Free Falling

Today I’m going to share with you some of the effects gravity has upon us when we least expect it.

First, an Airstream trailer showed up for some repairs. I went out to meet the customer, and was concerned when I noticed he looked like he’d walked into a swinging shovel. In fact, his appearance was a direct result of one of the repairs the trailer needed. He had opened his door that morning and stepped onto his retractable step. The step retracted while he was moving out of his trailer, and the resulting swinging catapulted him face-first onto a conveniently placed picnic table. At least he had the table to break his fall, or he would have hit the ground a lot harder than the relatively soft wooden table.
I took a look at the steps, and I could see where the slots in the step outriggers had worn to the point the steps wouldn’t stay put. Many times, this means the outriggers will have to be replaced, but this time I was able to take a die grinder to the slots, and cut new notches in the outriggers for the steps to “catch” on. By doing this, I was able to save him nearly as much money as he spent for his co-pay at the emergency room. He was happy to “break even” on this repair, but it’s probably a very good idea to check the movement of the steps and make sure they won’t take you on a brief, expensive, and painful ride.

Next was a direct experience with gravity by yours truly. A few days ago an Airstream trailer came in for a few maintenance items, including a new air conditioner shroud. I found out I can still do a 34 foot dash when removing the shroud uncovered several nests of seriously peeved yellowjackets. Dropping the shroud, I ran rearward, momentarily forgetting I was perched a dozen feet in the air on a travel trailer. I remembered where I was about the time I ran out of suspended real estate, with a horde of stinging insects in hot pursuit. Off the back of the Airstream I went, accompanied by the sounds of me yelling, and a high-pitched buzzing. Like the customer above I had something slightly softer than the ground to break my fall. In this case, it was the plastic-sheathed roof of a pop-up camper. I suffered only a lot of sore spots, but the pop-up now has a large dent almost dead center of the roof, where a large, heavy mechanic landed on it. Luckily, it was an older model, slated for the back lot anyway. If anybody out there decides to replace their own air conditioner shroud, a few judicious bursts of bug spray into the old one before you tackle the job would probably be prudent.

Last, there is an indirect tale of gravity. I was removing a damaged awning from a “Brand X” trailer. I had the assembly laying on the ground, and John, our resident crash-test dummy, was standing nearby, “supervising”. I started removing one of the bolts that hold the spring-loaded tube onto one of the arms, and warned John, “Stay back. This thing is going to go right over where you’re standing”. John assured me he was in no danger, he would be able to get out of the way if anything came toward him. Okay, fine. You were warned. I finished unbolting the arm, and naturally the roller tube took off like a shot, directly at John. He screamed like a girl, turned, and took two running steps away from the awning–straight into the concrete block wall behind him. He hit the wall with a hollow thud, and fell over backward, directly into the path of the madly unrolling awning. It rolled over him, hit the same wall John had, and sat on top of him, spinning to a stop on top of some of his most sensitive body parts. When everything finally stopped moving, he slowly crawled out from under the wadded-up awning fabric, not sure which of his injuries he should be holding. He settled for a hand in each area, and was assisted into the office by Pop, who had come around the corner to see what all the high-pitched screaming was about.

So, for any of you in doubt, the law of gravity, along with Newton’s three laws of motion, are still very much in effect. At least here in The Shop.

About the Author

Lug Wrench is a long-time mechanic, multiple Airstream owner, and dyed-in-the-wool pragmatist. All tales guaranteed 100% true, although names and certain details may be altered to protect the guilty.