Trucking Digest

Since the last Digest there have been a couple of events – in game and irl…

When I write about my experiences in SCS Software’s Truck Simulator games I never know if I have encouraged anyone who reads my tales to give the games a try. The posts do get a fair number of hits outside my immediate community of friendly bloggers. But I don’t think I have ever seen a comment from someone saying they decided to give the games a try. I hope some of those who have passed through did go on to take a closer look and possibly buy into the trucking dream. One thing I have found out, and it post-dates my starting out in the game, is that you can now download a demo to try it out. The demo is available from the Euro Truck Simulator 2 website and also on Steam. There’s also a demo for American Truck Simulator but that appears to only be on Steam. So, if you want to give either title a try there’s now no excuse! 🙂

A couple of weeks back Euro Truck Simulator 2 was on sale – it happens for both titles 3 or 4 times each year and you can then get the games for £3.74p each. Anyway, I decided to flag up the sale to my Twitter community – which mainly comprises friends from football. Over the last couple of years chatting with the fans I’d found some who were at least vaguely interested in the games after seeing my tweeted screenshots. I’m pleased to report that my tweet advertising the sale resulted in two of our teenage fans trying the demo (which is how I learnt of it’s existence) and then purchasing the game. I did have a minor concern that their parents might not be happy with me introducing them to another computer game when they’re coming up to their GCSE’s. Last Saturday when they were dropped off to catch the coach to our away match I took the opportunity to approach their Mother and apologise. She was having none of it – she thanked me for getting them involved as it’s a relaxing game and just what they needed at a stressful time! In fact, she reckons that she’s going to have a go at the game too! Result!!! 🙂

It seems that everything is happening in Euro Truck currently. Last Digest I was reporting on the new Mercedes-Benz Actros Tuning Pack and showing shots of that truck. Now, with a lot of hype on Twitter, SCS finally released the Renault T. It has been a long wait for the community as negotiations for the rights to publish the truck have been very difficult. But finally Renault Trucks, and the other holders of rights to the famous diamond badge, are all on board. 🙂 Reading between the lines of the pre-release media, there has been a concerted effort between Renault Trucks and SCS Software to bring the modelling of the vehicle fully up to date resulting in a really polished final model. Release to live was finally announced on Tuesday as being 13:00 yesterday. And that left me with an issue for yesterday morning… I had just completed a delivery to Kotka in Finland and I really wanted to buy a Renault T from the nearest Renault dealer to our home base. That meant making my way back to Lyon in France!

Fortunately I was able to pick up a job from Kouvola carrying a load of tree saplings to Milan. That’s a very long drive – here’s the route……and here’s a few shots from along the way…

…Then I had to pick up a simple job across to Lyon……a much shorter drive but a grand total before I even got to the dealership for my new truck of 4415km.

So I spent around 4hr45min real time just getting back to Lyon yesterday. Sometimes this is not a game for the casual player 😉 I hope you liked my inclusion of route maps – something I’ve been toying with for a while. I’ll introduce you to my new Renault T in another post 🙂

Trucking Digest

I had considered doing a story around the current situation regards Martin Transport et Logistique and our base in Montpellier. It would have covered a major restructuring of the company after the Father retired to reel in losses and replace an ageing fleet of trucks and trailers. I tend to build stories around my play in the Truck Sim games as witnessed by my last ‘day on the road’ style post – It’s all part of my ‘immersion’ 🙂 However, we all know that the current small size of the company in Montpellier is due entirely to me starting from scratch after the last game upgrade – so in the end, this will be a more normal report.

Hot on the heels of the Goodyear Tyres event that I reported on 8th August, SCS suddenly produced a Tuning Pack for the Mercedes Actros. It was advertised on social media and their blog just 2 days before it became available to buy. Then, with it available, we were challenged to show our tuned Actros trucks! There was no reward for showing your special Actros – just the fun of taking part. If this was a loot box, it would justifiably draw criticism but for the vast majority of the Truck Sim community it represents an opportunity to customize your Merc if you own one or want one for your fleet. Those Truckers that don’t like Merc’s won’t buy it – and I doubt that younger players will feel the same pressure to buy in order to keep up with school friends that evidence suggests is the case in a number of high profile mainstream titles – they’re more likely to be arguing the case for their preferred manufacturer 😉

I have had a difficult relationship with the Mercedes Actros over time. I have tried it out a couple of times in the past and always came away with the ‘not sure’ feeling. With the new pack available, I thought I’d give the Actros another look. After all, the DAF challenge that I took part in earlier in the year really changed my opinion on that truck – to the point that our current fleet has two of them with 6×2 chassis and 460HP Euro 6 engine. The Renault Magnum remains in the fleet. I was driving a 4×2 version of the MAN TGX Euro 6 480HP. The DAF XF105 purchased for the Goodyear event had been sold as not meeting our emissions compliance requirements after the event.

I decided that I would buy the new Actros Tuning DLC (which was on an early-bird offer) and make my way to a Merc Dealer to buy an Actros. This presented a difficulty though – cash flow! I had to make a choice – trade in the MAN or shift a lot of freight before I could afford another truck. As a 4×2, the MAN TGX was an anomaly within the main fleet where 6×2 is the preferred chassis arrangement. I’ve also mentioned in the past that I think the Euro 6 MAN needs some tweaks to overcome a number of minor issues – the gearboxes behaving the same despite different ratios for example. So, I bit the bullet and traded in the MAN against a Merc Actros that has a number of customisations whilst retaining the company’s dark blue metallic paint. She is equipped with a 12 speed automatic box and a 476HP Euro 6 engine.Here she is in all her glory on a night run across Germany…

During the first few days I ruined her fuel economy figures by taking her on a tour of Norway – Heavy loads and tricksy roads is not a good combination…

…but at the end of it all I probably had a far clearer idea of how I felt about driving the truck than I would have touring the German Autobahns. I was impressed with the way she handled and the auto gearbox was much more attuned to our normal cargos than the MAN. The 6×2 is also a lot more stable when hauling heavier loads than the 4×2 chassis. Truth be told, I’m now a lot happier with this truck than I was when I tried the marque before – so much so that I’ve bought another un-customised one for the fleet to help expand the company.

