Trucking Digest

Christmas… When I penned my previous post I was feeling a little out of sorts. I went down very quickly over Christmas Day with what I can best describe as Man-Flu – high temperature, aching limbs and sore throat. Plans for Boxing Day went straight out the window because I was in no fit state to cook nor eat anything too rich. So that was my Christmas 😦 I’m feeling a little better today although the chill effect seems to come and go during the day. Fingers crossed I’ll be back to normal come New Year’s Eve.

I want to write a bit about one of the changes that was brought into Euro and American Truck with version 1.33. You may recall that v1.32 brought improved realism to trailer stability with new physics based around cargo weight and centre of gravity. This was a major improvement. In v1.33 SCS Software had a one-liner advertising further Physics improvements (suspension, damping, braking, COGs). I was somewhat surprised when I started driving in the new version to find that my trailers weren’t appearing very unstable any more. Surprised? – Perplexed would be nearer the mark! It took a lot of questions to the development team by long time simulation reviewer Squirrel to get to the bottom of what was going on and he shared his findings in a video on YouTube which SCS also promoted through their social media accounts… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rx43bLMZmxU …I have carried out the necessary changes to the stability and suspension in the background config using the games console and it is such an improvement. Now there is a need to ease back on the speed when approaching sharp corners. If you don’t the truck and trailer will develop an outward lean and ultimately roll over. There is an unforeseen positive – before, in v1.32, there was little warning that you’d reached the critical point for the trailer and it would suddenly go over onto its side. Now, because the truck is also unstable, you get plenty of warning and can take suitable action to avoid reaching that critical point πŸ™‚ In American Truck you won’t notice the effect quite as much in the conventional vehicles such as the Peterbilt 389 because these vehicles are more stable than the European trucks. To have a fun rolling ride you really need to get out and about in one of the old-school cabover’s like the Freightliner FLB πŸ˜‰

The other news was the annual Christmas Event which began on 18th December. We all had to deliver 12 Christmas Loads in ETS and ATS to qualify for the personal rewards and the community had to achieve 1 million deliveries for the community rewards to be released. I finished my last delivery for this on Christmas Day morning and since then I’ve only done one more run because I didn’t feel up to it (that’ll tell you how unwell I’ve been!). I believe the community completed their target later on Christmas Day. The delivery count is still rising though as there are other members trying to complete their personal targets. I’ll probably try and do a few more runs when I’m back up to speed. Some of the community would like to breach the 2 million mark by the time the event closes on 13th January πŸ™‚ Here’s a few shots from my deliveries…

I think that will have to do for this post. Hope you all had a great time over the Christmas period and that you’re getting ready to see in the New Year. Keep on Trucking πŸ™‚

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Trucking Digest

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 😦

Trucking Digest

In the last Digest I said I’d be writing about the New SCS Volvo VNL in this post, so without more ado that’s what I’m going to do πŸ˜‰ That the Volvo VNL has been a long wanted addition to American Truck Sim was clearly evidenced by the plethora of tweeted shots within hours of SCS announcing the truck’s presence in the release. There has long been a mod of the 670 variant of this truck by Aradeth – one that I have tried and did a video of me diving some time back. But not every player wants to download mods, especially when they are from 3rd party sites, because of the risks involved. So an officially licensed version was greeted as a blessing from heaven – especially as SCS added it for free to everyone who owns the base game! As an aside, if any of you are thinking of giving American Truck Sim a go on your PC, now is a good time because the game is available in the Steam autumn sale for Β£3-74p or just under $5, as is Euro Truck Sim 2 should you prefer that option.

SCS have clearly had this truck waiting in the wings until they got License from Volvo North America and it’s probably best seen as a place marker for the future release of the 2018 model of the truck. They’ve stayed away from duplicating Aradeth’s version and released the 300 (day-cab), 730 and 780 (Sleeper) versions of the truck. The first immediate difference that owners of the Aradeth version will note is the lack of animation of the steering wheel and Satnav when starting the truck – if you’ve never owned that version then it’s an irrelevance. The texturing of the truck interior is relatively coarse compared with some private mods out there which means that if you get in really close to some of the cab fittings there is a degree of jaggedness but in normal driving you won’t notice and the good news is that lower textures help with frame-rates πŸ™‚

I normally do a shakedown run in any new truck in case I’ve missed something when going through the purchase process – a short job with a moderate load. On this occasion though one of the new Special Transport jobs was there to take and I decided to give that a go. At least the run around San Francisco Bay to get to the collection point gave me a chance to get a basic feel of the truck. So here she is on that Special Transport run complete with the Police escort keeping the following traffic back…

The mod comes with a number of official paint colors and some of the special paint job options such as the Halloween or Operation Big Sur ones. I liked the Thunderbird scheme based on Native American art which I think works well on this truck……Though in the long term she will be painted in one of the stock Volvo colors because there doesn’t seem to be the same tradition of special paint jobs on US Volvos that there is on Peterbilt’s or Kenworth’s.

There were / are a couple of little niggles with this truck which SCS will no doubt rectify over the next couple of game releases. The first was a glare issue with the wind screen – something which was there in the Peterbilt 579 and Kenworth 680 trucks when the game first released in 2016. Perhaps that is an indication that this Volvo was originally intended to be available from the first if Licensing had not been an issue. SCS have already fixed that bug and the glare is gone. The other issue that I’m aware of is with the in-cab indication that the bears want you to pop-in and see them at the next weigh-station. This has red and green led lights that are usually off but light up to tell you to either come in or pass as you approach. Currently these are permanently on. Some people are finding the engine sounds and the way the automatic gearbox works a bit odd. To me, driving a European Volvo from time to time, the automatic gearbox seems to be behaving much as I would expect. The engine does seem a little loud compared with its European counterparts but I believe noise legislation differences may be a part of that – I do know that a number of people are waiting for prolific sounds modder Kreichbaum to produce a pack of engine sounds for this truck.

All in all I think this is a great addition to stock for the game. The truck drives well and the cab instruments are well presented making them very easy to read…

I’ll leave you with a shot of her climbing the grades south of Pendleton in Oregon with a load of Wood Shavings bound for Jackpot, Nevada……and one of her driving through hometown Bakersfield in the early morning, after she was repainted in metallic ‘Carolina Green’, with a mobile barrier…

I’m now going to pass her on to one of my fellow ‘Republik Trucking’ drivers and dig out the Peterbilt 389 ‘Night Train’ that I mentioned in a previous post before the major v1.32 game update. You’ve never met her so I’ll share some shots next time and also some more from Europe. Happy Trucking everyone πŸ™‚