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Hints and Tips - The first 499 - Hints & Tips - Reference Area. - Your Model Railway Club
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 Posted: Wed Oct 27th, 2021 12:17 pm
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xdford
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Hi All,
I found these in the last couple of days,  Thinking they had been lost, I figure they better not be lost to posterity.  I started collating the Hints and Tips for the MRE Express news sheet when Brian Macdermott needed a break. Because of my input he asked if I was interested in taking it over for a while... kind of grew from there.  So H&T will go on for a bit yet, just the early ones!  Hope you find them useful,

Trevor

Hints & Tips No.1
Conflats
Brian Macdermott 
I like to have variety with my OO Conflats. Sometimes I run them as 'empties'; sometimes I run them as loaded with a 'full size' container; and sometimes I run them with the 'half size' AF insulated ones. The first two are no problem, but the small ones get thrown around and even fall off.

I solved the problem by using 'tacky wax'. This enables them to stay in position, but be easily removed with hardly any trace. I realise that real containers were held on by chains, so if anyone can tell me a method of modelling that convincingly (yet still enabling easy removal) I'd be glad to hear.

Hints & Tips No.2
Brian Macdermott
What do you do if you are enjoying a pleasurable running session and everything suddenly shorts out?


When this happens on my layout I will almost always find it has something to do with the previous train movement. Sometimes, it’s as simple as a metal-wheeled wagon bridging an insulated rail gap on a reverse loop.

  

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 Posted: Thu Oct 28th, 2021 08:03 am
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Hints & Tips No.3 Going round the bend
by  Robbie McGavin 

I have affixed the added details to my Hornby N15 with superglue (steps, cylinder cocks, pipes, etc). It will run round Setrack radius 3 with no problem. It will also ‘just’ go round radius 2, but will derail unless run slowly. A beautiful model, indeed!


Hints & Tips No.4
Simulating buildings on backdrops
by Trevor Gibbs

I have recently built a memorial exhibition layout and needed some backdrop buildings. I had a reasonable success by using the Auran Trainz computer program. I made an English style streetscape with buildings and footpaths then taking screen dumps from different angles of the buildings. I then printed these up and cut the building fronts out and glued them to the backdrop... usually plain sky.

My first tries at this have turned out a bit darker than I would have liked but gave the impression I wanted in the time frame I had to get the layout ready. With experimentation you can get that aspect right too! Good luck trying it out!

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 Posted: Sun Oct 31st, 2021 06:27 am
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Hints & Tips No.5
Wagon tops
by David Chappell

If you have a collection of, say, closed vans, most likely they will all have the same colour roofs. Coaches are similar, especially if they are all from one manufacturer. Prototype vehicles all had different colours, bodies and roofs due to weathering, dirt, brake dust etc. I thought I would get over this 'out of the box sameness' easily.


In a small cupcake aluminium case (Mr Kipling and all that) I put a small quantity of a dark grey paint of a darker colour than the first van. I then brush painted the first vehicle. Then I added a few drops of, say, black, stirred the little case and painted the second vehicle - hence a little darker. Then I added a few drops of another colour (for example, brown) and painted the third: then a few drops of say orange and painted the fourth and so on. You can leave one in the manufacturer's original colour if you wish. Numerous wagons all with different colour roofs with very little cost and wastage of paint!


Paint choice is obviously up to the modeller - I use matt on some occasions, acrylic on others. Colours can be to the modeller's choice – greys, browns, leather, gunmetal, orange, rust, etc. If you want to experiment first, cut a 12 inch long by 1 inch piece of scrap plastikard and practice on small areas of that before you let yourself loose on your wagons or coaches! It's good fun!

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 Posted: Wed Nov 3rd, 2021 03:22 am
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Hints & Tips No.6
Ergonomics
by Brian Macdermott

If you are designing a roughly waist height layout for your own use (as opposed to a club), it is worth giving some thought to your control panels – particularly if you are DC with lots of switches.


Many control panels have switches mounted on schematic track plans. Before you commit to drilling holes, work out how far down the lowest switch(es) will be. If you have to bend to operate that switch (even slightly), you could do well to re-think. The unwritten laws of railway modelling state that the most awkward switch will be the one you use most!

