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Russian

Saskatoon railfan
jbaakko said:
SHOULD be electicaly icolated from the main line
What do you mean by that? The power source goes into a rail and that rail connects to other rails...

Yes tight curves are ok, its just that you have to watch how snug it is for more modern cars, or longer passenger cars.
Good thing you mentioned that, as I'm planning on getting a 86' boxcar (I once saw it next to a 40' boxcar for MOW duty, very impresive comparisson) and operating it in the industry. I was hoping that all radiuses could take that length.

Yeah its funny cause it seems to get longer every time, lol.
Could be, I sure have learned a lot. If I could only visit a model show or club now, I would ask so many questions and pay much closer attention to operating, etc.
 

Red Oak & Western

Active Member
Once again I'm sorry for asking so many questions.
Roman -

Don't be afraid to ask questions here. That's one of the primary reasons for the existence of forums like this: sharing knowledge.

I've read the other postings and agree with some and disagree with others. So I'll cover your questions from my point of view.

1. The only major store nearby is a Wal-Mart. Realistically, how much model trains stuff can you buy there, if any?
The answer is none.

2. In my online searching it appears that most model RR stuff in HO is made by Athearn, is that just my impression or are there other major brands (for rolling stock and CN/CP/VIA locomotives)
There are many, many other fine brands (and some not so fine). Get a hold of a Walthers catalog to see just how many! Though, because Athearn and Roundhouse were purchased by a competitor of Walthers, those brands are no longer in the catalog.

3. I'm only asking because I've found a lot of container decals for sale.
Skipping the part concerning the "how", one of the main reasons you see so many decal sets available is simply economics. There are many, many container lines and it would be cost prohibitive for a manufacturer to design the paint masks and inventory them all. So the manufacturers decorate what they judge to be the most popular and then offer undecorated models to use as the basis for the rest. The same goes for variations in locomotives, freight cars, cabooses, etc.

4. As vague as this question is, where do you guys buy your stuff?
One of my favorite dealers in 1st Place Hobbies. I don't know if they export though. I guess those of us stateside have it pretty easy. You might what to check out George's Trains www.georgestrains.com and Canadian Model Trains www.modeltrains.com. Both specialize in Canadian prototypes and are in Canada.

5. Speaking of dummies, how common can they be? For instance in a 4 unit lash-up, if 3 are dummies, is that ok? Also, can dummies be leaders or will that make the train run badly?
a) very common b) 3 dummies is ok c) Yes the dummies can lead but… The but here really applies to the same issues that are involved anytime you are pushing the cars rather than pulling. The physics involved in pushing are different then in pulling, so to prevent derailments, you need to make sure your cars (and consider the dummies as cars), locos, and track are all in good operating order. Cars need to have properly adjusted trucks, centered wheelsets, and be properly weighted. Locos need to be in good operating condition, trucks not binding, etc. The track needs to be properly laid, properly gauged, and clean.

6. do I assume that accessories such as a numberboard and a light are included, or can I buy them separately as a kit? The same goes for handrails and other small accessories on other units.
As Josh said, these items are normally included, though some manufacturers details are better than others and more recent offerings have better details than older issues, even from the same manufacturer. And there are lots and lots of "super detailing" parts available: radio antennas, sun shades for the windows, windshield wipers, etc. Here's where the Walthers catalog is worth its cost, just as a reference book.

7. I've heard from a friend (don't know if he hangs around here, he's at RRF a lot though) that everything is a lot smaller on the model RR. So what would a good ratio be? For instance a 100 car train would be 20, 40, 60 cars?
Here's an example of why model trains tend to be shorter. The average HO freight car is 5 1/2 inches long (a scale 40 feet). Lets say you build an oval of track on a 4 ft. x 8 ft. sheet of plywood using 22 inch radius curves. You would have just under 20 feet of track. if you connected 40 cars, a locomotive, and a caboose and set them on the track, the front of the locomotive would be about an inch and a half from the rear of the caboose.

