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Thanks Mark for hanging in there for the full 8 months. And thanks to everyone else too.

Today, I officially finished the model with the addition of the signage and vegetation around the bases of the fence posts.

The Illustrator signs I made were too big when I printed them out. I went back and reduced them to 60% of the initial size which worked much better. After spraying some final fixative to preserve the ink a bit, I brushed on a thin coat of MicroMark PSA (pressure sensitive adhesive) and then put the sheet on a piece of wax paper. I cut out the signs with a straight edge and sharp #11 blade, and took them to the refinery to hang them. The wax paper peeled cleanly off the back to expose the sticky stuff. 

For the curved vessels, I may have to go back and use some CA since the PSA wants to release and the signs straighten out. I added "No Smoking" and "Confined Spaces" signs at locations all over the facility. I put two "Safety" signs on the ops building, and "Restricted Area" signs on the perimeter fence.

I then trimmed off the excess Gorilla Glue that foamed out of the holes, painted the damaged areas with earth Behr latex interior wall paint in a dark earth color, and sprinkled a mixture of fine and coarse turf on the wet paint. I a couple of area I used W-S Scenic Cement to glue on large patches of weeds around the bases of all fence posts. With these two steps, all of the refinery work is done other than adding some humans.

Refinery Signage 1Refinery Signage 2Refinery Signage 3Refinery Signage 4 

I took some final beauty shots which show the vegetation. The signage pics above were shot before I did the landscaping.

Layout Status w Refinery 4

Notice also that I actually ran some trains today and took some movies. I just uploaded it on Vimeo and YouTube.

Refinery Final 1

So that wraps it up. Project started in April and ended on December 1. Took my youngest grandson down to the layout room tonight and he was duly impressed on how it came out. I am too... When I opened that box of tubes and pipes from Plastruct, I really didn't know if it was going to amount to anything or not.

Took another overall layout status shot from the spot that I use for these. I put the tripod on top of a 6 foot step ladder and have marks on the floor to position the ladder in the same spot. Little by little it's all filling in. My wife came down for the grand opening of the refinery and thought the whole deal is looking really good. Once the rest of the town buildings are finished I'll go back and put in the telephone poles and other street details. Right now I don't need anything else in the way when I'm adding more structures. There are at least three more major structures for the town: Bourbon Store House, Nighthawks Cafe and the Bronx Victorian Building.


Layout Status W Refinery 1

Just for fun, here's what it looked like in October 2012. Building a large model railroad is a big job! I can see why some fellas get hung up on design and can't get started.

Track Laying 1

It will probably be a little while until the next project kicks off since I don't have it in hand right now. Meanwhile, I'll finish up that Fairlane GTA model. Hard to believe that a muscle car in 1966 with a 390 V8 in a mid-car size body did 0-60 in the 6s, and I have a 2008 Acura TL type-S with a V6 that does 0-60 in the 5s. Imagine that and gets 10 mpg better. In fact and 430 hp Corvette gets 25 mpg on the highway.


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  • Refinery Signage 1
  • Refinery Signage 2
  • Refinery Signage 3
  • Refinery Signage 4
  • Layout Status w Refinery 4
  • Refinery Final 1
  • Layout Status W Refinery 1
  • Track Laying 1
Last edited by Trainman2001


I was interested to see how the refinery went together.  Though I have no practical knowledge of such facilities as I do power substations, there is a vague similarity in that it's use is for energy, and there are a lot of interconnected parts!  All of us should take note to you comment about looking at the box of Plastruct parts and wondering how you were going to get it done.  If we try, we find out we can do more than we thought.

Thank you for the overall view yesterday and the one from 2012.  I joined the Forum in June 2012, and found your topic around the time of your October photograph.  It has been a great ride!!  

Speaking of rides, the Fairlane is a great project for you.  It is something of what you can do with your Acura in comparison to the old Fairlane.  I would have no idea how my 2004 Hyundai Sonata does compared to the old '69 Galaxy XL with the big V8 I had.  I do know this; I had a 2005 Sonata which some nut totaled for me a number of years back by running off the main road at 55 mph at least, hit my front fender when I was stopped behind the stop sign.  The reason I bring it up is that the 2005 had a 4 cylinder engine in it, which was too small for that heavy of a car with our hills.  I used to lose speed going up a few hills.  The 2004 I bought after the 05 was totaled has a V6, and it has way more than enough power.  No I don't hot rod is so I don't know the 0 to 60.   