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 Posted: Sat Nov 6th, 2021 05:16 am
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Hints & Tips No.7
Simulating Trees
by  Trevor Gibbs 

You can simulate a great grove of trees against a backdrop by using green-coloured cotton wool balls cut in half and teased out a bit then glued to your backdrop as bushy clumps. The absence of tree armatures won't be a problem and give you a sense of 3D.

Use universal dyes or appropriate food colourings sprayed with a cheap air brush in a few different tones. The cost? A few cotton balls and some sprayed universal or vegetable dye diluted with water - like most of my other ideas for this column as close to zilch as possible. If you can see part of the forest floor, a few deep brown vertical brush strokes where the base of the trees would be would/should be enough to simulate the trunks and will be fairly short anyway.
After all you are concentrating on the trains going past aren't you?

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 Posted: Tue Nov 9th, 2021 05:51 am
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Hints & Tips No.8
A flick of a switch
by  Brian Macdermott

When referring to DC reverse loops, conventional wisdom says that one should drive a train into the ‘reversible section’, stop, throw the double pole/double throw (DPDT) switch, reverse the controller and then drive out.


Here’s a little trick if you have a controller with switchable forward/reverse.


Drive your train into the reversible section. With the train still moving, flick the ‘backwards’ switch on your controller with one hand and - at precisely the same time - flick the DPDT switch as well. This may take a bit of getting used to, but I can now keep my trains moving with no perception of the polarity change whatsoever.


Older tender-drive locos may give a bit of a twitch, but more modern Bachmann and Hornby are easy. As far as I know, this does no harm to the motors. 


A Note from Trevor -  Brian did add a codicil about his H&T  asking "Does anyone have any views on this?"  Personally where Return Loops are concerned, I would prefer to have two switches apart from the throttles reverse switch, one for the loop itself and one pointing in the "intended forward" direction on the main line allowing the throttle to reverse the train for shunting etc. I will elaborate on this further later


I am quite happy to add any conversation to any thread in this series but if you could PM me and I will include any discussion you may make!

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 Posted: Fri Nov 12th, 2021 04:51 am
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Hints & Tips No.9
Close coupling
by  Brian Macdermott

If Roco close-couplers prove to be ‘too close’ on your layout, here’s a tip. Put a Hornby close-coupler on one coach and a Roco on the adjacent one. This gives a very good compromise.


Hints & Tips No.10
Train protection
by Brian Macdermott
When I isolate a loco/train on my DC layout, I always turn the controller on a fraction in reverse. I occasionally find that I have accidentally isolated the wrong section. Turning the controller on for a spilt second will show up the errant train and being in reverse prevents it from running into anything ahead of it in my linear hidden sidings.

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 Posted: Mon Nov 15th, 2021 05:40 am
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Hints & Tips No.11
A good point
by Paul Jansz
Paint the rail sides on point work with the rail joiners in place, ahead of laying. So much easier when one can freely approach the job from all sides, and both electrical continuity and freedom of action can be tested before final positioning.

Hints & Tips No.12
Scenic Scale Measurement
by John Challenor

No matter whether it is a simple fence or something more complicated it is just as important to keep all your scratch-built scenics to the right scale.

To assist me, I have made a scale ruler from a scrap of plastic with a straight edge. I work in 00 scale, so my ruler is marked in feet at 4mm intervals. To remind me I have also marked on it ‘1mm = 3 inches‘. I do my homework and find out the sizes of the originals; better still, whenever I can, I go and measure them.

Unless you have a very good eye for these things you may be surprised how far out you can be.

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 Posted: Thu Nov 18th, 2021 07:16 am
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Hints & Tips No.13
El Cheapo uncouplers
by Trevor Gibbs

For Hornby uncoupling, rather than buy specialised ramps, an old friend of mine used the covers from shirt boxes cut into strips to fit into the track and given a slight arch. All he did was pin the ramp onto the board through the track and the system works well. I intend to use this for the memorial layout I have built for him.

Hints & Tips No.14
Panic Button
by Martin Walls, (Australia)

I run my power controllers through a power board that plugs into a power point fitted with an RCD safety switch (Residual Current Device).

The test button for the RCD makes a very handy ‘panic button’ for cutting track power quickly. This is useful when trains are on an intercept course at one of my many Tri-ang diamond crossings.

