1635: The Eastern Front — Snippet 36

1635: The Eastern Front — Snippet 36

Lieutenant Krenz was looking slightly less unhappy. “Well, at least he knows enough to anchor our flank on the river. Now if we could just get off these damned horses.”

Jeff shared Eric’s opinion on both issues. Especially getting off the horses. Having to ride one was the biggest disadvantage he’d found so far to being an officer, and he was still pretty disgruntled over the issue. He was supposed to be an infantry officer. He’d made quite sure of that after he returned from Amsterdam. I want an infantry assignment, he’d specified — and he had been assured he’d receive one.

Technically, they hadn’t lied. He had been assigned to the infantry. What Jeff hadn’t considered—never even crossed his mind, the notion was so absurd — was that in this day and age it was expected that all officers had to be mounted.

Laundry officer? Officer in charge of day care for the camp follower kiddies? Didn’t matter. Up you go, buddy.

There was no logic to it. None whatsoever. He had to stay with his troops, didn’t he? For Pete’s sake, he was the battalion’s commander. Of course he had to stay with his troops. They were infantry, no? I-N-F-A-N-T-R-Y. That meant they walked into battle. Not rode. Walked. Except for their officers. They had to ride, whether they wanted to or not.

This was one of the disadvantages of being in the seventeenth century that was a lot harder to shrug off than the quality of the toilet paper or (more often) total absence thereof. And that was nothing to shrug off lightly.

“He must be listening to his staff officers,” Krenz went on.

Jeff’s horse did one of those incomprehensible little jiggly things that horses so often did. Itchy hoofs? Bad hair day? Gelding equivalent of that time of the month? Who knew? By definition, they were dumb animals. What person in his right mind would plant himself on top of one of these huge beasts and place himself at the mercy of a brain which, relative to body mass, probably wasn’t much of a step up from a chipmunk?

Would you ride a chipmunk?

The horse did it again. “I can’t wait for the battle to start,” Jeff groused.

“Me neither,” agreed Krenz fervently. “Finally be able to get off these damn things.”

A few seconds went by. They grinned simultaneously.

“You realize how insane that is?” asked Eric.

Jeff nodded. “War is hell.”

****

None of those thoughts went through Thorsten Engler’s mind. He’d been a good horseman as a farmer. Now that he’d been in the army for almost a year and half, all of which time he’d spent in the flying artillery, his horsemanship rivaled that of most cavalrymen.

That aside, he shared some of Jeff and Eric’s relief at seeing the division angling toward the Pleisse. Obviously, their commander Stearns had either had the good sense to anchor his flank against the only significant natural feature in the area or the good sense to listen to one of his staff officers.

Some of the relief, not all. Unlike Higgins and Krenz, Thorsten and the other flying artillery unit commanders had been made privy to Torstensson’s plan. They pretty much had to be, given that they’d play the critical role of fending off or at least blunting the cavalry charge that was sure to be the Saxons’ initial response. So Engler knew that, anchored on the Pleisse or not, the enemy cavalry was almost certainly going to contest the field — and once that happened, the fact that some infantry battalion was happily nestled against the river wasn’t going to do Thorsten and his men much good at all.

In the month of July in the year 1635, cavalry was still the principal offensive arm in a battle. That would change, and pretty rapidly, as the impact of the new rifled muskets spread — and it would certainly change once the new French breechloaders became common. At that point, cavalry charges in a battle would simply become too dangerous to the cavalrymen. The role of cavalry would shift to what it had been during the American civil war, reconnaissance and raiding enemy supply lines. From then on until the introduction of tanks, it would be the infantry and artillery that would be the offensive arms.

In the world the up-timers had come from, that transition had taken three-quarters of a century. In this one, Thorsten didn’t think it would even take a decade. Tanks were coming, and probably soon. Thorsten knew that there were at least four newly-formed companies trying to develop the war machines. That was in the USE alone. He was pretty sure the French and Austrians — certainly the Netherlanders — were already developing their own.

But from what he’d been told by a friend who was knowledgeable about technical matters, there was still the great obstacle of the engines. The hybrid technology produced by the Ring of Fire was, like many hybrids, often a peculiar thing. By now, everyone with any scientific or technical knowledge understood the basic principles of the internal combustion engine. The problem that remained was an engineering one. For a variety of reasons, the broad technical capabilities that a large internal engine industry required didn’t exist yet. Not to mention that there was a shortage of petroleum.

So, willy-nilly, people had turned to steam technology. In this universe, the first tanks that lumbered into a battlefield would most likely be driven by steam engines.

