Alternatives to Metal Springs

Springs are an integral part of so many technologies, used for so many centuries, it is difficult to imagine them being made of anything else than metal.

But looking on the internet I found a vulcanized rubber alternative, and mentions that metal springs do not necessarily have to be made of steel but can be brass or bronze, less costly alloys on Athas.

So somewhere in the Tablelands is a noble house whose prized possession is a copse of rubber trees and the engineering know how to vulcanize it in kiln.

And their competition could be farmers that grow plants with explosive seed pods that use natural springs.


Athas is not completely without metal and fine workings of brass. The orrery in Nibenay is a prime example of these technologies existing on Athas.


Right. A better way to think of the situation is not that Athas does not have metal, but these metals are simply more expensive. There are probably steel springs; they simply cost 10 times as much as on other worlds. Then the question is not if there are steel springs, but who can afford them. The state. Nobles. And so on.


Before metal springs, some species of wood have been used as springs (like for old lathes - spring pole lathes, or wooden leaf spring dampers for vehicles), as well as animal and vegetal fibres (for the propelling of the main arm of catapults and ballistae for example). Some specific bones or part of them can also have some elastic properties (like the ribs).
These “old tech” springs were more of a leaf spring and torsion spring design, but existed nevertheless. Torsion springs are vulnerable to humidity which should not be a problem on Athas.
Depending on the intended use, counterweights can be used as well, but more for bigger designs. Leaf springs are probably the more adapted to small designs.


I didn’t know about “leaf springs”, and I do see how certain woods (strong but flexible?) could replace (in an inferior way) the typical steel. Could even be fitted mekillot rib bones.

I imagine war chariots equipped with these to give stability to archers and javelin throwers. Also the private coaches of the rich, or those small wagons used by rich merchants that haul delicate merchandise such as glassware. Completely inappropriate for argosies, whose immense weight is beyond technologies to mitigate.

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To improve comfort in big vehicles like argosies, seats with vegetable fibre or wooden dampers could be used, like in the beginning of commercial flights, and hammocks for the night.
All the argosies in my campaign are fitted with hammocks because you can easily transform a room into a dormitory for the night and it allows more people to sleep in a given space.
It fits well to the “desert ship” vision I have of the argosies.


I suddenly had an amusing vision of piezoelectric crystals for springs, generates electricity as a bonus which could be used for power in some fashion?

Again, I will mention as I have previously, that glass should absolutely be a well developed industry on Athas, which in my opinion should lead to the independent development of glassteel, which could then replace most metal applications.

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Yes indeed.