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 > Your search for posts made by 'pnichols' found 51 matches.

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RE: 24 feet versus 26' dilemma, have to decide fast

Here's us camped with our Ford E450 based 24 ft. Class C out on the far side of beyond in Death Valley ... notice that the coach body starts out sweeping immediately upwards from the rear wheels back so as to minimize tail dragging when starting on side road or parking lot upgrades: https://i.imgur.com/q4ri0x9l.jpg Here's us driving out of a woods campsite alongside a river that has overflowed it's banks ... it probably takes a Ford or Chevy chassis under a Class C to provide this kind of stock ground clearance (we now have larger-than-stock-diameter tires on it for even more ground clearance): https://i.imgur.com/95o2ttvl.jpg
pnichols 01/21/23 11:21am Class C Motorhomes
RE: 24 feet versus 26' dilemma, have to decide fast

For what it's worth, the picture below shows the non-slide floor plan of our 24 ft. Class C that's built on a Ford chassis that provides decent ground clearance ... along with 55 gallons of fuel, a 4000 watt built-in generator, and an 18 gallon propane tank. It's wheel wells are not under the dinette, they're under the refrigerator area and galley area. All of the areas under the dinette benches are available for storage, so the dinette table and two benches can be completely removed to make room for one or two full recliners. Installing only one recliner in that area would make room for a nice table right beside it to eat on, hold a laptop, hold books, etc., when camped. Also note the stock rotating and sliding lounge chair opposite the dinette area. One can sleep in the rear corner bed, and use all of the large overhead cab area to provide a huge amount of storage. Seven(7) outside storage areas provide additional storage. https://i.imgur.com/Jjpk8Phl.gif]https://i.imgur.com/Jjpk8Phl.gif
pnichols 12/19/22 11:03am Class C Motorhomes
RE: 24 feet versus 26' dilemma, have to decide fast

Ann ... are you going to be traveling/camping alone or will there be two of you? The length you get should not be determined only by what's allowed in the campsites you may want to use. It should also - and probably more importantly for safety and emergencies - be determined by the type of roads you need to use to get to the campsites. Myself and my wife have RV'd for 17 years in a 24 ft. Class C with no slides, and have been completely satisfied with it. We take it carefully on dirt/gravel roads to explore and camp as needed. If it's just a small Class C for yourself, here's what I would recommend: - Choose a slideless model to maximize overall coach reliability. - Choose a model with high stock ground clearance ... this probably means being built on the Ford or Chevy full size van cutaway chassis instead of the various smaller van chassis such as the Ford Transit, RAM ProMaster, Mercedes Sprinter, etc.. These smaller chassis can be "lifted" of course, but their ground clearance is not very good when left in stock form. - For a good feeling of "room/comfort" in a small Class C, get a model with BOTH ... either a separate lounge chair from the dinette and/or cab chairs that can be retrofitted to swivel arond to face the coach, PLUS coming stock with a standard dinette seating/table area. - After purchase have the dinette seating area retrofitted with two full sized tilt-back/foot rest lounge chairs with a small table between them. - Finally, if it's only yourself living in this small Class C ... sleep in the rear bed and use the overhead cab bed for a whole bunch of storage space. When combineed with a built-in generator fueled by the main chassis fuel tank, a large-as-possible solar panel array on the roof combined with lithium coach batteries, a good heating system, a large enough air conditioning system, and a satellite based Internet access system ... you have a small enough Class C to access most campsites in the U.S. while at the same time having all the comforts of home out in the middle of nowhere. P.S. For improved access to even more small/intimate/remote camping areas in a larger variety of weather conditions ... after purchase you can have a four wheel drive system added to it.
pnichols 12/18/22 07:38pm Class C Motorhomes
RE: Portable Solar Generators

FWIW: Bluetti is about to have ready for orders a couple of sodium-ion based portable power stations ... the Bluetti NA300 & B480. Do a further search beyond this link on sodium-ion battery technology - and notice the estimated recharge times: https://www.bluettipower.com/pages/ces-2022
pnichols 12/12/22 01:56pm Tech Issues
RE: Portable Solar Generators

