Off topic: tech specs - width of railroad tracks
Thread poster: sylver

sylver  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:44
English to French
Apr 3, 2003

\"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 the US railroads were built by English expatriates.



Why did the English people 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 use that odd wheel spacing? Well, if they tried to use any other spacing the wagons would break on some of the old, long distance roads, because that\'s the spacing of the old wheel ruts.



So who built these old rutted roads? The first long distance roads in Europe were built by Imperial Rome for the benefit of their legions. The roads have been used ever since. And the ruts? The initial ruts, which everyone else had to match for fear of destroying their wagons, were first made by Roman war chariots. Since the chariots were made for or by Imperial Rome they were all alike in the matter of wheel spacing.



Thus, we have the answer to the original questions. The United State standard railroad gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches derives from the original specification (Military Spec) for an Imperial Roman army war chariot. MilSpecs 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 chariots were made to be just wide enough to accommodate the back-ends of two war horses.\"





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Juan Jacob  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 16:44
French to Spanish
+ ...
Ben tiens... Apr 3, 2003

...et on doute encore que nous descendons de l\'Empire Romain, même si \"Ils sont fous, ces Romains !\"

Excellent !



Juan Jacob.


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Harry Bornemann  Identity Verified
Mexico
English to German
+ ...
amazing.. Apr 3, 2003

.. but now I wonder where the narrower railroad gauges of Spain originate? War donkeys?



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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:44
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
The Grand Trunk Road in India Apr 3, 2003

used, maintained, improved - but never changed in its dimensions - by the British, and attributed to Chandragupta Maurya (3rd century B.C.) had the same story. This time, the unit of measurement was the bullock-cart.



(I always found this curious since Chandragupta - who took over India after Alexander died - maneuvered with elephant divisions.)



But lo and behold, in the 1920s, when the Archeological Survey of India excavated Mohenjo-daro (2000-2500 B.C.), they found toy models of exactly the same type of bullock-carts as had shaped the highway...



Still wonder why the cow is sacred?

[ This Message was edited by: Parrot on 2003-04-03 23:26]


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sylver  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:44
English to French
TOPIC STARTER
Holy cow! Apr 4, 2003

Quote:


On 2003-04-03 23:08, Parrot wrote:

used, maintained, improved - but never changed in its dimensions - by the British, and attributed to Chandragupta Maurya (3rd century B.C.) had the same story. This time, the unit of measurement was the bullock-cart.



(I always found this curious since Chandragupta - who took over India after Alexander died - maneuvered with elephant divisions.)



But lo and behold, in the 1920s, when the Archeological Survey of India excavated Mohenjo-daro (2000-2500 B.C.), they found toy models of exactly the same type of bullock-carts as had shaped the highway...



Still wonder why the cow is sacred?









Some things just never die.

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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:44
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
If its any comfort to you... Apr 4, 2003

The Grand Trunk Road had the same dimensions as the British roads of the colonial era (2 bullocks pulling on the same axis):



http://www.ancientindia.co.uk/indus/explore/dk_cart.html



So maybe the British felt at home with that.


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