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"The Toaster" ~ Personal History and restoration
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DadaCheese
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 20, 2012 1:48 pm    Post subject: "The Toaster" ~ Personal History and restoration Reply with quote

Greetings from California.
Thread: The Toaster

I’m creating this thread today, as I’ve seen many others have/do, as a place to keep track of my on-going (slow) restoration of “The Toaster

This long (and potentially boring) history of our VW, is here in case you enjoy that kind of thing…
…and this thread is a place that I’ll put updates (occasionally) and/or to talk about any projects I am doing for general chat/advice/comment purposes.

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There are other posts that I have done in the split forum when I had felt that my (limited) experiences on some subjects can/would be useful [such as my super-long write-up about doing a re-wire (with pictures!): http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?p=5288797&highlight=#5288797]
…but hopefully this NEW “Toaster” thread will keep me from writing idiotic nonsensical stuff in/on other posts, and I can contain my untalented VW musings and occasional “newbie-like” questions to this location.

Personal History:

The Toaster is a late 1967 Westfalia walk-through Pearl White with no pop-top.
It has been in our family since roughly 1971. My grandparents, who, like my parents were avid hikers, had originally had an older VW with a California built camper conversion (what year that bus was, and what type of conversion I couldn’t tell you; was before I was born).

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Regretfully that car (pictured above) was in an accident (everyone was fine), and to replace their badly damaged splitty, they bought the ’67 Westfalia from the original owner (all of this was in Berkeley, CA around 1971). When my Grandfather started to succumb to Alzheimer’s, and it was obvious that he should no longer be driving, my grandmother asked my dad to take the VW away during one of our visits to Berkeley where they lived.

Prior to having the VW, my family in Huntington Beach (Orange County), California, had been using a station wagon (I think it was an AMC Ambassador), which we got rid of after receiving the Westfalia. As a family, we loved the VW, it seemed much more practical for a family of five, and we used it for lots of camping and backpacking trips. My family was very involved in scouting (both Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts), so the car got a lot of use. In fact, I remember even the time that my dad brought me to the hospital in our VW when I broke my arm on a Scouting trip…
In 1977 dad bought a second VW Transporter; a Bay Window (its price was discounted; had been a floor model), and we used that for years as well (my older brother loved that car; it got him through college).

One problem, however, with our Westy, is that although my dad was great at fixing things when they broke, he wasn’t ever one much for preventive maintenance. On two different occasions, our Westfalia sat, unmoved, in the driveway for three to four years because it had broken down to the point that my dad didn’t feel like dealing with it, and our Bay Window VW was working fine. Thus, this is the time that it acquired the majority of its major rust, which became particularly bad on the roof. Although my family lived pretty far inland (7 miles) from the ocean, the air in northern Huntington Beach is still salty, and when you don’t wash a car for three-plus years, well, rust sets in.

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The first time dad got it running after a long spell (that's dad in the picture above), he had hired a friend of the family’s son, who at the time was a twenty-something independent mechanic. He basically got it tuned up, removed a dent or two and bondo-ed some area(s) that had been damaged in a parking lot.
The second time, it was up to me. I was 17, had recently received my drivers license, and dad had said; “If you’d like a car to use, you can fix the Volkswagen.” He handed me the Idiot’s Guide and said that he’d help as I needed it, but that I should learn about it as much as I could myself from the book first. There wasn’t too much that had to be done, but it took awhile just the same. The engine hadn’t been started in a few years, the starter motor was dead, the brakes naturally needed to be worked on, etc. etc. you get the picture.

It was 1987. I was finishing up high school (class of '88 ) and I had the ol’ rusty Westfalia as my main means of transportation. I fell in love with the car for a second time (the first being when I was very young and we’d go on family hiking and camping trips). It helped too that dad had encouraged me to learn about how to, well; “Keep Your Volkswagen Alive…”, because I guess you could say I’d helped save “The Toaster”

As to the name, my parents occasionally referred to the car as the “Gramper” (Grandparents + Camper = Gramper) , my best friend still refers to the car as “Helga” (his name for it), but the name that stuck was; “The Toaster” Between the shape and burnt “bread crumbs” on the roof, the name was appropriate.

