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RE: TH400. Build post,


cdnpont wrote:

panamerica.jpg

This pan is ridiculous,


 How is it for road/ground clearance?



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Should be fine, the car sits up pretty high. Really, it's only about 2" deeper than stock.



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Direct and Forward clutch

Again, as with many aspects of the TH400, current internet wisdom can vary greatly when it comes to clutch setup. One of the beauties of this design is that all 3 of the clutches can be easily setup just as you'd like, to suit any possible end use. For general street performance use, I've read it's not really necessary to add another friction to the direct drum, but at a minimum you should have at least 5 frictions. I think passenger cars pretty much came with 5 frictions in the Direct and Forward drums, and 3 in the Intermediate. If adding an extra friction, machining of the pistons might be required, and you'll probably need a thinner retainer plate. Extra frictions also mean thinner Steels, which are generally said to be susceptible to burning up much easier. Thicker seems the way to go with steels, unless this was to be a track only transmission. As far as clearance wisdom goes, as very general rule, .010 per friction will work. That being said, .050 should be the number. With a wave plate I think it's safe to assume the number can be reduced a little, due to the built in .020 of cushion.

So in the Direct clutch I went with one factory Wavy or cushion steel. 060 thick, .079 tall on top of the wave. So really... a built in .019 of cushion in the plate. It was in very good unburnt shape, so I just did the circular medium/fine Scotchbrite, then a fine steel wool to finish it. So it's evenly smooth, but not completely polished. Some surface roughness won't hurt, just not too much. I could have bead blasted all my steels, but I didn't want to contaminate the area with dust.

The Direct pack, from the left; .060/079 Wavy, 5 Red Alto .080 Frictions, 5 .080 Kolene Steels and the stock end retainer plate. Pretty much as the factory would have sized things for 5 frictions.

IMG_8425.JPG

As far as any preparation before final install of the frictions and Kolene steels go, soak the frictions in trans fluid for 20 minutes and vigorously wipe the Kolene's off with a rag with some trans fluid on it. You'll find a LOT of brown oxide will come off them, and when clean, they'll feel much smoother than as found. Again, there's a ton of opinions on Kolene's out there. Some guys hate them, they are what I had with my kit, so I just did what seems logical with them. 

Clearance,

First you'll need to determine how much play you'll get with the endplate. Installed into the drum with the retainer ring, it will have some endplay between the plate land and the retainer ring. Set the drum in a vice with a Dial indicator in place. Ensure the retainer ring is clean and fully seated. Push down on the plate, zero the indicator and pull up on the plate evenly on two sides. Keep doing this until you get a repeatable number. This is your first part of the clearance measurement. Record the number. I got .014 here.

Forward Drum shown in image, but measurement method will be the same for the Direct endplate play,

IMG_8439.JPG

 

Basically, now set your stack into the drum less the end plate, all dry, then try different feeler gauges to determine clearance to the end plate land. Butt the shim up to the land, push the frictions all towards that land, apply light pressure downward to the friction all around (2 fingers will do it) and one on the shim, then lightly scribe back and forth across the land to the shim. You'll know when the two are even. When they match, you've got your second measurement needed for the pack clearance. Record it. I got a repeatable .026 here.

So .026, plus the retainer plate .014 and I have .040 Direct clutch clearance.

IMG_8447.JPG

 

So at this point I installed the Direct drum into the trans. I did it with no plates installed, as it's far easier to manipulate and fuss the Direct sprag gear into the Intermediate clutch stack. With the clutch pack installed, the drum weighs considerably more, and you really can't get a handhold on it. You'll know the drum is fully into the Intermediate stack when you get a solid "thunk". The Direct drum splines rest or stop on a small land at the bottom of the Sunshaft splines. Make sure it is fully home and not hung on a Intermediate steel. Also, make sure your new Center support ring seals are lubed and oriented correctly. Go easy when setting the Direct in place. You don't want to damage these little seals, they seem pretty delicate. One bonus is the Direct drum has a very wide taper where it meets the Center support oil tower, so there is no real danger of hooking them.

