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Old 04-04-2019, 09:44 AM   #1
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Default B-MOW buys a TF2 Marlin Crawler

Hello RCC!

Well, after drooling over all the awesome Trail Finder 2 pics & builds here on RCC, I finally ordered a Marlin Crawler. I have wanted one of these ever since they first came out. Love how scale these trucks look. I have never driven a leaf sprung truck, but I'm really looking forward to it.

So after a week of waiting, it showed up a my door step yesterday.

Before it hits the trail, I plan on going thru the truck to check/regrease axles and transmission, check/retighten all screws and do a few mods that have been recommended to do to make the TF2 trail a little better.

Here is a list of upgrades that I plan on doing right away:

A&M Garage Shackle Mounts (for the front end)
A&M Garage Skid Plate
A&M Garage Anit-wrap Bar (for the rear)
Bowhouse rear leaf spring holders
Chino mod to the leaf springs
Swap out the body mount screws for studs
Remove the shock internal springs

I'll start with these and see how it does. I plan on doing other mods to it later down the road. For now, I am going to keep the stock electronics in it and see how long they last. I will eventually drop in a HW 1080 ESC and a different servo. I will also add a Specktrum receiver so I can use it with my DX5C later on.

I have a comp this coming Sunday in southern Ohio, so I plan on taking the Marlin with me to drive it around during my down times. I'm hoping to get a better feel on how it drives and what addition mods and items I might need for it.

So here are a few pics I snapped last night:
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Thanks for looking and I welcome any and all tips and tricks!

More to come later...
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Old 04-04-2019, 02:35 PM   #2
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Default Re: B-MOW buys a TF2 Marlin Crawler

You did it!! Awesome Brian. Excited for you.
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Old 04-05-2019, 06:46 AM   #3
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Default Re: B-MOW buys a TF2 Marlin Crawler

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pant Danza View Post
You did it!! Awesome Brian. Excited for you.
Thanks Danza! I am excited to get it dirty this weekend.


I know most everyone has seen countless pics of the TF2, so bear with me while I show off mine. I'm wanting to document my build from start to finish so I can look back at the changes that I have made along the way. It might even help out the newer members with their builds.

So here are a few more pics with the body off.

Here is a look from above. RC4WD did a nice job on routing the wires. It looks like it is a well designed and built rig. It has nice solid metal chassis rails and chassis braces.

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Here is a look at the bottom. Not sure if I like the driveshafts all that well. Maybe look into a beefier driveshaft in the future.

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Wow, I am shocked at how sharp it steers! I didn't think it would get that much steering angle with having leaf springs on the front.

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Thanks for looking. I'll have more interesting pics and info later when I tear into to add the A&M Garage goodies!
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Old 04-05-2019, 06:53 AM   #4
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Default Re: B-MOW buys a TF2 Marlin Crawler

Quote:
Originally Posted by B-MOW71 View Post
Not sure if I like the driveshafts all that well. Maybe look into a beefier driveshaft in the future.
Here is a useful tip:

For most driveshafts to fit, you will have to grind down the end of the pinions and t-case outputs for the screw pin holes to line up with the holes on the driveshafts.
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Old 04-05-2019, 09:03 AM   #5
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Default Re: B-MOW buys a TF2 Marlin Crawler

Quote:
Originally Posted by svt923 View Post
Here is a useful tip:

For most driveshafts to fit, you will have to grind down the end of the pinions and t-case outputs for the screw pin holes to line up with the holes on the driveshafts.
Hey thanks SVT! I'll keep that in mind. I may swap these drive shafts out for a set of either TRX-4 or SCX10.2 WB's. I have both in my parts bin that were changed out on these two rigs.

I will probably get a set of MIP HD's later on. I have a set of these MIP's on my TRX-4 and I love them. A little pricey but worth the money.
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Old 04-05-2019, 09:44 AM   #6
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Default Re: B-MOW buys a TF2 Marlin Crawler

I really like the MiPs on my trx4 too, have them on the built up trx4 and the 10.2 and no regerts for either.

