"Acts committed only by men that have no pride in their work"

Discussion in 'Watch Repair' started by Paul_S, Mar 22, 2016.

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  1. Paul_S

    Paul_S Registered User
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    I've been reading Science of Watch Repairing Simplified (1946), a self-published book by A. Gideon Thisell. It's an interesting book, with many neat ideas and turns of phrase. Thisell apparently was an instructor at one of Elgin's technical schools, and he has a lot to say.

    Anyhow, I thought of the recent thread on undercutters vs screw cutters when I got to the chapter on poise. When he describes ways of removing weight, Thisell writes:

    Filing the side of the screw head, or squaring off the pilot end of the thread are acts committed only by men that have no pride in their work.
    (p. 163)

    I've never seen a screw with the pilot end filed off. One can only imagine the dastardly desperado who would attempt such a thing. ;)
     
  2. Rob P.

    Rob P. Registered User

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    One man's watchmaking moral turpitude, is another man's groceries. I have more than one low jewel count watch that has had the balance screws shaved. It may bother some people, but to me it makes no difference as long as the watch keeps time.

    I note that none of the movements I have are display quality. Which may have made a difference in the past as to what level of workmanship was used.
     
  3. Paul_S

    Paul_S Registered User
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    Indeed, an older era's tools are a later era's fragile antiques.

    This book is interesting because the author worked in retail watch repair and the factory line before teaching at the Elgin watchmaking school. He brings a unique perspective.
     
  4. Jerry Kieffer

    Jerry Kieffer Registered User
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    Paul
    I would have to agree with the Gentleman's statement.

    One of the things that is quickly learned , is that the more times a procedure is practiced, the greater its efficiency and effectiveness becomes.
    So if one has different procedures for various work piece qualities, it is unlikely you will ever truly master much of anything. Or at least that is the personal observation, I made for myself when I started out. When I now do a specific procedure regardless of work piece quality, it is the same procedure that I use for the highest quality work. By performing the same procedure on all work, it becomes highly efficient requiring less time than "Hack" work commonly performed on lesser quality movements.

    Working on lesser quality items is something that we may not like at times , but it is part of dealing with the public or even our own personal collections.
    While we may not like it, it does offer a couple of opportunities. First, I personally look at it as paid practice for my highest quality work. Since that practice now requires the least amount of time, I can not imagine doing it another way. The second opportunity is one`s reputation. Originally, all of my highest quality work that paid for everything, came from a quality reputation much of it performed on lesser quality movements. Those who have expensive items, also have inexpensive items. Work performed on those inexpensive items often leads to work on the expensive items where money is often no object.

    As an example, I personally have some quite expensive items that I am fortunate enough to be able to maintain myself. My current project is to repair my daughters 17 jewel childhood "Strawberry Shortcake" watch. However if I had to send it out, and some Moron Hack performed sub par work on it because of its value, their chances of getting my better quality work and a pay day would be somewhere between zero and none.

    If work is for ones own collection, Quality work practices will often built your work confidence and skill sets to safely tackle work you would normally farm out.

    Jerry Kieffer

    DSCN7194.jpg
     
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  5. Paul_S

    Paul_S Registered User
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    Well put, Jerry.

    I recently finished reading George Daniels's autobiography, and I was struck by how long he worked in the trenches of watch repair and servicing for local shops. He mentioned how the years spent humble pieces gave him the knowledge and reputation that opened doors to working on collectible pieces, and the rest is history of a sort.
     
  6. GeneJockey

    GeneJockey Registered User
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    This is something I ponder when it comes to things like using a balance staff removing tool versus spending $1000 on a lathe to cut out the hub. No question that the latter is by far the preferred method, but K&D and others sold thousands of the former, and most of them did not go to hobbyists.
     
  7. DeweyC

    DeweyC Registered User
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    Jerry,

    I absolutely agree. "Lesser quality" work provides an opportunity to practice your best work when you are not motivated. Personal discipline is an important attribute. And I also fhave ound that high grade customers try out workers with lower quality stuff to begin with. I think it was Karl who recently reminded someone to always strive for improvement. This is the mark of a serious watchmaker and machinists like you.

