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Tongue in cheek

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Eric Cox16/01/2010 09:43:06
522 forum posts
34 photos
In a recent edition of ME the contributor stated that his drawing would be dimensioned in Imperial inches. This came somewhat of a relief as I've always found Metric inches difficult to work with
Ian S C16/01/2010 10:54:39
7468 forum posts
230 photos
You would find it difficult I agree,just looked up the French foot(Pied),it had a number of lengths ie., 13.11",12.09".Or an official canadian one of 12.789"or 0.3248 meter.I think these were divided in 12 parts-metric inches.Ian S C
wheeltapper16/01/2010 11:07:31
420 forum posts
98 photos
Yea, 10 inches to the foot would be a tad confusing.
Ian S C16/01/2010 11:27:08
7468 forum posts
230 photos
Don't worry the Dutch also had a foot measurement,I'v found 5 different lengths,also some had 11 and others had 12 divisions.Theres proberbly more from other countries,but who cares.Ian S C
chris stephens16/01/2010 12:11:18
1045 forum posts
1 photos
Hi Guys,
Is "tongue in cheek" any relation to "foot in mouth"?
Peter Gain16/01/2010 13:09:31
103 forum posts
On the subject of screw-ball measurements; in a book entitled "Men, Machines, & History" (I forget the auther) there is a reference to a unit called a "Tub". A "Tub" was a local measure of ballast, sand, etc. The suggestion is that when making early barrows the size was chosen to make the most economical use of the local timber growth.  It was used in the NE(?) of England long before railways & mass production required universally recognised units. Wnen London decided to apply the "cwt" over the entire country the "Tub" subsequently worked out to be 2 & 5/8ths hundred weight. A plausible explanation of how a strange (to us) unit came to be used.
Totally useless information, but to paraphase Agatha Christie "That is what makes it so interesting"!
Peter Gain.
Chris25/01/2010 11:35:40
87 forum posts
13 photos
I work in a lead mining musuem here in the NE (not quite sure why we deserve a question mark) and lead ore was measured in 'Bings' which were roughly what a pack horse could carry when transporting ore from the mines to the smelts.
For the benifit of my 11 plus exam I had to learn tables including Pecks and Bushels ( I'm only 57) and how on earth did we arrive at 4' 8 1/2'' as a standard railway guage.
wheeltapper25/01/2010 11:45:40
420 forum posts
98 photos
Someone will probably tell me I'm wrong but I think It's because it's 5 ft between the outer edges of the rail head so 4' 8" 1/2" between the wheel flanges.
now I've started something
Peter Gain25/01/2010 14:22:02
103 forum posts
Can't resist this one!
I believe that the rail gauge is now 4'- 8 & 3/8" (or the metric equivalent thereof). Some thing to do with no more regular steam services, shorter wheel base bogies & high speed multiple units.
Peter Gain.
KWIL25/01/2010 15:16:57
3286 forum posts
63 photos
I thought it was the width of the roman chariot wheel tracks!
Gordon W25/01/2010 15:24:34
2011 forum posts
I always was told it was the width of old wagon track near the works. Anyway, track gauge varies depending on curve rad. etc.
Peter G. Shaw25/01/2010 16:22:22
1142 forum posts
44 photos
The late Tubal Cain/T. D. Walshaw, in an article in ME (23 May 1997) said that in Europe at one time, the "foot" varied between 9½ and nearly 19 English inches! Also that in France, there were 8 different "feet"!
(I always knew that bit of useless information would come in handy someday.)

Peter G. Shaw
Martin W25/01/2010 16:54:00
853 forum posts
29 photos
I thought it had something to do with the Romans but this evidently is an urban myth and the standard gauge pre-dates that  !!!  I copy an extract from Wikipedia regarding the 'possible/probable' origins of the gauge:
Neolithic wheeled carts found in Europe had gauges varying from 130 to 175 centimetres (4 ft 3 in to 5 ft 9 in). By the Bronze age, wheel gauges appeared to have stabilized between 140 to 145 centimetres (4 ft 7 in to 4 ft 9 in) which was attributed to a tradition in ancient technology which was perpetuated throughout European history.[4] The ancient Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians and Greeks constructed roads with artificial wheelruts cut in rock spaced the wheelspan of an ordinary carriage. Such ancient stone railways connected major cities with sacred sites, such as Athens to Eleusis, Sparta to Ayklia, or Elis to Olympia. The gauge of these stone grooves was 138 to 144 centimetres (4 ft 6 in to 4 ft 9 in). The largest number of preserved stone trackways, over 150, are found on Malta.[5]
Looks like we were not responsible  for the odd dimension.
Martin W

