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More Filthy Wagons

Weathering is not something that I find comes easily to me, especially where it needs to be subtle. However, what the OTCM lads have taught me is that unsubtle weathering is easier and a lot more fun! So I have been unsubtle and making a few POs filthy; I wanted to leave the impression that they have seen few decades of hard work and I am really pleased with the results.

All of these have origins in Bachman RTR minerals but with replacement chassis from Colin Welsh’s range (available via the Scalefour Stores – members only I think, so why not sign up!) and some replacement axleboxes from Rumney Models.

I love the effect that you have look really hard to see the lettering but equally once you have, you can just see that this belongs to, or rather belonged to, Partington.

I started with the fibreglass brush to thin down the lettering to give it the feel that it is close to wasted away. Then I sought to represent plank replacements by painting out a few of these with a grey and then added a little texture with dry brushing with track colour (although ultimately the weathering was so heavy this subtly was not worth the effort). The same was undertaken to the insides of the wagon.

Possibly my favourite of the batch which has a number of replacement planks but these must have been done some time ago as they are not much less filthy than the rest of the wagon.

The weathering was completed by a mix of enamel paints; based on black and leather. I started with a lighter colour mix of 2:1 leather/black but then darkened this as I felt that a coal mineral would be a much darker mucky colour so reversed the proportions.

This would originally have been a private owner too, but like almost all PO wagons was absorbed into the BR fleet during the war. Unlike the others that I have recently built, this one has been repainted into BR livery. Whilst many did, it seems likely that many were simply run into the ground and never repainted.

I did these over multiple coats under a very bright light, as otherwise you don’t really know whether you have put much paint on when it is deliberately so thin. The streaking is achieved by using a relatively large flat and stiff brush dipped in thinners. Don’t apply this straight into the model, rub it on the back of your hand to remove the bulk of the thinners and get it down to “slightly moist” before applying it to the model. Make sure it is drawn down vertically, to mimic the movements of water running down the wagon sides.

And a little train of the new stock. This also shows one of the other activities that I have been upto, glazing brake vans and coaches. Boy that is a dull game!

The final stage was then to use weathering powders, rust on the metalwork (mostly on the Partington grey wagon) and black soot. Very small amounts are put on the brush and then speckled on the model with the lightest of pressure because if you blob it straight on it tends to be rather heavy in the points of contact, so it gets a bit blotchy as a result. However, if this is the effect that is required – for example on the top of the buffers for me – then blob away! The powder is then spread across the model with the brush, the more pressure tends to deepen the colour but throughout the powders matt and draw together the underlying colours.

The coal effect in the interior was completed in a similar manner, but with a lot more powder is used and laid on the base a small amount coal dust secured on a matt varnish to leave the impression of a not quite well swept floor from the previous load.

The Other Benfieldside

To date, the images and details I have shown on Benfieldside have related to the main and original station. However, there is more!

Benfieldside’s original builder, John Wright, constructed a significant extension a few years after completing the core layout. This was shown at the time in the Model Railway Journal (issue 57, 1992) and has not really be seen since.

When John’s interests moved on, he disposed of both parts of the layout and in turn the new owner decided he did not wish to retain the whole. However, he elected to retain the extension in order to convert it to P4 as his home layout (Benfieldside was all constructed as an EM layout). We all know what life is like – jobs, family life and other priorities get in the way but progress is now being made. The two main lines are now operational, as these two videos show.

The new layout will be NER as a core, but with also a Midland presence. It appears that the Midland has provided the motive power for the test train!

As you can see, Benfieldside’s extension was centred around a substantial viaduct with a degree of siding to one end. Its owner is proposing to make a small MPD here, the beginnings of which are visible in the videos.

There is still a way to go both in the adjustments around the MPD but also in refreshing the scenery. But never the less, as you can see it is another impressive layout.

