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Heat Treating - Fixtures

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I am close to heating rough-beveled strips that have been soaked in water. I will be binding them to M-D's fixtures. Anybody out there with experience, I would appreciate any regimens on heat temperature and time.  (David Haidak)

    Here is what I do.

    I preheat the oven to 125 degrees F.

    Put the fixtures in the oven. The temp will drop quite a bit. Not to worry, it will come back up with the thermostat set @ 125.

    The oven door is cracked open so the moisture can escape. It takes a couple of hours if the strips are real wet.

    To check the strips to see if there is any moisture coming off, I use a small mirror at the door opening. If the mirror fogs up here is still moisture coming off. When I don't see any more fogging on the mirror I know the strips are dry. When dry, the fixtures are removed from the oven, let them cool off. You will find the binding cord is loose. The strips are rebound and put back in the oven for heat treating.

    I use 12 minutes @ 375 degrees F for blond rods. You should get some nice straight strips.  (Tony Spezio)


I have read a little bit about the MD heat treating fixtures and found some pictures of them.  Can the fixtures be made out of hardwood?  If so do they produce better results than binding without fixtures?  I ask because I have a lot of scrap wood sitting around and could easily make what I've seen pictured.  I don't want to waste my time though if wood won't work or if they really aren't a better option.  (Aaron Gaffney)

    The MD fixtures are a special aluminum extrusion which isn't quite the shape of a hexagonal star.  In theory, they allow air to circulate all around the strips.  I don't think you could easily replicate that in hardwood.  Even if you could, hardwood would probably burn while in the oven.  (Harry Boyd)

    The MD fixtures also provide a straightening influence and also heat conduction to the inside of the planed strip, providing more uniform heat treating in my opinion.  (Frank Paul)


I use a open flame for straightening.

With that said I read with interest your intent to work with steam so I'd like to offer an idea.  About two months ago there was a gentleman selling his rod building equipment on eBay.  One of the items he had was a open 6 point star shaped length of metal about 6 feet long.  Curiosity got the best of me and I asked him what it was for.  He said that after rough planning, all 6 strips were secured in this 6 point form for curing and straightening in his oven ... I guess with hose clamps or binding string the bamboo strips can be tightened down in this straight form and then baked and after cooling stay straight.

I did not purchase his forms and do not know where to find them but it did occur to me, after looking at the Veritas site, that you steam guys might be able to accomplish a little bit more with this form, if you can find it.  So what if you use a straightening form for the nodes, strip or strips?  I know how hot steam can get after helping to build a working replica of James Rumsey's steamboat, originally built in 1787  (years before Fulton), so be careful handling those strips.  (Doug Alexander)

    Sounds like that might be M-D's fixture?  I have never seen one, but the description seems to fit. 

    One of the items he had was a open 6 point star shaped length of metal about 6 feet long.  Curiosity got the best of me and I asked him what it was for.  He said that after rough planning, all 6 strips were secured in this 6 point form for curing and straightening in his oven ... I guess with hose clamps or binding string the bamboo strips can be tightened down in this straight form and then baked and after cooling stay straight.  (Neil Savage)


Has anyone who has used M-D's heat treating fixtures found them a distinct help over simply binding and heating?   Is there a web site where they can be viewed? Who makes it?  (Henry Mitchell)

    I bought the last ones he had.  Best thing that came along since sliced bread.  Drying soaked strips in the fixtures makes them come out straight. I spend very little time straightening strips. (Tony Spezio)

    I've been using M-D's fixtures since before he came out commercially with them.  I was one of his "beta" testers.  They work great, but they work the best in a convection style oven.  I know a few other guys that use them in the mica strip ovens, and they've had good luck with them there too.  I use my Garrison style binder with about 12 lbs of weight on it to cinch the strips of cane down into the fixtures.  When the heat treating is done, the strips obviously shrink, and the binding cord is somewhat loose on the fixtures.  Binding them down tight like that forces the strips down into the fixtures, and takes out most of the major sweeps that are in the strips.  You'll still need to work out the small kinks and such around the nodes before you heat treat, but the fixtures work well on the straightening the long sweeps.  M-D used to have them made, and he sold them both on the list and on his old web site.  He's been out of active rod making for a couple of years, but I heard from him a while back that he was pondering reentering the rod making biz.  Haven't heard anything lately from him, so I don't know what his status is, or if he has an active web site.   (Mark Wendt)

    I have eight of the MD fixtures.  I find that when heat-treating with the fixtures, a different time and temperature routine is required.  Because there is open area around each strip hot air circulates more readily.  It's easy to over cook your strips if you don't make some adjustments.  I heat treated 12 bundles of strips on Friday without using the fixtures.  I like the fixtures okay, but I'm not sure they really offer any major advantages for routine heat treating.

