Archive for the ‘Project Log’ Category

More distributorless ignition talk…

Like I said in my last update: Updates to the website have been horrible! This month I tried to tackle the whole DIS thing. I spoke with Henry at AEM tech support about the new AEM twin-fire CDI (Capacitive Discharge Ignition) box and how it interacts with ignition coils. I was confused
on whether or not I would need ignitors in my setup. He insists with the new ignition box and some 2 connection, 2 post coils, like GM DIS coils, that I should be fine. The reason for these coils is first because the AEM only has 4 coil outputs, which pretty much requires a waste spark ignition setup right there, and also because these coils do not have ignitors built-in. In general, he said coils with 3 or more connections usually have built-in ignitors and are more advanced, like the single coil per cylinder LS2 coils. Below is a picture of the GM DIS coils:

So, I bought the 4-channel AEM twin-fire box from Summit and 4 GM DIS coils from Jegs. The AEM cost about $300 and the coils another $120. They arrived a few days ago and I immediately dove into the manual to figure out wiring and firing order. Following the standard 5.0 HO motor firing order of 1-3-7-2-6-5-4-8 and the AEM twin-fire (+540V) wiring instructions, I end up with the following coil pairs:
Coil 1: Fires 1,6
Coil 2: Fires 3,5
Coil 3: Fires 7,4
Coil 4: Fires 2,8
Remember, because its waste spark, when the EMS says to fire cylinder 1, coil 1 is triggered which fires both cylinder 1 and 6. Because cylinder 6 is on its exhaust stroke it doesn’t matter that the spark made it to that cylinder, hence the waste of a spark. Below is a pic of the AEM twin-fire after I cut the power wiring to length to prepare it for mounting:

So now that I have my pairs I decided to test fit the coils and plug wires to find a place to mount them. Since each coil has a cylinder it services on each side of the engine, I need to keep all 4 coils together in the middle. Intuitively this means either keeping the same stock length spark plug wires running to where the distribitor USED to be, or flipping the wires lengths and moving them to the rear of the block. Until I build the mount for the coils this can be decided on later. As a side note – I personally dont like how bulky the 4 coils look together but since I would still like to keep using the Livewires I purchased a while back that will be the plan for now. For now I don’t want to get involved with custom length wires. That can be done later if need be.

I ordered some aluminum off of eBay so I can start on the mounting. As soon as it comes in, I will start some fabbing! More on this later.

Another progress report

Updates to the website have been horrible and I apologize in advance. Its not like I’m in a hurry to drive my car or anything right? Err…..

On to the update! One of the most important things I still needed at the time was the weld wire and the modified spacer. Takash was pretty busy with the beginning of the racing season so it took a while to get the spacer back. No big deal though as I had plenty of welding to take care of. I bought more wire a few weeks back and finished up the welding. The muffler hangers were somewhat problematic because for some reason the welds weren’t holding like they did on the piping. I was grinding them down the same and even experimented with changing the heat settings to try and get it right. Eventually it worked, but to be sure I fastened a self-tapping screw through the hanger and into the muffler. As it turns out that worked great for mocking up the position of the muffler under the car. Below are some pics of all the final horrible welds I produced:

After I finished my horrible welding job I picked up the spacer which I had milled down by 3/8″. I bolted it to the upper intake and then set the assembly on the lower intake. Just to be sure I closed the hood a few times, and sure enough it fits perfectly (so far)! Now something I didn’t even think of was how this would effect the fasteners on the lower intake. Well as my luck would have it (and if you haven’t figured out how bad my luck is by now try re-reading the last 20 posts) I can’t fit a tool on all the nuts because of the now added height of the studs. The fuel injector rails cause a clearance problem from the side and the upper plenum causes a clearance above the stud/nut. I’m not sure how I can get around this. My other option (and yes I’ve been down this road before) is to buy a hood with greater clearance but that is an expensive path to travel. This is going to take more thought, and just like the other 10 things I’ve put off, I decided I will deal with this one later. To be continued…

Even though I couldn’t tighten all the nuts, I wasn’t going to let that keep me from routing the intake piping from the intercooler. Before I had the spacer milled I knew I would have problems with alignment of all the piping pieces. One of the hoses I purchased last month was a hump hose
which aides in connecting pipe ends that don’t quite line up exactly. After some grinding was done on the sheet metal where the original air filter mounts were located I placed the piping and used the new clamps and checked for clearance. Everything looks good except for two small areas which may or may not be a problem. The first is the clearance between the EGT sensor and the piping (see below):

