Midst Toil And Tribulation – Snippet 27
The Delthak Works,
Barony of High Rock,
Kingdom of Old Charis,
Empire of Charis
“Well, it certainly looks impressive, Ehdwyrd,” Father Paityr Wylsynn said dryly. “Now if it just doesn’t blow up and kill us all.”
“I’m crushed, Father,” Ehdwyrd Howsmyn told the Charisian Empire’s intendant in a composed tone. “I’ve shared all of Doctor Mahklyn’s calculations with you, and Master Huntyr and Master Tairham do excellent work. Besides, we’ve had the smaller model running for over two months now.”
They stood side by side under the canopy of smoke rising from what had become known as the Delthak Works in order to differentiate it from the additional complexes Howsmyn had under construction on Lake Lymahn in the Barony of Green Field. Or, for that matter, the two he was expanding near Tellesberg and the entirely new complex going up outside Maikelberg in Chisholm’s Duchy of Eastshare. No other man had ever owned that much raw iron-making capacity, but the Delthak Works remained the biggest and most productive of them all. Indeed, no one before Ehdwyrd Howsmyn had ever even dreamed of such a huge, sprawling facility, and its output dwarfed that of any other ironworks in the history of the world.
Howsmyn didn’t really look the part of a world-shaking innovator. In fact, he looked remarkably ordinary and preposterously young for someone who’d accomplished so much, but there was something in his eyes — something like a bright, searching fire that glowed far back in their depths even when he smiled. It was always there, Wylsynn thought, but it glowed even brighter than usual today as he waved one hand at two of the men standing behind them.
The men in question smiled, although an unbiased observer might have noted that they looked rather more nervous than their employer. Not because they doubted the quality of their handiwork, but because for all of his open-mindedness and obviously friendly relationship with Howsmyn, Paityr Wylsynn was the Empire’s intendant, the man charged with ensuring that no incautious innovation transgressed the Proscriptions of Jwo-jeng. He’d signed the attestation for the device they were there to observe, yet that could always be subject to change, and blame (like certain other substances) flowed downhill. If the intendant should change his mind, or if the Church of Charis overruled him, the consequences for the artisans and mechanics who’d constructed the device they were there to test might be . . . unpleasant.
“I’m well aware of the quality of their craftsmanship, Ehdwyrd,” Wylsynn said now. “For that matter, I’ve already ridden in your infernal contraption of a boat. And I have considerable faith in Doctor Mahklyn’s numbers. But ‘considerable’ isn’t quite the same thing as absolute faith, especially when I can’t pretend I understand how all those equations and formulas actually work, and this ‘engine’ is an awful lot bigger than the one in your boat. If it should decide to explode, I expect the damage to be considerably more severe.”
“I suppose that’s not unreasonable, Father. I won’t pretend I really understand Rahzhyr’s numbers — or Doctor Vyrnyr’s — for that matter. But I do have faith in them, or I’d be standing far, far away at this moment. For that matter, the model tests for this one have worked just as well as for the single expansion engines, you know.”
“And weren’t you the one who told me once that the best scale for any test was twelve inches to the foot?” Wylsynn asked, arching one eyebrow and carefully avoiding words like “experiment,” which weren’t well thought of by the Inquisition.
“Which is exactly why you’re here today, Father.”
Wylsynn smiled at the man known as the ‘Ironmaster of Charis’, acknowledging his point, and both of them turned back towards the hulking mass of iron and steel they’d come to observe. It was certainly impressive looking. The open triangular frame of massive iron beams — at least twice Howsmyn’s height and almost as long as it was tall — was surmounted by a rectangular, box-like casing. Three steel rods, each thick as a man’s palm, descended from the overhead structure at staggered intervals. Each of them was actually composed of two rods, joined at a cross bearing, and their lower ends were connected to a crankshaft four inches in diameter. The entire affair was festooned with control rods, valves, and other esoteric bits and pieces which meant very little to the uninitiated.
