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Author Topic: Be Careful When Grinding.  (Read 3097 times)
Dallas
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« on: November 05, 2007, 12:53:31 PM »

I know most everyone here already knows this, but I wanted to emphasize the point.

I was grinding out some of the rivets in a MC9 the other day and there happened to be some of the old nasty black fibreglas insulation laying around. I got the stuff ground off that I wanted and went on to another task until I noticed that the insulation was smouldering. The sparks from the grinder had caught in it and ignited the dirt/grease/crud/filth that was embedded in it.

If I had been grinding up above, where the ceiling of the A/C compartment was open, that could have destroyed the whole bus if I hadn't noticed.

Just for S&G's I let the piece of insulation smoulder for about an hour before I poured water on it. This leads me to believe that a smouldering chunk that isn't noticed could hide for hours or days before it finds a spot to burst into flames.

Dallas
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kysteve
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« Reply #1 on: November 05, 2007, 02:27:51 PM »

Dallas I second the grinding safety notice.  I have been grinding and smelled that funny smell of clothing burning and low and behold I stop grinding and start looking around and usually find the source of the smell, somewhere on my body.  I have several holes in all my work clothes to prove it.  And once the holes are there the weld splatter will constantly remind me to be carefull as clothing is easily ignited.  So, yes, please, everyone, beware of this potintially deadly job. 

FWIW.......Steve......
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« Reply #2 on: November 05, 2007, 03:15:20 PM »

On the same subject; don't forget, the safe way to dispose or store oily rags is to put them in a covered metal container.  If they smolder, they won't get enough oxygen to start a fire.  If they could ignite, they couldn't set anything else on fire.  Rags with linseed oil are the most notorious for spontaneous combustion.
Dennis
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« Reply #3 on: November 05, 2007, 03:26:32 PM »

Sorry to ask, but I do not know.  What does S&G mean?  Smiley Smiley Smiley
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« Reply #4 on: November 05, 2007, 03:28:37 PM »

Sorry to ask, but I do not know.  What does S&G mean?  Smiley Smiley Smiley

$hits and giggles
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« Reply #5 on: November 05, 2007, 03:43:06 PM »

A side note learnt the hard way. The sparks/filings from a grinder will scratch/score glass even from quite far away.  Maybe everybody knows this, but the guy I work with have to be reminded all the time.
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« Reply #6 on: November 05, 2007, 04:51:20 PM »

I too was going to post about glass being pitted.  It always happens to the most expensive piece of glass Grin.

One that is easy to forget are the mirrors.  They really catch it when you are grinding on the side of the bus.

Jim
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« Reply #7 on: November 05, 2007, 06:02:43 PM »

And thanks for the tip on storing oily rags.  I did not know this and being that I am getting my shop up and running right now that will come in handy!
Thanks again!
Jack
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« Reply #8 on: November 05, 2007, 06:09:16 PM »

Just curious, why do you grind rivets,(I assume you mean Al rivets?) instead of drill them?

I would think that drilling would eliminate the spark and heat problems.
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Dallas
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« Reply #9 on: November 05, 2007, 07:08:23 PM »

Just curious, why do you grind rivets,(I assume you mean Al rivets?) instead of drill them?

I would think that drilling would eliminate the spark and heat problems.

Because the drill wouldn't fit down in the rail of the piece I was working on and the rivets were both Stainless and Aluminum.
At some time in the past the floor of the A/C bay had been replaced and they used both kinds of rivets


Dallas
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« Reply #10 on: November 05, 2007, 07:34:36 PM »

Dallas, I always walk back to the garage awhile after doing any welding or grinding. Just to be safe. If I lost my garage and bus I would not do another. Safety First.  Tom Y
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« Reply #11 on: November 05, 2007, 08:17:37 PM »

BTDT...

Set my neighbor's yard on fire when reframing the sides of my bus. That was fun!

Yesterday, I was cutting some steel to brace up the bunk bed frame, and smelled something. I was outside on the driveway, and it took me a couple minutes to find that one of the flowers in my flower bed next to the garage had smouldering blossoms on it. It cought some of the sparks off the cutoff saw. Not really a hazard, but it reminded me that I should be a bit more careful working where I was. The flowers have now been composted.