You can see how the wiring just barely touches the bottom of the pipe. This is one place I will have to watch over time. The other place is between the Tial 50mm BOV and the hood. For this I may be OK with rotating it on its mount such that the valley of the BOV head is parrallel to the inner surface of the hood. I can close the hood but I’m afraid when the engine moves while running it may wear slightly. For now here is what the intake and intake piping look like (note the addition of the downpipes from the last update and the oil lines, which I mention below):

After I was done with the piping and welding I decided to finish up the oil system. As you may recall I purchased a few components a while back to build my own oil cooling kit. I already have the thermostat sandwich adapter mounted on the block, I just needed to run the lines and mount the cooler. Along with the cooler came 4 plastic zip-ties made for mounting the cooler to a radiator. In my case because I have no room between radiator and intercooler I decided to just mount it to the intercooler. This is NOT my preferred location but I really have no other place to mount it. I even considered mounting it in a sideways position out of the airflow, hiding under the fender, but even there it just doesn’t fit. After getting it all lined up properly I then ran the oil lines from the sandwich adapter to the cooler. I then ran the feed lines for the turbo’s off of the oil pressure sender adapter sent to me by Cartech. The pictures below show the oil system finally put together:

I decided since I had everything put together that I would prime the oil system and check for leaks. The only other thing to mount was the oil filter. And as luck would have it (again) I ran into a snag. Because the sandwich adapter is in the stock oil filter location it pushes the oil filter out another 2 inches. This causes a clearance issue between the filter and the sway bar (See below):

I have a few options to fix this one but it seems the cheapest and fastest way is to just get a shorter filter. I will have to check and see if the newer mustangs use the same thread size, because I know they do use a shorter filter.

All about how NOT to weld…

First a small update about whats happened in the last few weeks.

I ordered a few things from Summit: the MSD crank trigger assembly, some 15 guage 3″ exhaust pipe pieces (2 straight 4′ lengths and 2 U-shape bends, the exhaust ball flange collectors, the K&N air filters (P/N#: Xtreme RX-4990) for the turbos, and some weatherpack connectors to cleanup the EFI wiring harness. I also picked up a few things off ebay: some plate aluminum for fabbing up an alternator mount, and some 3″ silicone hose and CT clamps to finish the intercooler piping.

Once the clamps and hose came in, I tried to install them (cause I figured it would be easy) but I ran into a problem making them work. As it turns out, thanks to the additional height of the Box-R series intake opening, there is a misalignment of the two pipes that connect throttle body to intercooler output. As if that wasn’t enough, when I finally got everything to fit, I tried closing the hood for the evening and found out the hood was resting on the piping, to the point I couldnt close it! Well, I knew I was going to have issues with the hood but I didnt think it would be this bad. So, I decided I would just mill down the Trick Flow adapter plate that sits between the upper and lower intake. I dropped it off at Takash Racecraft Monday and asked them to remove 3/8″ off the top. We’ll see what happens when it comes back. More on that later.

Moving on! I also tried mocking up the MSD crank trigger. For some reason the bolts that come with it are too short, so I had to go out and buy some new ones (with washers just in case I need to shim). I decided I will make the trigger mount also part of the alternator mount. As Imay or may not have mentioned before, I have to mount the alternator down low out of the way of the Tial wastegates and related exhaust tubing to get it to fit. No one makes a kit for a setup like mine so hence the need to fab something up. All this will have to wait though since the new PA-Performance alternator is on backorder. I purchased it because of its small case size and high amp, 1 wire output. Again, more on this later, as for now here is a pic of the crank trigger finally mounted up (I’ll most likely take it apart once I know the engine is working, so I can have it reanodized to a nice black finish). FYI – I also ordered up a race crank pulley set from UPR, which you can see is bolted to the dampner. The reason for this is to make sure I don’t over spin the alternator past its 17,000 RPM limit:

Now, for the main point of the update: I decided to try my hand at welding. A few months back my dad was cleaning out his tractor barn and decided he didnt need his welder anymore. Its a MIG from Tractor Supply Co. that will do steel/iron or aluminum and has the Argon/CO2 regulator included. Luckily the wire he was using doesnt require any shielding gas, as this wire has a flux core. Anyway, I needed to weld the ball flange collectors to the turbo downpipes so I could start mocking up the exhaust piping. So, I ground down the edges of the aluminized pipe, made a few alignment checks, and then started welding. All in all, I think a one-handed blind man could weld better than me. Granted this was my first time ever, but as long as the welds hold I dont care what it looks like. Especially since they are hidden under the maze of exhaust tubing anyway.