Its very existence was enough to make anyone nervous. Before the Group of Four’s attempt to destroy the Kingdom of Charis, no one would ever have dreamed of testing the limits of the Proscriptions in such a way. Not that there was anything prohibited about it, of course. Father Paityr would never have been here if there’d been any chance of that! But every one of those watching men knew how unlikely the Grand Inquisitor in far-off Zion was to agree about that. All of them also had a very clear notion of what would happen to them if they ever fell into the Inquisition’s hands, and that was enough to make anyone nervous, even if he’d had no qualms at all about the work to which he’d set his hands and mind. And, of course, there was always the possibility that even Father Paityr could be wrong about those potentially demonic bits and pieces. So it wasn’t surprising, perhaps, that most of the onlookers looked just a bit anxious.
The man standing directly beside it, however, seemed remarkably impervious to any qualms anyone else might be feeling. He’d never taken his eye off of the bizarre structure for a moment — or not off of a sealed glass tube on one side of it, at any rate.
Stahlman Praigyr was a small, tough, weathered man with extraordinarily long arms and a nose which had obviously been broken more than once. When he smiled, he revealed two missing front teeth, as well, but he wasn’t smiling today. He stood mechanically wiping his hands again and again with an oily cloth, his cap pulled down over his eyes as he stared at the slowly climbing column of liquid in that tube, watching it like a cat-lizard poised outside a spider-rat burrow.
Now he straightened abruptly and looked over his shoulder.
“Pressure’s up, Sir,” he told Howsmyn, and the foundry owner looked at Zosh Huntyr, his master artificer.
“Aye, Sir,” Huntyr replied. “Nahrmahn?”
Nahrmahn Tidewater, Huntyr’s senior assistant, nodded and raised his right hand, waving the flag in it in a rapid circular movement. A bell clanged loudly, warning everyone in the vicinity — and especially the crew clustered around the base of the nearest blast furnace — that the test was about to begin.
“Anytime, Master Howsmyn,” Huntyr said then, and Howsmyn nodded to Praigyr.
“This is your special baby, Stahlman. Open her up.”
“Yes, Sir!” Praigyr’s huge grin displayed the gap where teeth once had been, and he reached for the gleaming brass wheel mounted on the end of a long, steel shaft. He spun it, still watching the gauge, and steam hissed as the throttle valve opened.
For a moment, nothing happened, but then — slowly, at first — the piston rods from the huge cylinders hidden in the rectangular box at the top of the frame began to move. They pivoted on the cross head bearings where they joined the connecting rods, whose lower ends were connected to the cranks, the offset portions of the crankshaft. And as they moved, they turned the massive crankshaft itself, much as a man might have turned a brace-and-bit to bore a hole through a ship’s timber. But this was no man turning a drill; this was the first full-scale, triple-expansion steam engine ever built on the planet of Safehold.
The piston rods moved faster as steam flowed from the high-pressure cylinder into the mid-pressure cylinder, expanding as it went. The mid-pressure cylinder’s piston head was much broader than the high-pressure cylinder’s, because the lower pressure steam needed a greater surface area to impart its energy. And once the mid-pressure cylinder had completed its stroke, it vented in turn to the low-pressure cylinder, the largest of them all. It was a noisy proposition, but the crankshaft turned faster and faster, and one of the workmen by the base of the blast furnace began waving a flag of his own in energetic circles.
I wonder if he treats his workers the same way Andrew Carnegie did?
It was established in the first book that Howsmyn treats his workers very well.
In the 1st book, one reason he was chosen (and not someone else) to receive some of Merlin’s knowledge is that he had progressive ideas on treating his workers fairly – think of Ford instead.
“…it’s output dwarfed that of any other ironworks in the history of the world.”
Ok, how to they use it to maintain their advantages? Gotta be able to use all that iron in effective ways-and somebody or several somebodies have to pay you for it… very interesting.
Well, they’ve already talked about making iron ships. At the very least they can start with basic up-armored sailing ships and then progress to something like the Merrimack/Virginia ironclads. Even creating iron-framed but with wooden hulls would take a lot of iron – more than most other nations on Safehold can afford. And none of the other nations can create many such ships, or do that quickly.
Does the EoC have enough natural resources to expand production into iron ships or iron-clad wooden ships?