Good luck on the Fairlane, a truly handsome car.

It has a power to weight ratio of around 10.5. 3600lbs/340hp. ford made less than 30 427, 425hp fairlanes with a lightened body, about an 8 to one ratio if left stock, but with headers and tuned,,,Oh Mama!

You fairlane will make a great cruiser, head turner and street car. 

Trainman2001 posted:


It will probably be a little while until the next project kicks off since I don't have it in hand right now. Meanwhile, I'll finish up that Fairlane GTA model. Hard to believe that a muscle car in 1966 with a 390 V8 in a mid-car size body did 0-60 in the 6s, and I have a 2008 Acura TL type-S with a V6 that does 0-60 in the 5s. Imagine that and gets 10 mpg better. In fact and 430 hp Corvette gets 25 mpg on the highway.

Great project, loved the start to finish narrative. The '66/67 is a nice car, might require some bigger tires for 6 seconds

GT 251701-870-0


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  • GT 251701-870-0

Ah...Altoona! My engine house will look like three bays of that monster.

Since I'm between projects I'm not working on the RR much (building that model Ford GTA), but I did one little thing.

I added some missing railings to my only Rail king engine, a UP EMD switcher. It has nice rails attached to the chassis, but all the body mounted railings are just molded-on bumps. I added the missing ones leading to the cab door. There are bumps there supposedly representing railings which I left in place. Scraping them off would have required repainting. I had UP gray, but was afraid of the match and didn't want to repaint this engine and the calf that accompanies it.

The model's rails measured 0.045". The wire I used was 0.050". A little thick, but the next size would have been 0.032" and that would have been too thin. I went with the larger size. I had a fleeting thought about scraping off the molded on railing flanking the engine compartment, but dispelled that for the same repainting challenge.

This engine DOES NOT have a constant voltage headlamp, and has no lighting in the cab. I have a schematic for putting a constant voltage LED in the engine and am considering doing that. This headlamp looks like it a candle unless the voltage is cranked up. I guess that's the tradeoff when buying MTH's economy line, versus Premier. I guess I'm a Premier snob being that all my other MTH engines are of this class. At least it has good sound.

SW Railing

Here's the schematic for an LED light mod (thanks to Don Grabski). The first is directional, and the second non-directional. I'm going to try and do this... Wish me luck.

Constant Voltage LED BiConstant Voltage LED non


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  • SW Railing
  • Constant Voltage LED Bi
  • Constant Voltage LED non

The Altoona shop!  Wow!  I would have liked to seen it in it's heyday!  Three bays in your space will look good.

The RailKing looks good.  I like Premier steamers, but am quite happy with Scale Railking diesels.  I agree, the detail is a bit lacking, yours is looking good.  I think the constant voltage headlamp and cab lighting will be a great enhancement!  You will do great!

Boy...has it been that long since I posted anything? I'm way onto page 2.

I've been working on the Ford model, but am getting ready to build the Bronx Victorian Building. I'm going back over all the drawings before getting them to Andre at River Leaf, and am I glad that I did. I remeasured the actual building on Google Earth and compared it to my SketchUp rendering. I was too wide by about 10% and a little short. Then I decided to print out some of my Illustrator drawings and compare it to the actual 3D printed parts. Again, am I glad that I did that. I can change the drawings, but I can't get more of those parts printed.

Both the large 2nd floor windows and the smaller 3rd floor windows were about .3" too wide. Here's the trim fitted to the now-adjusted window width. Notice too all the brick work that will get laser-engraved. I chose a fancy bond design, but surprisingly, the real building did not have a bond pattern. That 3D trim is going to look really cool and I don't know how I could have done it otherwise.

