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Land Rover

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I currently own a 1960 Series IIA Land Rover, much modified over the years to a Series III with parabolic springs, Range Rover diffs, 90 bonnet & front end …. etc etc

I use this vehicle every day as my main source of transport, so I don’t wish to wreck it by off roading. Also I am concerned about the safety aspect of the tyres, one minute scrambling over rough terrain & then the next minute warp speed (well nearly) on the motorway (yes, my Landy sometimes does 70mph with its 3.54 diffs, even with a standard 2.25 diesel engine.

I wish to do a bit of off roading, nothing serious, so the solution seems to be to build a Series III hybrid. I can use this for fun in the summer months (no roof or side windows required).

Inspired by the John Bolt’s "Rolling Thunder" feature, my current hybrid project is well under way, using a trusty Series III diesel engine & Series III gearbox on a "Designa Chassis" 88 inch coil sprung galvanised chassis with Range Rover running gear & standard Land Rover differentials.

While saving up for the chassis ................

I bought some Range Rover axle sets from "ATV" (All Terrain Vehicles) in Castleford (01977 603081) These were immediately sandblasted by a firm in the same industrial estate, for a very reasonable price.

The units were then completely stripped & cleaned thoroughly to remove all traces of sand (a pressure washer is useful here).

Then I bought a 1971 Series IIA from "DEWSBURY 4 x 4 CENTRE.

The chassis & bulkhead were shot, but nearly everything else was serviceable. The Series IIA gearbox was part-exchanged to "ATV" for a Series III reconditioned unit.

The engine was a 5 bearing 2.25 petrol in fine fettle, but I already had a 5 bearing 2.25 diesel engine in my garden, so this will be used instead. Everyone tells me that I should use the petrol engine for off roading, but I’ll try the old diesel first, as I do not wish to compete with anyone, but just play about in the muck.


The Range Rover axle sets are designed to be in 4 wheel drive all the time. This is fine if the hybrid is going to have a big powerful engine and a modern gearbox with a centre differential gear, but for my humble hybrid, this is not good.

At best, I will be dragging a dead axle all the time on the road. As I wish to go up the odd hill or two, a bit faster than walking pace, I thought about freewheeling hubs.

So I made some enquiries:

"Yes, Land Rover did make some freewheeling hubs for early 110 types"

"Great! I’ll take a set"

"Er, sorry I don’t have any!" was the reply everywhere I tried, along with other references to hen’s teeth! ……….

At this point, I said to myself "I’ll have to make my own then"

I am not an engineer, but a musician in fact, (keyboard player) with absolutely no engineering training at all. I have a modest workshop, in what used to be my garage, with machine tools necessary to make miniature coal-fired steam locomotives, (my other obsession) I initially figured out how to operate the lathe & milling machine by reducing load of mild steel to swarf until the penny dropped.

Relative to scratch building 7.25 gauge steam locomotives, freewheeling hub manufacture is a breeze - just plenty of common sense is needed, so don’t worry it’s not too technically difficult.

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Hybrid's progress- February 2000

Here we go then

Armed with various measuring devices, I checked the dimensions of Range Rover & 90/110 type hubs against Series III. They are not quite the same dimensions internally, but near enough for the modification I needed to do.

I found out that I had a 90 front axle & a Range Rover rear, no worries, easier in fact, because the internal hub dimension of a 90 seem to be the same as a Series III.

Parts required:

  1. set of freewheeling hubs (with 24 spline internal shaft fitting)

  2. pair of Series III front or rear half shafts with castle nuts & split pins

  3. length of motorcycle fork tubing large enough internal diameter to take the half shafts. (definitely not mild steel here!)

  4. another old pair of freewheeling hubs to cut down (optional)

Access to a lathe, pillar drill & welding equipment is vital. If you don’t have these tools, find a friend who has, and is willing to undertake the work.

In my case, welding is always done by my good friend Mr. John (gas axe) Bolt.

The half shafts of course came from my donor vehicle (1971 Series III)

90/110 or late model Range Rovers have the CV joint integral with the half shaft so it becomes a much easier job. With old Range Rovers, the CV joint is a beautifully machined separate unit, so a new outer short half shaft is needed

Doing The Job

The Half Shafts

If you have the equipment & skill, it is possible to machine the splines on each end of a piece of the correct type of hard steel, This could prove difficult in practise, so I opted for the easy way out.

