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Friday, 7 May 2010
Update: Utah & Rocky Mountain

by Brian Eckard

Work continues on my Utah & Rocky Mountain Railroad. As of this writing the tracks extend from Spokane WA to Riggins ID. Work has begun on the next module that will extend the tracks further south to Boise, ID. This virtual railroad is being built in Trainz Railroad Simulator 2004. However, for my birthday I am getting the latest version of this simulator, Trainz 2010. I am currently waiting for that version to arrive. It�uro;™s being shipped from the east coast by the US Postal system.

The first stretch of the latest tracks run from Riggins, ID to McCall ID. I'm currently texturing the scenery and adding various scenery objects. I've noticed that as the layout gets larger, and more AI trains are run, the frame rates get slower and more choppy. I also noticed that there seem to be times when the traffic gets snarled into impossible situations that require the rail session to be ended. I'm now using the CPC Portal control rule to limit the number of AI trains on the layout to 15. This rule also will allow me to control the portals using triggers, which may be the final way that I generate AI traffic on the route. The fewer the number of AI trains, the faster the frame rates, and the smoother the animation.

This weekend, if I get some time, I'll post some screen shots of the current layout, plus some of the current module that being constructed. So, stay tuned!

Posted by woodbrdge at 2:24 AM PDT
Updated: Friday, 7 May 2010 2:27 AM PDT
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Saturday, 26 September 2009
Utah and Rocky Mountain Railroad

Operating a large virtual railroad

By Brian Eckard

Construction continues on my fictional railroad, the Utah & Rocky Mountain Railroad. As of this writing I have extended the tracks to Riggins, Idaho. Before continuing construction south to Boise, I thought it would be fun to explore how I plan to operate a large virtual railroad that currently takes almost 8-hours to cross from one end to the other.

Since I am building a full size railroad that will ultimately traverse long distances, a strategy must be developed to make it feasible to operate. Like a real railroad, the U&RM has been divided into smaller divisions. This is an important design aspect that will actually facilitate the operation of the railroad in more reasonable time chunks. Each division requires between one and three hours to cross. That is a more reasonable time to sit in front of a computer monitor.

The other aspect that facilitates operating a virtual railroad of this size is the ability to save the train session. This ability allows for even shorter operating sessions. So, unlike real life, a train operating session can actually take many days and weeks to accomplish. I like to compare this type of operating session to reading a good book. You might not have the time to read an entire novel in one sitting, but with a bookmark you can read the entire novel over a period of time.

On the U&RM I currently have three divisions established. They are Spokane, Moscow, and Riggins. The Spokane division runs from Spokane WA to Coeur d'Alene ID. The Moscow division runs between Coeur d'Alene, ID and Moscow, ID. The Riggins division runs between Moscow, ID and Riggins, ID. My operating strategy consists of running each division for a 24-hour period, staging the trains and rolling stock for advancement into the next division�uro;™s session. To start off, I begin the first 24-hour session at Riggins, ID. The trains are only run between Riggins and Moscow during this 24-hour period. However, the AI trains at this time are allowed to run the entire layout. I only venture out of the operating division to fix traffic jams that might occur with the AI trains.

During the Riggins operating sessions the trains are run up to Moscow and the cars left on a siding in anticipation of the Moscow operating session. During the 24-hour period there will be numerous through freights run, and at least one local train run. After the 24-hours are over, operations continue in the Moscow Division. Through freights are run up to Coeur d'Alene and set out in anticipation of the Spokane operations. After that 24-hour period passes, operations then continue into the Spokane Division. After the Spokane operations end we move back to the Moscow Division, and then the Riggins Division. These 24-hour operating sessions simply continue to rotate through each of the divisions. This method allows me to operate the entire railroad and keeps each session and scenery interesting since it is always changing with every 24-hour period. --Brian

Posted by woodbrdge at 2:01 PM PDT
Updated: Friday, 7 May 2010 2:29 AM PDT
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Monday, 21 September 2009
Prototype Action
Topic: Prototype RR

Adventure at Steam Town

by Brian Eckard

 Nestled in the hills of Scranton is a wonderful museum of old railroad equipment and working steam engines. It’s Steam Town. A special place that restores these hissing, chuffing giant machines of long ago. Last June, on a trip to Maryland to see my boys, I took them to Steam Town for a weekend of adventure. Watching my sons climb on these old locomotives and explore the equipment on display brought back so many memories of my childhood and the railroad adventures that my father took me on.

