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Old September 19th, 2018, 05:24 PM
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Default Cepheus Engine Vehicle Design

I understand from an email from John Watts of Gypsy Knights Games that there is a discussion on Facebook of the Cepheus Engine Vehicle Design Sequence. As I do not do Facebook, I thought that I would post some comments here.

This one is with respect to the Ocean Steamship listed on page 79 of the SRD. It is listed as Tech Level 4, so roughly the period on Earth from 1850 to 1900. It does specifically say "Steamship". The crew is listed at "5". The speed is given as 30 kilometers per hour, or 16.2 knots. Passengers I am not worried about.

An ocean steamship of that period is going to use coal for fuel, and be powered by steam boilers and reciprocation steam engines. The minimum size for ocean work is going to be about 250 to 300 feet, assuming that you are crossing the North Atlantic. Coal fuel and boilers mean that you have to have stokers for your boilers, and also to move coal from coal bunker to engine room. Boiler room are hot, 120 degree Fahrenheit was not at all unusual, and in the tropics, considerably hotter. You needed a large crew of stokers, as they did 4 hours on and 8 hours off. You are going to need oilers for the reciprocating engines, unless the ship had a forced lubrication system, which was just coming in around 1900. You need engineers to supervise the boiler and engine room, and they also stood watches. The speed of 16.2 knots, it is not specified of that is top or cruising speed, means multiple boiler rooms and engine rooms, which take more engineers and stokers and oilers. The following quote comes from the book Ocean Steamships, published in 1891, available for download at Project Gutenberg.

In the largest ships the engineer force numbers one hundred and seventy men, and in vessels with double engines these are divided into two crews with a double allowance of officers for duty. One engineer keeps a watch in each fire-room, and two are stationed on each engine-room platform. Watches depend upon the weather, but, as a rule, the force, officers and men, serves four out of every twelve hours. (Emphasis Added)
Now, that is just the engine room crew. That does not include the deck force or the bridge crew, all of which stand watches. Then you also have to feed the crew, so stewards and mess attendants, just for the crew. Passengers are another story entirely. Your first class passengers expect and indeed, demand, to be pampered, with outstanding food and nice cabins, along with activities while onboard ship.

Before you start thinking about a nautical vessel design sequence, I would strongly encourage you to check out some of the following books on and Project Gutenberg.

A PRACTICAL COURSE in WOODEN BOAT and SHIP BUILDING, published in 1918, showing in great detail how a wooden steamship for the U.S. Emergency Fleet was built, down to the tools required, and lots and lots of illustrations. You can find it at

Ocean Steamships, published in 1891, which has a range of articles covering the development of steamships until then, along with lots of illustrations and plan drawings. That can be found at Project Gutenberg.

TWO CENTURIES OF SHIPBUILDING BY THE SCOTTS AT GREENOCK, published in 1906. The Scotts at Greenock were one of England's leading shipbuilders for an extensive period of time. The book covers a wide range of ships, including warships, and again is well illustrated. That is also on Project Gutenberg.

If you need information on warship and submarine design, I can point you to those sources as well that are online, along with tapping my extensive library on nautical architecture. I also have a data base on U.S. civilian aircraft development from the 1920s to the Boeing 707, as well as military aircraft. I probably can help out with ground vehicle development as well.

I will admit to not being a fan of design sequences, but I am willing to help in any way I can to avoid the making of massive errors. I would strongly urge you to have three different sequences for ground, aerial, and nautical vehicles, as otherwise, you are going to have one that does not do a good job in any area.

I will try to post later some information on historical costs and building times. An example would be the World War 2 Liberty-class ship that typically took about 600,000 man-hours to build, some faster and some longer, and cost $2 Million. They were built on a mass production basis, and needed a crew of between 35 and 40 men.
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