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Athearn BB F7s and Their Steam Generator Ends

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Athearn BB F7s and Their Steam Generator Ends
Posted by Attuvian on Tuesday, April 16, 2019 12:15 PM

Folks,

All of the Blue Box shells for F7s (both A and B units) have steam generator exhaust gear atop the access hatch at the rear.  I understand that this was primarily, if not exclusively, for use in passenger service.  Subsequent Athearn Genesis issues of Fs and those by other suppliers (IMR, etc) have the same, plain access hatches on both ends of their Bs and on the aft end of the A units, issuing them as intended for frieght service.

I do all freight service and would like to replace all or most of the generator hatches with plain ones.  If there is a maker of plain hatches out there I could swap them out, though I'm not an accomplished painter and would have to mask and match roof top colors.  The other option is to cut off the generator items, float and sand the surface even and then repaint.

Any suggestions?  I want to keep these old shells for the extra work that has gone into their innards and the details that are in hand and about to be added (yes, I'm redoing the windshields).

Thanks,

John

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Posted by mbinsewi on Tuesday, April 16, 2019 12:42 PM

I cut'em all off, smooth off, and repaint.  Just be careful not to mess up the "rivets/bolts" around the edges.

I don't think there is an offical hatch replacement, other than a thin piece of styrene, but then you have to duplicate the bolts around the edge.

Mike.

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Posted by SPSOT fan on Tuesday, April 16, 2019 1:02 PM

I would recommend taking a look to see if the generator detail is molded on. If so I think Mike‘s idea is best, if not I bet there are after market parts or even athearn parts from their more resent releases could be use as a replacement, so look around.

Alternately, you could keep these on as many railroads transferred f units to freight from passenger in the 60s as passenger traffic died down. Depending on your prototype and era you could just keep them as they are, the real thing of then did the same. Do some reasearch and see what your prototype did.

Regards, Isaac

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Posted by wjstix on Tuesday, April 16, 2019 1:27 PM

Athearn Genesis F-units use Highliner shells, which can be used to model any F-unit from the F2 to the F9 and all the various options (one headlight vs. two, steam generator equipped, dynamic brakes, etc.) because of all the interchangeable parts.

The Athearn "bluebox" F7A and F7B are one-piece molded shells with no interchangeable or add-on pieces (except the window glazing) so you can't really "swap out" parts. Your best bet if modifying a BB unit would be to do what Mike suggested, carefully cut off and sand smooth the steam generator parts and then touch up the paint.

Stix
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Posted by Attuvian on Tuesday, April 16, 2019 1:31 PM

SPSOT fan

Alternately, you could keep these on as many railroads transferred f units to freight from passenger in the 60s as passenger traffic died down. Depending on your prototype and era you could just keep them as they are, the real thing of then did the same. Do some reasearch and see what your prototype did.

 
Good idea, except that I model in the early to mid-50s.  I'm fairly sure SP was still a ways off before dumping their passenger Fs to freight service.
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Posted by NHTX on Tuesday, April 16, 2019 2:18 PM

      The Athearn BB F units I remember had molded on SG details causing one to spend hours carving and sanding them off.  As far as the bolt detail around the perimeter of the hatch itself, Archer may have something in their line of surface detail decals, that would remove any fear of damaging the shell.

     As far as painting the modified roof, unless you model equipment fresh out of the paint shop, the roof of a locomotive is one of the very first areas to become discolored due to sun fading, rain washed dust and grime, exhaust soot, etc.  No reason to obsess over a precise color match unless you are modeling a brand new unit.

     As you mentioned, manufacturers have become more aware of the fact that molding every option onto a locomotive can make it undesirable to a significant portion of their potential customer base, thereby limiting sales. 

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Posted by wjstix on Tuesday, April 16, 2019 2:26 PM

Attuvian
 
SPSOT fan

Alternately, you could keep these on as many railroads transferred f units to freight from passenger in the 60s as passenger traffic died down. Depending on your prototype and era you could just keep them as they are, the real thing of then did the same. Do some reasearch and see what your prototype did.

 

 

 
Good idea, except that I model in the early to mid-50s.  I'm fairly sure SP was still a ways off before dumping their passenger Fs to freight service.
 

I'm not sure about "dumping" the F's to freight service. I don't about SP per se, but some railroads buying F-units back then saw them as kinda like a 4-8-2 or 4-8-4, dual-purpose engines that could pull mainline freights or passenger trains. I know GN used A-B sets of FT's between the Twin Cities and Duluth-Superior in both services - take a passenger train from the Twin Cities to Duluth in the morning, and return that evening with a freight train. Some railroads also had 'freight' F-units that had a steam generator in the B-unit so it could be used as back-up power if a passenger set went down.