8. As of right now I have one controller, which is attached to the track. Do I need two controllers to control two trains, three for three, etc., or can I use one?
We DC controllers, you need 1 controller per train BUT you also need a layout that supports multiple trains. For DC layouts, this is referred to as Block Control. Each train occupies its own "block", which is electrically isolated from all the other blocks. Before a train can leave its current block and enter a new one, the electrical control must be switched to that train. Wiring a layout for 1 block is easy, for 2, its fairly simple, for 3 a little difficult, 4 - harder, 5 - tough, 6 - a nightmare. That's the reason DCC developed. The DCC concept has been around for a long time, but every manufacturer had a different way of making it work. It wasn't until the NMRA created an open standard (THANKS NMRA) that allowed compatibility between different manufacturers equipment that it really became popular.

9. Lastly, I need some help with rails. Is there some place online or a program where I can estimate or check what my track outline will look like?
To answer the second question first, check out the thread regarding Atlas Right Track 7.0 http://www.modelrailroadforums.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1953&highlight=atlas
Now, I would strongly recommend flex track -- more on that later.

>>> My original post was too long. I've split it in two. <<<
 

Red Oak & Western

Active Member
Ok I'm lost here, so there's DCC which allows multiple units and then there's DC which allows just one?
No -- multiple units can be connected and run on DC, but the units must be evenly matched. This will also answer part of a later question, but here goes. When using DC, the controller varies the voltage to the rails. The loco picks up the voltage and the motor turns, driving the wheels. (This is a simplification -- some controllers do really fancy things, like adding voltage spikes ((pulses)) to overcome inertia.) Locos run on a "nominal" 12 volts, meaning at 0 volts, the loco is motionless and at 12 volts it is at its full speed. But usually 12 volts results in an unrealistically high speed. Anyway -- say you want two connect two locos. The first runs at a scale 45 mph when it receives 6 volts. But the other only runs at 30 scale mph at 6 volts. If the slower loco is placed in front, the faster loco will try to push it at the same time it tries to pull the rest of the train. The result is hard on both locos. DCC takes care of this problem.

If my controller is DC, then will a new DCC controller conflict with it?
You just don't use your existing controller with a DCC setup -- it has its own controllers and power supply.

Is it still possible to run dummies with DCC though? For the first while anyway, my main power is going to be this weird lash-up: (oddly enough, I've never seen either units in real life)
Yes.

Yes, it says DC on it as well. So with DCC there's a chip that has to be placed in every unit, so I open it up and place it inside, then program DCC using my computer?
A DCC decoder needs to be installed in each loco. However, you don't need to use a computer to program the decoders. It can be done using the controller that is part of the DCC starter set.

Also, can I have a DC and DCC controller at the same time?
Yes -- but you would have to operate then as described in Block Control. One cab routing DC to the black, the other cab routing the DCC controller to the block. But that sort of defeats the whole purpose of DCC. Oh -- here's a good place to mention another benefit of DCC -- really simple wiring! With DCC, full voltage is applied to the rails at all times. A radio frequency control signal is superimposed on the track voltage. The decoder picks up the control signal, and them acts as a miniature DC controller and applies the varying voltage to the motor.

The reason I'm asking is because I finally put my train online today (after 5 years of no maintenance it ran a total of 10 track pieces before it died), and discovered that one of my wires (the green one if it means anything), has had its wiring end part snapped. Although it seems to work, I wonder how safe it is and if it's fixable.
Which wire, where. Color is pretty much meaningless in this instance. Depending on which wire and where, its probably both safe and fixable. More info is needed (maybe you provided it later, I just don't recall seeing it.)

Speaking of maintenance, what do you guys use to keep your rails and locomotives in shape? I remember reading an instruction on the subject when I first received the kit, but have no idea where it is.
Locomotives -- very little except to keep the wheels, differentials, and gear sets clean. Track -- I use a chemical cleaner -- I don't use abrasive cleaners (there's a track maintenance thread here somewhere).

Are all tracks put together that way, or is that a specific brand? The reason I'm asking is because I want the tracks to match with what I already have.
Some different brands of track will work with each other, others won't. Its hard to tell without knowing both the specific brand and type -- Atlas makes several different types.


I'm also reconsidering whether its better to buy a start kit (20+ pieces of track) or switches, curves, etc. separately.
I know its really really hard to give up what you currently have, but in the long run, I believe you'd be better of purchasing individual components (switches ((turnouts)), crossings, etc.) than trying to make the parts of a set work for you.

Originally Posted by jbaakkoDCC decoder installation is quite complex, I'll admit, BUT it pays out in ease of operation in the end.

