Before all Imperial guys are retired. . .

Before all Imperial guys are retired. . .

Postby garethace » Wed Sep 10, 2003 11:31 am

I would just like to know, what they think of the new Metric system! :-) Seriously. With all the electronic gadgetry around these days, what have we lost, with the old Imperial scales?

Alot of Architects and Engineers, some of whom are now dead, but whom i do remember talking about this topic, regreted not having the Imperial system anymore. While yes, some things did get bigger with Metric, more things got smaller. Even the size of the drawing sheets got smaller. There used to be a size called doulble elephant, of drawing sheet, which is a bit bigger than A0 sizes of sheets today.

But in the imperial system, you have 8 and 1/2 inch, 8 and 1/4 inch, 8 and 1/8 inch, 8 and 1/16 inch, 8 and 1/32 inch, 8 and 1/64 inch. So on. For carpenters, engineers, surveyors... I is so much quicker, and easier to layout a foundation or a housing layout - with all of those divisors, to work with. I mean, you don't need a laptop, or a notebook and pencil normally to use the Imperial system. Just your head and a bit of experience/common sense. Sizes of materials, relating to strength of wood, cutting a timber roof, the standard sawn dimesions/strengths, widths between rafters, span to depth ratios.... weight of a brick, (Ever hear of brick dimensions? Metric brick dimensions, are completely and absolutely useless, when they had Imperial brick dimensions the brick layer, knew off the top of his head, exactly how to go about laying out a whole structure in brick dimensions) Next time you look at all the old brick buildings around you, think about that.

Believe me, I have heard so many examples of how inferior the metric system is, in the building/engineering trade, it cannot be peoples imagination. Anyone, who learned using Imperial, still in all fields of land drainage, services, surveying, etc think in Imperial still, and just convert to digital. Remember the people who surveyed most of the world to begin with, were British. They also built alot of the 'New World' of America, Australia, India, etc that you now know. With a few Irish/Polish navies that is.

To be honest, because mobile computing and calculators are so widespread nowadays, with lazer alignment etc, etc. People don't think about what they are measuring anymore. But at the same time, it would be nice to have a rough idea in ones mind. But the basic idea of Imperial, is that for not calculator using men in trades etc, and that includes the whole world of mechanics too btw, the strength/size relationships in the Imperial system were much, much better.

I have been measuring, designing and revising building drawings for a while now (coming up to ten years soon). And in all that time, I have never once found one metre to be a useful measurement as regarding to designing the homes/building we live and work in. I started out using 1 metre grids to design plans. But 900mm is a good wide width for a doorway, and is also a nice height for a table. That is 36 inches, believe it or not, so automatically, you know how many divisors you have with that magical 36! It is almost too good to be true in fact. 100mm is another frequently used, the width of a brick on flat, or a block on edge. But sometimes, it is nice to say slightly less than 4 inches, which would be 3 inches in Imperial, but is a very stupid looking 75mm in Metric. 100mm is 4 inches in Imperial. And 4 goes into 12, 3 times, or into 24, 6 times, or into 36, 9 times. 50mm and 25mm are useful too, but those are 2 inches and 1 inch in Imperial respectively.
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Postby sw101 » Wed Sep 10, 2003 2:40 pm

Yes. measurements are important. hence the alternate units option in the dimension bar of autocad. this means everyone can read measurements. and measure things. and make distances. and cut stuff. yes. important.

in the words of a great man, "thats all i have to say about that"
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Postby James » Thu Sep 11, 2003 12:34 am

I remember while project architect 12 years ago on a diplomatic building working in imperial on autocad. No problems with dimensioning or component sizing, however, although 'anthropometrically based the use of imperial was actually a disadvantage, windows were English, Stone was Norwegian, Pakistani and German, WC fittings Italian, and steel from Japan!!. Not to mention the French Contractor, British Client, and Middle Eastern Location.

Ultimately the use of imperial was meaningless (unlesswe had decided to restrict ourselves to American overpriced underspecified systems). We ended up converting metric sizings to Imperial and back again!.

CAD had nor problems handling it, the design team was another matter.

As for the chippies and craftsmen, they were all pakistani and were more attuned to the Arabic decimal system than our old 60ths based Imperial system ,(the concept of zero was 'invented' / discovered in India around the 16thy century and the decimal system (if not metric) was consequently well engrained in the popular consciousness.

Interesting experience though, by the way we invoiced in decimal pounds not LSD!!, so I'm not sure what the logic of using imperial was (predated my involvement).
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Postby garethace » Thu Sep 11, 2003 9:48 am

delighted somebody brought up the concept of zero actually. You might find some of this discussion entertaining too - missions to Mars were skuppered, due to the difference between the english pound and the american pound. Engineers and Imperial
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Postby MG » Mon Sep 15, 2003 5:58 pm

What about that bastard unit used in the aircraft industry? Metric Inches? Fine nowadays in AutoCAD, but I once produced large sets of drawings in it on a board. I still have nightmares.
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Postby garethace » Mon Sep 15, 2003 7:07 pm

Car tires have their widths in Imperial, and diameters in metric, or is it the other way around.
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Postby bloke » Thu Sep 18, 2003 6:01 am

I got caught out by a drawing using "decimal feet" recently. Why cant they just choose a system and stick to it.
But yes, I definitely do agree that feet and inches are far easier for most people to visualise - as you said - 8'x4' sheet of ply, 7'-0" door head, 3'-0" high 2'-0" deep kitchen counter. Much easier falling off the tongue.
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Postby garethace » Thu Sep 18, 2003 1:39 pm

Doing driving test today, and just noticed that we still talk in 30 mph, but that is 48km/h! and so on - that is a hard one to change. Yet, from a planning point of view, it would be easier to relate distances/speeds/experience of envirnoments from car point of view - to looking at the maps afterwards back in the office, after the site visit from a km/h point of view. I.e. How long it took you to drive around at area, at average 48km/h and so on.
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