The Salvage Business in Twilight 2000
From the optional Twilight 2000 rules book By: Matt Geisler
Most vehicles which are abandoned on the battlefield contain valuable parts. While easily obtainable things like mounted machine guns, ammunition and fuel are most likely gone, there is still a considerable value tied up in the metal components of the vehicle. Most player characters are unwilling or unable to take anything beyond fuel and munitions. However, salvage can become a lucrative business, or even the subject of a entire campaign.
To get into the vehicle salvage business, you first need to restore or set up a repair yard. While this is being done, a small party of characters can go out and search the countryside for wrecks. Burnt out hulls are a common find, but not particularly useful (though they are a source of scrap metal). The characters will need some way of transporting the wrecks back to the yard. All PCs should have some personal transportation but trucks, armored recovery vehicles, or even teams of horses might get the job done. Local labor (both skilled and unskilled) will be necessary, with unskilled laborers working for food and shelter and skilled workers for some form of wage..
This article is broken down into four parts, covering each step in starting and running a salvage business in war-devastated Europe.
- Vehicle wrecks are common around Europe (especially on battlefields in the latter stages of the war) and they may have been picked over by the winning side to keep their own vehicles operational; however there is still a huge treasure trove of parts to be recovered by patient PCs.
- As for repair yards you can always build your own with local labor, or with your own PC labor. Another way is to take over a abandoned repair yard or take one from someone else. If you take over a abandoned repair yard you will need to put in a machine shop as well as a small crane and conduct any repairs to buildings as well as find other equipment you would want or need. If you build one from scratch you will need to find all the materials as well as provide food and shelter for yourself and any labor you hire. you will also need civil engineering and machinist as well as mechanical skill to run and build a machine shop.
New Equipment -- price and usage guide
- Cutting torch Price
- $300 Avail: C/C
- This requires acetylene and oxygen (or compressed air) tanks. Small tanks will last for 4-5 jobs, while large tanks will last 30 jobs (10min cutting time/job). Tanks cost 50$ for a small one, or 150$ for a large one and are V/V. A new charge of fuel costs $40/job for acetylene (R/R) and $5$/job for oxygen (R/R) or $1/tank compressed air (V/V). Cutting torches and Arc welders are necessary for jury-rigging.
- Forge Price
- $1,000-5,000 Avail: S/S
- The quality of the forge is determined by it's cost, a gas fired industrial forge from a steel foundry will run into the 10's of thousands of dollars, and are immobile. Small experimental gas fired forges will cost $4000-$5000. Primitive hand-made coal burning forges will run $1,000-$5,000 depending on size. As natural gas is as rare as can be, hardly anyone will be using gas-fired forges, but they have about twice the efficiency, and are much easier to work with.
- Machine shop Price
- $10,000 Avail: S/S
- The shop consists of 4 basic parts: the lathe, disk grinder, drill press, and metal saw. The one listed here is for a small experimental shop. An Industrial setup could cost up to 1 million dollars. These require at least 50Kw to operate a small shop (and up to 500Kw for industrial). To use the shop, one has to have the Machinist skill, though any "shop" skill (Metalurgy, Mechanic, Civil Engineer) will allow use at 1/2 skill level. A well run machine shop can create practically any metal part from stock metal. These parts are hand made, rather than produced in a factory, and will take a great deal of time (and therefore money) to create. however, it is the only source of new parts. Other machines can be bought for specialized jobs. A brass stamper for turning out cartridges (with different dies for each calibre).
- Anvil Price
- $50 Avail: S/S
- This is part of the basic blacksmith tools, but must be bought and handled separately. This and a small forge allows basic Smithing (creation of simple metal parts).
- Blacksmith tools Price
- $100 Avail: C/C
- These include tongs, hammers, bending rods, engravers, etc. A basic tool set can also be used but suffers a -1 penalty.
- Temperature controlled ovens Price
- $1000 Avail: R/R
- These allow the slow cooling of metals to properly anneal newly cast metal parts. Crude annealing will cause the part to automatically have a wear value of d10 (10 being automatic failure of the part).
- Crucible Price
- $100-5000 Avail: S/S
- This holds molten metals (steel/copper), and can be attached to a crane to move molten metal out of the forge, and cast it into the mould in a controlled manner. The price depends on the size and how advanced the pouring technique. For $100 you get an insulated bucket with handles, for $5000, an industrial 500l steelcasting bucket.
- Cranes Price
- $500/ton Avail: S/S
- These are fixed assemblies (which have to be built into the shop) which lift and move heavy objects via electrical power. they require around 2Kw/ton for everyday use, with peak power ranging in the 15Kw/ton range (usually handled by batterys). Diesel cranes can also be found, and consume fuel at the rating listed for generators of that power. They are essential for speedy replacement of large vehicle parts (engines, turrets), or moving immobilized vehicles around. A 10 Ton crane is good enough for parts and engines, a 50 Ton crane for vehicles (except the heaviest of tanks). They can also be invaluable in construction of buildings, bridges etc. Setting up a crane at a site is a Major (but Average) task for Civil Engineer, or Machinist
- Finishing tools Price
- $1500 Avail: S/S
- These are power hand tools for "blueprinting" parts to fit exactly into place. They are needed for using cast parts, and augment the normal tools for the machineist.
