All Rails Lead to Rome (RAR!)

FAN: Discuss various fictional worlds that don't qualify for SF.

Moderator: Steve

User avatar
Zor
Sith Acolyte
Posts: 5648
Joined: 2004-06-08 03:37am

All Rails Lead to Rome (RAR!)

Postby Zor » 2016-11-08 06:21pm

In this scenario aliens decide to help out the Roman Empire in the year 25-BCE by laying down a trans-imperial rail network. Said network is composed of some 30,000 kilometers of 1.48 meter gaudge railways stemming from Rome through the provinces and then a line going to the provincial capitals. There is also a line which goes from the straights of Gibraltar east through Africa into Egypt up through Suez into the Levant and Anatolia to Byzantium, where a suspension bridge spans the Bosphorous.

As for rolling stock Rome gets a hundred 2-4-4 steam locomotives with a top speed of 100km/h, 500kw top outputs as well as a 500 ten-meter long boxcars, 300 flatbed cars and 200 passenger cars (with windows and seats, one in five of them has a small kitchen unit). There is also a fabricator in the eternal city which, if fed carbon and iron ore produces said locomotives, rolling stock, rails and similar sufficient to maintain the fleet and network with some redundancy. Augustus has seen a holographic presentation of these machines, a test model and a test line from Rome to Ostia and has seen the utility of them before agreeing to let this happen. The Fabricator also produces user's manuals and has a theater complex in which a set of movies outlying proper train operation.

What happens?

Zor
HAIL ZOR! WE'LL BLOW UP THE OCEAN!
Heros of Cybertron-HAB-Keeper of the Vicious pit of Allosauruses-King Leighton-I, United Kingdom of Zoria: SD.net World/Tsar Mikhail-I of the Red Tsardom: SD.net Kingdoms
WHEN ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE ON EARTH, ALL EARTH BREAKS LOOSE ON HELL
http://zortropolis.myminicity.com/
http://zortropolis.myminicity.com/ind
http://zortropolis.myminicity.com/tra
Terran Sphere
The Art of Zor

User avatar
Solauren
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 7490
Joined: 2003-05-11 09:41pm

Re: All Rails Lead to Rome (RAR!)

Postby Solauren » 2016-11-08 08:44pm

Question: Does Augustus frame this as an act by the Olympian Gods to the populace (backed by the various priests)?
If so, then the Roman Empire might last longer, but will still collapse in on itself. The difference would be we might not have a dark ages.

User avatar
Thanas
Magister
Magister
Posts: 30132
Joined: 2004-06-26 07:49pm

Re: All Rails Lead to Rome (RAR!)

Postby Thanas » 2016-11-08 09:18pm

Rome easily conquers Germania now and does not fall because that strategic movement is just a massive "I win" button.
Whoever says "education does not matter" can try ignorance
------------
A decision must be made in the life of every nation at the very moment when the grasp of the enemy is at its throat. Then, it seems that the only way to survive is to use the means of the enemy, to rest survival upon what is expedient, to look the other way. Well, the answer to that is 'survival as what'? A country isn't a rock. It's not an extension of one's self. It's what it stands for. It's what it stands for when standing for something is the most difficult! - Chief Judge Haywood
------------
My LPs

User avatar
madd0ct0r
Sith Acolyte
Posts: 5309
Joined: 2008-03-14 07:47am

Re: All Rails Lead to Rome (RAR!)

Postby madd0ct0r » 2016-11-09 03:47pm

More detail on signalling systems and points nature needed - are we talking early railway with a man at every road crossing and points with semaphore being used to signal ahead and behind trains?
"Aid, trade, green technology and peace." - Hans Rosling.
"Welcome to SDN, where we can't see the forest because walking into trees repeatedly feels good, bro." - Mr Coffee

User avatar
Sea Skimmer
Yankee Capitalist Air Pirate
Posts: 36970
Joined: 2002-07-03 11:49pm
Location: Passchendaele City, HAB
Contact:

Re: All Rails Lead to Rome (RAR!)

Postby Sea Skimmer » 2016-11-09 06:37pm

Block token signals would be the way to go, with so few trains nothing else is needed. Also no telegraph prevents much other option except going slow!