I was told by a few friends that the flux core weld wire is not the best for finished welds and that I should have it redone. Thier thinking is that the flux weld wire is good for tacking things up temporarily. My thinking is, as long as it doesnt fall apart driving down I-4 I dont give a crap. At this point I just want to make sure the engine is running properly, and maybe after the first 500 miles I’ll go back and take it all apart and have it rewelded by a professional. But for now, its good enough for me (I just know these words will come back to haunt me).

After the downpipes were welded I installed them on the turbos. The passenger side downpipe refuses to fit with the new ball flange addition which means Im going to have to remove the headers (uuughhhh!!!!) to get the downpipe in. Regardless of that slowdown, I started measuring and cutting pieces for the driver side exhaust. Its a very tedious job to constantly get under the car, lines things up, mark them, cut them, check again, cut if need be, and finally weld. It took me all day Sunday just to get something that went back far enough to where the mufflers should be and then I ran out of weld wire. I will try to get some more soon and start in again sometime this week.

Below are some photos of the one side I finished. Because I took my sweet time taking pictures of the welds (these pics were taken one month after I finished) and because I forgot to coat them with my ceramic spray, now they’re all rusty. Go ahead and laugh. I know I did:

I also included a pic of the passenger side downpipe bolted up to the turbo:

Turbos and intercooler mounted!

I actually had that feeling of accomplishment today. I got a bunch of stuff done and the engine bay looks great (well almost).

First thing I did was install the headers. And, yeah it was a pain in the ass. The passenger side went in OK. Except, like a moron, I forgot to cover the strut tower and scratched the paint up. The high temp coating feels like sandpaper and will mess up a paint job pretty fast. It also messes up skin too. And because I couldnt wear gloves because of the tight spaces and working with the 12-point ARP header bolts my hands now look like I took a grinder to them.

Next I was able to line up the turbo to the headers and mark where to drill the holes in the sheet metal of the engine bay. Each turbo needs 3 holes: 1 for the compressor intake (big enough to attach an air filter), 1 for the oil drain hose (big enough not to let the hose contact the metal and wear a hole), and 1 for the turbo compressor discharge (big enough to connect the turbo to intercooler piping with silicone coupler and CT clamps). And of course — like a moron, I drilled the first and biggest hole incorrectly and scratched the paint up (Hey – it just wouldn’t be authentic Kenny if something wasnt messed up). I also wiped up the metal shavings after drilling and didnt realize I was scratching the paint as I wiped.

Anyway, below is a pic of the driver side header and turbo installed (everything is wet because it had just started to rain). You will also notice the intercooler in place but not lined up or bolted yet:

The driver side header was another sad story. Before I could even get close to lining up the bolts I had clearance issues between the front of the disc brake proportioning valve and the number 7 cylinder piping. It’s very tight back there because of the steering shaft, master brake cylinder, proportioning valve, and header runners. Of course now it needs room for a downpipe, which complicates things. So I drilled new holes for the prop valve which would push it back about 2 inches from its original mounting. I didnt want to remove the brake lines which would certainly speed things up and simplify things but made it difficult in that I had to bend all 5 hard lines at once into the new position. So after that was taken care of, I was able to bolt in the driver side header. Below is a pic of the driver side header and turbo installed:

Just as a side note: One thing that annoys me ever since buying the Cartech turbo headers is the piping width near the bolt holes. Whoever bent and welded the piping either didnt think or forgot that someone would have to put bolts in the holes. The problem I’m talking about causes the bolt heads to scrape the side of the piping when inserting them into the holes or trying to tighten them down. Well because of this problem, coupled with the 12-point bolts they sent, it is impossible (on some of the bolts) to get a wrench around the entire bolt head. Therefore I can’t tighten down the bolt, I can only get it finger tight. With the exception of removing the headers and rewelding them, the only other solution I see is to replace them with 6-point ARP bolts, because at least then I’ll be able to get an open-end wrench on one side of the head. I have 3 on the passengar side and 2 on the driver side which I CAN’T tighten. Im gonna have to handle this soon since I’m getting close to the first startup.

