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# America Has Two Feet. It’s About to Lose One of Them

## America Has Two Feet. It’s About to Lose One of Them

### RE: America Has Two Feet. It’s About to Lose One of Them

We should lose both of them, but that's a whole 'nuther discussion.

============
"Is it the only lesson of history that mankind is unteachable?"
--Winston S. Churchill

### RE: America Has Two Feet. It’s About to Lose One of Them

America is much more than two feet, it is a centipede.

### RE: America Has Two Feet. It’s About to Lose One of Them

may be it's time for metric units

### RE: America Has Two Feet. It’s About to Lose One of Them

Actually the 'National Institute of Standards and Technology' units used in this country includes only the 'yard' and the 'pound'. All other units for lengths and mass are derived from these TWO STANDARDS. And since 1893, as a result of the 'Mendenhall Order' these standards are defined using SI or Metric units. The yard was defined as being equal to 3600⁄3937 meter, and the pound was defined as 0.4535924277 kilogram. This was later revised in 1959 to where the yard was now defined as 0.9144 meter, and the pound as 0.45359237 kilogram. Part of the problem in the US is that we really have TWO different standards for the foot, which is what led to this issue being discussed here now. We have the normal everyday 'foot' and then we have the 'survey foot'. That's the issue which is being reconciled.

That being said, very few people are aware that the United States officially adopted the Metric System in 1866. It's just that the 'Metric Act of 1866', while it officially put the US on the Metric System, it did NOT require that anyone actually use the Metric units for industry or commerce. And while it did not require the use of Metric units, the biggest thing that it did accomplish was that it protected companies from being held liable if they did decide to use Metric rather then Imperial or 'traditional' units of measure. Therefore the act merely made it LEGAL to use Metric units, but it did not make them mandatory.

John R. Baker, P.E. (ret)
EX-Product 'Evangelist'
Irvine, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

The secret of life is not finding someone to live with
It's finding someone you can't live without

### RE: America Has Two Feet. It’s About to Lose One of Them

Feet and pounds and inchies are still a sign of English colonization. By the way you still drive like in England?

regards

luis

### RE: America Has Two Feet. It’s About to Lose One of Them

NIST has the document from 1959 that defines the yard as 0.9144 m, and the survey foot as 1200/3937 m

https://www.nist.gov/system/files/documents/2017/0...

TTFN (ta ta for now)
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### RE: America Has Two Feet. It’s About to Lose One of Them

Interesting that in the article, the point is made that the foot/inch/etc are defined in terms of the metre, as the US was one of the original signatories to the metric system.

### RE: America Has Two Feet. It’s About to Lose One of Them

(OP)

#### Quote (0707)

Feet and pounds and inchies are still a sign of English colonization. By the way you still drive like in England?

They drive like they are in Canada.

--
JHG

### RE: America Has Two Feet. It’s About to Lose One of Them

Sometimes when "we" drive we shoot each other and run each other off the road (we don't care which side).

### RE: America Has Two Feet. It’s About to Lose One of Them

That is right monkeydog! but that situation is universal (we don't care which side) since we didn´t jump too far and, we will keep alive, being in condition to sign the friendly assurance car book...

luis

### RE: America Has Two Feet. It’s About to Lose One of Them

Where I live, New Brunswick Canada we (not me, obviously) drove on the left, until 1921 or so, when it was changed due to the proximity of the US and the tourists coming in, it was felt it made more sense.

### RE: America Has Two Feet. It’s About to Lose One of Them

I can remember when Sweden switched to right-hand drive. I wasn't there I just remember reading about it. They picked a Sunday figuring that there would be the least amount of traffic, but the problem was that everyone showed-up so as to experience that first day and it created a real mess. Sort of like in China when you drive from Hong Kong into China proper. Hong Kong is Left-hand drive and China is Right-hand drive, so you have to switch at the border, after passing through customs and immigration. While I've never had to do that as a driver, I have been a front-seat passenger in cars that did make that transition, and it's feels very weird when you're where the car's set=up doesn't match where you're driving. Now, I've driven in Left-hand drive countries, but always with a car designed for that situation.

