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RE: How Mil Specs Live Forever

Poster: "Thorpe, John" <thorpj@caepo1.columbiaSC.NCR.COM>

Greetings from Eldred!

     Since Alfredo is quoting a standard that is near and dear to
my heart, I'll set the record straight for him.  This is the first reply in 
thread on why US railroads use 4'8.5" as the standard width between
the rails.  This posting came up on rec.models.railroad, and was
probably cross-posted to misc.transport.rails.americas, etc.

     Evidence indicates that the story is mostly correct.  I can
probably dig up more info on this if there is serious interest.

In service,

Scripsit Alfredo:

%How Mil Specs Live Forever
%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.


%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
%(MilSpec) 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.
%The above story came to me by email; I don't know
%who started it or if it's true.  It seems to me there
%should be one more step in the story: some Roman unit
%of length that the gauge is some round multiple of.
%Also, I thought every country in Europe had a different
%RR gauge (to force invaders to switch trains at the border).
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