… And a bit of football…

I seem to spend much of my time currently apologising for not posting. Here’s the situation report. Because of the way the league and cup competitions have worked out I have 5 matches to photograph and process the images from in the next 12 days. You will appreciate that this will leave me with scant time for producing blog content 😦 We were down at Tiverton on Saturday in the FA Trophy – a new ground for most of us and a very long journey for the team (5 hours on the coach each way). We’re down to Brightlingsea tomorrow evening – that’s 3 hours each way. Then we’ve got to go to Chippenham – another 5 hour each way trip. I go and take the photos. Then, I have to process them which takes 2 – 3 hours after each game (home or away). So, with so many upcoming matches I am going to be struggling to blog more than my weekly Trucking Digest and even that’s going to be a bit sparse of content 😦

I can show some footie phots though and I hope you like them. These are from our away game at Tiverton.

We won the game 3-2 after a tragic back-pass by their defender to the keeper that bobbled over his foot and into the back of the net. Full of sympathy for him and had a great chat with some of their fans afterward. If you’re ever down that way, pop into Tiverton Town FC – very fine people!

Let me begin with an explanation of my lack of posts since last week’s Digest. I have been investigating a computing mystery. For some reason my screen was not displaying the desktop when I first turned on the pc. Then, after a variable length of time during which the power light would flash, the screen would display normally. Initially this seemed to coincide with the point at which the computer finished booting up and I wondered if this was some new Windows 10 trick to prevent us from trying to log in before the operating system was ready. However, it started getting worse. This had me scratching my head for a while and doing a number of tests to localise the cause of the problem. These involved things like putting the machine in standby mode and even powering it down using the button. I found that going to standby and then powering up again would often cause the screen to display the desktop, but not always. Once the screen started displaying then everything was fine for the rest of the day. The real clue came when I powered down the pc on one occasion and the power light on the screen continued to flash when it should have switched to a solid yellow because there was no signal from the pc. My conclusion was that the signal detection circuitry in the screen was slowly dying. The old screen was an HP 2009v and has given sterling service so I have no complaints πŸ™‚

I have now bought a new screen to replace it and that’s what I’m staring at as I type this post. It’s somewhat larger than its 20″ predecessor, being a 27″ screen. Initial impressions when running Truck Simulator are good and films look good too. My Son has green eyes… you know, the envious ones πŸ˜‰ Tomorrow morning will be the test of whether my conclusion was correct when we start up after all night-long power down – it might still be an issue with the graphics card – fingers crossed that it’s not!

Between testing I have done a fair bit more driving in and out of Germany to assist with the community event. I set myself a personal target of 1500t and I achieved that on November 5th. To celebrate I made my way over to Bordeaux to buy a third garage for Martin Transport et Logistique. I’m now starting to mix in some jobs in American Truck Sim to add some variety while I still do some deliveries to help the community in Europe. SCS revised the total tonnage to be delivered down to 15million and we’re not far off that now. You may recall that I had been using the 580HP Scania – effectively starting the heavy-haul side of the company. Here are a couple of shots of her on one of the heaviest loads – 51 tons of Concrete beams…
…That trailer is a good example of the new trailer physics in action. it really does push you, trying to continue in a straight line when you’re rounding bends at anything like autobahn speeds so you have to slow down for a lot of corners that you might take at normal speed with a lighter load!

With my employees now bringing in a lot of money I felt that I should indulge my historical interests and get an older truck as a ‘preserved’ vehicle. A recent addition to mods has been the Volvo F88 from XBS so I thought I’d buy one of those. These trucks were in production between 1965 and 1977 – a time when I was in secondary school and at work for the first 5 years of the 45 that lay ahead of me. I can remember seeing them appearing alongside a largely British truck fleet on the North Circular Road. The modelling seems to have been well carried out and certainly recreates the look of these vehicles. I opted for the 260HP engine and the 16 speed gearbox. Here’s my one at work…

…The dash looks sparse compared with a modern truck – there’s no computer to tell you the fuel consumption. The gauges around the circular instrument on the left tell you the state of the fuel, oil and temperatures whilst the central arrow indicates how full the air reservoir is for the brakes. The speedo on the right also contains a clock so at least you know what time it is! The small gauge in the centre is the rev counter – appropriately coloured so you know where you’re supposed to keep the needle πŸ˜‰ The gearing is interesting as the ideal speed for fuel consumption seems to be 70kph which compares with around 85kph in the MAN TGX and 80kph in the heavy-haul geared Scania Streamline. So jobs typically take a little longer in this truck πŸ™‚ Mostly loads up to 25 tonnes can be hauled but if you choose your route with care to avoid steep inclines then it’s possible to shift anything up to 40 tonnes – that’s 39 tonnes of Bulldozer running through Metz!