John R. Baker, P.E. (ret)
EX-Product 'Evangelist'
Irvine, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

The secret of life is not finding someone to live with
It's finding someone you can't live without

### RE: America Has Two Feet. It’s About to Lose One of Them

Its like coming off the cross channel ferry into the UK .
Signs for the first 3 miles saying "Drive on the left", in three different languages. And signs giving distances in miles, with kilometers in parentheses underneath.
B.E.

You are judged not by what you know, but by what you can do.

### RE: America Has Two Feet. It’s About to Lose One of Them

I'm still not sure if it's a joke.

### RE: America Has Two Feet. It’s About to Lose One of Them

#### Quote (JohnRBaker)

Now, I've driven in Left-hand drive countries, but always with a car designed for that situation.

I've done a bit of all four permutations (including all in the space of 24 hours once - but at least that time, one of the vehicles was big enough that what side of the road I was driving on was everybody else's problem). Psychologically, it's not actually as difficult as you might expect. The bit I don't like though is how much harder it is to see what's happening up ahead on the other side of the road.

A.

### RE: America Has Two Feet. It’s About to Lose One of Them

While I've never done it, I've concluded that it might harder to drive a motorcycle in a country where the drive-lane is the opposite of what you're used to. At least in a car, you're constantly aware that things are the other way round, but on a bike, there would be no clues other than the driving environment itself, which on regular two-lane roads, could prove problematic. And for the record, I've owned three motorcycles, although it's been years since I driven one.

John R. Baker, P.E. (ret)
EX-Product 'Evangelist'
Irvine, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

The secret of life is not finding someone to live with
It's finding someone you can't live without

### RE: America Has Two Feet. It’s About to Lose One of Them

Pirates keep going on having weight in our society.

luis

### RE: America Has Two Feet. It’s About to Lose One of Them

I rode a motorcycle in Australia last year, first experience with driving/riding on the left. Only times I made a mistake was when there was no one else around due to not having a visual cue, although that also meant that it wasn't a problem. The rental car that I drove first had a bigger nuisance...the mirrored stalks! Got wipers when I wanted turn signals many times.

### RE: America Has Two Feet. It’s About to Lose One of Them

Feet of clay. Two of them.
Cf Daniel 2:41-43

"Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but they are not entitled to their own facts."

### RE: America Has Two Feet. It’s About to Lose One of Them

I've heard a lot of folks ask when the US will switch to metric. My standard answer is that 25.4 isnt metric.

### RE: America Has Two Feet. It’s About to Lose One of Them

As I've noted before, officially we're already on the metric system, it's just voluntary. Besides, right now I'm afraid that if we tried to get people to use it more widely, we'd be accused of some sort of anti-American plot. And I fear it would fall along the same political lines as certain issues are now dividing us, like ignoring science and pushing conspiracy theories.

John R. Baker, P.E. (ret)
EX-Product 'Evangelist'
Irvine, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

The secret of life is not finding someone to live with
It's finding someone you can't live without

### RE: America Has Two Feet. It’s About to Lose One of Them

I doubt the US will ever really convert to metric. They were supposed to in 1975 I think. I graduated high school that year. They never will because it would require way too much expense and headaches. If the government (and thereby the tax-payer) would very heavily subsidize businesses it may occur but even then I doubt it. the US has too much to convert that is not easily converted.

They converted rebar so far, that is not hard to do. They converted nuts and bolts on vehicles, that is not hard to do.

Look at plumbing, can't reduce the diameter of a pipe in the direction of flow. How do you replace a section of damaged 8" pipe?
While lumber itself is easy to convert, the use of lumber is not easy. Try selling metric lumber when all remodels will require the old system. If you open up the first metric lumber mill, you better have deep pockets. Cabinets would no longer be 24"x36" as a standard.

Luckily, I am pretty good at converting parts per million and roof slopes to their metric equivalents.

