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Old 07-23-2009, 11:07 AM   #21
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Dan,

We had many problems with Windish and would never go there for anything. That dealer has a bad reputation among Airstream owners.

Timeless seems to have a good reputation though I have no personal experience. Ask to see what they have repaired.

We talked to a salesman at Intermountain and he was a jerk so we walked out, but I understand the shop is better than the salesman.

Sorry to hear about your trailer. We used to live in the area and know from personal experience what hail can do. The only area worse than the Front Range is Florida. I hope this works out well for you.

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Old 07-23-2009, 11:49 AM   #22
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Another one

Hi

My turn. We have an 06 Bambi 16 that is stored in a yard near Alemeda and Garrison. Severe damage to the left rear upper corner panel, at least 4 other panels and the road side wall damaged plus the A/C is done for. We are retired and could take it to JC but I am wondering if that won't be more expensive then Windish? How about letting Andy submit a bid? Are there any local expert shade tree mechanics willing to have a look?

CrawfordGene, would you be willing to call me? 303-905-8078.

DMAC, would you please call, I also have an appointment with Windish in August and would like to compare notes.

What does a panel replacement usually cost?

Any other input is greatly appreciated.
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Old 07-23-2009, 06:15 PM   #23
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The pricing for the replacement of skin segments and panels is dictated by the insurance companies who rely on the Airstream warranty times and rates. This system is based on "flat rate" work which pays a given amount for a specific project regardless of how much time the project actually takes. Therefore, the pricing between repair facilities will vary only slightly. Here at Timeless, our factory trained technicians have been doing body repair work for some dealers and occasionally for the factory rather than returning the unit to Jackson Center. The cost of transportation is not cheap.

Most insurance companies will total a vehicle if the claim amount exceeds 70% of the current market value of the unit. Some companies will go as high as 85%. If the insurance company totals the unit they will write you a check for the value of the vehicle prior to the loss and take title to it. Most will give you the option to purchase it back at salvage value. If you decide to purchase it back you will be given a salvage title and, unlike automobiles, the VIN will be blacklisted and you will not be able to insure it again. This practice varies from state to state. It rarely pans out to repurchase the trailer and have it re-skinned from a cost standpoint. We have had many people over the years find a wreck damaged Airstream at an online auction and want to have it repaired. The cost usually exceeds the value of a comparable used trailer on the open market. There is an economic reason the insurance company totaled the unit in the first place. Some people with the skills to rebuild a wrecked Airstream have purchased these units and bought the repair parts from a dealer at retail prices and had reasonable success in making repairs. However, if they were to count the value of their time, they would find that they are earning much less than minimum wage for their efforts. Unfortunately, there is little market for "fix-n-flip" in the trailer world.
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Old 07-23-2009, 06:49 PM   #24
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Oh, man the hail is my biggest nightmare

We live south of Denver and the rain came down like a curtain - could not see the street for all of it. We don't know (but are very hopeful) if our "Moonunit" was damaged as we have not been able to get out to her until this weekend. She is parked south of Chatfield reservoir and I didn't hear of hail out there - all seemed to be West and or North of Denver. I did hear on the news that they reported anywhere from ping pong ball to tangerine size, yikes!!!

I, unfortunately, have to agree w/GeneCrawford about Windish. We have been in contact or visited them several times on various problems and have never felt happy w/customer service. Don't know about other 2, but sounds like some people have had good results.

I wish you the best of luck with all (I sure am keeping my fingers crossed)
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Old 07-23-2009, 07:56 PM   #25
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Just for the HAIL of it......I checked with my insurance co. today to check on my coverage.
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Old 07-23-2009, 09:19 PM   #26
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My trailer took a field trip to Timeless Travel Trailers yesterday for an estimate, and Brett (see his post above) took time to show me around. In summary, if you live in the west there is no reason to drag a trailer half way across the country to the factory for repair work. I saw a brand new trailer that the factory was having repaired at TTT, the sheet metal work had been completed and looked excellent. They showed me some of the high end work that was in-process, and it was amazing. Worthy of the heavy investment made by wealthy Airstreamers. They will work with my insurance company to complete the repairs, to start in 2-3 weeks. The repairs will take a couple weeks, when I will need to stay in a motel. I'm sure they will do a fine job. I will post progress here.
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Old 07-24-2009, 12:09 AM   #27
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I agree they sound like they know their business. Brett's explanation of the insurance was very interesting.
In my mind totaling an item for damage that is simply cosmetic, makes no sense though.
Hail damage is usually only cosmetic.
Dan's 2003 is gonna value out way above total territory. But for vintage owners a passing hail storm like Dan encounterd could almost always spell total loss.

