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Do you expect magic from your transmission (and drivetrain)?


Dollytrolley

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Mom in law has been evicted from from memory care center # 5 so we have been pretty busy but she is somewhat stabilized presently so I have been catching up on some of the threads here.......

 

Of course the normal CDL threads happen and what is the best state to register in and what you should letter on the side of your rig or not and insurance issues seem to repeat a lot............but.....the threads that really seem to bring out the most wish-for-features is the Auto-Tranny threads.

 

Ok I feel the flame-throwers warming up so I better make my disclaimer right now.........our old Freightshaker has a old no-tech 10 speed road-rager so it can be shifted as a manual but most of the time I am too lazy to clutch so I mostly just float so it's a "hillbilly-auto-tranny" of sorts.

 

I have driven a few HDT auto-trannys and I can see why many folks desire these rigs........to a point....

 

When I read the auto-tranny threads here it seems that a lot of folks seem to want their auto-tranny to start out in some gear than the normal gear or they want their tranny to skip a lot of gears and then never jerk the truck around while be able to beat a Viper across the intersection.

 

Are you asking more than your auto-tranny can deliver?

 

For the most part I read the auto-tranny threads and scratch my head and say wow getting the auto-tranny to do much of what you want it to do is a lot of work at times.

 

On some of the larger auto-tranny threads Scrap sometimes chimes in and explains that IF all electronics are in good working order that the engine / clutch / tranny will protect each other from a over-demanding driver that wants the drive train to do things that simply cant be done.........Scrap often comments about the auto-tranny not shifting as desired because the computer knows that the tranny can land the shift within the engine RPM range.

 

Not being the best truck driver some days I have to keep aware of the overall movement of the rig and actually keep the old 10 speed in the correct gears.........some days I cheat some ........and once in a while I don't shift well.

 

I guess the point I am getting to here is that when you float the manual tranny you are just a human computer and robot-arm-shifter doing the same thing that a auto-tranny does with electronics........sort of..........

 

The difference is that the manual tranny has a "FEEDBACK" feature ........GURRRRR gear-grinding whenever the dummy-driver tries to land a shift out of the proper RPM range...........the auto tranny computer says "ok the dummy driver wants to go out of RPM range but no dice I won't shift"!!

 

In some ways the modern electronic diesel engine makes shifting somewhat more complex simply because the engine RPM is lower and the sweet spot is very low RPM so the shift ranges are fairly short.

 

I wonder what Grumps would think of modern trucks........for the most part older manual trucks had fairly low power diesel engines that had RPM ranges up into 2,500 to 2,700 RPM ranges and most had a five speed main- tranny and a four-speed Brownlipe aux tranny so you had 20 speeds forward and four speeds reverse and two sticks to shift. Maybe Grumps missed a shift once upon a time but in way too many miles riding with him I never saw him miss a shift. Why did Grumps not miss a shift........well because missing a shift could end your life on steep curvy logging roads and so he shifted as if his life depended on it.

 

Once in a while I was allowed to drive one of the service or lowboy rigs on some of the better private logging roads and I would do ok most of the time but..........IF I missed a double shift all hell would break lose and than you have the main-tranny not driving the aux-tranny and the aux-tranny driven by the rear drive axles and the driveline between the main-tranny and aux-tranny simply floating at whatever slow turns that the oil friction between the gears in both gearboxes.......

 

Now this truck is actually in NO gear position that relates to the speed that the truck is moving........bad juju....

 

I simply would have to stop the truck and start all over again..........a real trucker simply never allowed both gearboxes to get out of range.

 

Obviously auto-trannys are the future and seem to improve with time but obviously mechanical limits are just that limits.........

 

Grumps would likely be amazed........

 

Drive on...........(what has your tranny done for you....today?)

