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Update: Newcomen Atmospheric Engine
November 30, 2018


This update paves the way for the forthcoming industrial revolution. After banging my head against the actuality of human history in this area (much of which is, strangely, shrouded in uncertainty) for four straight hours on Monday, I realized that bootstrapping is hard. This is the point where the true mystery of human civilization comes to a head: how do you make a lathe without a lathe?

We've come a long way so far, and bootstrapped a whole bunch of things in this game. But these are all things that I myself know how to make from scratch, in principle. This is the kind of stuff that is made on the Primitive Technology YouTube channel. If it looks hand-made, it can probably be made by hand, right?

But how do you bootstrap metal machines? I'm starting to suspect that this is something that no one now living actually knows how to do. So it's my job to figure it out, or at least make up a reasonable approximation. I was thinking that we'd be skipping right over the age of steam---that steam was just an unnecessary side-branch on in the inevitable path toward internal combustion. But now I think it's actually about tolerances. Internal combustion requires extremely tight tolerances, and metal gaskets, because there's fire right there in the cylinder. Steam engines can be made with much lower tolerances, and leather or rubber gaskets, because the fire is kept outside the cylinder. I.e., crude steam machines can be made without the process of machining. And with steam machines, we can make the machines with which we can actually "machine" parts with tighter tolerances. Steam lathe, here we come.

And speaking of steam lathes, this video of a 1900's era steam-powered machine shop is pretty amazing. But none of those belt-driven machines contain parts that were made by a blacksmith:


But there's no lathe in there yet. What can you do with this Newcomen Atmospheric Engine? Pump water! Why would you want to do that? You'll find out soon enough.

This update also dramatically improves the mouse interface when dealing with stacks of things that should also be moveable as a stack (stacks of plates, for example). Left click grabs the whole stack, and right click removes an item from the stack. In other words, the stack now behaves similar to a container when you left or right click on it.

New wild wounds (or sickness) no longer replace your current wound. You can't heal from a snake bite by contracting yellow fever or getting hog cut.
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