The engine has me confused about the placement, because if you stop the film at one of the few times you see the engine, the shaft is in a straight horizontal line, but the prop shaft sits lower then the crankshaft, which would mean the two aren't connected? I thought that it could simply be angled like you see on other steam launches, but both shafts are horizontal. I took a few screenshots from the film, and it appears the entire engine sits above the deck. In the second screenshot you can see that the crankshaft and bearings of the engine seem to be above the base of the boiler, which sits on the deck. Confusing!
The deal with animating is a bit of a problem, VSF animates depending on the speed the vessel is moving at, rather than the speed of the engine, right? Not a problem for ground vehicles where wheel rotational speed is proportional to the speed of the vehicle, but for boats where it's not.... I'm not sure what to do. I might do what you suggest, but it would be a shame to not have the entire engine moving.
It sounds like you certainly have fun in your African Queen
! Do you get to kick the "boiler" much?
(Any photos?)To save myself making a double post, here's my next post which I'm adding onto the end of this one.
I've started to dirty up the engine, it's starting to look less out of place now. There's still a fair bit to do. I have also enlarged some of the elements of the engine so they're a better scale to the rest of the launch. I still don't know what to do regarding the placement of the engine.
I've done a little experimenting on animating the engine. I downloaded Bongo, which in an animation program that runs in Rhino (made by the same people who made Rhino). I only animated a few parts to test, and it came out ok. Animating the whole engine will require a lot more work though - now I know what Jon goes through when he animates his engines, especially the multiple cylinder ones!