I’m looking to swap driveshafts on mine at some point too, looking at LURC. Interested in seeing what you go with.
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Old 04-06-2019, 06:08 AM   #7
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Default Re: B-MOW buys a TF2 Marlin Crawler

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pant Danza View Post
I really like the MiPs on my trx4 too, have them on the built up trx4 and the 10.2 and no regerts for either.

Iím looking to swap driveshafts on mine at some point too, looking at LURC. Interested in seeing what you go with.
Yeah, I think MIP is the way to go. I like how strong they are and they kept the uni's small so they look more scale"ish"! I'll have to check out the LURC's.

I'm thinking I will keep the stock shafts on for know and see how the do. I may have to change them out sooner than later depending on how short they become once I install the A&M skid plate since it raises the t-case up a bit.
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Old 04-06-2019, 06:47 AM   #8
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Default Re: B-MOW buys a TF2 Marlin Crawler

I started tearing into the Marlin to add my upgrades. I wanted to check to make sure bolts were tight and also check out the axles, trans & t-case for grease. I quickly realized that even though the quality in this TF2 seems fairly good, the Quality Control side of it is lacking in a very bad way. I found many bolts loose or not tightened down properly. In the manual it states to use locktite on most every bolt that screws into metal. Well, to me that is common sense, but to them it must not be even though it is stated on almost every page in the manual. There was not one screw on the whole truck that had locktite on them. So since I have to go back and loctite every screw, I decided to swap out all the screws for Team KNK stainless steel screws with loctite on each of them. I had planned on doing this eventually but wasn't planning on doing it right away. Oh well, I think it looks better and now I don't have to deal with rusty bolts in the future.

So on to checking grease. I was pleasantly surprised to find that each of them had just the right amount of grease. So before re-assembling them I cleaned out the stock grease and added marine grease to them. I like how freely the axles and trans spins. Not a hint of bind in them at all.

I noticed something odd on the drive shafts. First of all, the rear drive shaft was missing a set screw. Each of the others had two set screws in each end. So I checked the manual to see how they were supposed to be assembled and found out that they are supposed to have one drive shaft pin in each end and not set screws. What? Ok, no problem I have some spare pins in my spare parts bin. It's just odd they would use set screws (without locktite) instead of the pins.

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More later on...
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Old 04-06-2019, 09:19 AM   #9
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Default Re: B-MOW buys a TF2 Marlin Crawler

A buddy out here drove his new marlin without going over it and lost some screws right away too. Crazy that you almost have to rebuild it right away, but I guess that’s one way to learn about your new truck.
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Old 04-08-2019, 06:32 AM   #10
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Default Re: B-MOW buys a TF2 Marlin Crawler

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pant Danza View Post
A buddy out here drove his new marlin without going over it and lost some screws right away too. Crazy that you almost have to rebuild it right away, but I guess thatís one way to learn about your new truck.
Yep, I surely can see why he lost some screws. True on the rebuild right away. That is something that I have always done all of my RTR's anyway just to get an idea of how they are built.
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Old 04-08-2019, 09:47 AM   #11
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Default Re: B-MOW buys a TF2 Marlin Crawler

I took Marlin out for it's first run yesterday. I wasn't sure what to expect from a leaf sprung truck since this was going to be my first time driving one. It did better than I expected. More on that later, I'm getting ahead of myself!

Back to my upgrades:

I was able to get the A&M Garage skid plate installed in it. These skids are really nice and they get the t-case tucked up inside the chassis nicely. Since the t-case has to be flipped upside-down to mount to the top plate that comes in the A&M kit, I had to flip the input shaft in the t-case around. For now I'm going to try it out without overdrive to see how it does. I also flipped the battery tray around so that the battery is closer to the front of the truck.

Here are the pics of the skid plate.

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And here are pics of skid being installed.

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And with the skid plate attached.

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I also installed the A&M Anit-wrap bar for the rear. It will help eliminate axle wrap when the drive train gets put under stress. It should keep the rear leaf springs from turning into a pretzel. I was one of the lucky ones that got the order placed for the first round of pre-orders when they were first released.

