Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by George, Mar 27, 2001.

  1. George

    George Member

    I first recieved this about a year ago and found it fascinating. I then recieved it from a friend in Wisconsin just yesterday and thought I should share it with those of you who may have never seen it. It's certainly food for thought. Please enjoy!!
    George [​IMG]

    The Origins of our Railroad Gauge.

    The U.S. standard railroad gauge (distance between the rails) is 4 feet, 8.5 inches. That is an exceedingly odd number.

    Why was that gauge used? Because that's the way they built them in England, and the U.S. railroads were built by English expatriates.

    Why did the English build them that way? 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.

    So why did the wagons have that particular odd 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 was 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? The ruts in the roads, which everyone had to match for fear of destroying their wagon wheels, were first formed by Roman war chariots. Since the chariots were made for (or by) Imperial Rome, they were all alike in the matter of wheel spacing.

    The U.S. 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 ass came up with it, you may be exactly right, because the Imperial Roman war chariots were made just wide enough to accommodate the back end of two war horses.

    Thus we have the answer to the original question.

    Now for the twist to the story.

    When we see a space shuttle sitting on it's launching pad, there are two booster rockets attached to the side 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 tunnel is slightly wider than the railroad track, and the railroad track is about as wide as two horses' rumps.

    So, a major design feature of what is arguably the worlds most advanced transportation system was determined over two thousand years ago by the width of a horse's ass!
  2. shamus

    shamus Registered Member

    Ass or right George, that a goodun.
  3. Virginian

    Virginian Member

    [​IMG] [​IMG] I got a kick out of the "History lesson", George. That IS a goodun!! Thanks
    VGN [​IMG]
  4. N Gauger

    N Gauger 1:20.3 Train Addict

    George, thanks! That was great!!!

    My wife says if I buy One more Train, she'll leave me...
    Gee I'll miss HER!!!! :) -- N Gauger
  5. wt&c

    wt&c Guest

    to throw a switch is probbaly is the sam as kicking a horses ass (DO't TRY THAT AT HOME,other wisw you need reconstructive ass surgery), LOL

    NARA Member #8
    The Appalachian & Atlantic Railroad
  6. Drew1125

    Drew1125 Active Member

    I'm gettin too old to kick myself that hard! [​IMG]
  7. kf4jqd

    kf4jqd Active Member

    Good one George:

    If that isn't worst? My granfather worked on the railroads as an engineer during World War II. He hated it. He said that the Europeans had no stanard guage. He told me that he would be steaming from one country to another to find the tracks where at the wrong gauge for the loco's! Needless to say. He kept the US Army Engineers busy fixing the problem! [​IMG] He also said the Nazi's had the same problem. That is one of their reasons for not supplyibg their troops. So maybe it was a blessing?

  8. Woodie

    Woodie Active Member


    I have seen that one before too. They took it one step further in Australia. Used different sized horses all over the place! Each state has their own gauge (and still does) A standard guage line has only recently (last 15 years or so) been implemented for long distance hauls. Up til 1962, you had to get off the train, and swap trains at each of the state borders. Freight was unloaded and reloaded as well.

  9. George

    George Member

    Well friends, we've learned something beyond the initial lesson......

    Everywhere in the world, regardless of feast or famine, standard or metric, everyone's got their own idea of sizing a horse's ass!!! [​IMG]

    Now I wonder...How many horse's rumps fit into a Morton-Thiokol "O" ring? How many horse's rumps fit into a Canadian wide cab? How many rumps high is a gunderson double-stack? [​IMG] Like railroading, the possibilities are infinite! [​IMG]

  10. wt&c

    wt&c Guest

    the new standards of measurement: "RUMPS AND ASSES"

    NARA Member #8
    The Appalachian & Atlantic Railroad

Share This Page