- Sandcasting setup Price
- $1000 Avail: S/S
- Rather than one fixed product, this represents the gathering of all the materials in order to do sand-casting, it includes braces, a clean supply of sand, and clamps. Once an object has been created, it can be cast by placing it (or a wax copy) in sand, and hyper-compressing the sand around it (or melting the wax out). A crude copy (unfinished) can be made then by pouring molten metal into the mould. This is the fastest way of making parts, called Drop Forging. The parts then have to be annealed, and finally finished.
- Bullet moulds Price
- $250 Avail: S/S
- One mould will allow casting of the lead bullet of one calibre of weapon. Shot is made much more simply by dropping molten lead into a bucket of water. Lead bullets are usually much worse penetrators (+1 to each penetration catagory), but cannot be jacketed with primitive technology. They can be crossed into Dum-Dums (by hollowing out the tip), this reduces the range by 1/2 and worsens the penetration further (+1), but increases the damage by 1 die. Gunpowder or corditie is still needed however.
In most areas of Poland and the former USSR, life is cheap. This means unskilled labor is very cheap indeed. An average test of Charisma (assuming there is no language problem) will gather 1-2% of a population in a given town together to work on a project, as long as food and shelter are provided. This increases to 3-4% if the shelter is good, and even higher (5-6%) is military protection is provided.
This goes down (-1%) in insular communities, or ones with strong government (or warlords) which will punish workers. If the characters are acting on behalf of the government (or get support of local leaders) the work population increases.
The first 5% of a population gathered will be primarily unmarried males 14-25. These are the most likely to seek employment, the older are more tied to their land. Many of these will be refugees. As the characters employ more and more, they will start drawing older people and women as well. The older generation will want some sort of housing for their families (not a problem if the factory is next to the village). Women will want child care services. Everyone will want better working conditions. If conditions are habitually bad, they may even start an underground Union, or try for a coup-d'etat. Particularly draconian regimes will resemble the nearby warlords, and will suffer all of the associated problems (look at 30's union stuff/ medieval rebellions, etc). A draconian state can be successfully employed, provided sufficient policing forces are used, after all that is how POLAND worked since 1944 (aside from solidarinosk).
The Industrial House/Clan Town/Villa
One of the most common type of cities to spring up in the 2002-2010 years is one centered around a single industry. It is the logical progression of a primitive industry like the salvage yard. As the characters get more wealthy (assuming they don't squander it), they will hire more workers, maybe start hiring scouting teams. Later they will want to take over the agricultural industry to guarantee food for the workers, and maintenance of a small army (for protection) will be necessary early on. More independent companies will run their own stills, and power generation (wind/water/coal). They may want to grab a coal mine and start transporting the underground stocks to the surface, later running the mining operation to keep the industry fueled.
Advanced companies may want to set up schools to teach the trade to children-perhaps a logical outgrowth of the apprenticeship or the day care system. Street lights and public electricity, maybe even plumbing for the worker-towns which will start up. i.e. the return to the modern age.
After 2010, national governments will be powerful enough to influence these city-states, and perhaps weave them back into a national economy. By 2020 the last independent free cities in Poland will be back in government hands.
Not as many wrecks to salvage (most of them are underwater). Building an ocean going ship from scrap metal would take a Year or so for a crew of 60 people. Characters could dive for critical parts (Screws, engine parts). Attempts could be made to patch and refloat some partially submerged ships in the docks (most likely killed by an airborne torpedo or bomb). You could even have the PC's out hunting for critical supply ships that got torpedoed in the Atlantic, or in the English channel, filled with thousands of tonnes of weapons, supplies, and vehicles.
The biggest problem is Fuel (Ships can burn coal or wood, cars can burn Alcohol or Coal gassifiers). Airplanes are also most likely to be really badly damaged during the wreck. Not much is left except some broken avionics, and some aluminum hull. Jet engines are the most complex machine built and will not reappear until some major infrastructure is back in civilization. Propeller driven planes can be built in a primitive shop though.
This can be a real simple reloading spent brass setup, or something like the WoJo, turning out grenades, mortars, shells, mines and ammunition. A supply of good Brass and a punch press extruder is needed to make new cartridges, not an easy thing to come up with. A chemist will be necessary, along with a chemical factory to come up with the explosives. Most of the nitrogen will come from waste, but to really get things going you need a Haber-process factory and a source of electricity. A biological version of this factory could be made from a large agricultural field, Using Nitrogen fixing bacteria and nitrifying bacteria. This needs lots of vats (like a wine making industry), sterilizers, a bio lab and a vast source of sugar/protein.
Both for drinks and fuel. Though coal conversion to synthetic fuel will likely be possible once enough steel pipe and boilers can be gathered. For German campaigns (say Romania, Turkey, Middle East), oil is plentiful, and conversion to diesel fuel is simple. Rebuilding a simple oil distillery is possible (Civ engineer, Chemist).
A big Campaign idea for 2002 would be to get involved in the trade of German weapons and manufactured goods for Middle East oil. Either a land route into Romania (truck or horse), or a ship route to Turkey or Libya. Millions of gallons could be easily pumped out of these countries, selling for tens of millions of dollars per trip. If these countries are too unstable, a small unit could take over a single refinery and pump site in the foreign country and hold it long enough to pump the resources out. A company of well equipped infantry should be more than enough to do this safely. A platoon of eurotrash stragglers might be able to pull it off too.