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Lead 'management' for chamber, barrel

This is a discussion on Lead 'management' for chamber, barrel within the Reloading forums, part of the Firearm Forum category; I've been loading 200gr L-SWC rounds from Wilson Combat and am wondering about leading I'm seeing in the chamber and barrel of my Ruger LW ...


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Old February 15th, 2017, 10:04 AM   #1
 
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Lead 'management' for chamber, barrel

I've been loading 200gr L-SWC rounds from Wilson Combat and am wondering about leading I'm seeing in the chamber and barrel of my Ruger LW Commander.

Is there an optimal way to load for lead bullets to minimize leading? I've been loading them with 4.9gr of Tite Group, Federal 150 LP primers, 1.25" COL with crimp at .469"-.470".

Or is a certain amount of lead just par for the course when using such bullets?

In researching the question I've seen that some recommend more powder (proportionally) with the lead bullets to seal the case well against blowback..but seems like I've also seen that more powder blasts more lead around the case/barrel..

My 4.9gr load is just .1gr above the lowest load recommended by Hodgdon's reloading web site, so I'd have room to go up a bit..recommended? Or a different powder altogether? I have Power Pistol on hand, but would be happy to try any of the other usual suspects..

The solution may well be to move to a HiTek coated bullet, which seem to be readily available...any recommendations on which of those would run/shoot similarly to the Wilson Combat rounds?

Thanks,

Commo



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Old February 15th, 2017, 02:32 PM   #2
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Commo, Something I have been preaching for the past several decades is to match chamber pressure to bullet hardness. It works the first time and every time! I ran your load through QuickLOAD and it indicates your peak pressure is a mere 14k psi. Two issues .... first ..... all powders burn much better when chamber pressure are higher .... 15k psi is about the minimum .... more is better. Second, the optimum bullet hardness for your load would be BHN 10. Anything harder is not going to seal in the bore and will result in gas blow by, which erodes the circumference of the bullet and leaves bad lead fouling in the barrel.

You have some options. First, I would increase the powder charge to at least the minimum pressure level (15 k psi) for a decent burn, which happens with a charge weight of 5.1gr of Tite Group. Next I would find some softer bullets that better match your chamber pressure. The formula for bullet hardness is: BHN=chamber pressure divided by 1400. 16,000/1400=BHN 11. If you cant find softer bullets you need to increase your chamber pressure by increasing your powder charge.

Missouri Bullets sells a BHN 12, 200gr SWC that is ideal for your application. It is available in naked lead or Hi-Tek coating. The best chamber pressure match would be: 12x1400=16,800 psi chamber pressure .... well below the SAAMI max of 21k psi. Using your same powder, it would take a charge weight of 5.4 gr of Tite Group.

I wrote a document for using lead bullets in revolvers but most of the information also applies to pistols. Take a few minutes to download (free) and read this document: http://rugerforum.net/library/19869-...revolvers.html
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Old February 15th, 2017, 06:17 PM   #3
 
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Iowegan, many thanks for this analysis -- I've downloaded the document and am reading it closely!

And I've checked out the Missouri Bullets site and see a couple versions of the Hi-Tek coated Brinell 12 200gr SWC: one with a groove and one that is 'grooveless' -- could you comment on the difference between those and which one would make the most sense in a Hi-Tek coated bullet?

If the bullet is Hi-Tek coated it would seem that the lube groove is not needed -- is this the logic to follow?

Best,

Commo
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Old February 16th, 2017, 01:36 PM   #4
 
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I've shot several thousand 200 gr SWC and 200 gr RN cast bullets with a min. amount of leading. Most were from thebulletworks.net, Dardas and Rucker. 4.2 Bullseye and 4.5 WST powders. Shot in Kimber, Colt, Ruger, Springfield. I've only shot titegroup in 9MM with plated bullets. I've heard some claim that Titegroup burns hot, whatever that means. The Bullseye and the WST works so why change. I also shot a bunch of Clays til it got impossible to get. Also, a S&W revolver, that's why I switched to RN for everything except bullseye matches.

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Old February 16th, 2017, 04:45 PM   #5
 
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Because health won't let me cast I use Missouri bullets exclusively...I shoot lots of the 12 hardness "cowboy #4" 200 grain LRNFP either naked or coated...I use W231 in my CZ 97 and never had a leading issue at all...I also use the same bullet in my 45Colt with 231 or with other powders..and again..I use enough to get a solid seal and no leading issues...

