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Old 05-15-2018, 12:04 AM   #11
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Default Re: Alternate history transport

At some point in the history of Rome, the cultists of Poseidon are granted a boon; so long as they worship him, they may build canals that flow uphill and down with ease. They also may move ships at sea with equal speed.

This allows the Roman Empire to remain united, to transport goods far faster, and all around be more stable. No other magic nor divinities challenge Poseidon, and within a century he's become the chief god of the pantheon. Iesu, his demigodly son and patron of forgiveness, is a moderately important figure in time.

The Roman empire, meanwhile, expands throughout Europe, building canals that crisscross the continent. Elsewhere, religions are in turmoil, frantically seeking a way to prove the Romans to be somehow duplicitous, or perhaps in league with demons...
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Old 05-15-2018, 02:12 AM   #12
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Default Re: Alternate history transport

Many nations took to canal building. But they are extremely labour intensive because there are not mechanical shovels or other earth moving gear.

Bristol Harbour was once a tidal port that existed on a Severn estuary that has one of the largest tidal ranges in Europe.

At the beginning of the 19th century there were attempts to modernise this harbour into a 'floating harbour' that would require a diversionary canal for one of the river confluences. This was at a cost in today's money of £23,358,637.

The eventual alternative was the railways. For many European countries this was the cheaper alternative.

Canal building was big but by the mid 19th Century they were being superseded by the railways. By the 20th Century the Canals were falling into disrepair.

The resource that Canals bring is probably not very well used in RPGs. Maybe because of an 'American' focus but it certainly has a lot going on around the Canals. Coupled with their tow paths, locks, horses etc.
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Old 05-16-2018, 01:33 AM   #13
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Default Re: Alternate history transport

Possibly give some very early Chinese alchemists an idea for crappy gunpowder. It's a forceful bang, but it's not even remotely space efficient and it's not very predictable.

It IS acceptable as a mining explosive for making canalbeds, though.

Let that stuff get exported and traded around about 100 BCE, and add a heavy dose of inertia to keep history on track, and there you go.
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Old 05-16-2018, 04:49 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PTTG View Post
Possibly give some very early Chinese alchemists an idea for crappy gunpowder. It's a forceful bang, but it's not even remotely space efficient and it's not very predictable.

It IS acceptable as a mining explosive for making canalbeds, though.

Let that stuff get exported and traded around about 100 BCE, and add a heavy dose of inertia to keep history on track, and there you go.
Likewise, any relatively cheap high explosive (in the sense of 'better than black powder for this purpose') that is developed before the age of steam can lead to significant canal-building in regions that are more united than the Holy Roman Empire.
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Old 05-18-2018, 11:35 PM   #15
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After the reading the threads on Airships and Ekranoplanes the thought occurs "What about Canals for transport?"
What about Hooke-Carroll gravity trains for transport? (Apart from the fact that they're nigh-impossible to build at TL5.)
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Old 05-19-2018, 01:40 PM   #16
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What about Hooke-Carroll gravity trains for transport? (Apart from the fact that they're nigh-impossible to build at TL5.)
The fact that they're nigh-impossible to build at TL now?

You have to burrow through unreasonably hot and high-pressure sections below the Earth's mantle if you're going any distance. (And if you're not, a surface train is certainly cheaper.)

At lower TLs, you also need to worry about motive power.
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Old 05-19-2018, 01:58 PM   #17
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Likewise, any relatively cheap high explosive (in the sense of 'better than black powder for this purpose') that is developed before the age of steam can lead to significant canal-building in regions that are more united than the Holy Roman Empire.
Really? There are places where it’s nice to be able to clear a few rocks — and note that the same technology will be used for road-building in lumpy areas — but mostly, surely, canals need manpower to shift all that earth. (Hence imported Irish “navigators”, hence the cliché of the navvy.) I doubt that you can blast your way all the way for miles.

Incidentally, I gather that one important technology involved in Steam Age canals was clay lining for the beds. The Canal du Midi apparently fudges round that because the trees that grow alongside it shed leave that rot down to a somewhat waterproof mulch, but it’s one more thing to develop most times.
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Old 05-19-2018, 03:45 PM   #18
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Default Re: Alternate history transport

It's important to distinguish between the different types of canals. The classical British industrial canals simply aren't deep enough for the builders to hit bedrock: they're usually only about 5' deep. So explosive aren't much use in building them at TL5.

Ship canals, intended to bring ocean-going ships into cities, are much deeper, and removing bedrock is a normal part of building them. Blasting may well be useful.
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Old 05-19-2018, 05:48 PM   #19
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Default Re: Alternate history transport

Speaking of Navvys

Quote:
A 'good hand' among early canal cutters could dig twelve cubic yards of easy earth a day — eighteen tons, or perhaps the space taken up by a large single-decker bus; a place big enough to set up house in. But that was easy compared to what came later. On the early railways a single navvy was expected to fill seven wagons a day. (In [56/57] fact they worked in pairs. Two were expected to fill a set, or train, of fourteen wagons between them). To do so each man lifted twenty tons over his head.*Sometimes*a pair of men filled sixteen wagons a day and even then the best of them were in the ale house by late afternoon. 'The men, who are the finest workmen in Europe,' said Hekekyan Bey, 'dig out twenty-five cubic yards of heavy clay each day — but their desire to run to the public houses and get drunk is so great that many of them perform their day's work in a few hours.'
Source
http://www.victorianweb.org/history/...ullivan/7.html

Edit, on a side note I have worked on a farm were they used explosives to make drains and clear dams.
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Last edited by (E); 05-19-2018 at 09:31 PM.
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Old 05-19-2018, 07:23 PM   #20
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Twenty tons is not that difficult if you are careful (I had to participate in resupplies where we moved more than that in a few hours when I was in the Navy). The key thing is to limit the individual loads to around 20 lbs. If you assume that it takes four seconds to receive from the person to your right and give to the person to your left, you can move 18,000 lbs in an hour without an trouble. Over four hours, assuming two 30 minute breaks between three one hour sections of work, you can move 54,000 lbs before lunch.
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