Great for a tent, pnichols. It would do bacon and eggs for breakfast, with a NuWave induction cooker limited to 700 watts. It is attractively priced. The location my condo is in has infrastructure that is 70 years old. There are a lot of power outages. Every time I look at these units I find I could roll my own more cheaply, for the capacity I want. Add that to a 1000 watt psw inverter that I carry as a back up which would serve me well at the Condo. So far, I've managed on my laptop battery and a couple of batteries intended for cell phone charging. I do have a boost pack for starting the car that I could use with the 1000 watt inverter. So my costs to have back up would be nearly zero. My little (16 lb.) 700W Bluetti is primarily for a CPAP machine back in the RV's rear corner bed when we're drycamping. Plus of course it will be a convenient source of 120V AC and 12V DC whenever we need it in portable form. Also, it will temporarily power my 120V battery charger when the battery charger is set to it's "50 amp starting mode" for emergency engine starting via boosting of a partially discharged chassis battery. Of course note that 50 amps of DC is only around 600 watts of total power ... well within the limits of my little 700 watt (1400 watts surge) Bluetti 16 lb. power station. FWIW: We kindof live "in the boondocks" and have some power outages year-round. I have a 4400 watt contractor type generator wired into our home's main power panel to keep the whole house running (except for the electric water heater and our home's main heat pump system) during power outages.
pnichols 12/12/22 11:08am Tech Issues
RE: Portable Solar Generators

Hi, Be my guest. Spend double the money for 1/2 the capacity. Don ... I spent $400 for my 537 watt-hour Bluetti EB55 using an ultra-safe LiFePO4 lithium battery bank that can be discharged to near zero and can tolerate 2500 or more charge cycles. 537 watt-hours about equals a 45 AH LA or AGM battery. Built into the EB55 is a 700 watt inverter with 1400 watt surge capability, an MPPT solar panel controller, DC down-converters for two kinds of USB ports and a 12v port, plus a 3-mode wide area night light (2 brightness levels and an SOS flasher). All of this is covered by a 2-year warranty and mounted in a convenient little carrying case. How much cheaper could I have DIY'd the same ... with each part in it warranted for 2 years? I used to be an electrical engineer, so I probably could have put one together - but should I have?
pnichols 12/12/22 01:30am Tech Issues
RE: Portable Solar Generators

Costco has the Goal Zero Yeti 3000 watt $500 off just a few days. At 3000 watts, how many 12 volt 100 amp RV batteries would that be equal to? 3000/1200= 2.5 batteries??? Curious minds want to know. I'd recommend against this model, as it's battery type is Li-ion NMC. Everything I read about lithium batteries points towards the superior lithium battery type designated as LiFeO4. LiFeO4 lithium batteries tolerate a much larger number of recharge cycles before their end of life, and they are more stable when it comes to high temperatures occuring from any internal shorts or the real dangerous situation called thermal runaway. As far as I can tell, the only disadvantage of LiFeO4 type lithium batteries is they are a bit heavier than the Li-ion NMC type for any given capacity size.
pnichols 12/10/22 01:01pm Tech Issues
RE: Portable Solar Generators

First, I hate the term "solar generator". It's a fancy battery with with a battery management system, a battery monitor, an inverter and a solar charge controller. Solar panels are almost always an extra cost option. Second, while neatly and conveniently packaged and easy to use, they WAY OVER PRICED ! Hmmm .... well engineered and well built self-contained ready-to-go stuff is always more expensive than DIY stuff. I guess that's why the DW and myself: 1) Bought raw land 2) built most of our house ourselves 3) did the plumbing, electrical, and HVAC ourselves, 4) ran the outdoor pipes and power from the house to the well, 5) and built the interior of our first van camper. .... to save money. I like to keep the above kind of projects to a minimum these days. :B
pnichols 12/10/22 12:02pm Tech Issues
RE: Portable Solar Generators

