1950s End Of Steam

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1950s End Of Steam
Posted by SPer on Tuesday, April 18, 2017 1:24 PM

The real reason Santa Fe stopped using steam in 1953 because steam locomotives do not fit Santa Fe's corporate image. that's why Santa Fe moved on with diesel-electrics.

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Posted by BaltACD on Tuesday, April 18, 2017 3:34 PM

SPer
The real reason Santa Fe stopped using steam in 1953 because steam locomotives do not fit Santa Fe's corporate image. that's why Santa Fe moved on with diesel-electrics.

So economics had nothing to do with it?

Never too old to have a happy childhood!

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Posted by Firelock76 on Tuesday, April 18, 2017 5:30 PM

SPer

The real reason Santa Fe stopped using steam in 1953 because steam locomotives do not fit Santa Fe's corporate image. that's why Santa Fe moved on with diesel-electrics.

 

I wouldn't say that.  Look at where the Santa Fe ran, a lot of it was through some VERY arid parts of the country.  Water was a problem and steam engines had to have it.  Diesels, not so much aside from the radiators.

Also, a lot of Santa Fe steamers ran though areas where coal was non-existant, so they had to burn oil.  If you're going to burn oil you might as well burn it in the most efficient way possible, right?  Back to diesels.

Corporate inage?  Can't say it wasn't a factor but probably not as much as you think. 

I'll say this much, I wish the New York Central was as generous in donating steam engines for preservation as the Santa Fe was!  That tells me when all is said and done Santa Fe was pretty proud of their steamers, moving on to diesels when circumstances dictated they should.

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Posted by RME on Wednesday, April 19, 2017 11:10 AM

SPer
The real reason Santa Fe stopped using steam in 1953 because steam locomotives do not fit Santa Fe's corporate image.

According to all the sources I have seen on ATSF modern power, the Santa Fe intended to optimize on diesel-electric power as quickly as it could, as soon as the 'bugs' in the technology (e.g. those evidenced by the One-Spot Twins) had been satisfactorily resolved.  I believe Lloyd Stagner, Jr. has indicated ATSF would have taken all F units, instead of building the wartime steam classes, had the WPB permitted; they certainly nipped the desirable-improvements program (cf. the welded boilers for the 3460s, which were fully fabricated but never installed) very early on.  Big steam, especially big steam relatively intolerant of caustic water contaminants (silicon boiler steels, anyone???) was rapidly deprioritized as soon as a practical diesel-electric alternative was provided in the market.

Note that the "corporate image" for fast passenger trains was Diesel even before the NYC decided to stress 'Dieseliners' to replace the Great Steel Fleet.  Admittedly 3765 never got its shroud because it would have been overweight, but you did not see any later streamlining to match the pretty trains, nor did you see any particular postwar emphasis on that 6-4-4-4 design that was the 'true' high-speed passenger design for ATSF (as the C1a was for NYC).

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Posted by Deggesty on Wednesday, April 19, 2017 11:24 AM

SPer

The real reason Santa Fe stopped using steam in 1953 because steam locomotives do not fit Santa Fe's corporate image. that's why Santa Fe moved on with diesel-electrics.

 

I am curious: what was the "corporate image" that steam did not fit?

Johnny

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Posted by RME on Wednesday, April 19, 2017 1:56 PM

Deggesty
I am curious: what was the "corporate image" that steam did not fit?

I think he means the 'Santa Fe - All The Way' efficient, fast, dieselized picture that ATSF contemporary PR films were trying to evoke. 

Trains Magazine in the early 1980s ran an article on the '50s use of the Big Three and some other large ATSF power.  Most of their 'mission' was precisely the sort of fast mainline service that was increasingly optimal for diesels, and there was little 'secondary' service they were well-suited for -- so you saw them on things like secondary passenger trains and mail runs.

As I indicated, I think the decision to eliminate the big steam was primarily economic, and the economic and operational advantages (nominal as they might have been at the time) were what determined 'corporate image', not the other way around.

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Posted by wjstix on Tuesday, April 25, 2017 8:22 AM

IIRC during World War 2 many railroads ordered FT diesels, but very few got them. Most were forced to buy new steam instead. One of the few who did get them was the Santa Fe, which as I recall was allocated diesels specifically because of the problems it faced supplying water for it's steam engines in the arid Southwest.

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Tuesday, April 25, 2017 10:18 AM

In the other direction, didn't M&StL try to order SAL-design 2-6-6-4's, but had to take A-B-A sets of FT's?