1 locomotive per 300km with only 670hp of power and a handful of cars isn't enough to operate a very effective railway system over that kind of distance. The operating radius of narrow gauge steam is very low too, so its going to take a couple of stops and a smokebox cleaning at the end. Around the Med shore sailing would still seriously compete with this. It would provide much better strategic concentration against Germany certainly, but they would need to be allowed to use animal power on the rails (since expansion is not allowed) to have a real revolution. Otherwise a big portion of the train capacity will just end up feeding coal into the trains themselves, trains will burn all your wood amazingly fast.

If the Romans are also allowed to run animal powered trains on the lines, concentrating steam on key lines and animal powering only the less useful track, which can also be new low grade paths for walking, they have a enormous advantage. With steam only god only knows, it could create its own strategic problems, if say one end of the Empire began hoarding locomotives...turning into civil war for the trains! Either way it causes an economic boom, but if say, a plague still breaks out, it would only spread it much faster. And it would create all new kinds of criminal problems that faster transport always enables. Total Roman victory is a lofty goal.
"This cult of special forces is as sensible as to form a Royal Corps of Tree Climbers and say that no soldier who does not wear its green hat with a bunch of oak leaves stuck in it should be expected to climb a tree"
— Field Marshal William Slim 1956

Simon_Jester
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 28552
Joined: 2009-05-23 07:29pm

Re: All Rails Lead to Rome (RAR!)

Postby Simon_Jester » 2016-11-10 12:45am

The Romans are way too smart to not make use of animal-drawn rail.

Furthermore, if the Romans are actually being trained to maintain all this stuff, they're going to start thinking of things like dismounting a locomotive engine from its wheels and repurposing it to drive a paddlewheel steamer. These locomotives have 670 horsepower; that's enough to power a pretty large ship by Roman standards, at a pretty good turn of speed. Or to pump out mines- the Romans were good at mining but you can only do so much without mechanized pumps.

Basically, you can't give someone a working railroad network that isn't maintained by pure sorcery, without also giving them the other necessary conditions for the Industrial Revolution. I suppose the only question is to what extent the claims that mass availability of slave labor would have impeded Roman industrialization turn out to be true, as opposed to being nonsense.

User avatar
Sea Skimmer
Yankee Capitalist Air Pirate
Posts: 36970
Joined: 2002-07-03 11:49pm
Location: Passchendaele City, HAB
Contact:

Re: All Rails Lead to Rome (RAR!)

Postby Sea Skimmer » 2016-11-10 08:43pm

Yeah, but the thread has some magic machine in it to make repair parts only for the net work as is and not expanding it, which raises the question of if that will scale up if they also use animals or not. Also can they hook up more home built cars to the steam engines or not? That could be a huge limitation on them.

But basically of animals is no replacement for steam engines, just improved local capacity, which would probably be huge anywhere near a city center. Horses will tire out quickly walking on plain gravel, so you need to plank the entire rail bed to get the most out of this, and with a meter gauge track no less and thus fairly sharp curves you can't have all that big of a horse or ox team on the train either. Several wagons, but not much past that. The advantage over a Roman road would be considerable, but the value of Roman roads were already being held back by Roman wheel and (more or less lack of) suspension technology. Trains didn't just catch on when they did because of steam engines. You need some pretty good technology before a dedicated rail vehicle is worth the trouble of transhipping the cargo at each end of the line, vs a wagon which goes point to point, in an era of manual labor. Roman wagons would end up with rather low speed limits because the axles would want to break.

I think its also worth pointing out that we think the grain ships servicing Rome at its height were in the 1,600 ton class, about as large as a typical much later big classic Spanish galleon. The city was probably being fed by at least a few hundreds of these things, and thousands of smaller but still important 80-200 ton kinds of ships were cruising around. So meter gauge rail capacity isn't exactly unprecedented in that environment, and this just won't that crushing on a ton-mile basis. For shifting troops, much useful though moving even small ~25,000 man armies would still take weeks. They might well march part of the way to save time waiting for locomotives.
"This cult of special forces is as sensible as to form a Royal Corps of Tree Climbers and say that no soldier who does not wear its green hat with a bunch of oak leaves stuck in it should be expected to climb a tree"
— Field Marshal William Slim 1956

Simon_Jester
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 28552
Joined: 2009-05-23 07:29pm

Re: All Rails Lead to Rome (RAR!)

