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Experiments With Flex

ease my flex dip pen nibs affordable flex bobje

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#1 Bobje

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Posted 04 July 2017 - 23:10

fpn_1499208262__airmail-wality-nib-exper

 

Affordable flex is difficult to find. My recent practice in learning copperplate script makes me appreciate flexible nibs as writing tools. Dip pen nibs offer both affordability and ultimate flexibility and line variation, if the writer is willing to carry jars of ink. Vintage flex fountain pen nibs offer portability at the price of a vintage flex pen. In this thread I will present results of informal experiments with nib flex modifications that start with the well-documented “ease my flex," and then include a central cut-out inspired by dip pen nibs.

 

This thread will ultimately contain a series of four tests: 

 

1. The first test, in this post -- modifications on inexpensive Jinhao and Airmail Wality nibs.

 

2. The “ease-my-flex” modification -- also known as "angel wings" -- applied to flex and extra fine, no. 6, steel nibs, from Fountain Pen Revolution. I selected FPR nibs because they're affordable, easily available in multiple sizes and types, and my previous experiences with them have been positive. FPN contributor Pterodactylus started a discussion of the "ease my flex" modification in February 2013, initially applied to the Noodler's Ahab model: 

http://www.fountainp...se-my-flex-mod/

 

3. A “central cutout” modification applied to flex and extra fine, no. 6, steel nibs. Also known as the "Cross of Lorraine."See post no. 5 by FPN contributor Freddy in this discussion thread: 

 

Synnove, the FPN contributor behind these "central cutout" tests, also created this threadhttp://www.fountainp...-edison-jowo-6/ Additionally, Synnove did a small study on how much weight on the nib it took to splay the tines a given width. http://www.fountainp...-fat-grail-pen/

 

4. A modification applied to flex and extra fine, no. 6, steel nibs that includes both ease-my-flex and central-cut-out.

 

Test 1 was conducted on Jinhao x450 and Airmail Wality 71j pens that I already owned. Tests 2 through 4 are being conducted on FPR nibs, feeds, and Click pen bodies supplied by Kevin Thiemann of FPR. For the most part, Kevin supplied materials; I supplied labor and documentation. 

 

Today’s post includes my experience and results of the first test. I used a Dremel-type grinding tool to remove a small scallop with a depth of about 2 mm on each side of the shoulders of nibs on Jinhao x450 and Airmail Wality 71j pens. I wrote with the pens, and then used a Dremel-type cutoff disc to enlarge the breather holes to a horizontal oval about 3.5 mm wide. I documented both nibs with photographs, but did not document a writing sample from the Jinhao x450. 

 

TEST NO. 1 -- FLEX NIB MODIFICATIONS ON AIRMAIL WALITY NO. 6 FINE NIB AND JINHAO NO. 6 MEDIUM NIB

 

A. WRITING RESULTS AFTER REMOVING WING SCALLOPS ONLY

 

Jinhao x450 with no. 6 medium nib, 6 mm standard plastic feed

 

More give/bounce in the writing experience, and tines separate slightly to make the nib wetter. Some flex if pushed, but this nib starts as a medium and requires too much pressure to generate line variation. Nib is smooth.

 

Airmail Wality 71J with Airmail no. 6 fine nib, 6.3 mm standard ebonite feed

 

More give/bounce in the writing experience. Tines definitely separate, making the nib wetter and the writing experience much more fun. Not much line variation. Nib has some feedback.

 

B. WRITING RESULTS AFTER CREATION OF WING SCALLOPS AND 3.5 MM OVAL BREATHER HOLE

 

Jinhao x450 no. 6 nib, medium

 

Not much pressure required to make tines separate easily. Line width varies from about 0.6 mm to 1.2 mm -- basically 2X. Well-lubricated, pleasant writing experience. Plastic feed keeps up if the writer maintains steady, moderate pace. Occasional priming of feed required before a large flourish, or railroading occurs. More fun to write with. The snap-back, however, is sluggish, and after extensive writing, sometimes the tines don't return to their original position at all. 

 

Airmail Wality 71J with Airmail no. 6, fine

 

Not much pressure required to make tines separate easily. Line width varies from about 0.4 mm to 1.1 mm -- about 3X. Standard ebonite feed nearly always keeps up. Increased flex seems to pull more ink, making the writing experience well-lubricated. Writer must push nib to unpleasant levels of pressure before railroading occurs. Much more fun to write with.

 

C. ELEVEN OBSERVATIONS

 

1. One trial with the Jinhao no. 6 nib used only the expansion of the vent hole, with no wing scallop removal. In the writing trial, the tines widened, but didn't seem to snap back into position. Without wing scallops, the lines were all wide, all uncontrollably juicy, all the time.