On to other things and I’m trying out a set of trailer modifications from SiSL that are available through the Steam Workshop. These give the choice of using a real world company livery on any trailer when doing Freight Market jobs. I’ve been trying them in both ETS2 and ATS and the mods seem good. Here’s a couple of screenshots to illustrate…

So you can expect to see a number of recognisible companies in future posts. As for the up-coming map DLC’s for ETS2 and ATS, there have been some more background updates to the game which may presage their release but nothing has been announced yet. We wait with bated breath!

Trucking Digest

Today was a fairly normal day on the road for me. I’d delivered a load of drinks to Santa Fe the previous evening before driving down to the truck stop outside Albuquerque to rest up. Thought it’d be busier really but it was only half full. So, this morning I took the chance of a quick wash and brush up before breakfast in the grill. Then it was time to check in with Jed, my dispatcher. I brought Jed on board not long after I got my first rig, the Peterbilt 579. Back when I was a hire-rat it didn’t matter if the office was a mess but once I became an owner driver I quickly realised that some organisation was needed at home base. Jed’s an ex-driver – gave it up because he wanted to spend more time with his family – so he jumped at the chance to get back into the business without having to spend long nights away from home. Together, we’ve started to build the business.

I remember the look of surprise on his face when I came back to the depot in a Freightliner FLB a few months back. I saw her at a Kenworth dealership in Los Angeles and fell in love – old school cabovers have a certain appeal and she was in beautiful condition. I reasoned back then that the time was right to expand the business. We advertised for a driver the next day and spent quite a while looking over the applicants – Jed said we should go with a young lady name of Mille. I wasn’t sure but she had the best credentials of the applicants so I agreed. It was a good decision and Mille has quickly become one of the Republik family!

I rang base – “What’ya got for me today Jed?” It seems the weather in Bakersfield is bright and sunny – funny how a question about consignments and manifests starts off with a weather report – but that’s Jed all over! “Yeah – it’s a sunny morning over here too! – now quit stalling.” It turns out that jed has sourced a load of white goods – Toasters, Kettles and Microwaves – going south to an outlet in Las Cruces. “You’ve remembered I’m in Albuquerque, right?” “Yeah – collection is just across the interstate from where your at. They’re open and ready for you, said you can come ahead!” So that’s my first job of the day. “And…” Jed continues “I think the receiving company will have a follow-up consignment – I’m just negotiating that at the moment.” Now that’s good news – nothing costs a company more than dead time.

I haven’t told you but I’m out in a new truck – well I’ve had her about a week. We were ready to expand again so I popped into the local Pete dealer thinking about a second 579. I’ve been really pleased with the first one – reliable and economical. Mille certainly seems to be getting the best out of it. I told the dealer my thoughts – I like the 579 but I’d like something a little a little more traditional. He suggested the 567 – it’s a 579 but with a heritage twist. In fact they even do a Heritage model! I liked the idea and decided to get a special paint job – whilst Jed didn’t agree with spending the extra money I’m sure he’ll like her when he sees her first hand. You see, the Bakersfield dealer couldn’t source the special so he put me in touch with his fellow dealer in Flagstaff who was happy to help out. He even took a photo of her as I drove her around the block for the first time……579 inside but traditional outside – I like it!

So back to now – I picked up the load for Las Cruces and set off down I-25. Traffic was light until I reached Socorro. It was like night of the living dead driving through there and we came to a stand on a couple of occasions for no good reason other than people not knowing what lane they needed to be in. Losing momentum is frustrating for truckers and it gave me an excuse to test the air-horns – Yepp, they work! I was just crawling into Las Cruces when Jed called back – “That follow-up is confirmed – You got used packaging to take over to Roswell – I’ll fill you in while they unload you.” When I arrived at the delivery point it seemed like the only guy around was security……but I’d caught them on their coffee break and they quickly found me a bay to back into…

Jed came back with details of the used packaging consignment – it’s destination was unknown until just before he called me because the consigner was looking for the best price for handling the stuff. Now Roswell was confirmed. Used Packaging doesn’t pay very well but as a load to fill in the rest of the driver’s hours it’s a good option. My concern was whether I’d make Roswell inside my remaining hours. Jed said “You’ll be fine.” – and promptly hung up! With the cargo unloaded I had to shuffle to a different bay for the old boxes to be put on board. It always amazes me how empty boxes weigh more than full ones – close on 39000lbs to drag east.

Loaded up with a quick bite and some coffee I set off into the evening……skirting Alamogordo and up to Carrizozo before turning east once more. It’s quiet on the road late evening and you get to thinking. Names of places en-route remind me of the Westerns I saw when I was a kid – the Rio Grande that we crossed near Las Cruces. There’s the Pecos River over at Roswell – There’s no law west of Dodge and no God west of the Pecos. And we’re riding the Billy the Kid Trail – now hows that for a liturgy of westerns?

By the time I reached the outskirts of Roswell I was starting to feel tired. It’s funny how the signals seem to stay red for longer when you’re reaching the end of your drive and looking for a nice warm bed! I made it to the delivery just within my hours and the handlers unloaded the trailer pretty quickly. Then it was time to head for a motel – I needed a proper night’s sleep!..…I’ll tell Jed about the westerns in the morning and get a weather report too 😉