The week before last I was depressed – I realise that now. I went through a period when I couldn’t settle to anything. Not even my favourite games were holding my attention. I did get some farming done and you’ve seen the posts about that but I did little else. Some afternoons I was just binge watching tv re-runs of things like NCIS – anything that has a ‘happy ending’. We’re not talking clinical depression, just the loss of that sense of wellbeing and a lack of get up and go. I think all the Covid news did finally get to me, as it has to a lot of other people. Last Friday I had a few extra beers and went to bed early to sleep it off…

I woke on Saturday with a bit of a hangover – nothing serious, just evidence that I had overdone it the previous evening in the form of a stuffy nose. When I fired up the pc I decided to do some gentle driving in Euro truck. I think it proved to be a good choice.

It started with a trip east in Maria, my MAN TGX. I had drifted over to Kaliningrad on Friday morning before that beer. One of the long outstanding achievements in Steam requires delivering from the Russian Enclave there to the Motherland. I’ve never had much luck in getting jobs to Russia – just one from my previous visits but this time it was different. There was a job to Vyborg that Saturday morning. It was the start of a weekend’s driving in Maria that would knock out 2 of the required deliveries for the Enclave Transit Achievement and push Maria’s driven distance up to over 45000km. Here’s some images from those trips…

By late Sunday afternoon, I’d reached a point where there were no new jobs from Kaliningrad going to ‘Mother Russia’ so I decided to head back to France – time to give Maria a rest and get another of the fleet out of the garage or possibly try a new truck. I picked up a load back to Strasbourg. By the time I got there I’d completed 5569km of in-game driving since Saturday morning…

It fell to a new truck to take up the baton and return to Kaliningrad. I’ve been looking at a mod of the Mitsubishi Fuso superGreat V for a while. It’s a good looking truck and I finally decided to give it a go. There were a couple of issues with that decision, the main one being that it’s only available in right-hand drive because it’s a Japanese domestic market version. There are a number of other minor issues with the sounds and the coupling to trailers but over all it’s a nice mod.

I did some early runs in northern France and Germany as I tried out various things. Here’s some shots…

…Our company standard metallic blue seems to suit this truck well and I really like the layout of the instruments in the cab. What I don’t like is the small fuel tank – only 350l and those coupling issues which I think I’ve narrowed down to a mix of tyre sizes affecting the 5th wheel height for all trailers along with a real dislike of certain Krone trailers. That’s something that I’m sure the modder will work on although it may not be an issue on their target Project Japan map audience.

The worst of the glitches overcome and I took the Fuso, now christened ‘Fujin’ after the Japanese Wind God, back to Kaliningrad. We then continued our good fortune of finding the jobs needed to complete the Enclave Transit achievement, hauling to Sosnovy Bor and Luga. On the 27th I tweeted to my trucking colleagues “Sunrise to sunset driving in SCS Software ETS2 🙂 Fujin brings another day to a close with a run from St Petersburg to Kaliningrad. Glad to find that gas station open – running on fumes about then 😉 ” with these images from that trip…

…Then it was time for Fujin to head home to Lille via Sweden and Germany. After the relaxing roads through Scandinavia there was lots of traffic on the autobahn to keep our attention…

…Back in Lille yesterday evening, it was time for Fujin to rest with 9880km covered since Sunday evening. Today Renzo will take over and we’ll be doing some heavy-haulin’ 🙂

And me? – My Shiny Side is back up thanks to Euro Truck Simulator. I hope your Shiny Side is good too 🙂

Given that I only have one field, the preparation of which is complete, the main focus in mid-March is doing work for other farmers to make some money. With money comes the chance to slowly expand my available equipment which widens the range of jobs I can do. I decided to start doing transport jobs as they pay quite well and don’t take long to do. I could have used the Strautmann trailer for this work but I prefer a 2 axle trailer with headboards at each end, so I decided to trade it in for a MetalTech TB8. I also looked at a Joskin equivalent but in terms of value for money the MetalTech wins. In fact the new trailer cost only £200 initially after the money I got back from the Strautmann is deducted from the cost. The trailer will only be used for transporting so I stuck to low sides. I can add a cover at a later date. Add in a front lift fitment along with pallet fork and total cost was under £8000. Here we go on our first delivery……The other thing I wanted to get into is Ploughing – it pays better than cultivating for a given area of field and there are quite a few ploughing jobs appearing.

The plough sits alongside the wheel as a key invention in the history of mankind. With domestication of animals, it was an enabler of the move from a nomadic lifestyle to an agrarian society. We’ve moved on from a single pointed stick that was dug into the ground to create a furrow and turn the soil, but not as far as you might think! A single blade of a modern plough would look quite familiar to a medieval farmer although having two rows of blades as we have on a modern reversible plough might result in a confused look. I suspect our farmer would grasp the concept quickly enough and then ask where we could get a team of horses capable of pulling the beast! The horses are now metal of course, as are the ploughs, and their ability to pull the plough is rated in Horsepower. And that is what started this train of thought 🙂

If you recall from previous posts about Farming Simulator, every tool that your tractor tows has a ‘required’ horsepower rating, the Agromasz POH5 plough for example……which you can see requires 150HP. Whenever you go to the modhub you find those words ‘required horsepower’ cropping up in most tools you look at. The effect is that the player – ie me – assumes that you need a tractor of at least that horsepower to be able to use the tool. It has the effect of making some of the lower power tractors unemployable for work like ploughing. But is it like that in the real world, where a farmer may have to get by with whatever tractor he has to hand?