Portchullin Goes Green………….Again

Fear not, this is not an announcement that the McRats have been converted from DCC to run on ethanol (although this remains the preferred fuel of the layout’s operators). Instead it is a recognition that after 13 years on the exhibition circuit, Portchullin was getting a little faded and even battered. The colours of the vegetation were fading and the woodwork was showing all the miles they have been lugged about in the back of a van – all in all it was looking like 1970s BR, just not in the right way.

We reached the conclusion that something needed to be done about it and in anticipation of an April exhibition invite, the gang arranged a session on the layout to give it a spring refresh. Sadly the show had become a covid casualty by the time we met up but we convened anyway and even the stone-cold hearted Pete was showing emotion at seeing us all again by insisting on greeting us all with a hug!

So out came the static grass machine, modge podge and various scenic materials and away we went…….

Even Pete was caught doing work – normally he just chats and complains

We ended up making quite a lot of difference in only a short while, but adding the dwarf bushes and other vegetation then took a lot of time and I am still thinking it needs more attention.

Don’t tell my daughter about the make up brush, they make excellent scenic brushes and are actually really cheap
The layout looks oddly bare without its buildings, these need a dust off too

There remains a lot to do, including a revamp of all of the woodshell and lighting gantry, but the layout is looking a lot fresher.

The other main task in hand is a complete rewire. Too often we (well I, the others will have nothing to do with my wiring) have had heads under the baseboard trying to sort out either point-motors or errant wiring, it has to change!

Somewhere along the way, the eight year old me has had an amputation – as you would imagine that is on the fix list too!

The Other Auto-coach

Some time back I posted about the construction of a NER autocoach that I was building for Benfieldside and subsequently what it looked like once painted by Warren Heywood.

The NER generally used these in pairs, with a loco sandwiched between, although they did go out singly and even as quads. In this case, the Benfieldside team wish to operate them as a pair, as the bay to the right of the layout is conceived to receive such a train, with a NER / LNER G6 in between. This means that there was pressure to build the second from the moment I handed the first over. They have recently given me a favour, so it was high time I repaid it.

It is now completed down to the final check over stage (which has indicated that I need to put the steam heating pipes on – doh!) and then it can be delivered. So I have braved the fading light this afternoon (so sorry about some of the depth of field issues) to take a few pictures and to prove to the fellas it is done!

I completed a few personal upgrades to the kit in both this and the earlier autocoach. Chief of these is around the roof where I ditched the plastic roof and replaced it with rolled brass. This was formed of 0.25mm to give it a tangible depth, which makes its rolling a fair challenge. Add to this, I elected to cut out the portion below the clerestory, so that it was a clerestory! By the time I had added the gas lines and the various gas lamps and ventilators, I reckon there is around 20 hours in making the roof alone!

The prototype coaches were fairly long lived and numerous. They thus collected a good number of alterations and differences over time. I took some guidance to David Addyman and tweaked the kit in respect of gas lines, foot steps, handrails, footboards and gas cylinders. If someone thinks this is wrong, please don’t tell me!!

It always amuses me that the driver had to stand and peer down the line through two tiny windows. They lived in different times – could you imagine the snow-flakes tolerating this in the 21st century?

These are rather beautiful coaches, but not for the feint-hearted as there is a lot of time invested in these. I am pleased I do not have to paint it!

A Fold of Cattle Wagons

Your pub quiz fact for the day is that the collective name for Highland cattle is not a herd, as it would be for most cattle. Instead, and only for Highland cattle, the collective name for a group of cattle is a fold. If that does come up in a pub quiz, you owe me a pint!

Cattle were an important part of the highland economy and hence were a good source of income of the Highland Railway. In my slightly distorted version of real history, there were 4 million head of cattle to transport per annum in the Glenmutchkin area (which is remarkable given the cattle population of the entire UK at the time was only a little bit higher!). Thus, a fold of cattle wagons was obviously a pre-requisite for Glenmutchkin and this is what I have been working on of late.

