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Member postings for Ramon Wilson

Here is a list of all the postings Ramon Wilson has made in our forums. Click on a thread name to jump to the thread.

Thread: Helium Ballon
15/08/2022 15:26:44

Not a chicken joke but a true tale circa 1972 that brings that industrial safety legislation to mind

At the time I was working at our base onshore during a lull in diving activities. One morning a large lorry turns up with a considerable number of full bottles of 90/10 (90% helium) helium diving mix on it. Why they came I have no idea but was something to do with the US parent company as at that time all our diving was air based. We unloaded said bottles - slightly larger than the standard Oxygen bottle and laid them all out in the yard - must have 70 - 80 of them. Why they were loose no one knew as He02 bottles usually came in a steel cage referred to as a 'quad' usually containing '8' bottles. There they laid for several months.

One morning on another base working day the boss 'Bernie' comes out and says these bottles have got to be shipped back to the States - and they've all got to be emptied before they go!!!

I worked with another diver called 'Tony' and it could be said we did used to like a 'bit of a lark' so after the ubiquitous novelty of talking like Donald Duck was over we looked for something else. At the company next door they had one of those packaging air bag making bits of kit so we made a bag up some 10 ft long about a foot wide and filled it with the helium mix then a 20 ft long and then a 50 ft er - you know how these things go. The laughter got greater as this 50 ft sausage hovered about 5 or 6 feet above the deck (floor). At this point the guy in charge next door came to see what we are doing.

"I have some real big polythene pallet covers" you could staple together he suggested. No sooner said than done and we have this huge bag filled with helium straining at the leash sadly not enough to get any of us remotely airborne. Suddenly who ever has it lets it go and its off up gently but away with the breeze - across the river Yare to catch on someone's TV aerial and hang there being moved by the wind, the aerial bending in each direction in sympathy. Our boss Bernie fully supportive of our antics suddenly going pale and banning us from further stupidity.

The helium frittered into the atmosphere - an awful lot of moneys worth I guess - what a waste but we did have a good laugh from it

Happy days indeed


Thread: Tapping my first thread into Cast Iron
15/08/2022 14:39:25

Hopper - I don't know about 'cunning', just something I came up with as the inserts are 14 BA and I didn't fancy tapping the cast iron using the only tap I had - again. I had previously done so on another engine and, as mentioned previously, used as DMB suggests, a larger size drill. Whilst that certainly eases the tapping pressure on such small sizes it raises another issue of the thread engagement being marginal at best in such small sizes. It worked well so will be used again on the Marine Compound.

Loctite used would have been basic 638 - as said the temperatures involved on steam had no effect - the engine shown was run on steam under 'working' conditions powering a model boat

As a sugar lover Hopper I can't say I've noticed the similarity - when you do get to taste it inadvertently it's a bloody horrible flavour that's difficult to get rid of. Incidentally I found a long time back that the best thing to 'kill' any Loctite residue is methylated spirits. Lots of other solvents will work to varying degrees also but as with the 'Domestos' slogan meth's 'kills it 99% dead'. No good as a mouth wash though.

As said Derek, I never did get round to making a pillar tool but a good friend did and another bought it when he passed on. One did, and the other now does, praise it's usefulness.


Edited By Ramon Wilson on 15/08/2022 14:40:40

15/08/2022 10:35:18

Hi Jason,

Well I'm not saying anything is the best option (did I actually imply that?) but that as always, one has to bear in mind what kit someone has at their disposal. Whilst I have the means to reverse on both mills that I have both have to be switched at the control panel which unlike your button control makes things a bit fraught. Besides, on one, the Linley, the quill is not lever driven so it would mean trying to wind out at the same rate as the tap comes out. Fine if you are careful on the way in for a few initial threads but a most definite no no on retraction. If the tap was in some kind of sliding spindle of course that would be a different matter. On the other, Amadeal, mill the quill is just too heavy to feel small taps under say 2BA without a real degree of caution. Even then the same issue of control applies - lever on the right, control on the left

As you implied previously if DRO is available then that is a good and much better way to go too. In fact I've just done the flange holes in the Marine Compound in exactly that manner

As I approach my eighties however buying new kit, unless a required direct replacement, is not really viable as I intend to dispose of it all in a couple of years or so. Though I do use metric threads from time to time, moving over to metric threads as opposed to BA, though certainly less expensive, is not something I'm keen to do at this time in life. I have sufficient stocks of BA fasteners (still readily available of course).

