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Suburban alternatives - London Underground layouts (00 gauge)

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I had a reply from Radley Models this morning about the radii:


never had a problem with radius from customers so they go round all, but EFE will not go round a first radius

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In this post earlier in the thread I mentioned in passing a possible 009 layout.


I wondered whether I could fit an 009 layout in front of the fiddle yards for any of these layouts. I think that I have managed to fit a very small one in the space left over in the "South Finchley" fiddle yards - but this should also work for "Harrow Garden Village" (which is identical to "Acton Green" without the BR presence):




The grey lines represent the planned 00 gauge Underground layout as set out above. The greens represent fiddle yards, the red a small engine shed and the white lines the main running lines.


Here is the narrow gauge layout on its own:




Imagine an inland location in north or mid Wales in around the 1890s on a narrow gauge line built for a nearby slate quarry perhaps about half a mile away; this is the end of the line station that serves the town connected to the slate quarry. The actual quarry is further up the line, off scene, but there is a small spur from the quarry to the town (connected to the light green fiddle yard) to allow small quantities of slate to be brought to the town as needed , and also to allow locomotives from the quarry to be serviced in the engine shed. The town is served by passengers and general goods.


I have yet to think of a name for this layout plan.


With this arrangement, the 009 fiddle yards end at the same point as the 00 fiddle yards, allowing the scenic section to be unobstructed by narrow gauge lines. There is enough length for 3 Lynton and Barnstaple style carriages plus one decently sized tank locomotive in the platform and fiddle yards. The goods yard arrangement of the station (on the right) may need some improvement.

Edited by jamespetts

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Following some helpful information relating to the history of uncoupling workings, I have realised that the platforms and fiddle yards in the layouts intended to accommodate subsurface stock need to be able to accommodate 8, rather than just 7 carriages. The fiddle yards seem already to have been long enough, but the platforms were too short in some cases.


In these revised plans, I have lengthened them accordingly.


Pudding Lane II



Acton Green



Harrow Garden Village



According to the source linked above, uncoupling seems to have persisted the longest with the District, right into the early early 1970s. It seems to have been abandoned in the mid 1950s on the deep level lines; the position with the Metropolitan seems to be slightly unclear at present.


One issue is that, if I am to model a period and a line in which on peak/off peak formations were different lengths, I am going to have to be able to couple/uncouple the Underground stock, and I am not confident that the specialist couplings used for the Underground stock, whether ready to run or kit built, will readily accommodate being uncoupled in service, especially automatically.


If this is correct, that leaves only two options: either

(1) restrict myself to eras and lines in which no uncoupling took place; or

(2) use multiple rakes of stock to represent coupled and uncoupled states, which is possible but problematic given the limited fiddle yard space.

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2) Different rakes makes sense, Peak hour long rakes stuffed to the ceiling with sardine like brain dead commuters and short rakes for off peak running virtually empty.   

Seeing previous references to Moorgate St I wonder how many UK locations habitually used turn back locos, I can think of Moorgate and Liverpool street then my mind goes a bit blank.

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Looking at the plans, Baker Street jumps out as a possible prototype to adapt. That would give 2 through and 2 terminating platforms, or just eliminate one of the terminating platforms. It has some interesting pointwork and has inspiration to have the station at least partly open to the sky.


Or Edgware Road which could still have 1 or 2 terminating platforms. A miniature replica/representation of that signal box and panel would be a sight to behold!






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Slightly off topic, I was just wondering how your other 2 ambitious layouts are progressing? I recall you were commencing work on one or the other, following completion of your shed. I'd love to see how you're progressing.

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Thank you all for your replies; there is plenty to consider here. Baker Street (or a pastiche of Baker Street) is an interesting thought, and would allow much variety of surface stock, but I would only have space to model the Metropolitan main (branch) platforms rather than the inner circle. This is not necessarily a major problem, but the combination of the two lines is characteristic of that station. One might be tempted to model the Jubilee/Bakerloo at a lower level, but adding a second level would compromise storage space and make the layout difficult to build/wire. A Baker Street inspired layout would work better pre-1960s, I think, as having a layout with only one type of stock (A stock) would get somewhat tedious after a short while.