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Posted by RME on Tuesday, April 25, 2017 1:06 PM

CSSHEGEWISCH
In the other direction, didn't M&StL try to order SAL-design 2-6-6-4's, but had to take A-B-A sets of FT's?

They had an order in to Baldwin for five 2-6-6-4s.  I have not heard the story about why the WPB would 'make' them take FT sets instead ... but I'll bet they didn't regret it.

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Posted by Redwards on Saturday, April 29, 2017 2:01 PM

RME
Admittedly 3765 never got its shroud because it would have been overweight, but you did not see any later streamlining to match the pretty trains, nor did you see any particular postwar emphasis on that 6-4-4-4 design that was the 'true' high-speed passenger design for ATSF (as the C1a was for NYC).

I've read about the C1a, but don't recall hearing about an ATSF high speed design?  Any additional information or details out there (a quick google search didn't seem to find much)?  Thanks. 

--Reed

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Posted by RME on Saturday, April 29, 2017 5:00 PM

Redwards
I've read about the C1a, but don't recall hearing about an ATSF high speed design? Any additional information or details out there

The 'mother lode' is Iron Horses of the Santa Fe Trail, p.379 (section called something like 'Iron horses that didn't make the trail').  There was at one time a detailed modeling article on someone 'kitbashing' a version, which I read with great interest right up to finding them use a diesel C truck under the firebox...

The six wheels would be for the added mass of firebox and chamber syphons (see the aborted 1947 design for the 3460s for a smaller version) in a high-pressure boiler.  Think of a late Lima design "backpedaling".  Oil fuel makes cab-forward design attractive by comparison with something like DR 05 003, but the poorer thrust characteristic of a 'backward' unconjugated duplex would exacerbate any high-speed slipping tendency.

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Posted by Redwards on Sunday, April 30, 2017 9:58 AM

RME
The 'mother lode' is Iron Horses of the Santa Fe Trail, p.379 (section called something like 'Iron horses that didn't make the trail'). There was at one time a detailed modeling article on someone 'kitbashing' a version, which I read with great interest right up to finding them use a diesel C truck under the firebox...

I will have to keep an eye out for 'Iron Horses...' - Thanks!

--Reed

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Posted by PRR8259 on Wednesday, May 03, 2017 12:25 PM

To to OP--

Santa Fe didn't "stop" using steam in 1953.  Whatever source you are reading for that is questionnable at best.  There were several other railroads which for all practical purposes ceased using steam during 1953--Road like Rock Island, which had very limited use of any steam at all after 1953. Also official sources are often wrong on the last use of steam.  Rock Island announced to their shareholders, on more than one occasion, that ALL steam operations were finished in a city, like Chicago, when in fact steam operations were still continuing. 

In Santa Fe's case, many freight movements were "extras".  They had regularly scheduled freight trains like the famous GFX (Green Fruit Express), but they also had a high number of "extra" non-regularly-scheduled freight movements.  In addition to that, there was very significant seasonal fruit and vegetable traffic.  So, in effect, large numbers of Santa Fe steamers saw action AFTER 1953, including specifically large numbers of 2-10-4's, 4-8-4's, and the best (3800 class) 2-10-2's.  Some of that was seasonal traffic, but some was also regular, routine switching activity, and helper service.  In other posts on these forums it was alleged that it was non-revenue service, after 1953.  That is false.  Trains didn't help themselves through Abo Canyon.

It is more accurate to refer to the real end of steam operations as being August of 1957, when the last 4-8-4's and 2-10-4's ceased helper operations out of Belen.

Respectfully submitted--

John

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Posted by ROBERT WILLISON on Wednesday, May 03, 2017 7:23 PM

Beyond the great operating efficiency that diesels offered, they were considered modern, a way railroad management could  change their image. Railroad management along with the the Budd cars could bring a totally new product to the table. gone were heavyweight cars pulled by steamers, replaced with shiny new stream line trains pulled by an equally shiny new diesel. World war two slowed dieselization, but from an operating perspective and great public relations, steam wad dead.

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Posted by wjstix on Wednesday, May 10, 2017 4:00 PM

RME
 
CSSHEGEWISCH
In the other direction, didn't M&StL try to order SAL-design 2-6-6-4's, but had to take A-B-A sets of FT's?

 

They had an order in to Baldwin for five 2-6-6-4s.  I have not heard the story about why the WPB would 'make' them take FT sets instead ... but I'll bet they didn't regret it.