Well ... I paid ~$400 for the Bluetti on a Black Friday sale: 1) Instead, I would have to have installed/wired a 12V DC recepable back by the rear bed, which would have been a real pain (I have higher payback things to do with my time). 2) In addition to 1) above, I would have needed to buy a 12V DC to 20V DC upconversion adapter (medical grade - for failure-proofness at ~$130) to power the CPAP machine. 3) Sometimes our family group campouts have their outside evening camp fires too far away from our rig to run the long extension cords from our rig necessary for powering heated throw-blankets for us. 4) The DW and myself didn't know what other Christmas gift(s) to buy for ourselves, anyway. :B P.S. #1: So far during my in-home testing of the 537 Wh Blueitti it has powered a CPAP machine for 4 nights - while consuming only around 35% of it's LiFeO4's stored energy. P.S. #2: It's ultra-safe LiFeO4 lithium battery electrochemistry is way safer than me trying to make my own more dangerous-to-use-in-confined-spaces Lithium-ion, or LA, or AGM portable concoction.
pnichols 12/09/22 02:05pm Tech Issues
RE: Portable Solar Generators

The average RVer already has a sizeable battery bank in his RV, along with several different ways of recharging it. Why would he/she not want to use it? I recently bought a nicely portable Bluetti EB55 (537 Wh) 16 lb., LiFeO4 battery technology "solar generator" at Black Friday pricing ($100 off) for use when we are dry camping in our 24 ft. Class C. It's LiFeO4 built-in batteries supposedly are good for 2500 or more recharge cycles (this cycle life is way beyond the older technology plain old Lithium-ion technology batteries that are in other solar generators, cell phones, etc.). I DID NOT buy any solar panels to go with this Bluetti unit, so I have to charge it (our RV has no solar panels) using one of four other ways when drycamping - charge it via 12V DC outlets in the coach fed directly by the coach's two 115 AH AGM batteries, or charge it via 12V DC outlets in the coach fed indirectly by the RV's built-in fairly quiet Onan generator, or charge it via 120V AC outlets in the coach fed directly by hookups or the Onan generator. (I also carry along in our RV an ultra-quiet Honda 650 watt portable generator - that adds to the Bluett's recharging mix when drycamping.) Here's why I bought it: 1) To the power a CPAP machine way in the back corner bed when drycamping, since there are no 12V DC receptacles back there and my RV does not have an inverter to power it's 120V AC outlets (these are back by the rear bed) when dry camping without a generator being used (the CPAP machine can be powered via 12V DC or 120V AC) and, 2) we can use the Bluetti to conveniently power electric 12V DC or 120V AC throw-blankets over us when outside sitting around our propane firepit on chilly evenings!
pnichols 12/08/22 10:08pm Tech Issues
RE: Can I charge the house battery with the engine alternator?

Which solenoid did you buy? I'd like to replace mine Here's the Trombetta "Bear DC contactor" solenoid that I now use in our Class C that connects the coach batteries to the engine alternator system - note that the one I use is the 2nd one down in the chart, rated for 225 amps continuous duty, and is the version with silver contact material. It is not inexpensive, but IMHO on-the-road-reliability should be very high on one's list: https://www.trombetta.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/bear-family.pdf
pnichols 11/28/22 10:18pm Class C Motorhomes
RE: Can I charge the house battery with the engine alternator?

...
pnichols 11/27/22 11:15pm Class C Motorhomes
RE: Can I charge the house battery with the engine alternator?

The two voltmeters on the dash read just about the same whenever the engine is running (if the solenoid has been activated and if it's contacts aren't too corroded). Curious. What kind of numbers do you see when driving ? Both voltmeters read very close whenever the engine is running ... except for two times in the past of our 17 year old Class C when the two meters did not agree when the engine was running. These were the two times when I had to replace the solenoid that connects the chassis battery system to the coach battery bank. Both times the solenoid had 12 volts on it whenever the engine was running and I had heard the "clunk" as the solenoid engaged as I started the engine. I assume that the reason that the two voltmeters read differently in those instances was because the solenoid contacts had corroded/pitted surfaces badly enough such that there was resistance in the charging current path to the coach batteries. This caused the reading of the dash voltmeter to be lower than that of the engine system's voltmeter. This meant that the coach batteries were not getting charged because they weren't seeing high enough voltage on their terminals from the coach's 12 volt system as we were traveling. I replaced the solenoid those two times with much more rugged non-stock heavy duty 12V solenoids that had silver plated contacts - which were not carried in parts stores. I had to order them special. So ... what these dash meters tell me as we go down the road is: 1) Is the coach refrigerator getting 12 volts as we travel so food doesn't spoil? and 2) Are the coach batteries getting charged via enough voltage being applied to their terminals from the engine alternator?
pnichols 11/27/22 11:03pm Class C Motorhomes
RE: Can I charge the house battery with the engine alternator?

