John McCullagh October 19, 2005
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Thank heavens that motor vehicles are much more reliable than they formerly were. How often today do you see a car ‘on tow’? I believe it is illegal now to use a tow-rope (as opposed to a rigid tow-bar!) but that old skill of bump-starting a dead-battery car will soon be gone forever. 

I tried to pass it on to my daughter recently when her battery ran dead: I got a ‘fender-bender’ collision for my troubles. My car was one week old!

This was as nothing compared with the fate of Brain O’Braun of Virginia. His motor bike lay unused for months and when he came to start it, nothing happened. No problem! He lived on the top of a hill. He let the bike free-wheel until it gained speed, shifted into second gear and attempted to bump-start it. 

The bike (or car!) will stop dead instantaneously, but the clutch engagement ought to cause a frictional reaction enough to fire the engine and recommence drive. Not this time.

He tried repeatedly without success (if once it fires, you must disengage and gun the engine until it runs smoothly!) and then found himself at the bottom of the hill. He rang his girlfriend for help. She had a truck that could tow him.

Brain fixed one end of a tow-rope to the truck and tied the other end round his waist.  Yes!  His waist!  His girlfriend, as instructed, drove slowly at first up the hill, drawing him and the stalled bike after her. The problem came when he attempted to engage the bike’s clutch!

The bike stopped, as per normal. But he didn’t! She was much too intent on following his instructions to the letter, to glance into her rear-view mirror. She was over the top of the hill before she noticed that her truck was experiencing less resistance that it ought to.

Dragged more than a hundred metres behind a moving vehicle, Brain spent months in hospital recovering from bone fractures and frictional burns. 

He doesn’t have a motor bike any longer.

Nor a girlfriend!

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