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Just Some Dude in Jersey
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
@#$%&! Don't Opel troubles ever stop?

A few weeks ago the car broke down coming back from a car show and I had to take The Ride of Shame home on a tow truck. I spent 5 hours waiting for a tow truck that never came and was hanging out in a furniture store and borrowing their phone to make calls until they closed and kicked me out whereupon I sat in the darkness on the side of the road for 2 hours, had a visit from a police officer, until a concerned young fella pulled over and gave me a ride home. More phone calls, 10 different towing companies, none answered their phones. Eventually the police officer got their township towing company, who normally only tow cars to the impound lot, to pick up my car and drop it off at my house at 10 o'clock at night. Argh.

The car was running pretty good, but I had noticed that the voltmeter only seemed to show 11 volts starting a few weeks earlier. Normally it would read a little over 13. But not all the time. That reading is my only clue to the problem. Okay, so, the car was running okay during the one hour ride to the show and 45 minutes of the ride home on the highway, but when I started having to stop at red lights during the last leg of the ride it started running crappy and I thought I heard rattley sounds coming from the engine. It got worse and worse at each red light, but at higher rpms between lights seemingly okay. Eventually it wouldn't start and run at all. Oh schitt. Studs unscrewing? Rocker nut unscrewed? Collapsed lifter?

The next day I pulled the valve cover and all was well. No loose rockers, lifters fine, oil getting to everything. Nope, it's not a valve issue. I think the tapping was just the irregular running of the engine.

I've done a LOT of cranking tests. Irregular sputtering with gaps of nothing. I've been focused on power because of the info my dash cluster is telling me. Run power on and it reads 11volts. Check everywhere else in the car and it reads 12.5-12.75. When I turn the key to crank the starter the needle dives to zero and the digital display screen says "6 VOLTS!", "10 VOLTS!", "9 VOLTS!", etc. I'll usually get a sputter at first crank, then nothing for 3-5 seconds, maybe a sputter, then nothing for another 5 seconds, then some sputtering that sounds like it will almost start, then nothing. Voltage everywhere in the engine compartment says 12.5 volts. The dash says 11 volts. I called RallyBob, he said change the battery. I have a spare! First I jumper cabled it to the car's battery. No improvement. Then I swapped out the battery and cranked. No improvement. I noticed only 12 volts at the coil while cranking, so I ran a jumper from the battery to the coil and cranked. No improvement. I removed the plugs, all are wet with gas, no oil. I put on a new dizzy cap. No luck.

RallyBob said it could be my alternator. I've got a one-wire one that works by magic. I'll need one for the new car, so I could buy another one and give it a try, but I don't think we're at that point yet. The sputtering seems like bad timing on a carbed car. But I've got Motronic FI.

And here's where this problem ends up getting dumped almost entirely in my lap. My car has 35 year old Motronic FI. It controls spark. Few of you have this system. I have an aftermarket fuse box and custom wiring throughout with no disconnects or harness connectors, everything is hard wired. I have an electronic dash cluster with a module that all your gauges and turn signals and stuff are hard wired to. I've got electric power steering with capacitors inside. And door poppers. And lots of other electric gizmos. 12 switches. Most of you guys don't have any of this stuff, so the usual Opel fixes and trouble shooting won't work. My wiring is VERY good, never a problem over the past 5 years.

About 5 weeks ago a support brace I installed on the alternator to stop it from vibrating broke. It was acting as my ground. That possibly caused an ensuing battery issue. I bought a fancy new charger that seemed to fix that problem. I put the 12 switches in back in Feb/Mar. Could a wire have come loose? Timing is locked down good and tight

Could the fuel injection computer be wonky?
Could I have some clogged fuel injectors? I had that problem due to sealer about a year ago, but I REALLY cleaned that sucker out and replaced all sorts of stuff.
Bad coil?
Bad crank position sensor?
Bad Idle air valve?

All sorts of stuff is on the table. Many things could be the cause of the problem. I'm trying to go for the most likely suspects, but I'm running out of them. Almost anything could be a cause. I'm on the verge of a wild goose chase.
 