With all raw materials at hand, the first thing to do is cut the half shafts. The overall length of the new shaft was determined at this stage by setting up the CV joint, stub axle, main hub, freewheeling & hub unit, on the bench in correct order, in order to make sure that there can be no error. You will notice that a spacer of approximately half an inch thick will be needed between the hub & freewheeling hub, in order that the stub axle does not foul the latter’s inner bearing. Cut the old shafts long enough to allow for the machining of a plug on one & a socket on the other.

A hand hacksaw is no good here, the shafts are made of really hard stuff!

I completely wrote off my bandsaw blade after cutting just one! Maybe the angle grinder is a good idea.

I used John’s oxy-acetylene torch. But if using a gas axe, cut the shafts longer than needed & machine them down, because I am a little concerned about the locally applied heat affecting the steel’s hardness/temper rating. When machining them I used carbide tipped tools & high speed.

If you use Series type front half shafts, one of them is tapered so it will have to be machined parallel at this stage. (It is easier to use Series III rear shafts).

The geometry of the larger of the two splines allows my 3 jaw chuck to grip the shafts just enough at the spline end for the machining process. If the chuck doesn’t hold them true, machine up a bush from brass or similar soft metal, & tap the shaft into this. It is vitally important before turning them, to make sure that the shaft runs true in the lathe’s chuck. Carefully turn them both down to suit the internal diameter of the motorcycle fork tubing. Make sure there is no slop, to ensure true running.

Face off the nasty cut end, then centre, drill & ream/bore a half an inch hole for a depth of just over an inch.

On the other end, machine a one inch projection to fit the hole (interference fit).

Make sure, before fitting them together using "Loctite 601" retainer, that the overall length of the complete halfshaft is correct.

Next, machine the shaft outside diameter to fit the internal diameter of the fork tubing. Leave at least a quarter of an inch of half shaft clear before the spline at each end to allow for the weld.

Assemble the parts & check for true running, between lathe centres.

Correct any errors now, before the next operation.

Now, generously weld all the way around the shafts at both ends, ensuring good penetration at all times. Put plenty of weld in, & build it up to allow for the clean-up. A substantial welding unit is useful here. John Bolt uses a big yellow MIG welder for the job. A small welder should be ok, but turn the wick right up If you can’t get the amps, try turning off all unnecessary electrical appliances (except life support machines) in the entire surrounding area & don’t let anyone use your electric cooker ‘till you’ve done welding!

Let the weld cool, then place the complete shortened half shaft in the lathe, if you have one, use a live revolving centre in the lathe’s tailstock & clean up the weld. Not entirely necessary, but it does look better, & makes sure that the shaft doesn’t foul the internal diameter of the stub axle.

Repeat the above process for the other one, & now you should have two very neat half shafts.

An important safety precaution …. Drill a hole in the side of the CV end splined part of the half shaft where it fits, up to the CV joint and knock in a spring pin. leaving a projection to the top of the splines. This is to stop the splined part slipping into the CV joint’s internals, if shaft breakage should occur. If this ever happened, it would be difficult to go around corners, say no more!

I really do need to clean up my parts department!


The old engine removed from the 1971 Land-Rover without an engine crane!

Here's how I did it

Dismantle the donor land-Rover down to rolling chassis on the lawn, remove prop shafts & handbrake assembly. Then jack the chassis up slightly under the gearbox cross member just enough to take the weight. Then using a power saw, cut the chassis in the middle, just behind the jack. Push the rear chassis complete with axle, springs & wheels out of the way. Lower the jack & pull it firmly out of the way (watch your toes). Undo the gearbox mounting bolts & remove gearbox from engine. this can be lifted out quite easily single handed. Undo the engine mounting bolts, then using a plank of wood, lever the engine from under the front of the crankshaft. The engine then falls out onto the lawn. Now move the front part of the chassis wheelbarrow fashion, out of the way........ Then borrow John Bolt's engine crane, to drop the engine onto a miniature railway truck, so as to remove offending engine from lawn before anyone sees the mess! Finally, mow the lawn where the Land-Rover has been stood & repair the bald patches of lawn where the radiator coolant killed the grass.....!!!!