Next I was able to route the piping which was OK and test fit the intercooler. In order to get the intercooler to fit I had to remove the front bumper support. That wasnt enough so I had to cut off the metal mounts which held the front bumper support (theres no going back now). This kind of pissed me off because now if I want to use my fog lights I will have to fab up a bracket since they USED to be attached to the bumper support. Below is a side shot of the intercooler mounted:

I also had to trim the back of the air scoop at the bottom of the front bumper. It was so long that it was hitting the face of the intercooler and I didnt was to risk bending the fins while mounting it back up or driving. The moron thing happened again here too when I scratched the paint on the scoop while cutting with my not so trusty sawzall. Its not noticeable though unless your up close. I had to useshims on both sides of the intercooler mounts to push it out from the radiator support. In a way this is better because the bumper now rests on the top of the intercooler where it used to sit on the bumper support. The only drawback to the whole thing is how low it hangs from beneath the bumper. If I wanted, I could have cut out portions of the bumper cover behind the headlights, which would have allowed me to raise the intercooler another inch or so, but I didn’t want to ruin the structural integrity of the bumper since there isnt a support anymore. I will just have to be careful when driving near bumps or steep inclines. Below are a few pics of the bumper cover installed over the intercooler:

Anyway – Im very happy with the progress Im making. Hopefully next weekend I’ll have the exhaust mocked up so I can take it to Tim Takash for welding.

NOTE: The next day I realized I didnt get all the metal shavings from drilling the holes and had nice little rust spots all over the fender and bumper, along with the ones I missed in the engine bay —- this made me VERY angry.

The engine is in the car! WOOHOO!!

OK, before I get to the good news let me explain how I was able to get the K-member in the car.

After frustrating myself on Friday night, I went online and did a few quick searches to see what others have done to get thier locking lug nuts off. A few guys had great success with the Craftsman Bolt-Out Nut and Bolt remover. I decided to try it out for myself and picked up a Bolt-Out impact set (they make one set for hand tools and one for impact wrenches) that night. The next morning I tried them out and had all 4 lug locks out in under 15 minutes. I was thrilled the lug locks came out, but at the same time really annowed how easy it is to remove them (with the right tools that is…). So, given the hassle that these things caused me, in my opinion, it is almost useless to use locking lug nuts, because any thief would have no problem buying the same remover set I did and stealing your wheels. The only benefit I can see is that it would slow the theft process down. Below is a pic of the useless broken locking nuts:

Pics will go here later.

Now — On to the good news. With the wheels out of the way, I was able to get the k-member in the car on Saturday afternoon! The installation was pretty simple (with air tools) and straight forward. The only thing that really slowed me down was removing the bolts from the A-arms (they were really frozen on there) and getting the springs in. I am a little concerned about the springs because they seem to be compressed way more than before. This was confirmed when I removed the jacks, as the car is higher than before. I will look into it later after I finish the engine
install, for now here are some pics from the k-member installation:

Sunday morning with the brand new k-member in place, I finally had nothing stopping me from dropping in the motor. I had a few issues with the flywheel/pressure plate which I had to fix (I damaged a few bolt holes with too much torque) and the transmission mount was giving me problems fitting to the car (I ran over something a long time ago which slightly bent the support). My friend Mark and my brother-in-law-to-be Tony both helped me mate the engine and tranny, then we hung it from the crane and put it in. We ran into a small problem with the Energy suspension polyurethane motor mounts and had to grind the tabs off to fit the k-member mounting holes (I forgot to mock up the mounts to the k-member beforehand). Other than that it was easy ;) Below are a few pics from the install:

After the engine and tranny were bolted in, I went to work installing the fuel system. I began by installing the fuel pressure regulator on the rear facing side of the passengar strut tower and trimmed the stainless steel lines to fit. Next I put the fuel injectors and rails in place and thats when I noticed a minor snag. The coolant temp sensor protrudes so high that the fuel rail revents plugging in the wiring harness. It should work fine if I move it to the other side, but I will have to rewire the main injector harness for it to work. I also mocked up the fuel feed and it looks like I will have to trim down the lines coming from the Y-block to the back of the fuel rail.