Here's a few pics installed. I forgot to take a pic of it in the package and before I installed it.

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More updates later...thanks for looking!
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Old 04-08-2019, 09:53 AM   #12
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Default Re: B-MOW buys a TF2 Marlin Crawler

Those A&M pieces look really nice. I had not heard of them before.

Did you install those before or after the first run? Interested in hearing your thoughts on them.
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Old 04-08-2019, 11:50 AM   #13
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Default Re: B-MOW buys a TF2 Marlin Crawler

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pant Danza View Post
Those A&M pieces look really nice. I had not heard of them before.

Did you install those before or after the first run? Interested in hearing your thoughts on them.
The A&M products are top notch quality. I highly recommend them. They have a website with a list of their products and there is also a few YouTube videos of installation how-to's and running videos. It's worth checking out.

Well, I went ahead and installed them before the first run. I already knew these items were getting put on so I wasn't too worried about how it drove right out of the box. All I can say is Marlin did quite well. The skid has some weight to it, so it's nice to have that down low. It also slides nice over the rocks without getting hung up.

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Old 04-09-2019, 06:48 AM   #14
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Default Re: B-MOW buys a TF2 Marlin Crawler

Ok, I have a few more updates to add before I get into the first run pics.

I previously posted a pic of the A&M Anit-wrap installed on the truck. I forgot that I took a pic of it before I installed it. So here is the pic out of the package. It has a nice CNC alum. block that bolts to the top of the leaf springs on the axle. It also has a 3D printed front shackle that allows the axle to move forward and backwards, but will not allow the axle to wrap.

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I did the Chino mod to all four upper leaf springs. I didn't go crazy on grinding the angles, so will try it out and see if I need to take a little more off of them later on.

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I also installed the A&M Garage Shackle Reversal Kit. It moves the shackles from the front to the rear. They come in raw steel, so I added some black paint to them to keep them from rusting.

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I didn't like how the servo horn would hit the pumpkin at full compression, so I added 10mm spacers under the servo to raise it up a bit. It didn't seem to change the steering much by raising it, so I think it will work much better.

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Last edited by B-MOW71; 04-09-2019 at 09:18 AM.
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Old 04-09-2019, 10:58 AM   #15
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Default Re: B-MOW buys a TF2 Marlin Crawler

Quote:
Originally Posted by svt923 View Post
Here is a useful tip:

For most driveshafts to fit, you will have to grind down the end of the pinions and t-case outputs for the screw pin holes to line up with the holes on the driveshafts.
X2, yes don't know why RC4WD doesn't make the shafts little shorter like every other company, did this to mine so that I can easily swap between any driveshafts. Installed set of TRX-4 shafts, works great and scale-ish size, but the LURC steel shafts look very nice!

Quote:
Originally Posted by B-MOW71 View Post
...I will probably get a set of MIP HD's later on. I have a set of these MIP's on my TRX-4 and I love them. A little pricey but worth the money.
I'll have to look again, but don't recall that they look that scale.

Quote:
Originally Posted by B-MOW71 View Post
... the Quality Control side of it is lacking in a very bad way. I found many bolts loose or not tightened down properly. In the manual it states to use locktite on most every bolt that screws into metal. Well, to me that is common sense, but to them it must not be even though it is stated on almost every page in the manual. There was not one screw on the whole truck that had locktite on them. So since I have to go back and loctite every screw, I decided to swap out all the screws for Team KNK stainless steel screws with loctite on each of them.

So on to checking grease. I was pleasantly surprised to find that each of them had just the right amount of grease. So before re-assembling them I cleaned out the stock grease and added marine grease to them. I like how freely the axles and trans spins. Not a hint of bind in them at all.