I've been tapping holes for few years now - other than the Tapmatic devices which really are good despite my previous statement of rarely using mine - the best system I've ever used was a set of three large drilling pillars mounted above one big table, Meddings or possibly Pollard I think. They had a foot control to knock them into reverse which was instantaneous - wonderful bit of kit but it would require a bigger space that most have available.

I know things have moved on but I believe it's as important to show that you don't have to have modern kit to be able to do a job just as well as it is to show what's available now. Many now think of CNC pretty early on - as you know I left that behind twenty odd years ago but I've often had the comment ''Are the crankcases made by CNC'' on my diesels.

I began my model engineering as a complete amateur - zero knowledge but full of enthusiasm. In my mid thirties that quickly lead to a change of career and proper training before spending so many happy hours in a machine shop environment for the rest of my working days - like I said, quite a few tapped holes in that time - not always done on the right bit of kit wink

Best - R


PS just realised I haven't responded to others - have to go out right now, Sue is standing by the door, chomping at the bit - you know how it is  laugh so will come back later.

Edited By Ramon Wilson on 15/08/2022 10:39:17

15/08/2022 08:24:56

Whilst I cannot disagree with any of that thinking Jason, after all that's exactly why the castings I have have languished for so long I was attempting to show there are simple alternatives.

I have the means to power tap - TapMatic head - but rarely, if ever, bother to use it. I use my bench drill to power tap the initial threads as said and finish by hand. Most beginners will not have much else and (small) taps can be expensive items if you start breaking them. Power tapping in and out does require a means for the tap to move vertically within it's drive on coming out particularly on the smaller taps

I concur - control is all important - but that cylinder shown previously was a weighty beast compared to an 8 BA tap and it's floating as such on the mill table but as you can see it has a back stop in the angle plate and the magnet is used to keep it there on each repositioning. As always though - the constant worry of breaking the tap was ever present.

Taps are another matter - I still have (most) of the original (carbon) BA, ME32 &40 and brass taps bought from Tracy tools near 50 years ago and though most are still working well for most needs there are some that aren't.

Recent purchase to replace a worn 7BA in HSS was a bit of an eye opener for sure. I wonder what such a spiral flute type at that size would set you back let alone spiral point.

Best - R


Edited By Ramon Wilson on 15/08/2022 08:26:05

15/08/2022 07:17:25

You are more than welcome to what castings I have Steve - no charge but help with the postage would be appreciated. I'll have a look what's there this morning then send you a PM later.

With regard to drilling and tapping very small holes in cast for such things as lagging bolts things can be eased slightly by using a slightly larger tapping drill but a much safer way (safety as in looking after the tap) is to drill and tap small brass inserts on the lathe and Loctite them into pre drilled holes in the casting.

engine rebuild (57).jpg

engine rebuild (58).jpg

engine rebuild (90).jpg

If you are unfortunate enough to break the tap then at least it's not in the casting.

Best - Tug

14/08/2022 20:55:37

The main castings for which have sat under my bench for years Clive - just never got round to it as the above has proved more than adequate when required.

I do agree though - it's a lovely bit of of very useful kit if you have time or desire to make one.

14/08/2022 19:59:38

I don't like the internal support cone centre for one reason - you need three hands particularly to keep the contact with the tap as it drives forwards.

I much prefer to hold the tap very loosely in the chuck and use the method Jason shows but always grind a small flat on the side of the tap for a positive drive even on small taps down to 10/12BA. Tap shanks are not always a standard size but if a brass tube can be drilled or found to fit and held in the chuck as a guide even better

I don't think these small Eclipse tap wrenches ae available any more but are ideal for this. This is tapping 8BA - 48 holes on two cylinder blocks without a hitch. For the smaller 10 BA and below taps I use a circular tap wrench - just a slice of 3/4 dia knurled MS with a grub screw in it to drive the tap - again on a flat on the shank. The tap is turned between finger and thumb - very sensitive feed back from the tap

corliss project (51).jpg

I don't know how many small (5BA down) holes there were in total on the above build but all were put, without breakage, in this way or by gently gripping in the drill chuck, turning the drill on then off and as the spindle runs down use the residual motion to drive the tap in four or five threads until the drill stops. Release the tap, remove and finish by hand.

