[gurps] [Vehicles] Cargo containers that lock together?

Pauli Hakala Pauli.Hakala at mail.suomi.net
Fri Oct 24 01:20:57 CDT 2003

Daniel Boese wrote:
> On Thu, 23 Oct 2003, Pauli Hakala wrote:
> >Daniel Boese wrote:
> >> On Wed, 22 Oct 2003, Pauli Hakala wrote:
> >> > I would do the lock-together containers with hardpoints. One set of
> >> > hardpoints (described as being able to lock with a similarly equipped
> >> > container) capable of carrying the containers mass on every facing.
> >>
> >>  Hm... hitches & pins can pull 50*hp lbs, and hardpoints only 20*hp lbs...
> >> but the former only seems to be for containers that are in-line with each
> >> other. Do you think it would be useful to, say, have hitches & pints on
> >> the containers' ends, and hardpoint connectors on the sides?
> >
> >Hitch & Pin allows for horizontal flexibility - If you are going to be
> >hauling the containers in a cube-like formation, then hitches and pins
> >are not an option, they only work in a line-like formation.
>  Fair enough.
> >Also, note that in this case the effective hardpoint loads can be
> >doubled - In every contact point, there are two hardpoints worth
> >of structural support.
>  Heh. As the saying goes, "Is that legal?" :)

Sure, if the hardpoints are designed that way, to reinforce each other
while locked. You could justify this by saying that these hardpoints
cannot carry other items like weapons such as missiles or rocket pods,
they are only suitable for attaching containers.

> >It is possible to plan loadouts for one tug vehicle, and break
> >up the containers into several piles for transportation. Then, in orbit
> >or at Lagrange point, it is possible to pile up all the containers for
> >storage (they are experiencing only very little or no acceleration
> >then), to keep them from drifting apart randomly.
> >
> >It would seem that pulling a 20 container pile at a steady 0.1 G:s of
> >sAccel would be totally safe, especially as most containers are not
> >likely to be loaded up to their maximum limit. This won't do for
> >express deliveries, but is alright with bulk cargo.
>  No arguments here.
> >And if you want to haul even bigger loads of containers on regular
> >basis, then a bulk freighter starts to look like a good solution -
> >But it can also be easily built to carry the same kinds of
> >containers, both inside it's hull as well as on the exterior.
>  I'm currently in the middle of chapter on containerships in my library
> book on shipbuilding, and the next is on ore/bulk/oil ships, including
> reasons for each...
> >As for a single container, I'd model it around the size of ordinary
> >modern shipping containers, which is about 4 spaces of room and
> >20 tons of typical load. Build them with DR 5 or 10 cheap armor,
> >sealed surface option and 20+ ton hardpoints on all 6 sides.
> >Hardpoints add some weight, but do not cost much.
> >
> >In the long term, it really pays to standardize the containers.
>  By "4 spaces" I assume you mean 2,000 cf?

Yes. This is roughly the volume taken up by a single modern shipping

>  I've already started working up some numbers for 1,250 cf containers with
> 1,000 cf of usable volume (the extra space going to some small cold gas
> thrusters and tanks, armor-volume, compact fire suppression system,
> minimum-size radio and computer, power cell, and probably an airlock and
> emergency 6-man-hour limited life support for emergencies).

Separate airlock takes up valuable cargo space. How about declaring
at the design stage that the hardpoints also include airtight
connecting hatches which open inside the containers (well within
GURPS Vehicles rules). Then airlock pump systems and limited
lifesystems could be installed on each container separately, allowing
the whole container to function as an airlock, if there is need.
Also, in an emergency, tapped hardpoints might be used to access
air supplies of other containers in the grid (tapped hardpoints
allow for controlled fuel transfers, so why not transfers of air,
if designed that way).

If your setting is TL10+ with Bioplastic, it would make sense to
include a Survival Module (From Ultra-Tech) or a few for
emergencies. This kind of device could also double as an airlock
if need be and would not take up any noticeable cargo space from
the container.

Note that any ship docking with a container could make use of its own
airlock, or entry module tube.

>  Given the rules for underbelly skids require DR 5+, that's what I'm
> already using. :)
>  1,000 cf also seems to be a pretty good volume for pieces of non-cargo
> equipment. (I'm working at TL9 for the moment.) Total Life System for 24
> people; 20 freeze tubs; power plants (NPU: 50 MW; RTG: 20 MW; Fission; 49
> MW; Fusion: 30 MW); AESA (Rng 33,333 miles * 10), PESA (Rng 25,000 miles *
> 10), Multiscanner (Rng 5,000 miles); AM bay (200g or 2kg); power cell
> (1,341,341,341 kJ); weapons (rainbow laser with space range of 66,800
> miles; neutral particle beam with damage of 1,425d); fuel tanks (6,666
> gallons), and even rocket engines (fission rocket, fusion rocket, and
> fusion pulse drive seem to have the best balance of thrust and fuel
> consumption). Masses vary from 80 lbs for a hall to 100,000 lbs for a
> rechargeable power cell, NPU, RTG, or AM bay. Most of the heavy equipment
> is around 50,000 lbs. Costs - $700 million for a lightsail (500 sq mi),
> $40 M for a PESA, many of the rest $1 M to $5 M.
>  Going from 1,000 to 2,000 cf would reduce the surface area from
> 2*800=1,600 to 1,200, reducing the cost of surface features (mainly the
> sealed hull) by 3/4; is there any other reason I should switch to a larger
> size?

For better fit on a ground vehicle such as a truck. 1250cf is larger
than a van allright, but not quite truck-sized yet. In yards, an
approximately 2.5 x 2.5 x 12 sized container is quite handy. Is your
container only 6 yards long? - I'd think that it would be a bit too
short for a truck, and if you were going to carry two containers per
truck cargo bed, you'd also run into situations where trucks would
only be carrying one container and this could put some extra stress
on the truck frame, as well as mean notably lower transport
fuel/energy efficiency. In modern world, if a truck needs to carry
two containers along the same route, the second container is simply
mounted on a trailer.

Also of note is that leaving some access space within containers
cargo area makes cargo inspections easier and faster, as well as
allows boxes to be tied down more readily.

(Of course you do not necessarily need to fit fully assembled large
items into containers - The spinal cannon of a battleship would be
shipped as component parts, for example.)

"Nothing is more deceiving than a low down dirty... deceiver."
-Jayne Cobb, Firefly

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