As a follow-on to my physical Hell planet I am having a great deal of trouble deciding which sort of locomotion people would use when they are not in airships or on the train. People need to get around, at least from the train stations to mining sites or energy farms. By getting around, I mean for routine travel. They have slow moving tractors for plowing and construction, but to just travel between small towns or between towns and work sites, they need something equivalent to a carriage or a car, with luggage space and good speeds over land. Tractors are slow, airships too cumbersome, and trains only go where the tracks are, and on their own schedule. Another mode of locomotion needs to serve individual needs.


Well, it's 420°C outside. That pretty much sums up all the challenges.

  • They have petroleum but asphalt would just be glue. There really can't be paved roads. I'm pretty sure trying to mix cement with water (which you have to make) just isn't going to work. I'm resigned to cleared gravel roads.
  • They don't have any fictitious materials for tires, so if they use wheels it will likely be a rough ride at any reasonable speed. No woods, rubbers, or petroleum derivative will deal with these conditions.
  • Petroleum based lubricants will be useless in bearings, I think axles will be more maintenance than they are worth. Trains work around this with large reserves of high-temperature grease that feeds into the bearings from inside. It doesn't scale down well.
  • I had considered skids or skis, and these would wear out quickly so they better be cheap.
  • There are no internal combustion engines because you have to make oxygen. So it's all condensation cycle steam power. That means the engines stay outside any vehicle. For the reasons above, these engines are on legs and gyro-stabilized. They call them horses. Being outside, they can get as hot as they need to operate efficiently without battling the air conditioning needed for the carriage. So, essentially I am looking for a type of Hell carriage to pull behind mechanical horses. The issue only lies in the mode of carriage.

The society has developed very good insulation materials and has efficient chillers to move heat out of cab spaces. All that is needed is the best traction method to carry the passengers, luggage, and fuel on personal trips or small loads.

How can people get around Hell when they're stuck on the ground?

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    $\begingroup$ They can walk or run. They can use all-steel bicycles or rickshaws. You've basically excluded everything else. Please remember from the help center, "If you are looking for discussion, brainstorming, or an overall process rather than specific questions and answers, the Worldbuilding Stack Exchange might not be a good place for your question." $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Mar 14 at 6:59
  • $\begingroup$ Maybe add the "chemistry" tag? I assume there are materials that are hard and brittle at room temperatures but function like rubber, concrete, etc. at high temperatures. I don't know enough chemistry to say what those might be, but someone else might know. $\endgroup$ Mar 14 at 7:38
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    $\begingroup$ @JoinJBHonCodidact "Equivalent to a car" in 420C and you came up with walk? rickshaw? A process? OK. I think you may have posted a comment to a different tab? $\endgroup$
    – Vogon Poet
    Mar 14 at 11:57
  • $\begingroup$ I saw "equivalent to a carriage." It doesn't matter. You've already answered your question - use a car with the same tech you're using to move your trains. I don't see an actual problem to solve here, just a fishing-for-ideas brainstorming session, which is regularly off-topic. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Mar 14 at 15:17
  • $\begingroup$ @JoinJBHonCodidact It is tightly constrained to the problem of traction, which trains solve with rails at the cost of freedom of mobility; tractors solve with metal wheels at the cost of speed. To wit: "All that is needed is the best traction method to carry the passengers, luggage, and fuel on personal trips or small loads." If that needs to be somewhere else or bigger that can happen. $\endgroup$
    – Vogon Poet
    Mar 14 at 15:22

5 Answers 5


Thanks, NASA

(info provided here all originates from NASA.. Your planet has a Venusian temperature, which poses a technological challenge for a lander, NASA covered several aspects !)

The bearing issue

If you need to use lubricant in bearings, did you consider lead oxide?

A dry lubricant coating in ceramic form consisting of 95 percent lead monoxide and 5 percent silicon dioxide withstood a temperature of 1200 deg F, with a bearing operating at various atmospheric pressures. From this testing, there was no galling or metal transfer of the bearing.

Nasa - lead oxide lubricant

Electric vehicle

It seems to me an electric motor could be appropriate, because you can make an electric motor out of metals that won't melt at 420 degrees celcius and it won't need much lubricant in its bearings. See above. When polished, there won't be need for that at all.

Venus rover: electric vehicle on wind power

The temperature of your planet Hell resembles Venus' surface temperature..

Venus is an extreme world. With a surface temperature in excess of 840 degrees Fahrenheit and a surface pressure 90 times that of Earth, Venus can turn lead into a puddle and crush a nuclear-powered submarine with ease. While many missions have visited our sister planet, only about a dozen have made contact with the surface of Venus before quickly succumbing to the oppressive heat and pressure.

