So, you want to build a train for BVE4?

You've not been frightened off by page 1 then?  Good! 

This page is going to talk about what can sometimes be the hardest part of building a BVE train: getting the raw materials to work on.

So, what do you need?  Well, you can make some kind of train with very little - basically, you could draw your cab images and record a few engine sounds from a transit van and put together a train of sorts, which would be driveable.  However, mostly, people want to aim for a bit more realism than that!!

Right, so you've set your heart on modelling a particular train for BVE4.  The first thing you need to do is find out if there are any you can get access to in order to get photos, and, better yet, record sounds.  If the train you hope to build is on a preserved railway somewhere, you stand a good chance: talk to the right people and they'll quite likely let you have access to the cab for photos and may well be prepared to arrange for sound recording as well.  Current mainline trains are a good bit more difficult, and it might be quite difficult to get access; also, mainline drivers are not allowed to do stuff like recording sounds when the train's in action and so most if not all will be unwilling to do so.

So, let's assume that you can get access to the original train, known in the jargon as the prototype.  What next?

Next, you need a decent camera.  If using a 35mm film camera I'd go for about a 28mm lens, or if using a digital one with adjustable zoom, pick a wide angle which approximates to the normal field of vision.

Place the camera on a tripod if possible, so that it's looking from about where the driver's head would normally be, facing forwards.  Thsi is going to produce your basic cab view, and so take time to get it right.  Try to include a good bit of the windscreen in the view and preferably all the major controls: brake, power, revreser - also things like AWS reset button, AWS sunflower, TPWS panel.  You might not get all of these in using one shot - if so, you might look at moving the camera back a bit or using a wider lens.  On digital cameras, make sure you're using the highest resolution and quality available.

having placed your camera, you now want pictures.  Arrange exposure and lighting so that you get cab details.  What's outside the windscreen is irrelevant. 

For the best results, you want a series of pictrues with the main controls in different places.  N.B.  make sure you have someone around who knows what's what before fiddling with controls! 

If the power or brake have clearly marked positions you can use those, if not, pick several intermediate positions, bearing in mind that BVE4 allows up to 8 - although for most purposes 6 is sufficient.  Take a series of pictures, with both power and brake controls in positions from "off" to "full", noting that there may be an "emergency" position for the brake.  Take time to make sure you get all these pictures as it will save you a LOT of hassle later!  If the train you're doing has a combined brake/throttle, make sure you get pictures in all the positions.

The reverser generally has forward, neutral and reverse.  You need at least one photo with this in each position. 

The other things to consider are the various minor controls like lights, wipers, AWS reset button and so on.  Try to get pictures with these in their various different positions, noting that headlights have several configurations, like "marker only", "day head", "night head" and so on and sometimes "hazard".  It really is worth spending time working out what you want, and making sure you get the photos right.

OK, now you've hopefully got your pictures.  The next stage depends on whether the train is operational, and if so, whether you can arrange to record sounds.  Let's assume that it is and you can.  You'll want sounds for the following:

Engine start and shutdown,
Engine idling,
Powering up from idle,
Running slowly at light load,
Running under heavy load,
Running down to idle,
Braking application and brake running sounds,
Brake release,
Emergency brake application.

In addition, you also really want running sounds on different kinds of track, and don't forget the AWS "warning" and "clear" sounds, and the horns!

You might not be able to get all those - especially on a preserved railway.  In that case, you'll have to look around for other sounds and see if you can get persmission to use them.  However, the more genuine sounds you can get from your prototype, the better.

That's more or less it for gathering resources.  The last thing you need is perfomance data for the train, especially its maximum tractive effort and preferably the continuous T.E. and the speed at which it applies.  You'll use these to determine the maximum acceleration.  If you can talk to a driver, find out if there are any quirks for the class, such as unusually slow acceleration from rest.  Another thing you can check on is which lights or buttons illuminate and under what conditions - examples are start/stop buttons, door release, door closed, all of which (and more!) may or may not illuminate.  On electric units, there are likely to be pan up/pan down buttons and line volts lights as well.

In part 3, we'll look at what you do with all this data.