First up are a pair of LMS standard cattle wagons; to diagram 1661. These date from 1925; so they would have been fairly new at the time that my layout is set in. These were built from Parkside plastic kits with only moderate modifications around the break gear and, of course, some sprung w-irons. Being a relatively recent kit, it is generally very good and whilst it is possible to convert it to some alternative variants, these came later than my modelling period so I was not tempted. I am concerned that I have painted them rather to dark though, so I will be weathering them on the light side.

Next up is a Great North of Scotland Cattle wagon, from a Model Wagon Company white metal kit. This is a much older kit and didn’t it felt it! For reasons I am not certain of, the two sides were not the same length so in practise the body is a bit trapezoidal – but can you tell? The casting was also covered in flash which was a particular problem in the gaps between the wooden slats – this meant I spent a few hours I would sooner not have spent scraping it out to keep these clear. The GNoS vehicle was a much more basic vehicle and, strangely, did not get any large ownership lettering so they remained rather anonymous, Instead, they had simple cast plates, which I made from a locomotive number plate and dry brushed white on the letters. I have glossed over the fact it does not have the right number or even a consistent number from one side to the other – sod the “getting it all right” mantra!

I have also built a further Highland cattle wagon, built from a Model Wagon Company kit. This is the Drummond era version and I have already built a number of these so this was relatively routine – its just as well as there are still a couple in their packet waiting their turn!

The final cattle van is a David Geen kit for the L&Y large cattle wagon. Whilst still a whitemetal kit, it is of somewhat better quality than both the Model Wagon Co kits so was rather easier to make. Even then, it did need filling at the corner joints and I felt the need to swap the brake levers for replacements – why to even the better manufacturers use the same material for all of their kits?

To finish of this little rake, I obviously need another brake van. This is not so obvious because this is brake van no 11 in the collection and I know I have at least one more spirited away! Whilst this was a kit build, it was first a kit unassemble as this was a vehicle I had first built in my teens. Generally fairly well but a couple of bits had got damaged over the years so I felt it needed rejuvenating.

And here they all are on parade.

Now all I need is rather a lot of heilen coos to fill them up with. I have been working on this but it seems that resin casting is a tad more difficult than I thought……………..

Oh and yes, they are all way to clean; another weathering sess’ is required guys………..

Scaleforum at a Screen Near You Soon!

With these strange times that we have been experiencing for the last six months, we have all become a bit cooped up in our abodes. Whilst the lack of model railway exhibitions is hardly going to make the six o’clock news (can you imagine!), I for one have missed both the inspiration and the camaraderie they offer.

We have not seen a plethora of on line exhibitions so it is welcome news to see the Scalefour Society making the effort to arrange one in place of their annual exhibition. This will “take place” on Saturday 26th September between 10:30 – 5:30 although it seems much of the content will be available thereafter online. Here is a trailer for it:

In addition to seeing familiar faces again, I was particularly struck by the possibility of seeing a number of “home layouts” that we don’t ordinarily get to see – and some big ones at that!

Some seems to be by video and others by an interactive youtube link so that you can chat to the team/person. This is the listing of what is proposed.

Layouts:
Boston Frodsham by Mike Knowles
Bristol Barrow Road by Robin Whittle
Central Cheshire Lines by John Sherratt
De Graafstroom (P87) by Vincent de Bode
Drighlington and Adwalton by Steve Hall
Eridge by the Kent Area Group
Faringdon by Rex Davidson and Stephen Williams
North Elmham by the North Norfolk Area Group
Obbekaer (P87) by Geraint Hughes
Pwllheli by Jonathan Buckie
Southwark Bridge by Mike Day
United Mills by Ray Nolton

Demonstrations
Adrian Musgrave – Signals
Alistair Ford – Timber Buildings on Black Gill
Brian Hingston – Coaches
Chris McCarthy – Baseboards
Dave Keeler – Wagon Construction
David Brandreth – Resistance Soldering
Jim Smith Wright – Soldering White Metal
John Farmer – Scenics
Mick Moignard – DCC Sound
Nick Rogers – Wagons
Rod Cameron – Lewis Project
Stuart Holt – Tree making