### RE: America Has Two Feet. It’s About to Lose One of Them

I had to buy a couple of sheets of furniture grade plywood at Home Depot a couple of months ago and I noticed that while the 48 x 96 inch size was unchanged, that it came in thicknesses of 5.2mm, 12mm and 18mm. Not a 100% conversion, but it's a move in that direction.

John R. Baker, P.E. (ret)
EX-Product 'Evangelist'
Irvine, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

The secret of life is not finding someone to live with
It's finding someone you can't live without

### RE: America Has Two Feet. It’s About to Lose One of Them

#### Quote (Ron247)

Look at plumbing, can't reduce the diameter of a pipe in the direction of flow. How do you replace a section of damaged 8" pipe?
While lumber itself is easy to convert, the use of lumber is not easy. Try selling metric lumber when all remodels will require the old system. If you open up the first metric lumber mill, you better have deep pockets. Cabinets would no longer be 24"x36" as a standard.

Canada has been trying to wade through those conversions since 1975 - not sure where they are at in the process now.

### RE: America Has Two Feet. It’s About to Lose One of Them

(OP)
dauwerda,

You do realise that a three inch pipe is not three inches in diameter? If we were to re-designate what we now call 3" pipe as 80mm pipe, we would be more accurate.

I designed and built back steps for my house mostly out of 2×6s, relying on the lumber tables in my first semester mechanics of materials textbook. This claims that the size is 1‑5/8 by 5‑5/8". You know you are getting old when...

--
JHG

### RE: America Has Two Feet. It’s About to Lose One of Them

Of course I realize that - it wasn't my example. I was commenting on the fact that Canada seems to be figuring out how to deal with the "standard size" issue, so the US should be able to figure it out as well.

Perhaps Ron247's use of pipe is not a good example of the issue, the standard cabinet size may be better.

I believe the point being made is that it is nice to use even increments for standard sizes, so new standard sizes would need to be made using even increments of the metric dimensions, which would not align perfectly with the current even increments that are used with imperial dimensions.

The example that comes to mind for me is the standard plywood size - in the US it is 4'x8' which is approximately 1220mmx2440mm in metric - not nice even increments. The metric "equivalent" would be 1200x2400 I believe. Both sizes would have to be made available during the transition period - which would have to last years to ensure that existing items could still be repaired or added to.

### RE: America Has Two Feet. It’s About to Lose One of Them

So how would someone go about getting full size lumber? I ran into that problem years ago. The 2 X 4 of today was too small.

I already need two sets of tools to work on my car, for the small part remaining that I can work on. Had to buy a special socket to replace the oxygen sensor.

I believe the biggest thing would be land sizes and recording of old deeds.
Lets see, in some parts of Texas, the land size was measured by how far someone go while riding a mule while smoking two cigars (or something like that).
Standardize that.

Also I noticed that tires are in inch diameters, and mm width.

### RE: America Has Two Feet. It’s About to Lose One of Them

You have to ask for what they call 'dimensional' lumber. I bought some 1 x 4 last year for another project where I actually needed it to be 1 x 4, and I had no problem finding it at Home Depot.

John R. Baker, P.E. (ret)
EX-Product 'Evangelist'
Irvine, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

The secret of life is not finding someone to live with
It's finding someone you can't live without

### RE: America Has Two Feet. It’s About to Lose One of Them

So what you bought was probably a 4/4 x 16/4 board, not a 1 x 4. That fact that no nominal size of anything I'm familiar with is the actual size makes that whole transition much easier. The same thing can have two nominal dimensions, one in customary units and one in SI units, but the thing actually has one size. The actual metrification would occur when you start cutting it to length in SI units rather than in customary units.