 

2. The enlarged vent hole made a significant difference in the ability of the tines to separate.

 

3. The Dremel cut-off disc can make a crescent-like, oval, enlarged horizontal vent hole. The oval hole is ugly. Jeweler's needle files might help shape the hole, and some kind of buffing/polishing process would help. The design of vent/reservoir holes in dip nibs may provide some inspiration.

 

4. Gold-tone nibs lose their finish in the grinding process. Chrome-colored steel nibs might be more attractive candidates.

 

5. The back side of the nib, behind the slit, took some abrasion in the grinding process. Ink supply did not seem to be impeded.

 

6. The design of standard dip nibs is more utilitarian, often showing grinding marks where the manufacturer thinned the nib material. A pen user who modifies nibs for calligraphy may need to discount nib aesthetics.

 

7. Cutting the scallops from the wings is fairly simple and foolproof, and requires about 10 minutes. Enlarging the vent hole requires more precision, and also takes about 10 minutes. This is my first flex nib modification, and my first time using a Dremel tool.

 

8. The standard ebonite feed in the Airmail Wality 71J keeps up extremely well. No deepening of the ink channel was required.

 

9. The plastic feed in the Jinhao x450 kept up better than expected.

 

10. The modification process improves writing performance in both nibs, making the writing experience much more enjoyable. The modification also makes the nibs lay down significantly more ink, and the ink capacity of the Airmail Wality eyedropper helps.

 

11. This modification makes the standard fine Airmail Wality nib enjoyable to write with. Airmail Wality pen bodies are well-crafted, but provide significant amounts of feedback, and I usually swap the standard nib for something else.

 

fpn_1499208383__jinhao-wality-topview-80

 

fpn_1499208419__jinhao-wality-sideview-8

 

fpn_1499208351__airmail-wality-nib-exper

 

fpn_1499208334__airmail-wality-nib-exper


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#2 Bo Bo Olson

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Posted 04 July 2017 - 23:30

Expanding the breather hole is new for me.

 

My Ahab went from hard...semi-flex pressure to first stage of superflex; Easy Full Flex, with just the Ahab Mod.

 

Are you getting Wet Noodle?


What is the true face of Alec Guinness?

www.nibs.com/blog/nibster-writes/nibs-germany      Info on Bock nibs

 

Semi-flex is an “almost” flex; not a ‘flex’ nib. It is great for regular writing with a touch of flair. It can give you some fancy; but it is not made for real fancy writing. For bit more of that get a maxi-semi-flex. Both spread tines 3X.  Those are not "Flex" nibs. 

 

Wider than Normal does not exist. Wider than Japanese does. Every company has it's very own standard + slop/tolerance. Developed from the users of it's pens and inks only; not the users or inks of other companies pens.  Paper and ink matter to nib width. Thank god for 1/2 sizes or it would be boring.


#3 Bobje

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Posted 05 July 2017 - 00:09

Good question, Bo Bo. My experience with vintage flex is limited to the Leonardt Principal EF dip pen nib, which is a replica of a revered vintage dip nib. In fountain pen nibs, I've used Eversharp, Parker, and Sheaffer nibs from the 1930s, but none of these would qualify as wet noodles.

 

The nibs in Test No. 1 are nowhere close to the Leonardt Principal EF, and I don't think anyone would consider today's tests as wet noodles. They might be a baby step toward approaching a Zebra Gdip pen  nib, but they're not there yet.


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#4 Honeybadgers

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Posted 05 July 2017 - 00:33

I personally can't stand wings mods.They make a steel nib into absolute mush, IMO.

 

The breather hole is kind of interesting, though. How'd you do it?


Edited by Honeybadgers, 05 July 2017 - 00:33.


#5 Tootles

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Posted 05 July 2017 - 00:56

As you're experimentin' how about on one nib removing the wings altogether?



#6 Nail-Bender

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Posted 05 July 2017 - 01:07

Oooh...Can I play? :D

 

Top is a Nemosine Singularity with a modified 6.3 mm FPR feed/Zebra-G nib & converted to eyedropper.

It works as well as my Desiderata but it took me 3 feeds, 2 failed attempts and several hours of messing around. (lots of sanding)

Sold here...

 

https://fprevolution...ex-ebonite-feed

 

The bottom one is a standard Noodler's Neponset with a flex modified Ahab nib (follow link provided by the OP)

The feed is an Ahab & goes right in with no issues.

