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127 Finishing the steam horse

24th April 1574

"Steady! Steady!"

As the final bit of the steam horse was inching ever closer to the place where it would rest, I could feel my heart jumping so wildly as if it wanted to break free from my chest. While building this entire piece didn't take us as long as I was worried it would when I saw how long we had to take to get just the foundation done if anything went wrong at this point, all sorts of delicate parts that were already mounted in place could be easily damaged, rendering all our efforts useless.

Unless I wanted to go all the way back to Sandomir and return here with just a single piece that would break down during this vital step, everything had to go as planned!

"Stop lowering!"

In the first place, to mount the arm of the leaver, we had to erect four different wooden masts, each of them even higher than the tower itself as to allow us to pull this damned piece of wood at its designated level. But as if a huge, solid wooden log wasn't enough of a challenge, it was reinforced on all its length with iron nails and plates, as to prolong its usability period.

With a huge strain placed on this single part during both parts of each cycle, it had to bear the brunt of the energy created both by the counterweight and the pull of the steam horse itself, forcing me to reinforce it with all that heavy metal, that was now making it even harder to put it in its designated place!

But from the looks of things, now came the most delicate step.

As soon as the log would reach the desired height, a group of nimble workers climbed the tower itself, not caring for the fact that it was here for only a single day, with some of its bricks laid only a few hours ago!

Taking up any position that they deemed stable, they had to somehow reach for the log in order to mount it on its bearing, that would allow its arms to swing in both sides. But in order to work, the log had to find its centre of mass perfectly in the middle of the iron swing, or else not only would finding the proper weight of the counterweight be a lot harder, but the engine itself would wear off a lot faster!

"We can't reach it!"

Hearing the shout from one of the workers on top of the tower, I pushed my thoughts aside and realised that while the setup of the wooden masts was perfect, we didn't account for the fact that due to a rather strong wind today, the log was violently pushed to the side, not only too far for the workers to reach, but also threatening to destroy the delicate structure of the brick tower by smashing its iron side against it!

"At this rate, we will have to try it again later…"

Mumbling to myself, I couldn't help but worry. While destroying the brick structure wasn't that big of a deal as it would push our plans for a single day required for the bricks to be laid again and the mortar to properly bind them, if anything happened to the delicate frame of the cylinder, even a single dent, the entire thing could be sent to be melted back into forks, while we would have to order another one from Sandomir!

"I got it!"

As the log swung on the wind, one of the workers as bravely as recklessly leaned his entire upper body, relying only on his legs alone to keep him atop the tower to reach with his hands for the log…

He grabbed it!

This crazy son of a bitch somehow did it, desperately grabbing the heavy log with his hands and refusing to let go. In one instant, the three other guys hanging out at the top of the tower leaned towards him, grabbed him by his waist and pulled the brave guy's body closer towards the tower.

Finally, with the log now firmly in all their eight combined hands, it was placed in the iron-bearing. Yet I didn't have the order to lose the ropes just yet. Unless it would remain perfectly still without anyone holding it in place, we couldn't let go of the ropes!

While my heart refused to calm down even after the most dangerous part of the entire process was done, I watched as the men on the tower moved the log to the left, then a bit to the right only to once again move it back to the left as they looked for its centre of mass.

With all the added iron plates and nails, finding out its perfect middle wasn't enough, as the distribution of the iron couldn't be said to be even!

"We did it!"

Finally, after a long struggle to place it exactly as it should be, the workers grabbed a small pocket raised to their altitude on one of the now loosened ropes, nailing the log down to the bearing. With this part done, all that was now left was to add the counterweight and launch the engine!

"Good job boys. While every one of you will receive six silvers as promised, you, come here."

After the men climbed down from the tower, I made sure to point out the guy who was daring enough to risk his health for the cause and called him in.

"For your outstanding deed, you will be rewarded either twelve silver coins now, or a single red golden when the Governor comes to see the fruits of our efforts. What would you prefer?"

While in the open I was busy with rewarding the man that distinguished himself, my mind was already fully occupied with everything that we would need to do to make sure that the steam horse was working. After all, if we managed to finish it earlier than expected, we could use all the freed manpower to further other projects!

As long as we could finish the blast furnace in any reasonable time and hopefully receive a first batch of the ore from those damned, introverted miners, rather than showing off a single atmospheric steam engine to the governor, I might be able to create a proper pressure steam engine as well!

"Sir… I don't think there is any need to ask me about my choice! If given the choice between a few groshes and a real gold ducat… I will obviously choose the ducat!"

For poor people like him, silver coins were something they used in their daily life to trade for the resources, pay in the taverns or even receive their daily wage. On the other hand, a real gold coin was something that rather than being used as money, could be used as a showcase of one's status!

"Smart decision, I won't lie."

Smiling at the man in front of me, I even went as far as to reach forward with my hand and shake his palm, already picturing myself throwing the first burning coal under the boiler of the steam horse when a new shout broke my immersion and forced me back to the reality.

"Sir, the villagers have come!"

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