Steam technology posed its own challenges, but ones that could be met more easily. And that in turn introduced another wrinkle into technological development, which was that the steam technology being introduced into the seventeenth century in this universe was not the primitive steam technology that had first come into existence in the up-timers’ world. These new steam engines, even when they were modeled on nineteenth century designs, were still based on the technology that had been developed — often by hobbyists, since steam had been relegated to a secondary status — by the end of the twentieth century. Especially since, as chance would have it, several of Grantville’s residents had been accomplished and experienced steam enthusiasts.

So who could say? Once that steam technology was established as the dominant engine technology, it might retain that status for a long time. There had been a lot of accidental and secondary factors that had produced the dominance of internal combustion engines in that other universe. They might never really come into play in this one.

That sort of uneven and combined development had become quite common. Thorsten’s friend had told him that a similar situation existed with computer technology. Many down-timers now understood the basic principles of cybernetics. The friend himself, born in the year 1602, was one of them. But recreating the electronic industry the up-timers had relied on for the purpose was simply impossible in the here and now, and would be for some time to come.

Here, his friend had spent half an hour enlightening Thorsten — and Caroline Platzer, who understood no more than he did — on the subtleties of something called “semiconductors.” Apparently, the problem of producing those would be enough in itself to stymie the development of up-time-style cybernetics for a long time to come.

But there was an alternative, one which the up-timers themselves had never developed very far because by the time they began creating computers their electronic capabilities had been quite advanced. The alternative was called “fluidics,” and was based on using the flow of liquids instead of electrons — typically water, but it could be air and apparently the ideal fluid would be mercury or something similar.

That technology was well within existing seventeenth-century techniques. Already, in fact, there was a little boom developing in Venetian glass manufacturing to provide some of the components needed for fluidics-based computers.

What Thorsten’s friend had found most fascinating was that there was no telling where these developments would lead in the long run. Any industry, once established and widely spread, creates an automatic inertia in favor of continuing it. That same inertia handicaps its potential rivals. In the world the up-timers came from, that dynamic had entrenched internal combustion engines and electronic computers. But in this one, that might not be true. There were advantages to steam and fluidics, after all, which had never really been exploited in the universe across the Ring of Fire — but might be in this one.

Across the field, Thorsten could see Saxon cavalry coming forward. It looked as if Torstensson’s ploy was going to work.

It occurred to him that this was not the best time to ruminate on possible alternative technologies. For the here and now, cavalry was still the principal offensive arm in a battle, as the Saxons were about to try to demonstrate again — and it was Thorsten’s job to stop them.

****

“Here we go,” said Lukasz Opalinski. He and his Polish hussars had been ordered to join the Saxon cavalry in their charge against the over-extended right wing of the enemy’s army. That would be the Third Division, commanded by the USE’s former prime minister.

“The Saxons claim he doesn’t know what he’s doing,” said Lubomir Adamczyk. He sounded more doubtful than hopeful. “Stearns, I mean.”

But there was no time to talk any further. The charge was starting. Slightly more than four thousand Saxon horsemen would be hammering that enemy right wing within not much more than a minute. Along with two hundred Polish hussars.

Lukasz wasn’t all that hopeful himself. It might well be true that the enemy general didn’t know what to do. But he didn’t really need to know. Stearns just needed to listen to his staff officers, because they would know.

Apparently, he was doing so. To Opalinski, the speed and precision with which the infantry units of the Third Division were moving to anchor themselves on the Pleisse didn’t look like the result of confused and amateur orders. Not in the least.

So be it. What remained was simple. As dangerous as it might be, there was nothing in the world quite as exhilarating — to a Polish hussar, anyway –as a cavalry charge.

They were into a canter now. Next to him, Adamczyk started whooping.

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33 Responses to 1635: The Eastern Front — Snippet 36

  1. jeff bybee says:

    looking forward to the next instalment sure wish Mr flint would/could produce a new novel each month. am looking forward to october double so , septembor for s m stirlings next dies the fires book and thejn october for eastern front and the also for ” thanks for the mamerys a colection of vampire short stories . the last one strip mauled about werewolfs was great
    thankyou and I hope you live and write to 100 plus

  2. frederic says:

    Steam engine and fluidic computer dominant even when internal combustion and electronics are available?

    I could believe the former, except for cases where high fuel energy density is a premium, like aicrafts, but I have much more doubts for the later.