Stix
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Posted by mbinsewi on Tuesday, April 16, 2019 2:28 PM

The SG details are molded on, period.  There is no "replacement hatch". and it does not take hours.

If you model the early to mid 50's, and there a chance you will have a passenger train, leave the detail on an A/B set.

Real easy.

Mike.

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Posted by wp8thsub on Tuesday, April 16, 2019 6:18 PM

DSC01741

by wp8thsub, on Flickr

This Athearn F unit had the steam generator detail carved off.  I used putty to fill any irregularities in the shell and sanded the center of the hatch smooth, protecting the rivet detail around the edge.  The process didn't take much time.

Rob Spangler

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Posted by doctorwayne on Tuesday, April 16, 2019 7:46 PM

I read very recently (but still can't remember exactly where) that the A-units with dynamic brakes had no steam generators, as the water tank would have been under the roof where the cooling fans for the d.b.s would be located. 

If the service on which the locos were used required steam generators, they would be in the B-units, at least until the FP7 and FP9 models came along, both of which were lengthened versions (by about 4') with steam generators and dynamic brakes.

Wayne

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Posted by xdford on Tuesday, April 16, 2019 9:01 PM

I live in Australia so I can only rely on memory of what I have read like Wayne

According to http://modelingthesp.blogspot.com/2014/03/southern-pacific-f-units-modeling-f3.html , Southern Pacific did not own any F7A units with Steam Generators ...

but I was under the impression that SP had FP7's and I seem to remember an RMC article on splicing an Athearn Nose to an Atlas FP7 body specifically for SP details.

So in short, cut off the SG's ...  Good Luck

Regards

Trevor

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Tuesday, April 16, 2019 9:18 PM

doctorwayne

I read very recently (but still can't remember exactly where) that the A-units with dynamic brakes had no steam generators, as the water tank would have been under the roof where the cooling fans for the d.b.s would be located. 

If the service on which the locos were used required steam generators, they would be in the B-units, at least until the FP7 and FP9 models came along, both of which were lengthened versions (by about 4') with steam generators and dynamic brakes.

Wayne

 

Actually, every railroad ordered slighly different stuff in this department.

There were lots of variations of water tank locations and sizes. There were steam equiped A units with dynamic brakes. There were non dynamic brake A units with the basic tank under the boiler and a second tank were the dynamic brake grid would have been.

There were ABBA sets, and ABB sets, with boilers only in the B units and additional water storage in the boiler location in the A units.

There were A units with the air tanks moved to the roof to allow that space under the frame to hold more water.

There were ABBA sets with boilers in all units and shared water from the larger tanks in the B units.

F3's in particular were purchased by many roads as "dual service" locos, but with later F7's this was much less common.

Then there was the ulimate solution, the FP7, the stretched F7 with more room for water tanks.

As older boiler equiped F units were transfered freight service, boilers were often removed. Because Federal rules said if the equipment was in place, it had to be in working order......

Would every vent hood get removed from every roof?, Maybe, maybe not.

Sheldon

    

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Posted by Attuvian on Tuesday, April 16, 2019 10:24 PM

xdford

I live in Australia so I can only rely on memory of what I have read like Wayne

According to http://modelingthesp.blogspot.com/2014/03/southern-pacific-f-units-modeling-f3.html , Southern Pacific did not own any F7A units with Steam Generators ...

but I was under the impression that SP had FP7's and I seem to remember an RMC article on splicing an Athearn Nose to an Atlas FP7 body specifically for SP details.

So in short, cut off the SG's ...  Good Luck

Regards

Trevor

 
Trevor,
 
Thanks for the link to Tony Thompson's blogspot.  His site is a real trove of information.  Note only is his content exceptional, he has a flair for clear expression.  I used your URL and then did a seach of his blogspot using "Southern Pacific F Unit" and pulled up a link that had all of his articles on the subject.  There were at least four, covering a number of years.  Here it Is:  http://modelingthesp.blogspot.com/search?q=southern+pacific+F-unit+diesels
 
Your help from down under is appreciated.  Good on ya, mate.
 
John
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Posted by garya on Tuesday, April 16, 2019 11:39 PM

doctorwayne

I read very recently (but still can't remember exactly where) that the A-units with dynamic brakes had no steam generators, as the water tank would have been under the roof where the cooling fans for the d.b.s would be located. 

