Chapter 246 New gunpowder program
What was the symbol of the industrial age, Roland first thought was of a speeding train continuously running down a railroad track, emitting rolling clouds of steam.
The cast-iron cylinder covered with oil, the thick and robust crankshaft together with those huge iron wheels, its rumble and vibration full of vibrant rhythm, as well as the sound of the steam-whistle piercing through the vast sky was what was associated with the machinery of the first steam trains. Compared with the mechanical designs of the later generations, which hid its structure under an outer shell, used high-precision machining to reduce the tremoring and a mechanical system which emphasized sound insulation and sound absorption the first engines undoubtedly showed more directly the power and beauty of industrialization.
He also wished to cover the territory with railroad tracks so that trains towing railway carriages with goods and people could go to and from all part of the Western Territory. Yet even though this was a good dream, it was still just a dream. Actually, it was not unthinkable to manufacture a steam train, only that the large amount of steel needed for the tracks would be far above the production capacity of the North Slope Mine Kiln’s group.
Therefore, he could only settle for second best, which left the human-powered bicycles as Roland’s best option. The flatter the roads within his territory were built, the greater the benefits of cycling would be. Furthermore, compared with the relatively complex structure of the steam trains, a bike almost didn’t require any maintenance at all, besides occasionally putting some oil on the chain.
If Roland wanted to start mass production of bicycles, he naturally couldn’t let Anna produce all of them by herself, so he had to first open a factory and train a group of workers that would specialize in the production and assembly of bicycles. Considering that the earliest date for the completion of the Kingdom Avenue would be in next spring, it wasn’t necessary that the factory would immediately be able to produce large batches. Due to this, it was possible that the workers could slowly become familiar with the needed production lines made by Anna and would only needed to produce a dozen bicycles for the first month. One of the most technical demanding parts was the chain, every chain link had to be made with a stamping press and would afterward be connected with a pin by hand.
However, to manufacture the parts made out of rubber, like the tires and brakes, Roland would still need to rely on Soraya’s ability. But as long as all the other parts were ready, Soraya could always draw her magic pen and quickly draw a lot of them. The same was true for the bearings. Since he couldn’t produce reliable ball bearings, he could only take a cut off part of an iron part and use it as a sliding bearing. For that, the inner ring became coated with a smooth mirror coating, which produced an effect which wasn’t much worse than the former method.
When the first bikes would be sold, only the nobility would be able to afford such an expensive vehicle, but in order to spread this to the masses and create a hype, Roland also intended to implement an payment by installment system to minimize the burden caused by purchasing as much as possible. Of course, only people that were in possession of an ID could go to the City Hall and apply for such a payment.
The three had trained for a whole afternoon, Carter Lannis, worthy of the title of the Chief Knight, was the first to master the skill of cycling; followed by Iron Axe, who was the second to successfully cycle around the garden. Only Barov, who after trying it more than a dozen times was still unable to succeed; and was only able to advance in a crooked line, almost falling to the ground. In the end, Roland had Soraya draw a static scene of him standing beside the bicycle and holding the handlebar.
“Are they all right?” the witch asked after completing the fourth propaganda poster.
“Almost, you only have to add a few advertising words.” After thinking for a moment, Roland added, “Above you should write: a new era of mounts, I own one and you can also own one. While beneath you should write: Bicycle factory is recruiting workers. Generous payment, as well as the opportunity to receive a free bicycle which will belong to you. Those who have completed the primary education, can apply at the City Hall.”
After dealing with the bicycle advertisement, the Prince returned to his office to take advantage of the time that was left until dinner and let his guards call Kyle over.
Now, after having finally made a breakthrough for the development of mercuric acid, developing a new generation of weapons was to be put onto the agenda. In the age of firearms, those who had the bigger caliber would become the justice, those with a faster rate of fire would achieve freedom, power brought honor, turrets brought equality… However, an awkward problem was, according to the current kind of development they had, by relying on only the laboratory the production of the two acids would not be able to keep up with the consumption.
For example, if he wanted to increase the rate of fire, he would need to reduce the remnants of black powder, and change to using pyroxylin the smokeless propellant, or some kind of mixture of pyroxylin and nitroglycerine. The same was true for high-powered explosives, it didn’t matter if he couldn’t produce trinitrotoluene (TNT), he could use nitrostarch instead, which except for its poor stability, would be much more powerful than TNT was.
No matter what kind of the previously mentioned methods he used, he would need a lot of high concentrations of fuming nitric acid, yet nitric acid purification required amounts of concentrated sulfuric acid the laboratory just couldn’t meet. In other words, there was no way to produce the two acids at industrial levels. Even if he developed even more efficient weapons, he would once more fall into the plight of having no bullets to use them with.
After the Head Alchemist entered the office, Roland began, “I have a new assignment to hand you.
“Don’t hesitate to tell me,” Sichi answered while shrugging. “As long as I don’t have to attend another honor and award ceremony.”
“I need much more acid, but at the moment the chemical laboratory alone is unable to meet my needs, thus your new task will be to design a chemical production system that can produce both acids efficiently and easily.”
“Chemical production… system?” Hearing the unknown words, Sichi looked a little puzzled.
“Yes, you have to create a apparatus which can mix several liquids and let them react, so that as long as you put in the raw materials, it is possible for it to produce a steady flow of the finished product.” Roland briefly explained the nature of industrial production, “I don’t know much about it, so you will have to rely on yourself to slowly work it out.”
That being said, the Prince knew that this was a very difficult task, and it was quite possible that even after years of study, it wouldn’t necessarily produce results. After all, the other could only rely on, the basic reaction principles and chemical equations of “Elementary Chemistry”.
“I understand,” Sichi nodded. “Those ideas you come up with always let me feel refreshed.”
“No matter if you can do it or not, I’m in desperate need of the two acids.” Roland paused, “Thus for the next month I plan to extend the laboratory at the Redwater River by three more rooms and also to recruit some qualified candidates for the position of a laboratory technician from the citizen. In case you don’t have the time to personally teach them, just choose some of your apprentices to administer them. After all, the industrial acid production system will be a very long research project.”
Presumably because of the temptation of “Intermediate Chemistry,” Sichi readily responded, “Yes, Your Highness.”
After Kyle Sichi had left, Roland sighed softly.
In case there wasn’t any hope for the industrial acid production system, he could only have Lucia learn the purification of acid. And when all was said and done and the next war was coming, he would need to come up with some even more powerful weapons to gain victory for Border Town.
Roland opened the drawer, intending to eat some dried fish to dispel the boredom, only to discover that the snacks stored within the drawer were all gone now.
After gawking in disbelief, he looked up only to see that a dried fish had been handed to his mouth.
“Were you looking for this?” The blond woman standing opposite asked with a smile.
Biting into the dried fish, Roland couldn’t help but start to smile, “I thought you’d be staying in the fog for the rest of your lifetime.”
“That kind of life would also be nice, at least you couldn’t see me, but I could still see you.” Nightingale curled her lips.
Unknowingly to him, his originally dull mood had already been lifted by a lot. Now where he could once more see the other’s familiar appearance, he couldn’t help but breath out in relief, “Previous you had said that you didn’t know what kind of expression you should show…”
“In fact, I think this one is quite good.”