 

 
IIRC, in order to run the articulateds, the M-St.L would have to have rebuilt it's bridge over the Mississippi between Iowa and Illinois. The WPB found that the amount of steel it would have required was too much - the FT's could go over the existing bridge with no problems. I believe they got A-B-A FT sets with the "FTSB" short booster as the B-unit, which didn't have space for a steam generator and water tanks for passenger service that the usual FT B-unit did.
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Posted by Trinity River Bottoms Boomer on Friday, May 12, 2017 6:55 AM

Lest we forget the twelve Santa Fe 2-10-4s that Pennsy leased and placed in service out of Sandusky Ohio during 1956.  Watching films of them working side by side PennsyJ1s is a sight to warm the heart of every Santa Fe and Pennsy fan.  Railroading hasn't been this good ever since, has it? 

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Friday, May 12, 2017 10:15 AM

It definitely has.  There is a lot to be said for watching a set of GEVOs hustling a UPS priority train on the Transcon or standing on the Roosevelt Road overpass at evening rush hour as Metra shoots suburban trains of six to eight gallery coaches from Chicago Union Station to the suburbs.

The only steam in regular service that I remember was NKP Berkshires when I was five years old.  Consequently, steam just doesn't do it for me.

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Posted by Firelock76 on Saturday, May 13, 2017 2:14 PM

Can't say there's no drama in modern day railroading, if there wasn't we wouldn't be out there lookin', would we?

The difference is like going to your local cinema to see the current films versus turning on Turner Classic Movies and watching the classics from the 30's and the 40's.  Which are the better movies, then or now, I leave it to you to judge.

PS:  I hardly ever go to the movies anymore, although there's a film coming out shortly on Dunkirk I probably won't miss.

Update, 10:40 PM 5/13/17.  I just spent the last two hours watching the 1937 "Lost Horizon" with Ronald Coleman.  Great movie!  Didn't mean to spend all that time watching an old movie but it just pulled me right in, with ridiculous ease I might add.

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Posted by Deggesty on Saturday, May 13, 2017 3:06 PM

I regret never riding behind a pair of PA's between Bristol snd Chattanooga--my first trip on the Tennessean was, I believe, the first day that the Southern engines ran through over the N&W.

I was able to ride behind a J twice--Radford to Bristol and Bristol to Wytheville, in 1956.

In 1967-73, I enjoyed several steam excursions out of Birmingham.

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Posted by BLS53 on Friday, June 02, 2017 1:33 AM

Firelock76

Can't say there's no drama in modern day railroading, if there wasn't we wouldn't be out there lookin', would we?

The difference is like going to your local cinema to see the current films versus turning on Turner Classic Movies and watching the classics from the 30's and the 40's.  Which are the better movies, then or now, I leave it to you to judge.

PS:  I hardly ever go to the movies anymore, although there's a film coming out shortly on Dunkirk I probably won't miss.

Update, 10:40 PM 5/13/17.  I just spent the last two hours watching the 1937 "Lost Horizon" with Ronald Coleman.  Great movie!  Didn't mean to spend all that time watching an old movie but it just pulled me right in, with ridiculous ease I might add.

 

I have to agree. Modern trains, are better than no trains, which 50 years ago I thought might be a distinct possibility in the 21st Century. But, today we're basically talking about a half dozen railroads, of which one or another is present wherever one may roam in the US. Not to mention, modern locomotives are ubiquitous to all but the most detail obsessed aficionado.

Railfanning was an adventure in the 50's and 60's. Trips to different regions of the country revealed new experiences. The railroads, the locomotives, right down to the different signalling systems. Everything today is bland in comparison. And Chicago commuter trains are the blandest of the bland.

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Posted by BLS53 on Friday, June 02, 2017 1:53 AM

Considering ATSF had been operating in that desert environment for over half a century, why would that have suddenly become a major issue in the 1940's? Especially considering that the Hoover Dam was completed in 1931, and other similar projects, had alleviated much of the problem. I never heard of water rationing in WWII, but maybe it did exist in the desert southwest, and I'm not aware of it.

Perhaps, ATSF saw the diesel, and the brass wiped their brow in relief, knowing their water issues were over. I guess I just don't see this as an overriding argument for dieselization.

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Posted by DSchmitt on Friday, June 02, 2017 2:37 AM

BLS53
Considering ATSF had been operating in that desert environment for over half a century, why would that have suddenly become a major issue in the 1940's?

Water was always an issue. It was not until the late 1940's that mass produced reliable Diesels with the power, speed, and range to do the job became available. Initially the General Motors FT's 

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Posted by Deggesty on Friday, June 02, 2017 8:09 AM

The ever-present issue with water was that the water in the area was highly alkaline--and it had to be treated so that the alkali would not clog everything up if it were used. There was sufficient water available--but it was expensive to use.

