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Break in Oil ? Or not ?

Break in Oil ? Or not ?

Old August 16th, 2018, 11:00 AM
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Break in Oil ? Or not ?

I've never used any "break in" oil , on engines I have rebuilt .
I've always used whatever oil was going to be used in the engine to break it in .
I read a lot about special "break in oils" , but are they really even necessary ?
Opinions , and more importantly , experiences . Are most welcome .
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Old August 16th, 2018, 11:28 AM
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Snake oil. Assembly lube on the bearings will protect the engine for the first few moments it's running. The brand of motor oil doesn't matter. Just make sure you change the oil and filter at about 500 miles after starting the engine. I did this with my 455 and a 5.4L Triton engine I rebuilt in my 2003 f150 and didn't have any problems. I generally used Valvoline oil but only because it's priced reasonably. If you want to use Supertech from Walmart, they're all the same.
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Old August 16th, 2018, 11:55 AM
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You did not specify what type of rebuild you are doing. Flat tappet cams require a proper break in with enough ZDDP and spring pressure that is not too high.

I have rebuilt 3 BB Chevys and 4 BB Olds over the past 20 years, I did not use break in oil.

My "cocktail" was always Rotella Diesel oil (15-40) and a bottle of GM EOS.

However, note that the newer oils do not have the ZDDP required for break in.

If I were to rebuild anotrher engine, I would go full roller cam and no break in worries.

If I werre going to go flat tappet, I would spend the money on break in oil - cheap insurance.

And, I always use an engine dyno for break ins.
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Old August 16th, 2018, 01:32 PM
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Do what the cam and lifter manufacturer recommends.
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Old August 16th, 2018, 06:34 PM
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Originally Posted by oldcutlass View Post
Do what the cam and lifter manufacturer recommends.

THIS! Back when oils had the zinc and other additives the break-in line supplied with the cam and lifters is all that was needed. But with ever more stringent emissions requirements, the zinc had to go. Pretty much every engine built today has roller lifters, making the zinc unneeded. And since the zinc causes a slight reduction in oxygen sensor and catalytic converter efficiency, the zinc was eliminated. The car enthusiast and other drivers of old iron are a minority. The GM EOS (engine oil supplement) or valvoline VR-1 are good option. I seem to recall seeing Lucas break-in oil attittives at the parts store also
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Old August 16th, 2018, 06:37 PM
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Instead of wondering about it I used the Lucas 20-50 Break In oil from Summit. It comes in a 5 gallon container.

Boom. Done deal
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Old August 17th, 2018, 03:48 AM
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As the others said, flat tappet cams have special break in instructions.