Bronx Trim Design Fit

Yesterday, my friend brought his wonderful 7 year-old son for a couple of hours of train running fun. Now that winter's here my track alignment problems corrected themselves and we were getting good performance. I did post something on the electrical forum last week when I changed out an MTH broken grain-of-wheat bulb for an LED and blew out the CV board when I accidentally grounded it to the chassis. MTH had two in stock and I ordered a new one of the other A unit of the E-8 PS-1 Rock Island lash up.

The 7 year-old is smart and really getting into trains. The other day he told his dad, "He wanted to be Myles when he grew up." I don't think he was referring to an "accomplished training director of a major industrial company." I think he was referring to "an old guy who doesn't have to work and plays with trains all day." That sounds pretty good to me. He's at an age where he's really noticing the details of the trains, the things that make one kind of engine different from another. He looked inside my mountain and exclaimed, "The whole inside is made of trash!" I told him that he was absolutely right. The entire mountain is cardboard strips covered with plaster.


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  • Bronx Trim Design Fit

Great work there Miles! I would love to grow up to be you, but I think I could get about 25% of what you do right and I guess in my world that's ok, cause its all about the fun! I will say I have learned so much fallowing your builds that some of my scratch building don't look like some guy with bad eye sight and fat fingers built them! LOL

Well... gosh... thanks guys. Regarding my skills versus yours. Just keep moving ahead. Many of my skills are just the result of trial and errors, with lots of the latter. My hands are pretty shaky too, especially when I'm hungry. I just push through and do stuff anyway. I like inspiring people to do better and do things they didn't think they could do. Some folks do that with athletics. Me and athletics ain't so hot. But we each have stuff to give. In my case it building small things. 

If Andre doesn't respond soon, I may end up building another major plastic project. I have a 1:350 Trumpeter model of the USS Essex that was given to me. I am thinking about building it to the same level as the Missouri that I did 5 years ago. That means lots of after-market photo-etched stuff and probably many months construction time. It doesn't have to be done all at one sitting so I can be building train stuff at the same time.

Just reporting in. I am working on that Trumpeter 1:350 USS Essex Carrier in late WW2 configuration. I'm adding all the bells and whistles like I did on my USS Missouri project of 6 years ago. Meanwhile, I put something up for sale on the "For Sale" forum. Check it out.

Once Andre is able to do my cutting I'm back in the structures business. With the help of my computer-genius daughter in law I was finally able to get Windows running on my Mac and now have Corel Draw on my Mac. I was touch and go, but I persevered. Corel Draw is a better vector drawing platform than Adobe Illustrator. Having both running simultaneously really shows the difference. I've now stopped my $20 a month subscription to Illustrator, and can now send Andre native Corel Files for his laser cutting. This will enable him to make corrections more easily if they're needed. It cost me $200 for the Corel upgrade (since I was a licensed holder of Corel Draw 5, I was eligible for the upgrade) so already saved $40 for this year and $240 a year going forward. I can also work on all my old Corel files without converting them. 

Welcome back!!  I knew you were working on the car and I see now the ships, so I wasn't bothered that you hadn't posted.  Getting Corel running on your MAC sounds like a good thing.  That's good you are still working with Andre on your buildings.  

I saw what you have for sale.  Very nice indeed!  I'm sorry I'm not in the market, but I'm sure someone will snatch it up!!

The model car is on hiatus until the weather turns to Spring. I have to spray the lacquers outside. The carrier is all being done in acrylics so I can airbrush it in the workshop. Still on my wish list is an outside vented spray booth so I can spray anything indoors.

The ship is going to be a doozy. Here's just a taste of what's going on. The kit's guns were too fat and breaking so I made my own out of 0.032" brass tapered with a file and sanding stick.

Essex Twin 5s Comp

The fantail had to be painted early since it was inaccessible when the over head stuff went in.

Essex Fantail Comp

My order of hi-def photo-etched came today so the real work begins in earnest. The island looks like this now.

Essex Funnel Filling and Install

It's going to look like this when I done (or at least that's the plan). The PE should reproduce most of these details if I can pull it off.


If you're interested in following along with this, you can see it here:

I'm doing a build thread on it on three different forums, Fine Scale Modeler's one seems like the easier to navigate.



