"Because that's the way we've always done it!"


Does the expression, “We’ve always done it that way!” ring any bells? The US standard railroad gauge (distance between the rails) is 4 feet, 8.5 inches. That is an exceedingly odd number. Why was that gauge used? Because that is the way they built them in England, and English expatriates built the US 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 is 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 the same wheel spacing.

Okay!

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 (or by) Imperial Rome, they all had the same wheel spacing. The United States standard railroad gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches is derived from the original specification for an Imperial Roman war chariot.

Specifications and bureaucracies live forever. So the next time you are handed a specification and wonder what horses butt came up with it, you may be exactly right. This is 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…

There is an interesting extension to the story about railroad gauges and horses’ behinds. When we see a Space Shuttle sitting on its launch pad, there are two big booster rockets attached to the sides of the main tank. These are solid rocket boosters, or SRBs. “Thiokol” makes the SRBs at their factory at Utah. The engineers who designed the SRBs might 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 is about as wide as two horses’ behinds. So, a major 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.

It seems that the entire construction industry operates this way. Well, le’ts look at the energy bill from the “That’s the way we ‘ve always done it crowd!” Now Then lets look at how the folks are still working  in the industry today!
How can we expect different results with the same OLD school approach, attitude, and techniques, HMMMMMM
Today an Amazing new approach has been taken by a company, they are fabricating a home that can be built by KNOWLEDGEABLE people any where in the world,  building a home that uses about 3 pennies of energy per sq ft per month, and is designed to be 19 to 25 times stronger than a 2×6 16 OC  home . This home sells for less than a “traditional” home around 55.00 per sq Foot and is now being offered with free delivery to any where in the US Except Alaska and Hawaii check out the details @www.GreatAmericanDreamHome.com

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