Chapter 47 Market Circulation
For the last week, it was fairly calm for Border Town.
Iron Axe and Brian both said that the strength and number of the demonic beasts would gradually grow with the progression of the Months of the Demons. So, taking advantage of the situation where the pressure on the line of defence wasn’t strong yet, Roland once again sent a boat with ore to Willow Town.
Since the steam engine was put into use for mining in the North Slope Mine, the number of miners had been reduced by half, but the production had steadily improved. Now, it had been restored to the level of production from before the collapse. Using a machine to do the job saved a lot of manpower.
Meanwhile, under Roland’s orders the mine production systems had undergone a preliminary reform. The former fixed payment for each day was changed into a variable pay. He let Barov put together a statistic about last year’s average amount of ore produced daily. With this he could set a standard and everyone who mined more could increase their pay. An increased number of gemstones would result in a big reward. This move effectively increased the workers’ enthusiasm for mining, so the mine became a bustling area.
Roland naturally wanted to do more with his ore, now that he had more ore in hand.
In addition to the plan to put a second steam engine into production, he also intended to manufacture a number of manual lathes.
This lathe can be seen as something historical, it was commonly seen as an essential machine for implementing other tools. The anvil can be regarded as the most primitive tool – it was used for manual fixing and creating.
It was better used to create, because using it to fix was really too inconvenient, thereupon people would often try to fasten their product or place it in a recess on a table to fix their processed parts. For example, the early matchlock and flintlock gun barrels were placed into a recess on the anvil to be pounded out by hand.
Later, manual creation became too slow to meet demand, so they needed tools to increase production speed. The lathe could be used according to different purposes, the tools could be fixed according to each need, and the manual and machine processing could be used together. So, the lathe could effectively improve the strength of pure manual labor and could be changed for every weak point.
Roland also considered a manual milling machine.
Although the milling machine had various functions, he wanted to mainly use it in order to process involute gears, so its architecture could also be simplified correspondingly. With a slot for a fixed tooth plate and a rotatable steel disc, customized cutting gear could be easily manufactured with Anna’s help – by grinding off and polishing the top layer after it got heated to a red hot state, erasing the slag on the iron, and then immersing it water to harden it, it would become a highly rigid custom disc.
After the key problems were solved, Roland immediately gave Carter the order to hire two carpenters, who would build him a milling machine. Meanwhile, Anna continued to manufacture other metal parts in the castle backyard.
Roland had to say, that with Anna’s help, metal processing had become as easy as forming clay, especially after she had mastered the retrieval of her flame. At the moment she was pretreating small items, forming their rough shapes within her hands. Seeing Anna take an iron ingot in her hand, melt it without further help and shape it into the form she wanted caused Roland to sigh in wonder.
If he hadn’t been able to employ a witch, Roland thought, achieving his production program would be delayed by more than a decade.
Two days later, the first simple milling machine appeared in the backyard.
This time Roland wasn’t idle, drawing the gears could be regarded as his job. He designed a set of gears to be used for speed control and stabilizing the steam output. The corresponding tooth plate’s design was already normed, and Roland could only wait until the milling machine was completely assembled before they could start with the production of the gears.
Using gears wasn’t a new thing, most of the mines in this world used a winch mechanism to drain the water, which was built out of wooden gears and pulled by animals. The Chief Knight finally felt satisfied – last time, His Highness had done so many unfathomable things, but this time he could understand what the Prince tried to achieve.
Roland also gathered three blacksmiths with their apprentices, who would learn how to use the milling machine together. After all, he could not personally operate the machine every day, so it was necessary to train a group of professional workers.
After everyone respectfully bowed, Roland began to demonstrate how to use the milling machine to process the gears.
Roland didn’t mind acting as a teacher in front of everyone. In fact, what else could one do in this era? Plus, while doing this there was no one who could criticize his manners, so he could operate the machine without any pressure.
The Chief Knight was in charge of pouring hot lard into the machine as lubrication – naturally in this age there were no oil lubricants. Replacing it with lard was a bit of a waste, but it was still better than nothing. After drenching the disc, the lard would fall into a pot which was placed under the machine. With this, the lard could be reused several times.
Roland first placed the lower milling stone in accordance with the design he had engraved beforehand. Then, he set the tooth gear above it so that the tooth gear, the milling stone, and a wooden wheel were in one line. The wooden wheel was driven by a pedal and it’s power was transmitted to the lower millstone by a leather belt.
Then, he put his hands down to gently stabilize the disc handle, until the lower millstone and the slowly-moving tooth gear were at a 90° angle.
Because the material of the tooth disc was iron and the lower millstone was out of steel, cutting out the teeth marks was not very difficult. Due to the hot lard the yard was soon filled with a tasty smell, but because the blacksmiths and their apprentices hadn’t had meat in a long time, they had to swallow their saliva when smelling it.
After the demonstration, the contract was soon signed. Border Town’s commerce was still in the initial phase, but calling it an industry was out of the question. No matter if it were the steam engine or the lathe, there would be no phenomenon where the people would run to the store, striving to be first or fearing to be the last to buy them. In this day and age, most people were not aware of the enormous significance they represented, as well as the potential commercial value they possessed. As such, Roland could only take the initiative to promote the use of these machines.
Roland specifically wrote in the contract that the blacksmiths who used the milling machine were required to process at least one set of gears each week. The required materials would be provided by the castle and the processing cost was set at 10 silver royals. At the same time, the blacksmiths had to pay a weekly fee of 2 gold royals. The milling machine was not given to them for use free of charge, but was rented out to them instead.
After entering the Months of the Demons, the blacksmiths would usually have a lot less to do. So, this time when they had the chance to make money and it was even under an order from His Highness, there was naturally no blacksmith who had any objections. Meanwhile, Roland told them that this was only the first milling machine. In the future he would produce several, one after another, and if they were interested in one, they could apply for it in the Town Hall.
“Your Highness, why didn’t you directly write a processing fee of 8 silver royals in the contract?” asked Carter, puzzled, after the blacksmiths had left the backyard.
“Although these two figures are the same, they don’t contain the same meaning,” Roland explained, “This is probably Border Town’s first commercial leasing contract, so I had to set an industry norm.”
The Chief Knight rubbed his forehead. The 4th Prince seemed to be talking rubbish once more, but Carter was already used to it. As long as he pretended to listen carefully, His Highness would continue to explain it.
“A good beginning is always important in order to form a virtuous circle. I am the only one who currently needs to buy the gears, so I have to provide the tools while they provide the manpower. They will also get paid. In the future when there are others who have a demand for gears, they will realize that having their own tools will be better than renting the machine and earning the remuneration provided.” When Roland spoke up to here, he paused for a moment and then said, “In this way, when they see something new, they can first rent the machine and decide later if the market is big enough for buying their own machine, and if not they will just continue renting the machine. This is a virtuous circle.”