I'm working on my third major project in this fort (the first was a 4.8 kilodorf water turbine reactor and the second was a 90 Z-level magma pump stack to move the magma forges and smelters up to the main work area) -- a downward spiraling mine track to let my dorfs move food directly from the main kitchen and food storage area to the stockpiles attached to my dining rooms.

I'd like to be able to safely push the cart down rather than have someone guide it each step of the way... But since the main dining areas are fifty Z-levels and change below the kitchens, I'm a little worried that the final stop on the course is going to measure on the Richter scale.

Ideally, I'd build pseudostops on every other level or so with a small amount of friction; just enough to keep the speed sane without bringing the cart to a premature halt. What friction level should I be shooting for?

(Also, semi-related is the /second/ spiral that's going to lead back up and draw from the same turbine to power a number of rollers to keep it going back upward. Any tips on how many rollers I'll need, give or take? Assume tracks are entirely made of built blocks for this purpose.)

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    IMO, probably best to aim for an incredibly high friction level, then bring it down slowly until it fits specifications. That was there won't be any 'accidents' in testing.
    – Polar
    Commented Mar 25, 2013 at 12:56
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    Problem is that you need to specify friction level when you build the stop.. Hmm. May have to work out some field tests. For science. Dwarfy science. Commented Mar 25, 2013 at 13:04
  • @Polar Where's the Fun in that?
    – SaintWacko
    Commented Mar 25, 2013 at 13:35
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    @SaintWacko I'm leaving the Fun experiments for when I set up the wind-powered linear accelerator to launch carts full of trap components at mach 2 at enemies. :) Commented Mar 25, 2013 at 14:18
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    I don't know about your actual question, but your idea of launching minecarts full of things at invaders will definitely work.
    – Paul Z
    Commented Mar 25, 2013 at 15:50

1 Answer 1


While I have not done the !!Science!! myself, according to the wiki speed is reduced by a certain amount, based on the tile type, per tick the cart stays on the tile. Thus the calculations for exactly balancing this equation are somewhat complicated and depend strongly on the initial speed of the minecart going into the system. If an actual minecart enters the system going too fast it will continue to speed up and if it enters too slowly it will crawl to a stop.

However, later on the same page of the wiki there are suggestions for controlling speed using controlled derailment. They show a single Z-level 5x5 construction which will slow any entering minecart to less than 1 tile every 2 ticks (derailment speed). I will reproduce (read: copy and paste) it here:

in  ═╔═╗O
out ═╬═╝O <- if going to fast, derails onto track stop path from here.
    O╚S╝O <- start of track stop path.

Where O are the walls and S is a track stop at high friction or less.

Putting one of these every few levels (probably at least 3 levels between control points), will keep your maximum speed from getting too high, and also produces an output speed that is stable under variation of the input speed, unlike trying to exactly balance friction and acceleration.

In regards to your secondary question. Since the same page in the wiki states that rollers can be built on ramps to drag the cart up them, you should not need more rollers than you have z-levels. Beyond that it is rather vague on the physics of rollers. That is a rather large upper bound to work with though, since you have stated that this will cover fifty z-levels.

However, if you are not above using something that could be classified as a bug, take a look at the impulse ramps, which would allow you to move cart upwards without using rollers. Specifically if a cart derails onto an upward ramp it gains speed as though it had come down the ramp. This allows you to build up speed without dropping z-levels or using power. This technique, however, seems rather sketchy to me, and while I might use it I wouldn't feel comfortable showing the resulting fortress to other people.

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