That second issue is also a possible issue with an Edgware Road pastiche, although in principle it might similarly be remedied by setting it in an earlier era.


However, a difficulty arises in that Radley Models has discontinued its O/P/R/Q38 stock kits, which would be quite important for earlier era working of subsurface lines. Another issue with earlier era modelling is the practice of uncoupling trains, as discussed above. There is not the fiddle yard space available to have different rakes of the EMUs in 4/8, 6/8 or 4/7 combinations. This might be solveable if any of the Underground models could be adapted to take Kadee couplers. An article in the latest edition of the MRC bulletin suggests that at least some of the deep level stock could be so adapted/fitted, but gives no details as to how. I will have to see if I can contact the author.


My current provisional thoughts favour the Harrow Garden Village track plan. This allows room for the narrow gauge layout, and potentially allows for a multi-guise approach, permitting changing between a Northern Line location (imagine Edgware had the Bushey Heath extension been built), a Metropolitan/Picadilly line locaiton (the original Harrow Garden Village idea, a pastiche of Rayners Lane) and a District/Central Line location (the original Acton Green idea but without the BR lines). This would allow a mixture of tube and subsurface stock. One possible issue in changing between a tube stock only location (as on the Northern Line) and a mixed tube/subsurface stock location is that the platform heights would not be consistent between both. That will need further consideration.


What will also need furhter consideration if I am to use a multi-guise approach is whether to use a generic name (e.g. "Green Lane") that could in principle apply to any of the locations, or change the station signs between each guise change. The latter might be difficult for an Underground location where the station signs are more built into the architecture of the station than was the case with main line stations in earlier times, which tended to use only independent sign boards, making a multi-guise layout with different station names easier.


The advantage of this set of plans is that it allows for running a great variety of rolling stock that interests me (1938 stock, 1959 stock, 1962 stock, A stock, O/P/Q38 stock, R stock, F stock, 1972 stock, standard stock and possibly even the LT pannier), by changing the guises, but only requires a subset of that rolling stock to get started with one of the guises. The eras for the guises might be somewhere between the 1950s and 1970s (many Underground stations seem not to have changed significantly in appearnace between these times), and might be narrowed even further to the 1960s (albeit with elimination of the 1972 stock) if significant fetatures did obviously change.


This would in turn give an approximately even spread of eras in the four layouts (this, the narrow gauge layout, the large 00 gauge layout on the upper level and the large N gauge layout on the southern wall), with the narrow gauge layout being set in around the 1900s, the large 00 gauge layout in the 1930s, this in the 1960s and the N gauge layout in 1989.




In relation to overall progress of the shed projects, it is the N gauge layout on which work has started in earnest. Progress can be followed in more detail on this thread in the N gauge forum. As discussed above, I cannot start the 00 gauge layout baseboards until all the lower level layouts have at least their rearmost track laid and wired in (at least as to droppers and possibly also point motors, although I have acquired a fair bit of rolling stock for the 00 gauge layout).


In summary, the baseboards were completed in the spring of this year, and the track for the extensive fiddle yards has been laid. The scenic section track has not been laid as I am waiting for the availability of code 40 British Finescale flatbottom turnouts which are due early next year (I was one of the Kickstarter backers for this project). In the meantime, I have been working on the electrics/electronics, and was delayed by a considerable time because of some electrical problems which have very recently been solved.


For testing of the electrical equipment and setup, which testing revealed the problem, I had wired in only the western extremity of the layout, connected this to my PC and set up TrainController with the interface for this. This was a useful exercise, as it allowed me to determine whether each of the planned items of hardware/software were suitable and to replace or modify those that were not suitable before progressing to the rest of the layout. Some changes were made to the planned equipment as a result of that, and the next task, which I started only very recently and has now been interrupted by builidng myself a new computer (and is about to be interrupted further by Christmas), is wiring in the bulk of the fiddle yards to the specifications and standards that I have now finalised in the testing phase.