Hope that's of interest too



Just realised I had these images too - shows the smaller wrench n use






Edited By Ramon Wilson on 14/08/2022 20:02:11

Edited By Ramon Wilson on 14/08/2022 20:09:37

Thread: Cast finish.
13/08/2022 22:49:18

I used a mounted stone point at slow speed to achieve the effect on this aluminium crankcase

tiger (54).jpg


It could be painted over I guess but I chose to bead blast it to achieve the kind of impression of the original I was hoping for. This was not a casting but machined from solid but the effect would be similar.

tiger (55).jpg


I have also used an engraver to dimple the surface of bronze to give a cast impression



The tool needs to be blunt, not a sharp point for the best effect. Here's another example on a home made valve body.



Hope that's of use - Tug

Edited By Ramon Wilson on 13/08/2022 22:54:12

Thread: Stuart Twin Victoria (Princess Royal) Mill Engine
11/08/2022 23:31:55

I was a bit too quick to condemn there Paul as I'm a confirmed Loctite user on the right application so yes, on a twin crank web shaft such as this once the cranks are set in place the flywheel (unless it's two halves) isn't going very far but, tongue in cheek aside, I still wouldn't advocate it smiley And of course, the grub screw is heretic but it does have it's place and it does offer a much easier method of disassembly/movement if required.

I've studied a fair number of stationary engines over the years not to mention images but cannot recall ever seeing a sunken gib headed key on a flywheel - unless the slot is open ended.

Whatever, Doc G has more than enough to make a decision on but here are a few images that may help, not only on flywheels but other areas too

You can only just see the staked keys on this gorgeous McNaught Corliss valved engine in the Science & Industry (not Technology as previously said) museum in Manchester


This is the flywheel on the Galloways piston drop valve cross compound engine at the same place


A main bearing on another cross compound in the Kew Bridge museum. Built by Simpson it has an identical twin which was situated in the Strumpshaw St. Eng. Museum in Norfolk. Note the centre in the shaft, no key in the crank web and thin nuts on top plus other details.


And another main out rig bearing, more in keeping with Doc's intentions on the Hick and Hargreaves Corliss valved engine in Forncett. Note the typical variation in nuts on a renovated museum exhibit

Hick 2

With regard to the actual machining a slot or keyway. Like most matters there's a huge variation on the manner in which to achieve either. Regrettably however, most are not conducive with doing it on an ML7 with limited kit - to my mind that is the major factor to be taken into consideration before offering advice that the recipient would find difficult if not extremely unlikely to be able to put into practice.

Best for now - Ramon

11/08/2022 08:53:25

Paul, If my last post came across as a bit short it wasn't intended to be - my apologies.

Having reread your post I went back over my own - this is from my first reply to the original one raising 'keys' three pages back

If you cut the keyway parallel and you can slightly taper the key by careful filing until it tightens in the right spot but it will only be on the high point of course. A parallel key with a tiny grub screw is much the better option - the key does the driving, the screw just enough to keep it in place laterally.

On that note I shall say no more - on this matterwink


Best - Ramon

Edited By Ramon Wilson on 11/08/2022 08:54:06

11/08/2022 08:23:02

No one in the right mind would use Loctite to fix a flywheel in place. Loctite has its right place in engineering but this is not one of them - That would make the flywheel and crankshaft a one piece item to my mind. Whilst not an actual issue it's just not a direction someone making a representation of a full size engine should consider to my mind. Once it's on it's on and IF it needs to be tweaked there's no chance.

I may not have made many engines by some counts but I have made enough to know that the option of taking things apart is one definitely required on any build.

By comparison to most the the Twin Vic flywheel is wide - without seeing the mating part in relation ship there is no indication of length of the key as shown in the original drawing

I was merely trying to point out that short tapered keys may not provide the drive in the long term if fitted in the intended way - from one end of an open slot.

I cannot think of a single example where a part is assembled to a headed key fitted within a closed slot. No doubt there will be someone with evidence to the contrary but it just doesn't make sense to me based on what I have seen over the years.

As always it's down to choice - I know what I would do and fitting a headed key into a closed slot is not one of them

If the intent is to make something as close to full size is there then why not do it and fit the keys in the proper way as already said grub screws are a compromise.

