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Old 08-26-2018, 05:26 PM   #1
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2019 27' Globetrotter
Chicago area , Illinois
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Help getting started?

Greetings.

Not sure whether Iím posting this in the right place, so I thought Iíd simultaneously introduce myself here and ask where it would be best for me to ask questions about getting my journey with Airstreams started. I have read most of the relevant posts in this subforum.

My name is Narayan and I live just outside Chicago. Many years ago my grandfather kept dreaming about me being old enough to drive, then getting an RV and exploring the country together. We were never able to make that happen while he was alive, but every Airstream and Winnebago Iíve seen or passed on the road through the years has reminded me of him. Iím now taking a few years off work to spend time with my kids while they are young, and Iíd love to pick up his dream and make it happen with my children. We went on a roadtrip (a mix of car camping and hotels) this summer and it went great and my kids love being on the road.

So Iím not an Airstream owner yet but intend to place an order in the next 1-3 months. When I started researching RVs at the beginning of this summer, I began thinking that Iíd get something that I could tow with my current car, a 2017 Volvo XC90, which has a 5,000 lb towing capacity. But since that time the big trip I intend to take next summer has become more longer and more ambitious and I need to get a new small pickup for our farm anyway. So those things combined has me looking at larger RV setups. I intend to take a long trip at least once every year and occasional long weekend or weeklong trips as schedules allow. Iíd like to have everything by next Spring to take the getup on some practice runs in. We will rent one for a weekend before I purchase just to make sure, but in truth this is something Iíve dreamed of since those days with my grandfather, and Iíve been sold since I was a little kid.

The part of ďgetting startedĒ I need the least help with is selecting the trailer. Iíve done all the research I can online (including on these forums, which are outstanding) and tomorrow Iím going to go look at a few models. As far as Airstream trailers, Iím considering 25-27 foot Flying Clouds and the 27 foot Globetrotter. The big trip next year will primarily be me and my two kids (theyíll be 9 and 13) and some bicycles, visiting National Parks between Chicago and the West Coast (my daughter will be starting fourth grade next fall, so we intend to use the National Parks Pass), with my wife joining us here and there as her schedule allows. The typical trip after that will be all four of us heading out for a more modest 3-5 day adventure, at least until the kids are older and the wife and I have more flexibility and can head out on longer trips.

What I could use some help with are the kinds of things you seasoned veterans, particularly those of you who have gone through multiple trailers, probably have dialed in by now.
  • How should I evaluate an Airstream dealer? Are there any disadvantages to buying one from a dealer far away (e.g. Colonial) or does the Airstream network treat all Airstream owners equally?
  • What I like about Airstreams are that the options are extremely limited. But which options would be better for me to order with the trailer (from the dealer) and which ones should I pass on and get and either install myself or have installed? Iím interested in particular in the solar and rear-view cameras. Iíve renovated houses and am a furniture maker and bicycle mechanic, so Iím fully competent when it comes to installation and renovation of anything that isnít a motor. But Iím not looking to save money as much as Iím looking to get a great setup that plays well with Airstreams.
  • I know that some Airstream dealers can sell other components or do other modificationsówhat kinds of things should I consider with the purchase of the trailer? Are the OEM tires and brakes fine? Are towing hitches necessary and if so are there ones that play particularly well with Airstreams or that are typically sold by Airstream dealers? How about batteriesódo those typically get upgraded? I know a lot of this will shake out as we get to know the trailer and our use of it, but Iíd like to benefit from as much knowledge as possible as we get started.
Iím totally lost when it comes to how to spec a towing vehicle, but this is a problem Iím willing to handle once Iíve selected the trailer I want (and I know where to post those questions ). Iíve looked at pickups in person and I am pretty set on buying a Ford F-150 or Toyota Tundraóanything larger would be useless to me when Iím not on trips and I need the TV to do double duty in that way.
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Old 08-26-2018, 05:52 PM   #2
PKI
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Your TV logic is good. No point in getting a vehicle that does not serve your day to day purpose. Really, no point.

Trailer - look seriously at the 27. Lots of value there and you might find one in quite good shape that is being upgraded to a 30. Twoftitis is alive and well with AS owners.

Note, you might also find that one of the smaller trailers and your Volvo are a good match. So look it all over. Best to get what you want and not under buy, but the family can get a lot of enjoyment with a small coach too. Depends a lot on your travel/camping style.

Now, I've been reading for several years now and still learn a lot from the folks here. So keep on with your research. It's OK to change your mind. Just get it right the first time, cause trading horses can get expensive.