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 Posted: Sun Nov 21st, 2021 08:03 am
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Hints & Tips No.15
Wagon loads
by David Middleditch
Line the interior of a wagon with three layers of cling film. Build the load inside this.
Pit props: Short thin buddleia twigs glued together with PVA.
Coal: Plaster base painted black with coal on top.
Timber: Matchsticks at an angle glued with PVA.
When set and painted, the load can be removed and the cling film peeled off. It should then fit back into the wagon with a working tolerance. With coal and similar loads, I also set in a small wire loop. This can be used to hook it out. Painted black it is quite unobtrusive.

Hints & Tips No.16
Tender problem
by Nicholas Rothon
There is a problem with some of the BR1C tenders fitted to the Bachmann Standard locomotives. The coupling seems to be too high to use with Peco and Hornby uncoupling ramps.
The problem can be resolved by substituting one of the stepped couplings from the Bachmann Mk1 coaches. Some may have been saved if the couplings on the coaches have been changed to Hornby close-coupling variety. 

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 Posted: Wed Nov 24th, 2021 12:28 pm
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Hints & Tips No.17
Ready to go
by Martin Walls, Australia
At the end of a running session, I try to remember to stable my trains within arm's reach of the controllers and return the points to their normal settings.
This is done to make sure I can fire-up the trains without too many problems when visitors wish to see an impromptu demonstration. This includes having my more reliable locos available for use.

Hints & Tips No.18
Crisp lining
by Simon Baldwin
I was recently painting a Bratchell 317 into 'one' livery and was having a terrible time with getting a crisp edge on the rainbow lining. The solution was to run a sharp knife along the edge of some masking tape (against a ruler). Then, masking up using a template or careful measuring gave a very crisp edge and, as the tape sticks well together, it is easy to re-use on the set. It can also be moved around for the other stripes. Now to go off and find some 'one' transfers, anyone??

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 Posted: Sat Nov 27th, 2021 08:07 am
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Hints & Tips No.19
Good use for an old aerial
by Martin Walls, Australia

I have salvaged a telescopic aerial from an old radio. This is extended when required to nudge stalled locomotives.


Hints & Tips No.20
Alternative magnifying glass
by Roger Norman
If trying to ascertain detail from a photograph, don't use a magnifying glass. Instead scan the photo, enlarge it and print it or better still view it enlarged on the screen. You will be amazed how much detail this shows, especially with old photos which can sometimes be enhanced with the likes of Paintshop Pro.


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 Posted: Tue Nov 30th, 2021 06:23 am
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Hints & Tips No.21
Cleaning wheels quickly
by Trevor Gibbs
Cleaning wheels is not the most enjoyable task in the model railway field but there is a way of making it easier and minimising the amount of pick up and scraping you need to do.
1. Get some reasonable strength paper towel (the quilted type is ideal). Wet a small area of the paper towel with the white spirit. (Do not use Turpentine for this!
2. Lay your paper towel over the track with enough ‘slack’ that you can run your wheels on it.
3. Using a little pressure, move your vehicle up and down the paper towel by hand and watch the towel get dirty. Move your towel over a bit when the track of the treads gets dirty until no more comes off. Voila one cleaned vehicle in a few seconds!
You would expect that the towel would tear to shreds quickly and eventually it does, but it is very easy to get through a whole yard of vehicles. Every now and then you get a ‘severe case’ but your task is really minimised!
By judicious holding of powered locos, you can get wheel treads of these also clean by self powering the loco.  Hope this helps increase your operating time and pleasure!




Hints & Tips No.22
Southern Railways lamps/hexagonal glass shades
by John Challenor

I have just modelled some of these - a bit fiddly, but I was quite pleased with the results.
I used some old semi-translucent plastic beads (back to the daughter’s discarded junk jewelry), making two shades from each bead. The beads were cut in half and each half was hollowed out with a hand-held drill bit. The outside was then filed to give the hexagonal shape. A wheat grain bulb was glued in and the plastic at the back of the bulb was painted to look like part of the lamp. The ‘shade’ was painted with fine lines to simulate the glazing bars.
Fitted to brackets made from scrap plastic, they look fine attached to buildings and lamp posts.

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 Posted: Fri Dec 3rd, 2021 07:08 am
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Hints & Tips No.23
Train control panel
by Trevor Gibbs
Even though my layout looks like it is a chase your tail round a short circuit affair, it is genuinely run as a point-to-point. However I needed a prod to remind me which engines were at which end of the line.