Hick 3

Edited By Ramon Wilson on 11/08/2022 08:24:00

10/08/2022 18:28:27

No Doc nor would I, but your original drawing was.

However short of knocking on the flywheel (and off) with the key already in the slot which of course one can do so easily when it's in your hand that is very unlikely full size - which is what I thought you wanted to try to replicate. My apologies for this misunderstanding.

I have found some old photographs this afternoon taken at the Science and Technology museum in Manchester. I can't scan them but I can take an image so will do so later. there are several details that may be of help.

10/08/2022 15:31:23

Yes I agree Jason but I said Doc's key as drawn - marginal at best.

What you show in your drawing here is a much longer shallow taper key with a considerable length of 'drive' and much improved This is just as I described in my three examples above but the taper filed on top is even shallower and the fit over a longer length very tight (radially) as well as a good fit in both slots. No matter how slow a taper it will only bear on one point of course - if over tightened be ready for that slight but possible tilt though a wide flywheel such as this that should be minimal and yes, as I said too, a discreet grub screw is all that's required to prevent lateral movement along the shaft - something despite the eight keys I did on the Corliss flywheel wink


The two keys at 120 degrees as recommended will of course give a three point contact - personally if I were to be fitting multiple keys I would be milling three or four flats on the shaft

I found this pic of the 'staked' flywheel on the Corliss in the Forncett museum - a bit dark but you can see the annular gap and the four keys if you click on it

hick engine 01.jpeg


BTW how do you insert or extract the gib key from the sunken slot and  flywheel in your first image (previous post) if such a long taper is machined on


Edited By Ramon Wilson on 10/08/2022 15:34:19

10/08/2022 14:53:08

I really do think we are all confusing each other on this one

I thought we had already established that a tapered key in a matching tapered slot is totally different kettle of fish and not relevant to this model - and no, its should not require a grub screw to hold it in position

From the outset I said the object is to DRIVE the flywheel by a key - I agree you will be doing this with Docs drawn key but only by a marginal area. That marginal area, as previously stated, will soon wear in my opinion with the starting torque inertia and lead to rocking. It is not the correct way to fit such a key.

I did not say the key IS a dummy but that it could be - with the drive taken up with a hidden, sunken, key within the width of the flywheel - a far more substantial means to drive the wheel. The headed keys could then be dummies

I haven't built twenty models but those I have I have tried to replicate full size practice where possible. That adherence is not needed, it's certainly not a necessity and I'm not advocating it should be a consideration but the means of drive should be sufficient for the task. I don't consider this so

I used the word compromise and this is what I attempt to do - not always possible of course but I do try. An example is the Marine Compound crankshaft - the coupling and flywheel mount are keyed with sunken keys - full size there would be no flywheel and the coupling would, in all probability, be forged in situ with the crankshaft. Eccentrics would likely be split to enable removal. On this model eccentrics are solid and both coupling and flywheel mount will have a very small grub screw to retain them longitudinally but will not play a part as such in the drive

Docs question at the outset was about tapered keys in a parallel slot (though at first I did think he meant a tapered slot) - I'd like to think that I've tried to answer and show that as best I can

Best - R

10/08/2022 13:20:12

I really must be getting old! I just checked the Waller, Double Diagonal (which is as far as I am aware a true scale model of the original) and the Mc'Onie.

All have headed keys as shown in your sketch Doc but I know I made them parallel, slightly over thick then filed them with a very slow taper so they bind tight - they are all of course driven from the ends of the respective shafts




(This shows the drive gear but the flywheel is done in the same fashion).

There is nothing wrong with this method but you were saying that the key you have will only stop where it touches and then be held by a grub screw. The small area of the key will soon wear from the inertia of starting and you will have a rocking movement develop quite quickly - only my opinion of course but that's how I see it and it's there for what it's worth.

As Hopper suggests there is absolutely nothing wrong from a practical point of view with using a simple grub screw either - it's just that I was under the impression you were going to make this engine as similar to an original one - in which case grub screw drive (Oh we do need the facility to underline at times) was not in my thinking

Not trying to confuse you Doc , certainly not intentionally for sure


10/08/2022 10:38:17

Well isn't that what I said in the first instance Jason smiley

I'm not familiar with TC article and not sure what you mean by the HEAD side of the wheel but lets just get back to basics. We need to fit a flywheel to a shaft on a representation of a large stationary engine.