Postby Simon_Jester » 2016-11-11 12:41pm

Sea Skimmer wrote:Yeah, but the thread has some magic machine in it to make repair parts only for the net work as is and not expanding it, which raises the question of if that will scale up if they also use animals or not.
Yeah, that part is admittedly confusing. Because Zor also talks about things like film footage to show people how to operate and maintain systems. And because it'd be insanity to talk about rails stretching across thousands of miles with the only facility capable of servicing the engines being in Rome.

I'm not sure if Zor intended to have a rail network that the Romans can only maintain by relying on the magic, or if he intended for the Romans to at least sort of know how to build crude expansions to it.

Also can they hook up more home built cars to the steam engines or not? That could be a huge limitation on them.

But basically of animals is no replacement for steam engines, just improved local capacity, which would probably be huge anywhere near a city center. Horses will tire out quickly walking on plain gravel, so you need to plank the entire rail bed to get the most out of this, and with a meter gauge track no less and thus fairly sharp curves you can't have all that big of a horse or ox team on the train either...
The gauge is 1.48 meters. That's about midway between standard Stephenson gauge and the broad Russian gauge.

The advantage over a Roman road would be considerable, but the value of Roman roads were already being held back by Roman wheel and (more or less lack of) suspension technology. Trains didn't just catch on when they did because of steam engines. You need some pretty good technology before a dedicated rail vehicle is worth the trouble of transhipping the cargo at each end of the line, vs a wagon which goes point to point, in an era of manual labor. Roman wagons would end up with rather low speed limits because the axles would want to break.
On the other hand, the Romans now have hundreds of examples of fairly well built 19th century rail cars and locomotives to work with. They may learn a fair amount about suspensions in a short amount of time.

I think its also worth pointing out that we think the grain ships servicing Rome at its height were in the 1,600 ton class, about as large as a typical much later big classic Spanish galleon. The city was probably being fed by at least a few hundreds of these things, and thousands of smaller but still important 80-200 ton kinds of ships were cruising around. So meter gauge rail capacity isn't exactly unprecedented in that environment, and this just won't that crushing on a ton-mile basis. For shifting troops, much useful though moving even small ~25,000 man armies would still take weeks. They might well march part of the way to save time waiting for locomotives.
No, it won't, but it can have huge advantages when you get away from the coastline. I have heard it said by people I trust that the Roman economy was built in large part around the reality that it was cheaper to ship stuff from Rome to Alexandria than to ship it twenty miles overland. Rail changes that game a bit.

There is also the question of steamships, which have considerable advantages over sail. If my cursory research is correct, one of these locomotive engines provides roughly the same horsepower as you'd find in 19th century steam frigates, and the big grain ships had about the same displacement as many of said steam frigates. A ship that can make ten knots regardless of which way the wind is blowing would have some potential, although to be fair the Romans will get worse performance since they're unlikely to invent screw propulsion any time soon.

User avatar
Sea Skimmer
Yankee Capitalist Air Pirate
Posts: 36970
Joined: 2002-07-03 11:49pm
Location: Passchendaele City, HAB
Contact:

Re: All Rails Lead to Rome (RAR!)

Postby Sea Skimmer » 2016-11-11 05:00pm

The problem with just copying what they see is they have no means of testing the alloys involved, and no idea how they were cast. Both of which are basically the problem, Rome already had spoked wheels as a generalized technology. I would bet they also had the wooden leaf spring on rich peoples carriages, because it seems too easy, but I doubt we have any evidence of that. I don't see a way they will be able to cast a solid wheel set and the bearings to go with it in less then centuries, though perhaps not many centuries if they withstand the turmoil.

Truly reliable metal casting though really only became a thing in the 1880s-90s, and around 1670 is when it stopped being common for a 'good' cannon foundry to turn out piles of burst on proof guns. Making springs and cylinder housings and wheels balanced for 30mph running based on what you see is daunting.

So even if they can run animal traffic, that's not going to be amazingly better then what Romecould already run on its own roads. Though Roman roads didhavea flaw in many aras in that they were built STRAIGHT, which made sense for a marchingarmy, but led to numerous steep grades that are horrible for horse drawn wagons. A railroad would have to be low grade by default, unless we get track with mountain rack and pinion system up and down every hill. Which would be awesome but slow.

Also this is still no a printing press situation, which was pretty downright decisive for the renaissance period propagating to today as it did. It literally stopped people from locally reinventing the wheel so much! If Rome got that going they surely would have taken over Europe, or at least never fallen victim to other peoples crusade like invasions.