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  • Essex Twin 5s Comp
  • Essex Fantail Comp
  • Essex Funnel Filling and Install
  • CV-10_1944.09_Mast_Details

Yes, great pics and very nice, fine looking details.  As with all, your posts are interesting read and informative.  Would be nice to be able and see all your pics.....    I have a couple nice ship models to build, myself.  But, from so long ago I would have to check and even see what ships they are of.  One thing I like about O gauge trains, my sons and I built 1/48 model aircraft in the 80s and 90s.  We concentrated on the development of the jets, have early types from 1944 to 1949, along with the 100 series of jets, and about seven of the X series aircraft.  All in 1/48 scale and they do look right for the layout we had in Houston, plan to make use on the one here in Oklahoma........ when I get that far........  LOL!!!!

Jesse   TCA  12-68275


I built this 40 years ago with poor tools and no dremel.  It is wood, and I think it was a Revell kit, but I'm really not sure.  My young son couldn't resist playing with it, so it's pretty busted up and the 5 inch guns are mostly broken off.  From afar, it still looks good.  I no longer have the energy or nimble fingers to repair the thing.

The Essex project looks great.  I would really love to see pics of your Missouri build.  IMO, the most beautiful warship ever built.





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  • 20180204_045751[1]

Jerry, that looks like the old Sterling kit (1:192 scale). That was a balsa model that took a lot of skill to create a good representation and it looks like you did that. 

And I wholeheartedly agree; the Iowa class ships were the most beautifully designed warships of at least WW2. Now part of that could be clouded by the fact that Revell's 1954 model was the first plastic model I ever built and thus I was imprinted. It was also the first model Revell made using their own dies. When you compare the Iowa class ships to their other battleship brothers and sisters, you can see immediately what adding the 300 feet and the second funnel did for the design. Besides increasing the speed more than 4 knots, it also put balance and streamlining in the design that looked elegant, not clunky. While everything had a function, it all worked together. To build this model I had to do a lot of research and got lots of input. One person was the yard superintendent in charge of the 1980s refit of all four Iowas. His nickname was "Rusty Battleship" aka, Dick Landgraff. He passed away last year and was on the commission to convert the Iowa to the final museum ship in San Diego. 

Here's some Missouri pics to satisfy your request. Model depicts MO as it was after the Signing in August 1945 and mods made in Pearl before October of the same year. At that moment in time, the ship retained all of its late War radar suite and armament except for the triple 20mm guns and tub that flanked the #2 turret (port and starboard), and the decks were striped of the dark blue stain and returned to their original teak. I picked that moment since I want to display the laser-cut wood decks in their natural wood finish.

The model has probably 1,000 additional pieces of photo-etch and scratch-built goodies including steel prop shafts and brass propellors.

Mo front oblique

Missouri Complete 02Missouri Complete 03Missouri Complete 04

The masts are all scratch-built brass. The backstays holding them up are high E guitar string. Antenna wiring is thin gauge E-Z Line.

Missouri Superstructure Fin

I set the bar very high with this model and am striving to replicate it with the Essex. I'm in a minor dilemma with the carrier. I don't want to paint that fancy splinter camouflage scheme which was added in mid-44, but I've already added some more 40mm guns that was added at the same time. Instead, I'm doing the much easier solid Navy Blue scheme. Only the rivet counters will know this. These 1944 mods also effected the kinds and placement of radars which further complicates the build. The Trumpeter kit is basically the "as built" Essex before any mods were made.


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  • Missouri Complete 02
  • Missouri Complete 03
  • Missouri Complete 04
  • Missouri Superstructure Fin
  • Mo front oblique
Last edited by Trainman2001


Sensational.  Thanks so much for those pics and your highly detailed descriptions .  You certainly know your stuff.  What a gorgeous model.  I made at least 3 of those Revell plastic Missouri models.  They were great.  I probably still have them somewhere in the attic.

Those railings, radars, gun directors, and rigging are so detailed it's beyond belief.  I've never seen those mounts on the fantail, behind the 40mm AA guns.  Are they 20mm, or do they have something to do with the scout plane launchers?