Steam Town is located in Scranton, PA in the old Lackawanna railroad yard that dominates that city. The yard is crowded with all sorts of old railroad equipment in various stages of repair and restoration.

Scranton’s Steam Town occupies the old Lackawanna yard. When you enter the park you immediately see steam locomotives that have been restored on the exterior. Some of these you can climb up into for pictures.

We purchased our tickets for the day, which included a short excursion behind one of their operationally restored steam locomotives, plus access to the freight yard, that is packed full of old rusting railroad equipment awaiting the restorer�uro;™s touch, access to the round house, which has both exhibits, and a working maintenance shop where the operational locomotives are kept in running shape. This is also where the restoration work is performed on steam locomotives fortunate enough to be chosen to be brought back to life like a Phoenix, rising above the ashes of non-use and abandonment.

Our first activity was to explore the museum, that provided a brief history of the Lackawanna railroad. It contained many photographs of the early days, and pictures of the ruin and devastation after the railroad abandoned the facilities that Steam Town now occupy. It was interesting to see how the area was transformed when the Steam Town museum was built, and many of the railroad facilities were restored. Next, we went to the turntable area, where there is a small collection of restored locomotives and rolling stock. We walked around the equipment and headed over to our excursion train to board. The ride was brief, but fun. It brought back a flood of memories of steam train rides in the past, with the smell of coal smoke and the hiss of steam.

After the ride we took a tour of the shops where these once mighty and majestic beasts of burden are restored. The relics of steam locomotives are stripped down to their very core and then caringly rebuilt into working locomotives that will one day see the rails once more.

Our trip to Steam Town was a fun adventure that my boys and I enjoyed. It was a great time to spend with my family, my boys, and a hobby that has always gripped me with excitement and joy. If you are ever in the Scranton area, Steam Town is worth time to go visit.

Posted by woodbrdge at 4:45 AM PDT
Updated: Monday, 21 September 2009 5:04 AM PDT
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Monday, 27 July 2009
Progress Report on the Utah and Rocky Mountain
Topic: U&RM RR

by Brian Eckard

Work continues on the Utah and Rocky Mountain. the current module being built will extend the layout from Moscow ID to Riggins ID. I am currently finished up to Nezperce, ID. This past weekend I decided to avoid the heat and stay in doors enjoying the air conditioning and getting some more work completed on this module. What was left to do was adding the scenery textures and various scenery objects to the route in the current section (between Orofino, ID and Nezperce.

With that work completed, I removed all of the un-needed scenery titles and made some test runs. I also fixed the speed limits along the river going into Orofino. You can now travel up the river at 45 mph for the entire distance! In a couple of weeks I’ll be adding the next section’s map to the module and work can begin on extending the track further south. Ultimately, we are headed for Boise, ID and points beyond to Salt Lake City.

Stay tuned for more!

The Utah And Rocky Mountain Railroad is a fictional railroad that runs from Spokane, WA to Salt Lake City, UT. It is being built in Real Scale using the Trainz 2004 Railroad Simulator. The current finished layout module goes from Spokane, WA to Moscow, ID. The next extension will take the track south to Riggins, ID.


Posted by woodbrdge at 7:11 AM PDT
Updated: Monday, 27 July 2009 7:14 AM PDT
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Wednesday, 28 January 2009
MSTS 2 Derailed
Topic: Conductor

With all the doom and gloom, and all the economic woe taking place, the recession has finally caught up to software giant Microsoft. Recently, it came to my attention that their announced cutbacks will pretty much derail a big chunk of their game development studios, and specifically to us, MSTS 2.0.

For the time being all we have for commercial train simulators are MSTS 1.0, Trainz 2009, and Rail Simulator. Not a bad offering for our situation. MSTS 1.0 continues to have new routes and models created for it. Trainz 2004 ? 2009 continue to attract users, new content, and routes. And Rail Simulator is off to a good start, though it hasn?t exploded yet in third party development. Maybe this delay with MSTS 2.0 will bode well for Rail Simulator, giving them more time to further develop their product and content offerings.

