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Author Topic: Tire chains - how tough to mount ?  (Read 2486 times)
Dirtball
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« on: December 30, 2012, 05:11:11 PM »

 1996 MCI 102 DL3  with Michelin ribbed Highway tires with 15,000mi on them. Need to get to a festival tomorrow in Pennsylvania. Roads are good but I may have trouble getting out of my farm and the last half mile to the festival site.  We had freezing rain a few days back , then 6in of light snow. Temps in 20's.   I can buy chains tomorrow - singles - for $250/pair.  I have mounted chains on multiple cars, trucks, my farm tractor, but never the bus. I guess if I air up the rear bags , I'll have some more working room on top of the tire. Do you guys start from the top or drive over them first ?  I have some logging chains and my tractor chains I can carry and just throw on the ground in front of the drive axle or buy the chains tomorrow. btw which side of the axle does the differential go direct with, driver or curb ? If I get stuck on ice (pretty flat terrain), which side should I give more traction aids? I'll take some sand and salt also. I don't travel in Western USA , yet. Still working 50 weeks/yr but a few years away from really using this bus.
 It's fully converted by Custom Coach. I am 48,000 lbs. 300gal fuel and 190 gal water, both full.
   Thanks and Happy/ HEALTHY New Year to all.
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« Reply #1 on: December 30, 2012, 05:43:39 PM »

Don't bother with the chains. Your bus has really good traction because there is a lot of weight on top of the drive axle. If you get stuck, dump the air out of the tag axle to increase the weight on the drive axle. You can drive that way slowly to get out of a slippery spot. If you're still stuck, you could throw some sand in front of the drive wheels. Chains are a real PIA to put on a bus. I drove ski buses for years in the Canadian Rockies, then more recently the Junior Hockey team's bus, (a 102D3 by the way) all over S.E. BC and Washington state in winter conditions and never needed or used chains. I kept the tire pressures at 105, 85 and 75 psi front to back. I always had good winter tread tires though. You could also lower the pressure in the drivers to say 60psi to temporarily get out of a slippery spot, then air up again later. I have chains in my bus now that came with it from the PO, they are brand new in the box never been used. I carry them in case some official wants to see them somewhere to go over a pass.

Save your money for something more fun like dinner or beer,

Happy New Year,

JC
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JC
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« Reply #2 on: December 30, 2012, 06:03:20 PM »

I would agree bus's have great traction with the weight in the back.
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« Reply #3 on: December 30, 2012, 06:29:40 PM »

Name??? -

Altho I agree with JC, if you HAVE to have chains, then make sure you buy CAM-style (http://tirechain.com/cams.htm).  Much easier to tension.  You only need to chain the outer dual, don't even consider messing with dual chains, there is no room to get them on.

Working the casino runs to Reno & Lake Tahoe, I often had to hang chains during snow conditions.  Not because I really needed them, but because CalTrans & CHP insisted everyone do so.  I got to where I could hang chains faster on the bus than I could on my car.  Here's how:

1.  Before you leave, lay out one chain on each side of the coach adjacent to the last baggage bin, which you should also open.  Take out all the tangles, etc., pulling it straight.  Position the chain so that the hook ends are facing the rear of the coach, with the outside hook on the side away from the bus's body.

2.  With the chains neatly ready, stretch your arms out, and putting your fingers underneath the outermost cross link with your thumb on top (like a "C"), slowly and neatly bunch up the chain by bringing your hands toward each other.  Once gathered, gently set the bunched chain on the floor of the last baggage bin, without disrupting it's orientation.  Make sure your 2/3 tensioner bungees are also available next to the bunched chain.

3.  To hang, open the baggage bin and pick up the chain in exactly the same manner you set it down - with both hands holding it bunched together.  Set on top of the outer drive dual, then allow the hook end to slowly drape down the tire until it just barely touches the ground while holding the rest of the bunched chain on top of the tire with your left hand.

4.  When the hook end just touches the ground, put your right hand back up on top of the tire to hold that portion of the chain in place.  Now, with your left hand, guide the chain down the other side of the tire to the ground.  Bunch the leftover tightly against the tire.  Do NOT move the coach yet!

5.  Repeat #3 & 4 on the other side of the coach, again bunching the leftover chain tightly up against the tire.

6.  Climb back in the driver's seat, put coach in D, release parking brake, and gently add throttle until you feel the coach bump over the chains.  As soon as you feel the bump over, STOP!  Set the parking brake and return outside.