The tip was ground down to a XF because the stock flex tip is rather big.

 

IMG_0541.JPG

 

I'm trying a slit & Falcon mod with a Nemosine EF now in a Singularity w/ stock plastic feed.

I'll let you know how it goes.

The Nemosine EF is a really nice EF and you can get pen & all for $15.99 at Goulet right now in their specials section. 


Edited by Bordeaux146, 05 July 2017 - 01:10.


#7 Bobje

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Posted 05 July 2017 - 03:01

Bordeaux, looking forward to your results! 

 

Honeybadgers, I used a Dremel cutoff disc, which produced a crude expanded vent hole. I may find other tools that improve on this.

 

This scan may be helpful. It shows how three nib modifications render two strokes used in many copperplate letter forms. The flex FPR nib, modified with wings (top sample), shows considerable improvement. The wing mod makes both nibs (the FPR flex, and the FPR standard extra fine) more fun and responsive to write with. But in terms of writing results, the improvement is visible in the top sample, with a wing-modified FPR flex nib. Soon we'll see the impact of an expanded vent hole.

 

fpn_1499222867__capital-stroke-800px.jpg

 

 

 

 

 


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#8 Bobje

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Posted 05 July 2017 - 20:21

Test 1b (this baseline test) was conducted on Click pens supplied by Fountain Pen Revolution. These pens accept 6.3 mm ebonite feeds from FPR, and the no. 6 FPR flex nib and extra fine nib. In these tests, the flex nib will always be placed in the green pen body, and the extra fine in the gray pen body. I selected an extra fine nib for these tests because copperplate script shows best when hairlines -- usually connecting strokes between letters -- are extremely fine, and downward strokes are thicker. With this goal, it makes sense to start with the thinnest nib available. 

 

Today’s baseline test shows the performance of no. 6 FPR flex and extra fine nibs. Installing these no. 6 nibs and 6.3 mm ebonite feeds in the Click pen body requires a slight modification of the feed. This is the same fitment process required for installing these nibs into other FPR pen bodies, such as the Airmail Wality 69 ebonite and the Airmail Wality 71J, The diameter of the nib and feed together are ever-so-slightly too large for the section of these pens, so the user must shave down the ebonite feed. Because ebonite is soft and easy to carve, this is a matter of using a sharp knife -- I used a box-cutter with a new blade -- and shaving down the back-side of the feed (the side opposite the ink channel) for the distance ranging from the last fin slot to the tail end. It requires about 5 minutes to remove material consistently from the last fin to the tail. To avoid disturbing the ink channel, I shaved material on the lower side only. Looking at the tail end of the feed, if the ink channel is at 12 o'clock on a timepiece, I tried to shave only from where the hour hand ranges from 2:30 p.m. to 8:30 pm. A drawing is displayed below. 

 

FPR offers two kinds of ebonite feeds that fit no. 6 nibs: a standard feed and a flex feed. In these tests, I used the standard feed only, for both the extra fine nib and the flex nib. The flex feed is extremely juicy, and I wasn't able to fit it consistently without flooding the nib.

 

After ensuring that the nib and feed fit mechanically into the section, I removed them, washed my hands and these pen components with detergent and water, and then re-inserted the nib and feed into the section, in preparation for heat-setting the feed. I did this by heating about 2 cm of water in a small dish to a boil, using a microwave, immersing the nib/feed into the hot water for about a minute, and then pinching the nib and feed together. After filling the eyedropper with Diamine aqua blue, placing a little lithium grease on the threads, and re-assembling the barrel and section, this test was ready to start.

 

TEST NO. 1b -- FPR NO. 6 FLEX NIB AND NO. 6 EXTRA FINE NIB, INSTALLED IN A CLICK PEN BODY

 

A. WRITING RESULTS AFTER FITTING THE FEED AND NIB TO THE SECTION

 

Click pen (gray) with no. 6 FPR extra fine nib, 6.3 mm standard ebonite feed

 

In comparison to the standard Airmail Wality no. 6 nib that comes stock in most Airmail pens, the steel FPR extra fine nib is extremely smooth and provides only very small amounts of feedback. The tines were aligned from the start, and no smoothing of the tip was required. The nib writes well, with little to no bounce, give, or cushion to the writing experience.

 

Click pen (green) with no. 6 FPR flex nib, 6.3 mm standard ebonite feed

 

The FPR no. 6 flex nib comes with tipping, and is somewhere between an extra fine and a fine. It was perfectly tuned from the start and required no smoothing or adjustment. It laid down a slightly wider line than the FPR extra fine nib, with a small amount of flex. Obtaining substantial flex requires pushing the nib more than I'm comfortable with. But the cushioning ride makes the flex nib more fun to write with. 