People have told me for years that you got to go to a 18 hardness or over to stop leading...that can be backwards just like Iowegian said...hard bullets at low pressures just skid along with flame burning the lead off the bullet and depositing it on the barrel...Missouri's "technical" information is dead on...if they made a softer bullet I'd be using it.

Worst leading I ever had was with a bullet (shall go nameless) that was about a 20 hardness....
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Old February 17th, 2017, 05:33 AM   #6
 
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Thanks to all for the comments... I have a lot of learning to do about chamber pressure and how it relates to chamber sealing, etc.

I'm an all Mac household so no way to run QuickLoad without jumping through a bunch of expense/emulation hoops...is there any Mac software out there for the purpose? Or even other onliine sources for pressure numbers?

The Hodgdon reloading site shows pressures for their Starting and Max loads, from which I could extrapolate numbers in between, though I don't know that it would be linear..

For now I've loaded 50 rounds of the LSWC with the 5.1gr of Tite Group and intend to chrono them today at the range.

That will get me up to the more efficient 15k psi advised by Iowegan...perhaps it'll alleviate some of the leading I'm seeing. I've got 500 or so of the Wilson Combat LSWC bullets left so I'll try to optimize for them...next purchase will be some coated 200gr Missouri Bullets in the 12BHN, pushing my load up toward 5.4gr (which Hodgdon calls the max, btw) which is optimal for the 12BHN bullets.

Can anyone suggest which coated 200gr LSWC version would be best -- the grooved or the grooveless?

Thanks,

Commo
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Old February 17th, 2017, 05:59 AM   #7
 
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Originally Posted by Commo View Post
Thanks to all for the comments... I have a lot of learning to do about chamber pressure and how it relates to chamber sealing, etc.

I'm an all Mac household so no way to run QuickLoad without jumping through a bunch of expense/emulation hoops...is there any Mac software out there for the purpose? Or even other onliine sources for pressure numbers?

The Hodgdon reloading site shows pressures for their Starting and Max loads, from which I could extrapolate numbers in between, though I don't know that it would be linear..

For now I've loaded 50 rounds of the LSWC with the 5.1gr of Tite Group and intend to chrono them today at the range.

That will get me up to the more efficient 15k psi advised by Iowegan...perhaps it'll alleviate some of the leading I'm seeing. I've got 500 or so of the Wilson Combat LSWC bullets left so I'll try to optimize for them...next purchase will be some coated 200gr Missouri Bullets in the 12BHN, pushing my load up toward 5.4gr (which Hodgdon calls the max, btw) which is optimal for the 12BHN bullets.

Can anyone suggest which coated 200gr LSWC version would be best -- the grooved or the grooveless?

Thanks,

Commo
I think Missouri offers "sample" packs..you might check his web site...Also I don't load the SWC..only the RNFP so I don't know about the grooves..I have looked at pressures when available and like you said...just sort of take a shot at where I am...I do know that to use and 18 hardness bullet I'd have to change a lot of things relating to powders, etc...I also know that loading way too light will cause problems...I tried loading popcorn pfart loads of Trail Boss under that same 200 grain naked bullet in a 45 Colt a long time ago..the cases looked like I'd tried to spray paint them black...nothing sealed..it's a wonder the projectile made it out the end of the barrel...I posted a query on another web site dealing with lead loading and got half a dozen replies...most to go harder on the bullet which was exactly backwards...when I loaded up quite a bit and didn't try to squeeze the daylights out of the bullet with a crimp....it shot really nice and about 80% cleaner.
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Old February 17th, 2017, 06:58 AM   #8
 
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Softer bullets..

So it looks as if I'm likely not going to see a lot of improvement until I get to a softer bullet..makes me wonder what kind of load you'd need in order to use these apparently way too hard bullets.

For example, some of the Missouri Bullets 200gr bullets are offered in BHN18 and 20...by the formula of 1400 x BHN (for psi) you'd need to pressurize to 25,200 (1400x18) or 28,000 (1400x20) to make them obturate. And of course the SAAMI max as noted above by Iowegan is 21k...

Since it's easy to look at the Hodgdon/IMR/Winchester reloading widget to get pressure readings I plugged in a bunch of the usual powders used with the 45ACP loads (see attachment) -- and if you calculate with the Max load pressures (highest is 20k) then you ought to be using a bullet around 14BHN..

So are lots of people using these high-hardness bullets at close to max (or over??) loads and still not getting 'good' obturation? That's obviously what I've been doing..

This is all new stuff to me -- thanks for reading and commenting.