Progress is being made - the brakes work now! Thanks to Andy @ Dewsbury 4x4 Centre.

Note the "new" (ex-Discovery) wheels & tyres also from Dewsbury 4x4 Centre.

The tyres are narrow in profile so they don't stick out much past the body.

I don't wish to fit plastic wheel arches if I can help it.


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Back to the freewheeling hubs story!

The Hubs

Clean & de-grease the Range Rover hubs.

Using epoxy putty or body filler, fill up four of the five original bolt holes in the hub face. (Or leave the original holes alone, should you ever wish to revert back to the fixed hubs at a later date just in case!).

When the filler has set, clean up the jointing face so no filler protrudes.

Bolt the freewheeling unit to the hub, using the remaining bolt hole.

Please Note:

Around the base of this type of freewheeling hub, is a machined groove with an "O" ring in it. You will need a considerably fatter "O" ring to centre the unit on a Range Rover main hub.

90/110’s are the same internal diameter as a Series III, so no further action will be needed.

Now, make sure that the freewheeling hub is exactly central on the main hub, which it should be if your "O" ring is doing its job.

Using a drill bit the same size as the hole in the freewheeling hub, deeply centre through onto the face of the Range Rover hub. Check the thread of the bolts used, mine, which is a 90 type I believe, was found to be about M10, but they may vary from model to model. You will need to obtain taps of the size to match your existing bolts.

Remove the freewheeling hub & drill to the same depth as the remaining threaded hole using a bit which is tapping size be careful here, ( ie: the drill must be the size of the bolt diameter minus the threads, to allow the tap to cut threads in the hole’s perimeter – as a rough guide, try two imperial drill sizes lower than the clearance drill). Then, with the original clearance drill used for the centre pop, recess the hole slightly, to the same depth as on the original bolt hole. This will guide the tap & ensure true cutting of the thread.

Clear all swarf from the holes at this point.

Now you will need your thread tapping tackle, consisting of taper & plug taps plus a tap wrench would be useful. If you don’t have a tap wrench & use a spanner, go easy on the tap, they break surprisingly easily. Also, make sure that the hub you are working with, is on a solid surface or even gently clamped in the vice. To have the lot drop on the floor is sure to break the tap, if not your toes as well……!


Using these makes the job a bit easier!

The hub is made of high grade cast iron material, so a lubricant for the tap is not needed. But be careful, as a broken tap inside the hole will spoil the work. Back off the tap frequently. When nearly there, remove tap & clear swarf. Go in again to the bottom of the hole with the plug tap.

Now you should have a beautiful 6 bolt Range Rover type hub to take the 6 bolt freewheeling hub unit.

Repeat the above procedure for the other one.

Around the base of this type of freewheeling hub, is a machined groove with an "O" ring in it. You will need a considerably fatter "O" ring to centre the unit on a Range Rover main hub.

As mentioned earlier, the stub axle is too long to allow bolting up of the freewheeling hub so we need a machined spacer of about half an inch now. This is made from a scrap freewheeling hub base (there are plenty of these about). Just cut it off & clean it up in the lathe, face & bore the spacer for the freewheeling hub "O"ring location, so that the two fit together snugly. Alternatively, a spacer could be machined up from a large piece of mild steel bar, if your lathe is big enough to take it. I found the former plan to be easier, as the projecting "O" ring locating bit for the main hub is already there.

Now we have all the parts. Thoroughly clean them all in solvent to remove any possible swarf contamination. Wheel bearings don’t go round too smoothly or for too long, with metal bits in them! Re-fit the Range Rover hubs & bearings as normal.

Assemble the freewheeling hubs with Series III paper gaskets, screw in the hub end caps, preferably using stainless bolts (much easier to get off later) fill the swivel housings with oil & sit back & admire your handiwork. A well deserved cup of tea is useful at this point.

I think that this modification is well worth the effort, apart from less drag & noise, if nothing else it saves wear & tear on your front prop shaft universal joints & differential gear when travelling on the road. It looks good too to have technical looking fiddly bits on your front wheels!


Land-Rovers left in my garden over Xmas!