Direct fits into the intermediate (right). Forward band must be installed before the Direct. It can't be done after,

IMG_8430.JPGIMG_8431_edited-1.jpg

 

Build the Direct in place with your selected stack. It's easier this way,

IMG_8432.JPG

 

Edit; another popular mod to the Direct drum that I decided to forego, is the drilling of a tiny drain hole in the drum. My drum has a drain and checkball,  and I will not be spinning the engine to extreme RPM's. It's said that at 6000 RPM for a sustained period, the direct drum will spin so fast that any leftover fluid will drive out to the ends of the drum and begin to compress the apply piston, causing drag and clutch burnout. I don't plan on exceeding 5600 but for a brief period, if ever. I'm also installing the HD Direct springs included in the TransGo kit. They should help to reduce this effect.

Another popular mod I'm not bothering with is the removal of the lip seal on the direct drum itself, and one of the 4 Teflon seals in the Center support. This is the popular "Dual Feed" mod to allow more piston apply force to the Direct clutch. My shift kit comes with a valve body spacer plate to allow this to be done internally, and I don't have to tap and plug a case feed/return hole to make it happen. It's said the TransGo 400 Pro kit does a pretty good job of this, and will be fine in all but a competition build.



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Forward clutch

I hadn't changed the lip seals in the Forward drum yet, so I had to compress it to get the clip off, to get the piston out.

So another MacGyver at work. Used the pipe section below to allow clearance for the clamps. The beauty of the small pipe sections on top of the retainer are such as it makes it easy to get at the clip from the front and back. I had bought a pair of Pro quality Armstrong 67-555 circlip pliers, but the angle was such that I couldn't get to the clip opening from the front. I quickly realized if that it I brought it in from the back opening, across the clip to the front they worked like a charm.

IMG_8433.JPGARM_67-555_FRNT_MAIN.jpg

Always change seals. The large diameter piston lip seal was blown! Most of the steels in this drum were found to be discoloured. Had the trans been slipping? Did this issue take it out of service? This was the only issue I found, and the trans appears like it was never apart.

IMG_8435.JPG

Stack, from bottom;

  • .092 tall Wave
  • .080 Red Alto
  • .077 Kolene
  • .080 Red Alto
  • .090 Factory Steel
  • .080 Red Alto
  • .077 Kolene
  • .080 Red Alto
  • .090 Factory Steel
  • .080 Red Alto
  • Endplate/hub

Using the method as seen in the Direct, I get .010 clearance.

IMG_8452.JPG

With a measured endplate  endplay of .014, and adding the stack .010, my total Forward clutch clearance is .024.

Again, the wave will provide some built in cushion, so the total clearance number can be though of as being a little greater.

 

Assembled, with the Steel TCI 4L80 forward clutch hub captured into the Forward stack by the Direct hub , Bronze bushings in place to the inside and outside of the new hub.

IMG_8454.JPG

 

Installed into the transmission. This is probably the fussiest drum and hub to get into the Direct stack. It's heavy and takes a lot of back and forth to get the hub all the way into the Direct plates. Again, you'll know by the sound when it's home with the Forward hub stacked solidly onto the Direct hubs bronze bushings. This must be done right. Make sure it's not hung up on the bottom friction of the Direct. If it is hung you'll quickly know when your pump will not seat into the case or you have zero clearance because the stack sits too high.

IMG_8453.JPG

With the forward installed, the internals are now pretty much done. But if I realize I've missed or done something wrong, I can now quickly tear it down if need be.

Next comes the pump section and subsequent input endplay adjustment using selective washers between the Forward hub and pump.

 

 



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Forward Clearance,

Forward drum fully seated, bushings in place, getting .004-5 with the kit included .115 Nylon select washer behind the pump.

