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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec. 2, 2004

    Default Engineering Explained HR

    This just came in an email. PM if you'd like the photos that came with it.

    Whew, this really does explain a lot of things ..

    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 designed the US 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. Bureaucracies live forever.

    So the next time you are handed a specification/procedure/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. (Two horses' asses.)

    Now, the twist to the story:

    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 in 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, 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 over two thousand years ago by the width of a horse's ass. And you thought being a horse's ass wasn't important? Ancient horse's asses control almost everything... and CURRENT Horses Asses are controlling almost everything else!
    Some day I'm going to tell my grandkids that I am older than the internet and blow their minds.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar. 8, 2006
    Southeast Pennsylvania


    well, I'll be. That explains everything

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun. 23, 2010


    OMG, my husband is an engineer and he will LOVE this!!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan. 4, 2007


    Thank you.

    I also know some that will love to read that.

    Now, what size horses were standard for the roman chariots and why were those the standard?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec. 2, 2004


    send me your emails (PM) and I will forward the whole text with the photos that mix into it so you can use the full print to send.
    Some day I'm going to tell my grandkids that I am older than the internet and blow their minds.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul. 21, 2006
    South Carolina


    I never rode a broke horse but then maybe I'm a sorry hand. - Ray Hunt

    Chase the trouble. - Buck Brannaman

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb. 28, 2006
    The rocky part of KY


    Oh, Snopes. Pooh. I like the story myself but I did have an engineer in the family.
    His sense of humor ran to copying a picture of a very large Harnischfeger earthmoving machine and captioning it "I dreamt I drove my Harnischfeger in the Baja 500".
    Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
    Incredible Invisible

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul. 31, 2007


    Quote Originally Posted by ReSomething View Post
    His sense of humor ran to copying a picture of a very large Harnischfeger earthmoving machine
    Dude. I'd name a big ol' drafty "American Warmblood" Harnischfleger... and see who got the joke.

    Do you have a picture? Earth moving machines can't be bad.
    The armchair saddler
    Politically Pro-Cat

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct. 26, 2010


    Well, dang. I truly enjoyed the original post. Snopes had to deep six it. I did get a good laff from the 'What horse's ass...".
    GR24's Musing #19 - Save the tatas!!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May. 12, 2000
    NE TN, USA


    I read it through three times and couldn't see where Snopes disproved the link. It was busy sniping around the edges and arguing semantics.

    Like most internet sources, Snopes sometimes has to be taken with a grain of salt
    The inherent vice of Capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings. The inherent virtue of Socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.
    Winston Churchill

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