Steering Relay Lubrication

The one bad thing about Series III Land Rovers is the size of the steering wheel - if you, like me, do not exactly have a sylph-like figure!

Anything other than black T-shirts soon develop a neat dirt line around the middle. A smaller steering wheel is a good idea, but the steering on my Series III was stiff enough with the big wheel as it was. I tried a smaller wheel, much better from a convenience point of view, but my forearms soon began to resemble Popeye’s!

Power steering….. well I like to keep my old bus as it is …… simple & uncomplicated, my 2.25 diesel smoke machine works hard enough as it is, especially with the Range Rover differentials I fitted a while back, never mind having to power a steering pump.

My Land Rover is a 1960 rebuild on a galvanised chassis, & is in exceptionally good mechanical condition. The steering box is quite good too, I have adjusted it a bit, to take up the slack, but not enough to stiffen up the steering noticeably.

When I first bought it, it wandered all over the road! When I asked about this, various people said "They’re all like that mate" Anyway, some new track rod & drag link ball joints soon dispelled that theory. I then thought about the steering relay. With the big spring helping to solidify the chain of events, especially if it’s lubrication was a bit dubious, had to make some difference to the free running of the steering events. I had heard that it was possible to remove one of the bolt holes around the edge, & drip in some more oil, but this seemed very hit or miss. By the way, never remove all the bolts at once though, because if you do, a very strong spring will fly out, which could be quite difficult to re-fit, especially with the relay in situ.

My solution is as follows

Make a special grease nipple to fit in one of the bolt holes,

For this, I used an M6 Allen cap head bolt, with a hole drilled down the middle. Then I drilled & tapped the cap head end to take a standard grease nipple, which was then screwed into place.

Now, clean around the top of the relay to remove any grime, then remove the front bolt only from the top of the steering relay. Very important: You must only screw the hollow cap head bolt into the relay’s bolt hole about 3 turns or less. If you bottom out the nipple extension, the grease cannot go anywhere, as the inlet hole is on the side of the internal thread. This now allows you, with the help of the grease or oil gun, to inject some low friction substance into the unit. I used molybdenum disulphide anti-scuffing type grease. Don’t worry if some old oil drips out, it is only being replaced by the new grease. (If no oil drips out, the unit is probably dry anyway).

Remove the nipple, clean surplus grease from around the hole & replace the bolt.

Last year at the Langley farm event, I bought some stuff in a little bottle from a stall there. It is some kind of special low friction substance for all mechanical moving parts. With much scepticism, I poured the bottle into my tired engine, nothing to lose. Nothing happened, until about a hour later on the way home when I noticed that my engine was about half as quiet, smoother running & seemed more powerful than usual. Shortly afterwards, it even started doing more miles to the gallon & still does ……!

This stuff is supposed to last for 25,000 miles, even if you change the oil, as it bonds in a molecular fashion to the metal. It is well recommended for An old 2.25 diesel engine. This year I’ll get some more. Then try it in the gearbox, diffs & steering relay.

Check your balls regularly!

The latest thing, which has actually been around for quite a while, seems to be using grease, or special Land Rover grease to replace the oil in the steering swivels. Whereas I don’t wish to question the wisdom of the manufacturer…….. is it a good idea?

Well consider this:

On a Land Rover with pristine chrome balls & good oil seals

The normal EP90 gear oil will do all that is required to lubricate the internal components, ie: bearings & CV joints inside the sealed swivel housing environment.

If the chrome balls are badly pitted, as many out there are, this destroys the oil seals very quickly & lets out most of the slippery stuff. Without lubrication, bearing failure is very likely over a period.

The more important thing is: If the deteriorated swivel seals let the oil out, they will also let in dirt & water…………

Filling the swivels with grease presumably is fine, if the chrome balls & swivel seals are good. Although on Series type & 90/110 Land Rovers, I’m not altogether sure if the grease can adequately splash lubricate the Railko bush through the small hole in the bush itself, up into the fibre bearing. Remember how you are supposed to lock in the Series type freewheeling hubs (if fitted) every so often, to churn the oil about to reach the top bush? Range Rovers have roller bearings top & bottom which are more open to splash lubrication.

