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Greetings Folks,

As first semester of school comes quickly to a close, and the deadline of my paper closes, I've decided to reach out and ask for some assistance over the next week.

The class is, "intro to micro computers". Basically a windows XP file management component link to Office Pro. During the class, we have to write a three to four page research paper on, and I quote, "A computer related topic of the students choice". So, my paper is going to by how the internet (through informational web sites and interactive forums like MLS) have not only preserved the live steam hobby; by communicating the desires of the public with manufacturers such as Aster, Accucraft and others the small scale steam hobby is gaining.

Some sites to be referenced include:
Webster definition of Live Steam
Wasakum Live Steamers
Cabin Fever
MLS to include a few different threads, i.e. review, improvement, building and hobby promotion.

Looking for, should anyone have a few links in their Faves:
historical links with a brief history on small scale live steam
articles where live steam outreach (public demos) promotes the hobby

I would love to also get a few comments from moderators sharing why you put in so many hours of your free time.

Any feedback, as always, is greatly appreciated.

* * * D I S C L A I M E R * * *

This paper is for school purpose only, with no intent to publish for profit. I would be willing to post it here (depending on grade) upon completion. Am I safe in thinking it will be legally ok to use these sites for a paper?
 

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Kent,

Before we had interactive forum (software) we had email groups - and we still do. The oldest one I know is the "sslivesteam" group, [url]http://postfix.45mm.com/mailman/listinfo/sslivesteam[/url]. (Aren't you a member yet?) Email group servers have been in use for decades.

A further addition to your topic might be the 'long tail' theory ( [url]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Long_Tail[/url], ) that the internet allows a large number of niche manufacturers (e.g. Perfect World, grsuk, Stan Cedarleaf,) to reach a relatively small market (gauge 1 live steamers.) I bought a bunch of USATrains couplers last month from the Charles Ro retail internet store; no-one around here stocks them.
 

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Pete,

Thanks for the info. However, one item I forgot to mention is Wikipieda isn't an"allowed reference". I will however spend time tomorrow during study hall and look up more on the "Long Tail" Theory.
 

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Kent

What about all the information available through Google books, Project Gutenberg, and other sources where old books are available online. Where one can do the research on how steam locomotives work.
 

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Kent,

Since this is for a computer science class and not a social science or history of science class, you should survey and characterize the software that is enabling this online interaction. You can look at the page sources for the discussion groups etc from your browser. You can see if the client is using Java, Javascript, etc. If you write only about the social science aspect you are missing the mark, if you cover the infrastructure, you'll learn more and get an A. What software would you use to setup your own discussion site? What is state of the art in this application area for 2008? Where will it go in the future?


Ed Hume, PhD

Assistant Professor

Kozo University
 

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Dont forget G1MRA arnt you a member there too?? They are a email/yahoo group based forum.

There are so many Yahoo groups out there that I get the daily updates from but only G1MRA did I set for each topic reply.

Also take Robert Sloans book DRG + 10 the orignal copy was written from mailing the informatrion to him on different subjects, this revised copy was done with email and made it possible to complete it faster and not have to wait for the wagon to cross the US.
 

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Kent

Ed has a point, not so much of what you find more to what enables you to find it. Like search engines, advent of interactive software, evolving Internet standards, open source software (e.g. MLS, DotNetNuke (.net framework), Active Forums (3rd party .net forum module), CuteSoft HTML Editor (JavaScript application)), evolving technology used to digitize and make available hard copy material, use of multimedia as opposed to struck textual etc. You might also want to include some of the down sides too for example intellectual property rights (e.g. JMRI http://jmri.sourceforge.net/k/updates.html)
 

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I think if I had to pick one website that was the most influential in getting me into live steam, it would have to be... Ebay!

It was while I was looking for brass trains on Ebay that I first learned about the Accucraft Ruby, which made me realize that perhaps live steam could be within my reach on my limited budget. From there of course I had to check out the Accucraft website, drawn in by the Ruby but immediately mesmerized at the sight of the live steam K-27! That's when I began searching for more online resources about gauge 1 live steam and found Steam in the Garden and MLS. My first live steam engine was also an Ebay purchase, an Accucraft C-16 bumble bee that I really didn't expect to win. I put in a lowball bid just for the fun of it, so I could say I had it for about 5 minutes before somebody outbid me, but when the auction ended I was still the high bidder and had to scramble to come up with the money. I never regretted that purchase though. It was also Ebay that enabled me to fund my live steam hobby by selling off my smaller scale trains, and eventually selling off that C-16 so that I could finally buy that prized K-27 (also an online purchase but that was through a dealer, not Ebay).