Illustrated Talks
Martin Nield – Authentic Model Railway Operation
Jim Summers – ‘Earning a Living’

Boston Frodsham by Mike Knowles

I can see that chunks of the readership of this blog are dispersed in far flung places – take some time to see some really good 4mm without burning your air miles. The details to the log in can be found here:

So I know what I will be doing with much of the 26 September…………………. I will even make sure I have done some on-line shopping at about the same time so that Scaleforum hits my pocket in the same manner as usual!!

Fuel for Thought

Obviously, where there is water in a locomotive yard, there really ought to be coal too.

The Highland, like many other railway companies of the time (certainly the Scottish ones), sought to stockpile coal. This was presumably insurance against coal strikes and allowed them to purchase coal at times when the price was favourable. Thus, quite substantial coal stacks where very much a feature of shed areas in the pre-grouping era. Typically, these were arranged in engineered stacks, with the sides formed in “dry-coal walling” and then loose coal behind. I can’t recall ever seeing this modelled, so I though I would change that!

Coal loading dock

The actual structure of the loading bank was formed in plasticard and Wills random stone sheets, but with the mortar courses softened as I described for the water towers. The shape of the coal stack was formed with a piece of house insulation left over from a DIY job and then real coal used to form the effect of…..err……real coal. Actually, real coal does not look quite like real coal without a bit of effort. It does shatter into angular but irregular lumps like real coal (especially if lignite coal is used) but its glossiness does not scale down. However, a vigorous brush with generous amounts of soot black weathering powder takes the gloss back and the whole becomes quite convincing. You do feel as if you are going to get pretty filthy if you go up onto the bank – and until the whole is fixed with matt varnish, you would!

Coal loading bank and coal hoist

Individual coal chunks were glued in place to form the wall structure. To get the effect, it is not enough to simply scatter the coal onto a bed of glue each chunk has to be laid individually with care taken to lock it into the course below – just like a real dry stone wall. Thus, the vertical walls of this took about a day to complete, scattered over about 8 stints because it is necessary to let the glue dry after every couple of courses to stop the layers collapsing. It is then possible to scatter the loose material behind the walls onto a layer of glue – the above picture shows the contrast in effects between the two methods.

Coal loading

But it is hard work shovelling coal into tenders, especially as the locos got larger and their tenders higher. As befitting such an important place as Glenmutchkin, it has all the modern amenities for coaling engines, a hand crane and a large bucket! In this case, I have fitted servos to this so that it operates – partly as a bit of fun and also to slow things down in the yard to a more realistic pace without it getting too boring for the viewer.

The underside of the crane, with the operating servos

The crane operation was achieved by way of three servos – one to rotate it and then one each for the front and rear of the coal bucket. These are all mounted onto a cradle that is rotated by the former – thus as the crane rotates so too do all the servos and there is a quadrant shaped slot in the base to the rear of the post (just visible in the picture above) that allows the cables to rotate too without snagging.

The base of the crane; the projecting rod telescopes into the actual crane (and there is a rod inside the crane post that telescopes into this too and appears below and onto which the servos clamp
The crane and its mount

The cradle is mounted to a solid rod that is in turn secured to the actual crane. This then slides into the rod that can be seen projecting from the base in the picture above. This means that there is limited strain on the crane or the mount as I had feared it might otherwise snap with any heavy-handedness on my part (something I am prone to!). The rest of the crane was made with brass hollow section and pulley wheels from Bill Bedford. A series of guides were made of small section tube on the pulley wheels, at the winding drum and across the jib to retain the operating cables.

The coal crane, bucket and operating servos

The bucket was fashioned from metal sheet and is filled with low melt solder to give it as much weight as possible. It is secured to the servo arms with invisible thread – which is a nylon seamstresses material used for making invisible stitches. It comes in both clear (which really is invisible) and black, I used the latter. It is much better than cotton thread as that has a furry finish that looks terrible after a time or if it is painted. It is, however, very fine and rather wriggly to knot, so using it involves a certain amount of cussing!

