A Horse’s Ass IS Important

Why is the U.S. Standard Railroad Gauge 4 feet, 8.5 inches?


Does the statement, “We’ve always done it that way” ring any bells? The U.S. standard railroad gauge (distance between the rails) is 4 feet, 8.5 inches. That’s an odd number, don’t you think? Why was that gauge used?

- Because that’s the way they built railroads in England, and English expatriates built 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. Then 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 (and England) for their legions. The 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. The U.S. standard railroad gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches is derived from the original specifications for an Imperial Roman war chariot 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 war chariots were made just wide enough to accommodate the back ends of two war horses...

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 (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. 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...


QuotaBills
I should like to be a horse. - Queen Elizabeth II

Horse ovaries (hors d'oeuvres) - Archie Bunker

Use a little of your horse's sense. - Archie Bunker

A Horse! A Horse! My kingdom for a horse! - William Shakespeare

Life looks better from the back of a horse. - Unknown

Why, I'd horse-whip you if I had a horse. - Groucho Marx

Few girls are as well shaped as a good horse. - Christopher Morley

Care, and not fine stables, makes a good horse. - Danish Proverb

The speed of a runaway horse counts for nothing. - Jean Cocteau

The old horse in the stable still yearns to run. - Mongolian Proverb

Paying alimony is like feeding hay to a dead horse. - Groucho Marx

I had the best buffalo horse that ever made a track. - Buffalo Bill

This is really a lovely horse. I once rode her mother. - Ted Walsh

An orator without judgment is a horse without a bridle. - Theophrastus

Horse Manure: 50p per pre-packed bag. 20p - do it your self. - Unknown

Your fences need to be horse-high, pig-tight, and bull-strong. - Unknown

You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him float. - Unknown

You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink. - English Proverb

The only thing worse than beating a dead horse is betting on one. - Relient K

A lame cat is better than a swift horse when rats infest the palace. - Chinese Proverb

All music is folk music. I ain't never heard no horse sing a song. - Louis Armstrong

It's too late to close the stable door after the horse has bolted. - French Proverb

Horse sense is the thing a horse has which keeps it from betting on people. - WC Fields

A horse doesn't care how much you know until it knows how much you care. - Tom Smith

In fifty years, he never worked a day. To him, nine to five was odds on a horse. - Archie Bunker

Perspective is to painting what the bridle is to the horse, the rudder to a ship. - Leonardo da Vinci

Take care to sell your horse before he dies. The art of life is passing losses on. - Robert Frost

To God I speak Spanish, to women Italian, to men French, and to my horse - German. - Emperor Charles V

Some people play a horse to win, some to place. I should have bet this horse to live. - Henny Youngman

Half of the failures in life come from pulling one’s horse when he is leaping. - Thomas Hood

A horse gallops with his lungs, perseveres with his heart, and wins with his character. - Tesio

And God took a handful of southerly wind, blew His breath over it and created the horse. - Bedouin Legend

One of the worst things that can happen in life is to win a bet on a horse at an early age. - Danny McGoorty

Thank you, horseradish, for being neither a radish nor a horse. What you are is a liar food. - Jimmy Fallon

It is not best that we should all think alike; it is differences of opinion that make horse races. - Mark Twain

Democracy is very different in U.S. and A. from Kazakhstan. In America, woman can vote, but horse cannot! - Borat Sagdiyev

Like the old adverb, "you can lead a gift horse to the water but ya can't look in his mouth." - Archie Bunker

Flaming enthusiasm, backed up by horse sense and persistence, is the quality that most frequently makes for success. - Dale Carnegie

A fly, Sir, may sting a stately horse and make him wince; but, one is but an insect, and the other is a horse still. - Samuel Johnson

Do you ever get halfway through eating a horse and go, 'You know, I'm not as hungry as I thought I was'? - Tim Vinel


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03-Jul-2020