From an American point of view, RS still is very lacking in American content. Compared to MSTS, RS is very sparse on what?s available. That?s ashamed because it really is a nice upgrade in capability that?s not too demanding on your system compared to MSTS. Trainz is still holding their own with a great product. I use TRS 2004 as my main simulator since route building is so easy in it.

I am planning on exploring RS soon with regards to route building. My first attempts ended in frustration since like MSTS RS seems to be more techie friendly than user friendly. On the outside they were moving in the right direction with their route builder working similarly to the Surveyor module in Trainz. However, the need to create route template files is confusing and until the process is learned and understood, stands as a major road block in route building for me.

I will master it, I?m confident of that, I just have to set enough time aside to properly learn how to create the templates and use DEM data with the game. Once I have that knowledge under my belt I?ll write some articles up for everyone on how to create routes with RS. Like MSTS, persistence will be the key to success!

For now, I am concentrating my efforts on using Trainz to build my Utah and Rocky Mountain railroad. At this point in time I?m working on the second major module for the layout. The current layout runs from Spokane to Moscow ID. The next module (currently under construction) will run from Moscow ID to Riggins ID. I?m currently working my way past Orofino ID. More to come on that project, so stay tuned.

For 2009, I?ve decided to create a new category on the blog for short stories and essays. I want to develop my writing skills in these two areas, and I figure writing about railroads might be a great way to do it. Since the blog is set up as a community blog, remember that you can create a Tripod account and log in to post your own articles and stories. I hope you?ll take advantage of that feature and help me to build this into a great place to learn and talk about trains!

Posted by woodbrdge at 7:04 PM PST
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Friday, 14 November 2008
A local run on the U&RM
Topic: U&RM RR

By Brian Eckard

All through the night the sound of rain pounding down on a tin roof with a rhythmic and hypnotic tapping sound. By day break, the rain had stopped. There was a cool breeze that caused the damp air to feel colder than it really was. George, a huge bulky man who stood about six feet tall, shuffled out of the crew shanty at the Moscow yard. He headed over to the round house to get his locomotive prepared for the morning's activities.

During the rainy overnight the engine servicing crew had been working on the locomotive, finishing up with starting a fire in the firebox so that a good amount of steam could be generated in time for the scheduled local run to take place.

As George entered the roundhouse he looked around at the dingy, dirty work area. He thought about not too long ago when it would be full of dirty, noisy, steam engines all hissing and churning, waiting for their next run on the mainline. This particular morning, only his steam engine remained. The other locomotives had been distributed across the railroad, and the extras sold for scrap. The Utah and Rocky Mountain was in the midst of transition from steam to the much cleaner diesel locomotives.

The roundhouse was dimly lit and there was coal dust all over the place which added to the dinginess of the place. Over towards the back wall were workbenches with tools of every kind and size, used by the mechanics to work on the large steam locomotives. In the far right corner was a makeshift shop with lathes and welding equipment. All the equipment needed to make parts for the aging steam locomotives was available. Over on the left side were more workbenches with all the tools and equipment needed to service the new diesel locomotives.

"Hey George!" yelled a man from behind. George quickly turned to see his Fireman, Joe, rushing into the building. "I have our train orders, and Bob is goin' to meet us over by the crummies!" He continued. George replied, "Sounds good to me, Joe." Looking over at the break room he turned to Joe and blurted out, "Goin to git my coffee Joe, you get up dar and make sure our pressure is good to go!" Smiling, Joe responded, "I'll see you up there. I've got my coffee with me."

George headed over to the break room to get his coffee. He had to have his morning brew. There's nothing that beats running train with a good cup of coffee. Joe liked his coffee black, and the stronger the better. It made him feel like a man to drink coffee that most people would try to avoid.

