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Beginners Guide to Downloading and Installing MSTS Add-ons

By M. Peddlesden, Copyright ©2002 - 29 May 2002

Section 2: Locomotives and Wagons

In order for a locomotive or wagon to be visible and usable in MSTS you must first get all the files in the right places and then you must have created (or been supplied with) a consist that uses the loco or wagon.

A consist is a name for a complete train - eg. a particular loco pulling a few coaches would be a consist. It is only when a loco is present within a consist that it will appear available for use in MSTS - even if that consist just contains the loco itself and nothing more. We'll get on to creating consists in a moment, first let's get those files installed to the right places.

The first step is common to both locos and wagons - get the basic files in to the TRAINS directory. The next two steps only apply to locos, get the Cab View and Sounds set up correctly.

What do we want

In order to understand where the files must go, let's take a look at the directory structure of MSTS as it relates to installing stock:

Here we can see that MSTS is installed in to the default location, if you've put it elsewhere then you need to understand where it is and make sure you can see the TRAINS directory in your installation.

Underneath the TRAINS directory you will find the CONSISTS directory, this is where MSTS keeps all of the consists we described earlier - you won't need to edit any files in this directory as Microsoft have supplied an editor for you to use. You might need to copy some files in here however - they have the extension .con, we'll go back over this in a little while.

The important directory for us at the moment is the TRAINSET directory, inside that directory you will find all of the stock that you have installed on your system. Each piece of stock is in a directory inside TRAINSET (it is possible to have more than one piece of stock in a single directory) so when we install new stock items we'll need to make sure they too are in their own directory.

Now that we know where we are putting the files, exactly what are these files?

We don't need to understand what everything does here but let's briefly cover what's going on.

  • ACE files are the textures, they're just like pictures on a web page but they are specially formatted to be wrapped around the 3D object that forms the stock item..
  • The ENG file contains all of the core data for the Engine - you will only find an ENG file in a Locomotive. As well as simple data such as the name, you will find all the physics of the locomotive such as its power, braking force and so forth.
  • The WAG file is only present for Wagons (coaches included), it serves much the same purpose as an ENG file except it is of course far simpler.
  • The S and SD files are to do with the 3D shape of the stock item.
The two directories, CABVIEW and SOUNDS, are only present in Locomotives.

The CABVIEW directory contains all of the files necessary for (surprisingly enough) the Cab View. Likewise, the SOUNDS directory contains all of the WAV file format sound effects for the loco such as the engine noises.

CABVIEW and SOUNDS directories are not quite interchangeable - they are, but it isn't as easy as cut/paste. The ENG contains references telling MSTS what CABVIEW and SOUNDS to use within those directories, so if you feel a need to change a supplied cab view for another one, keep that in mind.

Here's an example of a wagon directory:

There are some very special locomotives that require a wagon to be pulled along behind them - these are of course Steam locomotives that have a Tender. The tender is considered by MSTS to be a Wagon that carries all of the locomotives' fuel, tank engines and diesels/electrics have their fuel notation in the ENG file and thus don't need to have a tender 'wagon' behind them. When you are making a consist up for such a locomotive, always remember to go in to the 'Freight' section and add the relevant tender as part of the consist.

What are we going to get

Now that we are familiar with what we should end up with let's discuss what we can expect from the files that are available to install.

Some of the files you download will simply contain an EXE file, these are self-installers. You extract the EXE from the ZIP you downloaded, double click on it and follow the prompts on the screen. Quite often these will also install a simple default consist (probably just containing the loco itself) meaning you can go right in and start driving immediately.

The rest of the files will contain some part of the directory structure or maybe even none at all.

Common options are:

  • All of it - These files extract to program files\microsoft games\... etc, if your installation is in the default directory as shown above, then all you need to do with these is extract them to the root of the drive with MSTS on it. For example, you extract to C:\ in my instance and make sure it is set to use the folder names. You might have got a consist in here too but it's worth using the consist editor to make sure. We'll come to the consist editor later in this section.

    If your MSTS installation is not in the default directory then this will do you no good at all, you'll need to unzip the files in to a temporary directory and then go and find the TRAINS\TRAINSET directory and copy the files yourself in to the right place.

  • TRAINS - For those authors wishing to include consists with their work their best option is to use the TRAINS directory, as you can recall from above, one of the directories beneath this one is the CONSISTS directory.

    In this instance all you need to do is extract to your 'Train Simulator' directory. Whether you have the default installation or not is irrelevant for this option.

  • TRAINSET - In this variation you will simply be given a folder in the ZIP file that is the name of the loco. Unzip this in to your TRAINSET folder and you are ready to make a consist for it.

  • Nothing - Some times you will find a ZIP file that just has a bunch of files and no folders. These will be files as described above such as WAG, ACE, SD and so forth. In this instance you will need to go in to your TRAINSET directory, make a new folder that has a suitable name and then extract the files in to there.

