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Author Topic: Size  (Read 6097 times)
Kevin Strong

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« Reply #15 on: October 16, 2014, 11:43:15 PM »

Early on in the development of railroads (1850s - 1870s), there was a common belief that the width of a piece of railroad equipment should not exceed twice the gauge. Hence, standard gauge (4' 8.5" or 5' at that time) tended to be right around 9 - 10' wide. Narrow gauge equipment (3' gauge) at the start of the narrow gauge movement in the 1870s hovered right around 6' - 7' wide. Practical experience would quickly illustrate that widths could increase quite significantly without reducing stability. On the standard gauge side, there was already a tremendous amount of infrastructure built for equipment with a 10' width (also called "loading gauge"), so that width didn't increase all that much--maybe to 11'. On the narrow gauge front, the widths of the 3' gauge stuff expanded by the 1890s to where most freight cars hovered around the 8' mark, with passenger cars being even wider (so to comfortably accommodate 2-abreast seating across a center aisle). Most locomotives were between 8' and 9' wide, with some larger locos hitting the 10' wide mark (notably the large D&RGW Ks and the Uintah 2-6-6-2s).

So long as the track was in good shape, stability wasn't an issue. If the roadbed got soft, though, that's when things got "tipsy."



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