As DSchmitt remarked, the advent of reliable diesel power made it possible to no longer rely upon steam in the Southwest area. 

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Posted by DSchmitt on Friday, June 02, 2017 11:09 AM

Deggesty
water in the area was highly alkaline--and it had to be treated so that the alkali would not clog everything up if it were used. There was sufficient water available--but it was expensive to use.

Don't know if this applys to Santa Fe.

 Initially developed water sources very scace and freight practicually non- existant along the Southern Pacific route in Arizona.  Early trains haluled more tank cars of water (for the locomotive) than cars of revenue freight.

As could be expected the SP developed water sources along their several routes in the west and southwest.  Any water over what the SP needed was given away free. Settlers would bring wagon loads of water barrels or tank wagon to load up. 

As towns developed on the route,   the SP water sources suppiled their water systems.

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Posted by PRR8259 on Friday, June 02, 2017 11:13 AM

I visited the Grand Canyon about 15 years ago.  At that time the National Park Service guides made it perfectly clear that the Santa Fe Railway constructed ALL the water piping both to and in the Canyon, to promote the tourism.  They also built some of the Hotels still being used and other related facilities.  The water supply system is still in use.  Throughout the Mojave desert regions, the Santa Fe provided the local drinking water, which was brought in by tank car weekly or as needed.  Without the Santa Fe, the National Park would not have developed as it has.

In the steam era, even with water treatment, they still had alkali water stains down the sides of the steam locomotives, visible as white staining.  Same with Southern Pacific steam power.

John

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Posted by PRR8259 on Friday, June 02, 2017 11:28 AM

BLS53

Considering ATSF had been operating in that desert environment for over half a century, why would that have suddenly become a major issue in the 1940's? Especially considering that the Hoover Dam was completed in 1931, and other similar projects, had alleviated much of the problem. I never heard of water rationing in WWII, but maybe it did exist in the desert southwest, and I'm not aware of it.

Perhaps, ATSF saw the diesel, and the brass wiped their brow in relief, knowing their water issues were over. I guess I just don't see this as an overriding argument for dieselization.

 

This is somewhat overly simplistic at best.  If you read some of the past issues of Trains and Classic Trains, they show that the dieselization was much more complex than simply a bad water issue.  It has been actually very well documented in Classic Trains' past issues.

During WWII the U.S. Government defined the Santa Fe mainline as being the most critical mainline in the west for the movement of war materiel (military spelling).  That is why ATSF was allocated the lion's share of FT production, and that is why other roads could not obtain FT diesels.  The Santa Fe had the shortest and fastest route to west coast ports.  The other railroads had not yet shortened their mainlines to be as highly competitive on shipping time as Santa Fe.  The UP realignments had not yet been designed.  They came during the '50's.

The U.S. Government stationed 24 hour a day armed guards at certain locations on the Santa Fe, including but not limited to the Raton Pass tunnels, with direct orders to shoot ANYONE they saw ON SIGHT, no questions asked.  They were concerned that enemy combatants would attempt to blow up the tunnels.

Also, the story of dieselization is such that, yes, bad water played a role, but the diesels were more efficient over certain operating divisions:  for example, the sustained 122 miles of roughly 1% grades in the Western Pacific Feather River Canyon were ideally suited to diesel low speed tractive effort, and consequently, the Western Pacific dieselized very early.

Certain parts of the Santa Fe were highly conducive to early diesel operations, as they maximized the low speed tractive effort of diesels, while other sections did favor continued operation of steam power at high speed, at least for awhile, till labor costs to service steam also skyrocketed.  You can't make blanket statements about Santa Fe dieselization.  Their late design, highly efficient steamers excelled on flatter parts of the railroad where they could roll mile long trains of reefers at better than 60 mph.  The early diesels were not as adept at that.

Santa Fe 2-10-4's had a marvelous actual drawbar horsepower curve that saw horsepower above 5000 in the 40 to 60+ mph speed range, peaking at 5600 or more.  They could accomplish things that early diesels could not do, at least until the F-7's came along.

Respectfully submitted--

John

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Posted by BLS53 on Saturday, June 03, 2017 12:19 AM

PRR8259

 

 
BLS53

Considering ATSF had been operating in that desert environment for over half a century, why would that have suddenly become a major issue in the 1940's? Especially considering that the Hoover Dam was completed in 1931, and other similar projects, had alleviated much of the problem. I never heard of water rationing in WWII, but maybe it did exist in the desert southwest, and I'm not aware of it.