    Yes, fluidic computers has some advantages, mostly, IMHO, in the fact that it is analog rather than digital, which can be a significant advantage for some type of computations, – however, note that electronics analog computing also exists and is not difficult to produce when you have electronics. Nonetheless, the disadvantages of fluidic computig are such (when electronics are devellopped enough) that I doubt it will continue as anything other than niche, if that, when electronics become widespread – not tomorrow as electronics presuppose a sophisticated chemistry industry which will take long to establish as well as other technologies not yet available -. WHat could happen if fluidic computing has been devellopped in the meanwhile is that analog electronic computing would dominate digital electronic one. Which cwould indeed be an interesting twist.

  3. Scrib says:

    Damn, frederic said it faster and better than me. I’ll just add that in Europe steam engines may indeed be dominant for land vehicles until electric cars simply because the distances are so much less than in NA, China, etc. In fact, developing the steam engine may indeed lead to an earlier adaptation of the electric car (as electric compares compares better to steam than to petroleum), although it presupposes that a viable storage medium is developed. And that the factors that had railroads replace steam locomotives with diesel-electric don’t come into play. Maybe steam-electric?

    All that said, this is the first time that I really got the feeling of how much this universe is turning steampunk, although I now realize clues for it all were around in earlier books.

  4. jk says:

    Fluidic computers? What about mechanical computers? The Russians used them on nuclear bombers. A fluidic computer would necessarily be analog, while a gear-mechanical computer would be a digital computer

    Charles Babbage and all that (Steampunk go!)

    There should be some mechanical desk calculators rotting in some attic in Grantville, or ancient cash registers that were lever driven, to provide the basis of mechanical computing

    Then there’s all these weaving machines that people are building, and punch cards that drove them according to the books in the library…

  5. Jason says:

    There was a three factors that led to the domination of the internal combustion engine. 1. The Big oil strikes in Texas which made oil vastly cheaper, two better efficient Engine, and three the development of the electric starter.

  6. Phillip Chesson says:

    Don’t know how well steam will do for small vehicles. As a friend said during one of the oil crises, “If you want to know how much energy is in a gallon of gasoline, try pushing your car 20 miles!”

  7. Sounour says:

    @4: I believe the mechanical calculators are beeing produced by HSMC or possibly HDG. I don’t remember which it was, but I remember reading about them in some Gazette story. According to that they work fine, but are too expensive to become anything but a luxury item because of the sophistication of the parts.

  8. Phillip Chesson says:

    Given the utility of calculators for all activities, and hence large demand for them, one would expect that the cost of calculators to fall rapidly, particularly when some enterprising soul discovers how to introduce economies of scale in their manufacture!

  9. Gene says:

    The first task given to computers was artillery calculations. Any type of computers would be a great boon to the accuracy of the iron clads and artillery divisions.
    Ofcourse we also have code breaking but that could better be done with the few uptime systems they won’t move out of grantville. Hmmm…how have codes changed given that most enemies by now know that computers can easily crack them a la enigma.

  10. Mike S says:

    Keep in mind that the fire control computers used by the major navies (an example is the Rangekeeper Mark VIII of the USN) from 1913 well into the 1960s were mechanical with manual and electric direct input of variables and data and mechanical and electric outputs to the turrets. Take one look at the calculations required for the ballistic data and firing solution and you’ll realize just how powerful these devices could be. The problem was flexibility as gears could not be adjusted or changed for multiple data sets, which the electric-mechanical computer introduced by the USN in 1937 could.

  11. Phillip Chesson says:

    You are absolutely correct. The first (completely) digital fire control system was not developed until the 70’s. That would be the Mark 86, used to control the navy’s five inch (54 caliber) guns deployed on certain Guided Missile cruisers and, especially, on the large Spruance destroyer class. Fire control previous to this depended heavily on analog computation (gears and cams and such.) As it turns out, the calculation part of it really isn’t the rub, it was the sensor suite! Before radar ranging (US Navy in WWII) the primary ranging system was optical using paralax to determine range to the target. The accuracy (and dynamic range) of an optical ranging system is primarily a function of its baseline, which in a ship means the ship’s length. Battleships being longer than destroyers had better ranging, but they also fired longer range guns.

    Analog computation takes many forms, and having our “out of time” protagonists pursue it is very interesting.