Best I've ever seen.  Gotta love it.  Looking forward to the Essex updates.


Thank you very much. Every time I go into the spare bedroom and look at it, I really can't believe that I built it. It was a serious challenge.

Those are Mk 51 gun directors for each of the 40mm Bofors emplacements. American armament in mid-late WW2 was already very sophisticated. Everything bigger than 20mm was driven by gun directors through complicated servo systems. The hand wheels and gun sights on the bigger guns were there only if the directors were out of commission. There was a MK 51 for each 40mm quad. They used mechano-optical sight computers that handled the lead corrections when sighting on moving targets. The gun director person would aim at the aircraft and the turret would follow. The 5" turrets had four MK 37 directors that were both radar and optical driven with fairly long path optical range finders. The 5s would slave to these directors. And the 16" main batteries had the big MK 38 directors on top of the front and rear air defense towers. They were mounted as high on the ship as possible to best see over the horizon. These too had radar and very long path optical range finders. Each turret, whether 40, 5" or 16" also had their own methods of aiming. The winglets sticking out of the 16" turrets were optical range finders. When the Iowas were refitted in the 80s, the big gun turrets received radar shell tracking systems that could follow the shell's trajectory for further adjustments. The systems were deadly accurate. Lastly, the USA had developed electronic proximity fuses for their 5" shells. They actually had miniaturized vacuum tube radio range finders in the shells that would detonate when they were within a lethal radius of the air target. The vacuum tubes had to withstand the 10,000 gs that the shells would experience accelerating out of the gun tube. The Japanese never knew about this technology until after the war and thought we had the best trained gunners in the world. That may have been true too, but it wasn't the reason we were so deadly.

Fascinating.  I loved reading that.

I always wondered why those 5 inch turrets were firing at aircraft.  I think my model had 40 Bofors mounts and thought the 5 inchers were too big a shell for planes.  I've never heard/read any descriptions so detailed.  I knew about the winglets on the main turrets.  In Connecticut, the Massachusetts is fairly close by and I've been inside of both types of those turrets.  I'm sure the Iowa's were much more spectacular than the SD's.  

This is great stuff.  Thanks....


Thanks Rich and CSX Al!

Another clue to the 5"-gun-as-anti-aircraft-system question is their high-angle ability.


The 5" guns can point almost straight up (85°) which would only be to shoot at aircraft. Any more vertical and they risk the shells falling right back on their heads, although the 40mm Bofors could elevate to 90 degrees. They were often referred to as 5"/38 high-angle guns. The 38 is the caliber. In artillery sense "caliber" is the multiplier of the bore diameter to get the length of the barrel. The 16" gun turrets on all US WW2 battleships were very similar, however the Iowa's were 16"/50 caliber, whereas the South Dakota class' (for example) were 16"/45. Like in good hunting rifles, the longer the bore the greater the muzzle velocity and the higher the accuracy. So if you multiply 16 X 50 = 66'. That's 16.5" in our favorite scale 1:48. These are really big guns!

And with that I promise to get back to talking about just trains. However, most of us mechanically-inclined hobbyists, we tend to be interested in anything that floats, rolls or flies.


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  • 015750f

News update: I'm holding off on the Bronx cutting. Andre is traveling extensively and the price to do the job is high and I'm not sure I want to put all my eggs in one basket. I printed out full-size drawings of the three views and am going to make a cardboard mockup to see how and where it will fit. I'm a little concerned about how big it is and where it will go in the village. Better to find out this way that it doesn't work then to get a box of laser cut parts and THEN find out that it's too big.

Meanwhile, after I sold my Rock Island consist to Gene France of California it now has a home on the San Diego O'Scale Model Railroad Club layout and Gene sent me a video of it running on a big wonderful layout. I'm really glad that it found a great home and thanks to Gene for sending the video and closing the loop.

I'm continuing monumental work on the Essex aircraft carrier, updating it as best I can to a late WW2 configuration. I'm building all the masting out of soldered brass and believe me, it's one heck of a challenge. I had a rare set of weekend work sessions and finished the Mark 37 gun directors and the main tripod mast.

