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This page was originally created by ShneekeyCraft.

Railcraft for Newbies

(A Reference Guide for the Rest Of Us)

So first off, what does this mod do?

  • Revolutionizes your transit system with tons of different types of tracks and carts
  • Large multi-block machines which do cool things
  • New options for mass liquid storage
  • A whole new system of generating MJ via Steam

Why would you want to play with this mod:

  • You enjoy building rail systems for transit or for moving stuff around
  • You need to store a LOT of liquids
  • You want to set up a factory with a LOT of Minecraft Joule (MJ) production
  • You want to set up an automated system for moving your stuff across dimensional boundaries (with Mystcraft)

What mods does this mod work well with?

  • Buildcraft helps automate everything even further
  • Thermal Expansion brings some useful utility with the AA and with energy conduits
  • Rails and Carts can go through Mystcraft Portals, enabling you to put a quarry in a different age and still get the products to your base

You will need the following to get started with this mod:

The Basics: Coke Oven and Rolling Machines

The Coke Oven is an introduction to a concept which many find fairly new: a multi-block structure. When properly built, it will create a large 3x3x3 block cube which is a single entity. There are several such multi-block structures in this mod. For this one, we’re going to need 26 Coke Oven Bricks. Look up the recipe in NEI. Sand and Clay Bricks, not too bad. But you’re going to need a lot of them, so I hope you are near a good source of clay. If you have ExtraBiomes installed, there’s also a way to get it out of red cobblestone found in some of the new biomes.

We lay out our 3x3 first layer on the ground. The next layer on top of that is going to be hollow, so there will be an empty space in the middle. The top layer is another 3 x 3. When it is built, it should rapidly update into a Coke Oven. Unlike any other furnace-like machine, it doesn’t actually need any fuel—or rather, any additional fuel. You put Coal (NOT Charcoal) in to get Coal Coke out. No, not the soda; this stuff is a refined fuel which will last twice as long as regular Coal and is also the only fuel which the Blast Furnace will accept. Converting Coal into Coal Coke will also produce Creosote Oil as a byproduct.

Warning: Coke Oven Bricks attempt to look around to see if they are in proper alignment to make a coke oven. This search happens per block per tic, which can lag you out. For this reason, coke oven bricks are not recommended as a building material. Once they form a Coke Oven.

Now, you will probably need some Coal reserved if you plan on doing much with IndustrialCraft 2 for carbon plates and solar panels, so you probably shouldn’t throw all your coal into the coke ovens. However, I’d suggest at least a stack thrown in to begin with, and go from there as necessary. It does take a bit to cook it up into coke, so if you foresee yourself using a significant quantity of it, be sure to have a supply ready to be cooked.

You may also notice a liquid bar filling up as it is cooking the coal into coal coke. That’s Creosote Oil. It’s used in preserving railroad ties as well as being a sub-par liquid fuel source. Still, since it’s pretty much being produced as a byproduct, it won’t cost you much. So if you find yourself swimming in creosote oil, it’s an option to start burning it.

That’s going to take a long time to cook up, so why don’t we work on something else while it does its thing. We’re going to build a machine which is necessary to do pretty much anything with this mod: the Rolling Machine. It’s pretty much the Crafting Table for this mod’s items and specifically is used to create rail tracks out of various materials, as well as pressing out iron and steel plates for use in other structures. It also accepts piped-in materials as well as materials in adjacent Chests, much like the automated crafting table from Buildcraft. However, it does require some MJ power, so hook it up to get it going. It can take up to 5 MJ/t, and the more you feed it, the faster it goes. You can also make metal posts, which are pretty much iron fences. They can be dyed with one dye surrounded by eight metal posts. You can also make Rebar here if you plan on building with concrete.

Rails: A Steel Drivin’ Man

At this point, I’d like to ask you to look up the recipe for a Track. You’ll see it has become significantly different. Don’t worry, it actually ends up cheaper on the resources, even if it does take a bit more effort to make. But that’s why we’ve built this infrastructure first. Also notice how many different types of track there are now. Let’s go over a few of them now:

  • Tracks and Powered Tracks function just the way they do in vanilla Minecraft, albeit with different recipes.
  • Boarding Tracks will hold the cart and wait for a redstone signal before sending you on your way.
  • Embarking Tracks will suck you up into the cart if you are close enough. This requires Ender Pearls.
  • Disembarking Tracks will spit you out as the cart passes over it.
  • Holding Tracks are recommended for loading and unloading carts automatically.
  • Reinforced Tracks go faster than regular Tracks, and are nearly impervious to damage. Good for nether railways. Reinforced Booster tracks are needed to maintain high velocity. Requires some Obsidian Dust.
  • High Speed Tracks move really fast, but can be a bit dangerous to operate. You also need a HS Transition Track to speed it up to HS speeds, and another to slow it back down, or bad things will happen.
  • Elevator Tracks can go up vertical faces.
  • Gated Tracks are useful in keeping things out of your base, but still allowing you egress. Use a Detector and redstone to open and close the gate.