7.  Pull the remaining bunched chain open, hook the INSIDE hook first, then the outer hook.  Tighten the cams and install the bungees.  Repeat on the opposite side and you're ready to go.

8.  As a check, pull forward one or two bus lengths and reinspect everything.  Do so again after roughly 1/2 mile.  Keep your speed to 25 mph or less until it's time to remove the chains.

If you take the time to do #1 BEFORE you leave, you should be able to hang both chains and be back on the road w/in 10 min.  Especially if you practice it a little first when it's dry and not miserable outside.  BTDTHTS!

FWIW & HTH. . .

 Wink


PS:  #3 starts on the driver's side of the coach, btw. . .
« Last Edit: December 30, 2012, 07:02:44 PM by RJ » Logged

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« Reply #4 on: December 30, 2012, 07:00:26 PM »

 Just within the last couple of weeks the 2 major east/west passes in Washington were at one point requiring chains on anything over 10,000 lbs. Both of them were also shut down for spinouts, wrecks, or trees across the road. The one pass was closed for a couple of days.
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« Reply #5 on: December 30, 2012, 07:09:13 PM »

 Ed, does that mean you just have to have them on board, or do you actually have to put them on?

JC
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JC
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« Reply #6 on: December 30, 2012, 07:10:55 PM »

Ed, does that mean you just have to have them on board, or do you actually have to put them on?

JC -

When the man with the ticket book says put them on, you put them on!

 Grin
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« Reply #7 on: December 30, 2012, 07:12:11 PM »

what is the speed limit with chains
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« Reply #8 on: December 30, 2012, 07:18:01 PM »

Well guys, the heck with putting the jewelry on if you're on holidays in your bus conversion, just hole up at Walmart and wait out the storm...

JC
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« Reply #9 on: December 30, 2012, 07:28:27 PM »

JC, after Nov. 1st in Wa. and some of the other states, you are required to carry them with you. Now they will never check to see if you have them until the snow gets bad enough that they post that chains are required. When that happens they mean that you are required to have them on your tires or else you are going to get a ticket and/or not allowed to proceed.  I make sure i am in Az before Nov.   Grin    Don't have or want chains for the bus, bought a set for the Jeep in 99, have never used them.
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« Reply #10 on: December 30, 2012, 07:32:00 PM »

http://www.busconversions.com/bbs/index.php?topic=24920.new#new
Be careful out there!
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« Reply #11 on: December 30, 2012, 07:46:43 PM »

As RJ said, when the guy with the ticket book says put on chanis you put them on.

To me the secret is doing it at home first so your not "learning on the job" so to speak.
A few years ago I was taking my daughter to California for horse training,shows etc. We had to be there New Years day and had to cross the Sykious Pass from Oregon into California. I drove the bus and my wife towed the horse trailer with our dually. Both were required to have chain for the pass. And dad(that's me) got to put them on the bus and the truck. I was prepared with winter cloths, gloves and a big piece of carboard to sit/kneel on. Got them on-no problem.
And I can say this"I WAS NEVER SO GLAD IN MY WHOLE LIFE THAT I HAD CHAINS ON THE BUS" .The pass going up AND coming down was snowy,rutty and icy.
As soon as conditions allow take them off. Chains don't do well in bare pavement situations. Probably not a good idea to go any faster that 15-20 mph. and one more thing. Have a few bungee chords to take up any side slack in the chains. The tighter it fits the tire the better.
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« Reply #12 on: December 30, 2012, 07:49:57 PM »

 Todd, doesn't matter what the speed limit is, you want to drive according to the conditions at the time, 25 mph might be fine or 15 mph might be too much,.....it all depends.
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« Reply #13 on: December 30, 2012, 09:51:02 PM »

Or you could eliminate all this gobbledy goop of hanging chains by installing automatic tire chains. They are certified for school bus and fuel tanker operation. Good Luck, TomC
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« Reply #14 on: December 31, 2012, 06:36:36 AM »

