Infrastructure's Corps of Engineers had an increasingly pronounced divide between its older and younger members. The first batch of Engineers were generalists: men and women who were expected to know their way around Steam Engines, Machine Tools, Radios, Generators, Mines, Drydocks, Factories, Construction Sites and Steamships. Newer engineers were typically specialized: The Academies focusing students in on specific fields such as architecture, nautical engineering, electrical systems and so forth. Natasha Smedth saw the value in the change as the gear she worked with became increasingly complex and common and appreciated that she had people who understood the gear better than she did. She'd heard a few of them lament that they were not as likely to see and do the things that she did and would likely be sorting out the same problems in the same general area for the rest of their stints. She could understand where they were coming from but at the same time knew that they would not like to be out in the ass end of nowhere trying to turn it into somwhere when it was twenty below zero hoping that Wildspawn don't eat you.
Thankfully her last few projects had kept her in Dalatyr. Battlesteamer production was now proceeding smoothly and she'd handed that off job to it's team with confidence and so she had been reassigned to work on another Advanced Manufacturing project. The larger iron components were supplied from Foundry-III and a team of machinists and technicans made the rest of the components in house from steel. Security was tight, which was a pain, but she understood why that had to be done. What they made was the whole reason why this damned war had started.
Even so she wished it had been something that was better smelling. Even with improved ventilation systems the damn things smoked up the place something fierce, especially when they went wrong. On their own they were hardly impressive: simple cubes with a couple of cylinders riveted to each side, a wheel sticking out the front, a tube in the back, a smokestack on top, and a few minor doodads here and there hooked up to a battery. Each of them was fed some form of petroleum distillate through a mixer device. If the wheel was spun while fuel was fed in and the battery was engaged the device would soon sputter to life and keep the wheel going, usually at speeds of 200 rotations per minute. That alone was notable, you did not need to get it's water boiling and the power in even these small ones was impressive. There were a few crap outs, in which case the machine would be taken apart and examined with a camera observing the dissection. Depending on the severity of the breakdown it might be rebuilt, or it might be dissected with instructions given for it's modified successor.
As Natasha made her rounds she noticed engine number Seven as it chugged down it's latest bottle of fuel without a care in the world. It had done quite well over it's three days of life without any major breakdowns. Hopefully they were getting things right and a production model could be introduced. There would be some hassle in introducing the new system, getting factories set up to make them, training technicians to maintain them, all the bungling which inevitably happens with new machines that people don't understand and the matter of fueling them. Even so she could see a lot of places where these new Internal Combustion Engines could be very useful.
From the Beginning: Part One