My 455 has a hydraulic cam and the 5.4L I rebuilt was OHC. It's always best to follow manufacturer instructions, the FSM or TSBs.
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Old August 24th, 2018, 06:48 PM
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I was at a local machine shop today with a friend and the 326 out of his LeMans and the oil subject came up. The machinist gave us some current literature on the use of new gen oils in classic car engines with flat lifters. Significant damage can occur to the camshaft in the first run if the engine is not cleaned properly after disassembly. He also stressed the importance of the proper beak in oil and filter.
He recommended the Lucas oils and said Roush had a line of oils for these engines. Wix has a 21 micron break-in filter.
The machinist said that after 2016 a majority of diesle oils don't contain zinc.
Just passing along some of a very interesting gear head conversation.
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Old August 25th, 2018, 06:43 AM
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Like everyone else said. If you are running a flat tappet cam of any type follow the cam manufacturers instructions which will most likely include the use of a "break in" oil. If you are running a roller cam then whatever you are going to run in the engine should be fine. I did the 307 in my Wife's Riviera last year. I put a hydraulic roller in it and filled it with 10W30 Castrol GTX. Has not used a drop of oil in about 2000 miles so far.
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Old August 25th, 2018, 08:34 AM
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Oils have been re-formulated over the years to eliminate to reduce/eliminate ZDDP. GM EOS and the motor oil you preferred used to be the norm. "Break in oil" and the "magic potion" cam break in stuff might be good insurance for flat tappet cams. With that being said, I am more concerned about an "oil" to be used AFTER "break in".
Cutlassefi did a little experiment with two oils on the dyno. Charlie or someone posted a link for testing motor oils on another thread. Based on what I have read, I am leaning toward Valvoline VR-1.
I have many older motorcycles with "flat tappets" that CAN'T be converted to roller cams. So, I will use the same oil I find works best with my "flat tappet" Oldsmobile cams. "One oil for all" on the shelf in garage is my plan.
I thought I read a thread about GM EOS being re-formulated with less "good stuff".
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Old August 26th, 2018, 07:38 AM
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All diesel oil is now CK-4/SM and even some Motorcycle oil is now SM but some like Mystik and Castrol are SG or SL. Once I run out of SL Defy and especially if SL Motorcycle oil dries up, CAM motor oil is a 15w40 grade, additives for classic, seasonal vehicles and 1600 ppm zinc.
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Old August 26th, 2018, 06:31 PM
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So what's the answer? Ross's racing engines is in the middle of my 394 ohaul. Maybe I should go with a roller cam? Are the swamp rats (epa) going to completely outlaw additives for our engines?
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Old August 26th, 2018, 09:42 PM
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Originally Posted by dennis_30281 View Post
So what's the answer? Ross's racing engines is in the middle of my 394 ohaul. Maybe I should go with a roller cam? Are the swamp rats (epa) going to completely outlaw additives for our engines?
Dennis
Is Tony going to break it in ? Run it on the dyno ?
He knows more than anyone , let him decide how to do it .

It seems like everyone is rushing to roller cams . Like lemmings to the sea .
Save your money ! IMHO , roller cams are necessary in "all out " race cars only .
With proper lubricants and procedures people are "breaking in " and running flat tappet cams successfully every day .
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Old August 27th, 2018, 08:20 AM
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X 2 what Charlie Jones said. I believe when I toured the shop with Tony, he told me he breaks in cams on his dyno......on every engine he builds. Double check to make sure.

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Old August 27th, 2018, 10:46 AM
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do your own research,it is a myth that there is no longer zinc in modern oils and that high amounts of zinc are needed for break in or for use in flat tappet engines,the only thing that really matters is film strength. go to 540 RAT motor oil engineering test data if you want to know the facts about motor oils.
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Old August 27th, 2018, 12:29 PM
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Originally Posted by MI68442W30 View Post
do your own research,it is a myth that there is no longer zinc in modern oils and that high amounts of zinc are needed for break in or for use in flat tappet engines,the only thing that really matters is film strength. go to 540 RAT motor oil engineering test data if you want to know the facts about motor oils.
I assume you are referring to this blog ;
https://540ratblog.wordpress.com/201...-test-ranking/