George entered the break room, a typical place where guys meet. A large table was at the center of the room with chairs around it. Over in the corner was a smaller table with a radio on it. Jazz was playing on the it with a catchy beat resonating in the room. At the table were engine crews who were waiting for their train orders. Every few moments, laughter would erupt from this group of burley men dressed in overalls and covered with dirt and grime from a busy day out on the line. George looked at the group, their faces dulled with grime and sweat. "Hey dar guys! How you doin?" The group replied, "Hey George! Come on over and join us!" "Nah," replied George, "I got my orders and I got to git goin. Runnin a local today up to Cour and back!" George headed over to the coffee pot and got his brew.

Joe grabbed the grab irons on the locomotive, and hoisted himself up into the cab. He was a medium sized man about five foot eight inches. He had sandy brown hair, dark eyes, and for a fireman, wasn't really that athletic or strong looking. Upon entering the cab he placed his coffee thermos over on the left side of the cab where his seat was located. He then walked back to the tender and grabbed his shovel. He turned, took a scoop of coal and then flipped around kicking the fire door lever. As he came around toward the firebox, its door swung open letting out a blast of hot air. He shoved the coal into the orange glowing firebox. Releasing his foot on the door lever it slammed shut.

Glancing up Joe looked at the steam pressure. It was almost at the needed level so that they could leave. The water was looking low, but they could stop at the water tower to fix that issue. Joe went back to his shoveling so that he could continue to build up the steam pressure.

By this time, George arrived and put his coffee mug on top of the firebox. This kept it piping hot for him. He had fashioned a fastener up there so that the mug would stay in place even with the rocking motion of a steam locomotive barreling down the tracks. He glanced at the gauges to check the steam pressure and water levels. Then, he glanced back at the tender and noted to himself that they would need to stop not only at the water tower for more water, but also the coal tower get more fuel for the morning's activities as they made their way to up to Coer d'alene.

Charlie climbed up into the cab. He was a smaller man of about five feet, heavy set wearing dirty overalls smeared with coal dust and grease. He wore blackened, dirty gloves. "Hey George! You guys ready to git outta ere?" he said in a raspy voice that sounded as if he had heavily smoked for years.

George responded, "Yup, it looks like she's up to steam naw." George stepped away from his seat and went over to the Joe's seat and sat down. Joe stood at the center of the cab leaning on his shovel, resting from his toil. A grimy sweat caused his forehead to shine in the dimly lit cab. Charlie sat down and took the throttle. Charlie was an engine hostler, His job was to move the locomotive out of the roundhouse onto the turntable where it could be turned to face the direction of its intended travel.

With two short blasts of the whistle he slowly eased the throttle and the locomotive started to move forward out of the roundhouse and onto the turntable. George began ringing the bell to warn his fellow workers that there was a locomotive in motion in the shop.

The steam engine emerged from the roundhouse and Charlie centered it on the turntable. He then climbed down and went over to the turntable controls. The locomotive was turned so that it faced appropriately for a northbound trip from Moscow to Coer d'Alene. Meanwhile, George moved over to his proper seat and Joe finally sat down for a brief rest.

Charlie gave George the signal, and the steam locomotive slowly moved off the turntable and went over to the coaling tower.

The locomotive came to a stop so that the tender was lined up with the coal shoot. Joe climbed up on top of the tender and then reached up for the shoot chain. Pulling it caused the coal shoot to lower down to the tender, and coal began to fall down, filling it up. Once the tender was filled to the brim, Joe released the chain causing the coal shoot to go back up, stopping the flow of coal down into the tender. He yelled down to George to go over to the water tower.

George coaxed the locomotive slowly over to the water tower and stopped. While the locomotive was changing its position, Joe walked over to the water tank lids of the tender. He opened them just as the locomotive came to a stop. Joe stood up and grabbed the water flume. He pulled it down and aligned it over the water tank opening on the tender. He then grabbed the water tank chain and pulled it. Water immediately started to gush through the flume and into the tender. Joe allowed the water to flow freely, watching the level inside the tender as it came slowly up to the opening. He released the chain when the water came flowing out of the opening across the top of the tender and over the sides to the ground.

