New 2850cc / 110hp Corvair in photos.

Builders,

Below is a look at a 2,850cc engine I built and test ran the first week of June. It is now in the hands of the owner, bolted on his Bearhawk LSA project.

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The engine was built around one of our 2,850 piston and cylinder kit. It features a Weseman billet Crank and rods, and a Gen II 5th bearing. It ran like a banshee. It was on the test stand for about 2 hours of break in runs.

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Every year I build a number of example engines like this, to demonstrate how “state of the art” Corvairs can be custom configured to a particular builders project and needs. The great majority of Corvair flight engines have always been, and will always be, made by the hands of the builders themselves, with our manuals, training and parts, building their own example of a proven engine, like the one above.

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These builders are not motivated by the money savings available, their primary motivation is the be in command of their own project, to learn, understand and know every part of their aircraft. The desire to be the master of your creation, rather than just it’s owner, is at the very core of homebuilding…..

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Many people know this, but the settle for far less, and for a variety of excuses they cede control and understanding of their power plant to a commercial provider, who essentially puts the “no user serviceable parts inside” sticker on their product, demoting the potential of the builder from “master motor head” to ‘consumer’. 95% of the people who put an engine on the front of their homebuilt this year will settle for that. Many people find comfort in doing what the masses do, they need to know that the ‘trend’ is. For the small minority who don’t concern themselves with the ‘choices’ of others, Only interested in what will advance their own mastery and control, we have the Corvair.

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If that sounds like you, welcome, we have your set at the table ready, and you will join the company of the small group of builders who have chosen to discover how much they can learn and get out of homebuilding, not how little.

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Top view showing 2400-L starter arrangement.

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Back view, showing standard intake manifold, HV-2000 oil case, and E/P/X distributor.

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Front quarter view: The only used parts in this engine are the case halves, the head castings, the oil case casting, the distributor body and some misc. hardware. The rest, including the cylinders, pistons rods, crank, and all conversion parts are brand new.

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Rear quarter view: This engine has both electronic and points ignition.

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Front quarter view: The oil line feeds the 5th bearing directly.

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Side View: Corvair is only 16″ tall, the carb adds to this depth slightly, but this is not a ‘blunt’ motor.

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Close up showing Weseman Gen II billet 5th bearing.

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Rear view of 2400- L starter. It does not need a tail bracket. It is more powerful than standard starter while drawing less amps. It is 3 pounds lighter.

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Standard Gold oil Filter Housing. Large blue plug is for test run. In service, this is the oil temp location. Accommodate either electric or mechanical instruments.

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Opposite view of Gold Oil Filter Housing. Port on top is location of oil pressure sender on aircraft.

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Starter in place: The small gold bracket behind ring gear is the inboard section of the front alternator bracket.

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Rear quarter view.

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Engine running on the test stand in our front yard.

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New Jersey, June 2015 and 65 years ago …

Builders,

Last week, Grace and I drove from Florida to New Jersey, joining 60 other members of our family to celebrate my parents 65th wedding anniversary. It was a family reunion that extended over several days. On the 20th, we had a formal party at Mayfair Farms, in the exact location of the original reception in 1950.

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Above, my Parents are seated before their four children and our spouses. It is a complement to my parents that many people who encounter the family often cannot tell who was born into the family and who married into it, as my parents treat us all with the same kindness, respect and love.

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Lisa Craig Heuer's photo.

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Above, 4th and 5th from the left, My Father and Mother. The fireplace on the left in the photo is the same one we are standing in front of in the top photo. 

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My Parents met by chance at the Jersey shore the summer after WWII ended. They waited until my fathers graduation form the Naval Academy in 1949 to be married in the spring of 1950. Seventy years after they met, they remain the joy of each others lives.

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My parents wanted everyone on hand to understand how blessed they felt to have each other for all of these years. My mother and father both came from homes of great love, but their own parents only had 34 and 37 years respectively before their marriages ended when their spouse passed. My parents wanted to say that their years together were a gift, not earned, just bestowed by fate, and they accepted this with great humility in the presence of others not so fortunate.

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 Sunday night, with most of the family and friends on their way home, found my parents home suddenly quiet. While all of the afternoon’s conversations had been on family and good memories, my father, now almost 90 and somewhat frail, took the last hour of the evening to meet an obligation he finds very important;  I sit beside him and listen while he looks back through the decades to remember and speak the names and the stories of good men, who’s devotion to their Shipmates, the Navy and our Country cost them everything, including a chance to grow old with the families they loved. This spoken remembrance is central to my father’s gratitude for the great fortune of being married for 65 years.

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-ww.