Just added 2 digital volt meters to my dash. I can now see the house battery and car battery voltage levels with the engine off. When driving I can determine if I need to charge the house and monitor the alternator. Life is good I have installed the same two digital voltage meters showing the same two voltages on the dash of our 2005 Itasca Class C E450 motorhome - all the time whether we're stopped with the engine running or not ... or traveling. I also have a 3rd digital current flow meter on the dash that shows current into (positive numerical reading) and current out-of (negative numerical reading) the coach battery bank - all the time whether we're stopped with the engine running or not ... or traveling. Our motorhome came stock from Winnebago wired to automatically (via a solenoid activated whenever the engine start key is turned on) connect the engine starting battery to the coach battery bank. The two voltmeters on the dash read just about the same whenever the engine is running (if the solenoid has been activated and if it's contacts aren't too corroded). The preceding of course is assuming that the built-in generator isn't running or we're not parked on hookups. Whenever the engine is running, the current flow meter on the dash shows how much current (positive numerical readings) the coach batteries are receiving from the engine's 130 amp alternator. When the engine is not running, the current flow meter on the dash shows how much current (negative nummerical readings) is being pulled from the coach battery bank to power the coach's 12 volt circuits. The preceding situations of course assume that the built-in generator isn't running or we're not parked on hookups. By the way whenever we stop to gas up the E450's fuel tank, for safety I turn off the coach's 12V system switch so that the refrigerator's gas flame can't come on ... as the refrigerator's outside ventilation port is close to where I refuel the motorhome. Also after gassing up if I forget to turn back on the coach's 12V system switch (thus the refrigerator can't operate), the two voltmeter's on the dash don't read close to the same ... which immediately tells me to stop somwhere soon and go back into the coach and turn on the coach's 12V system switch so that the refrigerator can operate while we travel!
pnichols 11/25/22 08:32pm Class C Motorhomes
RE: Escaping summer heat while in the southwest?

Discussions on "how to camp and be comfortable in the high heat seasons" always leave me scratching my head. i.e.: Considering what RVs cost, probably no one would buy one without built-in A/C and usually a built-in generator to run it ... yet the bulk of owners try to avoid high temperature camping at all costs ... especially without hookups. And in addition, some (of us) campers don't function well at high altitudes. Many of our best trips have been across the U.S. during the summer months, including the Southern U.S. at non-high altitudes. Part of what made them good trips was the lack of crowds in or near our camping spots -> I assume due primarily due to the high outside temperatures. Since our RV is adequately self-contained with it's quiet-enough generator and an interior that can be curtained off in sections to maximize A/C cooling (and heating) efficiencies, we don't have to within reason let high-altitudes, cool seasons, or warm seasons dictate our camping.
pnichols 11/02/22 01:48pm Public Lands, Boondocking and Dry Camping
RE: Tires E-350/450: Stock 225/75? Tall 215/85? Wide 235/85?

What I would REALLY PREFER on my 11,800 lb. (~fully loaded) 24 ft. Class C are Mud/Snow tires that are so over-spec'd for my MH such that if I blow a rear tire in the dually set - I can drive aways without changing it in situations where it blows and it is inconvenient or unsafe to stop and change it!! i.e. I had an outside dually Michelin M/S LT LRE blow once years ago on a hard surface 4-lane road with light traffic. I was only a few miles from a small town, so I slowed down to ~10 MPH and drove all the way into the town and had a gas station attendant change it. Of course the other Michelin tire within the dually set was drastically overloaded while I traveled on it. That tire went on as if it had never been overloaded and provided several more years of service. In other words - another parameter to shoot for in choosing tires for the rear of a rear-dually Class C is ... "can 3 tires in the rear (when one is flat) safely carry you along for aways at low speed until it can be changed?" This is what I call having a "redundancy" tire arrangement in the rear of a dually chassis - and it takes very rugged tires back there that have a generous-as-possible weight carrying margin over what they normally carry day-in and day-out. P.S. I keep 80 lbs. of pressure in the rear tires all the time. I've compensated for the resulting stiff ride in the rear by installing variable rate shocks in the rear that function as "no shocks" on highway cracks and as "heavy duty" shocks on roadway curves and in side-winds.
pnichols 10/31/22 01:36pm Class C Motorhomes
RE: Tires E-350/450: Stock 225/75? Tall 215/85? Wide 235/85?