And this is what it looks like in operation…………

A little of the bouncing about of the bucket is caused by it sitting on my servo test rig, so the act of changing the switches imparts a little vibration. Hopefully, when mounted on the layout this will be less obvious.

I do still need to do the final detailing on this; tools, a bit of discarded debris and a couple of fellas from Modelu standing around doing nothing (because static people in animated poses look silly on a model layout!).

And now a Midland signal…..

Whilst the NER signal from my last post gets itself painted, I turned my attention to the next few signals – in this case these will be Midland lower quadrants.

A lot of the character of a signal is in its finial and if this isn’t right then the model won’t convince.  In addition, they are also very vulnerable so need to be durable.  Therefore, my conclusion is that white metal finials do not cut the mustard – they are too delicate and too clunky.  Thus, in this case I decided to make my own – I came up with this which starts with with some interlocking etches:

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And then a bit of brass tube as a collar at the base

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The Midland’s style of signals do have a few idiosyncrasies; one of which is the way that blinders are fixed.  Instead of being fixed to the spindle these are secured to the arms and wrap around the lamp.  This can be more clearly seen in the photograph below.

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The other key change was in the manner in that the arms are secured to the posts.  Instead of being pined through the arm and secured at the rear, the Midland used a bracket to the front of the post with a plate that wrapped around to the front of the signal to support the arm to the front.  This can be seen in this view of a rather nice gallows signal at Butterley.

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The bracket can be seen in this view below and I then created a pin that fitted into the bracket and slotted over the spindle.

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I have bought a new light box for taking photographs in. Whilst I am still getting to grips with it, when it works it does produce much improved pictures of models. These almost look like an images of a 3D model on a computer screen.  The pliers at the bottom of these views do rather give the game away!

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The Midland were a bit odd in their choice of colours for their signals. The posts were “primrose yellow” but this quickly dirtied to something akin to cotswold stone is what the book says, so this does give something a little different.  This is my representation of this with a decent dose of smokey dirt – when you look at contemporary photographs many signals were not only dirty but entirely smothered in smoke.  I haven’t gone that far yet, but its going to need to be done!

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As can be seen, this still needs connecting to the servos and the touching in of the paint on the parts that I fit after the main assembly (the balance lever and the plate that wrapped around the signal arm).

 

Let There be Water…….3 – Now There is!

More progress has been made with the pair of water tanks and they have now reached the stage where they are effectively finished.

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The stonework was painted by picking out each stone in different colours.  I think there is a real art to this as when I see others do this, I often think the colour differences are unrealistically abrupt.  I find the trick is to use a core of two colours that are close to the general colour that you want – in my case Humbrol Matt no 5 & 64.  Put these in separate palates on a mixing dish and dip into these to create a combination of the two.

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By selecting two relatively close colours, you can alternate from all one to all the other and any mix in between.  Adding very moderate amounts of a stronger colour difference, in my case Humbrol Matt 66 and 62 which are a darker grey and a leather brown adds a bit of variety but in each case they still need to be mixed in with the two core paints to keep the toning consistent.

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Even with this work the colours didn’t seem quite real, so I completed two additional steps.  The first was to use some matt varnish that I knew the matting agent was a bit gone on – this gives a slightly translucent milky effect over the whole and drew the colours together a bit.  The second was to use AK Abteilung 502 weathering powders – black smoke, ashes grey, gunmetal and rubble dust (primarily because these were the only colours I had!).  These need to be used with care, as it is easy to put way too much on and you can’t generally get it off again!  However, at low level and to the coal bank I have been pretty liberal with particularly the black smoke as such areas were far from clean!