In that respect railroad would instantly help , since it would speed up all existing scientific communication as it was, and economic growth simply provides more margin for experimentation. But until that happens the limited supply of locomotives is a huge strategic asset, and doesn't solve the problem of Rome being too centralized on Rome. In fact the Emperors are bound to hoard and abuse the shortage, it's kind of hand in hand with the problems that already sank Rome. Plus the plague factor remains..

As far as the 20 miles by land thing, that's a saying that I've seen in numerous books for different times and places, including stuff around the UK in ~1609 era, so it cannot be taken as more then an idea. Probably true is my guess, if you take 20 miles as 2 days of round trip. But a ship is much slower because while we now know Rome had the lateen sail or something a bit like it, they couldn't sail against the wind that well in general. Which means long waits for favorable winds, which means much less efficiency in the whole process. A lot of grain would spoil back in the day simply because people couldn't keep it dry with the technology they had, and grain crops themselves only yielded about 2:1 in seeds. Meaning half the harvest is replanted if you want food next year. Today we can pump 30:1 ratios out of land in comparison. Rome really was special in how much trouble this took to supply it.

Also just because 20 miles by land was more expensive did not mean such traffic was uneconomical or even unreliable. Roman roads were already built strong enough to serve as pretty heavy weight railroads, though they followed very steep grades to keep down the marching distance of troops. A lot of wagons could go down the things with basically zero maintenance. Even in the absence of canals meanwhile boat traffic on small waterways was another option that seems kind of like a joke today, but actually moves relevant tonnages for limited populations. The locomotive supply is just so damn low here, spread over half of Europe.
"This cult of special forces is as sensible as to form a Royal Corps of Tree Climbers and say that no soldier who does not wear its green hat with a bunch of oak leaves stuck in it should be expected to climb a tree"
— Field Marshal William Slim 1956

User avatar
Khaat
Jedi Knight
Posts: 615
Joined: 2008-11-04 11:42am

Re: All Rails Lead to Rome (RAR!)

Postby Khaat » 2016-11-11 05:10pm

Why are we assuming the trains are the only source material the Romans would try to reverse engineer?
The Fabricator also produces user's manuals and has a theater complex in which a set of movies outlying proper train operation.

After finding out that two manuals (any two manuals) are exactly the same, and depending on the limits of what the Fabricator shows them it does, the printing press could be the unexpected revolution of the "train set for Saturnalia".
"Just because you're the captain doesn't mean you can order me to... oh, right. Fuck, it does." - Krep, Spacetrawler

User avatar
Sea Skimmer
Yankee Capitalist Air Pirate
Posts: 36970
Joined: 2002-07-03 11:49pm
Location: Passchendaele City, HAB
Contact:

Re: All Rails Lead to Rome (RAR!)

Postby Sea Skimmer » 2016-11-11 05:27pm

There is also the question of steamships, which have considerable advantages over sail. If my cursory research is correct, one of these locomotive engines provides roughly the same horsepower as you'd find in 19th century steam frigates, and the big grain ships had about the same displacement as many of said steam frigates. A ship that can make ten knots regardless of which way the wind is blowing would have some potential, although to be fair the Romans will get worse performance since they're unlikely to invent screw propulsion any time soon.


I had a pet theory it's taken me a minute or ten to internally articulate, but that Rome probably partly shot itself in the foot by dominating the Mediterranean basin. It eliminated the need for a serious Roman naval service, and thus took away a huge incentive from that kind of high tech development that might otherwise have been kept up for centuries. This could be a reason why rigging did not improve further for so long, even though people were constantly sailing everywhere. Merchant captains had little incentive to experiment and hull lives of ships, at least as measured in actual sea voyages as opposed to calendar days, would generally be low. Then burn and recycle metal into a new wooden hull. Even in the industrial revolution proper it took 50 years to go from steam ship to steam battlefleets.

Marine service steam engines though built much more heavily then locomotive engines though. Locomotive boiler is okay at sea, many torpedo boats were powered like that back when that was the SPAM thing of the decade, but everything else had to be much heavier to stand up to the fact that it's bolted to a ship at sea.

For the Romans they'd do much better off if they simply attempted to design a new steam engine, based on the operation of the existing one. The tooling problems area ll the massive and tremendous, but the result would probably be something easier to make. Locomotive cylinder castings are extremely complicated.