One of the products of the testing phase has also been a refinement of how uncoupling is to be done; I still plan to use Kadee couplers on the 00 gauge layout and the Kadee-like Dapol Easifit couplers on the N gauge layout, but, instead of using a mixture of fixed permanent magnets and electromagnets, I plan to use instead servo mounted permanent mangets located underneath the baseboard. I worked on the early stages of the development of this system along with some others at the Model Railway Club (it was originally developed for Sprat & Winkle couplings used on a club layout there - see here for a demonstration video of this concept). The development is in the process of being continued by a small commercial manufacturer, which plans to go into produciton of these early next year. I already have a prototype of the Kadee version installed on the N gauge layout for testing (it turns out that the same sized magnets work well with both H0 scale Kadees and N scale Easifit couplers). It works well and avoids all the problems of electromagnetic uncouplers as well as the problems of having permanent magnet uncouplers constatnly acive even when uncoupling is not desired.


This testing phase is useful not just for the N gauge layout, but for all four of the planned layouts, as the same systems and specifications can be used in each of them, as well as the experience gained in building the N gauge fiddle yards applied to the other layouts. In some ways, although physically smaller than the large upper level 00 gauge layout, the N gauge layout is the largest of all of them, especially in fiddle yard space, if one were to measure by meterage of track.

Edited by jamespetts

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I know Phil at Radley Models has run out of kits of O/P/Q38 stock and the moulds are knackered. Thankfully I am currently re-engineering for him the flare sided stock to improve what was a nice kit. I’m sure they will be released early in the New Year. 

Apart from making the bodies closer to the prototype I am also making the correct under frame equipments for the Q38 and R stock driving motor. Phil already does equipments for O/P Metadyne stocks and CO/CP stock PCM equipments. They might not be on the website but he has them.


Back to the layout, Baker Street would be a great layout with fantastic variety of stock in the late 50s/early 60s.


I am building a model based on Harrow on the Hill in the late 30s-50s which can also be set in the early 2000s!


Good luck 

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@Lord of Narnia - thank you: that is very helpful information. The Radley Models website states that the last batch of the flare sided stock took 12 years to sell and inquires as to whether anyone is likely to want more. It is very encouraging to see this being pursued and potentially broadens my modelling horizons with this layout.


I actually have two old white metal Harrow Models kits, mostly assembled and partly painted, from the 1990s of Q38 stock, being one powered and one unpowered driving motor. It would be good to be able to use these (although the motor needs a new worm gear).


I shall be interested in your layout progress if you post about it online.

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Note, I have been supplying precision parts for code 40 N and Z scale turnouts. for at least the past decade E.g. Preformed crossings (frogs), machined points, throw bars, rail fixing plates and sleeper bases. My full turnout kits currently have US sized and spaced sleepers, but these can easily be replaced with UK sized and spaced ones if wanted..




This is a Z scale # 6


I would advise care in choosing or building code 40 rail products, as it's not the rail height that matters, but the relative height of the rail fixings. They must always be set below the bottom of the wheel flanges you intend using. But they also have to be strong enough to withstand continued use.


Here in the US, we have been using moving magnets for uncoupling Kadee's for as long as I can remember. Google "mounting uncoupling magnets on servos" for some of the latest ideas. Everything published is pretty much in the public domain, so you can make use of it yourself..





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5 hours ago, jamespetts said:

@Lord of Narnia - thank you: that is very helpful information. The Radley Models website states that the last batch of the flare sided stock took 12 years to sell and inquires as to whether anyone is likely to want more. It is very encouraging to see this being pursued and potentially broadens my modelling horizons with this layout.


I actually have two old white metal Harrow Models kits, mostly assembled and partly painted, from the 1990s of Q38 stock, being one powered and one unpowered driving motor. It would be good to be able to use these (although the motor needs a new worm gear).


I shall be interested in your layout progress if you post about it online.

Thanks. You can put the motors in the metal cars for extra traction - I’ve done this with my A stock.