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Just Some Dude in Jersey
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
System voltage everywhere in the engine compartment and one or two places on the fusebox that I checked is 12.5-12.75 volts. I DID read only 12.1 volts at the coil positive near the end of my testing while cranking. That's why I jumped power from the new battery to it. No change.
The car sputters and will sometimes sustain running for a few seconds as though only 2 cylinders are working. Or maybe 3, it's hard to tell. An unplugged or poorly connected injector plug. creates the same sort of miss symptom as a bad spark plug. I have not individually optically observed spark. My new plug wires have long boots and I don't think a spark would jump from them if I held the end of the boot near the block. I guess I could pull the plug boots and plug in a used spark plug and touch that to the block.
I wish it was easier to test the injectors' plug wires. The injectors are a strong candidate, because I previously had trouble with them staying plugged in. I have them heat resistant wire tied to keep them from working loose. It's a giant PIA, but my next experiment is to remove the whole fuel rail and injectors and rig a way to have them squirt at some paper to verify that they are all actually squirting.
I like Ken's idea of unplugging all the fuses except for the fuel pump and the coil fuse. The coil fuse wire turns on the FI through a relay. With only those 2 circuits intact it should run. Interesting bit: When I jumped power to the positive of the coil, with the key off, I could hear the FI relay engage and the fuel pump turn on. They are both on the ignition switched batch of circuits, so I guess I was backfeeding and supplying voltage to all the switched devices. Because I have a modern fuse box, I have a lot individual fuses for things that oem GT's don't have. If it works and the car runs, I can then plug the fuses back in one at a time until I plug in one that causes the problem.

In the next go-round, I'll try to do spark tests. Then I'll do the pull all the fuses idea. If no luck there I will do the fuel rail removal to inspect the injectors for clogs and test verify that they are all squirting.
 

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Just Some Dude in Jersey
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Do you have a ground wire from the alternator's body to the block? Metal to metal with no rubber absorbers in the path.
Yes, I added that back the other day. I had been using an F-bracket as an alternator stabilizer and ground and it worked just fine until it broke about 6 weeks ago. So I made a new one out of aluminum. Just to rule out grounding of the alt, I added the original ground strap back to it. I could take it a step further and remove the bracket and only leave the ground strap, as it was months ago before this trouble started.

I've been trying to follow the mantra: "What was the last thing you messed with?". I messed with a few things this year:

1) I bought 12 new switches and installed them.
2) New steering wheel and horn button.
3) Added some wiring for the other LED steering wheel.
4) My radiator fan shroud broke loose and tore up my THREE thermostats' wiring.
5) The alternator bracket thing
6) New stereo and wiring scenario

Most of those things were done months ago with no issues.
 

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Just Some Dude in Jersey
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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Okay I just made a video. Apparently, I must've drained the battery in the car, 'cuz my start test didn't last long before cranking crapped out. I had had my spare battery sitting on the radiator with the car's cables attached to it and the battery in the car still in place and disconnected. I was charging the spare battery overnight, but not the one in the car. I started out today reconnecting the battery in the car because the spare didn't change anything yesterday. Then I made the video........with a poor battery.

I noticed 2 additional lights came on on the dash while cranking that I never saw before. Probably indicators that my battery was weak. Well, that was enough for me, Bob suggested a new battery and I have a freakishly long history of my Opels eating batteries, so I went out to the store and bought a new one.

While I was out I thought I would have a very slow leak on one of the tires of the used Ford Escape I bought earlier this year. They told me that, yeah, they could fix it but that tire was from 2001 and another was from 2002 and all 4 were showing signs of rot. Holy Cow! My 2008 car had tires that were 7 years older than the car! All 4 tires were a different brand when I got it. The car was all scratched up on the right side and I figured the car must have gone off the road, had cheap new tires put on, and then offered up for sale. So, I ended up having to drop $700 for 4 new tires and an alignment.

I'll put the new battery in tomorrow. Here's the video. Watch the digital display say that I'm at 8v.....7v.......6v...while cranking:

 

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Just Some Dude in Jersey
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15,890 Posts
Discussion Starter · #24 ·
I haven't spent any time looking at this emergency replacement SUV since I bought it back in late Winter. I just had the bad brake it had fixed. I've spent all my time working on my GT's. I only drove about 3500 daily driver miles a year when I was working, now that I'm retired that number is closer to 500. I've put 4 times that much mileage on my GT going to shows. I normally put high emphasis on good tires and brakes on my cars, they're what keep you alive. I wasn't happy this car had 4 different tires on it, but they all had decent tread, so I figured I could go a few years before replacing them all. I had no idea they were so elderly. Oh well, in the end it's a good thing that I found out these rollers were from a nursing home and got them replaced before Winter hits. I'll have a long drive to Virginia coming up relatively soon to pick up my new car's engine.

