In a previous work (Onorato P, Malgieri M, Mascheretti P and De Ambrosis A 2014 The surprising rolling spool: experiments and theory from mechanics to phase transitions Eur. J. Phys. 35 055011) an asymmetric rolling spool (ARS) was investigated as a simple model for a second-order phase transition. Here, we deepen the study of this system to address critical aspects related both to the characteristic of the oscillatory anharmonic motion and to the role of friction forces in determining it. The experimental data show that for largely asymmetric bodies the rolling condition is not reliably fulfilled because the intensity of the friction force goes below the needed value to ensure rolling without slipping.
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