Without the internet, my only exposure to live steam had either been of the scratchbuilt variety (taking years to build with skills and tools that I don't have), or high-end Asters far beyond my price range. I would have most likely carried on in the smaller scales never believing that live steam was a possibility for me.
 

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I would love to also get a few comments from moderators sharing why you put in so many hours of your free time.
All of us were members of, and participants on, MLS before we became mods. At some point, Shad asked each of us to become mods to help keep the site going in the direction he desired. While I don't claim to speak for the others, I myself do it out of a love of the hobby and an appreciation of all that MLS adds to my (and others') enjoyment of it. I've learned far more here than by any other source of information, and I've made acquaintances all over the country via this site, and in other countries as well - many of them have become good friends. There aren't many other venues that provide such opportunities. :)
 

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The internet has helped our hobby immensely, I think. It has made it sooooo easy to find out about things and how to do different operations. Same with find my Vietnam buddies. So, it has been good, so I guess we have to be willing to put up with Spam, Porn, etc...
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Wow, thank you all for your input. I was hoping I'd hear from you Dennis, again you fail to disapoint! May I quote you? Steve, you are speaking in a language I don't understand, however I'd love to know more, email on the way.
 

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Yes I was Dwight, and I"m sorry about that. You can call me Karl or Kevin if you'd like.
 

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I have decided to go ahead and post the final paper. I have recieved a few msgs asking about the paper. I was waiting until I got a final grade before posting the result, however I've since found out this instructor is notoriously late on all grades. And when I thought about it, it doesn't change the paper I submitted.

So, here it is. My intent for this paper was to take something I have a passion for, and bend and twist it in such a way that I could "sneak" it in as an academic assisgnment. Perhaps even get a good grade on it. And if nothing else, I'll write it up as public education and outreach.

Enjoy!


Live Steam, Discussion Groups and the Internet
Kent Killam
November 19, 2008


The focus of this paper is to show how the internet has made it possible for rather small groups, who share similar interests, to use the internet to communicate and promote their work.

My idea was to use my experience over the past five years, and document how through the use of computers and the internet this very small group has actually expanded. Having always been a “train guy”, I have a special spot for the old steam locomotives.

Live Steam is described as: Steam from the boiler, used for any purpose, in distinction from exhaust steam. (Webster)

I came face to face with live steam by discovering the Washakum Live Steamers of Holliston, MA. After watching these miniature beasts spew and growl around the track, I was sold. The incredible craftsmanship going into these living models was second to none. A majority of the members were older, being sixty years of age or greater. Of the senior members, perhaps half were former employees of one railroad or another. For some, the phasing out of Steam Powered Locomotives for Diesel Electric was their inspiration to keep steam alive, only in a slightly smaller scale.

Having found a place to run a steam train, the next task is to locate a locomotive. The first place I visited was e-Bay and found a very active live steam category. I spent the next six months checking every few days to see what was available and further educate myself as much as possible on the hobby.

Quickly I came to the realization that to purchase any locomotive capable of running at the track in Holliston would be unwise. Due to the size and weight, transporting and working on an engine of this size would be difficult at best, if not impossible from a wheelchair. Once I accepted this, I discussed options with a few WLS members and was told about Cabin Fever.

Cabin Fever is a scale model exposition held in York, Pennsylvania every January. The participants are all hobby machinists who create some of the most highly detailed scale models ever seen. The majority of the projects incorporate Live Steam Applications (Stationary, Marine, Locomotives and Tractors); there are also excellent examples of cars, airplanes, internal combustion engines and other machining feats.

The locomotives are mostly designed to run on 45mm track, commonly referred to as LGB, G gauge or large scale (being the largest scale track commercially available). Railroads of this size are popular in gardens all over the world, with most hobbyists running on electrical track power or with rechargeable batteries in a separate car placed behind the locomotive. The most informative site I found was My Large Scale.com, or MLS for short. With a friendly, supportive and educated membership, I found myself reading articles and asking many questions. The wealth of information available and the dedication of the volunteer moderators were second to none.

