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Author Topic: Fridge: How Level is "enough"?  (Read 47885 times)

Ernie n Tara

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Re: Fridge: How Level is "enough"?
« Reply #60 on: December 05, 2013, 07:13:27 AM »
Gary,

Thanks! I guess! But I don't see a solution that seems practical to me, including the one under discussion. One of my issues is the liability that exists the first time a fire results when a device is in place that defeats the refrigerator manufacturers SAFETY feature. Regardless of merit, you'd lose in court every time. I hope he has lots of liability insurance in place. Incidentally, in your place I'd be thinking about liability as well.

The sole viable approach I see, given the above, is to use a tilt sensor. There are a number of problems with that, but at least it avoids the liability issue since it would be functionally in parallel rather than series.

Ernie

Incidentally, I lay awake several hours last night debating whether a stronger warning was in order and had decided to leave it alone.

Ernie 'n Tara

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Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Fridge: How Level is "enough"?
« Reply #61 on: December 05, 2013, 07:58:29 AM »
It's been a good discussion. Brought up points that are well worth consideration.
Gary
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Ned

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Re: Fridge: How Level is "enough"?
« Reply #62 on: December 05, 2013, 08:14:07 AM »
For anyone following along, the ARP does NOT change the operation of the refrigerator, nor does it defeat any safety features put in by the manufacturer.  If the ARP unit fails, or you just disconnect its power, the refrigerator will perform exactly as it did without the ARP controller, including shutting down with the manufacturer's safety feature when it gets hot enough to catch on fire.  The ARP controller is designed to prevent that catastrophic condition from occurring.  It replaces nothing, it's an additional safety device.

For those that are truly interested in learning the hows and whys of the ARP controller, go to the ARP web site and study the detailed information found there.
-- Ned -- Fulltimer 1997-2013
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Ernie n Tara

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Re: Fridge: How Level is "enough"?
« Reply #63 on: December 05, 2013, 08:32:39 AM »
As long as the device is performing its avowed purpose (preventing high temperature excursions) it does have to prevent  the safety device from operating! It is a temperature regulator and the safety device triggers on occurrence of a higher temperature than it regulates to.

Please feel free to suggest the designer review this thread and respond! At this point, it doesn't matter to me; I'm not installing one of his devices.

Ernie
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Ernie 'n Tara

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Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Fridge: How Level is "enough"?
« Reply #64 on: December 05, 2013, 09:34:01 PM »
Quote
As long as the device is performing its avowed purpose (preventing high temperature excursions) it does have to prevent  the safety device from operating! It is a temperature regulator and the safety device triggers on occurrence of a higher temperature than it regulates to.

I'm struggling with the notion that preventing an unsafe condition from occurring is somehow defeating a safety device. Just because the safety device never sees the condition that would trigger it, how is it not operational?  Using that logic, the thermostat in a water heater prevents the P-T safety valve from operating too. Is that a bad thing?   I don't see any merit in your argument, so I'm not about to help you carry it forward. If you want to debate the point with Paul Unmack, you will have to do it without assistance from me. Contact him at [email protected]
Gary
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Ernie n Tara

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Re: Fridge: How Level is "enough"?
« Reply #65 on: December 06, 2013, 08:40:35 AM »
Gary,

Two last comments/clarifications:

When I said "I'm not installing one!", I was simply stating a fact. I certainly see your side and believe it's an individual call.

I'd like to say that I appreciate your civility and the rational nature of your responses; I hope I stayed within the lines as well. I was not seeking further discussion with anyone in my last post.

Regards,

Ernie
Ernie 'n Tara

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moisheh

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Re: Fridge: How Level is "enough"?
« Reply #66 on: December 08, 2013, 09:31:38 AM »
Unlike some of the posters I am just a layperson with one of the infamous fridges. I like the idea of that device but I see another problem. According to David Force(Amish Cooling Unit) and others one of the problems with the 1200 series is that the cooling unit is undersized. When it is warm outside the fridge runs full  time. If this is true wouldn't the ARP be shutting down the fridge and you would lose cooling ability? So the device might prevent a catastrophe but your food will be warm. Or am I misunderstanding and the device just prevents overheating and the boiler will still be hot enough to function? BTW: I am of the opinion that Norcold ( Thetford) will end up in bankruptcy. The pending lawsuits will likely cause them to lose the ability to obtain liability insurance. Even their toilets have become problematic. I cannot  understand why they have not redesigned that fridge. It is a cash cow  with a huge price. Why would anyone mfr. a fridge that not only does not cool well but the door gasket can only be bought by getting the whole door at about $500. Ridiculous. The recall device is also problematic. If it gets wet it shuts the fridge off!