    As for books, Thissel has some sound ideas, as does Kleinhem. Fried is just fraught with misdirection. If someone wants to learn the standards for serious watchmaking, they should get their information from modern authors who hide nothing that I can find. These are the books by Archie Perkins and Jendritski. The Sherline books are an excellent source for machining ideas as well.

    Other authors either provide dated techniques (DeCarle, Levin) or offer information of such variable value that the novice cannot separate the wheat from the chaff. There IS a role for a library of vintage books; when I have been faced with a novel situation, I went back through them to to piece together a process (like when I made a bimetallic balance for a customer).

    But for those looking to start out on the right foot, a few hundred dollars to get Archie's 3 books and the three main books by Jendritski is money very well spent.
     
  8. DeweyC

    DeweyC Registered User
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    Paul,

    In school we were taught to use our Horia jeweling tool to press out staffs. There was also a little grinder (made in Italy) that we used but they are hard to find and sell very quickly. Forget the name. But pressing out the staff is an acceptable practice and will not deform the arm. Just choose a hole that fits the hub close and be sure your pusher is straight (tooling or staking tool; not freehand).

    But, as pointed out in another thread, you could buy a WW lathe and a full set of collets and forgo the slide rest and milling attachment. Then get a Sherline lathe for large work and sliderest work when you can. the collets will fit the Sherline. I have not used my WW sliderest in a very long time.

    FWIW, I own several different size presses, I much prefer pressing something than using the hammer. Especially some of the hard to find rollers.
     
  9. karlmansson

    karlmansson Registered User

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    This has been discussed at length Before and I Think that discussion ended with saying that pressing or tapping out a riveted staff will deform and enlarge the hole in the balance arm, making it difficult to fit a replacement. I'm a Little surprised to hear that this method is taught in schools or practiced professionally. Not that I've had any personal experience of either watchmaking school or working professionally but in light of previous discussions.

    "Make repairs so that you can't tell that they have been made" is a guiding principle for me. If a part risks deforming during a procedure I'll try and take a different route. If pressing out a staff won't deform, then I've learned something new today!
     
  10. DeweyC

    DeweyC Registered User
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    Karl,
    All I can tell you is that it is what is taught at WOSTEP and it works; on steel and on alloy balance arms. I also heard it was unacceptable, but school showed me otherwise. I can offer no explanation for the the disparity (no coffee yet, cant' think of the word I want).
     
  11. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi Karl,

    I think the method of pressing out the staff with a jewelling press, (useful for so much more than just friction jewelling), relies on the gradual application of pressure which gives the metal of the rivet time to "flow" slightly, rather than the sudden shock of the blow in a staking tool.

    Regards,

    Graham
     
  12. pocketsrforwatches

    pocketsrforwatches Registered User
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    #12 pocketsrforwatches, Mar 29, 2016
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2016
    I have seen MANY times the damage caused by using the K&D number 50 tool that is so popular. I even have microscope pictures somewhere. I can't speak to the Horia jeweling tool, but pushing a ragged rivet through the balance arm hole certainly can't do it any good. You might get away with this once, but each subsequent replacement shoves a ragged rivet through the balance arm hole and further distorts it. It gets to the point that fitting a new staff sometimes requires closing the balance arm hole in order to get the rivet to hold. Why even consider doing this when an absolutely foolproof method exists? If I'm not mistaken, the little Italian grinder Dewey mentions is made to grind off the hub side which would be quite acceptable.

    I fully appreciate Dewey's obvious talents and skill but I have to respectfully disagree with any method of removing a staff that sends the rivet through the balance arm hole.

    Roger
     
  13. GeneJockey

    GeneJockey Registered User
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    Let me see if I understand - pressing could be done with one of those staking sets with a jeweling attachment? Like this?

    staking%20set_zpshvgjh9nj.jpg

    Use the K&D #50 staff remover,clamp the balance (sans hairspring and roller) in place, and use the lever to press the staff out?
     
  14. pocketsrforwatches

    pocketsrforwatches Registered User
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    Awhile back I did an experiment using the K&D number 50 tool on a junk balance to see microscopically the results. Attached is a picture of the ragged edge produced by this tool and what you are sending through the balance arm hole using this tool. Please consider this post an adjunct to my post number 12.

    Roger

    1-PC070034.JPG
     
  15. karlmansson

    karlmansson Registered User

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    You wouldn't happen to have a picture of the hole in the balance from the same movement?
     