My aunt took the time to hand-make a sticker to put in the back window which read; “RUST EXPERIMENT IN PROGRESS” this got a lot of laughs and friendly comments from strangers at gas stations, but at the time, it was not necessarily chic to be driving a 20 year old rust bucket.

I became a member of S.O.T.O (Society of Transporter Owners) which had a newsletter pamphlet with stories, hints and a few classifieds for parts and such too, but it was the Southern California meets that were best; a great opportunity to see every type of splity imaginable, and to buy or swap parts at really friendly and reasonable prices/barters.

Keeping the car going and finding that 20+ year-old parts start to fail when used regularly after years of disuse kept me busy on weekends. Restoration? Couldn’t dream of it; the main thing was keeping The Toaster, my daily driver, on the road.

When it was time to move away for college, I packed up my stuff and drove north to Chico. I seem to recall not having much in the way of working brakes on that trip.
Sure, there were major breakdowns experienced throughout college; replaced an engine that had a blown 3rd piston (gas had been leaking into the oil system) which stopped me in my tracks near King City, California one Christmas returning from Orange County to Chico That time I spent a week in Santa Cruz on the floor of a friend’s dorm room, bought (for $300) a bug with a good engine, but terrible body, and was back on the road again. The Toaster got me through college, and I also met the love of my life while there. She wasn’t scared off by my rusty ol’ car when we stared dating; she was driving her family’s 1976 International Scout II (bought at discount by her dad since it was a floor model). We did general and regular maintenance as needed, and splurged on having the front seats reupholstered since having horsehair stick through your bathing suit while driving to the creek in 110 degree weather in Chico (not an exaggeration), isn’t fun. Otherwise, the car remained the same as it always had been.

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The two of us finished college, but I was awarded a scholarship to study in Mainz Germany at the Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz for a year. I wasn’t going to go unless my girlfriend (nowadays my spouse), would also go (we had both graduated from Chico State with degrees in German). So we went. Kathy’s grandparents were nice enough to store The Toaster for us in their huge garage/barn while we were away. They were old car enthusiasts (1920’s and 30’s Fords, primarily), and had the room.

When we returned from Germany, we were ready to find work; any work. We decided on San Francisco since we knew the town, had friends there, and it wasn’t as far as other towns (like Seattle would have been) from our families. We began a life of apartment living and had a semi-reliable 1982 Honda Civic to get us around. We typically paid between $150 and $220 a month for the “privilege” of having a place to park our car in San Francisco (and it was often between a quarter of a mile to a mile away from our actual apartment). There wasn’t a possibility of bringing the VW to the Bay Area because; 1) There was no place to work on it, and for it to work, it would have to be worked on, 2) nor could we afford a second parking place, when in actuality we didn’t need two cars…and, 3) we were concerned about how the Bay Area’s salty air would further damage the already rusted roof over time since we couldn’t afford to do anything about it.
The car remained in storage in the Northstate. We’d get it out maybe once or twice a year, but it couldn’t return to the Bay with us for the reasons I’ve outlined.

Due to Kathy’s grandparents ailing health, and the fact that we had been storing an unused car in their garage/barn for years, we finally moved it to a storage space that we had to pay for. The thought was that if we had to pay, we’d take the time to start working on it, although it was stored three hour’s drive north.

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Over a period of two and a half years we had a rebuilt engine put into it… rewired the entirety of the car (ourselves, with my brother assisting), immediately discovered it also needed a rebuilt transmission… and then, THIS YEAR (2012) sent it over to Skinner Classics in Vacaville, CA and had the roof completely restored, the bumpers restored, the rims, hubcaps, headlight assemblies and front emblem restored/replaced. This recent work was done because we had saved enough money to have it done AND because we were finally ready to move the “The Toaster” from Chico, CA to the Bay Area.

