Physics

Back in the early 80’s I owned one of the first of the Toyota small pickups. They were considered “top of the line” with their 90 horse power engines. They weighed in at about 2900 pounds. Prior to that pick ups were full sized, big block trucks.

It was the first brand new car I’d ever owned. It was red, some would say fire engine red. I went all out and got a cap for it and everything. In those days there were no fiberglass caps, they were made of wood and aluminum. It was also rare for a girl to own any kind of pick up too so I was really something. My friend went and got a tan one and got a cap identical to mine that matched her paint. Sometimes we would switch trucks just to mess with people. We also went 4 wheeling with the big boys and their trucks and jeeps. But that’s not what this story is about, that’s a story for another time.

I had previously been driving a Chevy long bed van with a 350, 4 barrel carburetor. Also red although I had it painted red when I got it. Alice was her name. Alice weighed in at 5500 pounds. I had put a lot of miles on Alice in a short amount of time and she was tired. I gave her a spot in out yard to rest and eventually gave her to my boyfriend to rebuild the engine.

We decided to take Alice to a garage where he could work on her when he had time. I figured we’d just rent a tow bar, hook her to the Toyota and tow her, which we did. At about the halfway point to our destination we had to go around what we in New Hampshire call a common, some places call it a green you may even know them as round-abouts although that wasn’t really a “thing” yet. We came onto the common and started around the first turn. That’s when things went askew. As we came around the corner the Toyota went left but Alice decided to keep going straight. I looked in the mirror and saw her go. I had just enough time to say “Oh ****” to my boyfriend and pull my glasses off before I saw her tip….tip….and tip right over sideways. Miraculously the Toyota stayed upright. The to hitch was decidedly ruined and twisted into an scrunchy mess. Alice was pretty scraped up but no broken windows.

Here’s the physics lesson I learned. You can’t tow something that is heavier than the vehicle you’re towing it with. just because it’ll pull it. Well, you can’t expect the heavier vehicle to FOLLOW the lighter one around corners.

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