In the last post I talked briefly about the Lemken Titan 18 and the difficulties lining it up for each cut. I hypothesised that I would be able to do the work quicker with a rigid plough – I had the Lemken Variopal 8 in mind at the time. That is a 6-furrow plow and requires 180HP. Now there’s that word requires again! Because I wanted to take on ploughing jobs and would prefer a 3m plough I went digging through the available plough mods in the hub. It was there that I found the Grégoire Besson Prima series of ploughs and more specifically, their Prima 70 which is also a 6-furrow 3m plough. What struck me was the required hp rating of 150HP. How does that work when compared with the requirement for the Lemken Variopal 8? I have spent some time since on the Grégoire Besson site (which is very informative) and several farmers chat sites! Now I have a clearer idea of what horespower is really required for general ploughing.

Ok – from the farmers chat… A good rule of thumb is 25HP per furrow -The ancient Egyptians used to get by with a single Ox for their one-furrow plough 😉 If I apply that rule to our ploughs, the Agromasz POH5 should work fine with 125HP (in-game required 150HP) while the 150HP rating of the Grégoire Besson Prima 70 is bang on the money for a 6-furrow plough. I went back to the game help pages and dug out this page about the icons……Icon 3 uses the term Required Power. It goes on to give a slight clarification – ‘to work the tool properly. That raises another question – define properly in the case of an unpowered tool such as a plough? Back in the farmers chat room and one farmer tells of using a 400hp tractor to pull a 6-furrow plough which drew the response… “just how fast do you want to plough!” That suggests that any tractor that is reasonably close in HP to the ‘required’ HP for a plough will be able to do the work but at reduced speed. Using 400HP on the other hand is probably pointless as there is a preferred maximum speed to plough at – most of the ploughs in-game prefer 7mph and I’m assuming that is close to a real-life ploughing speed. Go any faster and I expect the Gulls will be complaining that they can’t keep up 😉 I’ve certainly never seen a tractor driving across a field at sportscar pace while ploughing.

Time for an ingame experiment on Oak Glen Farm. For this I used items that come with the base game to remove a risk that mods might skew the result. I’ve chosen the 102HP Lindner Lintrac 90 – one of those tractors that didn’t seem to have a use. I’ve attached it to the Agromasz POH5 150HP plough and we’re going up to field 47 which has as moderate gradient as you can see……Initially I plough along the side of the field, up the hill……and the tractor is maintaining 4mph – a little slower than the ploughs maximum of 7mph. Then I plough across the field which is essentially flat……the Lindner achieves 6mph, flicking to 7mph. So a 100HP tractor can haul a 150HP rated plough with some loss of speed – effectively the job will take longer. But, I’m guessing that lots of farmers have to make do like that in the real world.  I’d also expect the farmer to plough across the gradient where possible, rather than up it,  to make the work easier for the tractor.   Perhaps the game should use the word Recommended rather than Required – at least where no power out from the tractor is required 😉

Anyway, I did buy the Grégoire Besson Prima 70 and I’m enjoying using it on medium sized fields. I’ve fitted wheel weights to the tractor to help with adhesion when the weather turns wet……I’ve got the 1000kg weight on the front to balance things and keep the front wheels on the road. My turn-arounds at the end of each cut are significantly faster than with the Titan 18 – which is what I expected and I know I’m completing those fields faster than I ever could with that over-sized beast!

I mentioned how informative the Grégoire Besson site is- this page explains so much about how to choose elements of your plough and has a great bit near the bottom about the difference between in-furrow and on-land ploughing – I didn’t know there was such a thing but now realise I’m usually doing the in-furrow kind…

When you play simulation games, like Farming Simulator 19 or one of the Truck simulator games, you can often find yourself deep in thought. Sometimes those thoughts lead to a piece of investigative journalism like today’s report from Boundary Farm. I hope it was of interest 🙂

Another trip out in SCS Software’s Euro Truck Simulator 2. On this run I’m driving my Renault Premium named ‘Isobella’ – she has a 430HP engine and a 12sp automatic gearbox – and I have an 18t load of film rolls bound for Rennes. Here is a screenshot of Isobella in action on a different run so you can see what she looks like on the outside…

Departing Lille at the start of the run may seem a little tentative. The roads in this area of the map have recently been upgraded to the current standard and I’m still finding my way around the autoroutes in that area (very much like visiting somewhere new in real life!). About 10 mins into the journey an ai coach cuts in front of me and brakes sharply – One advantage of the ‘silent trucking’ format is you won’t hear the choice words expressed about the coach driver at that point 😉 After that it’s a straight forward run across northern France, crossing the River Seine on the Pont de Brotonne (17:30). It had been a nice sunny day but we ran into a thunderstorm a little further down the road (22:00) so I had to slow for the road and traffic conditions. The weather gradually improved as I travelled further west. The ai traffic were still playing games on the Rennes ring-road causing me to come to a stop on one of the slip roads (32:00). Finally arrived at our destination (37:30) for a medium difficulty park 🙂 Hope you enjoyed this run – I will try to do a video of a run on more rural roads in the future.