If the service on which the locos were used required steam generators, they would be in the B-units, at least until the FP7 and FP9 models came along, both of which were lengthened versions (by about 4') with steam generators and dynamic brakes.

Wayne

 

Here, maybe?

http://mrr.trains.com/how-to/prototype-railroads/2019/04/whats-in-a-photograph-mountain-type-f3s-on-the-union-pacific?utm_source=forum&utm_medium=clickthrough&utm_campaign=mr_what_photo

 

Gary

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Posted by doctorwayne on Tuesday, April 16, 2019 11:50 PM

garya
Here, maybe?

Thanks, Gary!  Yeah, that was it, and it was very recent, too!
 
My memory has never been very good, but nowadays, I can re-watch stuff I saw on TV last week and it's new again. 

Wayne

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Posted by garya on Wednesday, April 17, 2019 12:47 AM

doctorwayne

 

 
garya
Here, maybe?

 

Thanks, Gary!  Yeah, that was it, and it was very recent, too!
 
My memory has never been very good, but nowadays, I can re-watch stuff I saw on TV last week and it's new again. 

Wayne

 

I hear you.  Of course, I can remember lots of useless crap, like Gilligan's Island episodes, but actual knowledge just passes right through...

Gary

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Posted by wjstix on Wednesday, April 17, 2019 9:06 AM

I think the big problem with the steam generators was finding room for the water. Since say an F7B didn't have a cab, it could use that space for water tanks - IIRC, an F7B could hold about 1200 gallons of water for the generator. In and F7A, you could fit in a steam generator but it only could carry about 300 gals. of water. As mentioned, the extended body of the FP series allowed an A unit to hold more water for the generator. Then a railroad could just use say an FP-7 to haul a short to medium sized train in cold weather, instead of having to use say an F7A-B set where the B unit wasn't really needed to pull the train, but was there just to get the benefit of the larger water capacity of the unit. (However, some 'cold climate' railroads like CP and NP used FPs along with multiple B-units on long passenger trains because they needed all the steam heat they could get during the extremely cold winters they faced.)

Stix
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Posted by riogrande5761 on Thursday, April 18, 2019 6:46 AM

wjstix

I think the big problem with the steam generators was finding room for the water. Since say an F7B didn't have a cab, it could use that space for water tanks - IIRC, an F7B could hold about 1200 gallons of water for the generator. In and F7A, you could fit in a steam generator but it only could carry about 300 gals. of water. As mentioned, the extended body of the FP series allowed an A unit to hold more water for the generator. Then a railroad could just use say an FP-7 to haul a short to medium sized train in cold weather, instead of having to use say an F7A-B set where the B unit wasn't really needed to pull the train, but was there just to get the benefit of the larger water capacity of the unit. (However, some 'cold climate' railroads like CP and NP used FPs along with multiple B-units on long passenger trains because they needed all the steam heat they could get during the extremely cold winters they faced.)

 

The D&RGW purchase two F7A's with steam generators so they would have the option of using a single F in passenger service if needed.  Naturally their capacity was limited due to the smaller water tanks.  Both of those F7A's were involved in wrecks in the early 1950's and during rebuilding/repair, the steam generators were removed.

Those steam generators were apparently not scrapped but re-used in other F7B units which were not originally delivered with them.  Notes indicate steam generators were installed in two F7B units: "F7Bs 5582, 5583 (added in about 1953)".  That time co-incides with the wreck rebuilds of F7A's 5571 and 4474 suggesting the steam generators removed were installed into the B units listed.

For further reading on the above, see notes here at UtahRails.net:

http://utahrails.net/drgw/rg-diesel-notes.php

From what I understand, NP also had some F7A's with steam generators, referred to by author Joesph Strapac as "short FP7's", probably because they were essentially passenger capable F7's but without the extended frame of a true FP7 and much less water capacity.

Rio Grande.  The Action Road  - Focus 1977-1983

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Thursday, April 18, 2019 6:52 AM

Attuvian

Folks,

All of the Blue Box shells for F7s (both A and B units) have steam generator exhaust gear atop the access hatch at the rear.  I understand that this was primarily, if not exclusively, for use in passenger service.  Subsequent Athearn Genesis issues of Fs and those by other suppliers (IMR, etc) have the same, plain access hatches on both ends of their Bs and on the aft end of the A units, issuing them as intended for frieght service.

I do all freight service and would like to replace all or most of the generator hatches with plain ones.  If there is a maker of plain hatches out there I could swap them out, though I'm not an accomplished painter and would have to mask and match roof top colors.  The other option is to cut off the generator items, float and sand the surface even and then repaint.