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On 28/11/2019 at 09:06, jamespetts said:



All of the layouts are limited by being in 00 gauge in a relatively limited space. If it were easier to obtain a good variety of London Underground or pre-grouping rolling stock in N gauge, this would definitely be preferable, but, aside from a good LT pannier tank, availability is limited to 3d printed kits for which good chassis are not readily available, giving poor fidelity compared to the excellent quality of modern ready to run N gauge, and I do not fancy the prospect of having to line several 3d printed Metropolitan Bo-Bo locomotives in N gauge. I suspect that N gauge is best confined to areas which can readily be represented by ready to run rolling stock, the quality of which in modern times is excellent.


I will stick up for the 3D prints here - I modelled the underground in 00 for a long time and spent a lot of money and heartache in the process, but have had to switch to N for space reasons. I recently completed an N-Train D stock unit (later than your period I suspect) and it runs on a tomix chassis which literally just clips in,  and kato bogies for the non-powered car. The bodies just needed a spray in roof colour, and floors and chassis in black. The Kato bogies are a clip-fit. It is the sweetest runner of anything I have including RTR, a 6 car unit with one chassis.  It's just awaiting vinyls but could have been spray painted if I wasn't such a woos.  Complete cost of the unit was about GBP 270 including chassis, vinyls and bogies, so about 45 quid per car.  N-train also does tube gauge stock; equally he has done other prototypes which he doesn't have in his shapeways shop right now. There are also a few kato and Greenmax models which crop up on ebay which are a great chassis fit. N-train ha just brought out an s-stock as well. 


For your lining, I found this guy in Canada who is very helpful and will combine multiple lining / logos on a single decal sheet to reduce pricing, but importantly also supplies items in smaller than A4 sheet sizing. https://www.pdc.ca/rr/custom_decals/ . He is doing decals for my buses and DLR stock right now.



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Whilst progressing my N gauge layout, I have been giving this more thought, largely because, in the development of automation for the N gauge layout, I realise that it is possible to set up TrainController to allow the operator to be the signaller whilst the trains drive themselves, which somewhat changes the emphasis of might be interesting in respect of this layout. A layout which has more complex signalling, including locomotive hauled kickback working, is thus relatively more appealing than it might have been in other circumstances.


With that in mind, I have revised and optimised the "Pudding Lane" design as follows:




For those new to the thread, this is a design based loosely on Moorgate before its 1960s rebuilding. The odd shape is on account of having to fit around other layouts in the shed.


There is a mix of through and terminating traffic: all Widened Lines trains terminate, but most Inner Circle trains continue. Some Inner Circle trains, however, do terminate. This should create an interesting variety in types of traffic, the operation of the terminating trains having something of the character of the classic "Minories" track plan about it, which, of course, was based on one station up the line at Liverpool Street (when the bay platform was still in use).


I have also reconsidered the era in which this might be set. The original plan was to have this set in the late 1930s, but the problem with this is that anywhere from the early-mid 1930s until the advent of diesels at the very end of the 1950s will require the LMS Fowler 3P 2-6-2T to operate the Midland services on the Widened Lines. No ready to run model is produced of this, and I believe that no kit is produced either. In any event, I am keen to avoid any kit built steam locomotives on this layout, as, for space reasons, it is necessary to have a minimum radius in the fiddle yards of 438mm (2nd radius), whereas most kit built steam locomotives cannot cope with such tight radii. Kit built carriages, multiple units and electric locomotives (i.e. vehicles with bogies) tend not to have this issue.


Thus, I have been exploring other potential eras in which to set the model based on availability of suitable rolling stock. See this spreadsheet for an analysis of rolling stock requirements for:

  • 1913;
  • 1922;
  • 1929;
  • 1933;
  • 1939;
  • 1959; and
  • 1961.