Good luck with your investigation. Learn enough to make your own choices, with logic and reason to back up the decision. Pat
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Old 08-26-2018, 06:15 PM   #3
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Charlotte , Vermont
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Hello Narayan,

I do not have a lot to offer you as I'm a somewhat newbie lady streamer myself but there is a lot of information here and as you are looking to purchase both the AS and the TV, you have a lot of research to do. You will find that opinions about TV's and hitches are plentiful, passionate, and different. As are opinions about many other subjects. Be careful--passion does not always equal knowledge and experience. Where you drive and how you drive are important pieces of the puzzle. With kids on board especially, please don't be anywhere near the limits! Have plenty of wiggle room in your TV capacity.

As well, the systems in the AS have been, for me, a steep learning curve. Batteries, solar, water heaters, refers, AC, DC, volts, amps, OH MY!

These are some blogs that I've found helpful in addition to what's here:

https://blog.gorving.com/

http://www.trailandhitch.com/

And Mark Polk's RV 101 Trailer Towing Basics and others

Good luck and have a wonderful time! Your kids are so lucky!!!

Kim
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Old 08-26-2018, 06:30 PM   #4
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2019 19' Flying Cloud
Chicago , Illinois
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Narayan View Post
[LIST]
[*]How should I evaluate an Airstream dealer? Are there any disadvantages to buying one from a dealer far away (e.g. Colonial) or does the Airstream network treat all Airstream owners equally?


[*]What I like about Airstreams are that the options are extremely limited. But which options would be better for me to order with the trailer (from the dealer) and which ones should I pass on and get and either install myself or have installed? Iím interested in particular in the solar and rear-view cameras.

For dealers, donít sleep on Airstream of Chicago near you, I imagine thatís where youíre going to look in-person this week. We just picked up our trailer there on Thursday and the whole team was great and the prep was awesome, we had zero issues our first weekend out. I thought Iíd have to drive really far to get a great deal but they were very competitive.

For options, the backup cameras are standard as of 2019 model year. The forum consensus on solar is you can get better components at a better price after market. Iíve had a little trouble finding someone Iím comfortable with around Chicago for a more high end setup, but anything is possible with a drive.

You also mentioned renting, we got a lot out of our two rental trips before we bought and ended up in a floorplan we werenít even considering previously. Itís one thing to spend time in them in a dealership and another to sleep, cook, etc

Good luck in your search!
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Old 08-26-2018, 07:29 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Narayan View Post
Greetings.

Not sure whether Iím posting this in the right place, so I thought Iíd simultaneously introduce myself here and ask where it would be best for me to ask questions about getting my journey with Airstreams started. I have read most of the relevant posts in this subforum.

My name is Narayan and I live just outside Chicago. Many years ago my grandfather kept dreaming about me being old enough to drive, then getting an RV and exploring the country together. We were never able to make that happen while he was alive, but every Airstream and Winnebago Iíve seen or passed on the road through the years has reminded me of him. Iím now taking a few years off work to spend time with my kids while they are young, and Iíd love to pick up his dream and make it happen with my children. We went on a roadtrip (a mix of car camping and hotels) this summer and it went great and my kids love being on the road.

So Iím not an Airstream owner yet but intend to place an order in the next 1-3 months. When I started researching RVs at the beginning of this summer, I began thinking that Iíd get something that I could tow with my current car, a 2017 Volvo XC90, which has a 5,000 lb towing capacity. But since that time the big trip I intend to take next summer has become more longer and more ambitious and I need to get a new small pickup for our farm anyway. So those things combined has me looking at larger RV setups. I intend to take a long trip at least once every year and occasional long weekend or weeklong trips as schedules allow. Iíd like to have everything by next Spring to take the getup on some practice runs in. We will rent one for a weekend before I purchase just to make sure, but in truth this is something Iíve dreamed of since those days with my grandfather, and Iíve been sold since I was a little kid.

The part of ďgetting startedĒ I need the least help with is selecting the trailer. Iíve done all the research I can online (including on these forums, which are outstanding) and tomorrow Iím going to go look at a few models. As far as Airstream trailers, Iím considering 25-27 foot Flying Clouds and the 27 foot Globetrotter. The big trip next year will primarily be me and my two kids (theyíll be 9 and 13) and some bicycles, visiting National Parks between Chicago and the West Coast (my daughter will be starting fourth grade next fall, so we intend to use the National Parks Pass), with my wife joining us here and there as her schedule allows. The typical trip after that will be all four of us heading out for a more modest 3-5 day adventure, at least until the kids are older and the wife and I have more flexibility and can head out on longer trips.