Both Charis and Chisholm are the size of small continents. And Emerald, Corisande, Zebediah and Tarot aren’t exactly small. Iron ore is very common, and not just on our own planet. Given the fact that this ore has been mined for less than thousand years there should be plenty, and pretty easy to access as well. You should probably be even able to find plenty of sources for open-pit mining (the easiest and safest method), although if you want it in a specific location you may have to resort to other methods, eg using deep shafts.
Housmyn has managed very large economies of scale, lowering the price of both iron and steel for all kinds of manufacturing. This will lower/has lowered the cost of _tools_, which will ripple favorably through Charis’ economy as it raises productivity. Charis is in the early stages of a long deflation in the cost of material goods, much like Britain went through in its Industrial Revolution, and this will favorably improve its capacity to export every year for decades to come. When steel is so cheap (and so reliable) that steam engines don’t cost a fortune just in materials, and ships hulls can be economically made from them, then Charis really will own the world.
Peter S wrote: “favorably improve its capacity to export every year for decades to come”
Well, yes, it will. Except… Right now, it looks like they don’t have anyone to buy their goods. Siddarmark is in the middle of a nasty civil war, Silkiah is probably too scared to continue buying from them and everyone else is being nicely obedient to the Group of Four.
Hopefully, this will change soon, but right now it looks bad.
Siddermark needs all the goods it can buy with the money that Charis will lend it. If the pro-reform faction win the war, they will be an excellent debtor. If they loose, Charis will have other things to worry about.
I suspect the Church on the mainland (as has been intimated in the books, will also find it as hard as Napoleon did to prevent people from buying cheap, high quality goods from the dastardly maritime power.
Why do you think that Siddarmark’s treasury is empty?
Not initially, but war is expensive and Siddermark’s economy will have to have been stuffed by the fighting (just look what’s done to their agriculture) and thus they will have to borrow from Charis to prosecute the war when their pre-war reserves run dry (if they haven’t already)
The real beginning of the Safehold industrial revolution ?
You could say it had already started, powered by water driven machinery. Remember the water “accumulators” Howsmyn builds at his foundry in “How firm a foundation”. Though steam is a huge leap forward, of course.
So, it begins. With the steam engin mass production and transport is a go. At this point the disparity in population begins to lessen in importence. Until the mainland finds out how the empire is producing everything.
mmm…. i didn’t know what a triple-expansion steam engine was. I just discovered it was applied in warship technology in the 19th / 20 th centuries on Earth.
I guess the empire navy is going to know a big “upgrade”…
So Howsmyn has a steam-powered boat. Now THAT has possibilities…
I foresee some future passenger leaning over the prow of a steamship, his sweetie in his arms, proclaiming “I’m the king of Safehold!”
Best stay clear of places like “Ice Floe Strait” though. ;)
A note to song writers everywhere on Safehold: If you have ANY humanity, for the love of Langhorne PLEASE don’t write that song!
Even she who sung it, and she who it was about have recently agreed with you.
I wonder what Safehold will look like when the Archangels wake up (in about 19-20 years IIRC).
on an unrelated note, I wonder when David Weber will begin to self-publish. For fiction, ebook is something like 40% of the market already (and growing at a high pace). Terry Goodkind just self-published an ebook and he has made around $50,000- $60,000 in the first 10 days. He gets to keep almost 70% of the ebook price ($8.99). 10,000 sold = $60,000 in royalties.
I would guess that it would happen in the next 1-2 years for David Weber.
Only 70% Why so low with a self-publish?
TenofSwords asked: “Only 70% Why so low with a self-publish?”
Well, I’m not an expert, but I have a few theories.
1. Even the best author needs someone to spell-check and look for continuity errors. That person will want to be paid. And, no, asking your mother/wife/friend to do it for free is not a good idea. Parents/spouses/friends are unlikely to be harsh enough critics.
2. An fulltime author’s job is to write books, not to set up and maintain a website with a functioning shopping cart. Much better to let someone else deal with those problems. Of course, that someone else will also want to be paid.
3. Uhhh. I’m sure someone else can come up with a third reason.
Amazon pays 70%. But the author, as I understand it, has to do the conversion from the word processor to Kindle format.
Also note that credit card processing involves many things, first of which is proving to the credit card companies that you are a real business.
Finally, remember that the author does not get anything close to 50% royalties from most publishers, even on ebooks. But the advance is non-refundable and sure comes in handy I guess.