..maybe the pressure and winds are not the same (?), so you can't use wind for energy harvesting, but your question did remind me of a challenge NASA put for a vehicle for that planet in 2020, the winners are here: NASA's Venus Rover Challenge

enter image description here

  • $\begingroup$ Lead oxide would not be a puddle? Wind power-to-electricity-to-motors will be a very slow trip to grandma’s, but I suppose Tesla is already taking us to Hell with cars that need your garage all night long. That’s for the bass boat, Elon. No. $\endgroup$
    – Vogon Poet
    Mar 15 at 1:04
  • $\begingroup$ @VogonPoet try one, you'll be amazed. You'll have to adjust the NASA-design to have a rover suitable for your purpose, of course! you also want to put a sinner in, to drive it. As for puddle as a the lubricant, works fine, check out the (high temp) options google.com/search?client=firefox-b-d&q=PUDDLE+LUBRICANT $\endgroup$
    – Goodies
    Mar 15 at 7:03
  • $\begingroup$ Humans have survived the pressure of the mountains of Venus. But not the temperature, no nothing close. $\endgroup$ Mar 17 at 9:56

Evolutionary adaptation

If there are people living in hell permanently, as humans and other living things on earth, then they have adapted to the environmental conditions of hell otherwise they cannot survive.

Strain 121 (Geogemma barossii) is a single-celled microbe of the domain Archaea. First discovered 320 km (200 mi) off Puget Sound near a hydrothermal vent, it is a hyperthermophile, able to reproduce at 121 °C. (see here)

Materials' States

All materials are in states as dictated by the hell's environment. At 420 °C,

  • there is no water but only super-heated steam.

  • Lead, zinc, Bismuth, Cadmium, Selenium, Tin will be liquid.

Steam Engines

Steam engines work under the three laws of thermodynamics. You need steam at even higher temperature to produce pressure. Quadrupeds may work but hexapods can carry loads better. For more explanation, See here.

Read my comment below enter image description here

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    $\begingroup$ There are no answers in this answer. $\endgroup$
    – Daron
    Mar 14 at 16:15
  • $\begingroup$ @Daron Question says, "essentially I am looking for a type of Hell carriage" or "How can people get around Hell". So I answered, "1- People will not need air-conditioning because of adaptation. 2- Materials to make and run carriage are not as on earth. 3- Steam engines will not work as they work on earth. 4- You can pull a carriage with quadrupeds but why not make a hexapod and sit on it without the need of a carriage." $\endgroup$
    – imtaar
    Mar 15 at 7:28

Less Tractory Tractor.

It seems you have already figured out how hell-tractors work. You don't say how these hell-tractors overcome the list of challenges but I presume you have something in mind.

For short range personal transport you can just use something analogous to a tractor, with the same technology, only a bit smaller and less tractor-y. Make the wheels thinner and less bumpy to go faster.

That is assuming you have roads. I'm sure it's hard to build roads at 430 C. If you don't have roads then the normal tractor might be your best bet. The wide bumpy wheels are good for off-road you see.


We have trains between established areas and mining equipment to establish train lines.

We have airships that can move via Air.

We don't have ground travel that isn't on a track yet, which tells me this is likely to be rough terrain.

Animals get around rough terrain using legs, which is largely the best solution I have for a hellscape, depending on how much of the floor is lava.

To keep the cabin, joints, and cargo within livable ranges, we're looking at an exoskeleton (think the body of an insect) to keep the outside out and the inside in. A liquid coolant or vacuum layer may or may not be used to further insulate (which will require loading/exiting design considerations) which will hopefully solve the bearing lubrication issue, unless the drivers rely entirely on a suit to stay alive.

If being pulled by mechanical horses? The mechanics of the legs can simply by powered by the pull from the front, similar to how Theo Jansen's wind powered walkers work. Just push it in the right direction and the legs will provide everything else to smooth the motion above the surface.

This walker would likely have 8 legs, allowing the ability to walk and climb over the environment and test footing while keeping a stable base on known solid ground, but I'm not sure how far ahead or apart the chariot is from it's horses.

EDIT: You could have teams of these walkers work in tandem with air suppliers to build up new encampments. The vehicles would be able to set up in a location, lock together (flat beds on their backs) and create a level landing platform for Airships to drop supplies down for research, mining, etc.


Individual train cars.

little train


You have the train tracks. They are reliable because the train company maintains them. They are unlikely to end in a pool of lava. If you don't want to use the train you can still use the tracks.

You have individual track-riding cars. These take the tracks most of the way and then go off road whatever distance is left to the destination.

Almost all destinations are along the tracks. If there is a new destination that will be visited with any frequency, tracks are built out to it. As regards destinations remote from the tracks, they are unvisited except on special occasions and then probably by airship.


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