Middle of the month and time to join in with Clare’s Share Your Desktop Challenge. Same format for me as last month’s entry – two desktops.

On my Gaming PC I have a desktop that ties in nicely with Clare’s, since Space is involved. This is a screenshot from a game called X4…

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It’s a view of my ship, a small fighter, docked at station. The ship is an Elite Vanguard and is the first ship you are given when you start the game. It’s an interceptor rather than a dogfighter. As I’ve only recently started playing this game, I can’t really tell a lot more about it and certainly no plot details. I’m not even sure it has one in the starting option I chose – more of a sandbox where you make your own way in the galaxy😅

On my Photography PC things are a lot simpler. Here’s a photo taken on Brompton Road…

Robinsons PE56 YXS on Brompton Road

Centrepiece of the image is a Volvo FH12 belonging to Robinson’s Haulage of Sandy. Fitted with a 520HP engine, the tractor unit has a 6×2 Tag-lift chassis – note that the centre axle is the driven one. This configuration is a little unusual in London as it is commonly favoured by companies that work on untarmacked roads. There is also a crane fitted behind the cab to assist with loading flatbed trailers. The truck conforms to the ‘You can never have too many lights’ rule-of-thumb and has a nice set of air-horns too😅 If you look in the centre of the windscreen you can see an Angry Duck – the hood ornament from Rubber Duck’s Mack truck in the 1978 film Convoy. There are a lot of other ‘Volvo’ details added to the vehicle which tells me that the driver loves his truck! Finally, for those that haven’t recognised the large building in the background – it’s Harrods 😎

All this hot weather in England has disrupted my usual trucking. I like to wear my headset while driving so I can enjoy the music of the engine. But sweaty ears is not something I’m comfortable with so I have been having a bit of a break and doing other games.

Today, it was a bit cooler and I took the opportunity in the morning to do two drives. The first was in American Truck Simulator, where I fired up Motown Dog to move a digger from Santa Fe (NM) to Kingman (AZ). For those who aren’t familiar with my trucks, Motown Dog is a Mack R600 fitted with a Detroit Diesel 6V-92TA engine producing 335HP. She has a 10-Speed manual gearbox.

This is a good time to talk about a physical issue that I have with the mechanicals associated with my gaming. The steering wheel I use is now 6 years old. In that time I have probably averaged the equivalent of around 20,000 real world miles every year in the game. That’s a lot of driving and my IRL car has no idea how easy a life it has😅 The issue with a computer steering wheel, pedals and gear stick lies in how they operate and the ingression of dust that accumulates. The wheel itself is largely immune to any dust related issues. But the gear stick, despite having a pseudo leather cover below the knob, does suffer from some dust getting in. Additionally, the rubber blocks that push the switches, break down over time and become sticky. This is something I can deal with quite easily – take off the cover from time to time and liberally spray the switches with WD40 Contact Cleaner. The same approach can’t be applied to the pedals. They use potentiometers to measure things like throttle and clutch position. Unfortunately they build up a sticky film over time and that produces an effect known as spiky throttle in the sim racing community. In truck sims the effect is a little different – you find the throttle doesn’t always close or the clutch doesn’t always disengage – both result in an awful grinding sound when driving a manual truck (much as incorrectly operating the clutch would do in the real world). For this reason, I will be buying a new wheel and pedal set-up in the future. Times have moved on and the latest ones don’t rely on potentiometers👍

With that discussed, lets join Motown Dog on her outing and I’ll explain how I’m getting around the issue in the meantime. I had 5 hours in hand after completing the previous job, so I parked the Dog on the maintenance guy’s forecourt while looking for more work…

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…That’s our drop-deck trailer and we’re picking up a lot of good machinery loads with it. Having confirmed the job to take a Digger (called a Backhoe Loader in game!) over to Kingman, I fired up and got under way. The collection point at a quarry was a bit of a pain but we got it loaded and were on our way.

One of the things I’ve found that helps with the pedal problem I have described above is to double de-clutch. That works really well with this truck and, ironically, is probably more realistic on a truck of this age than nice neat single clutch shifts😅 Here we are passing through Albuquerque as the sun gets up…

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Because I was using up spare hours from the previous job, we stopped in Sky City and I headed over to the hotel for breakfast and to sleep away the day.