It's going to rain most of today and I'm having my morning coffee right now, later I'll slip out between the rain drops and hit the garage to put the new battery in. Man, I'm going to be really embarrassed if this whole problem turns out to just have been a bad battery. I'm also thinking that I'm tired of the chromy one-wire, internally regulated, SI-style, alternators I've been using the past 12 years and switch back to a normal Opel type with an external regulator. Any chromy ones out there that fit?
 

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Just Some Dude in Jersey
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15,890 Posts
Discussion Starter · #26 ·
Well, I'm screwed.

I put the new battery in. No real change. I had all the fuses pulled except for the coil/FI power and fuel pump.

This problem was starting to resemble the mysterious problem I had with the previous engine, which, after $1000 worth of new parts and a multi-month wild goose chase, ended up being a blown head gasket due to a poorly flattened head/block and pretty high compression of 220 average.

So, although I had no real indicators, I did a compression test. I had done a compression test back in May when the engine was relatively freshly rebuilt and I got these numbers on a warmed up engine:

200-210-210-210

The results of the compression test I just did were:

160-205-170-...............ZERO!

Holy Schitt!

The previous engine at least maintained it's original compression, even though it was blowing it's head gasket.

So, I'm screwed.

😩
 

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Just Some Dude in Jersey
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15,890 Posts
Discussion Starter · #36 ·
Well, needless to say, I'm bummed out and pissed off. Luckily car show season is over, so this car can sit on the lift all Winter. I've got the other car coming out of the shop, so I'll have that project to think positive about.

Before it broke down entirely, at some point, I was searching for the tapping sound and it seemed to come from #4. My big test was that I put my hand on the valve cover over #4 and I seemed to feel it there.

I'm going to step away from this car for a while until my positivity returns, which it will. Since I noticed no issues when I removed the cover and inspected things, I guess I might as well go straight to draining the fluids and pulling the head.

We'll see how it goes.....

I would guess that # 4 cyl. exhaust seat cut loose and damaged intake valve ........ rattle noise in engine and hard to start.
Hope you have just cylinder head damage.
Good luck!
Time for one of those borescope cameras!

Yup and yup.

😩
 

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Just Some Dude in Jersey
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Discussion Starter · #47 ·
I have seen tires get bubbles in the side walls and then the tire blows out there and what is revealed is that the steel belts inside had rusted and started breaking.

When I was a bicycle racer, we actually wanted our tires to age and dry out almost to the cracking point because it made them more resistant to thorns and glass.

Only 1 or 2 of the tires they took off had faintly visible cracks in the tread. Another thing the tire guy pointed out that helped me go for the purchase, besides their age, was that the sidewalls of all the tires were rough and felt like sandpaper.
 

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Just Some Dude in Jersey
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Discussion Starter · #51 ·
Not that it helps you now, as you obviously need to pull the head and see what is going on in there, but can you provide a bit more detail about the Bosch Motronic system you are using. But even with zero compression on one cylinder, I would have expected it to start.

Are most of the parts from the same donor vehicle? If so, which one?

Still using an air flow meter?

Using an off the shelf ECM, or custom?

Does the system use an oxygen sensor?.

I have quite a bit of experience with Motronic systems on BMWs. The ECMs do go bad from time to time. There is a guy who can reflow the solder and that NORMALLY fixes the issue, but not guaranteed. I think he charged me $125 for the last couple I had him do for me. I carry a spare ECM in my 1983 745i (Euro model). By 1983, the US market Motronic used an oxygen sensor. My car did not. So, no "on the fly" computer adjustments. Still, the pre O2 sensor vehicles (pretty short lived) can be made to run pretty efficiently.

Virtually all my experience is with pre OBDII systems, so no way to scan. In 1988, BMW started using an oddball system that would store codes which could be retrieved by holding the gas pedal down something like three times, with the engine off but key in the run position.

Other than the ECM going bad, other issues are: low voltage to a sensor, bad sensor (temp sens, throttle position sensor, crank position sensor, crank speed sensor etc.). Also, the air flow meters do not last forever. I recently had one rebuilt and the car runs like new. I have a spare NOS one, as I plan to keep the car a long time. You can imagine how dificult it can be to find some of the Euro only specific parts. Brake pads, alt belts, suspension parts, etc are a piece of cake..
Next up! back to Gordo's woe/woes.
Are we any closer to cause of the effect?
The engine and Motronic were from an Omega. Actually, this engine was a factory replacement with no serial number and one of the last 2.4's ever made. Yes, I'm using the AFM, the stock ECM, and an oxy sensor. I had some hiccups getting the FI running right, but all good now.