IMG_8477b_edited-1.jpg

Handy this one. A small Phillips fits right into the Input shaft oil hole. Prying it up lightly against the pump stator gives a dial result. Use the regulator half of the pump with gasket in place to set initial clearance. Using this half only gives a good flat to Mag onto, and will have no effect on the overall clearance. Use one bolt to lightly secure the pump half to the case.

Too tight at .004 with a .115 shim. Target .007-.019. Need a washer about .005 smaller. My next one down is a .095 to replace the thick one...which will be too loose...Hmm...

Spoke with my trans guy today. He says .004-5 input shaft clearance will be fine in a new build provided you have sufficient rear clearance, says you'll gain a few thou on break in. So I'm fine with the .115 nylon washer at the pump, and the two .060 bronze washers at the forward hub. I've also just noticed the factory 1967 manual indicates the clearance can be as tight as .003", whereas ATSG book says .007.

After torqueing the pump down (which I hadn't done initially)...all the clearance was lost. I then ended up getting an appropriate .010 shim from my tranny shop, and put it between the pump and a .095 selective washer. Perfect!

Here's a .115 select washer in position between the pump and forward drum,

IMG_8490.JPG

So while I figure the shim, I decided to tap the forward pump half Converter feed hole 5/16-18 to accept a plug, which I'll drill out to .040. This is to reduce excessive forward Hyd pressure on the converter. All TH400's will drive the converter out a little, sometimes with enough continuous force to max out the flexplate, bottoming the converter into the crank, and thus driving the crank into the main thrust bearing, wiping it out. This is what would be known as the "Crank killer TH400". Bad. This 400 will keep it's stock regulator spring, shim and pressure, regardless, this is seen as a common mod on any performance 400 build today. And another reminder to make sure your converter pilot will always register freely into the crank.

IMG_8466.JPG\

IMG_8470.JPG

Drilled the plug out to .152. Larger than originally planned but should be good with the stock pressures. Used a setscrew. Big mistake, it's hardened and was a bugger to drill.

IMG_8488s.jpg

 

Straightedge across the pump gears shows a tight clearance, calls for .001-.0025 here. My 002 feeler won't fit, so it's very close to .001. Gears and running surfaces are in top shape, so I think it's good to go.

IMG_8468s.jpg

 

So pressed in a new bushing and a new front pump seal, cleaned and lined up the two pump halves, bolted them together, installed the new D ring, inserted and lubed the two Teflon sealing rings.

Then assembled the shift shaft, rooster comb and parking mechanism. If you don't do this now, you'll not get the shaft pin in with the pump in place, it slides in from the front and is blocked in by the pump. Funny how the pin looks just like a nail...and it probably is. Clever GM. You can see the pump regulator retainer just below the head of the nail. It can be gotten to with the pan off if a spring change is desired.

IMG_8507.jpg

Fitted the pump, torqued her down and rechecked endplay. I get .010. I'd call the internals done! So satisfying!

IMG_8492s.jpg

 



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Valve Body and TransGo shift kit,

 

So now we move onto the valve body and the addition of the TransGo 400 pro kit,

IMG_8484s.jpg

 



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Fallowing along Mark. Luving the detailed info!! Must have more room on the bench with that pile of parts back inside.

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Man, you must have been a bit on edge drilling out the set screw. I always get a little nervous when using taps & dies.



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Great work Mark. It still looks like a dark art to me!


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Glad to see your having fun... In my 20 years at GM, I never did have the chance to do a THM 350 or a THM 400 and definitely not a 'glide..... Too young and too late in the field.... But, I have done many 700's and in talking to many of the older techs, they wanted to go nowhere near them as they were deemed too complicated... an extra set of planetaries and clutches... I myself find them easy to do, like everything, when you learn the tricks.... Even the MT1 (400-E) wasn't bad as they are a spinoff from the THM400...

We had a guy in the shop that would tear down a THM350, once removed, and it would be going back into the vehicle in less than an hour.... he was great at it... but he probably did hundreds!