There’s others, but that’s enough to get started with.

High Speed Tracks are kind of dangerous. You need a booster to get going to high speeds. Then you need a booster facing the opposite direction to slow you down on the other side. Switching to normal tracks without being slowed down by a reversed booster will tend to result in an explosion and little bits and pieces of you being flung across the area. You’ll also probably want to make sure that all the chunks along the line are loaded, because you might move faster than chunks can load, which will similarly result in a very unpleasant experience.

Reinforced tracks move faster than regular rails, but not as fast as High Speed tracks. However, being fortified with Obsidian, they’re quite resistant to blast and damage, allowing them to be run in such inhospitable conditions like the Nether, shrugging off Ghast fireballs with ease. Be sure the material it’s put on is similarly explosion-resistant.

Now pick up that nine-pound hammer and get to laying some tracks.

Loading and Unloading: automating your shipments

Basic Item Loaders use gravity to dump stuff into a cart below them that has inventory space. Likewise, Liquid Loaders do the same with any type of fluid into a tank cart. Unloaders work in reverse: they go under the track and pull stuff out. Advanced Loaders and Unloaders don’t have to use gravity, but use Ender Pearls as components. Use a Holding Track with it to make sure the cart won’t run away before it’s done.

Pretty basic GUI here, you can tell it to wait until it is full, or just take off when the loader is empty. If you want everything to be unloaded, just keep it on T and nothing in the filter section.

Usually, you want to tell it to hold on until it’s full/empty, but I’m sure you can figure out other uses for some of the modes.

You can hook up pipes to Loaders and Unloaders to send things on to their ultimate destination.

Blast Furnaces and Rock Crushers: Serious Business

Okay, so you’ve hit the Nether, you’ve got some Magma Cream, some Nether Brick, and some Soul Sand. Time to make your Blast Furnace. It runs on Coal Coke, so make sure you’ve got a good supply. Iron goes in, steel comes out. It’s another multi-block structure, like the coke oven, only this time you need 34 blocks in a 3 x 3 x 4 tall structure, with a gap in the middle two squares.

It’s a real fuel hog, though, and runs very slowly. Set it up to run and go do something else while it makes steel at a snail’s pace.

The Rock Crusher is another multi-block structure, and this one is going to be expensive, since it requires diamonds. 12 of them to be precise. It’s a 3x2x2 solid structure. four Diamonds, four Pistons, and a Block of Steel (yes, nine Steel Ingots) makes four blocks. 3 x 2 x 2 = 12, therefore you need to craft three times. So 12 diamonds, 12 pistons, and 3 steel blocks. Whew.

It can crush things down, and there’s a tiny (less than 1%) chance of getting something REALLY nice by grinding up cobble. But mostly, it’s used to make crushed obsidian and obsidian dust for rails and railbeds.It also eats up MJ, up to 15 MJ/t.

Crushed Obsidian is like Gravel in that it is affected by gravity but has the explosion resistance of Obsidian. This makes a nice foundation to lay rail on. Obsidian Dust is used in making Reinforced Tracks for the Reinforced Track and Reinforced Booster Track.

Iron Tanks: Mass Liquid Storage

Typing ‘Iron Tank’ into NEI comes up with three different blocks; you’ll be needing all three. Notice that they will be needing some Iron Plates? Time to fire up your Rolling Machine.

Now then, this is another multi-block structure. It holds lots of liquid. Hundreds, or even thousands of buckets worth, depending on the size. It can be 3×3, 5×5, or even 7×7, and can be built anywhere from 4 to 8 blocks tall! The formula for the capacity is:

, where is the capacity in buckets, is width, is length, and is height. So for a 7×7x8 structure, we’re looking at a storage of 6272 buckets! Even the smallest size available can hold a stunning 576 buckets. The size of the tank depends on how much you want to store, and how much space you have available.

Now, here’s how we build it. First, you’re going to want to lay down a solid bottom of Iron Tank Walls. Then you build the four corners out of Iron Tank Walls. Then the ceiling should be capped with them as well. Then fill in the sides with Iron Tank Gauge blocks. That’ll make an Iron Tank. But wait, we need some method of getting stuff into and out of this huge tank. You’ll also need some Iron Tank Valves.