Charlie has returned from vacation and was going to drive up here today with parts to look at and maybe fix it. I told him, stay home and finish putting my other previous, now rebuilt with the correct pistons, 2.5 engine together and test it. Then he can come up here and drop off the new engine, as well as, deal with what's wrong with this one. It doesn't need to get fixed right away and I'll have my new car to assemble and have fun with through the Winter and Spring. I'm going to wait until the bore scope I ordered arrives and take a look inside the cylinders, then remove the FI manifold and look inside the ports. One way or the other I'm pretty sure the head is going to have to come off and further investigation performed. We can speculate all we want, but until the head comes off it's all just talk. ZERO compression and the valves lifting and seemingly adjusted properly doesn't leave too many potential causes for total loss of compression. Today I'll investigate the valves on #4 more closely and head bolt tightness, but I doubt doing so will reveal anything. I'll do the scoping when the tool gets here. I'm sure that head removal will follow shortly thereafter. The hope is that the pistons and block are okay and only the head will need attention.
 

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Just Some Dude in Jersey
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Discussion Starter · #57 ·
I just came in from some more investigation. I've either found the killer or one of the victims, can't tell yet. During my first valve cover off inspection a few days ago I seemed to remember that #7 valve's spring seemed to be at more of an angle than the others. Today I took the cover off and pushed on the engine fan to make the engine go around, it's easy with the spark plugs out, and watched the height that the various lifters were lifting. No anomalies. And I didn't notice the spring angle thing. But I DID notice that there didn't seem to be the 1/16" gap between the spring cap and the rocker. Rotate the engine a few more times. Hmmmm....the spring seems to be a little off-center of the cap. I removed the rocker nut to take a look at the rocker and the 2-piece locking thingy at the top. The spring and cap lifted all the way up and off the valve. Heyyyyy.......where's the locking thingy:

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I'm not sure if that's excessive wear at the valve side or not, I don't know what a brand new rocker looks like. Seems okay I guess.

So then I set the spring and cap aside and took a look at the valve stem. Seems okay to me......at first. Then I looked closer at the valve stem. I don't recall seeing those recessed areas, particularly the one closest to the seal, in the valve stem. And I saw bits of the blue seal in those recesses. Are these the right shape of valve? They are slightly bigger GM valves.:

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I know that the top indentation is for holding those 2-piece valve cap locking thingies, but I don't recall seeing the second lower indentation before. So then I took the cap off the spring and looked at it. All tore up with a curl of metal sticking out and mabe some elongation of the hole. Hey, wait a minute! That must be the locking thingy!

So, then I tried lifting the valve up and down and wiggling it. No wiggle, valve moves up and down with some resistance from the seal. But I was expecting to hear a metallic click or clunk when I pulled it closed. I didn't get that, just a nice soft, no sound when I pulled it closed. Don't know if that's normal.

I gotta talk with Charlie before I make any guesses.....
 

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Just Some Dude in Jersey
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Discussion Starter · #58 ·
I talked with Charlie and he thinks one of the locks or "keepers" may not have been fully seated or the shop who assembled the head used a too large keeper. He said there are 2 sizes, something like 5/16" and 9/32", and they may have put the wrong size on. Bottom line: All the rockers and such need to come off to inspect their condition. But that's not the worst of it. Without that lock/keeper there was nothing pulling the valve back into the head. The rocker would push it down, but nothing was able to pull it back into the head to seal the combustion chamber, hence, ZERO compression. That valve was basically open all the time. But I said the worst of it, didn't I? Without anything pulling it back into the head the valve could just keep dropping down.........and hit the piston as it goes up and down.

We'll see what the scope shows

I'm not optimistic.

😩
 

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Just Some Dude in Jersey
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Discussion Starter · #62 ·
I'm a pessimist by nature, so I'm prepared to expect the worst. That's means that I'm prepared for and expecting the whole motor to be toast. Anything short of that is a victory and I'll consider it good news. I can't see how I don't have piston damage or a bent valve. Any piston damage and the whole engine has to come out for inspection, cleaning, and repair. I spotted a 3/16" long bit of debris from the keeper sitting on top of the head, so there's probably more in the pan. Prudently, the whole engine probably needs to come out.
 