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Old February 17th, 2017, 07:10 AM   #9
 
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OK, money where mouth is -- just ordered 100 of the MO Bullets coated 12BHN 200gr SWCs...$14.50 plus $7.00 shipping...will report back...

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Old February 17th, 2017, 07:54 AM   #10
 
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OK, money where mouth is -- just ordered 100 of the MO Bullets coated 12BHN 200gr SWCs...$14.50 plus $7.00 shipping...will report back...

Commo
Hope you like them...one thing...learned from experience...don't overcrimp the softer lead bullets....don't want to squeeze the projectile and have it too small a diameter to obturate enough to seal...I seat the bullet and set my dies with the finished rounds and a caliper to the SAAMI throat spec..then I do a "plunk" test with the actual barrel I'm shooting thorough...I have..in the past..applied too much crimp instead of letting throat tension hold the bullet and defeated the purpose....I do a "push test" before the plunk test and just don't have any issues at all. Good shooting.
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Old February 17th, 2017, 09:34 AM   #11
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Commo, Although bullet hardness is definitely an issue, it is not nearly as critical in a pistol as is in a revolver. In a revolver, the bullet has to obturate in the cylinder then leave the cylinder throat at the optimum size. The bullet then gets sized down to bore diameter then must obturate again to maintain a good seal as it travels down the bore. The revolver's B/C gap plays a big roll because it releases a lot of barrel pressure. It takes a notable amount of barrel pressure to keep the bullet expanded so it will maintain a good seal in the bore as it gets closer to the muzzle.

In comparison, a bullet in a pistol barrel is forced into the barrel throat where it immediately gets swaged down to bore diameter. It then has to make it about 5" or less before it exits the muzzle and there's no venting from a B/C gap to affect the bullet-to-bore seal. In other words ... just one simple transition compared to a dual more complex transition in a revolver.

The closer you can get to the optimum bullet hardness, the better. This will minimize barrel fouling which in turn causes accuracy issues. If the bore is kept clean, accuracy will maintain for 50 to 100 rounds .... maybe more, without cleaning the barrel. When the barrel gets fouled from a bad hardness to pressure match, it doesn't take many rounds before accuracy starts dropping off and will continue to get worse as more rounds are fired and more fouling accumulates.

With revolvers, I like to see the bullet's BHN within 1 number harder or 2 numbers softer. With pistols, you can usually go 3 numbers either way without excessive fouling. That means for a SAAMI max pressure load of 21k psi, a BHN 15 bullet would be optimum but could go as high as BHN 18 or as low as BHN 12. A contributing factor is the smoothness of the bore. If you have a highly polished match grade bore, BHN gets less critical and if you have a bore with a lot of striation marks (machine marks left over from cutting the rifling), bullet hardness gets more critical.

Most people load lead bullets in 45 ACPs primarily for a light target load .... reduced recoil, no need for high velocity when punching holes in paper, still quite accurate. That scenario usually results in something way less than a max pressure load as noted by your attached Hodgdon's chart. The way you accomplish the mission is simply to use BHN 12 bullets. This gives you a pressure load range from 15k psi (minimum for a clean burn) to 21k psi (max SAAMI pressure).

Grooved versus non-grooved bullets means the grooves are for a roll crimp ... used only for revolvers. The non-groove bullets are for semi-autos with a taper crimp. You can use grooved bullets in semi-autos by seating them just a tad deeper but I like to match bullets for their intended use. You can't use non-grooved bullets in revolvers unless you use a taper crimp because a roll crimp will cut into the plating or coating and probably cause more fouling. BTW, roll crimp is standard for revolver cartridge dies and taper crimp is standard for pistol cartridge dies.
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Old February 17th, 2017, 08:27 PM   #12
 
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>I've been loading 200gr L-SWC rounds from Wilson Combat and am wondering about leading I'm seeing in the chamber and barrel of my Ruger LW Commander.

1) what is the groove diameter of the barrel and what diameter are the bullets?
2) where is the leading?
A clue to what is causing the leading is where the leading first begins to appear.
If it appears near the chamber, chances are that bullet diameter or hardness are the cause. A diameter too small or an alloy too hard will allow high pressure gas to leak past the bullet, which erodes the bullet and leaves leading near the chamber.
If the leading first appears on the leading edge of the rifling (if you imagine the bullet being pushed through the barrel, you will note that one edge of the rifling does most of the work of imparting a spin to the bullet. This is the edge you see when you look through the barrel from the breech end), the bullet might be too soft or the velocity too high.
If the leading appears in the second (front) half of the barrel, the bullet is running out of lube.
SAAMI specifies lead bullets of 0.450-0.453" for use in all guns. You, as a reloader, can use larger bullets if your gun requires it--start back at the start load and work up.
From my experience, leading in a .45 Auto is almost always due to the bullet being a smaller diameter than the gun likes and the alloy is too hard. 8-11 BHN is just fine.
Next, a very light tumble lube will prevent most, or all, leading with small/hard bullets.
Finally, TG is about the WORST powder for lead bullets--maybe because it burns so hot. I would switch to Bullseye, 231/HP38, Red Dot, AA2, or Solo 1000.