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I run a 15 speed behind a Cat 3406 which drops rpm's more slowly than a Detroit or Cummins does, so skipping a gear doesn't get me much. With the trailer behind I start off in 1st to prevent clutch wear, incidentally leaving a line of drivers behind me who expected to be taking off slowly. It makes me feel like a good guy giving them everything they expected. I drove a 5&4 behind a Cat 3408 for a couple of years. Smooth as silk and I would enjoy one now if I had it. Now that old truck would pass anything except a fuel stop (600hp). It was fun back in the days when 350's were common and 425's were huge.

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I like your comments !!

When I was HDT I floated all the gears, both up and down and actually enjoyed it. And as you mentioned, had full control of MY wants as far as what gear to be in. I have never owned an auto, but have driven them.

I totally understand a lot of folks wanting an automatic and will get some flack for this comment.

While there are several on here that have zero to minimal problems with them, a whole lot are constantly messing with some minor problem that shuts them down, or causes them to go to a repair shop. (if they are not mechanically minded)

Yet you very very rarely hear of a standard trans giving any trouble at all.

Add the additional cost to them, and I have never understood the rush to go that way. (I understand some folks just are not meant to shift...so I understand them totally)

I also fully understand that HDT'rs are a different breed, and much different than hauling ~80K every day, but I have a lot of trucker friends and they all hate the autos...for the reasons stated above.

I guess this is just another part of the HDT tribe that makes them so interesting..

And Yes I sure miss mine.

Cheers,

Bob

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I will start this with a disclaimer. I have never driven a truck equipped with an automated manual transmission. I understand their allure in the industry and this part of the RV world ("we can get a lot more women drivers to drive our trucks, they make better drivers and better employees" a quote from one major truckload carrier).

 

If I had one in the HDT arena I would be perfectly satisfied if it actually went into gear and shifted according to the manufacturers intended design. Would I shift differently if I were the computer. Yes. But the reason I would buy the automated unit is because I no longer want to provide that guidance(get lazy).

 

My only complaint with them is the large difference in maintenance costs, particularly the earlier generations which populate this group, which are also purchased used with an unknown history. But if you have the money and this is an important feature, by all means get one. But if you are trying to do this on a tighter budget, I would go to the manual transmission everytime.

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Give me a 13 or 18 speed and I'm happy. Gear it to run in direct 11th in a 13 over or 16th in a 18. And with our loads, get good MPG . And shifting gears is like walking and chewing gum. I don't have to think of what gear I need to be in. Its just natural but did not happen over night. Started out driving a White/Freightliner with a 13 speed. Then a KW with a 5/4 then a 7 speed direct and on up. Love to shift gears and know I can't forget to push the N button. Or I'm in trouble later on.

Don't get me wrong I love the ideal behind the I-shift. But most of the older ones not in love with them. Never driven a tractor with a auto or automated manual. But for some of us we love to hear that Click Click as you shift gears.. And as with Ice cream that's why there's more then one flavor. Where we have a choice.

Pete

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I agree with the saying,The older generations do not like change! In this day and age there us "no" way a human can out perform a modern automated tranny. From Formula 1 to moms econo boxer, standard transmissions are a thing of the past, even in HDT's. But there was a saying, those jet engines will never replace prpos in commercial service......

 

Just saying.....

 

 

Curt

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Both of my trucks have Eaton 10 speed trannies, the Mack grain hauler has a manual, the Volvo a gen 1 auto. It took me a while to warm up to the Volvo tranny, but now I like it. But so far, the wife hasn't driven it.........

 

I swore I would never want a "auto" trans until I spent 6 month in a 2013 i-shift Volvo and now I would never go back. In fact as you can probably see from my current thread that I just bought a 2013 I-shift Volvo. They start in 123 or 4 if you like and will skip 1-2 gears depending on the load and terrain. Nothing is perfect but I will say that Volvo got it right...at least with version 3 I think it is in 13+

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Our Freightliner has a Super 10. It works great for what we use it for. I would rather have a 13sp, but the price was right for what I got.