Perhaps, ATSF saw the diesel, and the brass wiped their brow in relief, knowing their water issues were over. I guess I just don't see this as an overriding argument for dieselization.

 

 

This is somewhat overly simplistic at best.  If you read some of the past issues of Trains and Classic Trains, they show that the dieselization was much more complex than simply a bad water issue.  It has been actually very well documented in Classic Trains' past issues.

During WWII the U.S. Government defined the Santa Fe mainline as being the most critical mainline in the west for the movement of war materiel (military spelling).  That is why ATSF was allocated the lion's share of FT production, and that is why other roads could not obtain FT diesels.  The Santa Fe had the shortest and fastest route to west coast ports.  The other railroads had not yet shortened their mainlines to be as highly competitive on shipping time as Santa Fe.  The UP realignments had not yet been designed.  They came during the '50's.

The U.S. Government stationed 24 hour a day armed guards at certain locations on the Santa Fe, including but not limited to the Raton Pass tunnels, with direct orders to shoot ANYONE they saw ON SIGHT, no questions asked.  They were concerned that enemy combatants would attempt to blow up the tunnels.

Also, the story of dieselization is such that, yes, bad water played a role, but the diesels were more efficient over certain operating divisions:  for example, the sustained 122 miles of roughly 1% grades in the Western Pacific Feather River Canyon were ideally suited to diesel low speed tractive effort, and consequently, the Western Pacific dieselized very early.

Certain parts of the Santa Fe were highly conducive to early diesel operations, as they maximized the low speed tractive effort of diesels, while other sections did favor continued operation of steam power at high speed, at least for awhile, till labor costs to service steam also skyrocketed.  You can't make blanket statements about Santa Fe dieselization.  Their late design, highly efficient steamers excelled on flatter parts of the railroad where they could roll mile long trains of reefers at better than 60 mph.  The early diesels were not as adept at that.

Santa Fe 2-10-4's had a marvelous actual drawbar horsepower curve that saw horsepower above 5000 in the 40 to 60+ mph speed range, peaking at 5600 or more.  They could accomplish things that early diesels could not do, at least until the F-7's came along.

Respectfully submitted--

John

 

Well, I made it simplistic as a counterpoint to the earlier statement that the reason the ATSF dieselized early was because of the water issue. 

If the diesel had arrived on the scene in 1890, I may well agree with the point. But the diesels arrival coincided with the arrival of water, air conditiong, and other amenities, that led to massive migration to the area. If water was still that much of an issue in the mid-20th century, I think it would have been a limiting factor in other areas of business besides the railroads. Population growth trends in the region in that era, prove otherwise. Steam engines are far from being the only thing requiring water to operate. 

In summation, at that point in time, I believe the infrastructure had developed in the desert southwest, to the point where water wouldn't have been a deciding factor in dieselization. 

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Posted by PRR8259 on Saturday, June 03, 2017 4:36 PM

Fair enough.

Except that other sources have reported the bad (alkali) water was part of the reason.

The silver painted mow service Santa Fe tank cars, for water service to some of the more out of the way locations in the Mojave Desert, did last well into the 1960's and are included in the Santa Fe Color Guide to Freight and Passenger Equipment...so it seems plausible to me they were still in use, supplying water to some smaller locales, even after the steam era was over.

John

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Posted by PRR8259 on Saturday, June 03, 2017 4:40 PM

ROBERT WILLISON

Beyond the great operating efficiency that diesels offered, they were considered modern, a way railroad management could  change their image. Railroad management along with the the Budd cars could bring a totally new product to the table. gone were heavyweight cars pulled by steamers, replaced with shiny new stream line trains pulled by an equally shiny new diesel. World war two slowed dieselization, but from an operating perspective and great public relations, steam wad dead.

 

 

Actually many Santa Fe heavyweight passenger cars were maintained in good repair, used on lesser trains into the 1960's, and were ultimately offered to Amtrak.  Eastern railroads had difficulty maintaining Santa Fe's air conditioning systems, so Amtrak declined the offered heavyweight cars.  A majority of the Amtrak equipment and motive power, at startup, came from the Santa Fe.  They had maintained their equipment better than the other railroads.

Refer to Fred Frailey's "Twilight of the Great Trains".  It's an excellent read!

John

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Posted by Deggesty on Saturday, June 03, 2017 4:59 PM

Considering that the Santa Fe (and the Southern) used steam-powered air conditioning, it is no wonder that air conditioner experts on other roads found maintaining the Santa Fe cars' air conditioning systems to be difficult.

Johnny

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