>Is there an optimal way to load for lead bullets to minimize leading? I've been loading them with 4.9gr of Tite Group, Federal 150 LP primers, 1.25" COL with crimp at .469"-.470".

SAAMI calls out a case mouth diameter of 0.473".
Have you pulled seated bullets and determined the actual bullet diameter after seating? If you aren't using an expander that brings the case ID to 0.001-0.002" below actual bullet diameter, you could be swaging the bullets down. If you use a Lee FCD, you could be swaging the bullets down. Any change in diameter can lead to severe leading.
Most Bullseye shooters use 4.2-4.4 gn of TG.
So, most find that a slightly larger expander helps to prevent the bullet being swaged down (see Lyman M-die and Hornady lead PTXx and RCBS Cowboy dies).

>Or is a certain amount of lead just par for the course when using such bullets?

I shoot thousands of rounds in all my .45s with NO leading. I use 200gn swaged L-SWCs without issue.

>In researching the question I've seen that some recommend more powder (proportionally) with the lead bullets to seal the case well against blowback..but seems like I've also seen that more powder blasts more lead around the case/barrel..

Use a larger bullet!

>My 4.9gr load is just .1gr above the lowest load recommended by Hodgdon's reloading web site, so I'd have room to go up a bit..recommended? Or a different powder altogether? I have Power Pistol on hand, but would be happy to try any of the other usual suspects..

That's a starting load, not a minimum load. As above, Bullseye shooters use a lot smaller charge.

>The solution may well be to move to a HiTek coated bullet, which seem to be readily available...any recommendations on which of those would run/shoot similarly to the Wilson Combat rounds?
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Old February 18th, 2017, 05:43 AM   #13
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Here's how the bullet hardness formula was developed. Labs took a pure lead bullet (BHN 5) and put it in a press. As pressure was increased, the lead became fully malleable when 7000 lbs of pressure was applied. This set the standard because as bullets got harder, it took an equal increasing amount of pressure to reach the point of malleability. As an example, a BHN 10, it took 14,000 lbs to achieve the same malleability. This concept remained remarkably constant (1400 lbs pressure per BHN) until the alloy reached BHN 22.

So lets assume a BHN 10 bullet is selected for a 14k psi load. If the diameter is a a couple thousandths too small .... no problem, pressure will make the bullet malleable enough where it will expand to the size of the container. In a revolver, that would initially be the cylinder throat and again in the bore. In a pistol, it would just be the bore. Once a bullet has expanded to the limit of the bore, it doesn't take near as much pressure to keep the bullet expanded because it is already a tight fit. Chamber pressure should peak after the bullet travels about an inch .... then pressure will begin a steady decrease as the bullet moves down the bore.

Obviously starting out with a larger diameter bullet means the bullet does not have to expand to initially seal in the bore. After the bullet has been engraved and swaged down to bore size, it acts no different than a slightly smaller bullet that was forced to expand. The key being .... is there enough chamber pressure to keep the bullet sealed? If not, the bullet that started off larger will still foul the bore. Another issue with larger diameter bullets is ... there is only so much room in a chamber so using a bullet that is too large will prevent the cartridge from chambering. You can almost always use a lead bullet that is .001" over the normal size for jacketed bullets.

If at any time pressure decreases below the point of bullet malleability, you will lose the seal and hot expanding gasses will vent around the bullet. This always causes some bore leading because the venting hot gasses melt the circumference of the bullet and turn it into lead vapor. Most of the lead vapor is blown out of the muzzle but some will remain in the bore where it will turn back into solid lead. When bullets are too hard, this venting (or blow by) process starts immediately ... within the first inch of bullet travel. If slow burning powders are used, it has much the same result as bullets that are too hard where the venting / blow by will continue until the bullet leaves the muzzle. This is why fast burning powders are best used with lead bullets .... pressure peaks quickly to form a good bullet-to-bore seal then keeps applying enough pressure to maintain the seal. Slow burning powder take more bullet travel to reach peak pressure so they are more likely to cause leading in the first inch of bullet travel.