Back on the road at 17:30 and I just knew the DoT would be calling us in at Gallup for an inspection…

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…There were no issues and I should hope not with an almost brand new trailer and a doted over truck😅

We cruised at 50mph – any faster hurts the fuel consumption and I knew we had time in hand. As long as we hit Kingman around 03:15 we’d be parked up to rest with an hour to spare on our shift. It’s generally quiet at night on the I40 from Gallup, past Holbrook, through Flagstaff and on to the junction with Route 93. We ground our way up the climbs and I let her have her head on the downhills, once topping 65mph. Then we were at Kingman and drifting into a quiet town…

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The delivery at Kingman was one of those awkward ones where you don’t know how tight things will be until you’re in the yard. Today it wasn’t too bad – just reverse into a spare bay to turn the trailer around and then shunt back into the required delivery spot…

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…Thank god there weren’t any doubles parked in the adjacent slot or we might have taken a lot longer to park it. Then it was off to a parking area and time for the Dog and me to catch our Zee’s 😅 By the way, fuel consumption for the trip = 7.85mpg 👍

Perhaps I’ll run through a European delivery in another post 😎

Ok – This will be the last in this mini-series aimed at new players starting out in Euro Truck and American Truck Simulator. Today I’m going to talk about one of the big changes since the last time I did a beginners series – Trailers you can own. But before I do that I have to talk about types of jobs because owning your own truck has changed what is available to you.

The immediate impact of buying your own truck is that Freight Market jobs become available. These are exactly the same as Quick Jobs, except you drive to the pick-up location and hook up to the trailer belonging to the in game company whose job you’ve accepted. Just because you now own a truck, doesn’t stop you from choosing to do a Quick Job (in fact there are certain achievements that will still require you do do Quick Jobs to earn them). But, if you look at the Job Market, you’ll find that there is another class of job that is greyed out. This is the External Market – jobs from World of Trucks. It may have the same initials and is often referred to as WoT, but the External Market is operated by SCS Software and has nothing whatsoever to do with World of Tanks. Once you own your own truck and if you are going to be a committed community member, you should create a World of Trucks account and link it to your Truck Simulator profile.

WoT jobs offer an additional aspect to gameplay as SCS often run community events through the External Contract Jobs. They also give access to a number of additional game achievements. Whilst very similar to Freight Market jobs, WoT jobs are real time rather than game time and they don’t have tiers of difficulty like Important and Urgent. That doesn’t mean that you won’t get jobs that require you to drive with a degree of urgency – whilst many jobs will allow you nearly 24 hours of real time to complete them, you will find some that you need to complete in much less time than that. Azyet and I had one of those earlier in the week – here’s my Tweet on the subject…

…You’ll guess that when dealing with real world time jobs, experience is an important part of knowing what can be done! You’ll notice that Azyet is hauling one of my own trailers and I’ve jumped the gun slightly here, but this is where we came in so lets talk about those.

So – Owned Trailers. You can buy these from the trailer dealer and unlike the trucks you don’t need to have discovered a dealer. Here’s a shot of the trailer purchase screen – in this case it’s showing Schwarzmüller trailers…

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…which is a dlc that you can purchase, but there are standard trailers available that are part of the base game. Here’s the customize screen for a standard Curtainside Trailer…

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..You’ll notice that, like the trucks, modification options become available at levels that you reach. Additionally, some options may not be available depending on where you are based or where you intend to use the trailer…

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When you own a trailer, your possible job choices increase once more – you can now do Cargo Market and External Market jobs in addition to the previously mentioned options – Azyet, in my tweet above, was tackling an External Market job.

Trailers open up the opportunity to operate your company realistically – you can read about how my European company operates differently to my US company in a previous post. There are some benefits to ownership, having your own trailers gives a more relaxing experience most of the time and you get paid a fair bit more for doing the same job. However, you will need to maintain them and they limit the type of job you will be offered. My curtainsider is a good general haulage option and will take a wide range of cargoes but it won’t take petrol or heavy machinery. If you’re going to own your own trailers you should be buying trailers that will allow you to haul what you wish. I have my companies profiled out – you might want to do the same before you go down the trailer owner road 😎

I think I’ve covered most of the things that a new player of the Truck Simulator series from SCS Software might find confusing and I hope that what I’ve said will be beneficial. If anyone has some gameplay questions (other than “Why do you waste time playing this”) please ask below 😎👍