Joe carefully moved the flume up and away from the tender, water dripping down to the ground as it returned to an upright position. Joe then walked over the top of the tender, then coal and down into the cab. He glanced up at the steam pressure, there was still enough for them to move over to the waiting cars on the departure track, so he sat down and started ringing the bell to warn yard workers that there was a locomotive moving. With two short blasts of the whistle, George eased the locomotive into moving. They moved over to the departure track.

Earlier, the switcher had assembled the cars that were headed north from the yard tracks onto the departure tracks. It had also run over to the local Moscow industries and picked up the loaded cars that were ready and headed for Coeur d'Alene. These cars had been added to the consist sitting on the departure track in Moscow. Finally, the caboose had been attached--all that was needed was a locomotive to make it into a train.

George eased his locomotive back to the cars slowly. Joe stood by the first car waving George on. When the locomotive was about to connect, George skillfully slowed the huge beast so that it would gently couple with the car. Slam! Clunk went the coupler, and the locomotive came to a stop. Joe quickly connected up the brake line and then signaled to George to test it. The hiss of air showed that the system was working. After passing the test, Joe climbed back up into the locomotive. They had to now wait for the Conductor to give them the highball to proceed on their day's work.

Back in the crummy, Bob, the Conductor was at his desk busily studying the waybills that would make up the day's work. He was attempting to organize them to facilitate the most efficient means of picking up and setting out cars based on the direction the train was traveling, and based on the order of cars that had been assembled into his consist. The yard switcher had done a good job of getting the cars into the right order. It was now his turn to get the paperwork into the same order.

The caboose was warm from the coal stove over in the corner. The air was filled with the aroma of fresh coffee. On top of the stove sat a percolator that was hissing and churning with the boiling water that was rapidly becoming a fresh pot of coffee.  The room was dimly lit with oil lamps, and on Bob's desk was a brighter lamp that lit up his work.

In the middle of the caboose were two bay windows that allowed him, and the brakeman to sit and watch the train for any signs of problems. They would spend countless hours watching the landscape slip by while keeping an eye on their train for smoking journal boxes, or any other sign of trouble. When a train passed by, their attention would immediately focus on the passing train to see if there were problems over there. If there were, a quick radio transmission to the other train would alert them to any immediate danger.

Once all of Bob's paperwork was finished, he stood up and went over to the stove. He picked up the freshly brewed pot of coffee and poured himself a mug. Walking past his desk, he set the mug down on it. The coffee smelled good and it was hot, steam rising from the mug. Bob grabbed his jacket and went outside. Climbing down to the ground Bob walked up towards the front of the train.

George was sitting back relaxing, reading a book when Bob climbed up into the cab. He pulled out a copy of the train's manifest and handed it to George. "George, here's today's work, and the order that we'll drop and pick up the cars. Take a look and let me know if you have any questions."

George looked over the manifest and switch list. Everything appeared to be in order so he responded, "No questions here, Bob...looks good!" George put his copy of the switch list on his clipboard, that was hanging on the side of the cab. He then turned and started to prepare to pull out of the yard with his train. Bob climbed down from the cab and walked back to the caboose. He climbed up and then grabbed the lantern. Swinging it, he signaled to George that he was clear to leave the yard and begin the day's work.

--More to come

Posted by woodbrdge at 5:09 AM PST
Updated: Friday, 14 November 2008 5:10 AM PST
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Wednesday, 5 November 2008
Work on the Utah & Rocky Mountain
Topic: U&RM RR

By Brian Eckard

Lately I have been spending a lot of time building my newest layout, the Utah & Rocky Mountain Railroad. At this point time I have completed the northern portion of the route that depicts the Spokane and Moscow Divisions of the railroad. The route features dem-based terrain that is being textured based on information provided by Google Earth.

Posted by woodbrdge at 5:37 AM PST
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Saturday, 1 November 2008
Another year passes by...
Topic: Depot

By Brian Eckard

It is hard to believe that 2008 has simply passed by so quickly. As of this writing we are on the eve of Election Day when the nation will determine who the next President shall be. Without side tracking into a political discussion, let me get back on track. Earlier this year I posted an introductory article about the new direction TSC was taking, and introduced its new name, "Rail Simulation Journal."

