Why a joy? Why a trial? Same reasons for both. I got so interested in the material that the research grew exponentially.
One effect is that I am now the proud owner of about a dozen reference books, varying from pop-up 3-D illustrations (and OMG is that sort of thing helpful) to reprints of photographs more than a hundred years old (essential when trying to decipher styles of facial hair) to political and sociological tomes. One of those was so enormous that when I fell asleep with it on the bed, I thought it was my eighteen pound cat keeping me from rolling over. I still can't say I understand the finer undercurrents of the politics, but the demographics were clear, and a real eye-opener. I discovered I had a very south-and-western-county, agricultural and fifty years out of date view of the entire country. The story is set in early twentieth century Belfast by necessity, and this urban area, one of the industrial powerhouses of the world at that time, bears little resemblance to Sligo or Roscommon, or any place with a name that appears more frequently in titles of tunes. The resulting story may shake up similar perceptions in the readers.
Good thing bookmarks to websites don't take up any room to speak of; I have a lot of them. Forums dedicated to the industry I was researching, historical societies, personal sites by people who lived in the type of housing I needed to describe. Now and then I would trade some bit of my knowledge for information, swapping song lyrics for lists of what the engine room crews ate, and where, because you certainly can't bring that coal schmutz all over the ship. I met people whose breadth of knowledge astounded me, and they were generous in sharing it.
One thing leads to another in searches of this sort -- I went down pathways I didn't expect and ended up using snippets I didn't plan for. I ended up with a wealth of details that didn't get used, but a great many that did. I can only hope that it makes the story richer for the readers.
I don't have a firm pub date on this one, details as they become available.
And this is how you start to build a very large ship: