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RAILROADS
Discussions run-amok, innane banter it all goes here
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Vince
Super Member
Super Member


Joined: May 25, 2005
Posts: 12816
Location: Brisbane AUSTRALIA

PostPosted: Tue May 01, 2007 12:24 am    Post subject: RAILROADS Reply with quote

Does the statement, "We've always done it like that" ring any bells?

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.
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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 specification and wonder what
horse's ass came up with it, you may be exactly right, because the Imperial Roman army chariots were made just wide enough to accommodate the back ends of two war horses!

Now, the twist to the story
*
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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 at 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.
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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!

Interesting huh? Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy

Cheers, Vince

_________________
Cheers, Vince Cheers

Illegitimi non carborundum
(Never let the bastards grind you down)

Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly. Leave the rest to God.

"Nulla Si Fa Senza Volonta."
(Without Commitment, Nothing Gets Done)

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