Then, the year passed by and there has been no further postings to this blog. Sheesh! Well, I wanted to put this posting up to let you know that more IS to come. In the coming months RSJ will be getting itself off the ground and moving in its new direction.

So, visit here often as our new journey begins!

Posted by woodbrdge at 10:16 AM PDT
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Wednesday, 27 February 2008
Formerly Train Simulation Craftsman
Topic: Welcome!

Railroad Simulation Journal

by Brian Eckard 

Welcome to the first volume of our brand new Rail Simulation Journal! This blog replaces the Train Simulation Craftsman magazine blog. At the end of 2007 I made a decision that as I move forward with my new life, it was time to put some things from my past behind me. And, I decided that my magazine should be one of those things (from my past) that needs to be retired.

I have also decided to put on hold offering for sale e books containing reprints of the TSC volumes that have appeared in recent years on this blog site. I do intend on making these e books available in the future, but not the foreseeable future. At this point in my life, I don't want to get tied down with running my own business. So, I have decided to put those things on hold until a more opportune time presents itself.

With that said, what is this blog site going to become? And, what does this new name mean? Let's start with the name. During the last quarter of 2007 I started playing around with the idea of changing the name of TSC to something that better reflects what this publication is turning into. I am moving it away from the idea of craftsman projects, and more in the direction of a journal of simulating railroads. This journal will contain my observations, reviews of train sim routes that I have explored, entries on train operations in the real world, articles about my current layout projects, and any article written by you that deals with any aspect of virtual railroading. The reason it will contain observations about real railroading, is because that is what we are trying to simulate. So it is appropriate that we include articles on how the prototype railroads run their operations. Can there be any articles on model railroading? Yes! After all, if you think about it, model railroading is also simulating a real railroad. One medium is using scale models, and the other is using virtual scale models on a PC. It is my opinion that there is no difference in modeling in either environment.

I started to think about what kind of name I should use for my new direction. There are obvious ones like Virtual Railroad xxx. I decided against using the term virtual railroad or virtual railroading in the title because I felt it would make my publication title too close to my good friend's name of his web site and e-publication, Virtual Railroader. I then started to play around with Train Simulation. I concluded that using those terms in my new title would be too close to Train Simulation Craftsman. This is a new direction and I wanted to get away from names that sounded similar to the previous publication.

So, I started to play around with the idea of Railroad Journal, or Rail Simulation. The problem with Rail Simulation is that there is a new train simulator on the market called Rail Simulator. Again, too close for comfort in my book. I liked the word journal being in the title, and we are simulating railroads. So after some reflection on using these words together in a title I have decided that the new name should be Railroad Simulation Journal. I think this title expresses well the intent of this blog—that is, to journal our experiences in the fascinating world of virtual railroading.

There will be no more magazine issues in our publishing model. Each year we will add another volume to our collection. These volumes will be archived into e books that will be made available on the Stuck Junction web site at no charge-- giving me a reason to keep the business site open even though it will technically not be operating. Remember, I want to keep the business in view for possible start up at some point in the future.

Since there are no magazine issues, the articles and journal entries will appear as they are written by me, or received from you. So, I would suggest (if you haven't done so already) using the RSS feed to notify you whenever a new posting is made on this site.

Join me in saying good bye to a trusted friend, Train Simulation Craftsman. It had a good run from its promising beginning back in 2002 to its rebirth in 2004 to its retirement at the end of 2007. It's time to change trains and begin a new journey. I hope you will come along for the ride, and visit here often! --Brian

Posted by woodbrdge at 2:19 AM PST
Updated: Wednesday, 27 February 2008 7:38 PM PST
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Friday, 17 November 2006
A book review
Topic: Conductor

This is V-Scale 

by Brian Eckard

If you are a beginner to the world of virtual railroading, then I have an ebook for you! Author and publisher, Alfred Barten, has created a wonderfully informative ebook that will help the novice user to get started in this exciting new slant on the model railroading hobby.

