Suzuki Burgman USA Forum banner

1 - 7 of 7 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,536 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Personally, I think the truth of the following has been bent slightly. You decide....

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? 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 had 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? 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. 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.
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.
So, a major space shuttle design feature of what is arguably the world's most advanced transportation system was determined more than two thousand years ago by the width of a horse's ass.
Now you know: Horses' asses control almost everything .... Explains a whole lot of stuff, doesn't it?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,113 Posts
Each of those facts is actually true. Whether the whole story is true or not is for you to decide. Incidentally, the very BEST lies are made up ENTIRELY of the truth.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,935 Posts
The track width is carved in stone - it can be seen in remnants of paved roman roads.

I've seen one in Reggio Emilia, more than 6 feet below the current street level.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,536 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
This from Wikipedia:
A popular legend that has been around since at least 1937 traces the origin of the 4 ft 8 1⁄2 in gauge even further back than the coalfields of northern England, pointing to the evidence of rutted roads marked by chariot wheels dating from the Roman Empire. Snopes categorized this legend as false but commented that “... it is perhaps more fairly labelled as 'True, but for trivial and unremarkable reasons.'The historical tendency to place the wheels of horse-drawn vehicles approximately 5 feet apart probably derives from the width needed to fit a carthorse in between the shafts. In addition, while road-traveling vehicles are typically measured from the outermost portions of the wheel rims (and there is some evidence that the first railroads were measured in this way as well),it became apparent that for vehicles travelling on rails it was better to have the wheel flanges located inside the rails, and thus the distance measured on the inside of the wheels (and, by extension, the inside faces of the rail heads), was the important one.

There was no standard gauge for horse railways, but there were rough groupings: in the north of England none were less than 4 ft . Wylam colliery's system, built before 1763, was 5 ft; as was John Blenkinsop's Middleton Railway, the old 4 ft plateway was relaid to 5 ft so that Blenkinsop's engine could be used. Others were 4 ft 4 in Beamish or 4 ft 7 1⁄2 in (Bigges Main and Kenton and Coxlodge).[10]

The English railway pioneer George Stephenson spent much of his early engineering career working for the coal mines of County Durham. He favoured 4 ft 8 in for wagonways in Northumberland and Durham and used it on his Killingworth line.The Hetton and Springwell wagonways also used this gauge.
Stephenson's Stockton and Darlington railway was built primarily to transport coal from mines near Shildon to the port at Stockton-on-Tees. The initial gauge of 4 ft 8 in was set to accommodate the existing gauge of hundreds of horse-drawn chaldron wagons that were already in use on the wagonways in the mines. The railway used this gauge for 15 years before a change was made to 4 ft 8 1⁄2 in gauge.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,468 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,479 Posts
Some of the facts are not even true! The British did not design our railways BUT the first locomotive engines were purchased from Britain and that is why we follow the same gauge. Although the Romans are well known for chariot racing, the chariot was all but gone from use in war by the time the Romans showed up in Britain. Plus even if chariots had still been in use they were special forces and not mainline troops and would NOT have been numerous enough to rut Roman cobblestone roads. The ruts came from centuries of carts and wagons!

I would venture a guess that the gauge was chosen to fit the locomotive engine! In other words there were certain limits of the design that had to be met to fit the boiler and drive and wheels etc... The spacing between rails that George Stephenson{they guy who picked this gauge} picked was 4ft 8.5 inches. I bet fitting onto bridges had to be taken into account as well!
 
1 - 7 of 7 Posts
Top