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Any qualities of character I may have are directly attributable to my parents. When I encounter anyone my age in a terrible position in life, my first thought has always been, and will always remain “Without the fortune of being born to my parents, that could be me.”

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Dick Navratil Passes from this earth, June 4th, 2015.

Builders:

Greg Cardinal shared the terrible news that noted homebuilder Dick Navratil passed from this earth on June 4th. He was 66 years old.

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Dick made a great place in the world of Pietenpols, building more of them than any other person I ever met. I got to know him many years ago, long before he was a Corvair builder. In the Pietenpol community, there have been, and will continue to be many people who have worked to ‘put back’ far more than they have taken, but even in a distinguished and storied list of such men, Dick’s name would be near the top.

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He was a modest guy who would have cringed at anyone saying that publicly, but it doesn’t make it any less true. He was not only a prolific builder, he was a great resource of information, but most critically, he was the source of encouragement for countless builders, if he knew them well or not. In the final measure, he was just a simple easy going guy, a joy to spend time with on a sunny day at the airport.

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He always left me with the distinct feeling that all the hours building in the shop would be well worth it, simply because when you were done and flew your plane somewhere, there was a possibility that when you got there, Dick would be there to greet you and make you feel welcome. I am writting this at 4am in the middle of the night, and at this moment, such a reunion seems just a flight away. In a few hours the daylight will return and it will be Sunday morning here, and all the memories of Dick will seem much further away, harder to reach, washed out and muted by the sunlight of another day.

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But in the times ahead, there will be many quiet hours in the shop, alone, long after dark, where I will remember the hours spent in his company, the sound of his voice, his humor and stories, and he will not seem so far away. And in those times I will take out my collection of memories of Dick and give thanks for how much richer my life is to have known him.

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-ww.

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From the coverage of Corvair College #30 in 2014:

“Above, my favorite photo and story from #30. On the left, Allan Macklem, right, Dick Navratil. These two guys worked on Dick’s engine and had a great time together. I have known Dick for 10 years (He has built 7 or 8 Pietenpols) and just assumed that the fun they were having was because they must have known each other since high school…..It took until the end of the second day for me to learn that before the first day of the college, they had never met each other. This is the kind of friendship and fun that naturally happens when two builders have the same values in a fun productive setting. The friendship these two guys struck up makes me feel the Colleges are worth all the effort put in.”

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you can read the whole story at this link: Corvair College #30 Good Times

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Below is the note that Greg Cardinal shared with other builders:

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“Richard M. Navratil
Navratil, Richard M. Age 66, of Arden Hills. Died suddenly on June 4, 2015. Survived by wife, Joan; son, Jason (Sara) Gillet; daughter, Jen (Justin) Vojtech; grandchildren, Boone, Judah, Renley, Wyatt & Colton; siblings, Chuck Navratil, Neil Navratil, John Navratil, Mary Bergh and Anita Ziebarth; also many nieces and nephews. Mass of Christian Burial 11:00 AM Wednesday, June 10, 2015 at the CHURCH OF ST. STANISLAUS, 398 Superior Street, St. Paul. Visitation 4-8 PM Tuesday at Willwer-scheid Funeral Home, 1167 Grand Ave., St. Paul. Memorials preferred to the Wounded Warrior Project. Willwerscheid Funeral Home & Cremation Service 651-228-1006″

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Above, is Dick’s best known creation, his Rotec radial powered Pietenpol. It was one of many he built. The caption below is from our Brodhead 2011 notes, where Dick let us use his plane in our Pietenpol Weight and balance project.

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“For the second year in a row, we gathered data on weight and balance for a wide variety of Piets at Brodhead. The 14 aircraft that we measured last year were worked into a highly technical set of articles that ran all last year in the BPAN, This year we had a chance to pick up data on eight new aircraft that we will also publish in the newsletter. Above, Dick Navratil’s Piet sits on the electronic scales that I brought up from Florida to do this task. Special thanks to the crew of volunteers who assisted me in collecting the data. One of these people is John Schmidt of Minnesota, sitting at left above.”

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FlyCorvair Operations Plan, June-December, 2015

Builders:

Here is a short series that gives a sharp look ahead, allowing our builders to plan their own path to achieving their goals in building and flying this year.

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Above, The builders who flew their Corvair powered planes to CC##30/The Zenith open House at Mexico MO; Shane and Phylis McDaniels (2,700/650B, MO), Lynn Dingfelder, (2,700/601XLB, PA), Dave Gardea (2,700/650B, IN) Ron Lendon (2,850 /601XLB, MI) and Pat and Mary Hoyt (2,700/601XLB with 650 canopy, MN). The picture above captures all 5 aircraft on the ramp in front of the Zenith Factory at The Mexico MO airport. The builders are standing between myself on one end and Sebastien Heintz, president of Zenith Aircraft on the other. In the Corvair movement,  we have many good times ahead, just like this. Corvairs are not for everyone, but if our strengths serve your goals, follow this story and make a plan to advance your goals in the company of fellow traditional Homebuilders. For those willing to get their hands dirty while they learn to master their own power plant, your place in the Arena is ready.