What I could use some help with are the kinds of things you seasoned veterans, particularly those of you who have gone through multiple trailers, probably have dialed in by now.
  • How should I evaluate an Airstream dealer? Are there any disadvantages to buying one from a dealer far away (e.g. Colonial) or does the Airstream network treat all Airstream owners equally?
  • What I like about Airstreams are that the options are extremely limited. But which options would be better for me to order with the trailer (from the dealer) and which ones should I pass on and get and either install myself or have installed? Iím interested in particular in the solar and rear-view cameras. Iíve renovated houses and am a furniture maker and bicycle mechanic, so Iím fully competent when it comes to installation and renovation of anything that isnít a motor. But Iím not looking to save money as much as Iím looking to get a great setup that plays well with Airstreams.
  • I know that some Airstream dealers can sell other components or do other modificationsówhat kinds of things should I consider with the purchase of the trailer? Are the OEM tires and brakes fine? Are towing hitches necessary and if so are there ones that play particularly well with Airstreams or that are typically sold by Airstream dealers? How about batteriesódo those typically get upgraded? I know a lot of this will shake out as we get to know the trailer and our use of it, but Iíd like to benefit from as much knowledge as possible as we get started.
Iím totally lost when it comes to how to spec a towing vehicle, but this is a problem Iím willing to handle once Iíve selected the trailer I want (and I know where to post those questions ). Iíve looked at pickups in person and I am pretty set on buying a Ford F-150 or Toyota Tundraóanything larger would be useless to me when Iím not on trips and I need the TV to do double duty in that way.
Tundra 5.7 ltr V8 is my choice.
If you are not in to fancy and 4 wheel drive. Consider the Base model with the double cab. Or even crew cab.
The base models have a greater payload capacity. No fancy trim etc. That fancy stuff adds weight which subtracts from the payload number.
My '08 Tundra has 18" wheels.
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Old 08-26-2018, 08:03 PM   #6
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Hi

Lots of questions and not much point in trying to just answer them one at a time ...

Dealers - There is an enormous variation in dealers out there. Some are quite good others are pretty much worthless. You can shop for price up front. Most dealers will not give you a "best and final" price until you are ready to buy. The hidden issue is the quality of prep they will do on the trailer.

Trailer size - The only way to work this out is to find a dealer with a good inventory and spend time there. You need to sit (and play) in a number of models / sizes to work out what is right for you. You can only get just so far online. Actually being in a real trailer is very different than looking at one online.

New / used - How excited are you about working on a trailer? How much DIY experience do you have on pretty much everything? How much space do you have to tear things apart? How soon do you want to get out camping? Figure that a (roughly) 10 year old trailer is going to save you really significant money over a new one. People spend a few months to a few years on rebuilds, even of fairly new trailers.

Tow vehicle - Work out the "how big" first. Towing anything >= 25' with a small SUV ... not a good idea. Just how big do you need to go? Very much a "that depends" sort of thing. A F-250 sized pickup is not uncommon for a 27' trailer. Work that part out after you know the answer on the trailer. Be sure to include all the stuff you will toss into the TV into your calculations of it's capabilities. These days, there really isn't a lot of difference between the F-150 / F-250 / F-350 other than capacity. Size wise and comfort wise ... pretty much same /same.

Options - You very much do *not* want "lifetime warranties", "super coating", and that sort of stuff. You will need some sort of WD /AS hitch. Solar is a good idea, but not a deal breaker. A poorly installed aftermarket system is in no way better than the factory setup. There's not a lot of major stuff I would ask the dealer to put in.

Storage - You need to put this beast somewhere. You mention a farm, is there a building you can "park" a trailer in over the winter? Getting an RV in out of the elements will extend its life by a lot. If there are "fix up's" needed to make this happen ... think about that now.

Cost - Camping season with an AS pretty much ends a bit after the first hard frost. Once that happens, you winterize the trailer and put it in storage. The dealer does the same thing. Once that happens ... prices drop a bit. Right now if you order a trailer, count on about a 4+ month wait.

Yes that's a lot and sort of all over the place ....