### RE: America Has Two Feet. It’s About to Lose One of Them

John R. Baker, P.E. (ret)
EX-Product 'Evangelist'
Irvine, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

The secret of life is not finding someone to live with
It's finding someone you can't live without

### RE: America Has Two Feet. It’s About to Lose One of Them

The pipe example I used is a real problem with metric conversion. Regardless of the actual diameter of an 8" pipe, there is no "standard" metric pipe of equivalent diameter. So if you splice an 8" line with a standard metric size pipe (not some custom diameter that is really close to 8"), you are decreasing the diameter on one end or the other of a splice. This is more a sewage application than pure fluid flow.

while we can physically make metric lumber, a standard metric wall stud would not be 1.5"x3.5"x92.625". It would be some even number of millimeters that may be somewhat close to those dimensions but not close enough. They also space framing at 60 cm on center, not 24" on center. Therefore, real metric sheet material is not 8' long. The point I am making, it without heavy \$ subsidies, no one wants to convert their plant operation and an oppressive law that forced the issue would not go over well.

Standardization has to do with nice round numbers when possible not just labeling something two different ways. But give them 25.4 centimeters and they will take a 1.6 kilometers, I always say. Did I convert that right? Let me check with a Denver Bronco fan to see.

### RE: America Has Two Feet. It’s About to Lose One of Them

With regard to the metric system in the USA, in 1977 my older son came home with math homework that was entirely metric to metric conversions. I asked him if his teacher ever gave them conversions that included English units and he replied, "No!"

I made an appointment with Miss Jeski, his sixth grade math teacher, and in our session, she informed me that next year the United States would be converting all units of measure from English to Metric. We had a little discussion about how absurd that assumption was and how ill prepared her students would be if her current approach were to be followed.

Later I assumed that she must have seen some distorted reporting [say it ain't so!] in the news media about...

The Metric Conversion Act is an Act of Congress that U.S. President Gerald Ford signed into law on December 23, 1975.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metric_Conversion_Ac...

...or maybe she jumped to a conclusion?

Skip,

Just traded in my OLD subtlety...
for a NUance!

### RE: America Has Two Feet. It’s About to Lose One of Them

(OP)

#### Quote (dauwerda)

Of course I realize that - it wasn't my example. I was commenting on the fact that Canada seems to be figuring out how to deal with the "standard size" issue, so the US should be able to figure it out as well.

I am Canadian, based in Toronto. A company I used to work for had a new building custom designed. I saw the drawings. The architects worked in metric — metres and millimetres. Everything was converted to feet and inches for the builders.

--
JHG

### RE: America Has Two Feet. It’s About to Lose One of Them

To convey a measurement, the reader needs to be able have a feel of what that is. Most people in the US have a washing machine, and have a good idea what size that is.

An inch is about the size of the length between two of my finger joints. A millimeter is how much?
A yard is about one large step. A foot is the outside size of a size 10 or 11 shoe.

Never learned that stuff about the metric system, but really learned the English system in shop, where I had to use the measurements.

### RE: America Has Two Feet. It’s About to Lose One of Them

I have a tape measure marked off in washing machines on one side and refrigerators on the other side. It is real handy for laying out kitchens.

### RE: America Has Two Feet. It’s About to Lose One of Them

I used to work in a shop that made exhaust pipes for yachts.
We shipped all over the world, and worked in metric or US units as necessary.
Then one of our best fabricators got promoted to a designer.
For way too long, he used 25 mm = 1 inch for his conversions.
We discovered it when some beautiful polished pipes we shipped to the other side of the world didn't fit right.
That was a fairly expensive lesson.

Mike Halloran
Corinth, NY, USA

### RE: America Has Two Feet. It’s About to Lose One of Them

I have a measuring tape that's marked off in washing machines on one side, and black diamonds on the other.

Best of both worlds.

### RE: America Has Two Feet. It’s About to Lose One of Them

I used to work for a company in Pennsylvania that designed their equipment in metric dimensions. We used metric equivalent dimensions for material thickness of the steel because buying metric plate was about double the cost. All lengths were in metric dimensions.
When I started there, they put trailing zeros on dimensions for tolerance value place holders. I got in some heated discussions, but finally won out, when our CAD system no longer allowed values like 80.00 to be displayed for a length and was now just 80. The engineers said that all of their stackup tolerances had been changed. It lead them to starts tolerancing individual dimensions if they wanted a tighter tolerance than we had for no decimal places in the titleblock.