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The weathering to the water tanks was dealt with slightly differently, although it also started with the use of the acrylic varnish with the defective matting agent (that’ll be how I found out it was defective!).  I then used a Humbrol dark grey was with downward brush strokes and then wiped off with a piece of kitchen roll, again with a downward stroke.  A few additional marks, especially to the panel joints, with AK Interactive weathering pencils.

The water effect was another accident flowing from the defective matting agent – the milking was far from desirable on the black base coat of paint.  Thus, I wiped it off once it was semi dry and I got most of it but where the remainder was still there, it added a bit of texture to the surface, as if there was a little disturbance to the water that affects part of the surface not the whole.

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By reference to the prototype, I made a heating stove flue and spigot for the water bag from brass rod.  To form the bends it was necessary to have a pair of additional tubes inside each other to stop the tube collapsing on the bend,  The canvas section of the leather bag was formed by a piece of heat shrink sleeving but with a little 5 minute araldite in the centre such that as this starts to cure a degree of shape can be put into it and once fully cured it will stay in this shape.

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The operating rod was based on that still largely apparent at Altnabreac and I have assumed this also had a ladder even if this has now gone.  There is no watering bag to the smaller of the two water tanks as I propose to have some water columns, but that is a story for another day!

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A further story for another day is the rather odd post sitting in the middle of the coaling bank; but that story will be fairly soon!

 

 

 

Benfieldside’s Missing Signal

When my friends acquired Benfieldside, it had suffered a bit of damage, notably to its signals – in essence it was this that got me volunteered for their restoration!  One signal that puzzled us, however, was the up starter which was missing altogether and we could not unearth any photographs of it.  Ultimately, we decided that it should be a two doll signal to also control the adjacent bay (which did have a signal, albeit inoperative) – so I have set to in order to fill this gap.

The line is set in Cumbria and is an imaginary westward extension of the Newcastle & Carlise line.  In theory, therefore, it should not have the heavy cast iron brackets that the NER used.  However, in reviewing the NERA’s signalling book, it became apparent that there were quite a lot of strays of signal designs, so I had an excuse to build one!

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As this particular signal is going to be platform mounted, I did not need to sort out a mount for it and moved straight to the post and bracket, the latter being by MSE which I had in stock.

I then moved on to the prefabrication of a pair of dolls, each with slotted posts.  This is made up of solid square section filed to a taper which is then cut and each end then has a tongue filed on it onto which flat plate is soldered either side to create the slots.  I used a variety of temperature solders to ease this process but it was not easy – I did have one gum solid which resulted in a need to dismantle it and start again!  As alluded to in the previous post, as these are slotted posts I had to depart from my usual practise of fitting the arms after painting as it is not otherwise possible to solder them to the spindle for the arm.

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As mentioned in the last post, I came up with a bit of a dodge to successfully (well, in two of three cases!) to solder the arm to the spindle without gumming it up.   By extending the ear that forms the point at which the operating rod attaches to the arm forward a bit (see the line below), it provides a point at which the soldering iron can be touched.  If you use a slight excess of solder this allows the heat to transmit to the spindle and make the soldered joint.

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And this is what you get with a prefabricated doll, ready for the next stage of assembly.

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And below of the pair of dolls now inserted to the landing.

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Even at this stage, there is still a lot of building to do as there are handrails, the main ladder, steps and ladders to the dolls, the operating mechanism transferring the movement to the dolls all to do. In respect of the latter(I used rocking cams in this case – you can just see the use of some handrail knobs as the bearings in the photos below, the cams will be fitted after painting.

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Slightly peculiarly, the NER built their landings in front of the arms whereas all the other signals I have yet built have these in the rear (excepting gantries, which can be either or both!). This view shows this most clearly.

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The main ladder is not visible in the views as I have made this detachable because it is much easier to spray paint these (and better, it is not easy to get a thin coat of paint by brush application and it thickens up the fine detail of a ladder too much.

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The grey primer is pretty cruel to modelling efforts but on the whole, I am pretty chuffed with this!

 

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