Edited By Martin W on 25/01/2010 16:56:08

Edited By Katy Purvis on 01/06/2015 13:05:07

Chris26/01/2010 19:15:07
87 forum posts
13 photos
Well that stired up some interesting facts so lets try this one.
I was once told by an old maths teacher who was avidly anti metric that the metric units were devised by Napoleon who had his best brains of the times measure the weight and circumferance of the world and then divide them repeatedly by ten until usable units were arrived at. Said teacher was delighted to tell us that both the original measurements were grossly inaccurate and that therefore metric measurements had no value what so ever.
People like this were our mentors.
Or was he right ?!
DMB26/01/2010 21:58:29
1012 forum posts
Hi all,
The problem is mainly one of visualistion, e.g., kitchen cupboards measure 600mm. Why? Calling it 2ft is much easier to visualise after a lifetime of using Imperial but using very large numbers of small increments like mm as above or large nos. of cm ofr measuring lengths of cars just seems ludicrous as well as difficult to `picture.`
DMB26/01/2010 22:04:27
1012 forum posts
I once read that the great Pyramid at Giza is not square at the base - its `out` by about 5/8 in. !! Given the measuring gear they had then compared with now and just think what a small proportion this is of the full length/width. As the TV prog says, How do/did they do that?
Martin W26/01/2010 23:32:31
853 forum posts
29 photos
I reckon the Egyptians used good old Pythagoras and with a few ropes knotted up to make a 3 * 5* 4 triangle they could readily get a good right angle. Control your diagonals and hey presto a square base. Now how about cutting and moving the stone that's the real engineering feat .
It looks as if we missed the boat regarding metrication because we Brits didn't like change (again). Evidently in a certain Mr John Wilkins who was First Secretary of the Royal Society suggested in 1668 we should go metric. His ideas were not taken up but certain others in foreign land evidently thought it was a good idea. Abbot Mouton, is that sheep in French?, decided that it should be based on the circumference of the earth. So far so good for John's maths teacher . A problem was foreseen that not everybody had access to the equator so it was then decided to base it on longitude, as we all have longitudes running through our countries, for the continent this would seem to be very democratic or perhaps they thought someone might deny them access to the equator (Rule Britannia)!!!.
Now think Star Trek and Jean Picard, oh sorry not Jean Luke Picard, but another bright individual and he calculated the size of the earth between 1669-1670 and came up with a figure of 110.46 kilometers for each degree of latitude. This is where John's maths teacher comes a cropper  because this is within 0.4% of the current calculated value.
Though I am not too sure how they came up with 110.46 kilometers as they hadn't devised metric measurements then .
I still like feet and inches cause that's wot I wos tort. Mind I do like the sound of those new fangled digital calipers that do metric, imperial and imperial fractions.
Martin W

Edited By Martin W on 26/01/2010 23:34:04

Ian S C27/01/2010 01:07:52
7468 forum posts
230 photos
Think I heard that the Empire State building is 18" out of square.Ian S C
Gordon W27/01/2010 10:02:50
2011 forum posts
According to ( I think) Jules Verne, in measuring the Meridian, the metre was based on an angle subtended at the earths circumferance. Good story anyway.
Steve Garnett27/01/2010 11:27:11
837 forum posts
27 photos
The reality of this metre measurement thing is either slightly more boring, or more crazy, depending on your point of view. The real fun was in the 18th century, when there were two favoured approaches to what a metre might be; the first was based on the length of of a pendulum with a half-period of 1 second - but that was determined not to be accurate enough because of the effects of gravity. Personally I think that one was a complete non-starter anyway, because it would have only ever been a secondary standard, as it would have been based on a time measurement, and they really weren't good back then.
The second one was the actual one eventually adopted, and this was based on Méchain and Delambre's 7 year (1792-99) measurement of the meridian between Dunkerque and Barcelona, along a longitudinal line that just happened to pass through Paris. The exact process of using this as the basis for establishing the length of a quadrant based on this line between the North Pole and the Equator isn't clear (and they cocked it up anyway) but the basic idea was that if you divided this distance by 10 million, you ended up with the length of 1 metre - so the circumference of the earth, measured on a meridian passing through Paris and both poles is 40,000,000 metres. The cockup? They miscalculated the effect of the earth's flattening at the poles, and as a result, the original metre bar was 0.2mm short. Makes you wonder what the point was at all, doesn't it? So Gordon W and J. Verne may not be wrong - but what happened exactly after this expedition isn't clear at a first glance, and requires more investigation on my part.
I'm quite happy with both imperial and metric measurements - my only real objection to the metric ones is that inch, foot, yard, mile (and even pole) all have one syllable, and millimetre, centimetre, kilometre, decimetre, etc all have four. Even metre itself has two, so as ever with the French language, you get a load more verbal garbage than is strictly necessary.  It's worthy of note that the entire world prefers a lot of english swear words for exactly the same reason!

Edited By Steve Garnett on 27/01/2010 11:27:54

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