Bob
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Old 08-26-2018, 08:25 PM   #7
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You will find more opinions on this forum than you might be able to handle. Some pretty strong opinions.
So here are some general things to think about:
1). Once you have determined the trailer...
2). Carefully consider these 2 things on your tow vehicle. Payload: how much your tow vehicle can carry. Tow capacity: how much your tow vehicle can safely pull. Not the same. Your payload will get larger the longer you need to be out on the road. And the longer your trailer the more likelihood the hitch weight will be higher affecting your payload. So when you buy the trailer look at the hitch weight! That will help determine payload and the amount of tow vehicle you will need. Talk to someone experienced at your dealership. Don’t talk to most car sales people. Most have no clue.
3). Research the weight distribution and anti-sway hitch that will work for both your tow vehicle and your trailer. Your dealership may lead you one way that may not be the best way. But that’s a place to start. Have them teach you now to hook up and unhook the hitch numerous times.

LOTS of opinions on hitches. I will have to say this is one thing I didn’t consider much when I bought mine, and I ended up changing hitch systems. How well your hitch distributes the weight across the axles and prevents sway will add greatly to your towing experience.

Also one word of caution: Don’t just consider the cost of the TV and the Trailer. You will spend a few thousand dollars just on stuff to get on the road. You will want tools, fuses, hoses, power cords, surge protector, grill, etc. Don’t buy them at the dealership. Get an idea of what you need and shop carefully. Deals are to be had out there.

Be prepared to learn how to fix stuff, winterize, dewinterize, etc. Stuff breaks and will need to be maintained. Not hard to learn, but it has been a real learning experience the first year. If you live on a farm you won’t have a problem with that. You are fixing stuff all the time

And things that were said on the previous post are spot on.

Here’s a link about towing vehicles that is helpful:

https://rvlifemag.com/towing-half-to...e-quarter-ton/

It’s a great deal of fun by the way.
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Old 08-28-2018, 07:41 AM   #8
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Chicago area , Illinois
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Wow, you all are incredible. I figured Iíd check back in in a week to see if anyone responded. All of your responses were within a few hours of my post. Amazing!

Great advice from everyone, of course. My daughter got sent home from school sick yesterday, which delayed my dealership visit, but thatís on the docket for today or tomorrow.

Let me respond to a few things:

@PKI: The 27 does seem to be the sweet spot; Iíll know more when I start seeing them in person how itíll work for the four of us. Iíd be keen on something I could tow with my Volvo, but next yearís plans are pointing to more remote locations and having done over 100,000 miles of two-lane road trips in various Saabs, Iím not sure I want to be in the middle of nowhere with a modern Volvo. In any case, Iím keeping an open mind but since any constraints I have regarding towing vehicle are ones that Iím imposing myself, Iím focusing on getting the right trailer. If it works with my Volvoóawesome.

@farafield: Iíve been lurking here for about 2 months and have quickly sorted out the ďpassionateĒ debates from the informative onesóthese seem to be prevalent across all Internet forums where enthusiasts gather. Iím a safety nutóI do drive a Volvo óI wonít exceed vehicle capacity. Iím also a pragmatist. Thanks for the linksóI started this whole thing with Mark Polkís dissertation, so I know all the terms but have none of the experience. Hoping to work on that.

@chicagoairóyes, Iím starting with Airstream of Chicago and I canít tell you how happy I am to hear that youíve had a great experience there. If there is anyone in particular youíd recommend me working with, Iíd love a name.

@TGTwinkie: Iím going to get the trailer and decide the TV after that. Iíd love a Tundra but Iím not sure I can make the payload work for an active family of four. Weíll see.

@uncle_bob: Iím totally up for a used trailer. In theory my ideal trailer would actually be an Eddie Bauer or something else with that rear hatch. Per some of your other threads (if I recall), Iím also looking at other brands: Oliver, Escape, Big Foot, Winnebago. I have always loved Airstreams (since I was a little kid), but I donít want my life to revolve around them just yet, as my attentions are on my kids and on other pursuits. 10-4 on the optionsóthank you. The farm will indeed be where the trailer is stored, but the new machine shed wonít be ready until 2020, so any trailer I get may have to spend a winter covered, but in an open-air barn. Hopefully they make covers for these things, or Iíll be cleaning a lot of barn swallow off the trailer in the Spring...

@daquenzer: thanks for that towing article, I hadnít seen it. Iíve got most of the ďadventuringĒ stuff already from our car camping trips, though I realize that the trailer will come (free!) with a host of other needs. Thatís part of the fun, as I see itódialing these boxes-on-wheels into something you can call your own and that you know inside and out.

My current plan is to decide whether to go new (in which case Iíll place an order this year for spring delivery) or used (in which case Iíll keep my eyes peeled over the winter for the models I want). Iíve got a lot to go on from just this thread. Iíll keep yíall updated.