Warning: Valves will only function if placed in the bottom two rows. And you do not want it to be in the center bottom block, because if that block is messed with, it could reset your tank’s meta-data and you lose everything in it.

You will need powered output, so either a liquid wooden pipe with a Redstone Engine or an Autarchic Gate.

Steam Power: Who are you calling a punk?

Steam powered engines are a classic staple of industrial technology. However, it won’t be easy to set up. You’ll want a sizable amount of Gold on hand to make Gold Waterproof Pipe, because it’s the only type of waterproof pipe you have access to that can pump enough steam. You’ll also want your Rolling Machine fired up and ready to go. Depending on the type of boiler, you might also need your Blast Furnaces running as well.

Boilers are a multi-block structure. You’ll need a Firebox to put it on. This can be solid or liquid fueled, your choice when you build it. The firebox can be 1 block, 2×2 blocks, or even 3×3 blocks. You will need some Fire Charges as well, so some blaze powder will be necessary. Your boiler will also need a constant supply of water. I suggest sinking an Aqueous Accumulator from Thermal Expansion underneath your firebox to keep it full of liquid and to keep it out of the way.

Now you need to decide: low or high pressure? High pressure boilers produce twice the steam, but require steel plates rather than iron. They also take longer to get up to optimum operating pressure. You’ll also need to decide how big to build it. A 1 block firebox can only heat up a single block. A 2×2 firebox can handle a boiler 2-3 blocks tall. A 3×3 firebox can accommodate a boiler 2-4 blocks tall.

So how much steam does this produce? Well, a Low Pressure boiler produces 10 steam per block, and a High Pressure boiler produces 20. 5 steam roughly equates to 1 MJ/t in a steam engine. So a maximum size of 36 High Pressure boiler can produce a stunning theoretical 144 MJ/t, assuming all of the steam is used optimally.

Now, boilers take a LONG time to heat up to optimal temperature. We’re talking over an hour of real-time. And when it first starts up, it is horridly inefficient in terms of fuel consumption. Therefore, it is strongly recommended that you fire it up and keep it running, even when you don’t need any steam, because of the massive amount of thermal inertia you will have to combat every time you let it cool and fire it back up.

Steam is considered to be a liquid. Golden Waterproof Pipes can carry up to 40/tick. That’s enough to run a single Industrial Steam Engine running at 8 MJ/t. You can also connect steam engines directly to the boiler, if you prefer to use pipes or conduits to shuffle the energy around rather than steam.

There’s also a mod called "Valve Pipes", which adds Gold/Stone Liquid Pipes and Gold/Cobblestone Liquid Pipes. These pipes will not connect to each other, which is a significant aid when trying to snake pipes all over the place to get steam everywhere. It’s also got a Valve Pipe, and another type of pipe that can carry even more liquid, which might be of use to you.

Liquiduct Pipes are also very useful to have around, having a throughput of over twice what the Golden Liquid pipes have, the ability to have redstone signal to actively draw, and having the convenience of being able to use a Wrench to decide which pipes connect and which ones don’t.

There are three engines that run on steam: the Hobbyist's Steam Engine runs on 10 steam/tic and produces 2 MJ/t; the Commerical Steam Engine runs on 20 steam/t, and produces 4 MJ/t; the Industrial Steam Engine requires 40 steam/t and produces a whopping 8 MJ/t. the recipes are not going to be anything too surprising; they’re found in NEI.

There is also a Steam Turbine which produces 50 Eu/t and requires 320 Steam per tick. That means you’ll need a 3×3 boiler to accommodate it. I suggest you connect the Turbine directly to the boiler without any pipes; otherwise you won’t have enough room to snake the pipes around, since it’ll take eight Golden Waterproof Pipes to carry that much steam.

The Steam Turbine is a very steel-intensive recipe, since it is a multi-block structure. 4 Blocks of Steel and 4 Steel Plates = 2 blocks. And it’s a 3x2x2 structure, so you’ll need to craft these 6 times. It also requires a Turbine Rotor, which will decay over time, that requires even more steel. Three Steel Ingots makes a blade. Eight blades around a steel block make a Turbine Disk. Three Disks make your rotor. So (3*8+9)*3= 99 steel. That goes away. So yes, you’re paying for your EU output with steel that will need to be replaced periodically, plus the fuel cost of producing the steam itself. Personally, I’m not a big fan of that, since I can get the same output out of a trio of geothermal generators, but hey... whatever floats your boat, man.

So that’s the basics of Railcraft. You can get crazy with rails and some automation around them, but that’s a guide all to itself. But at least now you can get started.

See also