I'm having that feeling too. Do most clubs run DCC as well? Does this mean that a DC trainset would not run at a club?
Some clubs do, some don't. And yes, a DC loco will not run at a DCC club. (But DCC locos can run at DC clubs -- the decoder has a "bypass me" feature to allow DC operation. And not all decoder installations are complex. Installing a decoder in an older loco can be (there are threads discussing that), but many (most?) newer locos are "DCC ready". Installing a decoder is as simple as removing a jumper and plugging the decoder in. And once you get to try DCC operation, you'll be hooked!

So if I have a switch, one branch from it is controlled with one DC, the other with the other one? Also, what would an advantage of two power sources be, if any.
If you're still not convinced of the benefits of DCC, or really need to delay installing it, and really want two or more DC cabs, ask again about installing block wiring and I'll go into detail on how to do it.

BTW, does the power source come with its own rail piece for hooking up with the other rails?
Hopefully not.

Thanks, I was wondering what those switch numbers meant.
The number of a switch refers to the angle of the frog. It is the ratio of the "run" to the "rise". In a number 4 switch, the diverging rail would be 1" away from the main rail at a point 4" from the frog. In a number 8 switch, the diverging rail would be 1" away from the main rail at a point 8" from the frog. So the smaller the number, the sharper the angle. Smaller switches (#4's) tend to limit the size of cars you can use -- they look okay with 40 ft boxcars, but are terrible with 80 ft. passenger cars.

But for industrial areas, tight curves are ok, right?
Maybe. It depends on the equipment you will be using. I can get away with 9" radius curves, because I operate using traction equipment (trolleys) and the prototype actually had sharper curves. But the cars I put through them have to be in tip top condition. Since my era is 30's and 40's, I don't have to worry about some types of modern equipment whose design would never allow such tight curves.

I plan on using "snap track".
Once more, consider the advantages of flex track.

I hope this helps and doesn't just confuse you more. SO keep asking away until you're comfortable with the answers.

Kevin

PS: It's late and I haven't checked the spelling or grammar in this post.
 

Russian

Saskatoon railfan
Welcome aboard Red Oak & Western! This sure is becoming one long thread. I apreciate you joining in.

Red Oak & Western said:
Get a hold of a Walthers catalog to see just how many!
Thankfully a Walthers dealer in Canada has been found, looks like I'm going to be using that catalog quite a bit.

I guess those of us stateside have it pretty easy.
Choice-wise you cerainly do. Not as much competition and competing wholesalers up here in Canada.

You might what to check out George's Trains www.georgestrains.com and Canadian Model Trains www.modeltrains.com. Both specialize in Canadian prototypes and are in Canada.
Thanks, I found them already.

Red Oak & Western said:
If the slower loco is placed in front, the faster loco will try to push it at the same time it tries to pull the rest of the train. The result is hard on both locos.
I see, but how do you know which one is slower, or is it by size? For

Oh -- here's a good place to mention another benefit of DCC
I apreciate the DCC insight, but for now and the near future I simply won't be able to afford DCC. Thus DC is my only option.:rolleyes:

Which wire, where. Color is pretty much meaningless in this instance. Depending on which wire and where, its probably both safe and fixable. More info is needed (maybe you provided it later, I just don't recall seeing it.)
No I didn't comeback with that one, I still need to find time to fix it, but it's definetally fixible, nothing to worry about. I just panicked a bit, thinking my only controller was broken.

I know its really really hard to give up what you currently have, but in the long run, I believe you'd be better of purchasing individual components (switches ((turnouts)), crossings, etc.) than trying to make the parts of a set work for you.
I can't give up my stuff! The oval is all I have.:p I was just thinking about a starter set to add to it, all later additions will be separate pieces. What is a turnout BTW?

If you're still not convinced of the benefits of DCC, or really need to delay installing it, and really want two or more DC cabs, ask again about installing block wiring and I'll go into detail on how to do it.
Please tell me how to do it, as I have no clue.

I hope this helps and doesn't just confuse you more. SO keep asking away until you're comfortable with the answers.
I don't think I'm confused, exept for the wiring and the DC block areas.