Now we can do it to absolute scale on one hand or reduce it to the most simplistic grub screw drive on the other. Somewhere we need to meet in the middle with a fair workable compromise.

We need to drive the flywheel round by the crankshaft so need a basic means to attach the two to do so and a simple straight key is the easiest option (setting aside the need for two at 120 degrees for the moment)

If - the keys are made as shown then the ability to slide them in from the end has to be there - that means slots in the shaft where they shouldn't be - for this representation.

If Doc really wants to show keys of this nature then it would be best to have them without slotting the shaft - ie as full size, on flats - or live with extended keyways in order to do so. Obviously if not on flats these would be dummies and would soon lose their grip so a means to drive the wheel has to be there - one slotted sunken key out of sight and two or more dummy keys to hide it - compromise complete. There would not be the need to do the second slot at an exact 120 degrees to match anything if so.

The other alternative would be a simple discreet but more adequate grub screw that provides the drive but as said that defeats the object

Doc picks up on both our points about the single point contact - just touching so not influencing the wheel to any degree. That's not a satisfactory drive to me - if the grub screw is doing that then the keys a dummy anyway

I guess I'm repeating myself so I'll shut up now - flogging and dead horses spring to mindlaugh

Edited By Ramon Wilson on 10/08/2022 10:49:57

10/08/2022 09:27:59


A wedge type key that you show would be used to apply radial force to hold the flywheel in place hence the gib or head to enable extraction. It would likely be used on the kind of flywheel you wish to represent in three's or four's in order, as Jason has already pointed out, to apply equal radial force and to eliminate tilting as already said - 'staking a flywheel' I believe, is the correct terminology but this is usually when the flywheel has clearance to allow the tapers to trim any slight misalignment the wheel may have as well as retain it

Unless the slot is accessible at an open end, ie the end face of a stepped shaft, this is not the type of key to use in a slot cut in the shaft. Unless it has a matching taper as Paul has pointed out, it's short diminishing surface area is the only driving force.

Such keys would usually bear directly on the shaft surface - usually on flat faces and usually from both sides of the wheel.

A sunken key on the other hand can be across the full width of the wheel and is captive by the slot - it gives full drive and only the smallest grub screw is require to prevent lateral movement of the wheel. If it's made smaller than the width of the flywheel then you could put dummy keys in to represent gib keys

I'm assuming you didn't see my previous post re the cutter?




Edited By Ramon Wilson on 10/08/2022 09:28:14

10/08/2022 08:11:18


A tapered key mating with a tapered slot will I agree not influence the plane of the flywheel but as previously said a tapered key in a parallel slot fitted tight enough sufficient to locate the flywheel firmly (and at one end only) will influence the flywheel rim if there is the slightest slack in the bore to shaft make up. If tapered keys were used in such a fashion three or four would be used. Jason's thought are the same as mine here it takes very little difference at the shaft to put the rim out of kilter perfectly witnessed when running of course.

Broaching - again, as already said, is fine if you have the broaches and the means to apply them. Totally agree, if you make a broach guide at 120 degrees then the angular accuracy is readily attained. That is the way I broached this wheel. Though I made the guide at home I broached it using the broaches and broaching press at work. Not quite the same when you only have an ML7 to use.

Apologies for the bold - the means to underline text would be much better!

corliss project (28).jpg


As mentioned previously, yes you can machine the tool bit from Sil St and it should do the job fine but just harden it, I wouldn't temper it. The tool needs backing off on all sides - particularly the width otherwise it will rub and wear as the slot deepens producing a key way with tapered sides! Definitely not what you want.

This op on a lathe is one that has to be done slowly, even with a one thou cut, the force require is considerable. Again on an ML7 with that small saddle wheel as a driving force a huge difference from a Marlco broaching set up - and a larger lathe of course. The wider the key the more force required. Jason's idea of roughing first is one way of getting round this but to my mind at no more than 3mm wide it's best done in one hit.

The tool/ toolbit holder needs to be short and reasonably substantial if flexing is not to occur. That will produce a tapered key way of unknown angle.