Of all those eras, 1922 and 1959 are currently the most promising. 1959 is probably the easiest:




The Fowler 3ps were still around, but were rapidly being replaced by Sulzer type 2s (class 24s later):


46803522175_36f0b41b75_b.jpgD5091 at Moorgate (pjs,0898) by Geoff Dowling, on Flickr


so it is at least plausible that, on any given day, a service would be run without any Fowler 3ps. N1s are easy to get hold of, as are the locomotives that later became the class 26 and the class 21, which were all used on GNR services. The mk. 1 suburban carriages can be had ready to run and reasonably easy to build kits of the quad-arts that may still have been used on GNR peak time services can be had. The painting of these will not be difficult as no lining was involved. Class 26s can be had from Heljan, 24s from Bachmann and 21s from Dapol.


30747313327_a91b9b920a_b.jpgNew Heljan class 26 I bought from Hattons in the sale for £66 by Scottish Railway Maniac, on Flickr


27668047996_b79538b587_b.jpgBachmann Class 24 D5015 | Weathered | Detailed | Sound Fitted by Brian McCulloch, on Flickr


49757679606_cbeb878c23_b.jpgD6322 by Chris Strange, on Flickr


On the Underground side, Radley models produce kits of the flared-sided O/P stock


33996567485_3ff2384189_b.jpgCO/CP Unit by Roger Marks, on Flickr


whose design is a particular delight and likewise of the F and T stock that would have run to Uxbridge and Rickmansworth


34089302425_84774c6c15_b.jpgMetropolitan Railway by Chris  Stanley, on Flickr


42931908790_a86a8a5c9a_b.jpgLondon UndergrounD F STOCK APPROACHING MOORGATE 1940S by Roy Barnacle, on Flickr


and also the Dreadnought carriages used on the hauled services that would have changed over to steam at Rickmansworth


5704777109_69f660a123_b.jpgR0153  Met No 2  Willesden Grn Jun 1960 by Ron Fisher, on Flickr


Heljan, of course, produce the Metropolitan-Vickers B0-B0 locomotives:


16623920092_8fa5c1f161_b.jpg110_0666 Heljan Metropolitan 1 by Robert Forsythe, on Flickr


In this era, use could, of course, be made of the Bachmann 57xx in London Transport livery hauling a short engineering train.


6222209179_dc47a73dba_b.jpgL90_Farringdon_APR-70 by Robert Carroll, on Flickr


This era would show the Underground trains in their iconic scarlet livery and include such delightful designs as the O/P stock and F stock. It would also encompass the very early days of diesel locomotives when class 26s could be seen in London and class 21s were still a thing.


So far as 1922 is concerned, this is a little more difficult to do accurately, but is not as difficult as the 1930s.




On the main line side of things, the GNR suburban services require the same steam locomotive as in the 1950s, the N2, which is available from Hornby in pre-grouping colours; although this is discontinued, secondhand examples seem to be available without too much difficulty. 1922 predates the quad-arts, so 4 wheel carriages would have been used. In reality, the GNR built special large 6 compartment four wheelers, but one might satisfy oneself with the Hattons Genesis types instead, which should be available next year, in plenty of time for this layout. The Midland services require bogie carriages, but these can be obtained in the form of Ratio kits, which I am given to understand are straightforward to build. Lining might be an issue, but, at worst, I could send these to a professional painter. (Does anyone know whether the Midland abolished lining during the First World War? If so, that might make things easier). As to motive power, I understand that the 1P 0-4-4Ts were used, and these, in their beautiful pre-grouping livery, are scheduled to be released by Bachmann later this year.


24993929536_cb4c4a71e2_b.jpgLoco 1744 GNR Class N2 0-6-2T Gresley 1920s by Barry Smith, on Flickr


As to the Metropolitan Railway, Inner Circle services would be provided by 1905/1913/1921 stock. Although it is not on their website, I am told by the person who designs Radley Models' kits that the 1913/1921 stock is now available, and the 1905 kit is due this year. The Hammersmith & City services would have used 1906 stock, virtually identical to the 1905 stock except in formation and livery. M/N stock would have been used on some services up the Metropolitan main; kits for this are available from London Road Models, Unlike the other kits, these are brass and possibly harder to make, although I have had some success in an attempt to build a brass carriage in the past. Again, I could send this to a professional kit builder if necessary. Dreadnought carriages would be required, as would the Metropolitan-Vickers locomotives, as in 1959, but, of course, in a different livery.