  12. dave o says:

    There were two things which I found irritating about this snippet: higgins and krenz on horses and fluidics computers. I suppose that the horsey griping can be excused on the grounds that people really do start thinking of such stuff while waiting for the ball to start. The fluidics thing is a lot more irritating. Flint would be a lot more plausible if he had people work on 19th and early 20th century technology and stopped trying to recreate 2010 in 1632. I doubt that fluidics could be used for anything more complicated than a 4 function calculator. Unless the damned thing was bigger than a barn.
    I saw the first computer at U of P, and the room it occupied. Other have said it first: mechanical is the way to go.
    I worked on every sort of calculating devise from a hundred key hand crank adding machine to a PC in my career as an auditor. The transition took about 40 years.

    By the way, no one has mentioned that oil would be a better fuel for steam powered vehicles than coal. Unless every one has a fireman to shovel the coal.

  13. Michael says:

    I can’t imagine either steam or fluidic computers hanging on any longer than required to develop internal combustion and semiconductors. SCs might have a totally different design paradigm, but you just can’t beat the energy of gasoline, and internal combustion isn’t nearly as difficult an engineering horizon to reach as electronics.

    Military dominance will drive everything, of course, just like it always has for all of human history. an ICE will drive a lot more armor, gun, and ammo than a steam engine. It doesn’t matter how advanced steam starts off in 1635, an ICE powered tank will always beat a steam tank on the battlefield due to the energy differential, so gas will eventually dominate.

    It is a great mental exercise to wonder how things will wind up. A lot of our technology is driven by pure efficiency, but it’s also amazing how much of it was totally arbitrary based on the view of the day. If you know the whole roadmap, what looks ridiculous to those who are new to the whole game and don’t have any preconceptions?

  14. Mike S says:

    The reason that brigade, regimental and battalion commanders were mounted was so that they could see what was happening and do something about it. Even when the battalion or regimental commander was dismounted, the regimental or battalion major or adjutant remained mounted to carry the commander’s orders. First, there’s not much to see walking in front or behind a formation, either a column or a line. Second, once the firing starts, the area’s going to be covered in smoke. If the commander isn’t mounted, he cannot see where his people and where the enemy is. A commander can command a veteran or well trained battalion/regiment through drum or bugle. But sometimes he has to get personally involved in the management of his command. Try running down a line of 400 to 1000 men in two ranks. A horse just gets you there quicker. That’s why battalion and regimental commanders or their adjutants remained mounted into WW1. Command and control technology did not exist for the commander to do otherwise.

  15. robert says:

    It is very hard to get one’s head around the electric power issues. There are two main components involved in Electric Power: 1. generation, and 2. distribution. The main means of generating electricity are steam powered-turbines and hydro-powered turbines. Just the requirements for building any kind of useful turbine and machining turbine blades is way beyond the means of this 17th century technology. They are still in the wooden water wheel era. As for distribution, who will manufacture the miles and miles of cabling required, the transformers and even the ceramic porcelain parts required.

    It would be nice to think of bypassing the internal combustion engine and going directly to electric vehicles. Forget it.

    As much as I hate the idea, it looks like the Simpson expedition to Texas is really on. Oil for the navy–Teapot Dome anyone?

  16. Richard Young says:

    No one has mentioned what fluidics would do to size. Surface tension would keep a fluidic computer from shrinking below a certain size. The mercury would stick to the sides of the tubes if you made them real small.

    Mechanical computers are possible but they are so SLOOOOW you could die waiting for a calculation to finish. Many years ago (1962) I had to use a Smith-Corona Frident mechanical calculator. It was the size of a large electric typewriter – as big as the case of a desktop computer. It could add, subtract, multiply, divide, and do square roots. The input was through a 10 by 10 matrix of keys and the output was displayed in an odometer like rotating display. It cost $1500 in 1960 dollars multiply that by 8 to get the cost in today’s dollars. I can remember some calculations taking up to five minutes to finish. It was driven by electric motors.

    An electronic tube computer would be much more practical and easier to build. It would be digital computers. One of my teachers had worked for the Army Material Supply command in Detroit. It had 16 K bytes of memory and took up about an acre of warehouse space. It had been designed to work with come of the memory missing because tubes were always burning out.

    None of these early computers would be what you could call a PC. No flexible operating system. No video screen. Perhaps not even a keyboard or a disk. Some of the early computers that I worked on had ASR teletypes. That is like an electric typewriter with a continuous roll of paper going through it. The computer gave you a prompt “>>” and you would type in a simple short command.

    Sometimes computers were loaded through rolls of paper tape or even through switches.