  16. pocketsrforwatches

    pocketsrforwatches Registered User
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    Distortion to the hole is near impossible to photograph. One could consider the data empirical since attempting to fit a new staff to a balance that has had the rivet driven through the hole will almost always reveal how loose the hub is around the hole. This is especially true when it has been done repeatedly. Since we are trying to save these for future generations I feel any procedure that even slightly causes injury is a bad procedure. We sometimes forget that in the days when these watches were nothing more than commodities a watchmaker wasn't really concerned with prolonging its life indefinitely, thus the rise of time-saving but potentially destructive tools such as the K&D #50. Now we enter into an era where we ARE trying to prolong the life of a watch indefinitely so that is why I am so passionate about this. As an aside, Elgin recognized the damage caused by driving out a staff and in a technical bulletin announced their special grooved balance staff and a "Beryl-X" balance arm steel to help eliminate damage they knew would be caused by driving out staffs. We have no way of knowing what kind of staff or balance arm steel we are working with so the only option I see is the conservative approach.

    Roger
     
  17. DeweyC

    DeweyC Registered User
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    Yes, that is one good style. I also use larger presses for chronometer staffs and mounting wheels on pinions.
     
  18. DeweyC

    DeweyC Registered User
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    Roger and Karl,

    It should be easy enough to show damage with an optical comparator. But risk is not an absolute; it is relative. I have seen more balances damaged by poor graver technique than those with holes deformed as demonstrated by loose fitting genuine staffs or decentered cross arms as shown during truing.

    Since I got back from Neuchatel, I have used the technique of pressing out rivetted staffs. Almost always I have a nice thin washer and I never had an issue fitting a new staff. Surprising but fact. Given the values demonstrated by the instructors, I have no issue with this technique when done in a press and with proper fitting anvil and pusher.

    Oh, the grinder was called something like Mulfres?
     
  19. pocketsrforwatches

    pocketsrforwatches Registered User
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    Dewey,

    I don't have an optical comparator so I can only go by my own experience and that of Elgin who saw fit to actually redesign a balance staff and change the material used in the balance arm to help prevent the sort of damage that can occur by driving out a staff. I agree that proper graver technique is essential to success.

    If you are getting the thin washer using your technique then I can see how the damaging effect would be minimized if not eliminated. That was not my experience when I used the K&D #50 to experiment and the result was the photograph I posted earlier. I did not use the press, but tapped it out per the tool instructions.

    At this point I can only guess that we can agree to disagree on this.

    Roger
     
  20. GeneJockey

    GeneJockey Registered User
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    As luck would have it, I work exclusively with Elgins.
     
  21. Smudgy

    Smudgy Registered User
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    The differences in experiences realized may be explainable. At one point either Elgin or Waltham (I can't remember which or what the time period it was) came up with the idea of making the rivet break away so that the staff could be driven out without damaging the balance, saving both time and money for the repairman . As with other successful modifications the change was probably picked up by later manufacturers, making later watches more likely to have the break away rivet design. Most people on the board are probably working with watches produced prior to WWII (likely between 1900 and 1930) which didn't have the break away rivet. I've run into a number of watches that have apparently had their staffs driven out as the damage to the hole in the balance corresponded with the damage reported to be done with the method, and the balances were loose and needed replaced with staffs that had an extra wide hub. As far as I know the Swiss watchmaking schools use modern movements in their classes, and I suspect that someone trained in the Swiss schools would have a career working mostly with modern movements which would have the break away rivets in use.
     
  22. DeweyC

    DeweyC Registered User
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    Smudgy

    Most of the movements are modern; the material comes from manufacturers who are partners in WOSTEP. (no other way anyone could afford 60 to 80 destroyed Rolex balances per class) But we also did vintage watches. And as you know, that is 95% of my business.

    I have two thoughts about the observations in addition to the one one you brought up (manufacturing changes).

    The first thought concerns the question of who damaged the balance. Was it the same guy who read that it is ok to remove mass form screws to poise a balance that was perfectly balanced at the factory? (by filing no less). Did he/she fit the seat to a close fitting hole in the staking set or did he just put it in any hole that was already under the staking arm?

