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
Trojan Horse: A phony pony - Daffynitions joe-ks.com

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

Reindeer: A horse with a hat rack - Daffynitions joe-ks.com

Horse ovaries (hors d'oeuvres) - Archie Bunker

Install: Where you keep your horse - Daffynitions joe-ks.com

Act like a horse. Be dumb. Just run. - Unknown

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

Installment: Putting a horse in his stall - Daffynitions joe-ks.com

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

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

Lend a horse, and you may have back his skin. - English Proverb

Stabilized: A horse that's been locked in - Daffynitions joe-ks.com

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

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

Marry me and I'll never look at another horse! - Groucho Marx

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

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

A rabbit's foot is a poor substitute for horse sense. - Unknown

Absent-Mindedness: Searching for the horse you are riding - Daffynitions joe-ks.com

Life is like a horse - either you ride it or it rides you. - Unknown

Wiener: The first to cross the line in a Mexican horse race - Daffynitions joe-ks.com

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

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

Don't worry about the horse being blind, just load the wagon. - John Madden

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

Unicorn: 1. A single blemish on the foot; 2. A horse with a point of view. - Daffynitions joe-ks.com

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

Dude Ranch: Where a guy who is rich enough to drive a Cadillac rides a horse - Daffynitions joe-ks.com

You can lead a horse to water but I'd rather ride it to the liquor store. - Wayne Nowazek

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

The one thing I do not want to be called is First Lady. It sounds like a saddle horse. - Jacqueline Kennedy

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

A definite purpose, like blinders on a horse, inevitably narrows its possessor's point of view. - Robert Frost

When Henry Ford made cheap, reliable cars people said, 'Nah, what's wrong with a horse?' - Elon Musk

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

When you're young and you fall off a horse, you may break something. When you're my age and you fall off, you splatter. - Roy Rogers


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02-Dec-2021