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« Reply #12 on: November 05, 2007, 09:07:01 PM »

Danish Oil Finish is said to be the most dangerous item for spontaneous combustion. I believe there is even a warning on the bottle.
Richard

And thanks for the tip on storing oily rags.  I did not know this and being that I am getting my shop up and running right now that will come in handy!
Thanks again!
Jack
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« Reply #13 on: November 06, 2007, 05:05:21 AM »

Are some people paranoid about fire? A couple of days ago I posted a warning about using a grinder on air bag bolts and it brought up the following two replies. I didn't question them since I thought that I must be the only one that feared a bus fire.

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Re: MCI Airbag replacement.....
Reply #9 on: November 02, 2007, 07:10:27 AM
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Quote from: Stan on November 02, 2007, 06:05:47 AM
Flames and sparks under a bus can create a very dangerous situation.

Breathing the air is dangerous but we've been doing it for years same as grinding and torching under a bus. I believe in safety but don't try to scare people away from doing what's necessary and making a job simpler and is of no more of a threat than farting in the same room with a wood burner. Use common sense when using any tool and there all safe.
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Re: MCI Airbag replacement.....
Reply #10 on: November 02, 2007, 07:56:51 AM
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 Those are 35 year old nuts and bolts, the guy going after them is double that. Its a few minutes with an angle grinder or 2 hours with a wrench and then may or may not get them all off. Damn the sparks full speed ahead!!!
 Bob are your beams plated? maybe its time for rolling lobes?
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« Reply #14 on: November 06, 2007, 05:38:26 AM »

You all know by now I too would probably have to put in my 2 cents here.  Dallas and all the below contributers are correct about the danger of using your grinder and the potential for making a very bad smoldering, costly fire.  As you all know I have had this situation on me for the past 5 years on my project as my bus is all converted inside by the previous owner.

I have done all my undercarriage repairs / reinforcements with only grinders and welders.  I have not used a cutting acetylene torch, that is a no-no to me in particular.  Use of a grinder is bad enough but I have learned to "TRY" to always put up a grinding shield over areas that may have building materials in them that may be combustible in areas where I am working.  Sparks from a grinder are very hot at all times.

I put light weight sheet metal over areas exposed to under flooring framing and use duck tape to hold it in place, sometimes I just duct tape heavy duty aluminum foil over (Doubled up in thickness) in these areas and let the sparks splash over this shield.  Using the aluminum foil is easier to use and safer also so you will not cut your head etc, on sharp edges of sheet metal.  This is not always possible but in areas you can is advisable.

I also have a 2 gallon garden pump up canister of water at all times which has about a 18 inch wand on it to get into tight areas such as Dallas experienced and I have also in the past.  If you see a smoldering area you can normally pump in enough water using your garden pump to extinguish most smoldering debris without going into a panic and looking for a fire extinguisher or water hose which may be too late with as fast as this stuff used for floor insulation ignites.

Don't forget also your personal safety!
(1) Safety glasses with side shields and full face shield if possible.

(2) Ear Plugs, Always, always!!

(3) Wear a Welding jacket either of leather or heavy grade material intended for welders to use because of the weight of leather.  The heavy duty welding cloth material will also burn over time but does much to protect your own clothing and arms from hot sparks.

(4) Welders sleeves if the jacket is too hot to use all day or on 100 degree days but something you need to protect your arms.  I did not do this for some time and now have metal pits in my arms from grinding / welding without gloves or sleeves on and now cannot wear short sleeved shirts comfortably.  The reason, my arm always looks real dirty in the front of the elbow areas of my arms, not real perty to look at.

(5)  Welders gloves, always, always!!  You will thank me on this one day.

Before starting out on any project intended for the day, use this theory-
How can I prevent myself from getting hurt today and also prevent my bus from going up in flames. I just know my insurance company will never ever meet in value what the bus is worth let alone all my conversion time.

NOTE! When I make any comments and safety suggestions such as above I do not mean to have it sound as if I have never done anything unsafe or incorrect during my conversion process.  Quite the contrary, it normally means I have done exactly as others and had near misses or close situations of losing my bus from a fire etc.  In other words, all my comments really say, ("Been There, Done That").  I am only hoping to admitting to this as often as I do that it will make you think of my situations each day before starting to work on your bus and prevent them from being bad experiences for you also.    

I have probably used 500-700 grinding wheels now, maybe more.  I probably could get a brand new set of torsilastics for my bus with the money spent on just grinding / cutting wheels I have used.  Well, maybe not that much but close.

This is a good thread on safety Dallas, I hope all the information provided by all on it will help keep you and your bus safe.