Essex Tri-Mast

The yard arm consists of a main support using three sizes of sub-millimeter thin-wall brass tubing with the photo-etched detail piece soldered to it, providing detail AND strength.

Here are the two directors. Base is kit plastic with all brass on top. I mounted the assembly on a brass plate which you can see and may do some more filling to hide the gap better. These are a bear to build and there's still more details on the antenna that can be added if you're so inclined. Right now I AM NOT so inclined.

Essex Mark 37s

And I also ran the trains for a little bit...after all I am a model railroader at heart. Winter has make that track misalignment at the gate disappear. Low humidity did the trick. Perhaps I should get a de-humidifier for the basement...?


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  • Essex Tri-Mast
  • Essex Mark 37s

Glad to hear from you.  Yes, it sounds like the mock up for the Bronx is the way to go now.  I was aware from elsewhere Andre has been a world traveler as of late!  Duty calls!

The work on the Essex looks superb, but I agree you have to decide when to take the detailing so far.

I'm glad Gene got that great looking Rock Island set for the San Diego O scalers club.  Are they one of the clubs at Balboa Park?  Our youngest daughter made a West Coast trip when she was in the Touring Choir of Grove City (PA) College a few years back.  The choir took some sightseeing time in San Francisco, Yosemite, and Balboa Park.  Holly saw a sign for a model railroad building at the park, told the gang she was with that she had grown up seeing my trains, and suggested they pass some time there.  She saidthey all thought it was great!!

Yes, now that you have passed through a few season changes, it seems you may do well to get a dehumidifier.  Glad you ran some trains!

It's good to periodically check in just so my thread doesn't get buried too far back in the queue. I made the Bronx Victorian mockup and tried it on for size. I'm glad I did. As much as I love the building's appearance, I think it is too big and too grand for the village. Here it is in the three possible locations. In the first two, it blocks viewing the distillery which, for all intents and purposes, is center-piece of the town vignette.

Victorian Fit 2

While the building is only four stories, the floor heights (probably 12 feet) make it look like a 5-story building. And the mockup doesn't include the mansard roof details and the decorative top roof that extends even higher so you wouldn't even see the refinery.

Bronx Doc Center Comp

In the second location, it's too close to the railroad and may actually be hit by long engines and rolling stock.

Victorian Fit 3a

This picture really shows how it blocks viewing Bernheim.

Victorian Fit 3b

This last location is behind the fire house and is where I was planning to put the under-construction rick house that would eventually store Bourbon barrels for the Berheim distillery across the street. 

Victorian Fit 1

From this angle all you see is the blank wall where a parking lot exists on the prototype. All the beauty is missed on the far side. I could reverse the building and have the brick side with the windows facing the fire house, but I'm not sure that's so good either. The Nighthawks Cafe structure is a much better size for this town. I think that's the one that I'll have cut.

VIctorian Fit 4

Readers... let me know what you think. Andre wants $460 to cut it, and I've sunk another $40 to have the architectural details 3D printed. That puts the total price tag over $500.00. 


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  • Victorian Fit 2
  • Victorian Fit 3a
  • Victorian Fit 3b
  • Victorian Fit 1
  • VIctorian Fit 4
  • Bronx Doc Center Comp
Last edited by Trainman2001

Well guys... I spent time on SketchUp this morning and did some surgery to selectively compress (us O'scalers are good at this) to keep the flavor of that elegant building, but reduce its volume so it fits in my village better and here's the new look.

Bronx Bldg Shrunk Ver. 1

I removed the 3rd story with all its windows and reduced the length by removing one set of windows and getting rid of the side door which wasn't part of the 1870 version anyway. I think it looks pretty good. What do you guys think? You can disagree. 

It would take less time to laser cut with one full set of windows missing, and the wall size reduced over 30%. I see that the mansard roof texture got switched. It should be slate fish scale shingles like the side roof. It only has one chimney since two looked like over kill.

I'm going to mock this up too and see where it fits.

And I'm still going to build Nighthawks.


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  • Bronx Bldg Shrunk Ver. 1

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