PS: It's late and I haven't checked the spelling or grammar in this post.
Welcome to my world.
 

jbaakko

Diesel Detail Freak
Russian said:
I apreciate the DCC insight, but for now and the near future I simply won't be able to afford DCC. Thus DC is my only option.:rolleyes:
Start like I did, power the first loop via simple DC, then once you'd gotten enough built up, move into starting the DCC project, right now I only have 2 DCC units out of about 40! AND NO layout to run them on...

Russian said:
I can't give up my stuff! The oval is all I have.:p I was just thinking about a starter set to add to it, all later additions will be separate pieces. What is a turnout BTW?
Eh, and you're a railfan? lol the switch...

Boy its so SO much easier when someone else takes up the slack!
 

Red Oak & Western

Active Member
I see, but how do you know which one is slower, or is it by size?
You need to individually test the locomotives. It's best done with a stop watch (we have a "Dollar Store" here that sells one for $2, it doesn't have to be expensive), but any watch with a sweep second hand will do. Place the loco on a loop of track, the longer the better. Hold the loco in place and set the controller about 1/4 full. Let go of the loco and start timing. Record the time it takes the loco to complete the loop. Stop the loco and repeat the procedure with the controller 1/2 full. Do that for each loco. If one loco completes the loop in 15 seconds, and the other loco takes 30 seconds, they wouldn't make a good pair. But if one takes 15 seconds and the other 17 seconds, they'll work together just fine.

What is a turnout BTW?
The terms "switch" and "turnout" are used synonymously in both prototype and model railroading to refer to the trackage that lets routes diverge. Model railroaders tend to use the term "turnout" to avoid confusion with electrical switches: "The red switch controls the position of the turnout." rather than "This switch controls the switch."

Please tell me how to do it, as I have no clue.
To do a good job of explaining block wiring, I'll need to know:
1) How many cabs (engineers) you really want. Each cab adds cost :( and complexity :(:(.
2) Your track diagram. Basically, the layout is separated into "blocks" (a term taken from the prototype to define a section of track where a train has the "right" to operate). Wiring from each block is run to a "control panel" where switches (electrical) are used to select which controller supplies power to the block.
3) The type of power pack and controllers you will be using.

Kevin

PS: Re: DCC - Christmas is coming ;) .
 

Russian

Saskatoon railfan
jbaakko said:
Eh, and you're a railfan? lol the switch..
I see, it's just that it was listed next to a turnout, so I thought it was something different. On the RR I've only heard of them refered to as switches. As for being a railfan I don't know, I know some things abouy the RR and take thousands of photos, I thought that was enough.:confused:

Red Oak & Western said:
You need to individually test the locomotives. It's best done with a stop watch
Thaks for the detailed instructions. As long as my watch is HO scale compatible I think I'll be fine, because it has a stopwatch!:p

1) How many cabs (engineers) you really want. Each cab adds cost :( and complexity :(:(.
By cab you mean leading locomotive? I'm going for three right now, but I'm sure if I really wanted to, I could add a forth one right?

2) Your track diagram. Basically, the layout is separated into "blocks" (a term taken from the prototype to define a section of track where a train has the "right" to operate). Wiring from each block is run to a "control panel" where switches (electrical) are used to select which controller supplies power to the block.
I've already posted a diagram earlier in this thread (post #17). Exept for adding industry slidings in the middle, that should be my track, for the first while anyway. Now what is the control panel? Is it another power pack kind of an applience?

3) The type of power pack and controllers you will be using.
DC standard powerback, as I have posted earlier (post #10), and what are controllers?
 

jbaakko

Diesel Detail Freak
Russian said:
By cab you mean leading locomotive? I'm going for three right now, but I'm sure if I really wanted to, I could add a forth one right?
Cab in the way of Modelrailroading terms refers to the individual DCC controllers, that allow humans (the engineer) control multiple sets of units on the layout, DCC consists of a "Cab" (throttle, controller), the track (to supply power @ 12V), the Decoder (to allow the DCC system to contol multiple units in one power block separatly, OR togeather), and command station (sometimes coupled in with a booster to "up" the signal)...

FAQ's from Digitrax...
http://www.digitrax.com/faqs.php
 

Russian

Saskatoon railfan
jbaakko said:
Cab in the way of Modelrailroading terms refers to the individual DCC controllers, that allow humans (the engineer) control multiple sets of units on the layout, DCC consists of a "Cab" (throttle, controller), the track (to supply power @ 12V), the Decoder (to allow the DCC system to contol multiple units in one power block separatly, OR togeather), and command station (sometimes coupled in with a booster to "up" the signal)...