When I pulled out of Kingston Ontario on Friday morning, the day after our little blizzard that hit all of eastern Canada (Kingston got 12"), I had seen at least five tractor trailer rigs stuck - in the parking lot at the truck stop...  Big tow truck was hooking a cable on, pulling them forward about 10 feet to where the plow had cleared the snow, and then they could go.  Along the route (Highway 401 to Quebec, then AR 20 and 30 to Edmunston NB) I saw at least 12 tractor trailers off on the center median, they looked like they had just parked there on the side of the road in the ditch, but of course they drove off in the blizzard - there are no delimiter stakes on the inside, just on the outside.  One got off and hit something big, probably a concrete abutment for a culvert, because the tractor was torn in half, the front axle and the engine were several feet from the frame.  Hope the driver got out OK.  Quite late in the day, road dry, some sun, I came upon an accident that must have happened only minutes earlier, a tanker truck had gone off the inside edge, into a quite deep ditch, rolled over, again took out the front of the tractor but the cab seemed ok - they were climbing out, and I passed an ambulance going the other way at a high rate of knots a couple of minutes later.  All I could think of was a car did something stupid and the tractor trailer went into the inside ditch avoiding the wreck and became the wreck.

For me, if you need chains carry them, but try real hard to never put them on... 

Brian
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« Reply #15 on: December 31, 2012, 07:14:16 AM »

Dirtball,

We have a 95 DL3, that we have had in more tough situations then a lot of folks. It isn't often that I disagree with JC, but I will (sorry in advance JC).

Most of the time, when we are rolling, no problem. Traction is a huge issue. The biggest problem is when stopped, and trying to start again. We have closed shoulder tires (Michelin XZA's) on our drives. That also has something to do with it. Not to mention, I have fairly extensive snow driving experience. Most places, you can get started again. However, if you are on a slight incline, you are pretty much stuck. I can hang chains on the outer's in maybe 3-5 mins. When it comes to draining the air out of the tags to get more traction, do so VERY cautiously. That can help you drop down into the soft stuff really quickly.

We always carry a set of chains with us. The last time I used them, was this summer. We were trying to back out of a gravel driveway, onto a narrow two lane road. The driveway was so steep, that if we backed straight onto the two lane road, our tag was sticking up into the air (the problem was we couldn't do that the road was too narrow). Bottom line was, we would start spinning as soon as we left the gravel onto the grass, to make our turn to get on the two lane road. I chained up and we backed right out of there. Case in point, if we would have drained the tag, we would not have had the clearance to get out of there.

Bottom line, I am a chain guy. Always carry chains, and I always hang them if in doubt (that doesn't happen too often). I will usually put them on before I drain the tag axle, and I agree with the others. If you can wait it out.

FWIW YMMV

John
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« Reply #16 on: December 31, 2012, 08:30:55 AM »

John, maybe the type of tire on the drive axle makes a big difference. All my winter driving with Brewster's and later with the hockey team's D3 was with good winter tires. I kept the hockey bus at home, and often I would take the air out of the tags on a mild, slippery day to get in and out of our place. The same got me going a few times in and out of hockey arena's back parking lots.

My 5C now has summer tread, steer tires all around. I hope I don't run in to snow with that! I suppose I could put the chains on if I had to. I should try them on at home.

JC
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« Reply #17 on: December 31, 2012, 08:51:46 AM »

JC,

I'll betcha that is the difference. We have always run the closed shoulder tires. However, I next we might reconsider next set, because of how often we have needed the aggressive tread.

With the all position ZXA, if we are spinning, it is rare that extra weight will help. I would like to try winter tread sometime. Might really help.

John
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« Reply #18 on: December 31, 2012, 09:40:39 AM »

JC and John are BOTH correct! Aggressive tires provide an awesome amount of traction over closed shoulder tires or "highway tread." 

However the road noise and feel is also different.

With JC being in Canada and mostly icy snowy conditions the aggressive tread (or mud and snow) tires are a must.
However most "Conversion" buses rarely see those same conditions.
(notice I said MOST)

However John and his group use their bus A LOT and get into worst case scenarios more often than that average bus nut.
For John a more aggressive tire might be better, however he's going to experience more noise, and a slightly "bumpier" ride and even a slight decrease in fuel mileage with them.

If your bus doesn't get used much in winter conditions or you stay on paved roads and developed parks/places 90-99% of the time I would not go with aggressive tire.
If you use your bus a lot in the winter or use gravel or dirt roads. or go off road much (think boondocking) then you might want to sacrifice the slightly smoother ride, a small amount of mpg, and a little noise for a piece of mind.

Grin  BK  Grin
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« Reply #19 on: December 31, 2012, 10:00:38 AM »

OH yes I forgot to mention that with our 4 coaches on the road we only have 1 set of chains and they stay in the shop unless a coach is headed somewhere they might be required (mostly western states) or ski areas.