Moisheh

Ned

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Re: Fridge: How Level is "enough"?
« Reply #67 on: December 08, 2013, 11:11:17 AM »
Do a Google search on norcold door gasket and you'll find sources for replacements.  No need to replace the whole door.
-- Ned -- Fulltimer 1997-2013
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moisheh

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Re: Fridge: How Level is "enough"?
« Reply #68 on: December 08, 2013, 03:10:04 PM »
Hi Ned:  A search brings up many posts with people complaining about having to buy most of the door to get the gasket. There is NO GASKET listed for the fridge. Here is a link to the part with the price[urlhttp://www.amazon.com/Norcold-627992-Lower-Right-Assembly/dp/B008KWOEH0][/url].  If both gaskets on the lower doors are gone it is getting close to $1000 !!! If that gasket is available on it's own please give us the part #. Many RV'rs would love to buy one! Thanks

Moisheh

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Re: Fridge: How Level is "enough"?
« Reply #69 on: December 08, 2013, 03:17:39 PM »
Did you search using your refrigerator model number?  And use Google, don't just search on Amazon.
-- Ned -- Fulltimer 1997-2013
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moisheh

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Re: Fridge: How Level is "enough"?
« Reply #70 on: December 08, 2013, 06:44:54 PM »
If you read my last post I stated that it turned up a bunch of complaints about not being able to buy just the door gasket. Yes I did do a Google with model# !! I downloaded the parts manual for my 1200 and it too showed only a door liner assembly. This has been discussed ad nauseum on many RV forums. No one has ever posted a positive reply nor a link or part # for the door gasket. Amazon was just one of many sites that sell the part. I did find it for a few dollars cheaper but it was plus freight. Still just south of $1000. I did not even bother to price the freezer gaskets. I do remember seeing a post somewhere you can you use a heat gun or hair dryer to try and rescue the gasket ( seal). I should also mention that Norcold's customer service is also horrible. It really does not exist. They will just refer you to a dealer. They now have that same philosophy for their Thetford division. When Thetford was independent they would send you parts. Once they even sent me a new toilet for a 5 year old MH as they did not have the parts! The manner in which the recall is performed is strange. The dealers have to submit all the data on your fridge and RV. Then they send a recall box to the dealer. Why not just send every dealer a bunch of recall boxes and ask for the data when the work is performed? If your recall box fails ( common occurrence) the dealer has to resend all the data and you have to wait for the box. Norcold is more interested in CYA than serving the customer. I hate to see a family business go down but they are doing nothing to prevent the inevitable. Did you do a Google with a refrigerator model # ( 1200 xxxx)? What were your results? Did you look online at the parts manual and the parts diagram? Did I miss something?

Moisheh
« Last Edit: December 08, 2013, 06:46:53 PM by moisheh »

Snowman9000

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Re: Fridge: How Level is "enough"?
« Reply #71 on: December 09, 2013, 07:36:03 AM »
One thing I take away from the discussion is that the answer to the post's title question is that you want to be very close to level.  I read the early posts and linked info a few weeks ago, and maybe this was covered:  If a fridge is fitted with the ARP, anyone care to guess what the answer to the title question is then?  ie How much out of level tolerance does the device give us?  Thanks!

Ernie n Tara

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Re: Fridge: How Level is "enough"?
« Reply #72 on: December 09, 2013, 07:43:49 AM »
That gasket will be a very expensive molding and you are unlikely to find it. I do expect that you can find a replacement with the same, or similar, cross section and just buy it by the foot. Try Granger.

Cooling performance woukd not be impacted by the modification.

