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Old 03-01-2011, 04:17 AM   #1
Join Date: May 2009
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Tips and tricks for a beginner?

I've recently purchased RW and even thought I have almost no knowledge of trains and railways it's been very entertaining for me. However, I'm still having troubles stopping at stations precisely (or like even close to them). Most of the time I over- or underestimate (mostly the latter) the breaking power of the train and end up stopping it a quarter mile before or after the actual station.
Any hints on how to know when you need to apply the breaks (also: which ones if the train has multiple)?

Furthermore I'm wondering if I should just start out getting to know one engine first or if I should learn one track. I'm just not sure what the right way would be or which engine/track is simple enough. I'd also appreciate suggestions here.
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Old 03-01-2011, 04:45 AM   #2
Join Date: Jul 2009
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It helps if you understand how train brakes work - they're not hydraulic like a car but work using a system based on air pressure.

To release the brakes, all the air is pumped out of the system to produce a vacuum. To apply the brakes, the pressure in the system is increased (ie air is allowed in).

Now, you do not have direct control of the pressure in the system. What you control is the rate at which air is pumped in or out of the system. Thus, you can push the braking lever so that the air enters the system only very slowly, but eventually the brakes will still be fully applied because the pressure in the system will have built up from a vacuum to atmospheric. Contrast this with a car, where pressing the brake pedal gently only ever applies a small percentage of the braking power of the car.

So, to control speed when slowing you have to play with the braking lever to let air into the system and pump it out again to maintain the brakes at a particular level.

As a further complication, different trains pump air in & out at different speeds. A modern loco can do this quite quickly whereas an old steam loco takes much longer. This is something you have to learn for each loco.

EDIT: You can find loads of info on train brakes here

Diesels and most electrics are by far the easiest to drive. The Class 43 out of Paddington is a very good one to start with.

Last edited by phile: 03-01-2011 at 07:22 AM. Reason: Added link for train brakes info
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Old 03-01-2011, 07:23 AM   #3
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Thanks that really helped.
I did that class 43 mission and it was fairly easy (not much stopping involved thought, just twice in 30 minutes, but a bit of breaking here and there).
When approaching a station I put the throttle down to about 40% and put the breaks to about 60 initially to go down to ~50mph (being around one miles away from the station) and then gradually worked them until I rolled into the station at about 20mph. Worked quite nicely both times.
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Old 03-01-2011, 08:51 AM   #4
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As a general rule of thumb for me, with braking, I look at the distance to the next destination. If I'm doing 60mph, I want to start braking and backing down the throttle at about .6 miles to go. Speed usually drops for me this way at a rate of 10mph/ .1 mile. If I see I'm slowing too much, just grab the throttle and let off a little on the brakes (not too much of either, keep her steady) Once braking momentum slows you to a certain point, it's hard to get rolling again without stopping completely.

It takes practice, even with the 100 hours or so I've driven in this sim, I'm no where near good, let alone perfect. Sometimes you need to run a route several times before you know where the speed limits change, where the stops are, where to switch tracks. Your first day on the job will not be the easiest one.
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Old 03-01-2011, 01:08 PM   #5
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Try doing the Tutorial runs first. Helped me a lot in understanding especially the steam engine and it's running. As phile says: it takes practice, and lots of it. Also, train drivers usually sticks to only one route, which they know very good after a while. They switch routes only after driving with an experienced driver.
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Old 03-01-2011, 07:42 PM   #6
Join Date: Jun 2010
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Phile's assessment of braking is excellent.

Would only add, whether its British or American, important to remember several things.

  • Weight of the locomotive(s) is one.
  • Weight of the entire train is paramount.
  • Worst, how little the wheels actually impact the rails.*
  • Whether the brakes are cool, or warm, makes a difference.
  • Braking with air, their is a slight delay, like big trucks, almost a second, some more.
*Try on average, smaller than a U. S. Postage Stamp, add rain (heavy), though doubt that is factored in by RS Dev team physics, then again who knows? It is noticeable with a heavy coal car train, very slow in aceleration, wheel slipping and all!
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