Re: Misc. notes, trailer story etc.
Mon, 9 Aug 1999 17:25:16 -0700

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West Wight Potter Website at URL
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After reading your story, I think I will replace the S-hooks on my trailer
chains with something more reliable, and maybe start locking the hitch
lever down too.

I had a similar experience that didn't involve a trailer. Turning onto a
freeway one day in my Mazda RX-7, I was feeling sporty and gave the gas
pedal a little jab, which normally causes a very brief breaking loose of
the rear tires. I ignored the fact that the road was wet, and I was unaware
that my rear tires had worn smooth. Well, the rear end broke loose and
started swinging to port. I saw that my usual amount of correction wasn't
going to stop it so I cranked in more left rudder. That worked, and the
rear end stopped and began a wider swing to starboard. Reverse the wheel, a
still wider swing to port, really sideways now. My corrections continued to
be too little (or too much) and too late as the RX-7 made 2 or 3
fishtails, in both directions, of increasing seriousness, and finally made
a complete 180 and came to a stop on the medium strip, facing the oncoming
traffic, which fortunately was light.

I had zig=zagged and spun across three lanes of freeway without hitting
anything. Two cars that were behind me as I entered, had pulled over and
stopped, their drivers looking at me with their mouths agape. I gave them
a little wave and they drove off. I waited for a break in the traffic, then
did a 180 and drove off down the freeway, considerably humbled.

Lessons learned:

1. Don't be playful on a freeway.
2. Check your tires for wear.
3. A limited slip differential is a mixed blessing; when a rear tire does
break loose, BOTH rear tires break loose.
4. Treat a wet road as if it were ice.

Most of those items are obvious and should not have to be learned the hard
way. My offspring now refer to the incident as the "Daddy maneuver."

If that sounds like a dumb kid stunt, well, I was at least 65 at the time.
Or if it sounds like a geezer who had lost the capacity to handle a car
safely, well, I had recently driven several autocrosses in an RX-2 without
a spinout or even hitting a cone. No, I hadn't had anything to drink

Harry Gordon
Mountain View, CA

>I was moving to Minnesota to go to school and had some stuff I wanted to
>store at my folks in L.A. While a welding teacher in Salinas, California,
>I had my students build a trailer for my Korralla Jr., a 12 ft sailboat.
>I also had them attach fittings and make stake bed sides so I could use it
>as a utility trailer. I loaded it up with a bunch of stuff (bed, lots of
>books etc.) and headed south. In Oxnard we got a flat. I left the
>trailer on the side of the road (it was late and I had no spare) and went
>to my Dad's. He and I went back early the next day and got the tire fixed
>(I always carry a spare now). Anyway, we hooked it back up and headed down
>Highway 1. All went well until we got to Santa Monica. Then it happened.
>It was a Saturday afternoon in August and the highway was crowded with
>beach goers. The road there is six lanes wide with no divider. Traffic
>was very heavy and stop and go. We had to stop short for some reason and
>heard a thump and then a rending crash from behind. I looked in my mirror
>and I see the trailer COMMING PAST US FROM BEHIND! As my father and I
>watched in horror the trailer made a graceful turn to the left, CROSSING
>ALL SIX LANES OF TRAFFIC! A space just sort of magically opened up as
>drivers braked crazily to avoid it. To our unmitigated delight, it came to
>rest against the far curb without hitting anything. After it came to rest
>everyone on the road was in a state of shock. Traffic stopped dead,
>everyone looking at us. At first we froze, then I looked to see if anyone
>from law enforcement was about (I deserved a ticket). Then we jumped out
>of the truck, ran over to the trailer, picked up the tongue and brought it
>back over and hooked it up. No one moved, no one said a word. We got to
>the house without further incident.
>It turned out that both safety chains had broken - actually, the S hooks
>had gone straight. I swear I had closed the hitch. Now I always use a
>padlock to lock a hitch in the closed position. My dad and I often laugh
>remembering the uncommon luck that was with us that day, we should have
>gone right out and bought some lottery tickets! I think part of the
>problem was insufficient tounge weight.
>Eric Zilbert
>Davis "not by the sea" California
>P19 #621 "Riptide"