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Author Topic: 1st restoration: 1977 TA 6.6 4spd  (Read 317576 times)

TA6.6Liter

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1st restoration: 1977 TA 6.6 4spd
« on: March 15, 2013, 07:28:38 PM »
25 years after I had to sell my beloved 1977 4spd, coupe, 403 SE Trans Am, I have bought another 1977 Trans Am.  This time a standard version, Pontiac 400.  Unlike the first one, this one has suffered mistreatment for the last 25 years.  I drove 5 hours in mid December 2012 to see it the first time and, frankly, it was not love at first sight as you might guess from the photos.  Lots of rust and mistreatment, including the four bald, cracking tires, no brakes, including a frozen parking brake.  The engine did start up, but that tended to stall when releasing the clutch.  The driver's side electric window did not work, but the radio did, amazingly.  The owner was pleased to point out that the shaker hood's mock vent was intact; not cut out.  It had been repainted sometime, but the decals were taped, poorly.  The hood bird had been hand painted around its perimeter, but never sealed.  Rust never sleeps.  Still, had to think about it, so drove home 5 hours. 

I sent photos to a shop I'd had do collision work.  They were not overly enthused, but saw the benefit of the matched numbers and paperwork back to the dealership, just lacked the build sheet.  I took a chance.  The owner threw in extra parts; rear quarters, floor pan, carpet, rotors, drums and brake pads and a new clutch plate.  Plus a few parts catalogues.  He had put in a new gas tank, alternator, fuel pump, leaf springs, shocks and a few other things. 

I took another trip on December 28, 2012.  This time with intent to buy it after a little negotiating.  It was not road worthy, so had to have it transported.  It arrive around midnight, Friday, January 4, 2013.  First trouble was getting it off the trailer.  The bird was tired after the drive, nearly flew off the trailer and landed hard.  Hmm, I don't remember the front flare and windshield being cracked.  Remember, no brakes.  Found out later there were also no brake lines; rusted through and the master cylinder leaked as fast as it was filled.  Oh, and that shaker hood?  Yes, it was complete.  The breather base, however, was another story.  It had been brutalized.  Hacked up with a jig saw or some other equally destructive cutting tool, even inside the filter, so the engine was inhaling everything.  And, of course the shaker ring is also missing.  Yes, buyer beware.  Even as I write this, I realize that my vision is strong and I will save this one from the scrap heap.  So begins the journey.             

LeighP

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Re: 1st restoration: 1977 TA 6.6 4spd
« Reply #1 on: March 15, 2013, 09:17:54 PM »
Full strip to a bare shell....only way to do it.
Good luck.
PS...we can't host pics here, if you want to show pics, we have to host at somewhere like Photobucket.com and then link the pics to our posts.  :-D
Regards,
Leigh

Sydney, Australia
1968 Pontiac Firebird 428 5 speed coupe

Former Firebirds -
1969 Pontiac Firebird 400
1971 Pontiac Firebird 455
1977 Pontiac Trans Am
1976 Pontiac Trans Am
1967 Pontiac Firebird 400 convertible
1967 Pontiac Firebird 400 coupe


1blk1

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Re: 1st restoration: 1977 TA 6.6 4spd
« Reply #2 on: March 15, 2013, 11:21:30 PM »
my beloved 1977 4spd, coupe, 403 SE Trans Am         

  ???
"the more im around people, the more i like my dogs"

“Extinction is the rule. Survival is the exception.” Carl Sagan

TA6.6Liter

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Re: 1st restoration: 1977 TA 6.6 4spd
« Reply #3 on: March 16, 2013, 12:01:27 PM »
my beloved 1977 4spd, coupe, 403 SE Trans Am         

  ???

If you mean, why did I sell it...., well it is the old story of need versus want.  My wife came home and said, "You are going to be a father.  I NEED money cause I WANT to ready the baby's room, so you NEED to sell the car, whether you WANT to or not.  Or that's my version at least.  Anyway, I've been saying ever since that I'll get another.  So, she was not surprised 24 years later, and in fact very supportive of the idea, when I starting looking for one.  Sealed the deal when I took her for a ride in the 77.

