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Country Discussion Topics
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Railroads
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bill b va    Posted 03-07-2004 at 06:54:46       [Reply]  [No Email]



 
 
Railroads
If you live near a railroad track, get a tape measure and check this out.  The US standard railroad gauge (distance between the rails) is 4 feet, 8.5 inches.  That's an exceedingly odd number.
Why was that gauge used?  Because that's the way they built them in England, and English expatriates built the US railroads.
Why did the English build them like that?  Because the first rail lines were built by the same people who built the pre-railroad tramways, and that's the gauge they used.
Why did "they" use that gauge?  Because the people who built the tramways used the same jigs and tools that they used for building wagons, which used that wheel spacing.
Okay!  Why did the wagons have that particular odd wheel spacing?  Well, if they tried to use any other spacing, the wagon wheels would break on some of the old, long distance roads in England, because that's the spacing of the wheel ruts.
So who built those old rutted roads?  Imperial Rome built the first long distance roads in Europe (and England) for their legions.  The roads have been used ever since.  And the ruts in the roads?  Roman war chariots formed the initial ruts, which everyone else had to match for fear of destroying their wagon wheels.  Since the chariots were made for Imperial Rome, they were all alike in the matter of wheel spacing.
The United States standard railroad gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches is derived from the original specifications for an Imperial Roman war chariot.  And may the bureaucracies live forever.
So, the next time you are handed a spec and told we have always done it that way, and wonder what horse's ars came up with that, you may be exactly right, because the Imperial Roman war chariots were made just wide enough to accommodate the rear ends of two war horses.
Now the twist of the story...........
When you see a Space Shuttle sitting on its launch pad, there are two big booster rockets attached to the sides of the main fuel tank.  These are solid rocket boosters, or SRBs.  The SRBs are made by Thiokol at their factory in Utah.  The Engineers who designed the SRBs would have preferred to make them a bit fatter, but the SRBs had to be shipped by train from the factory to the launch site.  The railroad line from the factory happens to run through a tunnel in the mountains.  The SRBs had to fit through that tunnel.  The tunnel is slightly wider than the railroad track, and the railroad track, as you now know, is about as wide as two horses' arses.
So, a major Space Shuttle design feature of what is arguably the world's most advanced transportation system was determined over two thousand years ago by the width of a horses' ars.



ron ar    Posted 03-07-2004 at 07:52:49       [Reply]  [No Email]
man Bill where do you come up with that stuff. I can imagine Tim Taylor trying to tell that story on Home Improvement and ending it with "so the shuttle was designed just to haul 2 horses arses tru a tunnel..."


bill b va    Posted 03-07-2004 at 08:08:30       [Reply]  [No Email]

i get them in e mails from people i know . i have many saved and a lot more i have deleted because of storage space . many have animations like the one above about the flys . i would suspect joe k and others have a lot more .


Grove r    Posted 03-07-2004 at 07:19:30       [Reply]  [No Email]
An' that's the truth!!!!


Steve From TN    Posted 03-07-2004 at 07:18:28       [Reply]  [No Email]
If you measure across the railroad track, don't use a metal tape measure. This will cause the signal to indicate that something is across the track or a problem with the switches. The track inspector will get some overtime, thus causing the cost of shipping to go up, thus causing the price of the products shipped to go up and causing major inflation in our country. The powers that are in office will be blamed and voted out of office and Hillary will surely be elected. Dang, it's amazing the little things that can change history. All because of your railroad posting, Hillary will be our prez in '08. We will look to you for this travesty.grin and groan.


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