FAQ's from Digitrax...

http://www.digitrax.com/faqs.php
All this DCC talk is making my head spin. Please drop the C and lets talk DC wiring setup!

Locomotives -- very little except to keep the wheels, differentials, and gear sets clean. Track -- I use a chemical cleaner -- I don't use abrasive cleaners (there's a track maintenance thread here somewhere).
I can't find the thread, but I did my sheet that came with the train set. (no word on locomotive and car brands though, as it's an overly generic train set)

It states:

Track should be kept clean for proper electrical pick-up. Use either a liquid or an eraser-type cleaner, available at almost all hobby shops. Locomotive wheels should be cleaned by spinning them on track wetted with cleaner, then dried with a pipe cleaner. Locomotives must be properly lubricated. Sparingly use a fine grade oil that is plastic-compatible. On a bust RR, oil once every 6 to 8 weeks. (I haven't done any of that in 5 years, then again it hadn't run much either).

So, are any of those items for sale at a generic store such as Canadian Tire or Wal-Mart? Or do I have to buy them at an online hobby shop as well?
 

Red Oak & Western

Active Member
Roman -

By cab you mean leading locomotive?
A "cab" (in DCC or DC) is "an engineer's position", derived for the fact that the engineer sits in the "cab" of the locomotive. It really means a power pack, or throttle, or controller, or whatever you want to call the device that sends the voltage to the tracks to make the locomotive (or locomotives in a consist) go.
{Consist: two or more locomotives connected together and controlled from a single cab.}

I'm going for three right now, but I'm sure if I really wanted to, I could add a forth one right?
Wrong (unless you mean starting with four). Each cab must be physically wired into the control panel. Adding a cab after the control panel has been built means a lot of work -- changing all the block control switches, additional wiring for the new cab, re-labeling everything, etc.

Now what is the control panel? Is it another power pack kind of an applience?
Here's a good link on the subject of control panels:

http://www.nmra.org/beginner/CtrlPanel.html

Read through the article. One exception I'd make is to use Masonite (tempered hardboard) rather than sheet metal. It's much easier of beginners to work with. The control panel illustrated is for two cabs.

Where he says: Most frames are built out of 1 inch thick wood, so you will need to make your control panel about 1 ½ inches wider … he is talking about 1 inch nominal lumber. A 1 x 4 actually measures 3/4 x 3-1/2, so two 1" pieces (nominal) equals 1-1/2" (actual). How's that for confusing!

Also, check out http://www.nmra.org/beginner/wiring.html, linked to from the control panel page.

DC standard powerback, as I have posted earlier (post #10), and what are controllers?
I went back and checked out the pictures in post 10. That power pack would be used as one cab. You would need another power pack for each additional cab. Just as an example, see http://www.modelrectifier.com/products/trainSound/product.asp?ID=1295&Subcategory=Tech 4 . An alternative to multiple power packs is a power supply and individual throttles or controllers (both terms refer to the same device). The controllers get the full 12 VDC from the power supply and they provide the means of varying the output voltage and switching the output polarity. Controllers tend to be small so that they can be held in your hand as you watch your train. Both power packs and throttles can have some sophisticated features (pulse power, etc.), but that's beyond this discussion.
{Power Pack: a device that converts 110VAC to 12VDC AND provides a means of varying the output voltage and switching the output polarity.}
{Power Supply: a device that converts 110VAC to 12VDC.}

Kevin
 

Russian

Saskatoon railfan
Red Oak & Western said:
How's that for confusing!
I think I'll redo my track plan before getting into that kind of wiring. Sure sounds complex. The manual switches don't have to be connected though, right?

see http://www.modelrectifier.com/products/trainSound/product.asp?ID=1295&Subcategory=Tech%204 . An alternative to multiple power packs is a power supply and individual throttles or controllers (both terms refer to the same device).
I don't get it, so its one controller, is it still controlling one train, or can I have 5 trains? Would that be all I need then?

That is one usefull website you linked to. I'm suprised at the celeberties that were model railroaders!