    Where the fixtures really shine is in heat treating less than six strips.  I can bind from 1-5 strips into the fixtures and pop 'em in the oven.  When they come out of the oven I know they will be well tempered and manageable.  (Harry Boyd)

      I have modified MD fixtures, and the modification helps a great deal in keeping the fine end of the strips straight. This works well for storage of tip section strips, and for heat treating tip sections.

      Modification consists in turning down on a lathe the fixture in 8'' steps so that the fixture has a taper.

      When I lay the rod sections in the fixture I bind them with thread so that even the smallest ends are bound straight with no sags in the strips.

      Turning them on a lathe is no easy deal so be careful.  (Mark Dyba)

        If you heat treat after rough beveling, you ensure that the same amount of heat reaches all the cane equally.  (Mark Wendt)

          That's a good point -- how do the rest of you guys deal with binding tips that are so small that they fit loosely under the binding thread?  (Larry Puckett)

            Put two strips in the same groove. Reverse the strips so that the thick end of one strip nestles with the thin end of the other. This is for individual strips.  (Tony Spezio)

            I don't.  I bind and heat treat right after rough beveling.  That way all the strips are the same size, and each strip gets heat treated equally.  It's a lot easier to get consistency when all your strips are the same size.  (Mark Wendt)

              I find the fixtures to be a valuable asset in my heat treating regimen. I have trouble getting even temps with my heat gun driven oven, so I feel that as the fixtures warm up they distribute the heat for me along their length. As Mark W says, I heat treat after rough bevel so the strips are all the same size and as Harry says I flip the bundles a few times during the process. I too look for that slight color change about 15 - 20 minutes, take them out and let them cool. If I am not going to get to final planing for a while, I leave them bundled to the fixtures and store them in a PVC tube with desiccant until I am ready for final planing.  (Bill Bixler)

              I would agree except for folks who plane wet and then heat treat them to dry them completely out. In those cases I guess Tony's suggestion applies.  (Larry Puckett)

                I wet plane, just for roughing though.  I'm not sold completely on the idea of heat treating tapered strips.  I'm a little too uneasy about the uneven tempering that may happen to tapered strips.  Taking one variable out of the heat treating regime sounds like a good thing to me.  I know Tony heat treats tapered strips, so it can work, but I'd rather not add the variable into this part of the rodmaking process.  I kinda like the comfort that heat treating straight strips affords.  (Todd Talsma)

                  I don't taper my strips very much after they are rough planed. When I rough plane the wet strips, I do go to the metal forms and start the taper while the strips are soaked. It is just the start of the taper. I agree with you, it would be a bit hairy trying to heat treat strips that are almost final tapered. I am sure some of the list members might be doing it. A couple of times I got carried away with the taper, that is when I heat treated the thick end with the thin end in the same grove. It did work but it is not the normal  thing I do.   (Tony Spezio)

                    This is what I do and it works fine for me. I rough plane with wet strips. I let the rough strips set on the work bench for about 12 hours to dry out some and then I plane down to 20 thousandths over final dimensions. Then I heat treat, plane to final and glue up. (Mark Dyba)

                      Do you then give the strips a final drying out in a warm oven or do you just let them air dry? Do you bind them to the fixture when you dry them?  (Larry Puckett)

                        I dry my strips bound in the fixtures with the pith side out, for several hours in the oven @ 125 degree F. I leave the oven cap cracked open to let the moisture escape, check for moisture with a small mirror at the opening. When I don't see any more vapor on the mirror. The strips are dry. The fixtures with strips are removed from the oven, cooled, run back through the Garrison binder again and back in the oven for heat treating.  (Tony Spezio)

                    Ron Kusse has told me more than once that he doesn't temper his cane until after the strips are final tapered, and he does it with a length of pipe and a blowtorch ALA Claude Kreider, who also tempered after final planing.  (John Channer)

                      As I said before, the beauty part of all of this is we do what works for us. As we can see, there is no "ONE WAY" to make rods. I thought there was till I started making them. Found out after rod # 1, a lot of what I read could be simplified. I try to make things easy on myself and make the best rod I can possibly make.  (Tony Spezio)

      So how about sharing the heat treating regimen that you use with the M-D fixtures (and also without them)? (Larry Puckett)

        Wish it were as simple as a recipe or regimen.  It's not.  I consider how much the cane has been flamed, how dense it was to begin with, etc.  Then I make a judgment call.