My dad an I are firm believers if the roads are bad enough that chains are required it's time for that bus NOT to be on the road.
We tell our drivers and customers both that if the roads are that bad for safety sake we'd rather find a safe place to wait it out as we don't go into areas that road conditions like that last very long very often.

If one of our buses is headed out to Colorado or farther west we do put chains in the bay and make sure the driver (usually dad or I) knows when and how to use them to get off the road to a safe place.

In my 30+ years of driving for a living I've only had to chain up maybe a dozen times or so and some of those were on tow trucks so we could get out to rescue stuck emergency equipment!

I never have had to chain a bus up, but have practiced @ the shop.

I have a slightly different approach to chaining up than RJ. (not to say my way is better than RJ's as he's done it A LOT more than I have.)

I was shown a trick by "an old timer" way back when I was very young that I still use today if needed.

I place a run up block on the ground in front of the inside drive (both sides) and pull up on it. Then I can put the chain on the tire all the way around and work it freely back and forth to tighten it and drive (or back) off the block and go about a 1/2 mile and recheck it.
It even works with dual sets (not on a bus of course) if you make sure the top of the block is small enough for one section of the "chains" to go around and you place the chains over it before pulling up on it. (used to do tractor trailers that way)

And as said by several others don't waste your money or time on "dual rail" chains for a bus! Too much trouble and $ for something that you'll only use once and throw away after using that once!
Grin  BK  Grin

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« Reply #20 on: December 31, 2012, 10:22:47 AM »

We have all position tires, but do not plan on being in snow.  We do have chains in a bay that came with the coach.  I have never tried to put them on, although it would be a good idea.  I think I can hardly lift them.  This past week we were up at Mount Shasta with a car.  We used chains even in the town.  I could not see driving in those conditions without chains or snow tires on a car, much less a bus.  A little bit of sliding is all you do not need.
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« Reply #21 on: December 31, 2012, 10:01:14 PM »

Land Sakes!  Well, last year at this time i had our MC9 stuck on a mud/grass ice combination in northern Illinois.  Brand new aggressive tread tires on drive wheels cause we seem to end up in some unusual places from time to time.  Traction was still an issue.  Couldn't move more than a foot or so in spite of the tread.  I remember posting about the situation here on the board.  After about a month I was able to move the bus.  But what a MESS.  And NOW I remember we had chains.    Shocked    AAAAAAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaahh.  Good grief.  I could have ramped and chained & been out of there.  Another embarrassing bus moment from my corner.  Well, hopefully this helps somebody.  In my book, chains == good.   Great thread guys.  And happy new year!   Grin

Kind Regards, Phil

« Last Edit: December 31, 2012, 10:05:05 PM by plyonsMC9 » Logged

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« Reply #22 on: January 01, 2013, 08:16:53 AM »

I'm not so sure I'd be planning to go up some driveway that might require chains. If the driveway isn't properly cleared, what conditions await you at its end and how are you going to turn around to come back out?

Many times, the trouble with a coach being stuck, the front wheels are a significant culprit, and adding more traction to the back results in digging holes, or breaking drive shafts.

Phil, you just would have dug deeper holes with chains in that mud. Digging out, chains and a suitable recovery strap jerk all together might have tipped the balance.

Coaches are not off road vehicles. Flat, hard surfaces is where they belong.

happy coaching!
buswarrior

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« Reply #23 on: January 01, 2013, 09:22:03 AM »

I am with BW. Shouldn't plan on chains, only when really needed. I have experienced quite a few times turning the wheel, and the front wheels simply point another direction, without the bus changing directions.

Phil, I have been amazed at how much extra traction chains have given us. If you had timber under there, and just not the traction to walk up the timber, chains might have done it for you.

We never go into somewhere planning on using chains, but they are a permanent fixture on the bus now.

Cheers,

John
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« Reply #24 on: January 01, 2013, 09:31:30 AM »

Thanks for all the tips. We are back. Salted my drive to leave the homebase, had frozen rain from last week covered with a  few inches of snow, base is 2B stone for about 200 ft uphill , then tarmac drive 500ft down to the road. Didn't buy chains. Roads were clear , destination was a fairground with packed gravel, dirt roads.....been there in the good weather, I know what to avoid. Only drove on a couple slick areas at the fairground , but kept it moving til I was on dry. It was great sleeping in our busbed and not driving on NewYears eve. Met a guy in an MCI at the same event, he is a converter.
  Gave the bus a nice warmwater hose down before putting it back in the barn.
  I'll probably buy chains at my leisure, for the future. I could see using them once down the road to get out of soft ground in warm weather. I chain my front end loader in under 10 minutes. They've got me out of the woods pulling trees for firewood several times.
  I will avoid the snow and the salt as this bus has to last til I can't drive one.
  happy and HEALTHY New Year to all.
  