Bullet lubrication is a controversial subject. If bullet hardness matches chamber pressure nearly perfect, bullet lube is not needed and does nothing to improve the bullet-to-bore seal. That said, when bullet hardness does NOT match chamber pressure, bullet lube does help prevent bore fouling and it works by reducing bullet-to-bore friction, thus it helps maintain the bullet-to-bore seal.

In a typical scenario .... most commercially cast bullets are too hard and don't match chamber pressure so they are lubricated with one of several different products from a dry graphite type surface lube to a waxy petroleum type lube that is forced into the bullet's lube grooves. One thing for sure .... petroleum or bees wax lubs do create a lot of nasty smoke and soot that is often blamed on the powder.

Many people don't understand or believe in the "match chamber pressure to bullet hardness" concept but I can assure you, it works the first time and every time in nealy all guns. Where it doesn't work well is when cylinder throats are too tight .... so tight that even a malleable bullet can not expand enough to form a good bore seal.

When chamber pressure matches bullet hardness (BHN = chamber pressure divided by 1400) a malleable bullet makes up for many other issues just because it can expand, contract, and expand again to maintain a good bore seal. Bullets that are too hard or powder that burns too slow will cause the bullet to reshape just once but it will not allow the bullet to reshape again and will lose its bore seal.
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Old February 20th, 2017, 03:55 PM   #14
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noylj View Post
>
1) what is the groove diameter of the barrel and what diameter are the bullets?
2) where is the leading?

Finally, TG is about the WORST powder for lead bullets--maybe because it burns so hot. I would switch to Bullseye, 231/HP38, Red Dot, AA2, or Solo 1000.

SAAMI calls out a case mouth diameter of 0.473".
Have you pulled seated bullets and determined the actual bullet diameter after seating?
Noylj,

1) My bullets are the Wilson Combat .45ACP H&G #68 LSWC 200gr, .452".
Wilson doesn't mention a BHN, but at one point describes them as 'hard cast.' Wilson's catalog specifies Tite Group as the load for that bullet btw. Any idea who makes this bullet for Wilson?

The barrel is the stock Ruger 4.25" barrel. Using the ID measurement 'feelers' of my Mitutoyo digital caliper the biggest number I could get was .4505" at the muzzle -- that's pretty close to spec, right?

2) The leading is actually in the chamber and in the first third of the barrel. Hardest parts to clean are the small spots that seem to have been almost 'plated' onto the chamber wall. That would point toward the bullet hardness and perhaps the crimp I'm using if I understand your post correctly.

I also found a very thin 'thread' of lead along one of the leading edges of the lands that popped loose when I ran a dental pick along the groove about half way up from the breech end.

I'm nearly to the end of the pound of Tite Group and on your advice have a pound of HP-38 waiting in the wings for a try.

I haven't pulled any bullets -- I have the Hornady cam-action die puller for my rifle reloading and thus never have needed a hammer-style puller...sounds like another tool I'll want to pick up.

As far as crimp goes -- would it make sense to back off on the crimp, crimping just enough to let the rounds plunk in my barrel and/or my EGW 7-round chamber checker? That would certainly end up being wider than the .469"-.470" I'm using now, perhaps sealing the round in the chamber more effectively?

Thanks for the comprehensive post..as mentioned I do have some of the BHN 12 coated bullets coming for testing..

Commo

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Old February 20th, 2017, 04:16 PM   #15
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Iowegan View Post
Many people don't understand or believe in the "match chamber pressure to bullet hardness" concept but I can assure you, it works the first time and every time in nearly all guns. Where it doesn't work well is when cylinder throats are too tight .... so tight that even a malleable bullet can not expand enough to form a good bore seal.
Iowegan,

Thank you for the splendid primer on lead hardness and how it works in our pistols. I for one do not doubt the logic in what you say one bit...

As noted I've already ordered in some BHN 12 200gr coated Missouri Bullets and am looking forward to loading them.

Meanwhile I did raise the Tite Group load to 5.1gr as you recommended for minimum pressure and chrono'd them against the 4.9gr loads which I've been shooting. Speed and consistency were up a bit but the leading was still there..




The comparative numbers (12 shots in each string)

4.9gr: Avg = 862fps, ES = 33.5, SD = 11.45
5.1gr: Avg = 894fps, ES = 29, SD = 10.8


Maybe a bit academic by now as I'm moving to the softer (coated) bullets and will try them with HP-38/W231, but the numbers are interesting as data points along the way...

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