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Specs: Wide Enough for Two..

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DATE:	2/28/98 2:18 AM

RE:	Specs: Wide Enough for Two..

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Subject: Specs and Bureaucracies... 
                      How 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. Why did the  English people 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. Okay! Why
 did the wagons use that odd wheel spacing? Well, if they tried to use any
 other spacing the wagons would break on some of the old, long distance
 roads, because that's the spacing of the old wheel ruts.  So who built these
 old rutted roads? The first long distance roads in Europe were built by
 Imperial Rome for the benefit of their legions. The roads have been used
 ever since. And the ruts?   The initial ruts, which everyone else had to
 match for fear of   destroying their wagons, were first made by Roman war
 chariots.   Since the chariots were made for or by Imperial Rome they were
 all  alike in the matter of wheel spacing.   Thus, we have the answer to the
 original questions. The United States standard railroad gauge of 4 feet, 8.5
 inches derives from the original specification  for an Imperial Roman army
 war chariot.   Specs 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.