Eventually Roman steam at sea sure, but they need to build up an much bigger industrial base and far more advanced and large scale metal working. I'd be interested to know just what the largest Roman casting known is, but something like a statue is far simpler then a hollow shape. And then you need machine tools to bore it out with something like precision.

As far as merchant ships go though, probably would not make sense to make those steam in that era, except as packets. Look at real life, we kept building steel windjammers until nearly WW1 because steam ships physically lacked the range to do some long routes and coal still cost money. The diesel engine + Oil Drilling!!!!!! changed that, a radically more advanced technology. A 1,500 ton ship would loose too much cargo capacity to a steam plant to pay off the high capital cost of the steam engine. The engine will cost far more then the hull itself, and labor costs for sailors are very low.

For naval service steam of any sort is invaluable, because even if you could just build a tugboat it can now replace rowboats and small galleys for dragging your bigger ships against the tide out of port. No rig can help you with that.

What would help is if railroads mean more metal is produced, even more giant sailing vessels can be produced for less cost. But this does not help if a plague still murders the population count.

Khaat wrote:Why are we assuming the trains are the only source material the Romans would try to reverse engineer?
The Fabricator also produces user's manuals and has a theater complex in which a set of movies outlying proper train operation.

After finding out that two manuals (any two manuals) are exactly the same, and depending on the limits of what the Fabricator shows them it does, the printing press could be the unexpected revolution of the "train set for Saturnalia".


That is a fair point. Honestly I don't understand why the moveable type press did not exist earlier. But it makes you wonder, how many got invented in history by a single person who personally used it, but never spread the tech because paper was expensive ect...then all older historical records are burned or rot between 1000 AD and today.
"This cult of special forces is as sensible as to form a Royal Corps of Tree Climbers and say that no soldier who does not wear its green hat with a bunch of oak leaves stuck in it should be expected to climb a tree"
— Field Marshal William Slim 1956

User avatar
Thanas
Magister
Magister
Posts: 30132
Joined: 2004-06-26 07:49pm

Re: All Rails Lead to Rome (RAR!)

Postby Thanas » 2016-11-11 07:43pm

Sea Skimmer wrote:I had a pet theory it's taken me a minute or ten to internally articulate, but that Rome probably partly shot itself in the foot by dominating the Mediterranean basin. It eliminated the need for a serious Roman naval service, and thus took away a huge incentive from that kind of high tech development that might otherwise have been kept up for centuries. This could be a reason why rigging did not improve further for so long, even though people were constantly sailing everywhere. Merchant captains had little incentive to experiment and hull lives of ships, at least as measured in actual sea voyages as opposed to calendar days, would generally be low. Then burn and recycle metal into a new wooden hull. Even in the industrial revolution proper it took 50 years to go from steam ship to steam battlefleets.


You are completely wrong. Rome's merchant ships evolved a lot, way more than for example the medieval merchant ship did. There was a lot of experiments taking place and a lot of development, going from small freighters to the great grain carriers (of a size not seen until the 17th century again) to the obelisk carriers.
Whoever says "education does not matter" can try ignorance
------------
A decision must be made in the life of every nation at the very moment when the grasp of the enemy is at its throat. Then, it seems that the only way to survive is to use the means of the enemy, to rest survival upon what is expedient, to look the other way. Well, the answer to that is 'survival as what'? A country isn't a rock. It's not an extension of one's self. It's what it stands for. It's what it stands for when standing for something is the most difficult! - Chief Judge Haywood
------------
My LPs

User avatar
Zor
Sith Acolyte
Posts: 5648
Joined: 2004-06-08 03:37am

Re: All Rails Lead to Rome (RAR!)

Postby Zor » 2016-11-11 07:56pm

Sea Skimmer wrote:That is a fair point. Honestly I don't understand why the moveable type press did not exist earlier. But it makes you wonder, how many got invented in history by a single person who personally used it, but never spread the tech because paper was expensive ect...then all older historical records are burned or rot between 1000 AD and today.

The Romans did not have paper, they had Papyrus (made from the pith of a species of reed which only grew in the Nile Valley and was eventually overexploited) and vellum (which required raising animals specifically for the purposes of making it). It was not really economic for them to print. This is why printing and movable type both happened earlier in China than it did in medieval europe. Even so, there were examples of people experimenting with the rough idea well before Rome such as the phaistos disc from Minoan Crete more than 3,000 years ago.