Any suggestions?  I want to keep these old shells for the extra work that has gone into their innards and the details that are in hand and about to be added (yes, I'm redoing the windshields).

Thanks,

John

I am not aware of any aftermarket hatch parts for HO F units.

Some years back I wanted to model the Rio Grande Zephyr F9A, before Stewart F units were made, so I was faced with modifications to an Athearn blue box F7A.  Among the modifications to match the RGZ F9A was to removed the steam generator details from the rear roof.  I put masking tape over the rivet detail to preserve it and carefully shaved off the details until the area was flat, and used fine sand paper to smooth the surface out.  Lastly used details west lift ring parts to add one in each corner per photo's.

In the end, there were other details that I couldn't easily modify, such as the horizontal vertical slit side louvers.  When Stewart came out with their much nicer F units, it was a no brainer for me to buy their F9A and all problems solved.  I sold off the Athearn blue box F units as project units. 

In the end, there are much better looking HO F7's out there these days.  If cost is a consideration, the Stewarts can be found for attractive prices and probably have the best drive on the market as well!

Rio Grande.  The Action Road  - Focus 1977-1983

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Posted by Attuvian on Thursday, April 18, 2019 9:18 AM

riogrande5761
  

In the end, there are much better looking HO F7's out there these days.  If cost is a consideration, the Stewarts can be found for attractive prices and probably have the best drive on the market as well!

 
Rio,
 
I had an extra B unit shell in the wrong paint scheme and did the shaving and sanding exercise early yesterday as a first time experiment.  As it went well, I did three of the Black Widow units that are the subject of the thread.  Figured I'd go ahead with the project as it should be easy to mask off the tops.  I'll find someone in the club to show me how to repaint them with their air brush equipment.
 
I do have an A-B pair of Genesis locos and four Stewarts (two of each).  I have chosen to spend the effort, and the relatively few bucks, on the BBs as much for the upgrade experience as anything else.  I've already exposed myself to the overhaul of one drive train, and mods on three frames to allow closer coupling.  These are fruitful lessons and training.  Being rather "old school", I've always put an emphasis on the development of DIY skills of all sorts.  They not only save money everywhere (cars, houses, yards, etc.) but provide a sense of personal satisfaction that cannot be bought.
 
I suppose that, when done, the BB's will still look marginally inferior to the later loco issues when standing side-by-side.  If I find that unacceptable at home I can use them on our club layout.  Its size and the large presence of BBs of every sort will swallow these concerns.
 
John
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Posted by BRAKIE on Friday, April 26, 2019 6:14 PM

IIRC The FP7A was 3(?) feet longer then the freight F7A. The extra three feet was for the boiler.

Globe's FP7 is 3 feet to short..

Athearn never corrected this mistake after buying Globe Models.

Larry

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Friday, April 26, 2019 7:05 PM

BRAKIE

IIRC The FP7A was 3(?) feet longer then the freight F7A. The extra three feet was for the boiler.

Globe's FP7 is 3 feet to short..

Athearn never corrected this mistake after buying Globe Models.

 

Larry,

Sorry, but that is not correct.

Yes, there was an FP7 made by EMD that was longer, 4 feet longer. It was not longer to fit in the boiler, it was longer to allow more water storage for the boiler.

AND, most importantly, a fair number of regular length F3's, F7's, and a few F9's were equiped with boilers.

The Globe/Athearn model is a correct representation of a boiler equiped F7, which did exist, even if only owned by a few railroads.

The Northern Pacific was I think the only road to buy boiler equiped F9's.

And, IIRC, by actual count, considerably more F3's where boiler equiped than F7's.

This whole thread has talked about the the variations in boiler equipment on EMD F units. 

There were without any question, regular length F units with boilers.

Only the orginal FT was never built with boilers in the A unit. But the FT was orignally designed as a drawbar connected A-B set, with the boiler in the B unit for passenger locos.

Sheldon

    

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Posted by gmpullman on Friday, April 26, 2019 9:06 PM

New York Central had two A-B-A pairs of F3s steam generator equipped. The thinking at the time was that the extra tractive effort would be needed on the Boston & Albany's steeper grades. Seems like E-7 and 8s handled it just fine.

 NYC_DCA-1a-3502 by Edmund, on Flickr

The steam generators were removed in 1959 and they were regeared for freight.

 IMG_9002_fix by Edmund, on Flickr

Regards, Ed

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Posted by BRAKIE on Friday, April 26, 2019 9:06 PM

ATLANTIC CENTRAL
The Globe/Athearn model is a correct representation of a boiler equiped F7, which did exist, even if only owned by a few railroads.