TA6.6Liter

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Re: 1st restoration: 1977 TA 6.6 4spd
« Reply #4 on: March 16, 2013, 12:06:19 PM »
Full strip to a bare shell....only way to do it.
Good luck.
PS...we can't host pics here, if you want to show pics, we have to host at somewhere like Photobucket.com and then link the pics to our posts.  :-D

Yes, reading the FAQs, I've figured that out after I posted.  I have a website for my other hobby, so maybe I put the pics there and link to TAC. 

Blackened

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Re: 1st restoration: 1977 TA 6.6 4spd
« Reply #5 on: March 16, 2013, 02:02:59 PM »
I think what blk1 is referring to is that a 403 / 4spd combo did not come in the 77 or any other TA. You may have your engine/trans mixed up. Unless someone changed it prior to your ownership.

1blk1

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Re: 1st restoration: 1977 TA 6.6 4spd
« Reply #6 on: March 16, 2013, 02:43:58 PM »
I think what blk1 is referring to is that a 403 / 4spd combo did not come in the 77 or any other TA. You may have your engine/trans mixed up. Unless someone changed it prior to your ownership.

  thank you
"the more im around people, the more i like my dogs"

“Extinction is the rule. Survival is the exception.” Carl Sagan

TA6.6Liter

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Re: 1st restoration: 1977 TA 6.6 4spd
« Reply #7 on: March 16, 2013, 07:13:58 PM »
I think what blk1 is referring to is that a 403 / 4spd combo did not come in the 77 or any other TA. You may have your engine/trans mixed up. Unless someone changed it prior to your ownership.


Yep, no 403, 4-speeds in 1977.  I looked it up in paperwork from the PHS.  Frankly, I never bothered to verify what the guy told me.  It was in the days before the Internet and I didn't really care back then, I suppose.  The car was rebuilt from a wrecked TA, maybe he put in a 403.  I don't think the 4-speed transmission was original.  It had the German lettering, gold dash and steering wheel spokes, gold snowflake wheels, but I think the non-SE hood bird, so no telling what I really had back then.  I don't have the VIN # , much less the engine code and only a couple of photos, taken on film.

Another question: the 77 I'm restoring has a Hurst shifter and aluminum Hurst T-Handle with the shift pattern.  I'm guessing this is not original as I find no reference to it at all.  What would be original for a non-SE 4spd 400?   

1blk1

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Re: 1st restoration: 1977 TA 6.6 4spd
« Reply #8 on: March 17, 2013, 04:24:50 PM »
think all T/As had hurst shifters, not the handle
"the more im around people, the more i like my dogs"

“Extinction is the rule. Survival is the exception.” Carl Sagan

Jack

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Re: 1st restoration: 1977 TA 6.6 4spd
« Reply #9 on: March 19, 2013, 06:24:38 PM »
No pics yet?




Regards, Jack

Re: 1st restoration: 1977 TA 6.6 4spd
« Reply #9 on: March 19, 2013, 06:24:38 PM »

TA6.6Liter

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Re: 1st restoration: 1977 TA 6.6 4spd
« Reply #10 on: March 19, 2013, 06:38:34 PM »
The donor car arrived on March 15, 2013.  I saw it for the first time on Monday 18th.  It is a 1981, not a 1980.  Virtually no rust anywhere.  It is also a 4-spd, black non-SE.  No engine, but everything else is there and solid as far as I can tell.  Even has the spare and jack, which was missing from mine. 

It had been setting in a barn for a long time; not sure how long.  It was a restoration that stopped after the primer coat; parts of it are still taped.  I'm told by the restoration company that 90% of what I need to restore my 77 is available.  Maybe this will go quicker than I first thought, since we don't have to search for OEM parts and buy reproductions.  It would be great to have it for a few days before the winter returns to Indiana next November. 

I've not had a chance to get the photos linked to this site.  I've a website, so asking my webmaster if I can upload to that and then link to TAC.

TA6.6Liter

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Re: 1st restoration: 1977 TA 6.6 4spd
« Reply #11 on: March 20, 2013, 05:50:59 PM »
No pics yet?

Figured out how to link to photos on my website without using photobucket.  Did a test and was successful.  Now I just add a hidden folder on my site for the car photos and we're on it.  Then again, everything sounds so easy, before trying.

TA6.6Liter

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Re: 1st restoration: 1977 TA 6.6 4spd
« Reply #12 on: March 20, 2013, 06:31:09 PM »
No pics yet?

1st photo: Taking Delivery at midnight on January 4, 2013.