 

I have driven a few automatics (all our fire trucks are now auto's) and never really had any issues with any of them. The auto-shift in our water tender makes me sound like a pro, but I don't like that it shifts through 8 of the 10 gears before I cross the intersection. So when I drive it, I usually shift it manually. I don't like the pre-determined shift points.

 

The big advantage I have seen with them is that it allows more people to drive them without, a: lots of experience, and b: tearing the trans out of the trucks.

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I used to drive an old dump back in the early 70's with a 5 speed main and a 3 speed aux tranny kinda like Dolly was talking about. It was fun then as I was a kid and stupid. If you were going uphill in that old POS, you had to let go of the wheel and grab both sticks on the splits to keep it from slowing down too much and missing a gear. I'm a lot older now and prefer easy to fun.

 

This new truck has been impressive in the way the shifting is done. Light loads or downhill will skip as needed and it hits a shift every time it should. I am getting used to the lower shift points it uses but uphill, downhill, starting, stopping are all fine.

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"I simply would have to stop the truck and start all over again..........a real trucker simply never allowed both gearboxes to get out of range."

The last Pete I had was split boxes. If that happens & bennie isn't driving, you gotta be real quick. Turn engine OFF (Note-no PS back then and you're still rolling at 55 MPH) put main in gear, fire it up & get the brownie in. No need to stop truck.

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I learned to row gears many years ago and enjoyed it back then. My Volvo 610, however, had an autoshift, which I liked. Now I have an IShift, which I LOVE. (Did I mention I LOVE the IShift). I would NEVER go back to a manual, and very likely could not drive one efficiently at this point. But they are for sure cheaper to buy and to maintain. If I was buying a manual I'd buy a 13.

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I agree with the saying,The older generations do not like change! In this day and age there us "no" way a human can out perform a modern automated tranny. From Formula 1 to moms econo boxer, standard transmissions are a thing of the past, even in HDT's. But there was a saying, those jet engines will never replace prpos in commercial service......

Just saying.....

Curt

Curt,

 

Darned if you did not lure me into hijacking a thread that I started.....

 

Maybe a "human" can't outperform a modern HDT auto tranny but a well seasoned truck driver can drive circles around the computer when the going gets rough......when the driving is easy even I can get the truck to the camp at least the end of the day.......

 

Regarding jet engines .....l actually have a few dogs in that fight......commercial operators could not wait to replace the last generation of large recip airliners on the main routes but get away from the main hubs and to this day you will find plenty of props servicing locations that jets simply could not operate into. I know first hand that old prop airliners are a ton of work to fly because I have done my time in them and in later years it is more work when you had to operate at derated power because 130 Oct fuel was replaced with 100 oct and so we had far less power than the old days....

 

Comparing jets to recips is like comparing watermelons to Volvos not even remotely related........ At the end of the day a HDT automated tranny is only as smart as the electronics that control it and conversely the HDT manual tranny is only as good or bad as the driver that operates it.

 

To make the hijack complete, I used to perform some aircraft autopilot certification testing and HUGE $$$$ was lavished on autopilot design and lots of huge brained engineers honed these autopilots to a fine edge..........well to prove a point these big brain-geeks programmed the latest autopilot to perform a very nice set of Dutch rolls (the bottom 180 degrees of a barrel roll) and they bragged that no human could perform the roll with the 1 g precision of the autopilot. Word got out about this wonderful device and lots of folks took the brag as law.........until......a crusty old test pilot came along and wanted to see the "future" of flying........I hitch a ride in the jump seat and away we go and sure enough the trick autopilot did a few Dutch Rolls and they were pretty good........"crusty" grinned and said to the pilot "ok, I have the aircraft" and he switched off the autopilot and then opened his Jep case and pulled out a Stanley thermos and unscrewed the cup and placed it up on the glare shield and poured it o the brim with hot coffee........next "crusty" eased into a clearing turn to check for traffic and then eased into a smooth 1 g barrel roll to the right and then started a perfect 1 g barrel roll to the left and as we became inverted he reached out and took a drink of coffe and placed the cup back on the glare shield........Then "crusty " grinned and said "well boys.......let me know when you get the rough edges off your wonder box and then give me a call .......I'll bring some coffe and we will fly some more..........