Zor
HAIL ZOR! WE'LL BLOW UP THE OCEAN!
Heros of Cybertron-HAB-Keeper of the Vicious pit of Allosauruses-King Leighton-I, United Kingdom of Zoria: SD.net World/Tsar Mikhail-I of the Red Tsardom: SD.net Kingdoms
WHEN ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE ON EARTH, ALL EARTH BREAKS LOOSE ON HELL
http://zortropolis.myminicity.com/
http://zortropolis.myminicity.com/ind
http://zortropolis.myminicity.com/tra
Terran Sphere
The Art of Zor

User avatar
Sea Skimmer
Yankee Capitalist Air Pirate
Posts: 36970
Joined: 2002-07-03 11:49pm
Location: Passchendaele City, HAB
Contact:

Re: All Rails Lead to Rome (RAR!)

Postby Sea Skimmer » 2016-11-12 12:53pm

Thanas wrote:You are completely wrong. Rome's merchant ships evolved a lot, way more than for example the medieval merchant ship did. There was a lot of experiments taking place and a lot of development, going from small freighters to the great grain carriers (of a size not seen until the 17th century again) to the obelisk carriers.


Then why did you make no mention of rigging at all, and instead just pointing out that ships got bigger and smaller depending on what the market needed which is well, duh? Big merchant hulls need big reliable cargoes and markets, and that just didn't exist in Europe after Rome fell, making the technology basis for hulls irrelevant, below 200 tons about no real reason exists not to build clinker. Better sailing meanwhile could be developed with even very small ships, exactly as Western Europe did a thousand plus years later, you had to have reason and conditions to encourage it. 1,500+ ton ships predated Rome for military purposes as it was, but with enough money you can just row a big ship anywhere at 2 knots. It's not like they would have built an obelisk carrier as an economic enterprise!

To a point size doesn't even tell us a great deal about how good the hulls really were, since we don't know how long they typically lasted in service in terms of actual sea-days, and as the 15th century British later showed even clinker built ships actually scale up pretty damn high, I believe the largest ever known was 1,600 tons and triple planked, which is kind of insane. Meanwhile last I saw, our only hard evidence for Rome having a lateen rig at all meanwhile remains a single poor drawing on a pot, and before that was noticed all other evidence pointed to the lateen rig appearing in the Indian ocean basin at a much later date. Their is also IIRC, some piece of art from like 600 BCin Yemen which might show a lateen rig too, but its so bad you can't be sure. In any event, if the lateen rig predates Rome that would make it incredibly unlikely that Rome was close to something much better, since they would have had an awful lot of time to try, and have already made the basic leap to the idea that you could in fact sail against the wind.
"This cult of special forces is as sensible as to form a Royal Corps of Tree Climbers and say that no soldier who does not wear its green hat with a bunch of oak leaves stuck in it should be expected to climb a tree"
— Field Marshal William Slim 1956

User avatar
Thanas
Magister
Magister
Posts: 30132
Joined: 2004-06-26 07:49pm

Re: All Rails Lead to Rome (RAR!)

Postby Thanas » 2016-11-12 03:20pm

Sea Skimmer wrote:
Thanas wrote:You are completely wrong. Rome's merchant ships evolved a lot, way more than for example the medieval merchant ship did. There was a lot of experiments taking place and a lot of development, going from small freighters to the great grain carriers (of a size not seen until the 17th century again) to the obelisk carriers.


Then why did you make no mention of rigging at all, and instead just pointing out that ships got bigger and smaller depending on what the market needed which is well, duh?


I am not mentioning rigging because there is very little evidence for it.

1,500+ ton ships predated Rome for military purposes as it was, but with enough money you can just row a big ship anywhere at 2 knots. It's not like they would have built an obelisk carrier as an economic enterprise!


2 knots? No, the huge Roman ships were much faster than that. Also multiple masts for what it is worth.

To a point size doesn't even tell us a great deal about how good the hulls really were, since we don't know how long they typically lasted in service in terms of actual sea-days


True, however the age of timbers suggest something like 25 years for some ships. Problem is tht most of that comes from wrecks.