.I am making a board with my imagined schematic for each of the imagined stations on it drawn laterally with a piece of galvanised metal, but tinplate will do. I paint the schematic on, mask off the track schematic and overspray with black. My engines have a fridge magnet which I cut up and paste their numbers on. If I have a short session, I simply move the magnet to the ‘next station’ if the loco is in transit with a train or around the turntable for the appropriate end of the line when it is stabled. This could add a bit more to your realism even if you seem to be a tailchaser!


Hints & Tips No.24
Virtual Planning
Trevor Gibbs
To try and see how a track plan may or may not work, I have used Auran's Trainz program to draw up the layout and test run the layout using virtual trains before committing to the carpentry. While I have not seen it, I am led to believe that Hornby's Virtual Railway can do the same using Hornby's track system. Trainz does not take long to learn the basic steps... sharp inclines on ridges still defeat me a bit but track layout, building placement, and even signalling becomes easier to visualise


The advantages of this is that you can set up the operating scenarios to run your trains and see if those scenarios work and workout your scenery at the same time. Rather than taking your model time away, it could save you time at the drawing board and even more time from making mistakes in the translation of what you visualise compared to what you finish building. The alterations are a lot easier to manage in the virtual world.  

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 Posted: Mon Dec 6th, 2021 07:31 am
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Hints & Tips No.25Cheap Weathering 1
by John de Vries-Kraft (Kamloops, BC Canada)


I found a cheap way to partially weather those shiny freight wagons. Ever see the hard-water stains around and on your water taps? Get some of your tap water into a small disposable dish/cup and add a very little (two drops?) cheap flat black acrylic paint. Dip brush into this light mixture, spread unevenly to entire car body. Blow any gathered droplets and smear a pinch of white paint with your fingers. Douse remaining car body with tap water.


t;"When it all dries in approximately five minutes, note how the hard-water stains stay in the fine cracks and crevasses.


Hints & Tips No.26
Liquid Lead
By Kunio Toyohara, (Tokyo, Japan)


The June 2008 issue of the Japanese railway modelling magazine "Tetsudo Mokei Shumi" carries a report by Mr Takeshi Inoue of Tokushima (on the island of Shikoku) regarding the effects of weighting locos with small lead granules (‘liquid lead’ to you?). He reports that his brass steam locos have suffered from boiler/steam dome/smoke box/cylinder casing ‘explosions’ caused by swelling of the lead granules used as additional weight. The lead was fixed in place by pouring lacquer over the granules, and Mr Inoue reasons that the lead had swollen from oxidation by contact with atmosphere when the lacquer aged and peeled off.


I personally have doubts about this theory. I have kept a jar of these lead granules in my drawer for more than 30 years, and there is no sign of swelling. Air pollution must be definitely lighter in Tokushima than here in Tokyo. Could it be something in the lacquer that's promoting the reaction?


It has been known for decades that lead granules fixed with diluted PVA (wood glue) or CA (super glue) swell under chemical reaction, causing model boilers etc to burst with the lead turned white poking through the open seams. (Well, it's a very slow process that takes years to happen. No casualty reported yet.)


Using paints such as lacquer as fixative has been the recommended ‘safe’ way (until now). Not fully filling the void with lead and leaving sufficient room for expansion is another way (or, the only way until we know what is causing the swelling in the above case).


The question remains - how much room is sufficient room?

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 Posted: Thu Dec 9th, 2021 08:29 am
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Hints & Tips No.27
Cheap Weathering 2
By John de Vries-Kraft (Kamloops, BC Canada)
Try dipping a wagon into a pot that has just been used to boil potatoes.
First remove the couplers and wheels or bogies and put a dab of petroleum jelly where the trucks are attached. Not too warm to avoid warping the body. The starch in the water will dry on the wagon. Granted, the missus might scratch her head wondering why you took the water. A little salt will increase the stain results. If you don't like the results, just dip the body into clean water and stir it. Just don't eat the plastic.

Hints & Tips No.28
Couplings
by David Chappell
The newer, small Bachmann type couplings are much less obtrusive than the earlier bigger ones.  For Dapol wagons (if the modeller doesn’t like the larger style which Dapol use) all one has to do is pull the coupling out (a clip fit) and push in its place the flexible Hornby type. It is the same clip fit. The couplings are sold in packs of 10, code R8099 (I think!)

