Long-range engines for the Weinbaum universe
In FF XI it isn't easy to design ships capable of reaching Pluto and returning without various fudges such as in-flight refuelling, drop tanks, etc. which don't seem to fit in the spirit of Weinbaum's original stories.
Following some discussion, Rob Garitta has suggested a couple of fixes - Long Range Engines, which convert fuel more efficiently but can't put out huge amounts of thrust, and some support infrastructure for the premier pirate, Red Peri:
I'd like to suggest the following fudge: long range engines. They are limited to .015 gees cruising speed and a maximum emergency speed of 1.5 gees. They cost +50% and weigh +25% (coincidentally the same as racing engines!) When cruising the ship uses fuel half as fast. Long range engines can't also be racing engines. Frank Keene's ship and the Uranus expeditions probably used in flight fuel transfers as you said. The Peri probably has fueling facilities on Pluto.
In the case of the Red Peri I made up the following:
Peri MacIane (genius that he was) produced the tetrahedral design for the stability it affords making a wilderness landing. Three points define a plane and panding gear mounted at each corner and a center firing engine would make the ship nearly impossible to roll. In addition he designed the engine mountings to allow the quick change of several engines. So the Peri has a long range and racing engine for her ship at each base and mounts the proper engine for the job. She might even have several engines in a major base using uranium, radium or protactinium according to available fuel. The result to League investigators is that her ship seems to be able to go anywhere and catch anything.
I'm assuming she had/has several bases with additional engines, one on Pluto (that she moved to Uranus thanks to Keene), one on the dark side of Venus, and one on Iapetus.
Both of these ideas work - in the case of the long range engine use the design rules and template; select racing engine but maximum thrust must be 0.15g, maximum emergency thrust must be 1.5g, and halve the fuel consumption. I'd suggest that referees come up with their own locations for the Peri's base (if it still exists) since players may read this.
One thing I would suggest adding is that the difficulty of piloting rolls during take-off and landing should be +1, since there is so little power to play with. Getting caught by cross-winds would be seriously bad news.
This is a neat fix which doesn't unbalance things too badly, since most players will want a faster flight on the shorter routes. I recommend it, but make sure that players know that there are disadvantages.