Gary  
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« Reply #15 on: November 06, 2007, 08:45:11 AM »

For what it is worth, I use a heavy duty air hammer with sharp chisel to remove those unmoval nuts. Just cut the nut from the side or top. The chisel will cut the nut and expand it away from the threads. I use this quite often on exhaust nuts on studs and can generally reuse the stud after chasing the threads.
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« Reply #16 on: November 06, 2007, 10:16:09 PM »

Quote
I also have a 2 gallon garden pump up canister of water at all times which has about a 18 inch wand on it to get into tight areas such as Dallas experienced and I have also in the past.  If you see a smoldering area you can normally pump in enough water using your garden pump to extinguish most smoldering debris without going into a panic and looking for a fire extinguisher or water hose which may be too late with as fast as this stuff used for floor insulation ignites.


Gary, thank you for the great safety tips. The garden pump idea is simple and makes so much sense, I'm going to buy one tomorrow. I once had a trailer brake dragging and the drum literally got red hot. After stopping, flames broke out and we emptied 4 or 5 dry fire extinguishers on it. Finally, somebody dragged a pail of water from the ditch and cooled the drum enough to stop the flareups. I didn't even think about having water ready until your post.

Just for fun, here's a photo of me breaking most of the rules just a couple of weeks ago. (At least I was wearing goggles...) This, of course, after breaking several drill bits.

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Don
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« Reply #17 on: November 06, 2007, 10:26:03 PM »

Quote
For what it is worth, I use a heavy duty air hammer with sharp chisel to remove those unmoval nuts. Just cut the nut from the side or top. The chisel will cut the nut and expand it away from the threads. I use this quite often on exhaust nuts on studs and can generally reuse the stud after chasing the threads.

Lee, that makes a lot of sense to me. Do you ever find the need to use a cutting wheel?

Don
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Don
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« Reply #18 on: November 07, 2007, 12:52:25 AM »

I also had a smoldering insulation problem, happened when I cut off the seat brackets on our Eagle. I quickly put it out but it caused me to be more careful.

One thought on anyone welding, grinding and such can cover the are with a welding blanket, available at most welding supply houses, Grainger and Mc-Master Carr. I have used these over the years in my line of work and they work great. Just another way to protect yourself and your investment.

Paul
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« Reply #19 on: November 07, 2007, 06:15:28 AM »

Lyndon,
I just cringed when I saw your posted photo but again I too have done things many times and sometimes still take chances but much less now.  You are right, you were breaking many safety suggestions there but the safety glasses had to help.  I see your clothes taking a beating and those bare arms, on my!!  Use a little more care in your set up so pieces that you cut off are not being balanced on your leg like that, but injuries make you realize this more so be careful.

Paul, the welding blanket is a great idea, I have burned through one so far from just GRINDING sparks and some welding.  Once a very small hole goes through these blankets it is a great spot for enlarging and smoldering from hot sparks but it will still protect right up until it is no longer any good.  One blanket badly spent in 4 years now is not bad, the new one I have has lasted over a year now and no holes so far.  A 6 X 6 foot blanket is about $20, and very cheap insurance and will surely help prevent a fire on your bus.

NOTE!!  The use of Cutting wheels on grinders requires more care when being used.  They are very thin as some are (.046 -.125) in thickness varying between uses and manufacturers.  The important thing to remember is there is very little flexibility using these cutting wheels, if you have a tendency to lean to the side when using it the wheel could easily bind up in on millionth of a second and split apart and make you wish you had safety glasses with side shields on and if possible a full face shield.   Not wearing welding gloves using a cutting wheel or any grinding wheel also is not advised, these wheels turn up to 10,000 rpm and can cut metal and when doing the same rpm when they fly apart can sure cut your face or arms really bad.

I have had a grinder with a cutting wheel kick up many, many times and sometimes kick so bad it would hit my left hand as I would be in a very difficult area to work in and the grinder hit my left hand many times.  I have gone through over a dozen left hand welding gloves from being hit with the cutting wheels over time.  Thats 12 left hand gloves that saved me from probably 100 serious accidents especially to my thumb area. 