Mr. Weber already has a store attached to his web site which already takes credit cards, so half of your roadblocks are already passed.
Weber is surely doing just fine with the system he works under now. Publishing houses do a lot for authors, and once you reach the point where they are bidding for you rather than you begging them, why would you want to self-publish?
There are certainly advantages, but an author typically sees less than 30% in royalties. A very successful author may be able to negotiate more, but it isn’t going to be anything like 70%.
No doubt, and I have no intention of debating *against* the self-publishing industry trend, but it may not be worth MWW’s time: he may well be happy and comfortable with his current income level. Getting more may require that he do more, and personally, I think he’s stretched too thin writing Honorverse and Safehold.
Oh certainly. I wasn’t saying that Weber should self publish. I like Baen as a publisher, but not so keen on TOR (due to their ridiculous Ebook pricing schemes) but so long as he stays away from Titan, I’m ok.
I’ve always wondered how a steam driven, iron hulled ship like HMS Warrior would deal with a traditional ship of the line.
I hadn’t anticipated the steam ship would have the performance advantage that a triple expansion steam engine offers.
Thirsk may have a depressing encounter ahead of him.
Probably shockingly easily. Look at the hack job CSS Virginia (built from the remains of USS Merrimack) and how it rampaged through the Union fleet on the first day of the Battle of Hampton Roads. Monitor didn’t show up until the night between 8 March 1862 and 9 March and only then was the Union force able to stave off the Virginia.
They already have the equivalent of the Paixhans (and by extension, the Dahlgren) guns that turned naval warfare with wooden ships here on Terra into a horrific exercise in mass slaughter for the side that didn’t have them and into mass attrition warfare if both sides did. Those weapons literally ended the age of wooden hulls by forcing navies to adopt iron hulls or be smashed like so much kindling.
What’s going to be a real shock for the CoGA is that even if they somehow deploy more of the “heretic-style” shell-firing cannon against the incipient ironclads, they’re going to find out what everyone discovered at the Battle of Lissa (1866, Terra) – shells of that technology level don’t do crap to ironclads. Mostly it just annoys the occupants. Even ramming an ironclad with a wooden ship out of desperation won’t help – unless you have some sort of ram mounted (and I haven’t seen any textev of the Safehold galleon-types mounting rams that I can recall) the end result is unsurprisingly similar to running your wooden ship into a big rocky shoal at sea. It will take the development of nitroglycerin/nitrocellulose based ‘smokeless powder’ and the armor piercing shell (something much in advance of non-EoC Safehold’s apparent level of metallurgical knowledge and tech base) to threaten ironclads. I don’t see the CoGA coming up with that on their own any time soon.
As for steam, I wouldn’t be too worried about the CoGA getting that tech working any time soon. As any number of Terran governments/militaries/individuals found out, even having a complete ‘captured’ or purchased steam engine there to duplicate isn’t enough to come up with your own safe (or at least safer) steam technologies. Many, many, many, many boiler explosions were the result of people thinking it was sufficient. It is considerably more difficult than simply casting cannon or adapting older cannon foundry tech – again, as was seen here on Terra. Even if the CoGA were handed complete plans tomorrow and an exemplar engine, they’re looking at *years* of trial and error with materials, material manufacture and assembly techniques before they can have a safe and reliable model. Remember, Merlin points out to Cayleb in the last book that with their access to the Terran knowledge base, the EoC won’t have to spend all those years messing around trying (and failing) to make the a safe, reliable and working proposition. The CoGA will have no choice but to take the longer road because they don’t have any directly applicable older tech to extrapolate from.
Oh the Warrior! I visited the dockyards, went on HMS Victory (personal invitation to the Captain from a mutual friend!), visited the Mary Rose, saw the Jervis Bay VC, then said to SWMBO “It’s sad that the Warrior was scrapped & can’t be here”, and she said “What’s that then?”. My reference books were written just before the Warrior was rescued from the breakers at the final moment. Bit like winning the Lottery to see her. I know how she would have dealt with a traditional ship of the line, short and brutish was the phrase used to describe it at the time. As I type this I look at a poster of her on my home office wall.