The ebook features twenty-nine chapters, 210 pages, 188 illustrations plus free Trainz 2006 demo and more. It is divided into five parts: First Things First, A Closer Look at the Favorites, Operations, Easy Projects, and Resources. The book covers all the different types of simulations such as, dispatching, empire building, railway/transport modeling, cab-view driving, full 3D and model railroad. The book discusses all types of railroads including, Class 1, light rail, interurban, rapid transit and narrow gauge. And, Mr. Barten reviews BVE, Microsoft Train Simulator, Trainz, Locomotion and Transport Giant. He includes links to over 70 simulators and many more resources.

The ebook is published on CD and includes a free Trainz demo plus other extras and add-ons.  The Adobe PDF reader is required to view the book, and Windows 98 or higher is required to run the Trainz demo. The package retails for $12.95 and includes shipping and handling.

Initial thoughts

Al has managed to pack a lot of useful and interesting information into this fabulous ebook! It starts out with a brief overview of what's in store for you as you continue to read on. The book starts ini Part One explaining how to get started in V-Scale railroading. He explains in detail what V-Scale is and what is involved in getting started. There is a brief explanation of what is needed for hardware, and where to go for additional help.

In Part Two, the book takes an in depth look at the commercial train simulators that are available, It starts out by looking at the freeware BVE simulator. Then, it explores Microsoft's Train Simulator, Auran's Trainz, Locomotion, and Transport Giant. Next, he explores the empire building strategy games that are available. For each simulator, the book provides details such as its directory structure (for BVE), and basic keys used to drive the trains. For Microsoft's product, the book explains how to install add-ons, and where to go for resources on the Internet. For Auran's Trainz the book provides information on must have resources that will enhance using this fabulous simulator. .

Part Three moves into Operations. This subject, by far, is where I have the most fun. I simply enjoy the challenge of driving a train, or shunting cars around industries or a yard. In this section of the ebook, an in depth look at operations is made, and I believe it provides an accurate picture of what you can experience in virtual railroading. .

This chapter begins with an imaginary ski trip on the Boston and Maine Railroad. Our trip begins in Boston and heads up into the snowy mountains of New Hamphire. We're headed to Sugarloaf, NH home of the Sugarloaf Inn. This route is actually John D'Angelo's Boston to Portland Trainz route that is available for free download from Auran's Trainz Download Station to registered Trainz users.

In this section you'll find stories of rail operating fun for the BVE simulator, Trainz, and the Microsoft Train Simulator (MSTS). In this section Al shares his Timesaver articles, which were among my favorites, when we first published them in Woodbridge's Train Simulation Craftsman magazine back in 2002 / 2003.

Other topics include how to create and use waybills to simulate more realistic freight operations on your virtual railroad, building an interurban empire in Locomotion, and a look at traction and subways in the virtual world.

Easy Projects is the subject of part four. Here you will find articles that tell you how to build a switch list generator using Excel. How to paint and create scenery in Trainz, and it even shares how to make a movie once you've created your dream layout in your favorite train simulator.

Lastly, in Part Five: Resources, the ebook provides you with crib notes for all of the popular train simulators. Print these out and keep them next to your PC for your next train operating session! He provides a discussion of system requirements so that you can know what you need for your system so that you can enjoy your virtual railroading experience. And, finally Al includes a comprehensive listing of web sites that support virtual railroading. It is here that you will find Al's Train Simulation Web Finder. This listing divides the web sites into categories that make it fast and easy for you to locate web sites that cater to your favorite simulation, or V-Scale interest.

My Conclusions

I have spent a substantial amount of time reading this book and exploring the freebies that come with it. In my opinion, it is a well written book that will help any newcomer to this fascinating hobby to get started. It also will help the experienced and time seasoned virtual railroader to get more out of V-Scale, and it may even lead them to explore other avenues like strategy and empire building. For the model railroader, it might just open their eyes to the similarities our respective hobbies share and lead them to find a way to combine model railroading and virtual railroading together. In the future I can see a time where these two hobbies do combine and layouts will be designed that will use the simulator to handle the "time in between" the stations or selected scenes on the layout.

My advice to you is to purchase this book. This is a good investment that will provide you with hours of enjoyment, and will result in more meaningful operating sessions in your favorite train simulator.


Posted by woodbrdge at 10:36 PM PST
Updated: Wednesday, 27 February 2008 7:39 PM PST
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