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 🙂 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 🙂 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 😉 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 Rēzekne 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 Rēzekne 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 😦

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Trucking Digest

Last week’s Trucking Digest was a milestone for my blog – it was my 1000th post 🙂 Hopefully, I can continue on to post a lot more! Now, lets get on with business…

I promised last week that you’d get to meet Night Train this time around. Night Train draws her name from the Oscar Peterson Trio album. She’s a Peterbilt 389 with a 6×4 chassis. The engine is a Cummins N14 which has been chipped (tuned) to produce 600HP – which has the additional advantage of giving the exhaust sound a very distinctive bark! She’s finished in a special metallic blue and cream paint scheme by modder Klunk. Best cruising speed for this truck is 60mph, though she can go a lot faster. Here she is heading for Roswell with a Tractor……and arriving at the customer in the small hours to make delivery……and here is the dash…

Euro Truck sim grabs most of the headlines again this week. v1.33 released which brought the Krone Boxliner trailer into the game for us to own. This was an important step for my company as it would allow a move into the lucrative chemicals market as well as container shipments of other commodities. I bought one for myself and after a couple of loads bought two more, one for my Bordeaux garage and one for Montpellier where they can be used by my drivers. There were a number of other trailers made available for company ownership but I haven’t assessed their potential yet and ones aimed at the Scandinavian market aren’t really applicable to my French company. Here’s a shot of the faithful MAN heading through northern Germany with a load of Chlorine on the Boxliner…

There were a number of esoteric were changes – the way that raindrops appear on the windshield, tweaks to the physics and some background changes such as the ability to keep your profile on the Steam Cloud. There were also another batch of Random Events which further increases the diversity of each drive. But the other key change was new ports at Travemünde in Germany and Kapellskär in Sweden in preparation for the new ‘Beyond the Baltic Sea’ dlc. With baited breath the community waited all last week until Thursday evening when that long awaited new map section released. I can now visit Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Finland and a small part of western Russia! Initial impressions are good. There many interesting scenes mapped and new features like Border Controls – here we are crossing into Russia…… note the border police on the gantry checking the roof! My papers were ok and I was allowed to pass – I wonder if we’ll ever see jobs turned back at the border for wrong paperwork or maybe even confiscations of contraband? Somehow I reckon a consignment of ammunition might raise a few eyebrows! Here we are leaving Kaliningrad across the Queen Louise bridge over the river Neman – next stop Lithuania border control!..

There are four ways to get jobs now in the Truck Sim games – Job Market when you’re a driver for hire; Freight Market to haul other companies trailers; World of Trucks where you also haul other companies trailers and finally, Cargo Market where you get loads for your own trailer. In case you’ve forgotten all, except World of Trucks jobs, operate in game clock time. One thing I’ve found is that the roads in the new ‘Baltic’ area are lumbered with many speed restrictions and the afore mentioned border checks. Every job I’ve done so far in the area has been very tight for time – even the standard jobs! The upshot is that you have to really get a move on with your deliveries if you aren’t going to bust your drivers hours or arrive late at your destination. And the downside of that is you can’t spend time sightseeing 😦 I think I might send my trailer home and do some IRL timed World of Trucks jobs so I can enjoy the mapping! I’ll leave you with this tail shot as I cross into Leningradskaya Oblast on my way to Saint Petersburg…

American Truck Sim has its own v1.33 waiting in the wings and will have another innovation – diversions… Can’t wait for that! Report to follow when it’s been deployed. And I can report that both games are now in sync regards IRL time played – Euro truck has finally caught up! So I shall now be alternating between Europe and the US to keep them in close alignment. Best wishes to all my readers – Keep on Trucking 🙂

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 😉 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 £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 🙂

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 🙂