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According to my wife, The Toaster was one of the main driving catalysts to our finally making the leap of faith (and money) to buy a home. We were tired of paying to store the VW where we not only couldn’t work on it, but also couldn’t use it. The economy has been bad, but housing prices have been good. We found a place we like, could afford, and has a modest (ie not very big) single-car garage. We moved to our new home before the work was done at Skinner’s, and although I measured numerous times, I was worried that The Toaster wouldn’t fit into the garage. It does. It’s tight, but it’s fine.

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Our VW is running the best that it ever has since I’ve had it. It’s also (currently) a 45 year-old car which still needs a lot of work and restoration. You all know how that is. We love this car, and you might see us driving around the East Bay and/or San Francisco in it on occasion. Honk/wave to us.

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Moving forward, the temptation to spend gobs of money on parts and/or tools to complete projects is great, but my wife (and our limited budget) keeps me in check. It’s necessary to save up for each thing needed. Just the shipping and handling on some parts I need/want gouges my wallet, but eventually we’ll get The Toaster more and more restored.

PROJECTS. Feel free to comment/make suggestions/laugh about these (by number).

Here’s a list of “easier” upcoming projects/needs that I hope to be tackling over time sooner than later…

1) Remove and refurbish the windshield wiper system. Completed! (Jan. 4th, 2013)
2) Continue the painstakingly time-consuming process of refurbishing the Jalousie windows.
. [Here's my picture-laden post about that process: http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?p=5759215&highlight=#5759215 ]
3) Remove all the key locks and send them away have them properly re-keyed to a single master.
4) Consider converting over to the new(er) electronic points in the distributor.
5) Repair the Westfalia spice-rack door unit.
6) Get one of those retro (new) radios and stereo speakers

…and here’s the larger stuff…
7) To reseal, or not to reseal (door & window rubber replacement)…? All the doors need new seals. Should I do it myself now, prior the rest of the body being (eventually) restored? Naturally this may mean doing it twice; once for the short-term, and second when (if/as) the body is more thoroughly restored. Thoughts?
8 ) More re-seal/new rubber questions; the front, and back windows could use new ones. Again; do it now and then again when the car is more ready to have major body restoration done?
9) Major body work; piecemeal, or save my pennies for years until I can afford all the work to be done at once? Specifically; should we have just the doors (all of them; cargo, driver/passenger, rear hatch) done one at a time as we can afford to have them worked on, or wait until the whole car can get major body work done? I’m not a body-work kind of guy, and I don’t have the tools for it. Sure, I’ve rebuilt engines, but body work I am willing to pay for to be done well and right.
10) Continued Westfalia interior restoration… when/if as all other parts are restored, do I eventually want all new mustard-vinyl (for example)? What we have currently (original) is in pretty decent shape…
11) Do we ever do some kind of disc-brake conversion? Worth it?
12) Safari Windows?
13) Have the original radio restored.
14) Save up enough money (or win the lottery), have The restored Toaster shipped over to Germany, and visit our friends for a month or two while driving around Germany and Europe (ha!).

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Friendly comments, suggestions and questions warmly welcomed.
THANKS to everyone on the Samba for helping keep our VWs on the road.

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Last edited by DadaCheese on Sat Jan 05, 2013 12:30 pm; edited 10 times in total
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NorCalRiviera
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 20, 2012 2:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Love the story and had seen some of that progress on Skinner's FB page. Nice bus.

If you're really considering a disc brake conversion with stock 14" wheels, save up and get the better kit. I didn't and wish I had.
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DadaCheese
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 20, 2012 4:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

NorCalRiviera wrote:
If you're really considering a disc brake conversion with stock 14" wheels, save up and get the better kit. I didn't and wish I had.


Nor Cal; thanks for the advice. Though it's a long way off (monetarily), I'll certainly keep this in mind.
Love to be able to stop, and well.
The brake system right now (rebuilt and "stock") is running the best I think it ever has, but when barreling along at 60mph on the 80 (hwy in CA, for those not from here), I sometimes wonder if an after-market disc brake system would be better.
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2012 3:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

cool story, how about some info about your trip to Germany? Did you go and visit any VW factories? just curious
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2012 4:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great Storie !!
When I met my wife in 1978, she was driving her dad's '72 Westy, in 1985 he gave it to us as a Wedding presant Rolling Eyes Rolling Eyes Laughing Wink I dumped that POS when the engine died, still have the wife ... Laughing Laughing
When we bought or 1st house, the garage was bigger than the house !!
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2012 10:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