Grease, even official Land Rover special grease plus grit equals grinding paste, which is ideal for cylinder head valve seats when they need grinding in, but a bit harsh on the expensive bits inside your steering swivels.

Water getting in, on the other hand, with a little help from air & ferrous metals, makes rust. This is not good for bearings either.

The CV joint ball bearings were very rusty as well. I don’t think that this was a particularly extreme case, it’s what happens. When the oil goes out, the muck gets in.

I recently dismantled two 1972 Series IIA front axles for spare parts. On one, the balls were reasonable, on the other they were shot. The internal differences were noticeable. On the good one, the half shafts & universal joints were excellent, clean, hardly worn & very smooth. On the bad one, they were very rusty & gritty, with a large amount of slop in the joint bearings. Luckily, I only needed the bad ones to cut up for the Freewheeling Hub project, but even the wheel bearings were rusted onto the stub axles, and removal was difficult.

The basic Land Rover design & layout has been around for a long time, They will work in adverse conditions, even in a bad state of repair, a bit like old steam locomotives …….! But don’t forget that however good the mechanical arrangement may be, metal to metal contact requires adequate, clean lubrication if the wear rate is to be acceptable.

Maybe I’m being over cautious, but the photographs don’t lie, seeing is believing……….

If you are considering filling the swivels with grease because the chrome balls are on their way out, either change the balls for good ones while you’re at it, or fit military style gaiters ……. preferably both!

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Gearbox & pedals, fitted & working


The hybrid's old diesel engine, viewed from left hand side

Disc Brakes & Engine Tuning

Disc Brakes & Engine Tuning If you own a Land-Rover 90, 110 or Range Rover, turn over now! But if you are the owner of a Standard Series III Land-Rover with a bog standard 2.25 Land-Rover diesel engine, an under-powered, smoky machine with poor brakes, then read on…………………………………. The design of the 2.25 diesel is a very simple one by engine standards, less BHP than most fast motorbikes, not much more pull than a ride-on lawnmower really! So we need the engine to perform as well as it can. I wonder how many Land-Rovers owners run all their vehicles without ever developing their full, if not modest potential. The diesel distributor pump setting is extremely critical, as is having a set of good clean injectors. The choice is, either take the easy way out & get it tuned by a professional, or try it yourself by trial & error. The injector part is easy, buy four exchange injectors & bolt them in place (don't forget the sealing washers in the holes first). Then ……… the pump …………… This thing is not as good as the one on a 2.5 diesel, it does not meter the fuel quite as accurately. But no matter, we are stuck with it anyway, so optimum setting is required. If you do this by the manual, from the timing marks etc on the flywheel, a correct pump setting will be achieved. Personally I obtained better results by my method. Probably because the manual presumes that the timing chain is perfect, & that the engine has just been totally rebuilt……..! Mine certainly had not at the time………… 3 bolts nip the pump down onto its mounting, by slackening the bolts the unit can be rotated. Do not do this while the engine is running, or the oil leaks out of the gap & makes a mess on the engine block & floor.



First scribe a line on the pump mounting exactly in line with the pointer on the block, do this before you slacken off anything. This is at least a starting point. Now rotate the pump clockwise about a sixteenth of an inch , using a screwdriver as a lever in the bolt slot at the front of the pump. Hold the setting & nip down one of the bolts. Start the engine & listen to it. If it sounds really harsh now, the pump setting was probably ok. Warm up the engine to normal operating temperature. Run the engine fast, but don't over rev it, to listen to the beats, they should be regular, with no misfire. Now, road test it & see how it pulls up hills. If there is some slight improvement, stop the engine, mark the new setting with a scriber & then repeat the process, & move the pump another sixteenth of an inch. By doing this a few times the optimum pump setting becomes apparent. General rule - too far anti-clockwise = intermittent misfire & smoke Too far clockwise = harsh, lack of "pull" & smoke again. Now the pump is sorted, the next step is to visit a scrapyard.