 

fpn_1499286975__wality-test-one-hero-800

 

fpn_1499283166__straight-fpr-nib-top-vie

 

fpn_1499283182__straight-fpr-nib-side-vi

 

fpn_1499283139__test-one-writing-scan-80

 

fpn_1499283215__ebonite-feed-drawing-800


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#9 Nail-Bender

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Posted 05 July 2017 - 20:48

Bobje,

 

   How would you compare the stock #6 FPR flex nib with the stock Noodler's Ahab flex nib for line variation, pressure and tip size?

 

I have several FPR nibs in the mail (both #6 & #5.5) along with a FPR Triveni Jr. that takes a size 5.5

 

I'm probably going to be doing a FA (wing cut) mod on the flex.

 

I might even do a slit slice on the stock EF & a wing cut.


Edited by Bordeaux146, 05 July 2017 - 20:58.


#10 Bobje

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Posted 05 July 2017 - 22:08

Bordeaux, I have not used an Ahab flex nib. So far I'm finding that the wing scallops are reliable, simple to create, and produce consistent results on both stock and flex nibs. With the tools I own, it's difficult to create an aesthetically attractive enlargement of the vent hole. But it works. 


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#11 dms525

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Posted 05 July 2017 - 23:52

Interesting experiments, Bob. Thanks for sharing your findings. 

 

I have a Pilot FA nib and, just this week, got one of the new JoWo 14Kt "flex" nibs from Franklin-Christoph. I am not overly impressed with either. They don't come close to the two vintage Waterman fountain pens I have, and I don't think those would be rated beyond "semi-flex" by the flex cognoscenti, among which I do not count myself.

 

The biggest shortcoming with the two modern nibs is their poor spring-back, rather than their degree of spread. At least that's my relatively uninformed opinion. I wonder how much custom grinding could improve them. I have read opinions that the modern gold alloys behave so differently from those of yesteryear that no amount of fiddling with nib geometry can truly reproduce their behavior. If so, the clear solution is "go vintage."

 

Happy writing!

 

David



#12 Nail-Bender

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Posted 06 July 2017 - 00:34

I have read opinions that the modern gold alloys behave so differently from those of yesteryear that no amount of fiddling with nib geometry can truly reproduce their behavior. If so, the clear solution is "go vintage."

 

I suspect many old gold collectors secretly use $20 steel pens when no one is looking.

 

It's like eating a twinkly 

Enjoy it and don't think about it too much.



#13 Nail-Bender

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Posted 06 July 2017 - 18:27

I'm quite encouraged by preliminary results.

 

IMG_0542.JPG

 

The Nemosine EF modification works great in the eyedropper singularity.

No drips & no railroading so far with the stock feed.

 

The slit is about 8.5 mm using a 0/4 jeweler's saw.

The other breather hole was made with a #64 bit & I did a standard FA style wing mod.

 

The ink is PR Brown.

 

I'm going to write with it for a hour or so to check it out.

It looks like I'll be spending more time refining this.

Maybe using a 0/8 and a #70 next, although the ink will not drip out of what is essentially a 8mm breather hole/slot.



#14 Ian the Jock

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Posted 06 July 2017 - 19:54

Intriguing stuff Bob.
I'll be watching these experiments closely.
I haven't tried dip pens, but maybe I should, to objectify what I'd be looking to achieve.

Grind on.

Ian

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#15 Nail-Bender

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Posted 07 July 2017 - 11:24

Here is something deserving 5 smiley faces  :D  :D  :D  :D  :D

 

https://www.instagra.../p/BWOd12pl2gs/

 

I'm on the list!



#16 Nail-Bender

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Posted 07 July 2017 - 17:51

I used the pen for about an hour last night and decided to extend the wing cut.

It now goes all the way back to where the last line in the nib art disappears over the shoulder and forms a gentle radius there.

(Where the ink needle is pointing)

 

The width of the nib at the 1st vent hole (the one I did not drill) is 6.6 mm so 3.3 mm for each wing to the center slit.

 

The line width of the capital N in the "Nice and Wet" is 1mm.

I'm guessing the safe range is .2 to 1.2 mm for regular flexing.

I worry about snap-back if I get to crazy with the grinder & I generally don't flex more than about 1mm anyway.

The thing that really appeals to me is if it can put down a hairline.

 

IMG_0547.JPG

 

I just ordered 5 more #6 EF nibs from Birmingham Pens because I'm quite happy with the results.