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Here is a four part series that will cover everything going on in the Corvair Movement in the next six months. The segments are in these groups:

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Events: Oshkosh, Colleges #34 and #35, and possible New England and California tours.

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Communications: The ZenVair and Pietvair discussion groups, better Email and Phone contacts

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Production and sources: New parts coming, best sources for parts, lead times on items, etc

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Overview of operations: A refined approach to serving builders,  what we will be doing in 2016, How this can serve your long term goals.

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I am going to cover these topics over the next few days. Some of it , such as the College #34 sign up are already on this site, but I am going to gather it here, all in one place to allow better planning and make sure no builder misses what is on the horizon. Stay tuned.

-ww.

Zen Vair discussion group update, notes on joining

Builders:

24 months ago, We started the ‘Zenvair’ information board, a place where we could collect and share a large database of information on Zenith aircraft powered by our Corvair Conversions. Initially, we restricted the participants to those with flying Corvair powered Zeniths, and Zenith builders who had reached the point where their engine had been run. The logic was to build up the data base with people with first hand experience, and those who had already been though our engine build process. This phase is now complete, and we have made the decision to open the membership to all Corvair- Zenith builders. The only requirement is they must have a Zenith kit or set of plans, and they must have a Conversion manual from us.

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Above, Phil Maxson with his Corvair powered 601 XL at Corvair College #24 in Barnwell SC. He has worked tirelessly as the moderator of our ‘Zenvair’ discussion group. Like our ‘PietVair’ group, the content is not secret, but it is private, available to group members only. Inside, the discussions are technical, but friendly. This is driven by the fact that there are no anonymous people, every single member has a profile and uses their real name. Many of the members already know each other from Corvair Colleges, and the groups reflect the positive attitudes of the Colleges. 

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If you are a Zenith Builder, you have one of our Conversion manuals and would like to be part of the discussion group,  please contact Phil or myself by email.  Signing up is simple and it is absolutely free. There are no costs nor ‘donations.’  Please be advised that if anyone contacts Phil with an email that says “Sign me up, I’m Flyboy26@gmail” they are not getting access, because all real builders are going to send an email that looks like “My name is Mike Smith, I am building a Zenith 650, Kit number 6524, and my corvair conversion manual is #9923, thanks.”

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Phil’s email is:    n601mx@gmail.com

Mine is: WilliamTCA@aol.com

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Before anyone asks, The group is specifically for supporting our Corvair conversions, and therefore we don’t extend memberships to people who chose other engines or are stuck with engines from now defunct LLC’s.  This is nothing new, although I have been in business 26 years and know a lot about flight engines, builders understand  that I have a strict personal code of never offering advice on an engine or installation which I have not personally worked on.  The internet is full of “engine guru’s” who claim to be able to offer valid advice on any engine, not just ones they have worked on. In my book, that is not a morally nor logically defensible position. My work is just to share what I know from first hand proven experience. The subject of building and flying planes can have serious consequences, select those that would advise you carefully.

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To read the stories about the original formation of the Zenvair group, read these two links:

‘Zenvair’ Information board formed

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‘Zenvair’ information board, part #2

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Above, Phil and I in my front yard the night we finished his 3,000 cc engine as an upgrade for his 601XL, which had flown on a 2700 engine since 2006. Phil is a pretty smart guy, but truth be told, it is his son who has the PhD in physics from Cornell. Phil just has the shirt.

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Piet Vair discussion group update, notes on joining

Builders:

Three weeks ago, we launched a private discussion group to specifically serve as a central location where builders of the Pietenpol / Corvair combination could share building and operational information, in a friendly setting. For builders working on the combination, we have a link on signing up at the bottom of this story.

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Moderator Terry Hand and I are impressed with the start, as it now has 65 members, 136 active threads, and more than 410 posts have been written on a great number of topics specific to the airframe engine combination.

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That is a pretty good start for a specifically defined small group in homebuilding. I attribute it to a combination of the Corvair movement attracting serious ‘Learn, build and fly’ people, and also the appeal of a group where everyone uses their real name and the tone is friendly. Here is a link to the original launch story: Piet / Vair internet builders group, started 4/24/15 .

