Gnomes and the Art of Clockwork Maintenance
Using some of the methods set down in this book, we hope you can learn something about how a gnome views the world around us, and how we take care of our clockwork and other mechanical devices using not just our brains, but our common views on certain things.
The chapters are numbered but don't let that stifle your creative choice -- if you want to start at the end and work backwards that's fine! That's part of the whole gnome way of life!
Cogs and Sprockets
Part One -- Cogs and Sprockets. Cogs do not make Norrath go around; that would be gears, which is handled in a different section. However, without cogs, a gear would be nothing. You can have the most advanced foozlebits and flizgigs, but without cogs, those are just more spare parts.
Some folks call a cog a cog and let it go at that. A sprocket, while it can be exactly the same thing as a cog to the unlearned, can also be vastly different. Why, there's a world of difference in needing a cog for your fuzzlenoggin and needing a sprocket! And yet, they can be exactly the same thing! Isn't it wonderful? A single thing can be two things at once, depending on how you look at it!
Now, way back when the Norrathian Code of Trade Standards, or NCTS, was developing the standard units of measurement, they showed the importance of the difference between a cog and a sprocket by making them two completely different measurements. Completely different! If you have three sprockets, that's the equivalent of one cog. And, as you can see, now we've given the exact same things (cogs and sprockets) a completely different meaning than before! Without changing a thing about them! Amazing!
A cog is one of the teeth on a wheel or a gear. If you have a cogwheel that's missing a single cog, your clockwork will simply not function. Not a bit! Mostly a cog is a single wheel. Just one! But a sprocket can be a roller with teeth on both of its edges, or maybe a single (but big!) cogwheel. See? Look what we've done? We've taken the sprocket and introduced two -- no, three! -- ways to look at them without changing their basic form! Whenever I think of it, I get absolutely flizsmacked!
The lesson of observing cogs and sprockets, friends, is that the same thing can be different things at the same time, or they can be exactly the same thing at the same time. Sometimes different things are interchangeable and sometimes not. Imagine! So when your fuzzlecutter won't fuzzle or cut, look at it from another angle -- you might have the exact very piece you need to fix it, but you've been calling it something else all along!
Part Two -- Gears. Gears can make Norrath go around, but without a set of good cogs or a flizgig, your gears might as well be made of sand! There's more to making a gear work than just wishes, that's for sure. Anyone (even you!) can learn to use your gears without grinding them.
Gears can make your head spin, literally! When we think of gears, we think of a combination of cogwheels, teeth interlaced to create movement in our clockwork. Open up any clockwork item you have handy and take a good look. You'll see flizzes, cogs, sprockets and slints, of course, but look at how they fit together. See those cogs set at angles from each other, one turning this and the other that? That's a basic gear!
What makes a gear so important to clockwork? Follow the path of one of the slints, right past the eeberslinkit and you'll notice that there's a gear that connects it to yet a different slint, pointing in an entirely different direction. When folks say a gear makes Norrath go around, they are referring to the way the gears connecting the slints turn things -- clock arms, for example. As they used to say in Ak'Anon, "For every eeberslinkit going left, there's another not going left."
What does this mean today, you ask? Think about it: after all the events shaking up all of Norrath, we still have Freeport and Qeynos, two of the most opposite places that ever could be. If Freeport's an eeberslinkit going left, then Qeynos is not going left...yet without one or the other, would Norrath be the same? Of course not!
That's why gears are so important to clockwork. They can create a good balance in whatever mechanism they're a part of. Look at the clockwork around you (there are excellent examples of them in the Edgewater Drains in Freeport} and you'll notice that where there's steam, there's a gear moving two eeberslinkits, one to the left and one not to the left.
Part Three -- Valves. Ah, now a valve is a beeYOOteous piece of work that can make the most hardened of hearts sing like the whistle on a heebleblower. Valves are the most perfect of creations, allowing us to both stop things and let things continue. Beautiful, beautiful!
Ah, the valve. It's like a flower to a wood elf, or like the mouth of a troll -- something that opens and closes. Without valves, some of the most important clockworks through the ages might never have come to pass! Head down to the Edgewater Drains, where many of good old Bodlin Zevuwickle's devices regulate the flow of the Freeport sewers. Go on...you'll thank me later!
Some of the large metal structures you'll see are emitting steam. Steam! That's such a marvelous thing to be incorporated into a device! What you do is create heat in one part of the machine, add some water, and up goes the steam. If left to rise unchecked, the steam will find its own way out and quickly, too. That's where using valves comes in handy. By putting valves in strategic spots, you can harness the energy of the steam, by forcing it down one way or letting it flow another.
What's so good about channeling the steam, you ask? Look at the way some of the machines are rotating. Even without seeing the innards (which, since they're processing waste products, you probably don't want to) you can tell that it takes a lot of force to move that drum! Using a valve to control the flow of the team keeps the drum rotating at an even rate. If it starts to go too fast, you simply close the valve a little to tone down the steam. If it's turning to slowly, you let more steam in to push it quicker.
Using valves allows us to control nature, without changing its nature! By letting the steam do what it wants to do (rise), but at our command, we've taken stuff that previously floated upwards for no good reason and made it work to our benefit. That means that no matter what nature provides, we can bend it to our will if we let it think it's getting away with doing what it would do anyway if we weren't there. Isn't that tremendous?