Moving a Stove

Jan 18, 2020

RAY: Many, many years ago, I lived in Vermont. One Saturday morning, the phone rang. It was one of my fellow teachers, and he needed a hand moving a cast iron stove into his house. He explained that he was going to pick it up at the factory, and he'd be back in a few hours. He asked if I could help. I said, "Sure. Go get the stove. I'll be waiting."

I immediately got dressed and engaged in every manner of household activity, hoping that I'd have some kind of an accident. Nothing worked, and as I waited, I noticed a wonderful thing began to happen: The snow that was falling down changed to freezing rain.

I said to myself, "This could be good. He's never going to be able to get up his steep driveway when he returns." I'd be off the hook. And maybe by tomorrow, when the ice has melted, his brother-in-law would be home to help.

Sure enough, there I am, hiding behind the drapes when he pulls up. I peek out and I see that he's slipping and sliding and can't get up the driveway. Every time he lets the clutch out, the wheels spin like crazy, even with the additional weight of the cast iron stove.

He gets out and throws some sand under the wheels, but it doesn't help.

He gets out again. This time, he opens that little engine compartment door that the VW Microbus had in the back. He does something, which takes a second or two, and then he closes the engine compartment door. The next thing I know, he's climbed the driveway and is calling me to come over and help him move the stove!

The question is, what did he do?



RAY: My neighbor couldn't get up the icy driveway because his Volkswagen bus was transmitting too much torque to the wheels. I know, that's hard to believe! t's the equivalent of walking gingerly on the ice so you don't fall on your butt, as opposed to running on the ice, where you would certainly wipe out in an instant.

So what he did is, he opened the back and he pulled the coil wire off so the engine wouldn't start. He got back in, and with the thing in first gear, he turned the key--and all that worked now was the electric motor that would ordinarily start the engine. He was using the electric motor to take him up the driveway in first gear, albeit slowly. And he crept up the driveway with just enough torque to get him up without slipping at the top. 


Get the Car Talk Newsletter