It’s not like me to simplify things, but I can’t see any huge issues? *

(* disclaimer - I’ve never done this before)

This is not a difficult op Doc but it has many potentials for slight error that will be only too obvious when fitting the key(s)

09/08/2022 09:52:45

Unless things have changed Jason I always thought the ML7 had a 65 tooth bull wheel - I believe there was something designed for it (New Zealand designer I think, name escapes me) to enable division but not direct division. I think the image you show is a Super 7 which has a 60 tooth wheel - here is my set up. This could not be done on my previous ML7.


Well 'proof is in the pudding' as they say so I bow to your skill on the four keys - excellent work, in fact very crisp indeedyes

To use the chuck jaws though, I'm sure you would agree, you need to have a positive stop for the jaw to impinge upon - and, unless exactly the right height to place the jaw dead horizontal, in the same position each time - and a means to hold it in contact whilst machining takes place. I think you'll find given the gap bed on a 7 you would not be able to stand a stop post directly under the jaw (may be wrong on that without checking) To my mind it would not take much deviation to create a lot of fitting issues but as you have proved, it can be done on your lathe.

I'm not saying using the chuck jaws is not viable just that it's not necessarily an ideal way to go about it generally

Best - R

Edited By Ramon Wilson on 09/08/2022 09:53:55

09/08/2022 08:30:13

Posted by Ramon Wilson on 08/08/2022 20:30:34:

Yes, I'm with Jason on the (non) use of a tapered key. If you use the saddle to cut it in the flywheel you can't cut it at an angle anyway. How do you plan to cut the keyways in the parts to be fitted BTW

If you cut the keyway parallel and you can slightly taper the key by careful filing until it tightens in the right spot but it will only be on the high point of course. A parallel key with a tiny grub screw is much the better option - the key does the driving, the screw just enough to keep it in place laterally.

I have just cut the keyways in the coupling and flywheel drive ends on the Marine Compound. The issue how to hold them in place poses the same question so a discreet grub-screw it is.



Sorry to quote myself guys but that is exactly what I said - once more bearing in mind the kit at Doc's disposal ...

The slot in the shaft for the key is obviously parallel and done on the milling machine or in the lathe if you have a cross slide milling attachment and can lock the spindle

The keyway in the flywheel is for the most part and certainly in Doc's case likely to be cut using the lathe as a shaper. The only difficult part about that is A, to accurately shape a cutter of the desired width and B, to position it dead on centre line. The spindle does need to be held from rotating and he best way to do that without a purpose made spindle lock is to use the lowest back gear.

Getting the two keys at the same angular position however without a positive dividing device on both is flying on the seat of your pants - as said before personally I'd put this to one side - idealism is one thing reality is another but as always it's about choice. It's a lot of 'accuracy requirement' for little or no positive effect save for the satisfaction of trying and possibly some scale effect.

I made a slotting head for the Super 7 that can be set to cut a tapered keyway but have never had to use it in that fashion save once on the Bentley but that was at an angle on a tapered surface.

Here it is being used last week on the couplings referred to

marine compound (66).jpg

There is still the difficulty of grinding the tool bit (by hand) to the right dimension at the same time as keeping it equal about the tool bit diameter but for a one off this could be milled in silver steel with far more accuracy.

marine compound (67).jpg

marine compound (68).jpg

Despite being very careful in slotting the shaft the slots were slightly oversize so a stepped 2-2.15mm key had to be made at one end and slightly less at the other

Broaches are fine - if you have them and the means to use them but they still don't cut a key on a taper - not that that is necessary as explained above and confirmed by Jason's comments - the key, from one side only, will induce tilt no matter how good the fit of flywheel to shaft. If you really want a tapered key as you show - to tighten the wheel to the shaft - then you need to do one at each side

The flywheel just has to go round and round - it isn't going to have to drive anything but it doesn't want to move radially (rock) on the key - getting one to fit just right is a task on it's own - two at 120 degrees is just making things (very) difficult for yourself.

But, as always, choice is choice and yours alone to make smiley




PS Jason - Doc's ML7 has a 65T bull wheel so can't be used. The only option on a 7 is a dividing attachment in the rear of the spindle. Personally I would not rely on using the jaws to get the accuracy to match that of the dividing head (RT) used to mill the shaft

Edited By Ramon Wilson on 09/08/2022 08:34:13

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