I noticed something odd on the drive shafts. First of all, the rear drive shaft was missing a set screw. Each of the others had two set screws in each end. So I checked the manual to see how they were supposed to be assembled and found out that they are supposed to have one drive shaft pin in each end and not set screws. What? Ok, no problem I have some spare pins in my spare parts bin. It's just odd they would use set screws (without locktite) instead of the pins...
Found similar on mine, very little Loctite. Swapped all screws from the butter soft "steel" screws it came with and added loctite to all. Drivetrain not binding is good, but check that they are not sloppy loose either. My diffs needed the washers on pinion (that they call shims) swapped around. Tranny needed shims (from factory) removed as they were binding the heck out of the bearings when the case was bolted together, which will kill bearings very quikcly. Transfer case main shaft bearings were very well fitting, but the other shaft bearings were super loose in the bearing pockets, wth? Used the old plastic bag shim trick for them, but very disappointed with this lack of QC, emailed RC4WD and they said that's how they are have a nice day. I suggested they need to fix the loose bearing pockets and they didn't seem to care at all and indicated no plans to improve their quality, fit and finish.

Ditch stock driveshafts asap, they tend to snap quickly. They should have had the screwpins attaching driveshafts, iirc I replaced some stockers with Traxxas pins.

Your truck is looking good, I've not done the Chino mod to my springs but run the axle to leaf spring bolts from the bottom (can't do this as easily with Yota2 axles) and a locknut on top of the leafs. Loctite screws to axle housings, then tighten locknuts not quite torqued down thus allowing some twist in the springs during flex travel of the suspension, but not so loose that the axle can rock around.

Last edited by Natedog; 04-09-2019 at 11:01 AM.
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Old 04-10-2019, 06:25 AM   #16
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Default Re: B-MOW buys a TF2 Marlin Crawler

Quote:
Originally Posted by Natedog View Post
X2, yes don't know why RC4WD doesn't make the shafts little shorter like every other company, did this to mine so that I can easily swap between any driveshafts. Installed set of TRX-4 shafts, works great and scale-ish size, but the LURC steel shafts look very nice!



I'll have to look again, but don't recall that they look that scale.



Found similar on mine, very little Loctite. Swapped all screws from the butter soft "steel" screws it came with and added loctite to all. Drivetrain not binding is good, but check that they are not sloppy loose either. My diffs needed the washers on pinion (that they call shims) swapped around. Tranny needed shims (from factory) removed as they were binding the heck out of the bearings when the case was bolted together, which will kill bearings very quikcly. Transfer case main shaft bearings were very well fitting, but the other shaft bearings were super loose in the bearing pockets, wth? Used the old plastic bag shim trick for them, but very disappointed with this lack of QC, emailed RC4WD and they said that's how they are have a nice day. I suggested they need to fix the loose bearing pockets and they didn't seem to care at all and indicated no plans to improve their quality, fit and finish.

Ditch stock driveshafts asap, they tend to snap quickly. They should have had the screwpins attaching driveshafts, iirc I replaced some stockers with Traxxas pins.

Your truck is looking good, I've not done the Chino mod to my springs but run the axle to leaf spring bolts from the bottom (can't do this as easily with Yota2 axles) and a locknut on top of the leafs. Loctite screws to axle housings, then tighten locknuts not quite torqued down thus allowing some twist in the springs during flex travel of the suspension, but not so loose that the axle can rock around.
Thanks for the info Natedog! I will shorten the shafts so that I can ditch the stock drive shafts and put on a better set. I have already had the front drive shaft come apart 3 times over the weekend on it's first run.

For now I'm going to install a set of TRX-4 drive shafts from my TRX-4 Kit that I took off when I bought the MIP's for it. Later down the road I plan on buying the SuperShafty version of the MIP HD's. They have assembled a shaft kit that will have the correct length shafts for the A&M Garage updates that I have added.

I didn't find any slop or bind in either the axles, trans or t-case. They all seemed to feel really good. When I had the trans apart, I noticed a couple small shims on one of the gears. Maybe RC4WD fixed this problem on the Marlin's or maybe I just go lucky!

I'll keep that in mind about running the screws up thru the axle and adding locknuts.