 

Well Curt maybe your right about geezers and "humans" but you see "crusty" had a huge advantage over the autopilot, he was not a "human" he was a ........Pilot......

 

Drive on.........(I got to do a geezer reboot.....)

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Automation is NOT perfect but, for a task like shifting a truck it works OK. The if that, then this

logic is generally cut and dried. Not like the squat switch on a triple 7 when you hit the go around

button. I am as ambivalent about automation as the next dinosaur; that said, these contraptions work

well for what they are. Can a good driver out shift one, of course.

 

Personally I would love a paddle shifted full syncro 12 speed. As I mentioned above, the real issue I

have with a manual trany in a truck is the shifter in the middle of the floor. Perhaps a column

mounted shifter like the old three on the tree.

 

Steve

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Just my 2 cents worth I have never driven a big truck till I bought our 98 610. It has a Surer 10 and to me that is a poor mans auto. I've been driving it for more that 5 years and once I'm moving no more clutch. But I do shift, sometimes with the button and sometimes with the gear shift. The DW hasn't even tried to drive and won't. OK. I like it because I'm to dumb to know any different. Keep it between the white lines. Pat

 

 

The Old Sailor

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I will say again, if I found a truck with the I Shift. Yes but most of the others just give me a 13 or 18 speed. But agree when you throw someone in a truck. That has never driven a manual. The auto is better for those. That is one of the big sales of autos for company's. Anyone can hold the steering wheel in those. And that auto will control the MPG better while doing it.

On the other hand, small company in west Tn. Had a few Hundred trucks most are manuals. He did buy 24 new trucks 3 years ago with autos. After 3 years and over 375,000 miles average per truck in 3 years. His autos are no better on Fuel then the manuals he set up. This man had been in Trucking 48 years. And Believes in the old saying Bigger engines are better on fuel. 500HP or more burns less fuel as your not maxing it out 80% of the time. While a 300HP engine is working hard all the time.

With our loads 2.80 gears, 13 or 18 speed and drive it in direct. Would allow us to run get better MPG, while pulling any grade with ease. As were running around like a empty tractor would. As most 53 ft Reefer units weight empty what lots of 5th RVs weight loaded.

Pete

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As I said before, I have never driven one. But I have ample evidence from our fleet of 250 drivers, about 50 or more of them have new and used trucks with automated manuals.

1st. The largest majority of them will not buy another one because of the elevated mantenance costs. In our business, one man one truck, the downtime is as costly as the repair itself. That is not the case with the HDT application.

2. Alluding to the original intent of the post. There are many places these things perform poorly. Specifically slow speed manueuvering, backing into tight docks, etc. We routinely have to have a driver with an auto drop his trailer so a regular transmission truck can go the last 100 yards. Bizarre dock arrangements underneath many downtown arenas have cooked many an auto clutch, cuasing it to set off the temp sensors and stop right where it is. Not good when 50 high priced union stagehands are waiting to unload those trailers. Not unlike what can happen in a tight campround, except you are retired and you have the time.

 

The overall application for your vehicle is what counts. Whatever equipment the OEM puts on my truck, I make it my business to find out how they want me to use it. I have been very successful keeping truck maintenance costs to a minimum simply by following the instructions that came in the box.

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I've only had one cup of coffee, so I think I'll "argue" a little with my friend Jeff. :)

 

On point one - more maintenance - I'll agree. The potential for more maintenance cost is there for the fully automated (or even autoshift) trucks. But it IS getting better. And in the RV Hauler application you "might" not have any additional maintenance. For example, my Volvo 610 with autoshift had ZERO maintenance on that trans in over 10 years of use as an RV Hauler. And "so far" my 780 with IShift has had ZERO maintenance cost (over a 3+ year period), other than a preemptive fluid change prior to purchase. But on average there will be more costs. Agreed.