Here is a thought also when using the cutting and grinder wheels.  I have had to use my grinder maybe 10 inches from my face in positions that made it impossible to do any other way.  My thoughts ever time I have to do that make me intense, nervous and so anxious to get that operation done every time I do it.  I hold on my grinder with the strongest grip possible to prevent this cutting wheel or grinder wheel from getting me in the face.  You have no earthly idea how nerving this can be.  One mistake and I am carved up very seriously and for life and my conversion would probably end right there if this ever happened.  There is no second chances when this happens and you cannot react fast enough to prevent it when it happens.  Just keep this vision in your mind Lyndon and anyone else needing to use their grinder.  It is nearly like thinking of your grinder as a loaded gun with one bullet in it.  Using a grinder is nearly like playing Russian Roulette.   

Dallas, a lot of good ideas come out of this post.  Use as much care as you all can on your buses, lets all meet at one of our great rallies, safely and with all limbs and eyes. 

Gary

 
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« Reply #20 on: November 07, 2007, 08:50:20 AM »

Quote
For what it is worth, I use a heavy duty air hammer with sharp chisel to remove those unmoval nuts. Just cut the nut from the side or top. The chisel will cut the nut and expand it away from the threads. I use this quite often on exhaust nuts on studs and can generally reuse the stud after chasing the threads.

Lee, that makes a lot of sense to me. Do you ever find the need to use a cutting wheel?

Don

The only cutting wheel I have is a 14" chop saw. I also have angle grinders that can cause these same probems.
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« Reply #21 on: November 07, 2007, 10:01:17 AM »

. . . . cannot wear short sleeved shirts comfortably.  The reason, my arm always looks real dirty in the front of the elbow areas of my arms, not real perty to look at.

Awww, come on Gary. If we all had to live to that standard, we wouldn't know what most of us looked like  Grin
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« Reply #22 on: November 07, 2007, 10:13:06 AM »

You guys have me paranoid now. I was doing some grinding yesterday and although I have no insulation or wood there might still be junk down in crevices.  I keep one of those fire extinguishers that you can charge with water and air nearby whenever I weld or grind. You know, the ones we used to spray out of cars at people when we were teenagers? Not me though!!!    

Anyway I kept going out there late at night last night worrying that there might be something smoldering. Especially since I had been painting my plywood with clear coat inside the bus. I envisioned my bus going up in flames while I was asleep taking my cars and house along with it.


While grinding welds on my trailer a buddy of mine caught my shirt on fire with his sparks from grinding behind me. With the respirator and goggles on I didn't notice until I saw smoke rising up. Nice guy!
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« Reply #23 on: November 07, 2007, 10:52:09 AM »

Paladin,
This thread may cause you a little paranoia but it will be worth it if it saves your bus by exercising a little safety. 

After working on my bus for any length of time and storing all my tools used I have the habit to get me a comfortable chair, a soft drink or what ever beverage you want and just sit there with all working equipment (welder included) shut off except for lights I use to see.  I will sit there about 30 minutes and listen, view what I have accomplished or didn't accomplish and plan on my next task the next day but it gives me an opportunity to smell and listen for anything out of the ordinary.  Oh, Be sure to shut off or unplug your air hose if you used one to quiet any air leaks that may confuse your hearing for something else you may overlook.

Usually after this length of time smoldering smoke will appear by sight or smell, but using a welding blanket or shield to prevent hot sparks from flying around and igniting anything combustible will sure help prevent a serious fire. 

When you are done at the end of the day, don't just close up shop and go in the house, always assume you forgot something and stay around a while to be sure you didn't.  We are always in a hurry to get to work, hurry to get done and hurry to get in the shower.  A little rest for security of your shop before the shower will keep your bus and property safe.

Good luck,
Gary
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« Reply #24 on: November 07, 2007, 11:05:53 AM »

One thing I've found that's helped grinding (with a hand-held angle grinder) is to use a 7" instead of a 4" grinder, when possible.  I bought a somewhat raggedy Makita for $20 from one of my favorite pawn shops.  It's quite a bit heavier, but tends to be less prone to kicking and moving about than my smaller ones.  I'm not sure if it's the fact that the wheel is turning slower (although the actual inches per second of the grinding surface is likely the same) or the weight of the tool that makes it seem easier to control.  I've found, for lots of tasks, a 25 grit disc on a rubber flap wheel attachment works as well as a grinding disc for removing rust and grinding down steel.  I've made holes right through some relatively thin floor frame on my MC-8 with it, so it'd definitely capable of doing the trick.  Plus, a flying piece of sand paper hurts a lot less than a broken grinding disc (although I've not had one break).