I have no idea of Dan's repair estimate, but basing it on the pics he posted my uneducated wild guess is going to be $6500 dollars for the skin replacement. Not counting on the roof being replaced.
Am I even close. Over or under?
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Old 07-24-2009, 03:25 AM   #28
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About the cost of skin repairs:

Airstream shops charge about the same rates as auto repair shops... just north or south of $100 per hour. The rate is based on the cost of doing business: employees; building; property taxes; insurance; energy costs; etc and of course some profit.

Unlike auto repair shops Airstream repair centers have only one place to purchase body components...Airstream. Compared to auto or truck body panels the cost is pretty realistic. The compound curved segments for the end caps are pretty fragile unitl they are installed so extra care is taken in Jackson Center to bubble wrap them and place them in large cardboard boxes. One box can suitably handle up to 5 segments. Side and roof sheets are rolled with a strip of tape covering the cut ends and a layer of paper to protect the finish from being scratched. The rolls are then placed in a two part box. Even with these precautions and only one truck line shipping the parts, damage in transit can still take place. We never start work on a body repair until the aluminum arrives in good condition. We also try to stock materials for at least one entire end and one entire 34' side sheet for faster turnaround times on repairs. Warehousing and protection consumes valuable space and time. The cost of shipping has been on a roller coaster ride with the price of fuel but it is not unusual for the cost of shipping one box to be $300 or more.

Depending on the segment or sheet being replaced the time alotted is between 6 and 15 hours per piece. If two panels are being replaced and they share a common rivet line there is a time and cost savings. There are special techniques which must be employed to maintain the structural integrity of the coach and to prevent damage to adjacent panels. Removing the original segment, or most of it anyway may take 1/2 the allotted time. There are also incidental and related costs as well: Belt and rub rail and their fillers need to be removed and re-installed; Olympic rivets and SikaFlex; electrical repairs to running lights; badges, stickers and labels need to be removed and replaced as they are not generally reusable (we do remove and reuse the RVIA label as it has a unique serial number that is associated with the Vehicle Identification Number); and pressure/leak testing after the repairs are made.

The single largest difference in cost between building a new body and repairing a damaged body is that the repair work must be taken apart first. If damaged vehicles could be inexpensively repaired, we would all be driving 55 Tbirds and 57 Chevy's.

Because of the nature of the storm which hit our area (heavy rain, wind speeds topping 70 mph, and .5" to 1.25" hard hail which was driven nearly horizontal to the ground) we are seeing coaches with damage to both the upper and lower side sheets on one side and damage to all seven segments on each end. We have also seen A/C units which have received no damage, some with broken covers and some rendered completly inoperable. There are broken skylights, Fantastic Vents, range hood vents, refrigerator access and vent doors, refer roof vents destroyed, Alumigaurd awning covers damaged, propane tank covers dented, and a few broken windows. The direction the trailer was parked in relation to the wind direction during the storm has a great deal to do with how much surface area is damaged. Trailers of all brands in the storage yard near our location were damaged in an unpredictable pattern. We have a 1962 Airstream 40' which was custom built for the Western Pacific Railroad. Fortunately it received little damage. Within 25 feet there is a new Flying
Cloud which is so badly damaged that it will probably be totaled. We have a 1978 International in our lot which was ready for delivery and was parked with the nose facing directly north, into the storm. All four sides have damage. Since the trailer had just received a new custom interior and all new systems for approximately $100,000, the $40,000 cost to reskin the entire unit will be covered by the owner's insurance. Most of the trailers we have been writing up have damage to at least one side and both ends. The costs, taken from the manufacture's warranty pricing book have been running from $16,000 to over $35,000.

The truly sad situation in our lot is the 1953 Spartan Mansion. This unit has only the milage from Tulsa to Granby and back to Denver. I think the owners stopped using it about 1960. It was an all-original, perfect condition time capsule. It now has a street side side sheet which needs to be replaced. The compound curve segments,front and rear, cannot be replaced and will need to be repaired using auto body filler techiques and the area painted because it is no longer a candidate for polishing.