 

On point two....I'm not so sure that the newer automated trans continue to perform poorly in low speed maneuvering. Certainly the older ones (first generation) were "dock thumpers", but these new transmissions seem to handle creeping maneuvers just fine. Including backing very slowly up a hill, or backing into a hitch very slowly.

 

Time for more coffee.....

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As I said before, I have never driven one. But I have ample evidence from our fleet of 250 drivers, about 50 or more of them have new and used trucks with automated manuals.

1st. The largest majority of them will not buy another one because of the elevated mantenance costs. In our business, one man one truck, the downtime is as costly as the repair itself. That is not the case with the HDT application.

2. Alluding to the original intent of the post. There are many places these things perform poorly. Specifically slow speed manueuvering, backing into tight docks, etc. We routinely have to have a driver with an auto drop his trailer so a regular transmission truck can go the last 100 yards. Bizarre dock arrangements underneath many downtown arenas have cooked many an auto clutch, cuasing it to set off the temp sensors and stop right where it is. Not good when 50 high priced union stagehands are waiting to unload those trailers. Not unlike what can happen in a tight campround, except you are retired and you have the time.

 

The overall application for your vehicle is what counts. Whatever equipment the OEM puts on my truck, I make it my business to find out how they want me to use it. I have been very successful keeping truck maintenance costs to a minimum simply by following the instructions that came in the box.

 

I've only had one cup of coffee, so I think I'll "argue" a little with my friend Jeff. :)

 

On point one - more maintenance - I'll agree. The potential for more maintenance cost is there for the fully automated (or even autoshift) trucks. But it IS getting better. And in the RV Hauler application you "might" not have any additional maintenance. For example, my Volvo 610 with autoshift had ZERO maintenance on that trans in over 10 years of use as an RV Hauler. And "so far" my 780 with IShift has had ZERO maintenance cost (over a 3+ year period), other than a preemptive fluid change prior to purchase. But on average there will be more costs. Agreed.

 

On point two....I'm not so sure that the newer automated trans continue to perform poorly in low speed maneuvering. Certainly the older ones (first generation) were "dock thumpers", but these new transmissions seem to handle creeping maneuvers just fine. Including backing very slowly up a hill, or backing into a hitch very slowly.

 

Time for more coffee.....

 

Good morning Jeff & jack,

 

I hope you don't have your cup of coffee sitting on the glare shield while backing up.......not many folks have the skills of "crusty" in my last post.

 

During the ongoing caregiver issues of moms memory loss issues we have been having family meetings to hash out various methods to deal with how to proceed with mom getting evicted from various care facilities.........one of nephews is a sharp Sr. Engineer at Freightshaker in Portland and his gig is pre-production engineering, his name is Josh. Once we decide on how next to deal with mom issues Josh often starts talking-trucks to me and he is pretty interested in RV use of class 8 units in RV applications. Josh has a very interesting view of the auto-manual vs manual tranny dog fight........his job is to see how close he can make a geek like me with a auto tranny can drive somewhat like a moxie pro driver like Jeff with a manual tranny.......Josh contends that that is a huge engineering task to make a auto tranny work as well as a driven manual........he says so far a few hundred million $$$$ has made some progress but he smiles and says those darn Jeffs just are too good........but for lesser drivers the newer autos are getting the trucks down the road most of the time.

 

It's hard work to make automation overcome skilled operations.....

 

Drive on..........(Watch Jeff drive....)

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A lot of our loading docks are up hill with dock locks that grab your tire when locked.

Trying to pull out of these locks when released slowly so you don't dump pallets of paint out the back door is a real challenge. The Ishift goes into clutch protection mode every time. You have to jump the truck a lot more than I like.

But I still love the Ishift I no longer have shoulder pain from years of shifting gears, and I now enjoy shifting my peterbilt again.