Ernie
Ernie 'n Tara

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Ned

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Re: Fridge: How Level is "enough"?
« Reply #73 on: December 09, 2013, 07:45:23 AM »
The ARP doesn't measure level, it measures one thing, the boiler temperature.  How far out of level the refrigerator can be before the boiler temperature reaches the set point depends on the cooling unit construction and other variables that we have little or no control over.  The ARP does make it possible for you to test your own refrigerator to see what the limits are.
-- Ned -- Fulltimer 1997-2013
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Snowman9000

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Re: Fridge: How Level is "enough"?
« Reply #74 on: December 09, 2013, 10:17:10 AM »
The ARP doesn't measure level, it measures one thing, the boiler temperature.  How far out of level the refrigerator can be before the boiler temperature reaches the set point depends on the cooling unit construction and other variables that we have little or no control over.  The ARP does make it possible for you to test your own refrigerator to see what the limits are.

I am under the impression there are two problems with being off level.  One, which I was unaware of, is the heat.  Which the ARP regulates.  The other, the one I always had read, was improper chemical reactions due to inability of the fluids to flow downward properly.  But does the latter only become a problem due to the heat? 

In any event, the info linked from this thread suggests that without the ARP, being off level less than a degree causes heat to rise to undesirable levels.  So, does using the ARP get us back to the 3 & 6 degree out of level tolerances attributed to one of the manufacturers?  ie With an ARP, can I run 3 degrees off level without concern?  Because the ARP keeps the heat from building up in that situation?
« Last Edit: December 09, 2013, 10:18:41 AM by Snowman9000 »

Lou Schneider

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Re: Fridge: How Level is "enough"?
« Reply #75 on: December 09, 2013, 10:23:17 AM »
The problem with off level operation is not getting enough liquid back to the boiler, which then runs dry and overheats.   ARP may mitigate the overheating by turning off the boiler, but it does nothing to improve the flow of liquid when you're off level.

If you don't mind your refrigerator shutting down (i.e. not cooling) when you're off level, have at it.

Snowman9000

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Re: Fridge: How Level is "enough"?
« Reply #76 on: December 09, 2013, 12:42:30 PM »
The problem with off level operation is not getting enough liquid back to the boiler, which then runs dry and overheats.   ARP may mitigate the overheating by turning off the boiler, but it does nothing to improve the flow of liquid when you're off level.

If you don't mind your refrigerator shutting down (i.e. not cooling) when you're off level, have at it.

I'm not proposing to run 20 out of level.   Let me try again.

I take from this thread that, in stock configuration, ANY measurable amount out of level -> excess heat -> over time, shorter lifespan and diminished cooling ability.

So, with the ARP -> up to X degrees out of level -> what?
Will 1, 2, 3 degrees off level yield perfectly acceptable cooling, with no long term detriment?
Does it increase the real life tolerance for off-level?   (It would seem so.)   If so, how much?


codgerbill

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Re: Fridge: How Level is "enough"?
« Reply #77 on: December 09, 2013, 01:01:32 PM »
Does it make a difference if you are running the refrigerator on electric?
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Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Fridge: How Level is "enough"?
« Reply #78 on: December 09, 2013, 04:15:22 PM »
Quote
I like the idea of that device but I see another problem. According to David Force(Amish Cooling Unit) and others one of the problems with the 1200 series is that the cooling unit is undersized. When it is warm outside the fridge runs full  time. If this is true wouldn't the ARP be shutting down the fridge and you would lose cooling ability? So the device might prevent a catastrophe but your food will be warm. Or am I misunderstanding and the device just prevents overheating and the boiler will still be hot enough to function?

There are two key points you are missing:

(1) Once the ammonia solution reaches its boiling point, the cooling process works as good as it is ever going to work. It doesn't work any better, i.e. colder, if the boiler runs even hotter. If the boiler starts to overheat, the algorithm in the ARP shuts off the heat source just long enough to let the boiler fall back to the normal operating range. The ammonia solution continues to boil because the heat is still sufficient even though the external heat is temporarily off. The boiler temp might drop enough so that boiling stops briefly, but it would be a very short time before heat was restored and the cycle resumed.  I suppose that could result in some very short term loss of cooling if the boiler overheated multiple times in a short period, but that would indicate a cooling unit problem anyway.