    This leads to the issue of physics and force diagrams. While I am not about to measure the force at which various rivets separate from the body of steel balances, if the arm is fully supported (as with a close fitting hole) and the punch is vertical to the table, the force required to separate the rivet would seem far less than that required to deform the steel arm from compression. If there is no sideways force (as in freehand) there is not really a mechanism for stretching the hole.

    Of course, none of this is deterministic. Crap happens whether I am using a graver, pressing out a staff or holding a jewel in the tweezers. I even broke a detent all by myself a couple years ago after 25 years without such a thing.

    My point is only that we don't know under what circumstances workmen deformed balances, that there is risk (probability of bad outcome) with either method, and that for me the Swiss changed my view/practice and it did not end badly.

    I am not trying to convert anyone; it was brought up in a context of what is acceptable.

    I actually do think it is a combination of standards change in the rivet and the care taken in each operation in a workshop. I can guarantee I can produce a deformed balance if I ignore best practices.

    Knowing a little how the business works, I suspect that after the design change even generic staffs such as those provided by Manny Trauring (Cosmopolitan) in the 1960s used the newer dimensions. Then the Swiss studied the situation (they actually produce college graduates in watchmaking (engineering and production)) and endorsed this approach.

    BUT, I emphasize again, I have no interest in proselytizing. This was merely to point out what is acceptable shop practice today in addition to the traditional methods.
     
  23. pocketsrforwatches

    pocketsrforwatches Registered User
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    #23 pocketsrforwatches, Mar 30, 2016
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2016
    Smudgy,

    That explanation makes a lot of sense. And of course we have no way of knowing if the staff we are replacing is in fact a breakaway or not.

    Dewey,

    I can accept that pressing out staffs that are designed to breakaway is an acceptable practice, but given that we don't know know what is in a vintage watch my feeling is to err on the side of caution and not take a chance. I appreciate that you have had good results and this might be due to a superior skill set. I certainly concur that in the hands of someone who doesn't know what they are doing a graver cutting a hub is just as likely to cause damage as driving it out. Unfortunately we all see in our shops the cob jobs and head shaking work done by others on a daily basis and frequently the damage is irreversible.

    Roger
     
  24. DeweyC

    DeweyC Registered User
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    Roger,

    It is all good.

    The older I get, the more I look for ways to minimize my risk of mistakes. One of the reasons I now use the Bergeon/Horia Jacot machine. Got it cheap to try (thought I would sell it) , and decided it greatly decreases the risk of the work jumping out from under the burnisher. Can't advance without trying new approaches and techniques.

    I even taped every vertical to floor surface within 10 feet of my bench to prevent loss when I drop screws and jewels (which I do with annoying frequency; better than crunches I guess). It is not I do not make mistakes, I just try to compensate for them.
     
  25. sharukh

    sharukh Registered User
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    I believe the name is

    Bergeon 5478 Molfres Balance Staff Remover Milling Machine

    Sharukh.
     
  26. DeweyC

    DeweyC Registered User
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    Sharukh

    Good man! Thank you, was driving me nuts. It is a cute answer, IIRC, we reduced from the roller side and then pressed out from the roller side when the hub was thin enough.
     
  27. praezis

    praezis Registered User

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    Dewey,
    You were talking about steel balances. Maybe there you can press out the staff without damage. But most vintage watches seem to have nickel balances. I would not dare to press out there and do not like to test every item on nickel or steel.
    The last staff that I pressed out (with "Unruhmax" in the staking tool) was decades ago - the balance hole terribly damaged by an unusual thick rivet. Since then I only grind off from the roller side.

    Support: there is no safe support for pressing out, no matter which hole you choose, as the hole must be considerable bigger than the hole in the balance. Please see the picture below.

    Unruhmax.jpg

    added: picture of the mentioned "Molfres"

    Molfres.jpg

    Regards,
    Frank
     
  28. DeweyC

    DeweyC Registered User
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    Actually Frank, I was talking about both alloy balances and steel. We always used the press on the alloy (Rolex) balances and practiced the Molfres and did some Horia with vintage balances.

    Even with the Molfres, you press out the staff arbor once the hub is thin enough.

    It is all ok. One thing I learn as I get older is to not rely on absolutes. But as far as pressing out balance staffs, it is completely acceptable within the industry. From there, it is a matter of individual preference.

    I am fine with the fact that people disagree with what I write. Never learned a thing from someone who was exactly like me.