The other sad case is the little DWR Airstream which was delivered 12 hours before the storm for a single segment replacement now has nearly $30,000 in damage and may be totaled.
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Old 07-24-2009, 09:09 AM   #29
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Brett,
Fascinating report.
Sad, very sad though. I guess my $6500 guess was a bit south of reality. Wow.

Your statement only multiplies and sadly confirms my hypothesis that hail damage like yall had absolutely totals most vintage units. Assuming that most out here have nowhere near the in shop customization as the ones you highlighted.

What is a DWR Airstream?
Why cannot the Spartan Mansion compound sections be redone or replaced or remade?
Any pics forthcoming of the 40' railroad Airstream or the Spartan Mansion ?

Does the old skin come off in any reusable shape? Have you all found any use for it?
Brett do you think the new replacement skin is of the same quality and gauge as the older stuff?

Also it seems like badges (not stickers or decals) would be re-usable.

I must think that a few too many of these claims and insurance companies would stop insuring against hail damage altogether without a special rider which would cost alot extra. Either that or limit hail repair to a set amount, say $5000 dollars or so.

The damage that took place on your lot, was that covered by your insurance or the trailer owner?

thanks
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Old 07-25-2009, 12:57 AM   #30
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d'drummer -

A DWR is a limited edition unit from Airstream built in a joint marketing campaign between the company and the Design Within Reach company.

The Spartan segments were stamped out on a machine with tooling which was probably scrapped sometime in 1956 after the styling of Spartans changed. We have looked into creating tooling for use with modern methods of forming aluminum. The tooling cost is about $9200 per segment. There are 10 different segment types. So we would have an investment of about $100k with a very narrow market from which to recover the costs...kind of like building replacement body parts for '53 International pickup trucks. The segments can be hand formed by taking 2024 T-6 Alclad sheeting, annealing it to remove the temper, hand forming it with mallets and an English wheel, and re-tempering it to T-6. The process would cost about $1800 for one segment. It is more cost effective to find a donor trailer and harvest parts off of it.

The skin that comes off of a damaged trailer is full of dents about the size of the end of your index finger which are stretched into the metal. Because the metal is stretched there is no way to shrink it back and still use it without painting it to hide the working marks. The aluminum that comes off trailers in this area probably ends up in Coors or Budweiser cans.

An option available to the owners of the damaged units is to use auto body repair methods and paint the trailer silver. This process produces a trailer that looks good but is not a classic aluminum Airstream appearance.

The new skin is the same alloy as the vintage product line. Pre-1969 trailers were built using a variety of tempers of this alloy. The newer trailers are all the same alloy and temper. A lower temper might result in more damage from smaller hail stones but the lower temper has to be used to in the stretch-forming process to make the segments.

The modern badges on an Airstream are very similar to those used in the auto industry and are a one-time use item.

The damage to customer units in our lot is covered by each owner's insurance policy. Our inventory units, depending on what we paid for them, are covered on our policy. The two less valuable ones will probably end up being used for extra storage on the property.

Hail is a much less common cause of loss than collisions, operator errors in backing up, and fire. The insurance companies figure it into their operating costs. Farmers usually have insurance on their crops for hail and other weather calamities and the insurers still make a profit. (It is the derivative markets for insuring bad loans they know little about that kicked their butts!) A hail storm, especially a strong one like this comes around this area about once every 15 to 20 years and is highly localized. This one covered an area of probably 20 square miles. The damage to buildings, fences, cars and trucks makes the RV damage a very small percentage. Looking at the SOBs in the neighboring storage lot (we work on these, too) the Airstreams fared better with no broken windows or tears in the aluminum.

Pictures of the Western Pacific Airstream can be seen on our Web site here: Timeless Travel Trailers » 1962 Western Pacific
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Old 07-30-2009, 04:09 PM   #31
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Possible replacement of damaged 16' Bambi Safari

Many thanks for the referral to Timeless Travel Trailers - they seem to be good people in case we can repair our 16' '06 Bambi Safari - and the suggestion to check also with Jackson Center, to whom we sent pics. We don't have the numbers yet, but it looks as though the Bambi might be totaled. The thing is, we liked the "wood" interior and would like to find another one like ours, but find mostly other models for sale. Would appreciate any tips on how often one comes on the market (we understand only about 70 were made of this model), how much one would cost, and where to look for them.
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Old 07-30-2009, 05:27 PM   #32
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Elvie, I hope that it won't be totalled. Perhaps the rarity of the model will give it an increased value. Maybe the factory can give you exact numbers on how many were made and you can show that to the insurance adjuster. Since there are so few of them, any valuation has to be based on a very small number (perhaps none) of sales of second hand ones. There may be cheaper and more expensive similar models that can create an average.

