Through examining a case study of a major fluids modelling code, this paper charts two key properties of software as a material for building models. Scientific software development is characterized by piecemeal growth, and as a code expands, it begins to manifest frustrating properties that provide an important axis of motivation in the laboratory. The first such feature is a tendency towards brittleness. The second is an accumulation of supporting technologies that sometimes cause scientists to express a frustration with the bureaucracy of highly regulated working practices. Both these features are important conditions for the pursuit of research through simulation.