A Modest Proposal 4.3

BY DAN ROGERS - DIAMOND LAKE, WASHINGTON - USA

Dan’s plan

“Here at the Frankenwerke, we have a lot of stuff going on, just about all the time. But, we’ve never quite gotten to the point of establishing a Department of Rocket Science. So, our own, admittedly overworked, Engineering Department staff has had to take the lead in this groundbreaking experiment. “

Remember Sputnik?

Nothing has been the same, since them Ruskies tossed that little steel marble up into the ionosphere. There are just scads of things we take for granted, these days, that came from the Space Race that followed. Like Tang ferinstance. And moon walk conspiracy theories, for a couple biggies. I’m pretty sure, without little ‘Nik, we would never have worried if something was “rocket science,” or not. Anyhow.

I’ve been dabbling in a bit of that dark art this week.




Here at the Frankenwerke, we have a lot of stuff going on, just about all the time. But, we’ve never quite gotten to the point of establishing a Department of Rocket Science. So, our own, admittedly overworked, Engineering Department staff has had to take the lead in this groundbreaking experiment. Which brings up another scientific principle. The angle of dangle. A principle discussed with a mixture of mystery and humor throughout my own period of maturation. An, admittedly short, but intense trajectory. And, that about exhausts the list of experimental variables. We’ll just call it empirically concise.

Our Proving Grounds have been a bit compromised with ice and snow. But, since we can’t all live in Florida, life must go on.

This is one of the Top Secret experimental photos that I’ll share with you-provided that you swear on your Captain Midnight Secret Decoder Ring that you will safeguard these secrets of potentially strategic importance. “First letter, M.”

I’ll try to explain this in less scientific terms. For the minority who don’t remember who Flash Gordon was.

I will admit to a small disappointment. My normally successful supply people were not able to find the large ball of Kryptonite that I really needed for this experiment. So, Gypsy Wagon’s trailer had to be a poor substitute. The mooring line in the picture is under about 800 pounds of static pulling loads. The actual object of this scientific enquiry is to determine if Alice the Tractor will tip over backwards if that much weight happens to be dangling from her aft-mounted crane. Hence, we return to that Euclidian concept of “angle of dangle.”

And, the initial answer to that question is a resounding, “probably.” Rear tires are getting pretty flat on one side, and the front wheels are beginning to have that giddy sense of “I can fly!” that most of us former members of the Interplanetary Space Command all experienced on our first flight to Mars and back. No doubt, you remember.

But, back to our visit to Bel Labs. Rocket science. Basic physics. To put it another way, I just got the memo. The one that says, “What goes down, should come back up.” And, the possibilities are just plain awesome. I know. I really should have paid more attention in science class.

Our little experiment in dissimilar equilibrium came after I had time after the staff meeting to study this most remarkable missive from HQ. You see. I know all about the business about stuff going up, and then coming back down. I’m sure that’s why the stuff that is supposed to be on my shop tool shelves is so often scattered around the floor. Basic applied physics. Well, anyway, you probably know somebody like that.

Here’s our working hypothesis. If Alice can hold Gypsy Wagon’s trailer tongue high enough, and that as a consequence gets the other end low enough; it just should be possible to get that boat to almost crawl LEVEL back onto the trailer. Like I was saying, this just could be awesome in the prospects for advancing the art – and certainly the science – of putting boats back onto trailers. So, a little more explanation about the rocket science, angle of dangle, and trajectory stuff is in order.

That trailer weighs about 1,200 to 1,500 pounds unladen. When the boat is loaded, the tongue weight is around the proper number of 200 pounds. But, that was back when she had an 800 pound chunk of Detroit Iron, gas tank, soggy foam and floor, and at least a few extra pounds of errant beach sand all parked on the opposite side of the axle. Even with all that, the tongue (you science nerds call it a “moment arm”), was trying to crash to earth worth of 200 pounds of Newtonian apples. Now, what I think we can do, is lift that moment arm about six feet off the launch pad. Once things are chocked and secured from rolling, the Engineering Department guys say we SHOULD be able to winch the boat back onto the rollers just about like pulling it back out of the water. Except, in this case, we’re sort of tilting the water level and holding both the boat and the trailer is as if they were actually level. Well, yeah. Except for that minor irritant of the tongue being six feet off the ground. But, that’s why it’s called rocket science.

A lot like this. Except for the differences, of course. Oh yeah. The “trajectory” stuff is still sort of out there on the launch pad. If something sticks, or jumps a roller, or comes loose-scientists call them un-controlled variables – then things could sort of go ballistic.

Then, we’d be back to rocket science. I’ll let you know.

1 Comment

  1. Whoa, indeed rocket science *shudder*. Without having done any numbers, this sounds a bit like there may be the topic of stable vs. unstable equilibrium (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mechanical_equilibrium) hidden in the story. I know by now it is all said and done (due to the normal publication delay). Fingers crossed that the next edition of this wonderful column finds Gipsy Wagon on her trailer rather than sideways on the icy ground…

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