Jack

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Re: 1st restoration: 1977 TA 6.6 4spd
« Reply #13 on: March 20, 2013, 07:49:07 PM »
It worked = now we want to see more.




Regards, Jack

TA6.6Liter

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Re: 1st restoration: 1977 TA 6.6 4spd
« Reply #14 on: March 20, 2013, 08:19:08 PM »
Okay, a few more from a distance when everything looks better.














Re: 1st restoration: 1977 TA 6.6 4spd
« Reply #14 on: March 20, 2013, 08:19:08 PM »


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Blackened

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Re: 1st restoration: 1977 TA 6.6 4spd
« Reply #15 on: March 20, 2013, 09:30:10 PM »
Doesn't look so bad from those pics, saveable. Where is the major damage?

Ag77T/A

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Re: 1st restoration: 1977 TA 6.6 4spd
« Reply #16 on: March 20, 2013, 10:10:46 PM »
Going to be a nice project. It definitely has had a rough life.  I hope you don't mind that I took some liberty and checked out rest of your pics.

I'm kinda partial to '77's I guess. Just got started refreshing my silver T/A.

TA6.6Liter

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Re: 1st restoration: 1977 TA 6.6 4spd
« Reply #17 on: March 21, 2013, 10:22:46 AM »
Doesn't look so bad from those pics, saveable. Where is the major damage?

Like I said in my photo posting "a few more from a distance when everything looks better." :)  I'll upload the closeups later this evening.  I've never done or been involved with a restoration, so everything looks like major damage to my unexperienced eye.  It has not been torn down yet to see how extensive the rot is.  Again, being unable to do my own work, I have to trust the restoration company as to what constitutes major damage.  I'm sure that some of of their thinking is in interest of time and labor costs associated with fabrication as finding OEM or reproductions, so finding a donor car was preferred.  They wanted me to source the parts as much as I could to hold down the cost of their upcharge for parts.  That said, the bottom of the doors, rear quarter panels, tail panel and inner wheel wells are rusted through.   Floor pan is rusted through on passenger side with dime to quarter sized holes on drivers side and under rear seats.  The hood is full of holes, due to an unsealed paint job.  The trunk looks almost new, which is good.  I hope it turns out to be in better shape than assumed. 

TA6.6Liter

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Re: 1st restoration: 1977 TA 6.6 4spd
« Reply #18 on: March 21, 2013, 10:32:05 AM »
I hope you don't mind that I took some liberty and checked out rest of your pics.

Sure, Ag77T/A, these first seven pics are for all to see.  I have 31 more that give the good, bad and ugly that I'll upload links later this week, plus some of the 1981 donor car.  I realize I'll have a final project constructed of the first and last year of the Generation II.  Nice.

TransAm_Stan

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Re: 1st restoration: 1977 TA 6.6 4spd
« Reply #19 on: March 21, 2013, 01:40:29 PM »
I realize I'll have a final project constructed of the first and last year of the Generation II.  Nice.

Nope.  Not even close to the first year of the 2nd generation.  First generation (1967–1969) - Second generation (1970–1981)

With that said I feel your pain.  I read your other thread with great interest.  I am /was going through the same as you. Either now or in the past or future. As you can see I am being very vague...

In the end I decided to fix what I had with NOS parts for the shell of my 76.  I was / am doing the work myself.  I might add I am no bodyman, but I stayed in a Holiday inn Express once...

Fast forward to present day: Still have the car, unfinished.  Abandoned project for now.  I bought another cheaper than it would cost me to finish that one.  Nothing like throwing good money after bad.

It is even worse that you are relying on the advice of a shop.  I hope you trust them.  Visit your car often.  Like once every couple days.  You need to know what they are doing.

Keep the pics coming. Were pic whores around here.

Good luck to you sir, and may the Trans Am gods smile down upon you. (spoken as I wave an imaginary wand around)

Good grief I crack me up sometimes...!
76 White exterior, Blue interior "Toastee"
LS3, TKO600, Hydroboost
Hydraulic clutch
Western Hurricane rims

76 White 400 4sp. blue/white interior (project)
Can't get any more apart than I have it!

Re: 1st restoration: 1977 TA 6.6 4spd
« Reply #19 on: March 21, 2013, 01:40:29 PM »

TA6.6Liter

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Re: 1st restoration: 1977 TA 6.6 4spd
« Reply #20 on: March 21, 2013, 02:27:58 PM »
Nope.  Not even close to the first year of the 2nd generation.  First generation (1967–1969) - Second generation (1970–1981)

I stand corrected TransAm_Stan.  I didn't even know about Generations until I signed up here at TAC and misread the heading.  So, what is the distinction made that separates generations?