BUGTHUG wrote:
cool story, how about some info about your trip to Germany? Did you go and visit any VW factories? just curious

...terribly, awfully, NO. Haven't been to Wolfsburg (or any of the VW plants). When we were studying in Mainz, it was perhaps the poorest year of our lives. We'd go to the cheapest shopping markets (Aldi), and have short-lived mental debates; "chocolate bar, or bag of potatoes?" (potatoes would win).
After awhile, however, Kathy got a job teaching Business English to Automobile Engineers at the Opel car manufacturing plant in Rüsselsheim. They needed more teachers, so I was hired as well (despite my heavy class schedule at the University).
The Opel plant was amazing. Our classes were taught in the offices which were in the original brick buildings at the plant. Opel started as a sewing machine and bicycle company before it got into cars. Since GM owned Opel in the 1990's, many of the chassis for Saturns were actually designed and manufactured by Opel.
We finally had a little spending money and traveled a little, primarily using the German Railway's "Schönes Wochenende Ticket" (happy weekend ticket). From 12:01am Saturday until Midnight on Sunday you could travel on any regional trains (meaning slower; more stops) with a single ticket for up to 5 people. Cost? 25DM (at the time that was roughly less than $10, to be used for up to 5 people! So it was possible to travel from Frankfurt am Main to Berlin, but it might take you all weekend to get there and a LOT of train transfers and hold-overs at stations, but for up to 5 people splitting $10?!? Well worth it when you don't have very much money, but do have time.
Thanks to that, we got to know the states of Hesse and Rheinland-Pfalz really well, but besides Berlin (where we have a friend), we didn't get to explore as much as we would have liked.

But back to VWs... The thing that surprised me the most while living in Germany was the realization that there are more air-cooled VWs still on the roads of the United States then the entirety of Europe. In Germany, at least, this has to do with the very rigorous TÜV (Technischer Überwachungs-Verein), which all cars have to pass every other year. If you thought your state's smog checks were hard to pass with old cars, well, imagine a number of performance tests as well as not being allowed to have any body rust on your car when it goes in for its inspection!

...but I'm getting long winded (again), which I guess is what this thread is for; a place for me to dump overly-detailed thoughts and information.

We're hoping to be visiting friends again in Germany next year (no, not with "The Toaster"; that day is a long way off), and I'd love to see Wolfsburg.
Both Kathy and I are fluent in German, which makes visiting the country a lot easier. Germans are, overall, a very warm and welcoming people, but primarily when in specific, predetermined, social situations. ---The proverbial German grandmother who yells at you (a stranger) on the street for parking your car incorrectly (plenty of Germans feel that there is a correct way to do everything/anything), is also the same woman who would have you over for coffee and bake three different types of cake for you if you are a friend of her relatives.
We loved our time in Germany, have many close friends there and we often wish we could live/work there part of the year, and part here, but alas, our jobs (and skill sets) don't afford us such international luxuries.

crukab wrote:
When we bought or 1st house, the garage was bigger than the house !!


Crukab; having a huge garage sounds wonderful. Glad too that you were able to keep the wife, if not the '72. Again; yea for wives/partners who understand, support, and often also help with our VW obsessions!
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2012 10:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great story & looking forward to watching your progress.

I have a an old MG that was passed from Grandfather to Dad, then to me & understand the attachment to a 40 plus year old vehicle with rust spots!
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2012 12:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am actually impressed with my stock brakes on my 66. I would give them another chance before switching to discs. I have had several busses with spotty brakes and had resigned myself to either deal with it or save for discs.When I got my recent bus the stock brakes worked great. I think arcing the shoes and the pad material are key because the the wheel cyls are just the trw brazilians. I prefer german but they seem to be unobtanium. Steve
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2012 12:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Epic story!! How cool that you have so much history with that bus!
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2012 2:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for sharing, great story!!!
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2012 4:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great story. Hang on to that bus and pass it down the family tree!
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2012 5:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great story, and awesome job of holding the torch for your Gramps! I was stationed in Mainz myself during the mid 80's and loved it there.
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 24, 2012 9:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Your thread looks great I don't know how I missed it.
Love what Skinner did to your bumpers if I can't find anyone near me here in the east I may just ship them out as they do outstanding work.

