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Steam Locomotive Development


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In our real wurld, the earliest steam engine can be attributed to the classical era. Called the Aeolipile, the device was a spinning brass affair powered by pressurized steam. It probably wasn't used for industrial or pragmatic roles, but it was the recorded start of a fantastic technology that changed the wurld. Steam In Eurth such a technology would need to have been developed for us to get to the modern age we're in now. I've created this thread to discuss the Eurth history of this incredible technology.

Steam engine development was at the bleeding edge of materials science and technology of the era. The steam locomotive, in particular, in our real wurld, was produced with the resources of the British Empire and disseminated throughout the wurld from there. Given Eurth’s lack of one single empire that ranked above the others, and greater historical interaction between nations, I think it’s reasonable and even likely that the steam engine, and steam locomotive in particular, would have development milestones spread between different nations so long as they had an adequate industry.

To get the ball rolling, I've written up a possible origin for the development of the first locomotive produced at scale as well as an event (inspired by the IRL Rainhill trials) that could have demonstrated the potential of the technology.

Gaellician mechanical engineer Caibre Vata established a successful domestic business producing stationary steam engines, initially licensed designs originating from !country, and then later improved and original designs. In 1796, Vata filed a patent for the technology to create a steam locomotive, but did not attempt to produce a prototype at the time. One example of a working locomotive was produced in 1805 by engineer Gill Sailkirk, a former employee of Vata’s. The locomotive was notable for utilizing high pressure steam, but it was not suitable for practical industrial application. The machine was enough to gain the attention of merchant Iain Síomón. Síomón took the Sailkirk locomotive design on tour through the Occident, Eastern Argis, and Aurelia. During his years touring, Síomón commissioned Sailkirk and others to produce new locomotives and machines to display at his “steam circus”. The designs preferred by Síomón in this era were for exciting and novel technology to display to the public, with practical application only a secondary consideration.

In 1816, Ealar Andreas Murchadh, formerly an indentured servant of Vata’s firm, fled South in order to start his own business under their protection of Clan Connachta. Murchadh is now remembered by the surname Andreas, as he forsook the surname of his birth during his move south. Though initially owning no patents, Andreas continued to develop designs he’d begun under Vata. Of particular personal interest to Andreas was his work on the steam locomotive, though work on the technology could not be a priority. Nevertheless, Andreas built his firm within Clan Connachta’s holdings along Gaellicia’s central belt. The nature of the region, largely focused on mining, ore refining, and metal fabrication industry, gave Andreas access to the latest advancements in metallurgy and materials science research. Railways either horse drawn, locomotive, or cable hauled, were constructed at several mines in the region over the following years which Andreas contributed to.     

In 1830, the Dryamos Slope Trials were announced. The trials were to be held in Vrygia by the soon-to-open !TagRailwayName. The trials were held at the behest of one of the principle board members of the new railway, none other than Iain Síomón. The trials aimed to investigate the viability of steam locomotive-hauled trains. The established method for running most railways at the time was to have carriages pulled by teams of animals. At steep hills, carriages would be pulled by cable up the grades with power coming from a stationary steam engine. 

For the contest, entrant locomotives were required to conform to a track gauge of 4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm), be powered by steam, not exceed 4.5 tons in weight (unless the locomotive had six wheels) nor 15 feet in height, and should have a top speed no less than 10 mph (16 kph). Locomotives were to be weighed fully loaded with fuel and water, with their fire unlit. The locomotive was then expected to haul three times it’s measured weight. The amount of time and fuel required to get the engine up to steam would be noted and the locomotive would be expected to travel over a three mile stretch of track 10 times to simulate a 30 mile journey. Locomotives would then be permitted to refuel before completing the trip 10 more times in order to simulate a return trip.