I also have a question regarding track maintenece. If I buy a track-cleaning car, would that be all the maintenece I'll ever need to do? Has anyone used it? How easy would it be to re-fill and is the lubricant always running, or can it be turned off, so that I can store it in a sliding?
Also, could I buy a "bare chassis" version and put something like a caboose body over it, such as the one we were talking about in the caboose thread. I.e. MOW service will now actually be MOW service!

Thanks.
 

Red Oak & Western

Active Member
Roman -

I'm off tomorrow, so, if no one else jumps in, I'll create a (very) basic diagram of block wiring with cab control. This is one case where a picture really is worth a thousand words. Especially when it comes to switches, switches, or switches. That's why track switches are referred to as turnouts. Switches are electrical, turnouts are track.

One cab, or throttle, controls one train at one location on the layout. Two cabs, or two throttles, control two different trains in two different locations on the layout. And so on.

I'm not sure which track-cleaning car you're referring to, but I think the answer to your first question (would that be all the maintenance I'll ever need to do?) would pretty much be yes, with the occasional check to make sure the track gauge hasn't changed (due to warpage, humidity changed, old age, etc.). The other questions would depend on the specific car. As to the bare chassis, the answer is yes. I've seen that done with a couple brands of track cleaners.

Kevin
 

Russian

Saskatoon railfan
Red Oak & Western said:
I'm off tomorrow, so, if no one else jumps in, I'll create a (very) basic diagram of block wiring with cab control. This is one case where a picture really is worth a thousand words. Especially when it comes to switches, switches, or switches.
Looking forward to that. Guess I'll be stocking up on turnouts.

I'm not sure which track-cleaning car you're referring to, but I think the answer to your first question (would that be all the maintenance I'll ever need to do?) would pretty much be yes, with the occasional check to make sure the track gauge hasn't changed (due to warpage, humidity changed, old age, etc.).
Since posting, I've found a 40' boxcar converter kit
http://www.walthers.com/exec/productinfo/116-10003
So that I can install it in a 40's CN or CP boxcar, weather it and label it MOW service.
 

Russian

Saskatoon railfan
I'm curently using RTS 7.0 to figure out my track and have already ran into some "problems".

Would a manutal non-electrically controlled switch for Atlas be called a "Snap-switch" or a Turnout?

I'm also unable to connect two ends of a twisted oval. I'm guessing this is where flexi track comes in handy? Do I just cut it, then bend it into shape to fit in the gaps?

Thanks.
 

grande man

Bonafied Grande Nut
Russian said:
I'm curently using RTS 7.0 to figure out my track and have already ran into some "problems".

Would a manutal non-electrically controlled switch for Atlas be called a "Snap-switch" or a Turnout?

I'm thinking the snap switch is meant to fit into a trainset 18" radius curve (curved diverging route) and the customline turnout is a more prototypical straight diverging route. I'd go with the customline turnout. They look much better.
 

CBCNSfan

Registered Member
Staff member
I'll agree with grande man, the snap switch makes a bit of a tighter curve than a customline #4 turnout
Cheers!! Willis
 

Russian

Saskatoon railfan
grande man said:
I'm thinking the snap switch is meant to fit into a trainset 18" radius curve (curved diverging route) and the customline turnout is a more prototypical straight diverging route. I'd go with the customline turnout. They look much better.
I see, what I notice is the snap switch has some appliences on the side, even though it says its manual: http://www.walthers.com/exec/productinfo/150-861

Also, is the little rail piece included with most turnouts? Is it just an extention? Thanks.
 

HaggisKennedy

Coal Shoveler
I don't think the custom turnouts have the little extention piece.

Snap switches can be remote or manual, it differs only whether it has the electrical piece attached to the mechanism, which is the same for either type (a sliding piece that sticks straight up). Custom turnouts only have the sliding tie piece with a hole on the end, to attach a manual throw, or a Tortoise motor (or other motor).

Kennedy
 

Russian

Saskatoon railfan
HaggisKennedy said:
Custom turnouts only have the sliding tie piece with a hole on the end, to attach a manual throw, or a Tortoise motor (or other motor).
Thank you for your insight. Are you suggesting then that the turnout doesn't normally have the piece you use to throw the switch? So I would need to buy those separately? (in case I'm lacking proper terminology, I'm talking about this yellow thing: http://www.railroadforums.com/photos/showphoto.php?photo=26538)
 




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