It was really late by then and it started raining a bit, so I decided to rap it up for the night. No big deal bcause now I have plenty to do when I get home from work for the next few nights (just small things really).

K-member and wheel problems

OK, I’ll start with the good news. I scored a great deal on eBay from Autofab Race Cars on a QA1 brand tubular K-member. Its made of tubular thick wall steel which makes it far lighter than the factory stamped steel. QA1 advertizes this part as being 28 pounds lighter than stock (which is
a pretty big chunk for a single part).

It greatly improves exhaust and oil pan clearance, not to mention it improves suspension geometry with a more aggresive stance. The best part is I only paid $230 shipped (and they sent me a free t-shirt — Gotta love all these new work shirts Ive been getting). Search for user “chassis_warehouse” on eBay if your interested in picking one up.

Now for the bad news. I lost the key for my locking lug nuts. Yes I know, Im an idiot. I suspect I threw it out on accident with some old rusty bolts from the inital disassembly of the car. So I called tech support at for some help. Unfortuneatly back when I bought the locking lugs they didnt keep track of customer key sets. Plus I have the older syle and they dont sell it anymore anyway. So I bought a locking lug nut remover set off eBay for about $40 shipped. That was a waste of money. It only succeeded in rounding off the key tabs. So next I drilled the top of the lug off. Why? I have no idea. It was late, I was angry and tired, and I needed to get my aggressions out.

Anyway, because I cant take the wheels off, I cant change the k-member which means I cant put the new engine in. I was hoping to do it this weekend but until I get this lug thing figured out Im going nowhere fast.

Wiring and (re)assembly

I came home today and found the correct Cometic head gaskets had been delivered! Yeah! So I wasted no time throwing ‘em on. It was pretty late by the time I called it quits and wasnt able to finish putting the lower intake manifold on, but at least all the valves are adjusted and the covers installed (forgot to take pics after the covers were on).

This past weekend I worked a bit more on wiring, since I couldnt do anything with the engine. I finished the wiring for the AEM injector driver box and installed it (below).

Also mounted the AEM EMS and wideband UEGO along with related engine harness wiring (below).

Also finished running the wiring for the electric water pump and the radiator fans. With that I also ran everything for the battery relocation and moved all the starter wiring. That also involved wiring up the Aeromotive fuel pump. Overall — What a pain in the ass! If I had known it would take this long I would have at least waited to get the engine in the car and running before attempting it all at one time! What sucks is the dash and accessory harnesses are taking longer than expected and I ended up cutting a few wires on accident. And of course rather than fix them right when it happened I waited and now Im not sure what they are for…. Check out the pic below to see the under dash wiring nightmare.

Wrong head gasket!!!

OK — I have always been the type of person that double checks things that I’m unfamiliar about (you would think head gaskets would be one of ‘em). Well, in all the excitement of ordering the AFR heads and the ARP head studs from Brother Performance Warehouse¬† back in June I never double checked the head gaskets that they sent. Well, as luck would have it (and I’m a very unlucky person) I decided to double check them yesterday and found out they sent me gaskets with the wrong bore. The head gaskets they sent are Cometic #C5511-040 which are for 302-351w production blocks with a bore of 4.030″ and a compressed thickness of 0.040″ (that is the stock thickness). I called Cometic to verify the bore and sure enough, since I have a block which is boared to 4.030″ Im supposed to be using a gasket of 4.080″ bore. If I used the ones I have installed now the metal gaskets would create hot spots in the combustion chamber which would cause pre-ignition resulting in detonation. Not to mention Im assuming it would severly decrease the lifespan of the gaskets.

Now — what really sucks is that I installed the heads a few months ago including all the valvetrain components along with lower intake manifold. So yesterday I spent a few hours tearing it down. Below are a few pics:

I called Anthony at Brothers yesterday and he seemed OK with letting me send back the old ones. He said they would need to inspect the set I have now to give me store credit. The correct Cometic head gasket is part #: C5513-040. Brothers didnt have it in stock so I ended up calling Bill at RPM Machine in Utah It should be here next week sometime.