In all instances, if the README or the ZIP directory structure suggests or specifies a directory name for the rolling stock to go in to inside the TRAINSET directory then it is highly recommended that you stick with that name or you can run in to some serious grief when you try a downloaded activity (discussed in Section 2).

Cab View and Sounds

Now that we have the basic loco or wagon installed its time to check the Cab View and Sounds (for Locos at least). Note: This section is going to tell you how to make sure it's all there and install the correct cab and sounds as specified in the README - for installing your downloaded cabs please see section 3.

Go in to the TRAINSET directory and then beneath that in to the directory that your new loco is in. Does it have the CABVIEW and SOUNDS directories already?

There are two ways that cabs can work with the downloads. Either the author has simply made use of a default cab that comes with MSTS or alternatively they have done something called "Aliasing" which has the same effect but it uses a lot less hard drive space. It is beyond the scope of this tutorial to cover how you might go about Aliasing the CAB and SOUNDS yourself.

If the Cab and Sounds are aliased then you are probably in good shape already.

If there are no such directories then it's time to go digging. First, read the README file - does it say that you should copy CABVIEW and SOUNDS directories from an existing loco? If so, then do that next. If this has been left out of the README file (we're all human after all) then you're going to have to do a little detective work to find out for yourself what it needs.

Open the ENG file in Notepad so that you can read it. Now do a search for 'cvf' (stands for Cab View File). What have you found?

If it says:

CabView ( 2000.cvf )
(it can be 'anything'.cvf)

This means it is expecting to find 2000.cvf in the CABVIEW directory of this loco, so if you don't have a CABVIEW directory you're a bit stuck. You need to find out where that Cab View is located - in this instance you will find 2000.cvf in the SERIES2000 directory so just find that and copy/paste its entire CABVIEW directory so that your loco has it too.

The same procedure applies to sounds, look for 'sms' in the ENG file, you'll find it twice.

Sound ( "K31Eng.sms" )

Now we need to find K31Eng.sms, again this is a default sound set from one of the loco's that came with MSTS - you might find any other loco's sound effects but the basic line will look very similar, it's just the filename that changes.

In this case you'll find it in the KIHA31 directory, just copy/paste the entire SOUNDS directory over to your loco.

That's it, your loco should now be installed and driveable. Please note that you must at a minimum get the sounds working even if you are never going to drive it and you're installing the loco for the purposes of an activity.


Now that the loco is installed you must complete the final step, you must make a consist up using your new item.

A unit that isn't in any consists will not show up in any of the screens inside the simulator itself.

What is a Consist?
For those that don't know the term, a Consist is the correct term for a complete train. It will generally consist of one or more powered units and zero or more unpowered units. Depending on the nature of the train there may be other requirements such as the Intercity 125 requiring a Class 43 Power car at either end of a number of unpowered coaches, or a GWR Steam freight that has an 0-6-0 Pannier tank engine at the front, numerous coal trucks in the middle and a Guards/Brake van at the end.

There is nothing to stop you creating a consist containing just one unit, be that powered or not (though, of course, only powered units are driveable within the simulator).

In order to use the built-in Consist Editor you will need to have the Train Simulator Editors and Tools installed on your system. You must have performed a FULL install when you installed Train Simulator to get the Editors and Tools so if you don't have these, update your installation before you proceed any further and get those tools installed.

The Consist Editor is hidden away in the depths of the Activity Editor so let's fire up the Editors and Tools screen and select the Activity Editor.

From the Activity Editor you should click on the File menu and select New. Select any route and then type in anything for the name, it won't matter as you aren't going to make or save an activity. It will now place you in to the main edit mode.

Now that you are in edit mode, a few of the other options will have become enabled for you to select. The one you need is on the right hand side in the middle of the three groups of options, called 'Player'. Click on the 'New' button as highlighted in this snapshot:

This brings up the Service Editor. In the section marked 'Consist' you should click on the 'New' button as, once again, highlighted in this snapshot:

Finally we've made it. Welcome to the Consist Editor.

First, put a name for the consist into the 'Name' and 'Display Name' field - the former shouldnt have any special characters in it like colon's (:), the latter can contain anything and is the one that will be displayed to the user.

There is a drop-down box on the top that allows you to choose the type of Rolling Stock shown in the list below it so if you were going to make up a Flying Scotsman train you could do as follows:

  • Select Engines (Steam)
  • Drag and Drop 'Flying Scotsman' to the larger blue area at the bottom of the Consist Editor.
  • Go to Cars (Freight) and drag and drop 'ScotsTender' after the Flying Scotsman, that's the complete loco
  • Go to Cars (Passenger) and drag and drop a couple of 'ScotsThirdClass' at the end
That's built the train up.

There are different styles of coupling that are supported by MSTS such as Chain and Automatic. The different styles are incompatible - so if you try and couple a Chain wagon to a loco that has Automatic couplings they will not go together and you will get an error box. The simplest thing to do at that point is just find something else to connect it to - it is possible to change the couplings on wagons and engines and if you ask in the forums people will be very happy to help you out.

