After my brief moment of outrage midweek it’s time to relax into the calming purr of diesel – which is fortunately of the simulated variety and so does not affect the planet too much! Everything this week is Euro Truck and more specifically Baltic in its content. The new map area has produced a lot of fun and represents SCS Software’s greatest effort to date – although Oregon and New Mexico should rightly stand alongside for quality. When I travelled north in my MAN, I was assuming that 1, I’d probably change trucks quite early on and 2, I’d only be there a short while because of other priorities. It didn’t turn out that way and I only made my way back into the ‘Old Europe’ of Germany late Wednesday evening. And.. My business with the Baltic States is far from over!

The MAN proved to be an excellent choice for the trip because… The roads have some very weird speed limits and loads of junctions to negotiate. It’s fair to say that in the Baltics as represented in Euro Truck, the motorway system is in its infancy. So having the 540HP of the MAN was very helpful with keeping time on urgent jobs – she can fly when she wants πŸ™‚ I’ll return to the subject of keeping time in a while. What I must say about this Baltic expansion is that it captures the essence of what I expect the Baltic states to be like based on what we see on the news or on travelogues. What makes it even better is when fellow truckers that live there praise the implementation – so hats off to the map creators at SCS for their work πŸ™‚ Churches are a theme with ones of the orthodox Christian faith prevalent…

…and then there are the memorials to a war torn Europe that is still not that far in the past…
There are some new roads – in fact some so new that they haven’t been very well documented photographically yet. The Western Diameter around St. Petersburg required a lot of work by the SCS development team…
..and I haven’t touched on the subject of trams – some images of them on my next visit to the area!

The biggest issue on this map for us virtual truckers is the speed limits as mentioned before. In Russia this becomes a real trap. The limit is generally 70kmh on all roads except the ‘Diameter’. However, through towns it reduces to 60kmh. Almost everywhere in Europe there is a speed limit sign warning you to reduce speed but in Russia there isn’t – just a town name on a white board – pass that without reducing speed and you’ll get a fine… Now that’s really trolling the driver πŸ˜‰ It takes a few runs to get used to that! It’s ironic that the normal EU 80kmh – 50kmh is less of an issue because it is clearly marked.

I mentioned the possibility of changing truck while in the Baltics and on my last intended day there I bought a souvenir – a SISU M-163. This is a Finnish truck dating back to the late 1960’s – early 1970’s, a bit like the Volvo F88 that I showed a couple of weeks back. The SISU company had quite a long term relationship with Leyland for their engines and also Rolls Royce. The truck as provided in a mod by XBS has two examples of the Rolls Royce Eagle engine along with the later Cummins engines sourced from the US. It is rugged in appearance and has a simple dash as one would expect for the period. I fitted the RR Eagle 320 engine that gives 315HP and a 12+2 speed gearbox. Here she is ready for a run from RΔ“zekne to Leipzig……The engine sounds are very different from modern engines – in some ways this was a real revelation compared with the old Volvo’s and Scania’s that I’ve used before in Euro Truck. The generally deeper note of the engine was there as expected and so was the heavy deceleration when I removed my foot from the gas. But this seemed very lacking in power. In fairness, I suspect that it wasn’t designed for hauling 21t but then neither was the Volvo F88. I found myself having to keep my foot in for ages as the truck wound up speed and as fast as we gained speed we hit another restriction or junction. This was trucking in the raw and fighting against the implacability of a deadline. The one positive was the retarder which also summoned the engine brake – a godsend – we could slow down far faster than we could accelerate! Here’s a nice night shot of us passing through Malta (not the island)……and here’s a view of that 40 year old dash…

The run from RΔ“zekne to Leipzig is a long one and that was good because when we hit the open roads in Poland and the German autobahns we were able to claw back a deficit to just achieve an on-time delivery. But on a shorter run it became very clear that the limited acceleration of this truck was a major handicap and finishing late for a job is both costly and embarrassing for the company. With much sadness I had to let her go – traded in for a modern Scania R450. But why was she a liability when the Volvo F88 was not? For that we have to look at the game and more specifically the types of job I’m doing. We’re back to the IRL time of World of Trucks jobs vs the in-game time of all the other types of job. When I was driving the Volvo F88 I was carrying loads for a community challenge and they were all World of Trucks jobs. So the impact of poor acceleration were mitigated. In the SISU I’m doing cargo market jobs and these are often tight for in-game time. Those times as set by SCS are aimed at the modern trucks in the game. Sadly, the SISU and, indeed, the F88 are going to struggle with completing those jobs on time. It’s an issue with using my own trailers and, with a company to run, sacrifices have to be made…

This is no reflection on the quality of those mods – in fact it demonstrates their accuracy. Sadly, both are likely to disappear from ETS due to plagiarism by unscrupulous individuals who will steal mods and publish them as their own or convert them for unintended use in American Truck. XBS has sadly had enough and will not update these any more 😦