TA6.6Liter

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Re: 1st restoration: 1977 TA 6.6 4spd
« Reply #21 on: March 21, 2013, 05:10:49 PM »


















TA6.6Liter

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Re: 1st restoration: 1977 TA 6.6 4spd
« Reply #22 on: March 21, 2013, 05:13:38 PM »



















TA6.6Liter

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Re: 1st restoration: 1977 TA 6.6 4spd
« Reply #23 on: March 21, 2013, 05:18:43 PM »


















TA6.6Liter

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Re: 1st restoration: 1977 TA 6.6 4spd
« Reply #24 on: March 21, 2013, 05:20:25 PM »















TA6.6Liter

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Re: 1st restoration: 1977 TA 6.6 4spd
« Reply #25 on: March 21, 2013, 05:24:39 PM »
One last pic for now.

 

TA6.6Liter

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Re: 1st restoration: 1977 TA 6.6 4spd
« Reply #26 on: March 21, 2013, 05:59:37 PM »
Pic of the 1981 donor car. 





























mark369

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Re: 1st restoration: 1977 TA 6.6 4spd
« Reply #27 on: March 21, 2013, 06:25:17 PM »
 First Gen 67-69   had a characteristic Coke bottle styling

 2nd Gen 70-81   Replacing the "Coke bottle" styling was a more "swoopy" body style, with the top of the rear window line going almost straight down to the lip of the trunk lid—a look that was to epitomize F-body styling for the longest period during the Firebird's lifetime. The new design was initially characterized with a large C-pillar, until 1975 when the rear window was enlarged.
 Divided into 4 diff front ends. See tran-zam.com spotters guide.
 70-73
 74-76
 77-78
 79-81

 3rd Gen 82-92
 4th Gen 93-02

I have 77-81 cars they seem to be cheaper parts and more plentiful than older models.
I like the 81 & older styling. I have an 81 with a 400  plus others.

Another site you need to look through is 78ta.com has lots of good comparison photos.

I would get the following catalogs free for the asking from them;
Performance Years
National Parts Depot
Inline Tube
Classic Industry
Ames
If you need a big part that is expensive to ship like headliner. they can take to a show near you and have you pick up and save shipping.


« Last Edit: March 21, 2013, 06:50:20 PM by mark369 »

Ag77T/A

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Re: 1st restoration: 1977 TA 6.6 4spd
« Reply #28 on: March 21, 2013, 06:33:27 PM »
I stand corrected TransAm_Stan.  I didn't even know about Generations until I signed up here at TAC and misread the heading.  So, what is the distinction made that separates generations?

Check out this WIKI page for more info as well.

Firebird WIKI

TA6.6Liter

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Re: 1st restoration: 1977 TA 6.6 4spd
« Reply #29 on: March 22, 2013, 05:54:07 PM »
Full strip to a bare shell....only way to do it.

My first adventure into restoration.  So, full strip to bare shell... I assume meand mean removing paint down to metal?  The company doing the work said they are doing a full car bead blast.  Is that the same thing?  Also, heard term "off the frame" restoration was the best.  I don't think that is being done to mine.

Re: 1st restoration: 1977 TA 6.6 4spd
« Reply #29 on: March 22, 2013, 05:54:07 PM »

mark369

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Re: 1st restoration: 1977 TA 6.6 4spd
« Reply #30 on: March 22, 2013, 06:09:36 PM »
"off the frame" restoration

   Check and see that they remove the front sub frame from the shell and replace the bushings. I bet they are.   These are unibody cars. There is the front sub frame that detaches and the rear one that is part of the body, with no frame in the middle of car.