, and as the 15th century British later showed even clinker built ships actually scale up pretty damn high, I believe the largest ever known was 1,600 tons and triple planked, which is kind of insane. Meanwhile last I saw, our only hard evidence for Rome having a lateen rig at all meanwhile remains a single poor drawing on a pot, and before that was noticed all other evidence pointed to the lateen rig appearing in the Indian ocean basin at a much later date.


Are you a subscriber of the International Journal of Nautical Archeology? I could link a few articles here that might change your mind.
Whoever says "education does not matter" can try ignorance
------------
A decision must be made in the life of every nation at the very moment when the grasp of the enemy is at its throat. Then, it seems that the only way to survive is to use the means of the enemy, to rest survival upon what is expedient, to look the other way. Well, the answer to that is 'survival as what'? A country isn't a rock. It's not an extension of one's self. It's what it stands for. It's what it stands for when standing for something is the most difficult! - Chief Judge Haywood
------------
My LPs

User avatar
madd0ct0r
Sith Acolyte
Posts: 5309
Joined: 2008-03-14 07:47am

Re: All Rails Lead to Rome (RAR!)

Postby madd0ct0r » 2016-11-13 10:43am

Thanas wrote:True, however the age of timbers suggest something like 25 years for some ships. Problem is tht most of that comes from wrecks.


Thanas, is there a decentish data set of timber ages? It's should be possible run a Monte Carlo simulation and see what the age distribution of wrecks tells us about the possible distribution of age of the full population. That'd be for a nulll hypothesis of a ship is as likely to sink at any point in its life, ie storms and human incompetence are the key factors.
"Aid, trade, green technology and peace." - Hans Rosling.
"Welcome to SDN, where we can't see the forest because walking into trees repeatedly feels good, bro." - Mr Coffee

User avatar
Thanas
Magister
Magister
Posts: 30132
Joined: 2004-06-26 07:49pm

Re: All Rails Lead to Rome (RAR!)

Postby Thanas » 2016-11-13 10:49am

madd0ct0r wrote:
Thanas wrote:True, however the age of timbers suggest something like 25 years for some ships. Problem is tht most of that comes from wrecks.


Thanas, is there a decentish data set of timber ages? It's should be possible run a Monte Carlo simulation and see what the age distribution of wrecks tells us about the possible distribution of age of the full population. That'd be for a nulll hypothesis of a ship is as likely to sink at any point in its life, ie storms and human incompetence are the key factors.


Nah, we dont even have a real up-to-date catalogue of the number of shipwrecks that is publicly available. A lot of that data is protected and/or proprietory information.
Whoever says "education does not matter" can try ignorance
------------
A decision must be made in the life of every nation at the very moment when the grasp of the enemy is at its throat. Then, it seems that the only way to survive is to use the means of the enemy, to rest survival upon what is expedient, to look the other way. Well, the answer to that is 'survival as what'? A country isn't a rock. It's not an extension of one's self. It's what it stands for. It's what it stands for when standing for something is the most difficult! - Chief Judge Haywood
------------
My LPs

User avatar
Sea Skimmer
Yankee Capitalist Air Pirate
Posts: 36970
Joined: 2002-07-03 11:49pm
Location: Passchendaele City, HAB
Contact:

Re: All Rails Lead to Rome (RAR!)

Postby Sea Skimmer » 2016-11-16 08:14pm

Thanas wrote:I am not mentioning rigging because there is very little evidence for it.


Yeah, and people in the same waters, and the northern Indian ocean which had some similar shit for wind problems going on, the Red Sea being worst, all seem to have not had so much change for another 1000 years, assuming lateen rigs are in fact old as balls. I'm very ready to believe that, but that only points to how hard it must have been to develop the rather integrated technology of the fully rigged ship.

2 knots? No, the huge Roman ships were much faster than that. Also multiple masts for what it is worth.


Rowing against the wind and current when you would be rowing? I actually strongly doubt they were sustaining more then 2-3 knots. But that would at least be 100% in the correct direction, rather then the greater distances involved in almost any kind of sailing except straight downwind, where the simple square sail worlds very well. Also I question what exactly you mean by huge, since typical obelisk ships don't actually appear to be that high of displacement. The Grace Dieu of 1418 for example was 1,500 tons, but still built of triple clinker planking shell first. Basically made possible by having a large supply of iron nails.