    Unless you are my age (67) or older you have NO idea just how bad these old computers were. Video terminals didn’t become common until the mid 1970s. After the tubes came computers built with discrete transistors and components mounted on circuit boards. Then small integrated circuits on chips, then the circuits on the chips got denser and denser until we are where we are today. The first electronic calculators came out about 1973, the first PC came out in the late 1970, and the first Microsoft PC came out in 1981 running MS-DOS.

  17. Phillip Chesson says:

    Rather than futzing around with klugy calculators, they just need to attend a remedial math class. Print logarithm tables for use in the calculations. Learn the calculation shortcuts developed in the pre-calculator era. As the best known example: for square roots use

    Xn+1=(Xn*Xn+c)/{2Xn)

    from Newton’s method (not born yet.) A max of four iterations will do the trick! People did astronomical calculations without calculators or computers!

  18. Doug Lampert says:

    False. The people who historically BUILT and PURCHASED klugy mechanical calculators like those described by Richard Young knew all those tricks, and had plenty of 20 page long tables of logrithms already printed.

    Strangely they were still willing to pay enough to cover several months salary for a human calculator to buy a mechanical calculator.

  19. Jason says:

    Well I was looking up at steam used in military technology and found that in 1918 the US Army Corps of Engineers built a tank based on the British Mark I that was Steam powered. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steam_tank

    Now the Steam Tank was Faster and had more power than the British Tank but because only the prototype was built before the war ended we have no info in what its operational Range was. But comparing say the Model T, to the Stanley Steamer Motor Car it will be A LOT less. ALso it was tested in some and as it was pointed out the explosive properties of a round into the boiler.

    So I can see them on the set piece battlefield until petroleum gets much cheaper which wont be happening for awhile I mean the largest potential stocks of petroleum in Europe is Ploesti and at this time its in Wallachia which is essentially a Ottoman Vassal State. Also I saw some people getting mad about this technology versus that and how quickly it can be designed.

    Let me also point out there is a vast difference between knowing the principles of something and being able to engineer it. We didn’t do fluidic computer because wire were much better so they don’t have the design ques that they would trying to the way up time did. So they have to do all the design from scratch that can take decades of research. Just because something is possible doesn’t mean it going to be seen the next book. Just look at all the time and money being thrown at the quantum computers if you want to see the difference between knowing whats theorectically possible and acutally doing it.

  20. robert says:

    Think of roomsful of people sitting at 10×10 Frieden calculators figuring out actuarial tables and insurance premiums. Now picture all those people in military uniforms calculating the next month’s Army payroll. You get the idea (by the way, those soldiers were called “computers”). Now go click the calculator icon on the screen in front of you.

    Think of the technology changes that Richard Young has witnessed (me too): paper tape is gone, punched cards are no longer being manufactured, magnetic tape is disappearing, electric typewriters are goners (hell, mechanical typewriters are in museums), carbon paper and mimeograph are merely three mysterious words to today’s youth, and I could go on and on.

    The point is that once technology gets a head of steam (sorry) it moves along pretty rapidly given the right environment and an educated public. So what Mike Stearns/Eric Flint has to do is get scientific and engineering education geared up first.

  21. James says:

    “technology was well within existing seventeenth-century techniques”

    Maybe im reading things wrong but is it me or are some people missing the point. Yes there are better alternatives to what they are talking about but the real issue is do they want something not so good that they can use next year or do they want something superior in ten years (or more) that would take large amounts of investment to develop the industry and education to create in useful quantities.

    They obviously can already build steam engines (navy steam boats), what would you prefer – one diesel tank or fifty steam powered tanks?

    “Any industry, once established and widely spread, creates an automatic inertia in favor of continuing it.”

    Hrmm like some people have said i think once the industry is there things will change, the benefits of the alternatives are just too great. If companies dont change they are likely to just slowly die out, US railroads? Also makes me think of that danny devito movie other peoples money, buggy whip anyone?

    I also vaguely remember something about an outbreak (foot and mouth?) that helped stop the use of steam powered cars as the disease could be spread via the water?.

  22. jk says:

    I wonder if people will finally look into stirling engines…

    Or the Einstein Fridge…

  23. TimC says:

    Computers.
    There is an interesting intercept between the fluidics and electronic computers. One of the early British computers (Leo I think) used mercury delay lines for memory. You put a vibration in one end and could then take it out the other end after a defined time, their contemporaries used the spots of slowly decaying brightness on the surface of Cathode ray tubes. Both are examples of attempts to build storage before the advent of semiconductors. Maybe core store could be managed, you need lots of deft fingered German girls threading beads onto copper wire.