The Ford E-350 DRW and E-450 DRW E-Series Cutaway Chassis OEM 16" x 6" wheels that were manufactured in Canada by Accuride, identified by eight circular hand holes, are rated to 80 psi. I haven't personally verified the wheel psi rating of the current 4 hand hole 16"x6" OEM wheels made by Maxion in Mexico, but have every indication to believe that they match the original wheel specification of 80 psi Max cold inflation pressure. I have personally verified the OEM wheels made by Accuride in Canada. The interesting, informational, and arguably irrelevant aspect of the higher rating of the European Tyre & Rim Technical Organisation commercial tire standard developed for Euro Vans such as the Sprinter, Transit, Fiat, ProMaster, and VW equivalents marketed under various names depending on country... tires which we in the United States can identify as "C-Metric" tires (as very distinct from "LT-Metric Load Range C" tires... is that the "500 lbs." higher rating per tire in the 225/75R16C size is at 83 psi. The stock wheels are only rated to 80 psi. So the "margin" of weight capacity per tire must be reduced by the C-Metric tires rated capacity at a reduced pressure, which in this case is no higher than 80 psi. Nexen doesn't offer any Load Inflation Tables. I even called Nexen tech support for this information, and spent 30 minutes on the phone with an Andrew at Nexen, who was not able to locate a Load Inflation Table for any of the five offerings that Nexen produces in the LT225/75R16 or 225/75R16C sizes. However, most other tire manufacturers do provide load inflation tables, which let the tire user know the weight capacity of a given tire when inflated to less than the maximum psi that the tire is capable of withstanding. Due to tire industry standards organizations, there is generally consistency from brand to brand in load inflation indices for any given specific tire size. In this case, to determine how much additional weight carrying "margin" a 225/75R16C C-Metric tire has over an LT225/75R16E LT-Metric tire when both types of tires are inflated to the maximum pressure that the OEM steel wheel is rated for when cold (80 psi), I reviewed the Load Inflation Tables of several different brands of C-Metric tires in this size, and all tables from every brand checked were consistent with each other. When inflated to 80 psi, a 225/75R16C tire is rated to support 3,085 lbs in single wheel configuration, as opposed to 3,195 lbs when inflated to 83 psi. In dual rear wheel configuration, the C-Metric 225/75R16C is rated to support 2,975 lbs at 80 psi, as opposed to 3,085 lbs when inflated to 83 psi. By contrast, the LT225/75R16E tire, when inflated to 80 psi, is rated at 2,680 single, 2,470 dual (per each individual tire). So to stack the weight carrying capacity differences up neatly in a row: 3,195 lbs Single / 3,085 lbs Dual - C-Metric at 83 psi 3,085 lbs Single / 2,975 lbs Dual - C-Metric at 80 psi (OEM wheel psi rating) 2,680 lbs Single / 2,470 lbs Dual - LT-Metric at 80 psi On the steer axle, there is a 405 lbs difference between C-Metric and LT-Metric at 80 psi, and on the drive axle, the difference grows to 505 lbs. at 80 psi. Where the point in REDUCING the mental margin afforded to the C-Metric tire by ignoring the tire's maximum weight capacity at any pressure beyond the pressure rating of the wheel is arguably irrelevant, as all of these ratings exceed the weight capacity of the rear axles of all Ford E-350/450 cutaways, which range from 7,800 lbs to 9,600 lbs, depending on model and year. However, it seemed to be an interesting observation to make... keeping the pressure limits of the wheel in mind. That's good data above in your post. However it raises one important question rarely discussed in any of the forums: Does "2,680 lbs Single / 2,470 lbs Dual - LT-Metric at 80 psi" AS COMPARED TO "3,085 lbs Single / 2,975 lbs Dual - C-Metric at 80 psi" mean -> for a given tire size between the two tire types that the C-Metric version is a more rugged/stronger tire? i.e. That the C-Metric version has more plies? If so, if carrying capacity is not an issue ... should one use the C-Metric type tires if they wish for more puncture-proofness - as in occasional offroad travel with their Class C?
pnichols 10/30/22 12:25am Class C Motorhomes
RE: Tires E-350/450: Stock 225/75? Tall 215/85? Wide 235/85?

