SLC Update – 2 April 2021

The clocks have changed, the days are getting longer and spring is most definitely here. Work at SLC continues apace and I hope to soon release a scenario pack for the ‘H’ class.

I’m pleased to announce that V1.2 of the ‘H’ class add-on was released today. This update focuses mainly on improvements to the vacuum ejector and braking scripts, but there are a couple of other adjustments/fixes. Driving the ‘H’ is a much more interesting experience and I hope you enjoy it.

It’s been over two months since I last did an update on the ‘Lord Nelson’. While work hasn’t stopped, I like to try and show completely finished components in the blog posts. My focus has been on completing the bogie, bogie wheels, driving wheels, as well as the outside and inside motion. This task is made harder by the fact that across the classes lifetime everything except the bogie wheels received some change or modification. Oh well, they say variety is the spice of life, but right now I feel like I’ve got indigestion! Hopefully I’ll have a more visual update on the Nelson’s in the near future, so keep an eye on the blog.

Stay safe everyone.

James (SLC)

SLC Update – 27 January 2021

Hi everyone, hope you’re staying safe and well during these uncertain times. The end of November last year saw the release of the SE&CR ‘H’ class add-on and I must say thank you to everyone who has purchased the add-on so far, I hope you’re enjoying it.

With the ‘H’ class done it’s straight onto the next project the Lord Nelson class.

Examining drawings held at Search Engine in York has been an immeasurable help in finding some variations and details that would have otherwise been impossible to identify. So having got some new higher resolution drawings into Blender, the first step was to create as many animation rigs that I could without a physical model present. As a result I now have a rig for all four sets of valve gear, the cylinder drain cock linkage, the dampers and sander linkage.

With that accomplished, onto the modelling. Some like to build a complete base model and then in effect graft variations onto that model. Personally I prefer to have all the variations for a particular component modelled, ie all of the cylinder types, as it helps me ensure that everything fits together correctly.

So the current state of progress:

It might seem unbelievable, but in just these pictures I could show over 20 variations. Most are cylinder/blastpipe changes, but a few are frame differences.

You wouldn’t think the locomotive frames would have much in the way of variations, but steam locomotives have a knack for surprising you. As just one example of frame variation compare this photograph of 850 Lord Nelson with 857 Lord Howe.

Rail-Online: Lord Nelson 4-6-0 &emdash; 850 1930s Stewarts lane Rail-Online: Lord Nelson 4-6-0 &emdash; 857 1937-06 Eastleigh Works

Focus on the lightening hole between the middle and rear driving wheels. On No.850 this was a stadium shape (it is a little tricky to see on the photograph, look just above the coupling rod), whereas on every other member of the class a circular hole was made in the frames. You might easily miss that detail, but once you’ve seen it you can’t ignore it. Yet amazingly not one of the books about the class that I’ve read has pointed this detail out.

As I mentioned previously the drawings held at Search Engine have been a real help. If I have a drawing I don’t have to guess the dimensions, though interpreting a 2d drawing with no photographs is a challenge in itself. One of those challenging components was the Kylchap blastpipe.

As can be seen from the finished product, the curves in all three directions made it a difficult object to make, but the results more than justify the effort.

In other SLC news…

I’m pleased to say that the U class add-on is back on the website. The add-on was withdrawn in November 2018 due to a couple of issues being reported by customers. At the time I wasn’t able to fix them, but due to the influx of enquiries about the add-on as it is used in a number of scenarios that are available, I took another look. While I haven’t been able to fix all of the issues, enough has been done that I can justify putting it back on sale. However, the U class add-on is now approaching ten years since it was released and the add-on is not up to the standards of current SLC add-on’s. Therefore the re-release has a caveat. The add-on is ONLY intended for use as AI traffic in scenario’s. If you choose to use the add-on as a player-driven engine you will only be able to drive the engine using the keyboard or the HUD as I was unable to fix the inability to move the cab controls with the mouse. I can still only offer limited technical support.

While I won’t be posting every week, or indeed, every month, as progress on the Lord Nelson continues I plan to post an update whenever I can. Until next time …

SLC Update 17 May 2020

Well, I haven’t done one of these in a while, let’s see how rusty I am!

It’s time for a long overdue blog post.

I can only apologize for my year of silence. Rather than creating a complete locomotive and then adding the variations and liveries, the way I tend to work is to create all the variations simultaneously; that way I can check that everything fits together correctly. The downside is that I don’t have any complete in game screenshots to show until shortly before the model is complete.

The ‘H’ class has been a bit of a rollercoaster to create. I’ve mentioned previously that some of the variations and changes which will be included with the add-on have never, as far as my research has been able to ascertain, been identified. The Search Engine archives at the National Railway Museum have been very helpful in ensuring that items like the pipes for the Westinghouse brakes, vacuum brakes and steam heat system, are in the correct places.

However, while examining some original drawings last year for the Lord Nelson add-on, I took the opportunity to look at the drawings of the cab, tank and bunkers for the ‘H’ class. The result of this was that I realised my model did not match the stated dimensions. In some places the difference was less than 1/4 in but in others was close to or over 1 in. At first glance that might not seem a huge amount, but the dimensions of the cab affect the position and dimensions of other components which in turn impact other parts, and soon what started as a 1 in difference has increased to 2 maybe 3 inches. Therefore, I took the decision to rebuild as many components as was necessary to reduce the dimensional differences, which in the end, resulted in around 75% of the model being rebuild or modified. But the results were, I think, worth it.

The SE&CR austerity grey livery, has quickly become one of my favourites, there’s something purposeful and workman like in it’s appearance.

I can’t give an exact date of completion for the add-on as there’s a number of new techniques that I’m testing in addition to the normal development cycle.

However, work has not been solely focused on the ‘H’ class. As I mentioned previously, research on the Lord Nelson class has included viewing original works drawings. Cataloguing the variations for any locomotive add-on is a time consuming task, but with the Lord Nelson’s it’s made even harder because of the more than 200 photographs I have to go through, many of which don’t have the date or year the picture was taken. But in the meantime, I decided to make a start on building what components I could with the aid of the original works drawings I viewed at the NRM. The first major component to be nearing completion is the cab for No. 850 when it was brand new in August 1926.

While this blog post isn’t a “The H class is now available”, I hope it’s given an insight into why things take longer than I want them to. I’m continually learning new things as a developer, where would the fun be if we didn’t keep learning.

One aspect of Train Simulator that I’ve been dabbling with recently is scenario creation. You may have noticed that there is a new section on the SLC website for scenarios. Here I’ll be uploading occasional scenarios that I’ve created and hopefully you’ll enjoy playing.

Until next time

James (SLC)