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Just Some Dude in Jersey
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Discussion Starter · #65 ·
Yeah, that sounds like the situation at the very least. Luckily all these engine troubles I've had haven't cost me anything, they're under a gentleman's agreement warranty. The removal of these engines, getting them to Virginia, waiting without a running car, and then fetching and putting them back in is on me.

Since the engine will likely have to come out and Charlie is fast tracking finally putting my other engine together, plus my car needing a paint job, but otherwise being fully functional, I may decide to remove the Motronic and install the new fuel injection system on the new/old engine in the GTX. If it works good, then I'll buy another similar fuel injection system and put this fixed valve problem engine in the yellow car.

I need to name these engines to avoid confusion. The previous engine was a 2.5 and my present engine is a 2.4 with no serial number, so, the "no name" engine or "incognito"engine.
 

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Just Some Dude in Jersey
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Discussion Starter · #70 ·
The scope arrived. I stuck it in the spark plug hole and looked down at the piston. I'm not experienced at looking at this sort of thing, but what I think I see is the edge of the top of the piston and the side of the cylinder and they both look nuked. It looks to me like the cylinder bore is badly gouged and that means that this engine is dead and heading to the smelter. I'm commencing to take the head off and remove the engine. I gotta get all this unpleasantness done before the body shop gives me my other car, which could be any second now.

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Just Some Dude in Jersey
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Discussion Starter · #76 ·
I pulled the head.

GOOD news! No block damage! Hooray! The piston is a little gauged up and will probably need replacing and the valve is bent and won't close. All in all, I'm happy with what I found.
🙂
Tomorrow I will drain the oil, remove the oil pan, and extract #4 piston.


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Just Some Dude in Jersey
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Discussion Starter · #80 · (Edited)
NOW why was that one hanging up? is the question
The valve wasn't hanging up, the keeper/lock became disconnected from the valve, so there was nothing to pull the valve back up after the rocker pushed it down. So, then the valve, which would then stick down farther than it normally goes, was getting hit by the piston and shoved upwards. The valves are at an angle relative to the piston, so that valve got bent by the impact. We're virtually certain that the machine shop F'd up and put the wrong size keeper on that valve and maybe others. Apparently his machine shop did this goof before, but he caught it before it went to a customer. I would have to remove all the springs/caps/keepers and inspect them, but since that valve is bent it should go back to the shop. We'll probably put a different head on the engine.

I don’t think it’s as easy as just putting in a new piston. The cylinders are usually machined for each piston. Those look like stock 2.4 pistons…but may be oversized? I don’t know if I feel like that piston is damaged enough that I would worry about it, but just clean it up and maybe polish the cutting on it
It's a low mileage factory replacement engine with it's original pistons, just the valves have been made bigger with Chevy ones. It was suggested to me to just try to sand/grind the gouging smoothish. This sounds like a rig job to me. What if the piston is cracked or something where the impacts were? Yeah, I would tape off all the openings in the block and try to git'er done in the car, but it seems better to me to at least remove the piston to do that job and give it an inspection. There may be piston particles down in the rings. Since Charlie has bunches of 2.4 pistons, it would seem prudent to just pick a good one, put some new rings on it, and swap out the damaged one. I guess it boils down to a judgement call on my part as to how nuclear I want to go.
 

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Just Some Dude in Jersey
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Discussion Starter · #83 ·
OH yes your post 57 showed that, I was under the assumption you took it apart.
Did you find the keepers or bits of in the top of the head?
My investigation is just what you see in the pics. Yes, I see a few slivers of metal on top of the head. I left what remains of the keeper in the spring cap for the machine shop to observe. At present we're thinking of replacing the whole head, so I/we aren't going to mess with it at all.
 

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Just Some Dude in Jersey
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Discussion Starter · #86 ·
More valve and piston damage pics
Good news! I don't think the piston has to come out. I wire wheeled the top of the piston to clean it up, then used a 2" rubber grinding/polishing wheel I've had for 30 years and never found a use for to round/flatten off sharp or raised edges. 5 minutes worth of work! I just need to use some emery cloth or a dremel to smooth out and remove ridges at the bottom of a couple of gouges. Is it normal for the valve guide to have a short slot cut into the end?

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