A little over 24 hours have passed since I became officially unemployed and I have already done so many things that I am a little surprised I had the time to get anything done at all when I was working! One of the activities of the day was establishing a new page on Facebook - please "like" SteamyGirl Publishing so I can do my happy author dance whenever I get a new follower. Several wonderful friends liked it within minutes of creation, and I am so extremely grateful for all the support I have from friends and family.
If you Twitter, I can now be found @Melissa_Conroy
I just posted this fabulous link on Facebook and Twitter http://nautarch.tamu.edu/PROJECTS/denbigh/Coal.htm It goes into excellent detail about how much coal a steam engine would require and how that would equate to knots/mph. From several moments of punching calculator buttons, I factored that if my airship Horizon were to travel from Liverpool to Beijing at a speed of 8.7 knots (10 mph), it would reach its destination in approximately 20 days and require 75 tons of coal. However, this calculation was based on a sea-going vessel, not one suspended several hundred feet above the ground. Air is mercilessly non-buoyant, and 75 tons of extra weight are going to be exceedingly hard to keep aloft.
Thus I am currently pondering the practical mechanics of just how much fuel the Horizon can carry and still get airborn. This is greatly dependent upon what type of boiler it has (fluid bed vs superheated) and this link has been helpful too http://nautarch.tamu.edu/PROJECTS/denbigh/Boiler.htm
Of course this brings me back to what the good folks at www.flyingkettle.com honestly admitted: an airship as we envision it via steampunk is, in all practical reality, not possible. But do not be daunted, fair readers! I will endeavor to make the Horizon as realistic as is interesting (and keep the technical details to a minimum). This means that I am turning into a techno geek wherefore prior I had been strictly a literature/writing geek. The math and science lessons I long thought I had happily forgotten will be coming into play again. When I start memorizing the periodical table of elements, you can all collectively slap me.