Rocker stud issues

A few days ago I was reading through the documention that came with the AFR 185′s and saw something that I didnt catch my first time through. The rocker studs that come with the heads from the factory are suitable for all stud mount rocker arms — EXCEPT the Comp Cams Pro Magnum Rocker Arms. Guess which type of rocker arms I own?! You guessed it – the Pro Magnums!! So while I sat to wallow in my self pity I began recalling how difficult it was to install the rockers arms. The problem I had was the studs didnt seem to have near enough threads which had me worrying if and when they would break. After reading a little further I found out that I need to order a longer stud from AFR to keep the valvetrain geometry correct. I immediately called AFR and 1 week and $50 later I had the new ones in hand. Below is a picture of one of the new studs (left) next to the old one (right):

You can clearly see the difference in length. Plus what you may not see is the new studs have a wider base just below the hex shaped portion which make it easier to adjust the guideplates by limiting the amount of play. This makes it much easier to adjust the valves (in my opinion).

Going distributorless

As I write this Im contemplating starting a whole new page just on the distributorless dilema. The topic of going distributorless can get very confusing, especially given all the many different combinations of ignitions setups there are. Therefore I will try to keep it simple, as I am still trying to understand it myself and learning new information all the time. Here is what Ive learned so far (please keep in mind, that while I KNOW there are other alternatives, I am trying to stay focused on a setup specific to my own car with a few constraints; keep the AEM for sole ignition control and keep it inexpensive while still looking good):

A distributorless ignition requires a few specific pieces to operate. The first thing is a crank trigger wheel and pickup. Simply put, the wheel is just a round metal plate with devices on it that indicate the location of the crank as its rotating in the block. The pickup reads the teeth and sends that information to the ignition controller. There are alot of different wheels out there, all with a varying number of teeth. Im going to try and keep it simple and talk about two approaches I believe optimal for my setup. The first one is a custom piece by Mike Sitar, who unfortunately doesnt make them anymore.

It involves a magnetic pickup mounted on the timing cover which generates a signal when a tooth passes the end of it. I’ve heard pros and cons for this setup but it seems to work very well for a few of the Mustang guys on the AEM forums: The second one is the MSD “flying magnet” setup.

With this system the magnets are embedded into the wheel so when they pass the pickup, it triggers a pulse. Personally I’mleaning more towards the MSD setup but its very pricey. Not to mention its red. I’d have to have the anondizing stripped and redone in black to make it look pretty in the engine bay :)

Now turn your attention topside. With the distributor gone there is nothing now turning the oil pump. Therefore the next part which is essential to operation is the cam plug. This item serves the main purpose of keeping the oil pump shaft connected to the rotation of the camshaft which in turn rotates the oil pump to obviously provide oil pressure. As an added bonus the MSD part I bought provides an additional signal to the computer to indicate position of camshaft relative to the crank. I knew I would need this part without a doubt so it was the first one in the system that
I bought (below).

Now that the old way of providing engine position has been removed and replaced with the electronic version its time to look at the way it provides spark to the plugs. This is the part that is the most confusing to me. Because Im using the AEM I need to figure out how to sync up the cam plug and crank trigger events to fire the plugs. This shouldn’t be too bad because I can always call AEM’s tech line. My concern is what to fire them with. Before the AEM the stock setup used a single coil which fired 8 times for every 1 complete engine cycle. (EDIT: Dont forget — the camshaft which drives the distributor turns once for every 8 spark firing events, the crankshaft turns twice because of the timing chain crank gear being half the size of the cam gear! Turning the crank over once is not a complete cycle!) Now that the coil and distributor are gone I need a replacement coil to supply the voltage. As I see it, there are two options for my setup; either coil packs with ignition drivers OR coil-on-plug. An example of coil packs is a wasted spark configuration, like the Electromotive coil packs (which would only work with my setup if I wired in coil drivers ahead of the coil packs):

An example of the coil-on-plug setup is on ’96-’98 Cobra 4.6L engines and uses two coil packs (which technically aren’t full output coils like the ones above, they are more like mini step-up coils) with four posts on each pack that fire another mini-coil inside the spark plug wire – like these performance parts from Performance Distributors:

Now – See how this could get kind of confusing for a first timer? I’ve yet to figure out which one to go with. And currently I’m waiting for some advice from a few people online on the best route to go. Hopefully I’ll know in the next few months or so as Im getting very close to firing the engine for the first time.

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