Thanks PNichols. If you have an E-450, then you must have 4.56 gearing? What transmission does your rig have? How many speeds? Did you notice any difference in shift points on grades with the taller tires? I "think" that our E450 has a 4.56 rear differential, but am not absolutely sure as some E450's may have been available with a 4.30 rear differential. I tried researching this using the codes on the door sticker but was never able to determine the rear differential gearing for sure. Our 2005 Itasca Class C's E450 chassis has the 5-speed 5R110W transmission. As I understand it, this transmission actually has 6 distinct internal gear ratios, with the computer invoking one of the two internal ratios for one of the transmission's gears - depending upon (outside air ambient?) temperature. I have not noticed any difference in shift points with the taller tires, but any effect purely due to tire size may be masked because I mainly travel in Tow/Haul mode. The speedometer reads a bit on the "too-slow" side with the taller tires, but this is of no concern to us (a dealer could maybe tweak this). We cruise with a speedometer reading in the 58-60 MPH range, with the tach reading around 2200 RPM ... and hopefully our mileage being in the 9-10 MPG range (but I don't keep records on this). Of course the larger diameter tires somewhat compensate for the high 4.56 rear differential by moving the overall drive train's ratio lower. However we do prefer the E450's overall drive train's ratio - even with our taller tires - being higher than that of a stock E350's because we prefer the improved low speed pulling power during occasional offroad travel.
pnichols 10/24/22 11:09am Class C Motorhomes
RE: System check up panel. What do these mean?

For what it's worth: We always leave home in our Class C with every tank full that should be full and every tank empty that should be empty. When out and about on a trip we do the same whenever heading out to any boondock camping site on the Far Side of Beyond. We don't have to "believe our tank lights" for the black water or fresh water tanks. For the black water tank we can look down the toilet with a flashlight to confirm how full it is, and for the fresh water tank we can lift the bed mattress and look down through an inspection hole to view the see-through freshwater tank. For the grey water, propane, and chassis fuel tanks we have to believe their gauges!
pnichols 10/23/22 10:29pm Class C Motorhomes
RE: Tires E-350/450: Stock 225/75? Tall 215/85? Wide 235/85?

Tire Choices for Ford E-Series Cutaway Class C Motorhomes What replacement tires did you put on your Class C motorhome built on a Ford E-350 or E-450 (aka E-Superduty in older rigs) cutaway chassis, and what were your reasons for your tire selection? Did you stick with the stock tire size of LT225/75r16 ? Did you go taller and skinnier, changing to LT215/85r16 ? Did you go taller and wider, changing to LT235/85r16? Did you upgrade to 10 ply rating Load Range "E"? (If you have an older E-350 originally specified with 8 ply rated Load Range "D") Did you switch to European style 225/75r16C, such as what is specified for Euro van cutaways like the Transit and Sprinter? Have you had an experience with any particular brand and model of tire for your E-350/450 RV that caused you to swear "never again"? Do you have a particular brand and model of tire that is your trusted "go to"? Thank you! We have a smaller (24 ft.) Class C for just the DW & myself. We wanted a Class C which provided all the comforts of home for two in varied weather conditions, while at the same time providing enough travel/camping flexibility and chassis ruggedness so as to almost match what a 2WD TC could provide. We do take our Class C carefully offroad at times. As such, we searched for and bought it new built on the optional-for-it's-weight heavier duty E450 chassis instead of the common E350 chassis usually used for small Class C rigs. At the first tire change opportunity we did not go for the stock LT225/75R16 Load Range E tires that came on it. We instead chose LT215/85R16 size Load Range E tires. These tires are rated for the same weight carrying capacity - but are taller for more offroad ground clearance. Plus as a bonus they are slightly narrower so as to both provide more space between the dually sidewalls for improved sidewall air cooling when on the highway during high ambient air temperatures and ... they "punch through to the underneath hard road surface" better under slush and snow conditions due to their higher pounds-per-square-inch downwards tread pressure. As for "guaranteed quality", our Class C came with Michelin LT tires, so we bit the expense bullet and replaced them with Michelin LT215/85R16 tires.
pnichols 10/23/22 07:10pm Class C Motorhomes
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