Any comparison to the THM700, the THM350 and 400 will be a walk in yea old transmission room..... A place where it was forbidden to go for most everyone else when a transmission was opened up. Yup! Remember it well.... (lol) 

 





-- Edited by 67Poncho on Friday 3rd of February 2017 08:49:34 AM

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I think that for many non mechanics, the transmission will always be seen as a dark art,  but really, with some research, decent skill and patience I think anyone could do this. Funny how actually being hands on can change things. It inspires you to seek something more challenging. My cousin and I now want to invest in a used up 4L80e just to open it up  "to see". If I can find the right one, I'll go for it.

The best part of all this, is when I get it all on the road, I can say I basically built the entire driveline myself. I don't think it can get any better than that.  Cheers!



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Good on ya ,Mark!  Indeed, there is no more fulfilling feeling than to know you have accomplished such an undertaking all by yourself, 

Fred



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Valve body, shift kit and the final items,

 

So I went through almost 3 cans of Walter brand "SlapShot" chlorinated solvent to clean the valve body. I never took it apart but for the 1-2 valve, the second accumulator valve and the valve body accumulator. I think I was able to get it pretty clean, which is pretty important. I don't think I would ever disassemble the entire unit.

As per the TransGo Pro 400 kit, I added the 1-2 command shift spool, the heavy valve body accumulator spring and the recommended springs on the 2nd accumulator valve. A new accumulator piston comes with the shift kit, but it must be matching to the forward band apply piston. The two types cannot be mixed...as I found out after assembling the new piston into the body! I think they supply a new piston to replace the later plastic crap. Also added the heavy spring in the big rear servo.

I then drilled the shift kit separator plate as recommended, Spot A, B, conservatively at .093, and left spot C as is. The kit does not come with a .093 drill bit.

Edit; After doing more research, I went back, opened it up and drilled position A/B to .116".

IMG_8516[1].jpg

 

Then set in the 5 checkballs as recommended, a gasket, plate, gasket, then eased the valve body with governor feed tubes into place. Used to home made pins to help align it all. Don't forget to align the selector pin into the direct valve. Go easy, you don't want to distort the tubes. Then bolted and torqued it down. Don't forget the selector detent roller! I did, and had to pull the pan again. Doh!

 

The forward band apply piston, that must be used with the smooth accumulator piston.

IMG_8518_edited-1.jpg

The crowned replacement accumulator piston (below, bottom in photo) cannot be used with a crowned apply piston. One of the two must be smooth.

IMG_8519.jpgIMG_8526[1].jpg

5 checkballs in place per shift kit instruction,

IMG_8520.jpg

Two gaskets and drilled separator plate in place showing alignment pins.

IMG_8525.jpg

Valve body in place along with the kickdown bleed solenoid and electrical pass through fitting,...and (edit July) the parking rod lever bracket (seen below the solenoid) ASSEMBED BACKWARDS! Can't get park. Easy fix, but pan must come off.

IMG_8532.JPG 

Installed the taller fluid pickup tube, filter spacer and filter. To get a good seal at the tube grommet, the filter must sit at an angle. Is this normal? I've heard that the filter needs to float, is this true? Makes more sense to have it mounted solid. Of all the things, I find this setup cheesy. Filter is a high flow brass screened unit.

IMG_8535[1].jpg 

Inserted the governor (yellow gear) and speedometer drive with new O ring,

IMG_8500_edited-3.jpgIMG_8545[1].jpg

Pink spring on the modulator spool as per the shift kit instruction, and inserted the adjustable modulator with new O ring that came with the rebuild kit,

Edit; I removed the pink spring, as according to web wisdom, it will just speed up the shift points way to early. Everyone doing the pro 400 leaves it out.

IMG_8550[1].jpg

Installed the pan, removed the pan...installed the pan again (for the missing detent roller). Attached the tail extension, capped the governor and added the dipstick tube, added the line fittings with new copper washers...she's pretty much done and finally free of the bracket!

