Advice, Facts & Fun Stuff from Dennis

INTERESTING HISTORY LESSON


RAILROAD TRACKS

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 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'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.

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. Therefore the United Statesstandard railroad gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches is derived from the original specifications for an Imperial Roman war chariot. Bureaucracies live forever.

So the next time you are handed a specification/procedure/process and wonder 'What horse's ass came up with it?', you may be exactly right. Imperial Roman army chariots were made just wide enough to accommodate the rear ends of two war horses. (Two horse's asses.) 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, or SRB's. The SRB's are made by Thiokol at their factory in Utah . The engineers who designed the SRB's would have preferred to make them a bit fatter, but the SRB's 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, and the SRB's 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? Ancient horse's asses control almost everything... and CURRENT Horses Asses are controlling everything else. 


WINTER TRAVELING TIPS


This advice is given to you to help you have a safe, profitable winter season.  Please think safety when traveling this winter, and if you have questions, ask Ryan or Dennis, and we will give the best advice we know.


The winter driving season presents new and different challenges to you.  I have listed 2 areas that you need be aware of, both very different, but both very important.

2.  SAFE DRIVING IN ADVERSE CONDITIONS:

• Carry plenty of warm clothes, flashlight, light tools, snowmobile boots, and some high energy, non-salty, non-freezable snacks, like granola bars.

• Driving on ice & snow is always challenging.  Remember to keep your following distance 5 seconds from the vehicle ahead in normal conditions, & double that in adverse conditions.

• When driving on wet roads, watch for signs of freezing, like less or no spray from tires, and glare of headlights and tail lights off road surface.

When in mountains, if ice or snow pack exists, chain up before you spin out or descend down an icy mountain.  This sounds like something that you would know, however, many drivers listen to others bragging on the radio about how they went over “barefooted”, when their load, tires, and equipment may differ from yours.  Also, they may just be lying.  

2.  CARE AND FEEDING OF EQUIPMENT IN THE WINTER

• Be aware of cold weather fuel requirements for your truck.  Ask Ryan or Dennis about specifics for your truck.

• When buying reefer fuel, buy only #1 fuel or put in enough additive to keep it running in the most extreme conditions from Nov. to April, otherwise you will have the wrong fuel and it won’t start when it gets back to Minnesota.

• Watch for coolant leaks, there is always more maintenance to cooling systems in cold weather than in warm.  A good pre-trip will keep you off the shoulder of the road in 30 below weather.

• Every time you stop the truck, walk around the rig to look for coolant leaks, oil leaks, and bump the tires.  Pay special attention to oil leaks on the inside of the tires and wheels.  In cold weather, if moisture settles on wheel seals, it can freeze to the hub and tear the seal when you start out.  The next time you stop it will be leaking.  If you don’t catch it then, the next time you stop the oil can be gone and the bearings out.

• When starting out after parking, even for a short time, look to make sure all wheels are turning.  A trailer wheel brake may freeze to the drum and you might drag a set of tires to nothing.  If a brake lining freezes to the drum, usually a good solid hit with a hammer on the drum, shoe, or cam will break it loose.  DO NOT POUR HOT WATER OVER IT!

• Get familiar with your tire chains.  If you have not put any on before, have Ryan or Dennis show you the proper procedure so you don’t ruin tires or chains.

• We have Power Service diesel fuel conditioner in the cabinet or the storage shed for you take with you.  You should not need it when traveling and engine is at operating condition, but be sure to treat the fuel when shutting the engine off for more than 24 hours.  Treat your fuel about 50 miles from the terminal so the fuel gets mixed up well.  It is easier to treat ¼ or ½ tank than a full tank so bring it in low and treated.