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 Posted: Sun Dec 12th, 2021 02:47 am
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Hints & Tips No.29
Cheap Weathering 3
By John de Vries-Kraft 
Use a cotton swab dipped lightly into rubbing alcohol and apply streaks to car bodies in a downward motion. Maybe add a pinch of flat-black or white acrylic paint or even flour. This will duplicate the effect of rain on the wagon leaving vertical streaks.
Hints & Tips No.30
You have been framed
By Allan Hornsby
Shops that do picture framing are a free source of building material. The off-cuts from mat boards are usually available at no cost and are of good quality stiff card that tends to be warp free. Just remember, if you do laminate them, then use an odd number of thicknesses.

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 Posted: Wed Dec 15th, 2021 07:16 am
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Hints & Tips No.31
Lifting the lid
By Trevor Gibbs

Clear styrene lids make great windows on models. There is just enough opacity to cast a reflection. Things like older brake vans just do not look complete without them. To add to the opacity put them in place with white glue - enough will seep on to dull the surface even more. I got mine from yoghurt containers but anything will do. Cost - next to nothing!


Hints & Tips No.32
Storage
By Roy Thompson
When I buy an Indian or Chinese meal, I wash out the foil dish the rice comes in. This can be used for mixing paints or holding a small amount of PVA glue etc. The plastic lidded dish the main meal is in becomes a useful storage container once washed. Plus they stack up neatly once you collect a few.

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 Posted: Sat Dec 18th, 2021 06:05 am
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Hints & Tips No.33
Oil Depot Tanks
By Trevor Gibbs 
I do not have room on my current layout for an Oil Depot but when I did have space in my junior days, I used either tins from Quik (Nestle Strawberry was good) or smaller coffee tins.

Turning them upside down and screwing the lid to the board meant they could be removed easily if needed for moving etc. In these days of computer labelling, it would not be that hard to make a convincing sign or even a ‘wrapper’ to go around the tin with rivets, small ladders printed on etc. Once again, the cost is not high!

Hints & Tips No.34
Scenic Shakers
By  Roy Thompson


I find these expensive at almost £3 for an empty plastic container with a funny lid. Have a look around your kitchen and you may be surprised how many of these types of container you can find in varying sizes.


Ones I have found include peppercorns, parmesan cheese, herbs and spices. If you know anyone who works in catering they often have larger catering sizes, which are excellent once given a good wash.

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 Posted: Tue Dec 21st, 2021 06:43 am
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Hints & Tips No.35
Making Rail look Scale in 00/H0,
By Trevor Gibbs

I have been 'weathering' my rail for a few years simply by getting out one trusty paint brush and painting the sides, particularly of Peco code 100, with a Russet or Tuscan box car colour. I personally use Tamiya type acrylics. You can simply run a paint brush along the rail sides, before or after ballasting and not worry about the effect too much. In fact mine was done after ballasting because I was not happy with the effect of the shiny rail at the time.


I have been asked a number of times if my track is Code 70 or 83 rather than the 100 as removing the sheen from the sides of the rails in this way, hides its apparent height. This is also lowered by use of ballast. Dregs from the paint bottle are especially effective as you can get simulated a build-up of grime and grease, as does occur. You can even skimp a bit and just do the sides which are seen from a viewers angle.

If you need to solder a wire to the rail, it is easily cleaned by simple scraping off the paint and retouching it afterwards.


Hints & Tips No.36
The Ultimate Modelling Glue?
By Andrew Morling  


Quite by accident I may have just discovered the ultimate modelling adhesive. It sells under the brand name of MANICARE here in Australia and is used for attaching acrylic fingernail extensions.

It contains cyanoacrylate [super glue], and methyl ethyl ketone [for polystyrene] as well as an adhesive for acrylic. It is applied with a brush in the cap, which is quite practical as it does not set as quickly as straight super glue.

I have been trying it on every kind of plastic I can find and it has not failed me yet. It will even stick the old resin plastic used in early Tri-ang trains. On polystyrene it sets quicker than plain MEK and is very strong once dry.

Despite the apparent innocuous use that this product is designed for please ensure that you have adequate ventilation when using MANICARE or similar products and do not smoke while using it. The use of some form of eye-shield would also seem to be a sensible precaution.

So, just join the orderly queue at the cosmetics counter of your local Pharmacy and tell the girl you want to have longer fingernails...



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