Well, with my Wife away, the opportunity to enjoy such things as Rubber is there  My regular readers will have already clocked a fish – to mix metaphors quite brazenly. My rubber fetish is all about achieving realism in my truck simulations.

I’m back in Euro Truck after saying farewell to my personal trucks in American Truck sim as the rescaled map approaches. If you recall, I was driving a MAN TGX with a 440HP engine whilst growing the company. I passed on my original TGA to my first employee Jan over at Kraków and then bought a new Mercedes Actros for another new employee, Katie, at Düsseldorf. The company has moved on – Jan now has a nice new TGX and the TGA is with a young driver called Magnus, growing the Kraków side of the business. With money coming in I decided to risk all once again and get myself a new TGX XLX – passing the TGX XL to a new driver in Dortmund where I had relocated again.

Prior to getting the new truck I had imported a rather nice pair of modifications for the MAN trucks which gave realistic drive trains and better gauge displays. I was trying these out in Unter den Linden – my gold TGX XL – and discovered a minor problem in that I sometimes could not couple up to a trailer with advanced coupling turned on. A bit of a mystery. I shrugged it off as probably mod related and more testing required. With my new TGX XLX purchased however, I felt the need to investigate further.

When a truck couples to a trailer the plate on the chassis – referred to as the 5th Wheel – passes under the lead edge of the trailer, usually making contact and being forced down as it does so. Then as the truck continues to reverse the pin on the trailer, with its ball, slots into the v-shaped cut in the 5th wheel and clicks home. After that the Trucker has to complete the coupling manually and connect the brake hoses and light cables before driving off. This is all very well simulated in the game if you have advanced coupling turned on. My issue was the truck not getting past the edge of the trailer some of the time – on other trailers it seemed to work fine. Time to investigate!

I love all attempts at realism in a simulation game. That’s why I play them. In the early days of Train Sim there were a lot of compromises which have been improved in subsequent upgrades to the game. The same is true of the truck sim games. I now get a reasonably accurate impression of how a MAN TGX is to drive as I do also with a Kenworth W900. Those in-game delivered trucks are pretty good but, and this is not a criticism of SCS, they probably make it a little easy by smoothing the behaviour and making compromises. The Truck manufacturer wants their vehicle to look good and SCS want the game to be playable for the newbie. That’s where mod’s come in and more power to SCS’ elbow for allowing the community to mod the game!

So as mentioned above I have MAN driveline mods to improve the accuracy of the truck engine and gearbox performance. I also have a ‘Real Tyres’ mod which provides a selection of proper truck tyres alongside the three in-game tyres. And here we hit the problem – how many of us actually understand the meaning of the designations on the sides of the tyres we buy for our cars? I bet you’re like me – go into the tyre shop and ask for a new set on the front. When the tyre man asks which you just say ‘Pirelli’ and he knows what sizes your car needs. So you never get to understand what all those numbers mean! I have now, as a result of this game, got to know just what those little numbers mean and potentially their effect on my driving. I’d definitely read up what the numbers mean before your next tyre purchase in the real world!

My issue with the coupling of the MAN TGX was caused by using too large a tyre – too big a profile making the truck sit too high. In the real world it probably would not be an issue but things are a bit finer in the game. I discovered that MAN’s ideal tyre for regional travel in 2015 was the Michelin 315/70 X Multiway 3D whilst for long distance efficiency I should be using their X Line Energy Z tyre of the same dimension. The 315 is the width of the tyre tread in millimetres whilst the 70 is the height of the sidewall as a percentage of the width. So, if I fit 315/80’s that tyre is going to make the truck sit higher. MAN in 2014 suggested using the Goodyear KMAX range also at 315/70. So either will do a good job for me. I’ve fitted the Michelin because I use them IRL and find them a great tyre in the wet (most days in the UK 😉 ) In ATS most of my trucks are using the Goodyear KMAX tyres (I lucked out there!). So there we go – probably one of the best examples of how playing a simulation game can help to give real world knowledge. I’m embarrassed to admit that I knew more about our aircraft tyres than I did about the ones on my car!!! It’s a useful lesson 🙂

Anyway – please meet my new MAN TGX XLX with her Michelin X Line Energy 315/70 boots. I have yet to name her so watch this space!