I have read it in it's entirety . That is why I originally posed the question . In the blog the author states that " break in " oils aren't necessary . As well as ZDDP content was irrelevant . The " wear protection package " was the only thing that mattered .
My intent on starting this thread was to guage others opinions and experiences vs. these claims
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Old August 27th, 2018, 04:33 PM
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Originally Posted by MI68442W30 View Post
do your own research,it is a myth that there is no longer zinc in modern oils and that high amounts of zinc are needed for break in or for use in flat tappet engines,the only thing that really matters is film strength. go to 540 RAT motor oil engineering test data if you want to know the facts about motor oils.
I have read the blog and consider it on source. I read the blog when Charlie Jones posted it a while back. I think you'll find that noted and respected engine builders recommend "break in oil" which are usually higher in ZDDP as well as cam grinders pushing their variety of "cam lube" for flat tappet cam break in.
There has been some recent flat tappet cam and lifter failures recently.
I have poked around on the internet to figure out why flat tappet /cam failures were happening. In one case, a single cam grinder had problems while others didn't. I have seen mention of SADI cam blanks. In one instance, an SAE 8620 steel was listed. I can tell you that 8620 ("low carbon" variety) can be surfaced hardened. If when finish grinding the cam blanks, the surface hardness could end up being very thin or none. My thoughts are to find out what material the cam blanks are and what hardness they are.
I would like to find camshafts and lifters from various years and hardness test them. I can help but think the cam and lifter failures could be affected by hardness, as well as ZDDP deficiency.
..........Just my two cents worth
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Old August 27th, 2018, 04:36 PM
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Originally Posted by MI68442W30 View Post
do your own research,it is a myth that there is no longer zinc in modern oils and that high amounts of zinc are needed for break in or for use in flat tappet engines,the only thing that really matters is film strength. go to 540 RAT motor oil engineering test data if you want to know the facts about motor oils.
His blog used be a good resource and I used to post a link, but he's got so much other crap on there its hard to follow anymore.
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Old August 27th, 2018, 04:38 PM
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Well...that is interesting. The last couple of engines I built all had ZDDP in them upon first start. They're still running, and the one in my Electra has 15,000 miles on it 8 years later. The other one was built 8 years ago and first fired up 4 years ago. So while this article claims it is unnecessary, it hasn't hurt anything either. The caveat on both is I haven't pulled either of them to check. But both engines check out well on a vacuum gauge. However, the Electra suffered a major rocker shaft failure at highway speeds within the first 2000 miles of being built and there was no degradation on the cam, even though it was driven 200 miles on 5 1/2 cylinders and a lot of rolling junk inside. However, before I endorse or debunk either theory, I'm going to have to do more research.
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Old August 27th, 2018, 04:53 PM
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Originally Posted by oldcutlass View Post
His blog used be a good resource and I used to post a link, but he's got so much other crap on there its hard to follow anymore.
I copy and pasted it to a Microsoft Works (NOT Microsoft Excel) word processor file. I will edit the extra crap out it. I found it very hard to follow.
.......Just my two cents worth
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Old August 27th, 2018, 05:01 PM
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I would think the ZDDP would be important on engines with rocker arm shafts such as earlier Olds. AND the later stock rocker arms and pivots. These are subject to the same "sliding load" as flat tappets and flat tappet cams.
......Just my two cents worth
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Old August 27th, 2018, 06:53 PM
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The answer Charlie is yes Tony breaks in his engines on the Dyno under load, something you can't do at home unless you go straight to the drag strip after rebuild.
I talked to Tony today about my engine and decided to go with a roller cam due to the fact that you can't trust the EPA and future administration's. Engines that were built 8 years ago have no dog in this fight no matter the milesdue to the chemistry of today's oil over long ago.
An added plus to adding a roller cam is 20-30 ponies!
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Old August 28th, 2018, 04:10 AM
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Here is a nice article in the AERA's Engine Professional Magazine:

http://www.engineprofessional.com/ar...Q317_62-66.pdf
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Old August 28th, 2018, 12:32 PM
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If I spent $8-12k on a rebuild, I would not be concerned for an extra $30-40 for oil.
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Old August 28th, 2018, 04:35 PM
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Originally Posted by dennis_30281 View Post
An added plus to adding a roller cam is 20-30 ponies!
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Apples to apples thatís simply not true.
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Old August 28th, 2018, 04:41 PM
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Originally Posted by BillK View Post
Here is a nice article in the AERA's Engine Professional Magazine:

http://www.engineprofessional.com/ar...Q317_62-66.pdf
Only parts of that article are true.
The main reason for hydraulic lifter bleed down is NOT oil viscosity, itís the clearances INSIDE the lifter. Donít believe me, call the engineers at Johnson Hylift and theyíll tell you the same thing.
And talk to any major ring manufacturer and theyíll tell you that the added Zinc, to a point, is BETTER for ring seal.
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Old August 28th, 2018, 06:33 PM
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MODERN TECHNICAL MAN IS DOOMED. Normalcy is reading threads like this on any topic you can name where participants argue back and forth about what they read on the internet as a source of their facts with only a few with any practical experience. I'm 58, not really that old in the big automotive picture. Am I one of the dwindling few left who ever installed new flat tappet camshafts, after reading the instructions nearly the same for any maker or re-grinder of iron camshafts and new flat tappet lifters? ONE PROCEDURE: Cam lobes are coated with cam break in paste, a combination of a kind of grease, graphite and sometimes molybdenum to act as a lapping compound for these wear-mated parts. Any paste I have ever had and still have looks about the same, Jack Engle-Engle, Crower, old Clay Smith, Isky, Crane, on and on. 30W oil for break in which of course is/was 'old oil' with classic formulation. Then your choice of old days oil changed at 1500mi and inspected in direct sun in a pan,then again at 3000mi. Things went weird about 20 years ago when guys building hot engines wanted to start using Childs & Albert red jelly break in lube on cams instead of this paste, and then break in valve springs, because they read it in magazines before the internet became the substitute for real experience. Then oil reformulation as flat cams vanished from new production and emissions considerations. Break in oil? For flat lifter cams it better have zinc and phosphorous, for break in and operation. Early Oldsmobile V-8's continue to have valve train failures accelerated in large part due to what guys read on the internet, both in what is presumed to be facts based, and in discussions such as this, with some facts in error.

Since Brad Penn's continuation of Kendall's Pennsylvania based green crude oil racing oil is dropped and scalpers price now, I'm using this, with good results so far. Multi vis for operation. My local NAPA has it, about same price as online ordering.


Last edited by coldwar; August 28th, 2018 at 06:36 PM.
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Old August 28th, 2018, 06:41 PM
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It's not the price of the oil, but the availability! After a $12+k ohaul I want to be able to stop in any town in America and buy oil for my car. And when she's done I plan on being in a lot of those towns.
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Old August 28th, 2018, 08:19 PM
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This is Lunati's break in procedure:
Before you install the new cam, properly coat each and every lobe, including the fuel pump lobe, with cam and lifter assembly lube. A number of these compounds are available. Be sure that the lube you use is one designed specifically for cam and lifter assembly, and has a high concentration of moly in its formula. Lunati also offers this lube, available by ordering Lunati P/N 99010.

Apply cam lube liberally to both the lifter faces and lobe areas of your flat tappet cam and lifters.

Lunati recommends “pre-oiling” your engine prior to start up. Failure to do so will result in premature parts wear and possible cam failure (see photo). Dry cam lobes and lifters will wear out immediately upon start up. Lunati will not warranty cams that have failed due to improper break-in, lack of lubrication, or dry start ups. Oil pump primer tools are available through most major auto parts suppliers and speed shops.

We have found that utilizing straight 30 weight, non-detergent motor oil works best for initial start up and cam break in. Switching to a multi-grade, premium quality oil for your climate conditions is acceptable after the first 500 miles of engine operation. DO NOT use synthetic or synthetic blend oils prior to the first 5000 miles of engine operation.

Lunati recommends filling the oil filter with fresh oil in addition to the crankcase prior to initial start up.

Filling the carburetor float bowls, or priming the injection pump will facilitate quick engine start up. This prevents cam and lifter wear during the initial engine firing. Once the engine fires, Lunati recommends setting the throttle RPM at 2000-2500 for the first 20 minutes of run time. After the first 20 minutes, we suggest increasing the engine RPM in increments of 500 RPM for 1 minute at a time up to 3500. After reaching 3500 RPM and maintaining for one minute, begin to decrease RPM in increments of 500
RPM for 1 minute at a time until the engine is back down to 1000 RPM. Once this is accomplished, your Lunati cam and lifters have successfully completed their initial break in run cycle.