Thanks again for the info.
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Old 04-10-2019, 09:53 AM   #17
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I did a couple other modifications to it. One I forgot to mention earlier was I bought the Bowhouse TF2 CNC Rear Leaf Shackle Mount. I remember reading that the stock shackle mount would let the leaf get stuck in full compression. So I bought this thinking that it would eliminate that problem. After I took off the original, I laid them side by side to compare the difference. Well, I didn't see much of a difference, so I'm wondering if RC4WD corrected this on the Marlin. Anyways, I went ahead and installed the Bowhouse since I already purchased them.

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After I flipped the battery tray around and installed the A&M Garage skid plate, I noticed that the lock nut that bolts up the top plate is really close to the battery.

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So what I did was I put a longer bolt in from the bottom and made a sleeve to fit over the bolt. I used an old stainless steel link I had laying around from when I made a set of links for my SCX10.2 a couple years back. I then slid a piece of heat shrink around it to give it a little cushion in case the battery shifts and rubs on it. I think it should work out fairly good. I also put a couple of 1/2" wide adhesive foam strips under the battery. It helps to keep the battery in place and keeps the battery from sliding and rubbing on the metal tray. It also raised the battery up so that it is level with the t-case mount.

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Old 04-10-2019, 11:36 AM   #18
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Default Re: B-MOW buys a TF2 Marlin Crawler

Those shims in the trans bound up that shaft on my TF2. While it was all apart I assembled trans and transfer one gear shaft at a time, tightened screws and checked each and every shaft for binding/freeplay, that's how I found the shims were causing the problem with mine. Newer ones might be ok, but I'd check again.

Piece of right angle bent styrene, lexan, etc attached to battery tray with E6000 would keep battery in alignment and away from the screw. I also tried the battery plate forward, but found that it was more balanced and predictable up and down hill with it in the stock rearward position, ymmv.

BowHouseRC CNC rear shackle mounts are nicer than the RC4WD new ones.

Is that a Floureon lipo?
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Old 04-10-2019, 06:21 PM   #19
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Default Re: B-MOW buys a TF2 Marlin Crawler

Quote:
Originally Posted by Natedog View Post
Those shims in the trans bound up that shaft on my TF2. While it was all apart I assembled trans and transfer one gear shaft at a time, tightened screws and checked each and every shaft for binding/freeplay, that's how I found the shims were causing the problem with mine. Newer ones might be ok, but I'd check again.

Piece of right angle bent styrene, lexan, etc attached to battery tray with E6000 would keep battery in alignment and away from the screw. I also tried the battery plate forward, but found that it was more balanced and predictable up and down hill with it in the stock rearward position, ymmv.

BowHouseRC CNC rear shackle mounts are nicer than the RC4WD new ones.

Is that a Floureon lipo?
I just did a double check on the trans & t-case. It all seems smooth without any bind or slop. Maybe these new kits were fixed. I will keep an eye on it though.

Great idea for a lexan battery guard. I didn't think of that. The longer bolt was just something I threw together really quick so I could get it's first run in.

Yes it is a Floureon battery. I have six of these and so far (knock on wood) I have had really good luck with these. All cells keep a good balance. I've been running these for 2 years now and I haven't seen any "puffy" cells and I still get about an 1-1/2 hours out of them.


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Old 04-23-2019, 07:00 AM   #20
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Default Re: B-MOW buys a TF2 Marlin Crawler

It has been awhile since my last update. Spring has finally arrived here in Ohio and outdoor projects have been taking all of my time away from my tiny trucks.

So, I took Marlin out for it's first run a couple weeks ago and I have to say I am extremely happy with how it drives and handles. This being my first leaf sprung truck I wasn't sure what to expect. It was a blast to drive! Unlike my other linked rigs, you have to pay more attention to how you pick and choose your lines that you want to take.

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The only big issue I had was the front drive shaft would pop apart at the splines every so often. I knew going into this first run that this may be a problem. By adding the A&M Garage skid plate, it raised the t-case up a few mm's making the drive shaft a little short. Luckily it wasn't to difficult to pop back in, but it did get annoying. So before the next run I plan on throwing on a pair of TRX-4 drive shafts that I have in my spare parts box.
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