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Steam Recirculators

by Steve Whitmore

Space: 1889 relies on steam power for much of the travel on Earth and Mars. The designers created a system for designing steam powered vehicles but left out any consideration of the consumption of water by the steam plant. Anyone who has looked at the performance of steam engines knows that they use a lot of water. For example, even the most modern (1950's technology) steam locomotive has to stop roughly every seven hours to refill its water tank. This is not a problem on Earth where most of the steam engines are train or ship engines. There are water towers along the tracks for the trains to fill their tenders. Ships solve the problem of fresh water by using evaporators to obtain fresh water for the boilers from the sea. These solutions are fine if your steam engine is floating in an ocean or riding on fixed tracks. There is a problem if you are flying around on a mostly waterless planet such as Mars. The purpose of this article is to provide additional rules for endurance.

1. There are two factors to be considered when calculating the endurance of a steam engine's water supply. The first is the size and type of engine chosen. The larger the engine, the more water that it will use. Steam turbines, the most efficient engines, will use less water than conventional steam engines. There is no reduction in water consumption by switching to a reciprocating engine. The second factor in the calculating of the endurance of steam engines is the recirculator factor. This is a the reliability number of any recirculator added to the steam engine. The base recirculator number is 0.2 and is used for all steam engines that do not have a recirculator. This assumes that there have been advances in steam technology to cope with the problems specific to Mars.

2. The formula for calculating water endurance is as follows: Water tank (in tons) multiplied by the recirculator value (ER) divided by the engine size.

WATER: ((WT) ____ x (ER))/(ES) _____ = ______ .

Thus, a size one engine without a recirculator would have an endurance of .2 days per ton of water and a recirculator with a recirculator value of 2 would have an endurance of 2 days per ton of water. Double the efficiency of the recirculator if it is attached to a steam turbine. The formula is changed as follows:

WATER: [((WT) ____ x (ER))/(ES) ] * 2 _____ = ______ .

3. Recirculators can be purchased or invented. However, the typical recirculator is an expensive item to obtain, costing thousands of pounds. Player characters will probably want to invent one for their steam engine.

A recirculator adds no weight to the engine, only cost. The formula for calculating the cost of the recirculator is as follows:

RECIRCULATOR (ER): _____ ES x 2 x 1000£ + 1000£ per

additional RECIRCULATOR (ER) POINT _____

4. Recirculators: Like most of the technology in Space: 1889, the recirculator can be researched. Research into recirculators is part of the Power Propulsion class. It takes 12 points of research dice to make a recirculator. The reliability die's target is 3. Recirculators with negative reliability are not allowed.

Example: The McPherson Recirculator:

The renowned inventor Colin McPherson was able to invent a recirculator by expending three dice in power production to obtain the 12 required. He then rolled one die for a 6, obtaining a recirculator with a reliability of 3. He placed the recirculator in a Rutledge flyer (see "Microhulls," Issue #4, TRMGS). In addition, he had the Rutledge Aerial Flyer Company add a 7.5 ton capacity water tank. The resulting specification changes were made:

Crew Weight: 7.5 tons

Endurance (Coal): 67 Days = 50/.75

(Water): 40 days = (7.5*4)/.75

Speed: 6 =4.5(6*.75)/.75

Altitude (without weapons or passengers): VH with 14 tons of equipment 1.1 = 50/20 * (EW+B+CW) + 21.5


Hull Size: 'C' 50 tons

Hull Cost: £4000

Engine Size: .75

Engine Cost: £750

Engine Weight: 7.5 tons

**** Water Tank. 7.5 tons

Coal Bunker: 5 tons

Crew Cost: £30

The following originally appeared in the letters column of TRMGS #6:
Dear Sir,

In issue 4 of Transactions in the "Cloud Captain's Corner" column was an article entitled "Micro Hulls". This was an excellent article, but I do have a question regarding the endurance figures that the author included for his Rutledge Mk I and Mk II flyers. In the Cloudships and Gunboats rules manual the formula given for endurance of a steam powered flyer is as follows:

Endurance in days = (10 x Bunker Size) / (Engine Size)

When using this formula the Bunker Size is is ten times its weight in tons. The formula would be best written as:

Endurance in days = (10 x Bunker Weight in tons) / (Engine Size)

Using the formula on the Mk I and Mk II Rutledge flyers gives us an endurance as figures as follows:

Mk I Endurance in days = 2 (Bunker Weight in tons) / .5 (Engine Size) or 2/.5 = 4

Mk II Endurance in days = 5 (Bunker Weight in tons) / .5 (Engine Size) or 5/.75 = 6.7

In the article the Mk I's endurance was given
as 40 days whilst the Mk II's was 67 days. Could you please tell me if the decimal points were omitted from the article or is it that I missed a special endurance rule for micro hulls.

Yours Faithfully,

Colin Nash

Aldershot, England.

Dear Colin;

When I submitted the article to Mark , I left the decimal points out of the final draft. The flyers were given a small endurance to force choices from players. I hoped that they would be forced to leave some of the equipment that adventures are want to carry. After all, the second kitchen sink is probably not necessary for the party to survive. The Mk I can achieve 20 days endurance and still lift 6.5 tons of equipment (8 more tons of bunker) and the Mk II 11.5 tons of cargo and achieve the same endurance. Thank you for bring this omission to our attention. I am now using your formula for calculating endurance on my flyer construction worksheet.

Steve Whitmore

Travel Editor

Posted Monday, 04-May-2009 19:50:56 EDT

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