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Bob Lester strikes the “Intrepid Aviator” pose with his Pietenpol.  He is good at this because he has seen every old aviation movie ever made. He built his 2,700/Weseman bearing engine at CC #17, and it has 290 hours in the plane now. Bob is now an active member of our ‘Pietvair’ group

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Who is the group for?   It is for builders who working on the Pietenpol Corvair combination, either one of our installations or one of the traditional Bernard Pietenpol arrangements. My definition of ‘working on’ means having a conversion manual from us and having a set of plans for the plane. This keeps the group focused on the specific topics, and means that 100% of the people are active builders, even if some of them are new or just in the planning stage. Having the plans identifies a person as a builder, different than all the people on the net who are “going to build something someday” There are countless websites for the latter people, Our Pietvair group is for the builders who are actively working on improving their aeronautical understanding and skill set.

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We have had a number of people to sign up who didn’t read the directions close enough:

1) You must be a Corvair guy, 2) You have to use your real actual name in the sign up, (Flyboy26@gmail isn’t OK)  3) you have to be focused on building a Pietenpol. If you are a Zenith builder, we have a different group for you:  ‘Zenvair’ Information board formed The sign up instructions are very detailed, but if you have any questions, you can directly contact the moderator Terry Hand, at Jarheadpilot82@gmail.com.

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What if I am putting a Continental A-65 or O-200 my Piet?  Continental Motors, Inc. has their own Piet/Continental discussion group their contact information is:- 2039 Broad Street Mobile, AL 36615 Phone: 251-438-3411 When calling ask to speak with Mr. Zhou Enlai, customer service director from the main office. He is a very helpful guy, his last name is pronounced “In -Lie”, but he goes by his first name pronounced “Cho”)

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How does this help me if I am not building that combination? Part of the greater purpose of the group, just like our Zenvair group, is to build a solid database of accessible proven information, and have builders available to share what they have learned. This greatly assists me by providing a river of good information to new builders, something which previously took a large amount of time for me to do individually. This allows more time for advanced support, R&D, production and testing. In this way, the groups directly support the builders of all Corvair powered airframes.

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A very detailed visual, step by step sign up instructions can be found here:

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https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B-sW1jQ2-f5_MWRacWdnWWhUSEU/view

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(They are nearly computer-idiot proof, I tested them on myself. )

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Above,Randy Bush of TN. at Brodhead with Miss Le’Bec (it is a combination of his girls’ names). His aircraft was seven years in the making.  The most successful builders I know understand that hours spent in your own shop, creating things with your own hands, is a vital part of a worthwhile life. Learning to make things is a crucial investment in your own sanity. Does it surprise anyone that really happy people always have a way of being creative? The plane has more than 600 hours on it. Randy is one of the builders on our ‘Pietvair’ group sharing what he has learned from years of successful operation.

Terry Hand’s 2700 cc Pietenpol engine – w/Weseman 5th bearing

Builders,

Below is a good photo of Terry Hand’s Pietenpol engine. It is a 2700 cc Corvair with all of our gold systems, a Weseman 5th bearing, and our new 2400-L ultra light weight starter. ( 2400-L Starter ) Terry took the photo on our front lawn right after a test run on our stand. He came down a few days after Christmas and assembled the engine under my supervision. It ran perfectly. Like many of our builders, Terry has put in a significant effort to put back into the Corvair Movement. He Is the moderator on our new Pietenpol Corvair builder group, ( Piet / Vair internet builders group, started 4/24/15 ) and he has done a lot of behind the scenes work on important projects like arranging support for Spencer Rice, our youngest Corvair builder. ( Spencer Rice’s ‘new’ engine and CC scolarship account ) Opening our shop to him for a few days at the end of the year was a mall gesture of thanks for his work.

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Above, Terry’s engine. Can you guess from the Color choice that Terry flew in the Marines? You can click on the photo to see a larger version.

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The interesting thing about Terry’s engine is its history: It flew about 100 hours with its original owner. A nice guy, but a poor match for Corvairs (or many other engines) because he didn’t want to do things like set the timing on the engine or follow much of my guidance or read things I wrote. The engine never quit on the guy but he did blow a head gasket, overheat it, and he ran it out of oil, twice,( on the same trip.) Unhappy with the engine he complained about it, ( and only later realized this undermined his ability to sell it.) I offered to assist him to correct the damage, but he declined, thinking that the problem was with the engine, not the operation. A few months later he sold the engine to Terry for a fraction of what he had in it, a fair value for an unloved engine, not running with a blown head gasket.  A few days of work, about $1,600 in repair parts and upgrades, and Terry now has the engine that will power his Pietenpol for years of reliable service. The difference? Terry understands that the issue was all in the mindset of the builder, and had nothing to do with the engine.

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Here is a link to a one minute video of the engine running on the test stand:

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0QVBRCKk5_E

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-ww.

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