re-attached to the column for over 1/2 an hour before Steven finally got it figured out and back on. However, I had taken the tool box out of the truck to use for something else, so we had no way of fully tightening the nut again. I called a nearby friend, and he brought a wrench to help us get it tight. Then I just started the truck back up, drove down the length of the ditch for a ways to a field inlet, and then got back up on the road and drove home easily. That steering wheel is tighter now that it has been since I bought the truck! Guess I should have checked it earlier.
Sure wish I had thought to take a photo of our dilemma with my camera phone while we were in the ditch (I keep forgetting my phone has a camera on it).