TA6.6Liter

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Re: 1st restoration: 1977 TA 6.6 4spd
« Reply #31 on: March 22, 2013, 06:33:26 PM »
Thanks for the explanation.  On the quote is listed "Frt Body Mount Kit" and "Firewall and Sub Mountings".  Also replacing one rear frame rail.  Maybe this is an off the frame restoration.  I'll ask specifically at my next visit.

mark369

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Re: 1st restoration: 1977 TA 6.6 4spd
« Reply #32 on: March 22, 2013, 07:35:51 PM »
 Yea they are taking the whole thing apart.  :cool:

TA6.6Liter

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Re: 1st restoration: 1977 TA 6.6 4spd
« Reply #33 on: March 26, 2013, 09:56:40 AM »
Just got a call from the restoration company.  They are ready for me to pick up the left over parts from both cars.  Looks like tomorrow will be a major milestone.  Mix of excitment and apprehesion in seeing both of my cars stripped bare and keeping track of all of it.

TA6.6Liter

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Re: 1st restoration: 1977 TA 6.6 4spd
« Reply #34 on: March 27, 2013, 10:00:40 PM »
More photos of the process.  The shaker hood on my car is my beacon in the dark.  I now have the first load of extra stuff to store in my garage until I can get it cataloged and ready to put up for adoption.  Some of the stuff I don't even recognize.  Hopefully I don't have parts that got caught up from the cars next to mine  :lol: I really hope my dream car emerges from this chaos.  Darkest before the dawn, maybe.

   

















TA6.6Liter

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Re: 1st restoration: 1977 TA 6.6 4spd
« Reply #35 on: March 28, 2013, 03:55:14 PM »
March 28, 2013

Only change from yesterday is the formula style steering wheel from the 1981, which is complete and not heavily worn, replaced the 1977's wheel on which chunks were torn out and the foam skin worn off.

TA6.6Liter

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Re: 1st restoration: 1977 TA 6.6 4spd
« Reply #36 on: March 29, 2013, 07:31:22 PM »
When I was at the restoration shop yesterday, March 28th.  Andy, the guy that swapped the steering wheels, suggested that if I wanted to have the engine rebuilt, it might be worth doing while they worked on the body.  I had originally planned to do the engine after the body, but Andy made a good point that the engine had to come out anyway, so might as well make use of the time.  So, today I called the engine rebuilt shop and they also thought it might be good timing.  Issue for me is having the costs piled together, but on the other hand, having a nice looking car setting while the engine is rebuilt seems a waste of driving time.  The owner of the restoration shop told me they will be pulling the engine in the next 2-3 weeks.  He also said they have a subcontractor that will powder-coat, if I wanted.
 
Another process step was covered yesterday, March 27th.  At suggestion of someone here in the forum, I contacted Pro-Wheels in Detroit, Michigan.  They are on slate to paint and machine the faces of my snowflake wheels.  My brother lives in Detroit, which is only a 4-hour drive from mid Indiana, so I might drive up there and stay with him to save the shipping costs, at least one-way.  Plus, get to catch up with him over a beer or two.

 This is going almost too fast for me.  I had in my mind this would be at minimum a 12-month project.  I think it will be half of that, which is awesome.

fixitrht

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Re: 1st restoration: 1977 TA 6.6 4spd
« Reply #37 on: March 30, 2013, 04:42:21 AM »
This is going almost too fast for me.  I had in my mind this would be at minimum a 12-month project.  I think it will be half of that, which is awesome.


it always comes apart fast.... be prepared for a lot of calls once she is stripped down. Most of them will start with "you have a great car" and end with " we need more hours $$'s to keep going"

Point is , dont get too crazy on upgrades prior to getting your bones under control, Ive bought alot of projects where folks just got tapped out prior to finishing. If you have the cash for a rebuild on top of a 25% overrun then go for it.

My cars
77 400 4 SPEED W72 Y81 SE
73 455 4 SPEED TA Brewster (Waiting Restoration)
80 455 (Fun car)
87 GTA 5.7 (Driver)
71 Firebird (New Project)

Blackened

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Re: 1st restoration: 1977 TA 6.6 4spd
« Reply #38 on: March 30, 2013, 09:51:16 AM »
You may want to read the "show us your stance" thread. Now would be a good time to do suspension upgrades as well as motor.

TA6.6Liter

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Re: 1st restoration: 1977 TA 6.6 4spd
« Reply #39 on: March 31, 2013, 02:41:12 PM »
Anyone know what this electronic box is?  It is hidden under the consol.  Came out of the 81 donor car.


Re: 1st restoration: 1977 TA 6.6 4spd
« Reply #39 on: March 31, 2013, 02:41:12 PM »
You can help support TAC!

 



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