Look for a Peugot diesel vehicle & remove the vacuum pump from it. Rotate it to make sure it sucks before parting with any cash. Older types require more RPM than the newer ones. I Know this because I bought two, one for my road SIII & one for my hybrid coiler. I paid £25.00 each for mine. The mounting is simple. I used a piece of flat bar to fix the unit to the right hand side of the engine. Any suitable fabricated bracket can be used. The original belt tensioner was utilised though, this bolts to a bracket fixed to the water pump manifold. (see photograph). A military style double pulley is needed now, these are easily obtained from most Land-Rover places. I bought mine from George at ATV (01977 603081) at a very reasonable price. When the unit is in place, use a piece of string for a guide & buy a "V" belt to suit. I bought mine from Halfords. While I was at Halfords, I also bought a good quality rubber hose to pipe the vacuum pump to the servo. Also, connect the inlet to the vacuum pump to the existing valve on the butterfly housing, so no dirt gets in the pump. Now at last, we no longer need the smoke screen inducing butterfly valve in the air inlet manifold. This was removed & discarded. Then I bored out the butterfly housing to the same internal diameter as the inlet manifold itself. This lets the air flow better. Using two M8 Allen type bolts, block up the old butterfly holes. That's it really ……… My old Landy now stops on a sixpence, (Like a car) it emits much less smoke & pulls like a train, even with its Range Rover differentials & fairy overdrive. It cruise down the motorway at 65-70 mph & the fuel consumption is noticeably very much better. I only ever tow my cut-down Honda Activan trailer so the ratio is ok for road use. By the way, I had to re- calibrate my speedometer after fitting the diffs, this was done by following a friend in his BMW & taking the speed readings from him. ie: ask him to travel at 30 mph - flash my headlights at him, he then increases to 40mph - flash headlights at him again ….. & so on …….. In practice the speedometer is approximately 10 mph out around 30mph & 15 mph out around 50mph. I can even overtake on the motorway now……!


Important : initially leave the current brake vacuum system intact, because you may need to drive your landrover to get parts.


first get a "military" double water pump pulley from wherever you normally get used spares. fit this to the water pump boss. it is held on by 4 10mm bolts if i remember. obtain a "peugot" vacuum pump from a scrapyard, make sure that you also get the tension arm (a curved metal braket with a slot in it which bolts to the pump). the pump has a double hole mount cast into the body of the unit, similar to the mountings on an alternator.


Fabricate a mounting bracket to fit one of the holes in the pump body. i made the bracket from a piece of inch by eighth of an inch steel bar - you could make the bracket fancier to use both holes, but i didn't & mine hasn't fallen off yet ...... !

The pump mounts on the driver's side. at the front of the engine. drill the bracket to take the bolts to fix it both to the engine & pump. i fitted my pump bracket to the timing case cover, just undo the top bolt & fit the pump with its new mounting to this. the bracket will need a double bend, so that the pump pulley lines up with the double pulley on the water pump. bend this in a vice, not on the timing cover or pump ........!


Next make a bracket from two pieces of scrap angle, to fit on the thermostat housing. again, no new holes need to be drilled, just use one of the existing thermostat cover bolts. this bracket is self-explanatory if you first bolt on your pump to the timing cover. it is to tension the driving belt. assemble the unit & leave the tension arm slack.



Next get a piece of string ..........


Feed it around both pulleys to get the length of "v" belt required. i went to "halfords" & bought a "v" belt from there. i fitted it in the car park just in case i got the wrong one, so i could take it back to the shop.


Use the curved arm to tension the belt just like on an alternator. tighten the bolts & drive home.


One or two important points. when you buy the pump, remove the cover to inspect the diaphragm but do not tip it up or the oil runs out (as i found out). if there is little or no oil in the unit, top it up with some motor oil. the pump is a simple diaphragm type with a cam & pushrod drive. if this runs dry, the pump will fail. do not lose the spring loaded inlet & outlet valves as you dismantle the unit. (re-assembly is the opposite of dis-assembly)




Remove the butterfly unit on the end of the inlet manifold. discard the internal moving bit. (i bored mine out a bit in the lathe, to get more air in ......!) this isn't essential. but in either case, block up the butterfly shaft holes. i used allen key headed domed bolts from the inside & "Nyloc" nuts on the outside.


Then connect the servo to the pipe on the pump that sucks, & the other pipe to the original valve on the inlet manifold. your old landrover will then actually stop when you gently press the brake pedal..


I've fitted these pumps to both of my landrovers, (re-builds of 1960 & 1971 models) the conversion so far is very successful.

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