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15 September 2014

AND FINALLY, SOME THOUGHTS FROM ROB WINMILL

 

The US standard railway gauge is 4 ft 8.5 ins , a very odd number : why was that used ? -- Because they built them that way in England and English expats built US railways.

So why did the English build them that way ? - Because the same people built them who built the tramways which preceded them, and that was tramway gauge.

But why did they use that gauge? - Because the people who built the tramways used the same jigs and tools that they used for wagons, and wagons used that spacing.

OK, but why did wagons have a 4 ft 8.5 in wheel spacing? - Well, if they used any other spacing the wagon wheels would have broken on some of the old long-distance English roads because that's the width of the wheel ruts.

Yes, but who built those old rutted roads ? - The first long-distance roads both in England and Europe were built by Imperial Rome for the legions and they have been used ever since.

And the ruts? - Made by Roman chariots , and everyone else had to match them for fear of destroying their own wheels and wagons.  All chariots were made for Rome and were therefore all alike in wheel spacing.  Thus, to return to your original question; the US railway gauge comes from the spec. for a Roman chariot.  So the next time the engineers among you are given a spec. and start to wonder....." which horse's rump came up with this..?" you could be dead right, because a Roman chariot was made just wide enough to enclose the backsides of two war horses.

So far, so logical.  However, when you next see a Space Shuttle on the launch pad, observe the two big booster rockets on the side of the fuel tanks - Solid Rocket Boosters or SRBs - made at a factory in Utah.  The SRB designers wanted to make them a bit bigger but they had to be taken by train; the line ran through a tunnel in the mountains and the SRBs had to fit through that tunnel.  The tunnel is slightly wider than the railway track of course and the track is exactly 4 ft 8.5 ins wide.

So the major design feature of the world's most advanced and sophisticated transport system
WAS DETERMINED BY THE WIDTH OF A HORSE'S ARSE !!