Today Transportes Martin (US) got into the Halloween spirit. Normal driving standards were cast to the four winds as Rolled Gold, Angel and Nightshade went out to trick or treat! Rolled Gold started the fun by delivering a load of mouldy cheese to Walmart while dressed up in a pumpkin paint job…Then Angel shed her inhibitions and became a dark angel ‘Straight Out of Hell’ to flour bomb Fresno……and deliver some electronics of a dubious nature (you’ve all seen the movie) to Oxnard…All the time we were engaging with the ai drivers who entered into the spirit of the day by being even more crazy than normal! The Blue Meanies……hit us with volleys of speeding and running stop light fines so they obviously didn’t get with the programme 😦
Nightshade picked up the Sugar Plum run delivering a load of Trick or Treat Candy to Las Vegas……in a suitably Halloween Themed trailer – looks like one of our customers got into the spirit too 🙂 Probably the most fun run of the day as we had some real excitement as we blasted through Barstow. A car came off the slip road in front of us doing, I guess, 20mph! It looked like I was out of options – emergency braking would not prevent a collision and there was a car alongside in the fast lane. Split second decision – I cut onto the end of the slip road behind him and passed him on the right taking a little bit of the grass before gaining the hard shoulder and then cutting back into the lane in front of him! I somehow contrived to miss a telegraph pole and the Armco barrier. I didn’t touch the ai either and I swear that when I looked in the mirror that ai had a totally bemused look on its grill 😉

Tomorrow we’re back in our normal clothes and driving professionally but today has been a day to have fun! Rolled Gold, Angel, Nightshade and I would like to wish all my readers a Happy Halloween 🙂

Boo! Indeed 🙂

Despite all the shananigans, all loads were delivered undamaged and on time although some truck and ai fenders did get bent 😉

Elvira trailer skin is available from Steam workshop and was created by Hurkulez

Meet Midnight Cruiser – our new truck in American Truck Sim for our Lone Star project. In Europe we’re playing the corporate game but here in Arizona we’re a solo trucker and we can be a bit flamboyant!

Unlike in France where we’re building a modern fleet and choosing trucks, engines and gear ratios aimed at recreating current practice, here we’re looking for a different kind of realism – recreating a genuine older truck by checking out configurations of real trucks on the internet. Midnight Cruiser is a Peterbilt 379 finished in the dark navy blue paint scheme of a truck that appears in the Smart Trucking videos on YouTube. But the running gear has come from a couple of advertised 379’s which have gifted her a Caterpillar 3406E 475HP engine attached to an 18 speed gearbox with retarder. The cab has the older style 379 dash……somewhat different to Nightshade’s modern 389 dash! You can see I’ve fitted a Steering Creations wheel which picks up the truck color and we have a gps and my ‘good luck’ dreamcatcher. You get a clearer idea of the external appearance of the truck in this shot……complete with 63 inch sleeper. The additional trimmings are me being exuberant 🙂

Hell! She even looks good in Black & White……Now that’s a truck with Presence!

I’ve worked hard… Driven my heart out to get to the point where we’re finally able to buy that second truck for our Build a Trucking Company project. It’s been more of a trial than it needed to be and for that I have to take the blame. I will elucidate – preferably without having to clear up after me 😉

Back when we reached Toulouse in the Criss-Crossing France post it was all looking very good. Another 3 or 4 drives and we could buy our next truck from the MAN dealer in Marseille. That was the plan. But, as we are a French company – Transportes Martin, no less – I felt it incumbent upon me to take a look at the Renault Range T as an alternative. I downloaded a new free mod for the Range T and there being a large Renault Dealer in Toulouse I thought I’d see what sort of set ups were possible in the planned budget. Changing to a different engine option crashed the game 😦 Hands up – that’s my fault – I should have tried it in my main profile first. I uninstalled the mod which in turn resulted in the game relocating us back to our garage at Bordeaux for safety. I will be taking another look at the Range T for future reference.

Ok – no big deal. So we’re driving from Bordeaux instead of Toulouse. I took LPG from Bordeaux to Limoges and then a Digger to Reims before heading south to Marseilles with a load of Used Plastics in the most non-descript container ever – now that’s martyrdom for you! There is an unwritten rule in the game that you will arrive at a truck dealers ready to buy on a Sunday when they are shut! Don’t laugh – that happens very often and it will happen to you 😉 So – it’s Sunday – what to do. I could have killed time by sleeping in the hotel but making money is a good thing so off I go to Montpellier with a load of coal before returning with a Driller D-50. Now it’s Monday 🙂

I planned to buy the latest Euro VI version of the MAN TGX. This is a Mod by Madster who is also responsible for my beloved MAN TGA. It’s available via the Steam Workshop which means it should be up to date. I worked through the truck configuration stages in the dealer, choosing a cab type then the 6×2/4 midlift chassis and moving on to the engine. This image gives you an idea of the screen and options available for the engines……the one for the gearboxes is similar and that’s where you get to choose the differential ratios that govern best speed in top gear. Then you get to move on to the interior where the cost difference between the standard and the exclusive is horrendous in MAN trucks……You can understand why I went with the standard option 😉 From there we have the paint job and accessories screens where we can choose the colour, add the tyres of our choice and upgrade a variety of features both outside and inside the cab. Anyway, to cut a long story short I completed my modifications and bought the truck. I asked the dealer to deliver my existing Volvo to our Bordeaux garage where I would employ a driver to work for the company.