IMG_8562[2].jpg

 



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Summary

The project as a list,

 

  • Drain unit
  • Disassemble unit. Organize, clean individual parts as req.
  • Power wash case, bead blast outer shell, powerwash a second time
  • Mask and paint case New Ford grey, blow out after, make sure it's all perfectly clean
  • Install the preserved build tag because it looks pretty
  • Replace all bushings and seals
  • Removed and replaced the 18 tooth steel speedo drive gear with a 15 tooth 
  • Used a wider 4L80e pump bush in place of the TH400 rear case bushing. Leave .120 of the bush in case to register the Torrington and shim
  • Added a rear Torrington bearing in place of the case selective washer
  • Set the forward planetary play using a old pinion shim under the output carrier tabbed selective
  • Set rear endplay. Managed to get .012 with a shim under the rear Torrington
  • Replace intermediate (center support) piston seals, steels and frictions.
  • In the Intermediate clutch, went with 3 Red Alto frictions, 2 Kolene steels and one original wave steel. Clutch play at .052
  • Installed rear Kevlar band
  • Installed the 4 new Teflon sealing rings on the Center support
  • Rear output to center support, all Torrington bearings oriented correctly, installed down into case, used the HD intermediate clutch snap ring supplied with the shift kit
  • Replaced Direct clutch apply piston seals, added 1/2 the HD springs supplied in shift kit. Kept half the stock springs. (one HD, one stock, HD, stock etc.)
  • Direct clutch pack, 5 Red Alto frictions, 4 Kolene's and one stock wave steel. Clutch clearance set to .040
  • Added the TCI 34 element Direct sprag, 4L80 Spirlock retainer replaced the weak C clip.
  • Installed forward band
  • Installed Direct drum down into the intermediate clutch
  • Replaced the forward apply piston seals
  • Forward clutch pack, 5 Red Alto frictions, 2 Kolene steels, 2 original steels and one wave steel. Stock springs. Clutch clearance .024
  • Installed the new TCI steel 4L80 Forward clutch hub with new washers, captured into the forward clutch by the Direct hub
  • Installed the forward Drum into the Direct drum
  • Disassembled, cleaned and measured the pump. Replaced the bushing and seal. Stock regulator spring. New Teflon sealing rings. Did the converter feed restriction mod.
  • Installed the gear selector shaft and pin
  • Installed the pump with a .095 Nylon selective shim and a .010 steel shim
  • New large D sealing ring on pump, positioned and torqued in place. Getting .010 input shaft clearance
  • Did the required TransGo Pro 400 spring mods to the valve body and servo's.
  • Light pink spring per TransGo on Modulator spool. New adjustable modulator in place. Later, went back and removed the pink spring.
  • TransGo gaskets and drilled separator in place. Went back in and drilled out the 1-2, 2-3 feed holes from .093 to .116.
  • New governor filter in place. Installed VB with the shift selector roller
  • Downshift valve and electrical passthrough installed. Parking rod, spring and bracket installed
  • Installed tall filter pickup tube. Installed the high flow brass element filter
  • Installed the speedo driven gear holder, new seals with the new brown 39 tooth gear
  • Installed and capped off the governor
  • Installed the deep pan
  • Installed the aftermarket dipstick with the improved bottom grommet seal
  • Purchased a quality Coan torque converter. 2600-2800 stall.

Tools,

  • A good quality socket set
  • A Selection of picks, screwdrivers
  • Snap ring pliers
  • An assortment of different diameter bushing tools, pipes and drivers. Whatever will work
  • Threaded rod, washers and nuts
  • Large C Clamps
  • A piece of flat steel
  • Micrometer
  • Vernier caliper
  • Magnetic base dial indicator
  • Feeler gauges
  • Assorted jewellers files
  • A 5/16 thinwall 12 point socket for the center support bolt

 

Chemicals

  •  ATF
  • Transmission assembly grease
  • Chlorinated degreaser solvent
  • Red and Blue Loctite

 

So all in all, a very satisfying project! Not too expensive. I might have been able to actually buy a unit already done for a similar price, but would it be done with this level of care, maybe. But it's no longer a mystery in my mind anymore, it can be done, and it's really not complicated at all. All you need is some common mechanical skills, some pretty basic tools, a place to work clean and the ability to research. I cannot state enough how well the bracket I made worked for this job, and the most widely used tool was actually my little 90* pick! 