The worst injury I've inflicted on myself was a grinder with one of those metal brush wheels.  Of course, they throw out metal bristles occasionally, so goggles are imperative.  I generally wear gloves, too, but this one time I didn't.  I was removing some surface rust from a piece of steel about 24" long.  I was holding the piece in my left hand about 6" from the left end and working on the extreme right end... far enough from my hand to not need gloves, right?  Hardly!  The wheel 'walked' up the piece I was working on and hit two knuckles on my left had after I'd let go of the trigger on the grinder.  It wasn't spinning at it's usual 12,000 rpm, but it still took out an approx. 1 long chunk of skin.  It' taken about a month for it to heal completely... and it hurt like hell!  I don't know that I'd trust welding gloves for this, as the ones I have are very soft and comfortable.  I have some fairly long thick leather gloves that I use with grinders and such.

One tool that I've found to be almost indispensable is a plasma cutter.  I know a good one's expensive, but if you can rent or borrow one, it'll make a lot of jobs easier.  Cutting out the rusty floor supports as shown in this thread www.busconversions.com/bbs/index.php?topic=6278.09 would take no time with a plasma cutter.  Of course, it's no substitute for safety precautions... mainly from the possibility of a fire, but I've not had any issues with it yet.  I guess I'd describe it as a combination of grinder and welder, in terms of how one needs to think of safety.  The fact that it's so easy to maneuver and so fast to cut helps, too. 

Those times where I'm only going to be using the tool for a few seconds to a couple of minutes are the times I want to forgo the gloves, goggles, and ear plugs... and those are the only times I ever get hurt.

David
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« Reply #25 on: November 07, 2007, 07:18:47 PM »

I know this thread is about grinding, cutting and welding, However...

Safety Warnings ;

In one of those moments of clarity, I need to mention something that has not been talked about in quite some time on the boards.

Spray Foam is Flammable....In any shape..

Beware of using spray foam or foam in a can because it's propellant may contain butane/propane or some other highly flammable gases and the gases that are generated can get encapsulated in the foam as bubbles. The gas can also settle into lower areas which can create potentials for fire or explosions.

Always have plenty of ventilation when using foams. Never allow sparks, chips or excessive heat to contact the foam surface, It will burn and burn rapidly.

This also applies to foam insulation boards, all types are flammable and can decompose with heat into some nasty fumes which are poisonous.

All foam insulation board is required to be covered by a fire resistant material, Never left exposed on any surfaces. ( By Law and Building Codes ).. I know we all stretch that one since conversions are more difficult to use approved materials sometimes in the way they were specified.

The same care should be used when cutting around freon lines. Open flames and freon generate toxic gases. Used to be Phosgene (poison) but many different chemical reactions can still happen even with the newer refrigerants.

CO and SMOKE detectors should be installed in all RV's and Bus Conversions even while under construction you should have a couple nearby just in case.

Water based or CO2 based fire extinguishers should always be ready and on hand.
( See RVSafety Systems for a water based solution that works! )

A garden sprayer at the ready is very useful and makes a nice safety device.

Don't use the dry powder fire extinguishers. You will never get that corrosive powder out of your work area if you do. It should only be a last resort... If that stuff gets wet and is against aluminum or steel it will cause nasty corrosion.

Sorry, I know I drifted off there but it is better to rant about safety BEFORE someone gets hurt or loses their life savings....

Dave.....
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« Reply #26 on: November 07, 2007, 09:09:52 PM »

OK, am I the only one who read the subject and thought "geez, does everyone know how bad my shifting is?"  Grin
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« Reply #27 on: November 07, 2007, 09:48:43 PM »

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OK, am I the only one who read the subject and thought "geez, does everyone know how bad my shifting is?"

Do sparks fly from your transmission?
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« Reply #28 on: November 07, 2007, 11:23:43 PM »

Do sparks fly from your transmission?


I'm afraid to look.

Got it stuck in third at a light and had to pull out that way once. Smoked the clutch real good. One of the linkage bushings needs replacing.

This thread has been a good reminder to me though. I will soon be doing some grinding work myself.
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« Reply #29 on: November 08, 2007, 05:28:38 AM »

OK, I give?Huh

How did a persons bad shifting habits get involved in "Grinding"?

We don't talk about gear grinding... Roll Eyes Roll Eyes Roll Eyes Roll Eyes

That is a whole other painful subject.... Grin Grin
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