  • If at any time you want to flip the direction of a unit then right-click on it in the blue area where the train is being built - please note that a bug in MSTS means that a flipped consists' wheels will rotate in the wrong direction!.
  • If you want to move the cars or loco's around to other places in the consist just drag and drop them to the right place.
  • If you want to delete one you should drag and drop it on to the symbol just above the left hand side of the blue area underneath the word 'Couplings'.

If you look on the Consist Editor at the list of stock in the currently selected categor you will see some icons next to each item of stock.

These icons tell you what kind of coupling that the stock item has got, here is a list:


It doesn't really matter what kind of coupling that stock has got, as long as all the stock you are trying to put together has got the same coupling.

As well as the coupling you also need to take in to account what kind of braking system the stock item has got or you could end up with a loco that cannot release the brakes on your train! Unlike couplings, the Consist Editor will happily let you put incompatible trains together.

Single Pipe Vacuum
Single Pipe Air
Twin Pipe Air
Vacuum Pipe

It is possible for stock items to have more than one of a system, eg. '' would represent a stock item that has both Chain and Automatic couplings.

That's the consist built, click Save & Exit.

You can exit all the way out of the Activity Editor now, don't save any further changes and just abort your way out - other than saving the Consist you just made any other changes it reports you have made are incorrect so just keep saying no until you finally get out of the Editors and Tools.

Fire up MSTS and select the Loco that is heading up your train and you should see the consist you just created available as one of the options to use within the simulator.

Note: This might seem obvious, but don't be surprised if a loco like the Acela doesn't appear on the Settle and Carlisle route. There's a very logical reason for it - power :) The Acela is an overhead electric locomotive and the Settle and Carlisle route has no overhead cabling, therefore the Acela won't even appear as an available choice. It might seem obvious, but when you're this close to seeing your work in action you will often forget the most simple principles :) (so says the voice of experience, trust me <grin>).

Some Examples

The file 'RR Class 37 No.37425' is an example of there being no supplied directory structure. To install this file you will need to make a directory in your TRAINSET directory (the README suggests 37425 is a suitable name so I'd go with that), then extract all the files in to your new directory.

There is an extra wrinkle with this one as it uses the Class 37 cab view that is also on the site - in this case you're going to need to download 'Class 37 Cabview for 37404' and install that by creating a CABVIEW directory for all of its files - it too comes with a README so go through that too.

Finally, the 37425 readme says that you need the sounds from the DASH9 directory so copy the entire SOUNDS directory in to your 37425 directory and you're ready to make your consist.

The file 'Freightliner Class 66 - 66504' is an example of a file that has fully aliased cab and sounds. You'll need to make a directory for it (eg. 66504) in your TRAINSET directory but once you do that and extract these files in to it the loco is ready to put in a consist.

It should be noted that the author of this file (ahem) goofed the README, it says it will make its own directory and it will not, you need to do that yourself. I'll go take him around the back and hang him out to dry now :)

The file 'BR Standard Class 9F 2-10-0 No. 92220 Evening Star' is a good example of how easy it can be - this one is a self installer, the ZIP contains (amongst other things) an EXE file. You double click the EXE file, tell it where your MSTS installation is and it does the rest. The author has also included a simple consist so that you can get straight in and drive Evening Star on her own without having to make a consist first. Of course if you want to put some wagons behind her you'll need to make a suitable consist including them.

The file 'EWS Class 09 09023 Shunting Loco' shows another variation, in this instance the author has included the directory for the loco to sit in and you just need to unpack it to the TRAINSET directory.

Once you have unpacked the files you will need to copy across the GP38 cab and sounds (as described in the README) directories.

The author has also included a 'CONSISTS' directory, just move the contents of this directory in to your consists folder and you should be able to jump straight in without needing to build a consist yourself.

The file 'BR Class 43' is an example of a fairly big distribution. It contains the power car and a complete coach set for it, it also has its own Cab View.

This distribution contains a complete path - if your installation of MSTS is in the default directory this is very simple, just extract to C:\ and make sure it's set to use folder names. If your installation is not in the default directory you will need to extract it in to a TEMP directory, find the TRAINSET directory that it just made and you will see 4 more directories, move those in to your TRAINSET directory where ever it is, and then move the consist that is supplied in to your CONSISTS folder.

This file has fully aliased sounds so once you've unpacked everything you can get right in and drive a complete HST without editing consists.

That should give you a basic grounding on what you can expect - if you've had a look at the files that I've mentioned you should be reasonably prepared.

It sounds daunting but once you've installed a couple of files yourself you will be spending hours downloading and installing all kinds of fantastic new add-ons created by the community.

Section 1: Introduction to Downloading
Section 2: Locomotives and Wagons
Section 3: Activities
Section 4: Cab Views and Sound Packs
Section 5: Routes

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