One interesting feature of the Metropolitan before 1939 was the passage of GWR trains from places such as Slough and Windsor to Liverpool Street, after electrification changing engines at Paddington. In 1920-1921, the carriages on this service were replaced by specially built "Main Line and City" stock. This is not readily available except as a somewhat basic 3d printed body shell. However, one might with a little modeller's licence imagine that their predecessors, the 4 wheeled carriages, had lingered another year or two, and thus satisfy the requirement, in the short term at least, either with more Hatton's Genesis carriages or some Ratio kits, which should not be hard to paint on account of needing to be painted all over brown.


Another interesting feature of the Metropolitan before 1939 was the unique pair of Pullman carriages operated by this company. Again, no model of these are available. However, a one off carriage could possibly be obtained either through 3d printing efforts or through the agency of a professional model builder far more feasibly than the same for several rakes, and one might do without it for a time as there were only one or two services a day.


The 1922 era is compelling partly because pre-grouping generally is a joy (the myriad delightful liveries, and the fact that the companies had yet to be interfered with by an over-reaching state), and also partly because of the more interesting operations of this earlier era, with Metropolitan trains using the Widened Lines, a higher proportion of locomotive hauled workings, the Pullman services and the interesting GWR services, as well as the intriguing older electric rolling stock of this era that is often forgotten but that would have been a daily experience for hundreds of thousands of Londoners for many decades.


1929 is a possible interesting variation on 1922, with generally similar services, but in the grouping era and with some later rolling stock.




However, this seems to have no real advantages in terms of either ease or interest over 1922, and 1922 has some advantages of interest, principally in being a pre-grouping period.


1913 is also potentially interesting, but much more difficult:




SECR services were still running at this date, making it harder to fit all the necessary rakes into the space limited fiddle yards, the signalling would have been quite different (and I am keen to emulate the 1920s era of signalling with miniature lever frames, track circuit operated diagrams and colour light signals), and kit built steam locomotives (e.g. the GNR C2/LNER C12, LCDR R1, and SER Q1) would be required with all the difficulty engendered by kit built steam locomotives on this layout as described above, so it is perhaps a somewhat impractical era.


One possibility is to make the layout era-convertable by making the signage and model figures removable (perhaps in the latter case by drilling rare earth magnets into their shoes and putting a sheet of steel underneath the platform surface) so that I might have both eras (and, in future, any intermediate era that I may choose), which would maximise the amount of variety obtainable by this layout.  I should be interested in the experiences of anyone who has tried anything similar.


I have spent some time analysing whether I have enough fiddle yard space in this plan to accommodate all the trains that I need for the two most favoured eras, and also 1929: see here for a spreadsheet. This exercise shows that it should be possible to have more than one rake of most types type of Metropolitan train in  both eras whilst keeping one fiddle yard road spare to allow for movement (also noting that the curves on the right hand side are longer than the trains and so can be used for temporary storage whilst these trains await a free fiddle yard road there in the lower yard).

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Here is a slightly revised furhter version of the track plan:




This has had an additional fiddle yard siding added to the lower fiddle yard to allow accommodation of the Sundays only workings from the District Railway/Line (which I assume would only be four cars long). This should allow greater variety of rolling stock on the layout in the form of (possibly) F stock in 1922 and Q23 stock in 1959.

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Here is a further revised version of the plan:




I have added an additional short fiddle yard road in the lower fiddle yards - this will be blocked by anything in road IC5, but is intended for occasional trains such as engineering trains where that will not be an issue.


Here are the updated rolling stock requirements for 1959:




and here are the updated rolling stock requirements for 1922:




I have also spent some time calculating the lengths of the fiddle yard roads and lengths of trains with some precision, which are as follows:



Fiddle yard road lengths



Train lengths


This allows me to calculate whether there are enough slots for the various rakes of carriages/trains at start of day (when the station platforms are all assumed to be empty). Here are the allocations for 1959:




and here they are for 1922:





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