Well,so much for the "expert" diesel gurus and their bashing of the Globe/Athearn FP7 as they called it as being all wrong.

Thanks for the correct information.

Larry

SSRy

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Friday, April 26, 2019 11:03 PM

BRAKIE

 

 
ATLANTIC CENTRAL
The Globe/Athearn model is a correct representation of a boiler equiped F7, which did exist, even if only owned by a few railroads.

 

Well,so much for the "expert" diesel gurus and their bashing of the Globe/Athearn FP7 as they called it as being all wrong.

Thanks for the correct information.

 

No worries, happy to be of service.

And, actually, the original GLOBE MODELS did not develope the plastic F7.

Globe made wood and metal kits similar to Athearn. Athearn bought GLOBE, continued making their products, then used the GLOBE name to test market the plastic F7 and the plastic passenger car kits.

Plastic trains were getting bad reviews and Athearn did not want to risk their reputation until people got a chance to see the detail level.

The response was so positive that the GLOBE name was quickly phased out and the Athearn name replaced it, giving the "impression" that Athearn had purchased the line later rather than earlier.

I still have original GLOBE plastic passenger car kits with instructions that say Athearn:

Clearly they ran out of "GLOBE" instructions before they ran out of "GLOBE" boxes.

These passenger cars are exactly like the ones Athearn still sells, but before the more familar one piece body that slides on the floor, they were like this, all seperate pieces for floor, sides, roof and ends.

And notice how the red box artwork is similar to the later yellow and then blue box artwork.

Here is an actual made in Chicago GLOBE kit:

Sheldon

 

    

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Posted by BRAKIE on Saturday, April 27, 2019 5:38 AM

Sheldon,That Globe reefer kit brings back memories of watching my Dad build those and wondering as a 6 year old if I will ever gain the skills needed for building those kits.

Dad's work bench (a card table) was located in a  pantry room off the kitchen. I learned in later years that he was among the first in the Columbus HO club to accept Athearn plastic car kits as the new "standard" in the hobby.

 

Even though I have several P2K,Atlas Geeps,a IM GP10 and a Kat/Gen GP9 I still breakout one of my BB GP7s or SD9 to switch cars from time to time..

 

Larry

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Posted by mbinsewi on Saturday, April 27, 2019 8:35 AM

It seems the controversy of F units has been going on a long time.  

What I don't get, is where do/did  the "experts" get their version of the "proper" shape of the F diesel?

Did they take percise measurements and profiles of the 1:1 locomotive? or are they going by "what looks right" to them?

And if they did take those precise measurements, why hasn't that information been passed along? instead of "bashing/trashing" an F unit someone has modeled with great care.

Who are those experts?

I could never figure that out.

Mike.

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Saturday, April 27, 2019 9:10 AM

mbinsewi

It seems the controversy of F units has been going on a long time.  

What I don't get, is where do/did  the "experts" get their version of the "proper" shape of the F diesel?

Did they take percise measurements and profiles of the 1:1 locomotive? or are they going by "what looks right" to them?

And if they did take those precise measurements, why hasn't that information been passed along? instead of "bashing/trashing" an F unit someone has modeled with great care.

Who are those experts?

I could never figure that out.

Mike.

 

Well Mike, first thing is some models have been tooled right from EMD drawings - BUT, the F unit nose was fabricated to a set of gigs/templates, so no two are really exactly the same, just close.

Think about it this way, if you model the B&O, your likely to use a picture of a B&O loco as your guide, etc.

Some have been measured, but some people reject the idea of using one or two measured locos as the "standard" because of the variations in the construction process.

In its day, the original Athearn model was considered one of the best. It's major flaws are in the windshield and roof contour, not in the nose. And up to that time it captured a lot of other details without exaggerating them as much as others had.

The Stewart shell and the Intermountain shell are tied for second best in my view, with the prize for detail an accuracy being the Athearn Genesis/Highliner shell.

While still more than close enough, the Walthers/Proto F unit somehow looks a little off if you really study it.

But even with all that fact and opinion I just shared, I run them all, they all look close enough to me.

Sheldon  

    

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Posted by doctorwayne on Saturday, April 27, 2019 12:15 PM

I seem to recall reading that the original F-units' noses were more-or-less cobbled together with various welded panels, then plastered-over with a heavy application of Bondo or similar body-filler material.

While I don't mind the noses on EMD cab units, I much prefer those on the various versions of ALCo's FAs, although not so much those on the PAs.

Wayne

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