When there are a lot of claims for hail or other damage in an area, insurance companies bring in a lot of out of town adjusters who rush through the process. When the Denver area was hit by a much bigger hailstorm around 1990, our SUV was badly damaged. Our carrier had about 30 adjusters in one room out in Lakewood pushing people through the process and offering checks on the spot. A check in someone's hand convinces a lot of people to take a bad deal. I came in with an estimate I had already obtained from a shop and when the adjuster offered me about 1/2 as much and wouldn't budge, I just started talking louder and louder about how they were trying to rip me off, how their estimate was far too low, how I wouldn't accept a check on the spot, and so on. People started looking at me and things got kind of quiet. A manager rushed over to stop me and I ended up getting most of what I wanted. I didn't get everything fixed (who looks at the roof on an SUV anyway?) and used the difference as a down payment on a new pickup. Don't take the first offer and offer to help figure out a way to keep the trailer and get it fixed the way you want it.

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Old 07-30-2009, 07:25 PM   #33
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The TTT estimate to repair my trailer is approaching my original purchase price when the trailer was new. It is unlikely that the insurance company will arrive at a value anywhere near that, so I expect my trailer to be totalled too.

Anyone have data on the value of what was a near mint 2003 25' Safari SS? It was stored in my airplane hanger, so was in very nice shape.
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Old 07-31-2009, 02:30 AM   #34
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We have been writing insurance repair estimates for damage to Airstream products non-stop for nearly two full weeks following this storm. It is truly heartbreaking to see so many new and vintage trailers so badly hammered. In an insurance event of this size the companies send in “catastrophe teams”. These groups are formed of adjusters brought in from all over the country. Most of the losses were from damage to buildings. The next loss category was cars and trucks and then RVs and Boats. The adjusters are doing their best to get to all of their customers as quickly as possible. The people assigned to evaluate the losses to RVs are mostly auto loss adjusters. Few have much experience with RVs and very, very few with Airstream products. The companies and adjusters are not to blame. They are obligated to do two things: get the claims processed as quickly as possible; spend as little of the company’s money to make things as right as possible. Speed and accuracy don’t always go hand in hand.

We had one adjuster give us an estimate for repairs of $7000. He wrote up the repairs as if it were a car. He listed repairing the dents with filler and labor and materials for painting it. Obviously this in not how Airstreams are repaired; the adjuster just didn’t know. It is, however, is one method for repairing the hail damage but it will not return the Airstream to the condition it was in prior to the storm. It is a compromise position that could work for some people if they like their unit, don’t want to buy a different trailer and don’t care about it being painted. The appearance will be good but the value may not be as high in the end. They will get the full use of the vehicle for a good long time like any Airstream owner.

We follow the Airstream Parts and Labor Manual in our estimating so our pricing will be about the same as JC or a dealer with freight on factory parts making up much of the difference. Using the Airstream pricing to repair this trailer back to the condition prior to the storm will cost about $25,000. The market value of the trailer is somewhere between $18,000 and $27,000. The loss value is derived from the NADA or Kelly Blue Books AND any comparable recent sales and/or listings (Ebay, Craigslist, AirForums…) of similar units. Consideration can sometimes be given for new equipment such as a furnace, water heater, new tires and the like but you will need receipts for proof of value. With the combination of so much damage and so few adjusters knowledgeable in the unique characteristics of the Airstream, the owner may have to dig for the comparables to present to the insurance company. One of the comps for this unit was an Argosy. In this case the owner would do best to not take the initial insurance estimate, do her homework on comps (we’ll help), and negotiate a better settlement which reflects the true value of the trailer, take the check and buy a unit which is comparable in age and condition. Straightforward, business-like negotiations based on facts will get you everywhere. Getting emotional might get you out the door and at the end of the line for a special handler. The insurance companies rarely take into consideration any uniqueness of the vehicle unless it is reflected in the market value OR the owner took out a “stated value” policy.