Andreas and his wife Sara, building off the experimentation they’d conducted over the previous years, produced and entered their own locomotive design. As a nod to the similarity of their surname to the name of the planet Andreus, the couple named their locomotive Celestiall. The Andreases having kept up to date with the latest advances in locomotive technology resulted in Celestiall being an innovative design. What stood it apart from other entrants in the contest was mostly not new technology, but rather its incorporation of what were previously multiple different technological developments into one locomotive. Celestiall utilized the modern boiler layout which would go on to be used in subsequent steam locomotives. The modern layout had a separate smoke box at the front of the locomotive, and had the firebox, where fuel was burned to generate heat, recessed within the boiler water jacket. Unlike other locomotives at the time with this boiler layout, Celestiall’s wheels were arranged in a 2-2-0 layout, allowing for the weight of the firebox to rest atop the driving wheels, leading to better adhesion. The most novel feature of the locomotive was in the arrangement of the cylinders, with the cylinders mounted inside the locomotive’s frame, underneath the smokebox, and roughly aligned horizontally with the driving wheels. Horizontal inside cylinders made manufacture of the locomotive easier for the Andreases with contemporary metallurgy techniques. Andreas struggled to fabricate lightweight components for the locomotive and so just barely made the weight requirement of 4.5 tons.

The Dryamos Slope Trials were held over a period of 10 days, with a cash prize to be awarded to the winning locomotive. In addition to Celestiall, competing locomotives included a @Tagmatium Rules 0-2-2, an @Ionio 0-4-0, a 0-6-0 from the @United Republic, and another Gaellician entry from Ealar’s former employer, the Vata firm. Other entrants withdrew from the competition within the first two days as a result of mechanical or other difficulties.  

The Aurelian 0-6-0 struggled to reach the minimum speed of 10 mph, but performed well in terms of weight hauled. It withdrew from the contest on the fifth day after successive mechanical failures. Made with the cutting edge of lightweight materials, the Ionian locomotive !IonioLocoName was quick to steam up and at one point reached a speed of 28 miles per hour. The locomotive resembled a steam-powered carriage of the era, with a vertical boiler and vertical pistons; the coupled driving wheels were driven through bell cranks. Owing to its mechanical complexity, !IonioLocoCompany struggled to perform as the contest went on as components in its complex boiler failed.

The Gaellician entry from Vata, Luas, was an 0-4-0 with a modern boiler arrangement, but without individual fire tubes, instead using a single return flue. The Vata engine had front mounted angled cylinders that drove driving wheels linked with coupling rods. Luas was over the 4.5 ton weight limit for the competition, was slow to steam, and had poor fuel economy. Still, Luas hauled well though the distress its greater weight caused to the rails was clear by the end of the contest. Vata’s entry withdrew from the competition on the eighth day after cracking a cylinder.

The crowd favorite of the contest was the Tagmatine 0-2-2 named !TagLocoName. !TagLocoName utilized light materials, angled cylinders, and had an innovative boiler design with 25 individual fire tubes transiting the boiler jacket. !TagLocoName was able to haul a carriage of 20 patrons up an incline at over 15 miles per hour consistently and reached a maximum speed of 30 miles per hour at one point while running light. In the rare instance of mechanical issues, they were quickly dealt with. The main drawback to the design was a somewhat uncomfortable ride quality owing to the angled cylinders.

The main competition to !TagLocoName was the Andreases Celestiall. The 2-2-0, like !TagLocoName, had a multi-tube firebox. Though Celestiall could not consistently match its Tagmatine competitor in speed, it had greater tractive effort. Though the inside frame cylinders on the Celestiall required greater maintenance, their horizontal orientation provided for a smoother and more pleasant ride. The Andreases locomotive matched the Tagmatine locomotive in reliability, and exhibited the greatest fuel efficiency of any locomotive in the contest.

In all, three locomotives completed the entire ten days of trials, !TagLocoName, !IonioLocoName, and Celestiall. An entry from @Iverica, Cyclomatic, also completed all trials excluding speed, but was disqualified as rather than powered by steam, it was powered by goats marching on a treadmill which drove four wheels.

Ultimately, !TagLocoName, was declared the winner of the competition and its designers receiving the prize money. However, the Andreases were contracted to build locomotives by the new president of the Killarne and Triró Railway in Northern Gaellicia, a horse drawn railway that was looking to expand. Following the results of the competition, leadership of the KTR was now convinced that there was now a need to convert to steam power. The new president of the KTR was, of course, Iain Síomón. The Celestiall locomotive would be improved on in the following years with improved versions of the type produced at scale. The 2-2-0 is referred to as the “Celestial Type” and its basic layout established principles that were used for the vast majority of locomotive designs until the end of steam.

