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#7171801 - 05/16/18 07:56 PM US standard railroad gauge
Shadow13 Offline
Green Horn

Registered: 10/12/15
Posts: 4
Here is a look into the corporate mind that is very interesting, educational, historical, completely true, and hysterical all at the same time:

The US standard railroad gauge (width between the two rails) is 4 feet,8.5 inches. That’s an exceedingly odd number. Why was that gauge used?

Train

Because that’s the way they built them in England, and the US railroads were built by English expatriates.

Why did the English build them like that? Because the first rail lines were built by the same people who built the pre-railroad tramway's, 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? The first long distance roads in Europe (and England) were built by Imperial Rome for their legions. The roads have been used ever since. And the ruts in the roads? Roman war chariots first formed the initial ruts, which everyone else had to match for fear of destroying their wagon wheels. Since the chariots were made for (or by) Imperial Rome, they were all alike in the matter of wheel spacing.

The United States standard railroad gauge of 4 feet,8.5 inches derives from the original specification for an Imperial Roman war chariot. Specifications and bureaucracies live forever. So the next time you are handed a specification and wonder what horse’s a$$ came up with it, 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. Thus, we have the answer to the original question.

Now the twist to the story . . .

There’s an interesting extension to the story about railroad gauges and horses’ behinds. When we 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 might 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 had 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 is about as wide as two horses’ behinds.

So, the major 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 A$$!


Edited by Shadow13 (05/16/18 07:57 PM)

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#7171947 - 05/16/18 10:32 PM Re: US standard railroad gauge [Re: Shadow13]
HuntingTexas Offline
THF Celebrity

Registered: 01/06/08
Posts: 17267
Loc: Out of Dallas Co. SOON !!
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#7172088 - 05/17/18 08:25 AM Re: US standard railroad gauge [Re: Shadow13]
Cast Online   happy
THF Celebrity

Registered: 12/14/08
Posts: 18535
Loc: North Texas - God's Country
Great old true story.
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#7172115 - 05/17/18 08:50 AM Re: US standard railroad gauge [Re: Shadow13]
texasag93 Online   content


Registered: 04/12/09
Posts: 5208
Loc: Argyle
nidea

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#7172290 - 05/17/18 12:08 PM Re: US standard railroad gauge [Re: Shadow13]
Bass&More Offline
Pro Tracker

Registered: 12/02/11
Posts: 1288
Loc: Jack County
cheers peep

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#7172332 - 05/17/18 01:01 PM Re: US standard railroad gauge [Re: Shadow13]
2Beez Offline
Chihuahua

Registered: 07/17/15
Posts: 11451
Loc: Lake Texoma, TX
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#7172407 - 05/17/18 02:41 PM Re: US standard railroad gauge [Re: Shadow13]
rdhibbs Online   content
Tracker

Registered: 04/08/15
Posts: 900
Loc: Dumas TX
I was just telling my kids the other day that there is no such thing as "old Technology", everything new is based on the old. I used this story as an example. Cool Stuff.
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#7173975 - 05/19/18 07:18 AM Re: US standard railroad gauge [Re: Shadow13]
FiremanJG Online   content
THF Celebrity

Registered: 12/16/08
Posts: 26066
Loc: Wolfe City, TX
I always enjoy reading this, and have several times. Yet, I cannot seem to be able to quote the inside demention of a pair of tracks, at will.
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