At the request of Rice 3985 I hereby present Engineer 101.
(or how to couple and uncouple safely and set cars out)
First lets talk about the easiest part, but one of the most important
Coupling between equipment should be done at NO MORE than 3 MPH and preferably less than 2 MPH. (Hit Left Shift Z twice to see the speed of your locomotive). If you couple at more than 3 MPH, chances are OUTSTANDING that you have just corrupted to car or cars you just coupled to. This creates a nightmare for you, the next engineer that tries to couple on to the string and most importantly, the user or admin that has to figure out what you hit and how fast.
MISTAKES happen, but if you couple at more than 3 MPH, please, please PLEASE report it on the wiki. That makes it much easier to find and fix things if there is a problem.
It has happened to everyone and there should be no guilt or shaming for having it happen and directly reporting it.
NOTE: If after coupling, check your engines and see if they will MU. If they won't, you have a corrupt car or cars in the string you just coupled to. Please stop what you are doing and report it to an Admin on the Wiki so they can get it fixed up. (Just select your lead locomotive and hit "auto MU" - if the message says "cannot MU this train", you have a problem.) It is actually better to hit shift F5 (the "OH !@#$#@!) combination) prior to making a coupling above 3 MPH.
How to set out cars:
Lets say that you have just arrived with the engine and car in the picture above and you want to set the hopper out.
Step 1: Hit the Right shift key and the Home Key and the Page Up key all at once OR apply maximum independent engine air and full automatic train air for you folks that use Raildriver.
Step 2: Proceed to the coupling between the engine and the first car of the cut. Select the engine. A text box should appear. Select "Anglecock closed" and "Uncoupling Lever Open Coupler" You should hear a cachunk a chunk when the coupler opens.
Step 3: Change the direction of the engine to move away from the car(s). Hit right shift+End+Page down all at once OR release all your air if you are using Raildriver. Hint: If the engine doesn't move, hit F5 by itself.
Notes on handbrakes:
The prototype railroads state in the rulebooks that "whenever setting out cars, set a sufficient number to prevent movement". See how clever that is? It lays the entire responsibility on YOU to determine how many handbrakes need to be set. If the cut rolls away, there simply weren't enough set. End of story and there wont be an appeal at your hearing.
All over this division there are places that need to have handbrakes set. Shift+F5 applies all of them. F5 releases all of them. To individually set or release handbrakes on equipment, select just that piece of equipment and you will see a box which indicates whether or not the handbrake is applied. If you need more, click apply. Less? click release. You will figure out quickly where the grades are on this division and where to set handbrakes.
The absolute OH !@#$%^&*()(*&^%$#@!) moment:
If cars get away from you, this is the hail mary. Sometimes it works, sometimes not. If you follow the above directions you should never face this situation however:
Chase the cut of cars down on foot. select each one individually and click "apply handbrake", go to the next one and repeat and so on and so on. They may or may not stop them and it's really tough to do.
I've used the maximum air setout for years and it has never failed me. I did however chase down a ton of cars (primarily out of Cargill) when I was learning. That wasn't pretty.
And speaking of learning? There is a shuttle of engine and cars behind the Victorville Cemex plant. No registry or time keeping is required. Just a little 6 mile run up to the loader, load the cars and then back to the plant to unload OR something you can use and make mistakes with. It never comes out on the main and exists to let people learn. This is an OUTSTANDING place to learn about grades. Go up to the loader and set the cars out and then pick them back up. Nobody will bother you up there. It is designed to be challenging.
Questions? Please ask me whenever I'm on or we can get you to my email.
Runaways should not occur, but things do happen. Please help out by practicing on pickups and setouts of cars.