During the build process I got the feeling that something wasn’t quite right – on one of the chosen Euro VI engines the relevant badging didn’t show up on the cab side. This is not unknown in Mods or indeed with the approved in-game trucks so I didn’t worry too much about it. It was only when I got out on the road that things really seemed wrong. Some of it was more about feel than a tangible fault. The braking seemed lacking in power and the truck seemed to roll on forever when coasting in gear. That was the intangible but the very obvious was the total lack of engine or reversing beeper sound when I put my head out of the window to reverse back onto a trailer. I was in a farmyard and I couldn’t even hear the cows and chickens! Moo-Hoo – there’s something amiss here 😦

Madster’s Mods are usually very good so, having checked on the workshop forum to see if this was a known issue, I uninstalled the mod and restarted the game. This forced me to select a previous saved game for the profile and I chose to go back to the Bordeaux restart and the time following the Range T debacle. Now it was time to check out the Euro VI TGX in my main profile so I drove down to Marseille in the TGA and bought a new Euro VI TGX in the same configuration as I had in our project profile. Guess what – no problems! Now my investigation centred on the load order of the mods in both profiles and here I found the problem. In my main profile the truck mods are loading after the drive train mods but in the project profile they were set to load before. This didn’t affect the Volvo because it is one of the in-game trucks and loads after all the mods. So I corrected the sequence. Lesson learnt – if you’re running two profiles make sure the mods load in the same sequence in both!

Time to drive from Bordeaux to Marseilles again. I picked up a load of Fuel Oil for the Nuclear plant at St Alban which entailed a pleasant drive through the farmland of rural France…From St Alban we took another Digger down to a mine near Montpellier before picking up a Driller D-50 to take in to Montpellier itself. Then we were off to Marseilles with a load of Olives bound for Hellmann’s depot at the old port. It’s fair to say that by this time I have a very good knowledge of the local roads around Marseille and Montpellier and I can tell you that you will come to hate the roundabout by the old port (ai drivers – need I say more?) 😉

Ok, we’re in Marseille – Let’s go buy that MAN. Guess what – it’s 23:30 on Saturday so the dealer is shut until 9:00 on Monday 😦 The Volvo and I spent a while watching the city lights across the water down in the old port that night…It’s a little sad parting ways with a truck you’ve driven for over 15000km. Now she’ll be going to our new employee but first there’s the matter of closed dealers. I can’t sit around and do nothing for 30 game hours – lets haul some cargo! We picked up a load of…Yepp – that’s toilet rolls and there’s nothing wrong with some Rock ‘n’ Rolls 😉 Lots of mental banter with the truck on our way to Montpellier – ‘I’ll be glad to dump this load.’ ‘The job’s not over ’til the paperwork is done.’ etc, etc. It was in a way a joyous farewell. But we still had to run back to Marseille for Monday. Before making that run I took the opportunity to repaint the Volvo in our new company colours and then we headed for Marseille with a load of cut flowers…In future all our trucks will be in this shade of metallic blue. After dropping off the load to Hellmann’s again it was back to the dealers where we bought our new MAN TGX. The dealer undertook to deliver the Volvo to our garage at Bordeaux.

Now it’s time to employ a driver and base them at Bordeaux with the Volvo as their truck. This is done through the recruitment agencies screen. The number of drivers available for hire is dependent on how many recruitment agencies you have discovered. The drivers are displayed in skill order with the most skilled first. I advise that you go for a lower level driver rather than one with lots of skills because you pay a fixed amount per delivery and a kilometres bonus and those values are higher for more skilled drivers. Just like when we started picking our skill points, the most valuable skill for your driver to have is distance driving. I have gone for Freja who has a distance skill and also the first of her ADR skills…She will operate out of Bordeaux for us. You can specify what training a driver should do if you access them through the company screen but the default is balanced and unless you can remember to check all your drivers very regularly it’s best left on that setting. As the drivers skills increase so will the amount you pay them. Equally, the amount they earn the company goes up with their skills and pretty rapidly 🙂 An important point to note about your hired drivers – they are effectively home based drivers. After each outbound job they will look for a job going back to base – they don’t free roam like I do. Freja will always return to Bordeaux even if she can’t find a return job so sometimes she will cost me money but most of the time she will find something to haul and make a profit for the company.

Anyway, the keys have been handed over and I have possession of our new MAN TGX and here she is……’There’s a new MAN in my life’ is always good for banter at the football club 😉  Anyway, that’s it until next time when I’ll report on our first jobs and on Freja’s progress – Drive safe Guys and Gals.  We’ll also need a post to catch up on our Lone Star project where we also have a new truck 🙂