I’ll conclude by telling of the latest little surprise from SCS. On November 5th the official Volvo VNL was released as a free update to American Truck Sim. It arrived without any pre-warning and is a direct result of license agreement being reached with Volvo North America. The version delivered is, I believe, the 2014 spec but it’s safe to assume that the 2018 version will soon become available too. And on November 7th came the release of the Special Transport DLC for ATS! I have to say thanks to all the guys and gals at SCS πŸ™‚ Have I missed a month somewhere – is it Christmas already???

Here we are again and I’m struggling to get back to the regular Thursday spot. It’s been a busy couple of weeks and I also felt that I owed it to two of our regular photo-challenge providers to prioritise responses to them before this post. This is going to be a post that tackles a difficult issue on the real roads whilst seeing them in the context of a game.

This week I’ve been driving for the community and delivering goods to and from Germany. Driving in the new Germany is great. Driving in the old German map is less so because you get some unpleasant little tricks from the ai drivers on the 3-lane autobahns – changing lane into the rear of your trailer when you’re already in the lane for example. That’s clearly a game anomaly and while the fine for a collision that was not your fault is frustrating, it’s not the end of the world. The only sin here is the breaking of immersion when it happens – not a real world accident! Now for something different.

On Monday I was driving 24t of excavator from KΓΆln to Lyon. The route takes you along a single carriageway road between Mannheim and Strasbourg and includes a number of sharp bends close to the border between Germany and France. In Germany the speed limit for trucks is 60kmph and in France it increases to 80kmph on this stretch of road. My regular readers will know that I take driving my truck very seriously. Whilst this is a ‘game’ it’s also a simulation where we can choose to do things correctly. So you will know that I was driving this road in accordance with the rules, speed limits and the physical limitations of a heavily loaded trailer. Hopefully this has set the scene for you.

Just after crossing the border there is a sharp left turn so I’m down at 35kmph for that because of the load. We then commence a climb approaching a quite tight right-left s-bend in a cutting. At this point I’m up to 45kmph – so below the speed limit for the road by a significant amount – and looking to perhaps continue the acceleration as we flow through the corners. I enter the right hand corner with heavy opposite direction traffic. Then suddenly, coming around the opposite left-hand turn there is a car – on my side of the road! I have just about enough time to start braking and then we have collided 😦

In the real world this is a fatal collision for the car driver and any passengers he/she has on board. It’s potentially also fatal for the truck driver. I’ve had the opportunity, because it is a game and because jobs just happened to take me back over that same stretch of road 5 times subsequently, to review what happened and to consider whether I could have done anything different to avert the accident. So lets look at the facts.

This accident happened on a corner that was blind to me due to the terrain and the opposing traffic. However, I am driving significantly below the speed limit in consideration of that fact and my cargo’s centre of gravity. The same is true for the car driver – he cannot see past the vehicles he is overtaking to assess whether there is a clear road ahead. The right hand bend where the collision happened has a continuous white line which means no overtaking. Interestingly the preceding bend has a dashed white line which in the real world could have contributed to the driver thinking he could legally overtake. But that doesn’t mean he should overtake approaching and on a blind corner! I haven’t even touched upon the terrain and the issue of vehicles hidden by dips of the road – again, my presence could well have been hidden by the way the road falls away at this point. All of which is irrelevant because he just shouldn’t have been on the wrong side of the road at all 😦

You must be asking yourself – why am I talking like this ai driver is a human being? Because, sadly, I read about accidents with similar stories almost every week. Families who tragically lose loved ones because of stupid driving like this. All that happened on Monday is that I saw a very accurate in-game replay of the real world tragedies cause by impatience, bravado and stupidity on the real world roads. I’m here to write about it but in the real world that might well not be the case 😦 Games do sometimes show real life for what it is. I would ask all my readers to drive safely and with consideration for all other road users. Please don’t risk it on blind corners because you’re late for that meeting or party. And definitely don’t drive flash to show off to your mates 😦

That’s €21k damage to the truck, damage to the cargo and, to add insult to injury, I get a €400 collision fine! And the ai drives off with the opposite direction traffic making room for him. Now that’s immersion breaking πŸ˜‰ Sorry for the lecture on safe driving – Hopefully next week’s Trucking Digest will be a happier affair πŸ™‚