Edited by Bordeaux146, 07 July 2017 - 19:19.


#17 Bobje

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Posted 07 July 2017 - 18:55

TEST NO. 2 -- FPR NO. 6 FLEX NIB (WING MODIFIED) AND NO. 6 EXTRA FINE NIB (WING MODIFIED), BOTH IN CLICK PEN BODY

 

A. WRITING RESULTS AFTER MODIFYING BOTH NIBS WITH WING SCALLOPS JUST BEHIND THE SHOULDERS.

SCALLOPS ARE APPROXIMATELY 2 MM DEEP AND 4 MM LONG

 

Click pen (gray) with wing-modified no. 6 FPR extra fine nib, 6.3 mm standard ebonite feed

 

In comparison to the no. 6 FPR extra fine nib used in Test 1b (fitted only), this wing-modified nib provides some line variation (approximately 2x, from a line width of about 0.5 mm to 1 mm), with a cushioned writing experience. The nib never railroaded, even while pushing the nib to the 1.1 mm limit. Still a smooth writing experience.

 

Click pen (green) with no. 6 FPR flex nib, 6.3 mm standard ebonite feed

 

The wing-modified  FPR no. 6 flex nib makes flex easier, providing a more enjoyable writing experience. Obtaining flex from approximately 0.6 mm to about 1.5 mm no longer requires extreme amounts of pressure. Rare railroading when pushed to limit. Steady pace eliminates railroading. Ride is considerably more cushioned. Nib tip is smooth, with little feedback.

 

fpn_1499453066__test-two-hero-800px.jpg

 

fpn_1499453087__test-two-scallops-only-n

 

fpn_1499453106__wality-test-two-scallop-

 

fpn_1499453133__test-two-scallops-only-8


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#18 Bobje

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Posted 07 July 2017 - 19:16

Bordeaux,

It looks like with your modification you are completely eliminating the "wing," as EoC suggested, and narrowing the shoulders all the way back.  Is that correct? The line variation you're getting looks pretty wide -- is it from about 0.6 mm to 2.0 mm? When your Nemosine EF nib is modified, does the narrowest line it can make become slightly wider? This seems to be happening with mine. It may be that the lines are just wetter.

 

David,

I'm getting decent enough spring back to produce strokes that are common in copperplate, such as the long "S" shape that forms the spine of the D, P, R, B, S, T and F. Without much experience in vintage flex, I can't say how snappy it is. Definitely not the crazy spring back of a dip nib.

 

Ian,

Dip pen nibs produce crazy flex and line variation, but they require a lot of practice and control. Also inkwells, water to clean the nib occasionally, a sponge and cloth nearby. They're fun in a consistent office or studio, but the process is not especially portable. AAAndrew developed a kind of "portable dip pen workstation" that used a small fishing tackle box.

http://www.fountainp...pen-workstation


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#19 Nail-Bender

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Posted 07 July 2017 - 20:16

Bordeaux,

It looks like with your modification you are completely eliminating the "wing," as EoC suggested, and narrowing the shoulders all the way back.  Is that correct? The line variation you're getting looks pretty wide -- is it from about 0.6 mm to 2.0 mm? When your Nemosine EF nib is modified, does the narrowest line it can make become slightly wider? This seems to be happening with mine. It may be that the lines are just wetter.

 

I did an edit of my post to add information.

Probably after you read it.

 

I like to start my flex mods with something that will put down a hairline but it takes me longer to do a nib grind than a slit.

That FPR flex nib that you're playing with looks like a perfect candidate for a wing job since it looks XF and has a long slit right out of the box.

I'm kind of conservative on the grinding because I don't want to loose any snap.

My grind doesn't cut into the wing as much but it does take more of the shoulder.

I'm thinking it distributes the flexing stress in a slightly different way. 

(opinions differ on what is correct)

 

My Noodler's Ahab took me forever to get it down to XF but it ended up being a good flexy writer.

 

I should be getting a box full of FPR goodies in a couple of days to play with.


Edited by Bordeaux146, 07 July 2017 - 20:23.


#20 Nail-Bender

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Posted 08 July 2017 - 02:11

Here is an Ahab nib that I really ground down & will go from .5 -  2.0 mm.

I use it for goofing around but have never written a letter with it.

(this is a 7mm Rhodia pad)

 

I might use it more if it had a XF tip

 

IMG_0552.JPG

 

BTW...Stock feed and not drips but you have to slow down if you're making more than one fat capital letter per word.

Otherwise, it keeps up surprisingly well with the right ink.

 

(And maybe a drop of of Liquitex per converter fill up)

 

 





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