A stated value policy will carry higher premiums but will cover the cost of replacing a truly unique vehicle. Many of our custom Airstream trailers leaving the plant have a stated value policy based on our invoice value. This is the case on a 1976 International which was setting outside our building the night of the storm, ready for pick-up the following morning. We had completely rebuilt the interior of the trailer: bamboo flooring; new shower stall, reclaimed teak on the lavatory walls, all new birch cabinetry, wrap-around front dinette/queen bed, premium lighting, new appliances including range, fridge, A/C, furnace, gas/electric water heater, microwave; reworked all duo-pane windows, refinished the liner, repaired chassis, reworked the electrical system, new LPG system, etc. With the exception of the exterior, which the owner wanted “weathered”, this is a new trailer. The damage to the skin was extensive. Every piece of aluminum except the lower curb-side side sheet and the panel behind the propane tanks will have to be replaced. The estimate is about $38,000 but far less than the custom rebuild invoice cost. This trailer will not be totaled but only because of the stated value insurance policy.

Once the company writes you a check they are finished with the deal. You can use the money however you wish. If you choose to travel in a shiny, aluminum golf ball…okay. If you choose to have the worst part of the damage repaired up to the total of the settlement…great. If you sell your coach to someone else and combine the sale proceeds with the settlement to but a boat…fine. If, however, you take the check, don’t repair the trailer and later want to file a claim for getting hit on the highway, you won’t be able to collect for that damage if it is in an area of the coach that was hit by the hail but not repaired. The same is true if the unit is totaled and you decide to buy it back at salvage value. If you insure it, and some states and companies allow a salvage titled vehicle to be insured, you had better have receipts showing the cost of the repairs or your claim may be denied or, worse, you could be facing an insurance fraud case. The insurers take a dim view on double dipping. The VIN number of any damaged vehicle and the extent of the damaged are entered into a national database for tracking purposes.

The cost of repair to Airstream skins is about 1/3 dismantling, 1/3 parts and 1/3 reassembly. New bodies go together in about two hours on the assembly line. The repairs take much more time. Again, if repairing anything other than late model or special interest vehicles were easy and cost effective, we would all be pulling our 1957 Airstream Bubbles with ’57 Chevy Belairs. The typical 95% turnover rate of the US auto and truck fleet is 14 years. That is; after 14 years, only 5% of any model will still be on the road. When you look at RVs other than Airstreams, a 14 year old unit is looking a little long of tooth and has little residual value. While we expect less than 30% of the Airstreams for which we have written insurance estimates will be repaired, the repair rate for the SOBs will be much lower because they are cheaper to replace.
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Old 07-31-2009, 07:41 AM   #35
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Brett.....great information and I am definitely learning from your posts. Thanks, very much, for the thorough information!!
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Old 07-31-2009, 09:15 AM   #36
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Brett: "Getting emotional might get you out the door and at the end of the line for a special handler." I agree. When I did my "performance" when I had a claim in 1990, I calculated what would work at the time. The adjuster was refusing to take into consideration anything I said and totally rejected the premises of the estimate I had. He had a take it leave it attitude, so I decided to act the aggrieved and create a problem. Don't call the adjuster names, if you are angry control it and put on an act. They wanted to give people checks and get rid of them and I was giving other claimants ideas, so they had shut me up and they gave me more money. A possibly unique situation and on another day it might not have worked.

Some companies promise that if the check isn't enough, they will pay for the difference over what they gave you. Don't accept that unless it is in writing and read it carefully.

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Old 08-03-2009, 04:20 PM   #37
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Working with the Insurance Co

Does any anyone have any comments about working with National Interstate?

They were recommended by Escapees, we are members and will ask them but am asking the forum.

No word on the estimates from AS.
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Old 08-03-2009, 11:30 PM   #38
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I think you are asking about Interstate in Colorado Springs. Comments I have heard vary a lot, though they average a lot better than Windish.

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Old 08-04-2009, 12:39 AM   #39
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Hmmm...I live at the north end of golden, about a 15 minute walk to downtown. I'm renting a house and my neighbors apparently don't like the airstream in the driveway and said something to the owners. I'm glad I have procrastinated because the closest outdoor RV storage places are the ones that were hit by the hail, and I didn't by gap insurance (to cover the difference between what I owe on the loan and current value).
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Old 08-04-2009, 09:27 AM   #40
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There was a big hailstorm at the north end of Pueblo a week ago. This is the area where most of the car dealers are located and I heard they were hit badly. If you like a dimpled car, time to buy one.

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