Home » Maybe We Shouldn’t Have A Baggage Tug Racing Series: COTD

Maybe We Shouldn’t Have A Baggage Tug Racing Series: COTD

Tugcotd
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On Friday, David wrote about something I’ve always been fascinated about, but haven’t gotten around to writing. Airport tow tractors from the likes of Clark, Harlan, and TUG are workhorses you’ve almost certainly seen in multiple places around the world, but probably haven’t put too much thought into. These tow tractors are relatively compact in overall size, but heavy beasts that are capable of tugging heavy things for decades.

I’ve been sort of obsessed with the thought of doing some silly tests with an electric Smart Fortwo, seeing how heavy of a plane I could yank with one or maybe how long of a luggage cart train I can pull. I’ve had this dream for some time, but we haven’t found a way to make it materialize.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

Anyway, Clark would really like it if you didn’t pick up a date with an airport tug. It also wasn’t for the idea of a spec tug racing series. Looks like Memphomike echoes this warning:

Got very proficient at maneuvering the Tug version of this truck when I started at the package delivery company I still work at.
I believe ours are limited to the lowest gear only to limit speeds on the ramp.
One of the best skills to master on these things is the stop-beep-start tap dance at ramp stop signs as you’re required to come to a full stop and sound the horn (foot operated!) before proceeding.
It’s important to note that these “trucks” are very heavy and can be turned over if you drive them overly aggressively. Drivers have been killed.

Fine, I’ll go race an airport catering truck or a double decker bus.

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On Saturday, Peter Nelson wrote about how you could get a Ferrari for cheaper than a BMW. Manuel Verissimo has a story relating to that:

Oh I have a story with those!

About a year ago I said “fuck engineering, imma be a mechanic” and did a three month stint at a vintage Ferrari specialist.

To me Ferraris were over hyped and just a status symbol more than an enthusiast car BUT one day the boss asks me to take a 412i on the road to try and identify a weird clunking noise.

I only drove it a couple of minutes as the issue was easy to diagnose (the previous mechanic forgot to torque down a half shaft), but those minutes were amazing.

The mechanical feel of the shifter was incredible. I can’t really explain why, but everything felt précise and definitely mechanical. Not a hint of plastic existed between my palm and the selector forks. It just felt wonderful. And that V12…. Buttery smooth.

Even since, I have a newfound respect for Ferrari. A week later the water pump died, which is an engine out job. Everytime I feel like buying one I remember this and come back to reality.

I leave you with this comment from SlowCarFast on Lewin’s post about the state of manual transmissions. Sure, automatics may be faster than ever before, but manuals still connect you to your car in a way an automatic sometimes can’t:

For people who question why we love stick shifts, I read something interesting over the weekend in a psychology book. It notes that when we learn to drive a car, we expand the perception of our personal existence to include the dimensions of the car. This is how we can drive down the center of a lane, while we, as drivers, are situated off-center.

I propose that when one drives a manual transmission, your sense of self is expanded to the engine, and for me, the suspension and other mechanicals in the car. I am aware-of and become part of the automobile total experience.

This is also how I could drop off my car to my mechanic, tell him three things that are wrong, and he finds three broken components. It’s hard to drive a broken car when it is such a personal experience.

Have a great evening, everyone.

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Manuel Verissimo
Manuel Verissimo
2 months ago

Yay I just got my first COTD! Thanks Mercedes, I’ve been trying to get there since the German lighting site days.

Diana Slyter
Diana Slyter
2 months ago

I’m still amazed they don’t have ROPS (Roll Over Protective Structure) on tugs… Everything else like forklifts, tractors, etc. have ROPs and seat belts.

UnseenCat
UnseenCat
2 months ago
Reply to  Diana Slyter

I suspect a lot of them are old enough to have been built before ROPS bars were required. And technically, they don’t lift heavy loads up in the air like forklifts; they’re supposed to just run around on flat ground so rollovers shouldn’t be too likely.

Subcompact tractors (Which are pretty much what became of medium-to-large garden tractors) all have ROPS bars because they’re expected to operate on slopes. Heck a lot of zero-turn mowers have them too for the same reason.

I grew up running the family’s 1970 John Deere 112 and learned how to keep it upright at all times. Nowadays I have an even bigger Wheel Horse 520-H from the 90s, still no ROPS but no doubt if you built those machines today they’d have to have one.

TheDrunkenWrench
TheDrunkenWrench
2 months ago
Reply to  Diana Slyter

Forklift instructor here. The only forklifts with ROPS are your class 7, which are rough terrain forklifts and Telehandlers.
The rest of them get a FOPS (falling object protective structure) and most of them carry an impact rating of 16,000ft.lbs, which is 1000lbs falling from 16 feet.

Ham On Five
Ham On Five
2 months ago

This. Is why I love hanging out in Autopia.

TheDrunkenWrench
TheDrunkenWrench
2 months ago
Reply to  Ham On Five

We’re all a bunch of obsessed weirdos reading even weirder articles.

Diana Slyter
Diana Slyter
2 months ago

Thanks, ROPS on forklifts must be just a Postal Service thing though,

TheDrunkenWrench
TheDrunkenWrench
2 months ago
Reply to  Diana Slyter

I mean, they look essentially the same. The only difference is one won’t protect you in a rollover.

Robot Turds
Robot Turds
2 months ago

Which is a GOOD thing. I used to operate a forklift at one of the big box stores back in the 90’s. Some of the people who operated these did some of the dumbest shit ever. As in lift things that were teetering on the brink of falling over. Sometimes they dropped things. Like one guy dropped a water heater from 15 feet up.

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