MLS operates using a program called Active Forums, produced by Active Modules L.L.C. The Forums module works under DotNetNuke, a program environment developed by Microsoft. Individuals who might be new to a discussion forum tend to make the adjustment easily with this user friendly software.

I spent the next eighteen months learning as much as possible on all things live steam. Some of the topics included bench work and track laying, locomotives and rolling stock available, connecting with live steamers from New England, as well as numerous tales of what not to do, from those who had gone before.

Two different companies produce the majority of ready to run locomotives, Accucraft and Aster. Accucraft is a fairly new American company which designs locomotives and builds them using Chinese labor. The product quality is very good while costs are relatively reasonable. An Accucraft locomotive can cost anywhere from $1500 to $6000, depending on the model.

Aster on the other hand has an established machining history, starting with mechanical cash registers in the 1950s. In 1974, when the seventies saw electronic cash registers taking over the market, the company reinvented itself by machining quality live steam locomotive kits. While the costs are more considerable than Accucraft, the quality, level of detail and investment potential are also much greater. The most recent US offering starts at about $7500 for a kit, and almost $10k for a ready to run locomotive.

The topic of this assignment was posted in the live steam section of MLS (Killam), which produced a variety of suggestions from members. I wanted to hear from a few moderators and find out their motivation for tackling what can be a thankless job at times. Dwight Ennis from California replied,

All of us were members of, and participants on, MLS before we became mods. At some point, Shad (the site’s owner) asked each of us to become mods to help keep the site going in the direction he desired. While I don't claim to speak for the others, I myself do it out of a love of the hobby and an appreciation of all that MLS adds to my (and others') enjoyment of it. I've learned far more here than by any other source of information, and I've made acquaintances all over the country via this site, and in other countries as well - many of them have become good friends. There aren't many other venues that provide such opportunities.

Live steam hobbyists have organized themselves and become proactive. Working side by side with manufacturers to improve existing models and develop future offerings, the quality and selection increases. Small Scale Steam clubs across the country use discussion groups to organize, promote and seek volunteers to assist with event planning. A well thought out event can draw hundreds of spectators and allow the general public to come and experience this lost mode of transportation.

In closing, the principal of live steam is being incorporated in the design of treatment module for adolescents with emotional/anger issues. While in the initial planning stage at the moment, a residential facility in Western Massachusetts is optimistic.

The premise is to compare a steam boiler to a student’s stress level. As the boiler builds pressure the steam is diverted into cylinders, creating motion. The students are then asked to think of themselves in the light of a steam boiler, and consider positive ways they may or may not release pressure.

Works Cited

Accucraft Train Company. 2008 17 Nov. 2008 www.accucraft.com

Aster Hobby USA L.L.C. 10 Nov 2008. Aster Hobby Company Inc. Japan. 17 Nov. 2008. http://www.asterhobbyusa.com/

Cabin Fever Expositions. 2008. Cabin Fever Expo. 17 Nov. 2008
http://www.cabinfeverexpo.com/index.html

DotNukeNet Corporation. 2008. 17 Nov. 2008 http://www.dotnetnuke.com/

eBay. 2008. Bay Inc. 17 Nov. 2008. http://shop.ebay.com/?_from=R40&_trksid=m38.l1311&_nkw=live+steam&_sacat=See-All-Categories

Killam, Kent. My Large Scale.Com. 17 Nov 2008. Model Railroads Online L.L.C. 17 Nov. 2008. http://www.mylargescale.com/Community/Forums/tabid/56/forumid/11/postid/60180/view/topic/Default.aspx

My Large Scale.Com. 17 Nov 2008. Model Railroads Online L.L.C. 17 Nov. 2008
http://www.mylargescale.com/

Washakum Live Steamers. 2007. Father Jay Finelli. 17 Nov, 2008
http://wls.steamingpriest.com/wls/Welcome.html

Webster’s On-line Dictionary. 2008. Interapple, Inc. 17, Nov. 2008 http://www.webster-dictionary.net/d.aspx?w=live+steam
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Final grades came in the mail yesterday. The Micro Computer Course which I wrote this paper for was a B+. I still haven't received my paper back in the mail, so I'm not sure what the paper's grade was yet. Considering one of the tests I got a 53 on, I'm thinking the paper was good enough to raise the final some.
 
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