Skinner:
http://www.vacavilleautobody.com/vw.html

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 24, 2012 2:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great story! I love your wordiness and how you paint the picture with them!
Continue!
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 24, 2012 8:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I love it when VW owners hang on to their cars troughout life, perfect! that way the storybook keeps growing Popcorn
And what difference a little paint on the roof, bumpers, logo and hubcaps can make is great to see. Your westy looks good!

I work on my hardtop westy kinda the same way you do: make a wish list and improve it over time, step by step while you drive it (improve it on the go; what good is a VW if you can't drive it Laughing ... unless doing a full nuts'n bolts resto all out style over 3 or more years Wink, but then you seriously gotta find something else old VW to drive around in in the meanwhile Cool )
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 25, 2012 10:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Very nice! Like the story and please keep the pictures and updates coming.

btw I have a June built 67 Pearl White, M-code is 6 popouts, no middle seat but SunDial got a hold of it.
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 25, 2012 11:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Neat story and history of the bus!! Our busses chatted it up while at Skinners!! My 67 Pearl white tin top SO42 Westy' is stil there. You took her to the right place that's for sure!! The roof looks fantastic!!!
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2013 1:17 pm    Post subject: Messing around in the garage. Reply with quote

Happy New Year everyone.
Just posting today on The Toaster thread 'cause I'm so happy to be able to drive our Westfalia again whenever we'd like.

Spent a lot of time over the Holiday(s) driving The Toaster. Traffic was light in and out of San Francisco when I worked New Year's Eve, so I drove in, and helped a co-worker bring a four-drawer filing cabinet to his home in Alameda. Not something I could have done so easily with our Prius.

We had house guests for New Year's, and after a late brunch at home, all six of us loaded up into our Westy and drove over the Richmond–San Rafael Bridge to a little picturesque spot near San Quentin (the prison) where you can see most all of the Bay. For a couple of our friends, it was the first time they'd ever ridden in a splitty, and for one, the first time in a VW Bus.
"Can you drive up that steep hill," asked a friend. Of course! Drove all up and around Point Richmond...

"If you wanted to, do you think you'd be able to drive this across the country?" ...my answer was yes, but only after some additional work, and with an expectation that if I were to take a trip like that there's be surprises and break-downs both large and small, so I'd need both time and money to make that kind of journey.
[I've read so many great threads of folks who have done it, to know that no long trip isn't without adventure.]

Hope everyone is having a great new year already and are also out and about in their Transporters.

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DubStyle
SBS Hit Squad


Joined: July 26, 2003
Posts: 5946
Location: SBS headquarters: Missery
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2013 2:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great story! I just did a write-up on doing the wiper motor cleaning and replacement of the armature for a 12v set-up. Easy task that should only take a few hours. If you are interested I can send you what I did for something to look at.
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"The original & best lowered Split Bus website/club"
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DadaCheese
Samba Member


Joined: April 15, 2008
Posts: 532
Location: Richmond, CA
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2013 2:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

DubStyle wrote:
I just did a write-up on doing the wiper motor cleaning and replacement of the armature for a 12v set-up. ... If you are interested I can send you what I did for something to look at.

DubStyle, yes, can you please send over your link? I may have read it, or missed it.
...to be honest, however, a combination of laziness and a lot of; "great, what am I going to do now?!?" hit me as I took my wiper system out and apart about a week ago.
Although I had read some threads about refurbishing it (which made it look like it'd be not too tough...), I ultimately sent mine in to the expert:
DL West-Wiperguy
http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/profile.php?mode=viewprofile&u=57368
He's already done, and it is on its return mailing to me at a price I feel was fair and that I was willing to pay. With luck, I won't have to mess with the wiper system again for another 45 years...
Now back to the slow work of cleaning up my Jaloise Windows...

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