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6,146 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
US standard railroad gauge

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 then?

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 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 *** came up with that, you may be > exactly
right, because the Imperial Roman war chariots were made just wide
enough to accommodate the back ends of two war horses.

Now the twist to 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 larger, 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' behinds.

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 Horse's ***.

And you thought being a horse's *** wasn't important!

323 Posts
Where's your sense of humor, jack? I know the story is a bit old and shaggy, but still good for a smile.

Though it's also a little dated and might be hijacking the thread, here is a message I got from my cousin last night:

I bought a newer Ford F-250 crew cab last week and returned to the dealer because I couldn't get the radio to work. The salesman explained that the radio was voice activated.

"Nelson," the salesman said to the radio. The radio replied,"Ricky or Willie?" "Willie!" he continued and "On The Road Again" came from the speakers. Then he said, "Ray Charles!" and in an instant "Georgia On My Mind" replaced Willie Nelson.

I drove away happy, and for the next few days, every time I'd say, "Beethoven," I'd get beautiful classical music, and if I said, "Beatles, I'd get one of their awesome songs.

Yesterday, a couple ran a red light and nearly creamed my new truck, but I swerved in time to avoid them. I yelled, "Idiots!".

Immediately the French National Anthem began to play, sung by Jane Fonda and Barbara Streisand, backed up by Michael Moore and The Dixie Chicks, with John Kerry on guitar, Al Gore on drums, Dan Rather on harmonica, Nancy Pelosi on tambourine, Harry Reid on spoons, Bill Clinton on sax and Ted Kennedy on Scotch.

I LOVE this truck!!!

12,362 Posts
Well, I can certainly relate Hillary's back side with the Roman war horses as well!

Now for the pair, Rossie O'Don? Who wants to take the measurement to check it out and see if it is the right gage?

Or whether it is only going to make those wagon ruts bigger? :roll: :lol: :lol: :lol:

{CR8 Clyde
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