Railroad Tracks, Rockets, and a Horse’s Ass   7 comments

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Railroad Tracks

The U.S. Standard railroad gauge (distance between the rails) is 4 feet, 8.5 inches. That ‘ s an exceedingly odd number. Why was that gauge used?

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Because that ‘ s the way they built them in England , and English expatriates designed the U.S. 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.

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?

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Imperial Rome built the first long distance roads in Europe (including England) for their legions. Those 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. 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.

In other words, bureaucracies live forever. So the next time you are handed a specification, procedure, or process, and wonder, ‘ What horse’s ass came up with this?’, you may be exactly right.

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Imperial Roman army chariots were made just wide enough to accommodate the rear ends of two war horses.

Now, the twist to the story:

When you see a Space Shuttle sitting on its launch pad, you will notice that 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.

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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, 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.

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So, a major Space Shuttle design feature of what is arguably the world ‘ s most advanced transportation system was determined over 2,000 years ago by the width of a horse’s ass.

And you thought being a horse’s ass wasn’t important!

Now you know! Horses’ asses control almost everything!

This explains a whole lot of stuff about Washington D.C. , doesn ‘ t it? 

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Posted April 29, 2014 by PapaBear in Uncategorized

7 responses to “Railroad Tracks, Rockets, and a Horse’s Ass

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  1. Imagine the stories those tracks could tell. I love history. I love seeing how things have changed and wondering if it’s for the better. Thanks for the lesson. XO Sheri

  2. Oh so good to be a horse’s arse!!!!

  3. We agree with Kelihasablog. Love learning new things as you’ve taught us here!! It’s interesting when you take something as old as the railroad system and begin looking at its history. Imagine the stories those tracks could tell…..shew, where’s my pen and paper!! 😉 xoxoxo ❤

  4. That pretty much sums up DC doesn’t it? They haven’t had an original thought since the Pilgrims landed and someone wanted to make tea!

  5. Oh I love this! It’s always nice to learn something new… All I knew about train tracks is that during the Civil War, that was one of the main reasons the South fell behind. All their rails were different sizes and thus easily cut off supply lines by the Union. I’ll have to give them that one… The Union WAS smart enough to make all theirs the same size so they could interconnect….LOL.. I’ve missed reading your work. It’s always so nice… Still helping mom round up details etc. for lawyer… ugh. Now I know why I never got a law degree… LOL ❤

  6. Haha this is great Paul, nice post!

    Lily

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