Making up a Consist
by Yuri Sos


A consist is a train made up of locomotives and rolling stock: using the steps I'm about to show you, you can make up any combination of vehicles (you can combine a Japanese railcar with a Orient Express dining car if the whim takes you). Once you have defined a consist, you will find that consist in the list of trains available when you "Explore a Route" and select a given locomotive; in the case of multiple units, the consist is always found under the lead locomotive.


Getting Started

Make sure your monitor is set to at least 1024x768 pixels as MS Train Simulator Editors & Tools doesn't work at a lower resolution). You may need to set your screen resolution (Right-click on Desktop | Properties | Settings) to 16-bit to avoid MSTS lock-up.

Click Start | Programs | Microsoft Games | Train Simulator | Train Simulator Editors and Tools.

You will be presented with this window in the middle of your desktop.

Click on "Activity Editor".

When the Activity Editor has fully loaded, you will have the starting screen open in front of you, as shown below.
Click on menu option: File | New.

A dialogue box, entitled "Select a Route", will open in the centre of the screen.

Don't worry about which route is shown, just press "Ok".

A dialogue box, entitled "Activity Display Name", will open in the centre of the screen.

Don't worry about naming the "new" activity, just press "Ok".  Once we've defined a consist, we'll be cancelling out of here. After a few seconds, a new screen will be presented, looking like this below.

On the right side of the screen, you will see a section entitled "Player" with a blank field entitled "Player Service" and a "New" button beneath it (arrowed).

Click on "New".

A new window, entitled "Service Editor"  will open at left (convoluted, isn't it?).

You will note a blank field labelled "Consist" with a "New" button underneath it (arrow points to button in image below).

Click on "New".

Finally, we're at the Consist Editor's main screen.



Let's look at the various parts of the Consist Editor's screen:

Key to numbers above:

  1. Name: this is the filename of the consist as found in the Consists folder of your MSTS\TRAINS folder.
  2. Display Name: the name as displayed when you are selecting a consist to run when "exploring a route" or when selecting a Consist when creating an activity.
  3. Rolling stock types: choose one of five options from the drop-down box:

  4. Name of item of rolling stock: the name of the model as defined in the .ENG or .WAG file:  if a name hasn't been defined (usually due to a slack model designer!), the name of the .ENG or .WAG file will be used;
  5. Braking system: the column headed by the symbol that looks like a hungry Pacman holds images that inform you of the type of braking system the model uses - single or twin air pipe, electro-pneumatic or vacuum. As well, when you select and place a model in a consist, one or two blue or red lines appear under the model as a visual reminder of the type of braking system employed on that vehoicle: see table below:
    Single air pipe
    twin air pipe
    vacuum brake pipe

  6. Coupler type: coupler types are again self-explanatory once you understand the symbols: you may have more than one coupler-type defined for a given model (eg steam locomotives and tenders may have both a drawbar and an auto- or chain-coupler defined;
    Chain-type coupler
    Automatic coupler

  7. "Unique Coupler Name": some draw-bar couplings are given a unique name: if that's the case, it appears in this column.
  8. "Delete from consist" icon: supposedly a stylised car-crusher, you click and drag a model from the consist to this icon to delete it from the consist (don't worry, it's not deleted from your system).
  9. Rolling stock Preview: the item of rolling stock is previewed here.
  10. Consist Preview: your consist is shown here as you build it up.
  11. Driveable loco symbol: the symbol to the left of the model name (arrowed) is a throttle symbol and it indicates that that particular model is a driveable locomotive: locos without handles are used for the so-called "AI trains" (ie trains that are driven by the game in various activities). You can also use these (AI) locos as trailing engines in an otherwise driveable consist. Consists with an AI locomotive leading will not show up in the game and thus can't be selected for use as a player train.

Just another couple of things:

  1. You can click and drag the vertical line (see arrow) between name and braking system to make the model names more readable, thus; compare to image above ........