    I just am not sure what is gained by telling others what they experienced did not happen.
     
  29. praezis

    praezis Registered User

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    I agree with you that everyone has to find the process that suits him, provided it is no "fiddling".

    I have to press out the staff also, when a thin rest of ~ 0,05 mm is left. This rest shears off and leaves a very thin disc. I did not yet find a use for these nice tiny "washers".

    One advantage of this reverted direction of staff removing is, you can use a smaller hole for support, just slightly bigger than the rivet. Disadvantage is, the balance spoke is recessed then, you need a stump for support.

    Regards,
    Frank
     
  30. pocketsrforwatches

    pocketsrforwatches Registered User
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    Since there was so much debate on this subject and Wostep was mentioned, I decided to email them. Sometimes what is heard in a classroom environment may not be all there is to a story. Here is what they said in their email (in italics):

    1. Both methods have advantages and disadvantages.
    2. As for turning the hub, it will be indeed the best way to avoid stress on the balance wheel.
    Of course you need a lathe and some skills.
    The disadvantage here is that we loose the original staff, so every measurement needed to remake the staff has to be taken before removal.
    3. There is a risk in the press out method, however, modern Glucydur balance wheel can stand this operation without any problem.
    4. So, as you see, we can't state one technique is better nor to be avoided, but rather we have to choose the appropriate technique for the situation! Just to let you know, we actually teach and practice both techniques here in Neuchâtel.

    I hope this helps to clarify and not confuse this debate further.

    Roger
     
  31. DeweyC

    DeweyC Registered User
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    Thank you Roger. But people will always believe what they believe. If they are satisfied with their results I have no reason to argue with them. BTW, who responded? Martin or Andreas?
     
  32. pocketsrforwatches

    pocketsrforwatches Registered User
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    Hi Dewey,

    I will respond in a PM since the person may want to be mentioned in a forum.

    Roger
     
  33. pocketsrforwatches

    pocketsrforwatches Registered User
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    Meant to say may NOT want to be mentioned in a forum.
     
  34. dshumans

    dshumans Registered User
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    The worst act is anything in a movement with GLUE! I hate when I open up a nice watch and find glue.
     
  35. Mark UK

    Mark UK Registered User

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    like this cracked hairspring collet.....
    IMG_2061.JPG
     
  36. richiec

    richiec Registered User
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    What glue, just good old fashioned shellac, at least it ticks. If it is a collectible movement, fix it right, if it is just a 7 jewel running movement, does anyone really care? In another 100 years, parts will be impossible to get, they will worry about it then.
     
  37. Mark UK

    Mark UK Registered User

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    It's off a nice early 15jewel 'frosty' nickel Waltham. Not shellac but an epoxy type glue, and they glued the inner coil of the hairspring as well. To compensate for the inevitable fast motion they added extra balance weights and moved existing ones to different holes. The staff has damaged pivots so will need a new staff, new hairspring and a lot of time spent poising the balance. You are right, a straightforward enough fix but I'm amazed at the lengths the bodger went to to get the timing right when all it needed was a replacement hairspring in the first place!
     
  38. praezis

    praezis Registered User

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    Even less, just a collet was needed - and skill + experience, probably the main issue.

    Frank
     
  39. Harvey Mintz

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    It could have been worse - I have a watch with a broken collet where the "repairer" used soft solder to attach the collet to the staff. Not only was it much more difficult to replace the staff, the collet wasn't even placed "in beat" so the watch didn't run well.

    Sheesh!
     
  40. GeneJockey

    GeneJockey Registered User
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    Gosh, and here I am wasting my time studying up on how to replace the cracked collet on an 18s Elgin, when I could just glue it! Silly me!
     
  41. Paul_S

    Paul_S Registered User
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    Oh man, those posts about solder and glue on collets make me sad.

    I just finished working on a Hamilton 912 with some mangled screws. Someone must have lost a screw, so they replaced it with a smaller one. Amazingly, they used a gold screw. Because the gold one was denser, the repairer chiseled away at it, leaving an irregular lump of gold without a screw slot.

    A few screws had half the screw body cut away (probably with an oversized undercutter). Then the person put big timing washers under them---me think he doth undercut too much.

    Like Mark UK's example, whoever did this knew enough about poise and timing to understand the issues, but lacked the patience or standards to handle the watch.
     

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