Proud members of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy. We strongly believe in personal freedom, responsibility, and gun rights. We also believe in the 90/10 theory. That means that 10% of the people have 90% of the talent. Unfortunately, we are not in the 10% category. However, the rest of us are still better than 90% of the politicians.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

On towing a trailer for the first time

When I was seventeen and leaving for college my parents, who had been waiting for a chance to make a run for it, decided to retire. After taking a look at the dorm and deciding I really didn't want to live there my parents and I had come to an agreement and I rented an apartment near school. I had to move all my stuff there as the homestead was sold and my parents had left for another state so there would be no going home to visit my old room. They moved before I did as they were eager to get on with their new life.

I decided my options were:

1. Movers - but I didn't really have all that much stuff and they were expensive.

2. Rent a truck - but that would have meant driving a truck and towing my car, plus talking someone over 25 into doing the actual renting and maybe needing them to go with me. Anyway, the trucks were noisy and not very comfortable and it didn't take long to talk myself out of that option.

3. Rent a trailer - that really looked like the best choice to me, except I was again stuck with the under 25 thing.

And then it hit me, why not buy a trailer? No age limit problem like with rentals, I could move all my stuff and recoup some of the money on arrival by selling it. In the paper there were even several that were cheaper than a rental. What could possibly go wrong?

Off I went, looking for trailers. The new stuff was more than I wanted to pay, but the classifieds had plenty listed and I finally found one the perfect size. I made the deal and the man I was buying from asked when I wanted to pick it up.

"What's wrong with now?"

"Are you planning to pull it with that car?"

"It's the only one I have, why?"

"It's an Opel GT."

Nobody better make fun of it, I loved that car. "Yes, I know what it is."

He mumbled to himself for a minute before saying, " You'll need a trailer hitch."


Yes, I knew what they were, I just hadn't thought about not having one. Most of the people I knew drove trucks with hitches to pull their boats, motorcycles and dunebuggies and I just thought they came with every vehicle.

The man I was buying the trailer from was really nice and told me where I could get a hitch and we arranged for him to drop off the trailer later that day. I took off to get the hitch, made the deal and the mechanic asked which car was mine.

"The gold one out front."


Two minutes later he came back in and asked, "Are you sure you want a hitch on that car?"

"I'm sure."

"What are you planning to pull with it?'

"A trailer."

"What kind of trailer?"

"A flat one with my furniture and stuff."

"Are you sure you want to do that?"

"Yep, pretty sure."

"How far are you going?"

"1700 miles."

"1700 miles. In that car, pulling a trailer. What size trailer?"

I told him what size, said that I didn't have much and asked if it was going to be a problem.

He looked at me for a minute and scratched his head and said, "Well, the car will probably pull that, but are you sure you want to do this?"

"I think so."

"Well, okay then."

A short while later I had my trailer hitch and that afternoon the man I bought the trailer from delivered it and hooked it up to the car for me.

Some friends and I loaded the trailer that night and I got up and got on the road early. The fact that I had never before pulled a trailer didn't worry me, after all I had seen lots of trailers being pulled all over the place and it didn't look that hard.

If you're used to driving a small sports car, might I suggest that you not make your first attempt at pulling a trailer on a busy Southern California freeway? Some of the gestures and shouted comments were absolutely rude and all that honking was distracting.

Several hours down the road I was hungry and decided to stop for lunch. I had a nice lunch, then went out to continue my journey. But there was a slight hitch.

Trailers don't much like backing up. They get as contrary as cats when you try. No matter which way I turned the wheel the darned thing went the other direction. I was on my third or fourth attempt and having quite a discussion with the steering wheel when a man came running out of the restaurant and waved at me to stop. He offered to do the backing up and I accepted. He got the car and trailer moved around to a point where I could just go forward, then went back to his meal.

You might be thinking that was a really thoughtful gesture, but I saw his face. He was parked behind me.

I decided that I didn't really want to go through that again so I would make sure I never got the car and trailer into a position where backing up would be necessary.

The rest of the afternoon went well, and I stopped at a motel with truck parking in the back that night so I could pull straight through to leave.

After a good night's rest I woke refreshed and ready to head out again. I went down to put my stuff in the car, and lo and behold, someone had managed to park a big pumpkin colored 18 wheeler in front of me. There was no way to get out without backing up. Being hungry, I decided to walk across the highway and get breakfast and hope that the truck would be moved by the time I was done.

It wasn't. We were at the back of the motel and it wasn't very busy so I shouted yoo hoo a couple of times until the driver woke up. He did move the truck, but he was very grumpy about it.

(Oh, stop feeling sorry for him. What kind of moron parks directly in front of an Opel GT with a trailer attached?)

The rest of the day was uneventful. Unless you count the sign at the Taco Bell drive thru, and that was just unfortunate.

That night I stayed in a quieter little place and there was no one parked in front of me when I was ready to leave the next morning. But as I was walking to the car I noticed the trailer looked a little funny. From the rear the tires were kind of tilted. Like this: / \.

It's true that I didn't have much furniture, but what I did have was books and music. They don't take up much space, but they certainly add to the weight of a load.

And in all the mumbling from the man who sold me the trailer and the mechanic who put the trailer hitch on my car, no one mentioned weight limits for trailers. No one. Not once.
The axle of the trailer was kind of bent by that weight, making the tires sort of tilt in toward the center.

Six hours later I announced my arrival at the apartment complex with a loud screeching noise from the tires rubbing on the trailer sides and a horrendous smell from the same source.

In case you're wondering, I didn't get my money back out of the trailer. And the next time I moved, I hired movers.


  1. I'm amazed that the Opel's engine and tranny survived the trip.

  2. I'm stunned. I had a Saab Sonnett III (very similar to your Opel) and I wouldn't have even dreamed of towing anything with it.

    I'm more stunned that you got everything in one single-axle trailer, though that's a lot easier to do when you're younger and don't have as much crap. I remember those days, when I was wild and free and had hardly anything to call my own.

    Then I got old and married--and married to another bookworm, just to complicate things. We just got done moving with an 18x8 twin-axle trailer with 4' high sides(borrowed from a coworker) and a Nissan Titan(mine). It took about 5-6 full loads(including about 100 boxes of books), fried my brakes, toasted my exhaust, wore my nerves to frayed ends and twisted my back into a pretzel.

    They'll drag me out of this house in a bag. I will never move again.

  3. I say that every time I move. Luckily for the car, on that move I only had books and music, a few pieces of teenage girl furniture, and lots of clothes and shoes.

    As far as worrying about the engine or tranny, it simply never occurred to me. The Opel turned out the be a really good little car and I drove it for several more years.

  4. At least I have a pickup truck!

  5. I was young and dumb and awkward then. It truly didn't occur to me that just because I could put a trailer hitch on my car didn't mean I should!