Now we'll see if this TH400 will actually work come this May!

IMG_8559[1].jpg

With the Converter installed. The Hughes dipstick is a nice part.

IMG_8616.JPG

I'm on the watch for a beat 4L80 to pull apart now...

Cheers, and thanks for watching,

Mark

 



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Awesome stuff! Thanks for sharing! :)

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Really great write up Mark (even though I will never attempt the same). Good luck with the trial run!



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Hey CP,

Thought as an epilogue to this post I would make comment on the actual performance of my diy transmission,

 

Well, since this was my first "black art" transmission build, you're never really sure it will work well, even at all when you have it up on stands, fill it and put it into gear for that first time. Well, I was pleasantly surprised that it did indeed work, the wheels turned, and as the whole package has begun to break in, I must say it works perfectly, just as I had envisioned it to! And no leaks so far. Early on I head a whining sound, but that just turned out to be the flexplate cover contacting the ring gear. Thank goodness!

One major consideration; If you look back at the post, you'll see I included a factory wave plate in each of the 3 clutch packs. I did this to take out some of the extreme harshness that can be felt with a shift kit. The transmission shifts just right, progressively firm, but no slam in any gear. The more you give it, the firmer it becomes. A little chirp under WOT into second. Normal easy cruising it upshifts nice and easy but no slip or hunting. Putting it into reverse brings none of that usual clank that I'd feel with my old TH400 (most will do this).

I went middle of the road with springs and drilling when adding the shift kit. I think a lot of guys will go right to the upper end of the kit. I say keep it moderate to start, you can always go in later for more firmness.

You read talk on the web about guys not liking the red alto frictions and Kolene steels. I can say no wrong about them. They shift and feel absolutely perfect, no slip under heavy power whatsoever. But I did carefully clean prepare the Kolene steels before hand.

One thing I did do wrong was install the parking rod/pawl bracket backwards. So no park. Rookie mistake corrected with removing the pan and switching it. I'm just glad the big pan has a drain plug.

On a side note, I feel I chose just about the right stall for a converter for this combo. Its a Coan street series said to stall at 2900. I chose this because I didn't want a constant heavy slip that would build excess heat. 2900 is a high enough slip compromise that the engine doesn't load up too bad at idle when in gear. Anything lower much and the engine would drop down too much in idle in gear. Givin' her from a standstill seem to really put the engine right in the meat of the powerband, and the thing really seems to hook. I could have had a converter built, but I simply chose an off the shelf Coan because of the reputation of that company. Got it through Jegs.

One more consideration is go with a good aux transmission cooler, preferably a stacked plate design, properly placed as close as practical, centered in front of your rad. Feed out to the rad cooler, then into the aux trans cooler back to the trans. Make sure the lines have the least amount of restriction possible. One thing I did find out was that I had my stacked plate cooler upside down. I was feeding and exiting from the bottom of it. Found out it must be fed from the top, or if mounted sideways, feed into the bottom fitting. Top feed will cause a air lock, and will reduce it's cooling capacity. I have since flipped it over.

So bottom line is, with patience, I feel anyone with reasonable skills and a willingness to learn, can do this themselves. Read everything you can, take lots of pictures during disassembly, work clean, be prepared to build and break down the components many, many times to get it just right, pay close attention to clearances. Enjoy it and be proud when it actually functions like you hoped it would. I truly don't think any shop would have taken the level of care I gave it. That's the beauty of a labor of love with no time limits.

 

Cheers and happy shifting,

Mark

 



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Canadian Poncho Superstar!

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Posts: 4647
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Thanks for sharing, Mark. Very interesting and glad it all worked out when finished. Sure it is very rewarding for you every time you feel it shift.

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Jerel
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