I like the way Mr. Weber has created a world that doesn’t exactly match ours. Their current artillery, smoothbores firing explosive shells, is in our 1860s. But triple expansion engines with propeller screws are 1895-1900 technology. Let’s see what pressure their boilers can handle.
Will they match these engines with an iron hull or a wooden one ?. Will it have steel or iron armor ?.
Double expansion engines date from 1805 so timeline wise this is a small step (although going from casting cannon to casting and machining precision cylinders required to make an efficient steam engine is a significant step, early Watt engines had cylinder clearances measured in single digit fractions of an inch) .
A bigger step would be a steam turbine engine which would definitely require more advanced technology.
Compressed air torpedoes would also be interesting (and a technically feasible development from the small model engines).
Having boilers able to make steam at the pressures and volumes required to make triple expansion engines practical requires steel (as opposed to copper or cast iron) pipework of very good quality and significant volume, which could lead on to the next obvious step – ammonia synthesis, which breaches the bottle neck between naturally occurring nitrates and explosives – this was one of the prompts for the first world war’s extensive use of explosives.
One of the limits on the deployment of gunpowder was the availability of manure as a source of sodium and potassium nitrate as this had to be diverted from fertilizing fields.
Oh, excellent point about ammonia synthesis! But that needs hydrogen, which is generally produced from methane (using a nicket catalyst), and I don’t recall any mention of natural gas drilling.
Oh, D’oh! They’re already processing huge quantities of manure for nitrates; getting methane from it shouldn’t be hard. And while there’s subtlety in the best catalysts, a simple magnetite one will work fine.
Fortunately, Charis already has a a well-developed mining industry and now, a large empire to find nickel ore in.
But what I wonder is what pretext they’re going to give for inventing that complicated process. (And I haven’t even talked the Ostwald process for turning the ammonia into nitric acid for explosives manufacture!) Do they even know enough chemistry to understand the various forms of the element nitrogen?
The reaction vessel designs can easily be explained as a byproduct of research into the safety of lightweight gun barrels, an obvious military goal.
I had a look at Mr. Weber’s website and it seems the boilers work at 260 psi, i.e. a 1900 level of efficiency. According to Wikipedia, the turbine-powered Dreadnought was equipped with boilers operating at 250 psi .
Do you know of double expansion engines operational in 1805 ?. I have found no reference. According to my Google search, Warrior (1860) had a single expansion engine and its boilers operated at 20 psi.
There was a dispute between the English and the continentals as to the relative merits of low and high pressure steam engines. The English, as witness Warrior, believed that low pressure steam engines were good, and high pressure was pointless.
The early ammonia synthesis reactors were gun barrels. The initial catalysts used were uranium and iron (uranium cost too much and so iron was more common in the production version (nickel is more energy efficent than iron and uranium is better than either)).
As for a source of hydrogen town gas (a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide) or coke oven gas would work. Being a steel works I suspect the boilers may already be partially fired on coke gas.
Ammonia synthesis also requires cryogenics, specifically to cool down the gases enough to purify the hydrogen so that other compounds don’t poison the reaction. The same is true for the nitrogen. Oxygen has to be removed or it will kill the reaction, which is already somewhat marginal at best. The Haber-Bosch process also requires that the output be processed to extract the ammonia and return the remaining hydrogen and oxygen to the reactor.
The Ostwald Process is just nasty, requiring catalysts that get slowly consumed/contaminated, and the output gas is poisonous and highly reactive, so it needs to be quickly combined with water.
If they have an equivalent site of Sodium Nitrate that the Brits had access to during WW I, it would be better in the short term for Charis to use it. Sulfuric acid can be produced, IIRC, by burning sulfur and passing the gasses over a hot iron catalyst. That can be used both to make nitric acid and to purify it. From that, all sorts of military chemistry is possible.
I wonder if when the war is over, assuming Howsmyn survives, he will create a series of prizes for outstanding works in areas such as literature, chemistry, …
Hydrogen and nitrogen, not oxygen.
Cryo is required for storage, the hydrogen and nitrogen are recycled for efficency as the process equilibrium at operating conditions leaves a lot behind. At the typical pressures in the Haber process dropping the temperature to ambient is enough to liquify ammonia but scrubbing the CO2 is necessary, to avoid making ammonium carbonate, this is possible using amine systems at moderate temperatures. The whole process is nasty but removes a major limitation to the mass use of explosives.