So what do you all think? What can be improved? Any ideas for ways to fill historical gaps prior to these events?

For players mentioned, are you comfortable with it or do you have revisions/suggestions?

Anything else?

Edited by Gaellicia (see edit history)
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I doubt Per-Aten would have a lot of trains but I could see an adoption of steam powered cranes, and steam poerplants for ferries and other riverhoing craft. Both of my major cities are on the H'api so a rail network is less nescessary. I imagine steam is gonna be huge in our early Industrial era though. Would it be possibe to get some sort of steam powered riverboats in Per-Aten as early as 1820?

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3 hours ago, Neswetej Per Aten said:

I imagine steam is gonna be huge in our early Industrial era though. Would it be possibe to get some sort of steam powered riverboats in Per-Aten as early as 1820?

Depending on Per-Aten's domestic industry, it would make sense to me.

The first practical steam boat in real life was the Charlotte Dundas, sailing in January of 1803. The technology improved from there, though it didn't outright replace canal and river boats propelled by other means. Still, I think it'd be reasonable to have steamboats be part of the equation in Per-Aten by 1820, through either domestic development, or buying steam engines from abroad and importing them.

Edited by Gaellicia (see edit history)
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Similarly to Per-Aten, investing in steamboats of sorts would most likely be the main form of steam-powered transport for a little while. The Eastern cities of Hisera would require a significant amount of food to be maintained, food which would come mostly from the West and along the rivers, where it would then be transferred and sold along the coast after the ships got to the sea. The significant distance and the importance of this river sailing would probably make Hisera another candidate for initial steamboat use, The adoption of these steamboats could be due to an initial inspired interest in the technology due to Iain Síomón tours in Eastern Argis.

On the topic of railroads, Hisera would certainly see the benefit in them, and using them to speed up the production pathway of Hisera, where natural resources from the West would be sold to the Central and Eastern cities to be refined into more developed products. This time mentioned in the development is shortly before the beginning of Hiseran economic decline, so there is some possibility perhaps of a minor railway connection in Hisera. The Domestic Industry was not plagued with inefficiencies and international uncompetitiveness just yet, and was mostly limited by the transport time of raw resources, and as such a railway connection between the West and East would be profitable enough to be considered and perhaps built. What do you think?

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The history looks good to me on the development of steam locomotives. There is also to say that I currently have only a historical baseline on the development of the steam engine and steam locomotives as I first have to resolve the issue related to the first Aurelia War. Basically, the development was done in the period from 1823 - 1850

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39 minutes ago, Hisera said:

The Domestic Industry was not plagued with inefficiencies and international uncompetitiveness just yet, and was mostly limited by the transport time of raw resources, and as such a railway connection between the West and East would be profitable enough to be considered and perhaps built. What do you think?

Looking at your map just here, it looks like you've got two major West-East rivers. Combined with canals, this was probably enough to transport goods West to East in the early days. It took a while before locomotive technology improved to a point where trains overtook canals+rivers in utility.

If you're interested in being an early adopter of railroads, I would recommend having them built linking river ports to industrial towns not on the river. You could have these feeder railways predate the steam locomotive, instead initially having rail wagons hauled by teams of horses. Then, when steam locomotive technology came around, you could convert these ways to use longer locomotive-hauled trains.

32 minutes ago, Ionio said:

Basically, the development was done in the period from 1823 - 1850

Is the mention of the Ionian prototype locomotive in 1830 alright?

Edited by Gaellicia (see edit history)
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18 minutes ago, Gaellicia said:

Is the mention of the Ionian prototype locomotive in 1830 alright?

I consider 1930 to be acceptable. Then once we've defined the first Aurelia war I'll give you the exact date

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10 hours ago, Tagmatium Rules said:

I also don't need to be the winner in the competition.

I figured it added interest, with the winning design not being the one that went on to become the most successful and inspire future designs. 

For the name of the railroad that hosted the competition, a name idea I had was “Trotami and Dyrrakion Railway” but let me know if that sounds off. 

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