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Steve in SoCal, on 08 Sept 2016 - 11:34 PM, said:

Automation is NOT perfect but, for a task like shifting a truck it works OK. The if that, then this

logic is generally cut and dried. Not like the squat switch on a triple 7 when you hit the go around

button. I am as ambivalent about automation as the next dinosaur; that said, these contraptions work

well for what they are. Can a good driver out shift one, of course.

 

Personally I would love a paddle shifted full syncro 12 speed. As I mentioned above, the real issue I

have with a manual trany in a truck is the shifter in the middle of the floor. Perhaps a column

mounted shifter like the old three on the tree.

 

Steve

 

Have you looked at the new Freightliner DT12 shifters? They are on the column, pull towards you to upshift, push away to down shift, pull down on the paddle like you are making a right turn will turn off the Jake brake. At you move the paddle up like you are making a left turn, each click position will give you the next Jake brake stage. Reverse/forward is achieved by a rotating knob on the paddle. I really like that fact that it is out of the way of the dash , seat and floor.

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Have you looked at the new Freightliner DT12 shifters? They are on the column, pull towards you to upshift, push away to down shift, pull down on the paddle like you are making a right turn will turn off the Jake brake. At you move the paddle up like you are making a left turn, each click position will give you the next Jake brake stage. Reverse/forward is achieved by a rotating knob on the paddle. I really like that fact that it is out of the way of the dash , seat and floor.

Yup....as some would say ...."the cat's meow". I LOVE those paddle shifters and stalk shifters FL has had for years. That is something they definitely got right IMO. Volvo could take a lesson from them....

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I will start this with a disclaimer. I have never driven a truck equipped with an automated manual transmission. I understand their allure in the industry and this part of the RV world ("we can get a lot more women drivers to drive our trucks, they make better drivers and better employees" a quote from one major truckload carrier).

 

If I had one in the HDT arena I would be perfectly satisfied if it actually went into gear and shifted according to the manufacturers intended design. Would I shift differently if I were the computer. Yes. But the reason I would buy the automated unit is because I no longer want to provide that guidance(get lazy).

 

My only complaint with them is the large difference in maintenance costs, particularly the earlier generations which populate this group, which are also purchased used with an unknown history. But if you have the money and this is an important feature, by all means get one. But if you are trying to do this on a tighter budget, I would go to the manual transmission everytime.

 

For the most part Josh the nephew-Freightshaker engineer agrees with Jef's train of thought........the major clients highly desire a very low-skill-load-tractor since low-skill-level drivers are much cheaper and plentiful in the labor market and auto-trannys are a huge advantage when you have a lesser skilled driver pool. The bean counters watch the cost of operating these more complex units and they unload the units in the 300k to 450k mileage ranges so that the second owner is charged with the first life-cycle repair costs (this often explains why late model used tractors incur pretty steep rework costs to the new HDT-RV owner shortly after the purchase). The bean counters know the fleet histories and they know when the sweet spot is to retire a first-run tractor and purchase a few hundred replacements.

 

Now older pro drivers that drive company trucks are at first not happy to try a auto truck but many times come around to enjoy the auto ( read Bronkhauler & 13 speed) ..........now most pro drivers tend to revert back to manual trannies when the own the truck and have to pay all of the bills.

 

The owner / operator pro-driver like Jeff will likely lose money in day to day operating costs with a auto and for sure his cost of operation of a manual will be a small fraction of the auto when factored into +1,000,000 tractor lifes.

 

The auto is a money maker for the large fleet firms that tend to thrive on low-cost-entry level lesser-skilled labor so the auto is a large factor in the profit profile.

 

The owner operator pro has two options when they sit down in the drivers seat.........will they make money on this trip or......will they lose money on the trip..........as Jeff said, " the cost of the downtime is likely as much or more than the repair for the owner operator".

 

Two different tranny types for different types of operations..........

 

Drive on.........(what gear are we in.....)

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