  24. Daryl says:

    At University in 1969 I remember setting a large mechanical calculator off to calculate 1 divided by 0 on Friday afternoon. On return Monday morning you could hear the poor thing still clacking away. At that time to calculate phase diagrams we designed computer programs in Fortran, punched them into cards, and sent them to the only mainframe in the state to be run in the small hours. Often they were returned unsolved as the process took longer than the lifespan of crucial valves. A slide rule and log tables were quite quick but I’d hate to use them now.

  25. I am one of those people who is old enough to have done calculations on electromechanical calculators, and old enough to have done large calculations when I did not have one.

    They were wonderful inventions, and extremely valuable.

    I also recall those ‘old computers’ having done at least some program design in 1965. This made me the third generation (well, we skipped my parents) of people using computers and digital communication in my family, in that in the 1950s a few of the hot shot young engineers where my grandfather was chief engineer proposed using the accounting computer, one of the first in the country, for engineering calculations, and my grandfather approved the project.

    Those old computers were an incredible improvement over doing things by hand, though for the calculations that I do they have not changed significantly. You load the program, after you get it to work, do the other thins, and wait the needed time (recently, with high speed machines, machine-months) for the calculation to execute, that after doing a lot of work on code optimization.

    Babbage appears to have overdone what he wanted his machine to do, notably the printer in my opinion.

  26. robert says:

    Please consider that before tanks can be sent into battle, they have to be transported to some rear area near the battlefront. The tanks of the 20th and 21st centuries are transported on very large diesel trucks, one truck per tank. Horses for courses, indeed!

  27. Jürgen Kuhn says:

    1635: The Eastern Front. 50% Book on Baen now. Yo.

  28. @26

    Oxen, not horses. The Germans used teams late in the war to tow PZKW Mark 6’s up to the battlefield.

    The alternative is rail, and folks who can lay tactical rail quickly.

  29. robert says:

    Off topic: Why is the Baen website down? I get
    Bad Request (Invalid Hostname)
    Anybody? Drak?

  30. Jason says:

    dont know why but you can get to the webscriptions site and the baen bar forum

  31. Blackmoore says:

    The real problem with Fulidic computer will be the interface. While fulidics certainly can be designed with the tech available in 163x there is no means of converting that “calculation power” into a graphical display. An accurate calculator (for bombardment trajectories) and output could possibly control a printer (as the early tube based computers did, and that would lend itself to encrypted communications) SURE. Computing wont be able to take off until the interface that can quickly update and manipulate. It would be a stopgap measure at best; but semi-conductors and CRT’s would quickly overtake when available; if only for size of the unit.

  32. jeff bybee says:

    reading the story of the baker automotive company pointed out the advantages of the steam over internal combustion. btw it wsas diesel fuil powered. it used a burner where the fuil sprayed onto a dish that caused the fuil to atomize. ironically the company was much more suscesfull selling the burners for home furnices than it was building vehicals the liquid fuil was so much more convenient than coal fireing

    the next part of the system is the boiler. insteed of a simple tank like a water heater the baker used a flash boiler it took about 45 seconds from first spark to driving away.

    the great advantage of internal combustion was the quicker start esp after the electrical starter was made.

    speaking of danger the british tanks of ww1 were very susceptable to the gasoline tank that was above the engine to catch fire if a projectual punctured it. the flash boiler would be much safer because the volume of water to turn to steam is very tiny if punctured. further where the earlyer boilers were single skin and if ruptured the expanding steaam might tear the whole even wider while the flash boiler with its coils of pipe inside an outside shell might partly contain the steam.

    another advantage of the baker steam car was that it was a 2 cylinder and very smooth because every stroke in both direction was a power stroke. thus it would take a V8 internal combustion engine to be as smooth. ( ie power pulses per revolution)

    the next great advantage with steam is the lessened need for a transmission. internal combustion engins especally gasoline produce their power in a narrow band at higher rpm. steam has max torque and 0 speed. in the baker 1.5 ton truck the engine was directly conected to the rear axel . I think the 2.5 ton truck had twin powered axels in the rear. but I may be mistaken

    another advantage to steam is multifuil capibility it can burn just about any liquid fuil with out modification burn natural gas producer gas or coal gas with larger storage tanks or even solid fuil if a large enough fire box were provided

    with a condencer I don’t think water would limit range
    thankyou for your thoughts
    jeff

  33. AMMBD says:

    @ #16: “I can remember some calculations taking up to five minutes to finish.”

    Is that why some of the older sci fi pulp characters commented more or less that a kid w/a slide rule was faster?

    Wow. Just plain wow.

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