Multiple masts appear very early in shipbuilding, but they tended to just duplicate each other. Lateen rigs scale up fine like that, ship is longer just have more, or bigger sails on each one. But to get a rig that allows aggressive sailing each mast and sail has to take on a distinct role, and then...make that work. That took a tremendous amount of time in real life, and it was done on the open ocean. Evidence from China for the 15th century I have seen indicates they did probably did have five masted rigs which could hold a course into the wind, and not require constant rudder use, but it was still fairly simple.

True, however the age of timbers suggest something like 25 years for some ships. Problem is tht most of that comes from wrecks.


The fact that the ship eventually sank is fine, in an era in which slavery was the norm nobody would care about the crew's lives, we know plenty enough about the shipping industry from that. 25 years is a good life. But if a ship was only needed for a specific purpose 2-3 years would be fine, and building it out of unseasoned timber too. Wood wants to float...

The point of 17th century ships wasn't just that they were big, they had much greater cargo capacity and huge areas of sail, and deck heights tall enough to be useful.

If Rome had a more serious naval service they would have had more demand for efficient fast ships, and ones with some range, and in more dynamic conditions. What they needed was the idea to frame a ship first, as opposed to shell first, I am specifically interested in any evidence they ever did this on large vessels.

Are you a subscriber of the International Journal of Nautical Archeology? I could link a few articles here that might change your mind.


I can get it at my school when I'm physically next visiting.
"This cult of special forces is as sensible as to form a Royal Corps of Tree Climbers and say that no soldier who does not wear its green hat with a bunch of oak leaves stuck in it should be expected to climb a tree"
— Field Marshal William Slim 1956

User avatar
Zor
Sith Acolyte
Posts: 5648
Joined: 2004-06-08 03:37am

Re: All Rails Lead to Rome (RAR!)

Postby Zor » 2016-11-19 08:18pm

I would also mention that the aliens laid some of that 30,000 KM in Britain. I presume from all the talk above that it would be possible for the Romans to build a craft capable of delivering a train across the channel.

Zor
HAIL ZOR! WE'LL BLOW UP THE OCEAN!
Heros of Cybertron-HAB-Keeper of the Vicious pit of Allosauruses-King Leighton-I, United Kingdom of Zoria: SD.net World/Tsar Mikhail-I of the Red Tsardom: SD.net Kingdoms
WHEN ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE ON EARTH, ALL EARTH BREAKS LOOSE ON HELL
http://zortropolis.myminicity.com/
http://zortropolis.myminicity.com/ind
http://zortropolis.myminicity.com/tra
Terran Sphere
The Art of Zor

User avatar
Thanas
Magister
Magister
Posts: 30132
Joined: 2004-06-26 07:49pm

Re: All Rails Lead to Rome (RAR!)

Postby Thanas » 2016-11-24 10:54am

Sea Skimmer wrote:
I can get it at my school when I'm physically next visiting.


My apologies for the late response. The articles you want to take a look at are:

- The Potential Performance of Ancient MediterraneanSailing Rigs by Julian Whitewright (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/wol1/doi ... 276.x/full) which is IMO the best overview.
- How the obelisks reached Rome: evidence of Roman double-ships, by Armin Wirsching, The International Journal of Nautical Archaeology (2000) 29.2: 273-283
- The Syracusia as a giant cargo vessel, by Jean MacIntosh Turfa and Alwin G. Steinmayer Jr, The International Journal of Nautical Archueology (1999) 28.2: 105-125 (esp. pg 106 which shows the averages of the grain ships etc.)
- Commercial Navigation in the Greek and Roman World, Diss. Austin 2009, by Danny Lee Davis, esp. 59-65, stating a speed of 5-6 knots for merchant vessels though he did not do much field work.
- The Levanzo I Wreck, Sicily: a 4th-century AD merchantman in the service of the annona?, Jeffrey G. Royal, The International Journal of Nautical Archaeology (2012) 41.1: 26–55 - the best overview over a 4th century grain merchant and its contents (not much for speed though)
Whoever says "education does not matter" can try ignorance
------------
A decision must be made in the life of every nation at the very moment when the grasp of the enemy is at its throat. Then, it seems that the only way to survive is to use the means of the enemy, to rest survival upon what is expedient, to look the other way. Well, the answer to that is 'survival as what'? A country isn't a rock. It's not an extension of one's self. It's what it stands for. It's what it stands for when standing for something is the most difficult! - Chief Judge Haywood
------------
My LPs


Return to “Fantasy”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Zixinus and 3 guests