(2) Even though the boiler is running full time in hot weather (and yes, it does that), it typically does not overheat if the fridge is level and in good working order. My 1200 stays at a rock steady temperature for hours on end when the ambient is in the mod 80's or higher. ARP doesn't care how long the heater runs, just as long as the boiler temperature stays in the optimum zone.
Gary
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Re: Fridge: How Level is "enough"?
« Reply #79 on: December 09, 2013, 04:31:27 PM »
Quote
So, with the ARP -> up to X degrees out of level -> what?
Will 1, 2, 3 degrees off level yield perfectly acceptable cooling, with no long term detriment?

I don't think there is any general answer to that. Each individual fridge model and installation would,  at some degree of tilt, be off-level enough for  overheating to begin. ARP would manage that, so some cooling would continue on an intermittent basis, but the overheating would probably re-occur. ARP will not let repeated overheats go on indefinitely - it will shut off and not restart if the boiler continuously goes into overheat condition. This was explained previously in this discussion - there is currently a limit of 5 restarts. Repeated overheats indicates some sort of problem that needs to be addressed. The ARP has prevented internal damage to the cooling unit, but it doesn't enable you to run indefinitely off-level. CAVEAT: With the current version of ARP, it is possible for the owner to manually adjust the ARP parameters to make the restart tolerances greater.  That's risky in that it defeats the purpose of ARP by letting the burner run hotter and thus greater potential for long term damage. I would not be surprised to see that manual override tuning feature disappear from future versions, but it is currently there.

In the test runs I watched, overheating took off quickly once the tilt threshold was reached. It started somewhere around 3 degrees, but we made no attempt to determine if it was 1 or 2 or 4. The point was that it did not have to be very much of an angle, an angle well within what many people would consider comfortable, and an angle easily reached during travel or brief stops. And when the temperature began to rise, it shot up rather than rising slowly.
« Last Edit: December 09, 2013, 04:36:48 PM by Gary RV Roamer »
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Re: Fridge: How Level is "enough"?
« Reply #80 on: December 09, 2013, 04:38:06 PM »
Quote
Does it make a difference if you are running the refrigerator on electric?

No. The source of the heat is not a factor.
Gary
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Re: Fridge: How Level is "enough"?
« Reply #81 on: December 09, 2013, 04:55:35 PM »
The reason the boiler temp begins to skyrocket is that insufficient liquid is returning to the boiler from the condenser & evaporator tubing. That can result from a clog, or it can result from excessive heat in the system. If the ammonia solution doesn't cool enough, the gas doesn't condense, the cycle stops and no liquid runs back to the boiler.  Getting back to a tubing clog, the most likely reason for a clog is crystallization of the sodium chromate in the solution. Guess what causes that? TOO MUCH HEAT!

So, IF the cooling process still works at 1 degree of tilt, the fridge keeps working fine and temperatures stay stable. Ditto, perhaps, at 2 degrees. But at some point the liquid return flow stops and as soon as that happens the boiler temps will immediately soar, not just a few degrees but 100's.
Gary
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ArdraF

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Re: Fridge: How Level is "enough"?
« Reply #82 on: December 09, 2013, 05:32:31 PM »
Gary, thanks for some good explanations in plain English!  ;)

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Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Fridge: How Level is "enough"?
« Reply #83 on: December 09, 2013, 06:17:25 PM »
This thermal physics stuff gets complex real quick if you try to get too deep into it. My head was spinning for days trying to wrap my mind around the theory and then the practical application in our fridges.  ???

This is a device that will prevent long term internal damage by limiting high temperatures that can occur (often briefly) in typical RV operation. In doing so it also prevents a catastrophic overheat that could result in a burst cooling unit and a fire. But it's not a miracle device - the fridge manufacturer's installation and usage instructions still have to be obeyed.

Think of it as a thermal surge protector for the fridge. Many of us have bought surge protector devices for our shore power cords to limit the range of transient voltages. We do that as insurance against the possible effects of a chance high voltage spike. The ARP is doing much the same for temperature spikes that can weaken or destroy the fridge cooling unit. In know that's not a perfect analogy, but I hope it gets the main point across.
Gary
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carson

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Re: Fridge: How Level is "enough"?
« Reply #84 on: December 09, 2013, 06:23:18 PM »
Quote
So, IF the cooling process still works at 1 degree of tilt, the fridge keeps working fine and temperatures stay stable. Ditto, perhaps, at 2 degrees. But at some point the liquid return flow stops and as soon as that happens the boiler temps will immediately soar, not just a few degrees but 100's.