In the event your engine develops a problem (overheating, fuel leak, etc.) shut the engine off immediately, let it cool down, repair the problem and resume your break in procedure.

After you’ve completed the break-in procedure, let the engine cool and then drain the oil. Discard the oil and oil filter and replace both, using clean, fresh oil of the correct weight.
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Old August 28th, 2018, 09:47 PM
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Good post...
That's what I did with my Buicks, and they've all held together, and the last Olds I did which was a 303.
The only thing I might be able to add to this is that if you go to higher revs fairly quickly right off the hop you could damage or burn your rear seal. Prime it up, get it running round and stable and then slowly bring it up to speed worked for me.
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Old August 30th, 2018, 05:34 AM
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Originally Posted by coldwar View Post
MODERN TECHNICAL MAN IS DOOMED. Normalcy is reading threads like this on any topic you can name where participants argue back and forth about what they read on the internet as a source of their facts with only a few with any practical experience.

Since Brad Penn's continuation of Kendall's Pennsylvania based green crude oil racing oil is dropped and scalpers price now,
Brad Penn has been relabeled as PennGrade. My local speed shop has boxes of it in stock. So when you wonder how bad info gets spread on the internet....

True break in oil is also formulated to help rings seat. Itís low in detergent, which allows other additives to function better (Iím not a tribologist, thatís my 30,000 ft explanation from talking to Driven Oils tech support). When you have a true rebuild with new hone, thinner rings, and flat tappet cam, you want everything to go as right as possible while the rings seat and initially wear.

If you have less than 300 lb open spring pressure, risk on cam wipe during break in is substantially less than once you go higher.
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Old August 30th, 2018, 06:55 AM
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Originally Posted by 83hurstguy View Post


Brad Penn has been relabeled as PennGrade. My local speed shop has boxes of it in stock. So when you wonder how bad info gets spread on the internet....

True break in oil is also formulated to help rings seat. Itís low in detergent, which allows other additives to function better (Iím not a tribologist, thatís my 30,000 ft explanation from talking to Driven Oils tech support). When you have a true rebuild with new hone, thinner rings, and flat tappet cam, you want everything to go as right as possible while the rings seat and initially wear.

If you have less than 300 lb open spring pressure, risk on cam wipe during break in is substantially less than once you go higher.
Thanks for the info - the Brad Penn company started with continuing with the production of Kendall 20-50W racing oil produced from Pennsylvania based green crude oil stocks (not PA grade) in Bradford, PA when the company then controlling the Kendall brand dumped it, in the face of continuing off road demand for that product. Employees pooled resources and bought that product line from Amalie I think - And that product they produced is now discontinued with Brad Penn having been sold - again. Yes I am aware and have examined the blends the 'new' Brad Penn PennGrade offers stacked to the ceiling in places such as Summit Racing here locally and I have no interest whatsoever in synthetic or synthetic-mineral oil blends for legacy engines, break in, operation or otherwise. The idea of non-detergent oils aiding orderly break in of reciprocating engines is as old as detergent oil, meaning the post WWII period. That has been common very pre-internet knowledge for those in any engine work as long as I have been involved and aware, now being about 45 years. The today idea of blends and synthetics being 'better' for paper based reasons not borne out in actual user results in classic engines is happening now in real time.

BTW this isn't a problem confined to old cars, our area of discussion here. Tractors, motorcycles, aircraft, vintage marine power plants, stationary engines and others not ocurring to me now all suffer from the new idea that synthetics are better no matter what. Expensive repairs and rebuilds will continue until users learn the hard way, some never will.

I won't pass bad information just to win arguments, or further opinions presented as fact. The evidence supporting my claims is sky high in the real world, specifically in the Oldsmobile old car loop. It still isn't enough to counter those who simply want synthetics in there the same way they want a Pertronix ignition, because roaring mobs say it should be so.
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