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Old 09-24-2017, 08:16 PM   #1
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A history lesson for people who think that history doesn't matter:

A history lesson for people who think that history doesn't matter:

What's the big deal about railroad tracks?

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?
Well, because that's the way they built them in England, and English engineers designed the first US railroads.

Why did the English build them like that?
Because the first rail lines were built by the same people who built the wagon tramways, and that's the gauge they used.

So, why did 'they' use that gauge then?
Because the people who built the tramways used the same jigs and tools that they had used for building wagons, which used that same wheel spacing.

Why did the wagons have that particular odd wheel spacing?
Well, if they tried to use any other spacing, the wagon wheels would break more often on some of the old, long distance roads in England . You see, 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 (including England ) for their legions. Those roads have been used ever since.

And what about the ruts in the roads?
Roman war chariots formed the initial ruts, which everyone else had to match or run the risk of destroying their wagon wheels. Since the chariots were made for Imperial Rome , they were all alike in the matter of wheel spacing. Therefore the United States standard railroad gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches is derived from the original specifications for an Imperial Roman war chariot. Bureaucracies live forever.

So the next time you are handed a specification/procedure/process and wonder 'What horse's ass came up with this?', you may be exactly right. Imperial Roman army chariots were made just wide enough to accommodate the rear ends of two war horses. (Two horses' asses.)


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 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, and 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 ass. And you thought being a horse's ass wasn't important? Ancient horse's asses control almost everything and....

CURRENT Horses Asses are controlling everything else.
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Old 09-25-2017, 01:57 AM   #2
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Bravo !!!
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Old 09-27-2017, 08:31 PM   #3
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Oh how true!
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Old 09-27-2017, 09:48 PM   #4
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Old 09-28-2017, 12:44 AM   #5
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What a fantastic post! I knew about the wagon wheel spacing and railroad tracks. But now I know the whole story! Thanks for the info, I have learned today, and it was funny too.

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Old 10-01-2017, 12:23 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pumper9x9 View Post
Ancient horse's asses control almost everything and....

CURRENT Horses Asses are controlling everything else.

Yup!!!
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Old 10-01-2017, 12:39 AM   #7
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Old 10-01-2017, 02:30 AM   #8
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What else ya got?

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Old 10-01-2017, 12:57 PM   #9
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Not to rain on the parade, but...

The standard boxcar width is 10'7." So I'm saying the tunnels are going to be wider than the 4'8" track gage.

Railroad Gauges and Roman Chariots


https://space.stackexchange.com/ques...y-the-railroad
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However, the diameter of the shuttle boosters (12 feet) exceeds the width of all loading gauge standards in the USA (which differ mostly in height, the width is generally 10 feet 8 inches). Shipments that exceed the standard loading gauge in width are not all that uncommon, more mundane industrial parts often exceed them, but it requires careful planning and is very expensive as it often involves temporarily dismantling blocking structures, and of course at some point (such as with a tunnel) you run into hard limit.
Won't dispute the part about the horses ass in Washington. Not going to say more.
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Old 10-01-2017, 02:18 PM   #10
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Agree, with Washington DC comment. Who voted them in, anyway ?
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