Writing, for me, is a complicated process. Alternate history requires a knowledge of history, alternate technology requires a knowledge of period technology, add historical figures, and this brings on a whole new level of study.
As you can most likely imagine I have been immersed in research for the last couple of days for the Daedalus project. One thing that kept me up last night was an idea for a steam powered mechanical/electrical power generation system.
The power generation system is a single boiler plumbed to multiple, steam turbines, lined up in series. The turbines have a direct drive gear with a flywheel and clutch, below the turbine is a gear box that allows an operator change gear ratios or to a different PTO (Power Take Off ) system, gear, screw, belt, or directly to a rotor/stater generator for electrical power generation. This provides a modular configuration making it easy to add engines or change the configuration of power transfer without shutting down the entire system. Very flexible, and maintainable.
With turbines lined up in series, pairs could be assigned to critical tasks, it would then be easy to pull one engine down for maintenance. Clutch the engine in need of service out, and its mate in, now you can switch back and forth and disassemble and service ether one without loosing a beat.
By introducing a secondary boiler you can create a level of redundancy that provides a maximum of reliability, efficiency and mechanical/electrical power output. This whole operation could provide mechanical and electrical power for a large facility with only a few people in the engine room.
A different configuration using the same components would be a distributed drive system moving the engines close to the equipment requiring power and plumbing the steam to the engines. Although this reduces the mechanical complexities of power transfer it is inherently more dangerous. Running high pressure steam pipes and steam turbine engines throughout the facility is just asking for trouble.
In ether case, the most complex part of the system is the delivery of the mechanical energy to the equipment in need of it. The placement of the engine room and the layout are totally dependent on the operations of the facility.
Ah, Industrial Revolution period engineering. Looks like fun to me.