  2. Clicking on a field-name the title bar in the window above will sort the contents of that field (somewhat imperfectly, but it's better than nothing): it actually sorts on the filename of the ENG file, not the "Name" within the ENG file: hence a "Series 2000" sorts ahead of a "Dash 9" because the actual ENG files are named "2000.ENG" and "dash9.ENG", respectively..


Creating Your Consist

Now that you understand this screen, let's create a consist. I'm going to create a simple consist of two locos, four wagons and a caboose - all default vehicles.

Your consist needs a name: get used to the fact that in MSTS, you'll name everything twice, once for the filename, then again with a display name that will appear whenever you select the locomotive when "Exploring the Route" or creating an activity.

The "Name" (filename) I've used is "dash9x2_4tanks" and the "Display Name" is "Dash 9x2 short tank train". Make sure the Display Name is unique or you may have difficulty in finding it later on.

For example, I've identified light engine consists with the loco number, otherwise you'd have many identical-appearing consists in the consist list):

From drop-down box marked "Rolling Stock Types", select Engines (Diesel); and a list of diesel locomotives will be presented in the "Rolling Stock" window below.

Using the vertical slider bar, scroll down the list until you find the locomotive you want.  Note I've clicked the Name field to sort the locos by name and widened the field to make it easier to read the title of the locomotive.  A single click on the loco name will bring up a thumbnail view of the loco ........

... and a double-click on the name will place the locomotive in the lower window.  This is where you will build up your consist.

For more than one loco of the same type, double-click on the name again.

Or choose another locomotive - here we've chosen the default GP38 as the second locomotive.
Double-click on the name and it takes its position behind the previously placed item of rolling stock.

To reverse the direction of a loco, right click on the loco in the lower window (I've right-clicked on the GP38 in the image below).

Move up and select "Cars(Freight)" from the Rolling stock types drop-down box.

Once again, scroll down, find the car you want (clicking once on the names to see the thumbnails if you need), then double-click to add the car to your growing consist and continue. (When you're building up passenger trains please note that there's a (non-fatal) bug in the Consist Editor that tips you out of the Cars (Passenger) List into the Cars (Freight) list if you click on a steam loco tender while browsing or selecting.)

We'll select the "US2Chemicar" wagon.

To delete a car or loco from the consist, click and hold on the unwanted vehicle and drag the cursor over to the "car crusher" symbol that looks like this:

Release the mouse button and the wagon is removed from the consist.

Keep double-clicking on the car(s) you wish to add to the consist. Here I've added a US2Caboose and then some more USChemicars.

As you add more cars, they will be added to the consist off-screen. You can view these wagons by dragging the scroll bar left or right (arrowed).

To move a vehicle up or down the consist, click and drag the vehicle left or right.  A vertical red line will appear indicating where the vehicle will be placed.

When you release the mouse button, the wagon will appear where you've placed it.


Saving Your Consist

Once you've finished,

  1. press "Save and Exit". The Consist Editor window will close.
  2. Press "Cancel" on the Service Editor window, then
  3. the "Close" [X] box to exit MSTS Editors and Tools (image below).

Click on "Yes".


Other Options

Just before we conclude, let's look at the other three buttons below the Consists drop down box in the image below.

We've already covered "New".

To modify an existing consist, select the consist from the drop-down box and press "Edit"

Warning: do not edit the default consists that came with MSTS: if you do, you may find activities using those consists operate erratically or not at all.

Modify your consist as required.  You will not be permitted to change the name (filename), but you can change the display name; when you've finished, press "Save & Exit" as above.

If you want to modify an existing consist and save it as another consist, select the consist and press "Use as template".

This loads your selected existing consist into the Consist Editor, appends a "1" to both the filename and display name (see above). You are allowed to change the name (filename) and the display name. Perform your changes then press "Save & Edit" when you've finished.

"Delete" is self-explanatory.  Don't delete a default consist.


Let's try out our new consist.

Start Train Simulator.
Select "Drive a Train".
Select "Route" (arrow #1 below).
Select "Explore the Route".
Select the locomotive at the head of your consist from the drop down box. (arrow #2 below)
Select the consist you've created from the drop down box (arrow #3 below).
Select start/end points, time, weather.

Press "Start".