Gary, One curious thought...  Are we creating a bit of a mania here ?  I understand everything you are saying and I agree.

Now about the rapid high temperature rise.  Imaging the real possibility of going up and down a long mountain climb of 4-5-6 degrees. Many are present in the West, at reduced speed.

  Should we all start to worry immensely ? What say ?
Carson, 
 West Central Florida
Ex RV'er. (1995 Winnebago Adventurer)
2007 Buick Rendezvous, SUV / CROSSOVER

...Logic works like a charm...

Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Fridge: How Level is "enough"?
« Reply #85 on: December 10, 2013, 10:29:04 AM »
Carson,

Mania? That's a bit extreme, but yes, an alarm is being sounded. The evidence shows that normal RV operation will result in periodic episodes of extreme high temperatures in the cooling unit boiler, and it happens everywhere, not just in the Rockies. The fridge manufacturers have told us that short periods of excess tilt are not a problem, but the underlying science tells us that there will be significant internal stress and some irreversible damage every time it occurs. Clearly Norcold and Dometic feel these shorter episodes are not harmful enough to worry about, but it is equally clear that at least some of their products fail prematurely and for unexplained reasons. To my way of thinking, that makes their engineering judgment suspect. They may well be estimating that 95 or 98% of cooling units will last 5 or 8 or 10 years despite the high temperature episodes and that is "good enough". Those who own the remaining 2% or 5% that fail earlier probably don't agree. [These numbers are just conjecture and are used only to illustrate a point].

I don't know if every RVer needs to worry about failures due to excessive boiler heat, so I don't know if everybody needs an ARP.  However, I am confident that ARP eliminates a significant source of fridge cooling unit problems because the science and engineering behind it seem incontrovertible.  We do many other things to avoid potential problems in our RVs, things that may not be strictly required but serve to avoid situations that are difficult to know about specifically. For example, we change engine oil on a regular and conservative basis because it avoids long term damage from oil contamination or degradation. We probably change it earlier than strictly necessary, but that's a smarter alternative than risking long term damage to an expensive component. We put surge protectors on our power cords and TPMS on our tires for the same reason: to prevent a more serious problem that MIGHT occur if we had no protection. An ARP is in that same category, a device that provides us with insurance against a problem that we know occurs, but cannot be sure if it is going to happen to us personally. Buying and adding an ARP to gain this protection is a strictly personal decision, but it is neither expensive nor difficult to install.
« Last Edit: December 10, 2013, 10:36:36 AM by Gary RV Roamer »
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carson

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Re: Fridge: How Level is "enough"?
« Reply #86 on: December 10, 2013, 11:12:02 AM »
Great explanation, Gary.  Thank you.

(If I hadn't said Mania, I doubt that your post would have occurred).

Carson, 
 West Central Florida
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Re: Fridge: How Level is "enough"?
« Reply #87 on: December 10, 2013, 12:01:15 PM »
Quote
Those who own the remaining 2% or 5% that fail earlier probably don't agree.

Especially if the failure mode is a fire.
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Re: Fridge: How Level is "enough"?
« Reply #88 on: December 10, 2013, 02:23:03 PM »
As the RV population has aged it seems just about everyone we know has had gas absorption refrigerator problems of some kind.

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Re: Fridge: How Level is "enough"?
« Reply #89 on: December 10, 2013, 02:51:40 PM »
You don't hear about as many problems in the smaller sizes, e.g. those typically found in travel trailers. It's not clear whether there are less problems, or just less talk about it. We know absorption fridges fail, regardless of size, but it is less sure if all makes and models have the same failure rate, or whether certain types of RVs or certain modes of use suffer more failures. It may be that using an absorption fridge 5-10 weekends a year simply doesn't stress it often enough to generate the kinds of problems seen in larger RVs and longer duration usage.   There is blessed little data available, and neither Norcold or Dometic is telling what they know about it.
Gary
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