"Wildfires are dangerous, hard to control, and economically catastrophic."

Ben Loosli

### RE: America Has Two Feet. It’s About to Lose One of Them

Please let an engineer living in Scandinavia comment.

Timber!! Wood material measurements were the last to be accepted converted here. In practice it is easier to handle and understand the metric system once you are used to it. It will also give a more accurate description of tolerences, often given by (say) +/- 1 mm thickness of a plank from different sawmills.

Valves and piping: Once, at an international exhibition in Germany, I asked a Chinese representative of a Chinese valve company, competing with mine, if his factory could supply ANSI and European flanges. This was some years ago, and Offshore North Sea used (at that time) mostly ANSI. The answer: 'We can supply both, but we wish mainly to supply European. We see the largest potential here as they have a smaller market now, and we want to grow and compete. (No comment!)

It is not seen as a large problem in Europe to connect ANSI and European dimensions by suitable connecting pieces and/or conerting flanges.

On driving: I have been driving on the left (wrong) side in Sweden, UK and Australia. The problem is to use a system where you have learned instinctively to turn to nearest ditch to avoid accidents. If you converse from right to left, or opposite, this will then lead to front collisions. Also driving a car with the wheel 'on the wrong side' is aproblem.

And lastly, on different feet: To me this seems to be a 'microscopic problem' compared to the other topics discussed.

### RE: America Has Two Feet. It’s About to Lose One of Them

#### Quote (gerhardl)

To me this seems to be a 'microscopic problem' compared to the other topics discussed.

Well, since this first became an issue with respect to land surveying, even a 'microscopic problem' could prove a disaster if not properly resolved.

BTW, I thought Sweden moved over from driving on the Left to driving on the Right years ago, like back in the 60's.

John R. Baker, P.E. (ret)
EX-Product 'Evangelist'
Irvine, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

The secret of life is not finding someone to live with
It's finding someone you can't live without

### RE: America Has Two Feet. It’s About to Lose One of Them

Not english or metric, but years ago I talked to someone from Pueblo, a city in Colorado, who said they were having problems finding water piping with a Pueblo thread.
I thought it odd, why not just use a common thread. After a little looking, I found out that at the time Pueblo was developing there water system, no one had set a common thread. So the city developed their own standard. Now the rest of the world has moved on, but they still have their own standard, and everything is in that standard.

Sort of like the US is invested in the english system, and it is so hard to change.

### RE: America Has Two Feet. It’s About to Lose One of Them

#### Quote (John R. Baker, P.E.)

BTW, I thought Sweden moved over from driving on the Left to driving on the Right years ago, like back in the 60's

That's correct, IIRC it was in 1969 or 1970. There could not yet have existed an expressway system with ramps that would probably not be reversible. Apparently it went off without a significant hitch.
(Could you imagine attempting something like that in today's climate of conspiracy theories and fake news?)

"Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but they are not entitled to their own facts."

### RE: America Has Two Feet. It’s About to Lose One of Them

I thought it was 1968. Mid-day, on a Sunday, I think. Would have been disruptive, but that eliminated a bunch of other problems. Leave the "wrong" side drivers to a bunch of islands (of wildly varying size) or a sub-continent. Everywhere else they drive on the right side. Sweden, pre-change, just didn't fit the rest of the pattern.

I’ll see your silver lining and raise you two black clouds. - Protection Operations

### RE: America Has Two Feet. It’s About to Lose One of Them

And I understand that virtually all of the vehicles produced in Sweden up to that time, mostly Volvo's and Saab's, were designed for driving on the right side of the road, like the rest of Europe, sans the UK of course. Primarily because most of their auto and truck production was for export.

Note that the change took place on Sunday, September 3, 1967:

http://realscandinavia.com/this-day-in-history-swe...

John R. Baker, P.E. (ret)
EX-Product 'Evangelist'
Irvine, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

The secret of life is not finding someone to live with
It's finding someone you can't live without

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