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« Reply #25 on: January 01, 2013, 01:00:20 PM »

This is the best way of avoiding getting cold, or hurt.  http://www.onspot.com/  Good Luck, TomC
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« Reply #26 on: January 01, 2013, 01:21:25 PM »

This is the best way of avoiding getting cold, or hurt.  http://www.onspot.com/  Good Luck, TomC


Tom,

I am not really interested in a set, but does anybody know how well they work? What are the disadvantages? Do they last long?

John
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« Reply #27 on: January 01, 2013, 01:50:37 PM »

Thanks all,  yes it was a flat surface and hard surface until the front hit a soft spot. Too long a story (and bad memory) to go into again.   Cheesy  I'll just remember next time that, yes, we do carry chains.   Smiley

Kind Regards to all, Phil
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« Reply #28 on: January 01, 2013, 02:43:30 PM »

John, they look like they would work pretty well.  Their website said that it would be less than $2000. to install.  One disadvantage is that it is good for packed snow, ice, and snow up to 6 inches, so deeper than that and you would have to use chains.  Although I really could not see the need to drive one of these things in over six inches of snow.  I am not sure how well they would work in soft dirt and mud either.  Another question would be whether the various highway authorities will accept them and let you pass.

I have not researched it yet, but on this last snow trip we used snow cables, and I liked them quite a bit.  I wonder it they make those for buses.  I will have to look.

UPDATE: Okay, I just took a look and they do have cables.  The site I checked had chains for 11x22.5 weighing 53 pounds for $100/set and cables weighing 23 pounds for $83/set.  As mentioned earlier, I do have chains that I have never removed from the bags.  I think that if I were ever going to knowingly go where I would need them, I would buy the cables.
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« Reply #29 on: January 01, 2013, 03:02:54 PM »

I have not researched it yet, but on this last snow trip we used snow cables, and I liked them quite a bit.  I wonder it they make those for buses.  I will have to look.

Lin -

Don't waste your $$ on cable chains for a bus, they get torn up & trashed almost immediately.  BTDTHTS!

If you're going to buy chains, invest (yes, invest) in a good set of cam style, like the ones pictured in this link:

http://tirechain.com/cams.htm

These are the same type I used back in the '80s, and Greyhound still uses today.  Much easier installation, tensioning and retention, well worth the few extra bucks initial cost.  And don't forget 4 - 6 HD rubber bungees, either!

FWIW & HTH. . .

 Wink
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« Reply #30 on: January 01, 2013, 03:39:42 PM »

This has been a very informative thread.  I have absolutely no intention of ever hanging my jewelry but I carry it to be legal.  That means I've got two sets of singles that have been dumped in a five gallon pail and never removed for at least 5 years now - probably longer.  Reading this thread has motivated me to make a note to pull them out of the pail next summer and at least straighten them out before I put them back in the pail.  I suppose its slightly possible that someday I might find myself in a position where I need to hang them to get to a safe spot off the road. 
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« Reply #31 on: January 01, 2013, 04:11:39 PM »

We used to have a set of cable chains, but thanks to RJ's advice from long ago, we don't even carry them. There isn't much that stops us when we travel, so having good chains with us, especially in winter, is a must. We used the bungees for a while, but went to the chain tensioners that we got from a truck stop. Easier to keep track of, and I like them better. They are the kind that have six bungee type things coming out of the center. Work well.

As everyone has mentioned, better to sit and wait, then taking the risk of running into a bad situation.

Oh yes, while I am thinking about it...This summer when we needed to chain up to get up that really steep driveway, that had wet grass next to it, I chained up both inner and out tires. Two sets of single. Not easy or fun, but decided to that time.

John
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MCI 1995 DL3. DD S60 with a Allison B500.
Lin
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« Reply #32 on: January 01, 2013, 05:47:26 PM »

This is one of several sites that link to chain requirements by state.  One interesting thing I came across in the FAQ's for California was addressing whether one was required to chain a trailer.  It said that if the trailer was equipped with brakes, it should be chained.  Do you think that this would apply to a toad?
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