Thanks again, everyone!
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Old 08-28-2018, 11:12 AM   #9
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Barn swallow .... it is usually advised not to use a cover on an AS. The issue is wind moving the cover and scratching the finish. Since expensive cars get covered to keep dust off, there may be a way. However, do some research on this or you may be unhappy with results.

Yes, worth looking at other brands. Many good designs are available. The 4 season capability is worth investigating. The fibreglass interiors may be easier to keep clean if your RV lifestyle leans to dirty activities and dusty areas.

Understand your concern about service availability when traveling with a Volvo. We moved our Jaguar from primary to secondary choice as the travel vehicle for that same reason. There are lots of third party services that keep vehicles repaired, but having an OEM dealer close at hand when traveling is comforting.

Good luck with your investigations. Pat
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Old 08-29-2018, 09:51 AM   #10
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Hi

Putting the trailer under a roof (even if there no walls involved) pretty much counts as "inside storage". You want to keep the heavy rain / snow / hail off of the nice pretty trailer. Bird contributions are not the thing you need to get overly worried about ....

If the trailer gets hit by sun when under the roof, consider covers over the tires.

Bob
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Old 08-29-2018, 12:11 PM   #11
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Chicago area , Illinois
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Thanks for the storage tips!

Brief update:

Toured quite a few units in person yesterday at Airstream of Chicago (thanks, chicagoair, for the referral). Looked at Airstreams and Winnebagos. We're pretty set on the Airstream, but will keep an open mind.

The model I found most surprising was the Tommy Bahama. I have zero affiliation with the brand (in truth I find it annoying) but the decor was without question the one we liked the most (except for the wall treatments). They only had a 19' model there and the one I'm most interested in is the one with the rear hatch--the 27'. So we have yet to see the 27' model in the TB and Globetrotter editions (which are now the ones we are most interested in). And we'll wait to make a decision until we can see those in person.

Of the rest of them, the 25 and the 27 were my favorites. I preferred the light interiors of the FC over the other editions. My ideal unit would be a 25' Globetrotter interior with a rear hatch.

Keeping our eyes peeled for used as well--that would be ideal. Will post in Towing Vehicles on spec'ing a Ford F-150 for towing. I'll keep updating this thread as decisions are made.
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Old 08-29-2018, 12:39 PM   #12
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I’m just throwing this out there for your consideration.

I have a 2017 27’ Flying Cloud. The trailer is great! Wife and I love it!

I was towing it with a 2015 Chevy 1500 Crew Cab, and it was doing the job, but I was right at the Rear Axle Weight Rating hooked up and loaded for camping. All other specs had plenty of capacity in reserve, but the RAWR was maxed out.

I traded for an F-250, and now I’m nowhere near maxed out. It’s also my daily driver. The ride is a little stiffer than the Chevy, and gas mileage took a hit (except when towing, nearly equal), but I can load anything and everything I want to take along without worry.

In my case payload was the limiting, and deciding, factor. If I remember correctly, the Tundra has less than a comparable 1500.

Get enough truck the first time. Doing it the way I did costs more.
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Old 08-29-2018, 07:11 PM   #13
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Help getting started?

We just put our deposit down on a GT 27FB Twin. We compared prices between Airstream of Chicago, Colonial RV in NJ, and Reliable RV in MO. We went with MO. The twin will allow us to travel with guests and not have to share a bed. We did not add the solar, but itís wired in on our model. With camping near us weíre more so in the shade so portable solar is better for us. We negotiated a hitch install. We plan to tow with an F250 diesel. Our dealership only provides a 50 amp extension cord, gives us an allowance to spend at their shop, and the rest we can get what we want where we want.
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Old 08-29-2018, 07:43 PM   #14
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JMynesóduly noted. For me, there are two ďtail wagging the dogĒ scenarios here. One is of course getting a TV that is under-specced and being thrown all over the road. The other is getting a large TV that tows extremely well on the open highway but sucks having to drive for the other 90% of the year. I need to find a balance between these two. Iím not ruling out the 250 but I just happened to see one have to take several stabs at turning around in a cul-de-sac. Was a bit of a sad clown moment for sure. In any case, I wonít compromise on safety, and donít want a truck that forces me to leave things we want behind (we can be rather spartan, but we are also a pretty active family). Iím just starting to understand the numbers and truck specs; we will see where that nets out.

Patricia, did you go with MO because of price, or because you got a better feeling about them or their service?
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