You also need a cryo plant to separate the nitrogen from oxygen in air, and the hydrogen from CO and CO2.
If I am not mistaken, Ford was the last of the big 3 to come to terms with the unions. Henry was actually censored for the “Battle of the Overpass” where union organizers were violently discouraged and evicted from Ford properties. Harry Bennett was the leader of Ford security. Henry hated unions. He did treat his people well, first to offer a $5.oo day, unheard of at the time, kept extremely high cleanliness standards. Interesting that most of the things the unions wanted Ford workers already had.
No one is perfect.
he drew the line at who made the decisions, his were relatively benevolent but only Henry made them
Were you saying “no one is perfect” because he didn’t immediately allow unions–or because he allowed himself to be bullied into them?
Just curious, because it would seem that recent history has shown us which is the correct answer.
Perhaps because of his anti-semitism?
This isn’t the place to discuss Henry Ford.
AI was actually wondering how it applied to the book. I suppose it’s irrellevant whether unions might ever enter safehold, but my point was that they appeared in Ford’s plants despite the fact that he treated his workers well.
I just don’t know if the concept of a “union” would ever appear to Safeholdians. Not least, because once loosed of the restrictions of the Proscriptions are loosed, technology will be making quantum leaps forward.
And I am babbling now, and time for bed…G’nite!
When somebody says something about Ford being “anti-semitist”, we’ve gone far from “Safehold”. [Wink]
A steam-powered boat is very useful. A catamaran could transport more food and would be faster, with cannonÂ´s it would be very impressive.
Catamarans are fast but have very low displacement for the amount of materiel used to build the hull. That equates out to very small amounts of volume for engine rooms and holds, and to small cargo capacity. Since catamarans don’t have much below-waterline volume (and that’s where you need to put magazines and engine rooms in a warship), they are poor designs for use in slug-it-out battles.
Still, would make excellent couriers and if armed with longer ranged cannon, could easily destroy/capture other individual vessels e.g. commerce raiding…
Definitely an interesting idea for a naval empire.
Seeing Father Paityr’s name, and applauding the faster pace of this book’s plot, I’m wondering if Fr. P. and Vicar Duchairn are going soon going to ally with one another in the Temple Lands: Howyrd Wylsynn gave “something” to Duchairn just before Phandys gave Howyrd the coup de grace; Phandys seems to be Duchairn’s hidden protector; and only Fr. Paityr’s knowledge of The Key, however unclear its activation may be, and as the last Wylsynn, will be necessary for controlling The Key as either an offensive or defensive system.
Duchairn’s going to advance his opposition to the Group of Four’s campaign and, other than martyrdom, teaming up to operate The Key might be one plan.
I think Duchairn would be appalled by Howsmyn’s works.
He may have a list of Wynstyn’s supporters, because I can’t think of anything else that might have been passed to him. Major Phandy was, IMHO, working for Wynstyn to make sure he was not taken alive. Now, he is highly regarded and so under less suspicion. And I suspect that some members of the guard could meet under the appearance of helping out in the hostels and soup kitchens without coming under suspicion.
If I were going to set something up, I might consider doing it on God’s day, if I could arrange for my people to be guarding the conclave. I wonder if the doors to the Temple can be sealed from the inside? Now, if contact between Duchairn and some of Ms. Parson’s could be made, shipping into Zion a hundred or so Cap-and-Ball revolvers might be amusing. Probably a bad idea, considering the implications, but …
Not exactly applying to steam, but in the area of weapons improvement, I was recently rereading How Firm a Foundation and they are apparently still using simple manually lit fuse grenades (mentioned in the section about the terror attacks). However, earlier (pg 101) they mentioned they were going to switch to a friction pull igniter system for their artillery. If you take one of those igniters, add a 4 second fuse, put them in a 6 in. long 1 in. dia. wooden dowel thats threaded on both ends, the add a screw cap over the igniter end and a small cast iron shell tho the other, you have a WW1/2 german potatoe smasher grenade.
Wonder how long it will take them to figure that out…?