        My goal is to get just a hint of color change on the pith sides of the strips.  I then know I have done something to the cane itself besides removing moisture.

        Every single oven varies.  Your results may be quite different than mine.  I remember a heated conversation here several years ago involving an illustrious British rodmaker living in Canada.  He said that 7 minutes at 375 degrees F did absolutely nothing in his oven, and suggested he used something like 20 minutes.  Someone else stated that 20 minutes at 375 degrees F produced ash in his experiments.

        I'll tell you what I did with the rods I heat-treated on Friday.  They were flamed a pretty dark brown.  Triangles had been started on the strips.  The butts are about .275", and the tips about .200"  I preheated my convection(istic) oven to 365 degrees F and let the temperature stabilized for about 20 minutes while I bound the strips.  I placed 6 bundles of strips in the oven.  Temperature immediately dropped to 335 degrees.  The cane soaks up a lot of the heat.  I left the bundles 3 minutes, then turned and flipped.  Three more minutes, then turn and flip.  Two minutes, then two more.  Total of ten minutes.     Then I repeated the same routine with the second batch of six bundles of strips.

        Finally I cooled the oven down to 200 degrees F, and piled in all twelve bundles of strips.  Left them there for 3 hours.

        Again, no guarantee this will work for you or anyone else, but it works for me.  Just a hint of color change,  just like I wanted.  (Harry Boyd)

        PS -- had I been using MD's fixtures, (I wasn't) I would have probably cut it down to 8 minutes total at the higher temperatures.

      I agree that the fixtures really are great for heat treating less than 6 strips.

      I also found that my strips sometimes come out with slight a "barrel stave" curve in them.  Maybe due to the additional heat circulating around the strip  --- maybe due to the greater thermal expansion rate of aluminum than bamboo.  (David Van Burgel)

    I think the fixture helps to straighten the strips while heat treating because each strip is bound in a straight groove. I also think each strip gets more/even heat penetration to the inter apex of the strip because of the heat conductivity of the aluminum.

    Without the fixture, you have to make sure the bound section is straight and without twists before heat treating. The fixture eliminates this possibility.

    Been using mine for several years and wouldn't be without them.  (Don Schneider)

    I use the M-D fixtures and they work very well in my opinion. The benefit comes in my opinion from more uniform heating since they are aluminum and this material conducts thermal energy onto the inner surfaces of the strip. My strips come out very straight and bind very well when glued. 

    This is a very important issue in getting straight bound strips. The bamboo strips when heat treated using the aluminum fixtures (available from Harry Boyd) are stress relieved in my opinion, and when one then binds at gluing, the resulting rod sections are quite straight. Since I have been using these heat treating aluminum strips, my bound and glued strips out of the string are very straight.  (Frank Paul)

    Update on 1/1/07

    These fixtures are now available from Harry Boyd.  Contact him via his web site!


I've been using an aluminum extrusion that looks like an asterisk in cross section, that is it has 6 V-grooves evenly spaced around its circumference. The piece is about 1/2" across the flats and 6 ft long (I cut mine to 5 ft long). Each of the 6 strips for a section can each be placed in one of the grooves and then tied in place with cotton string while being placed into the heat treating oven. The advantage to doing this is that the aluminum extrusion heats up quickly and transmits the heat to the two of the sides of the strips while the oven heat does the outside third side of each strip. In this way heat treating takes place uniformly on all three sides of each strip. Seems to do the job nicely. I bought this extrusion at the Federation of Fly fishing work shop in Yellowstone while we were teaching rod building a couple years back. Don't know who the person was that sold them but it's a worthwhile wrinkle in heat treating as far as I can tell.  (Ray Gould)

    That's M-D's fixture that we were talking about last week.  (Larry Puckett)

    I would think a router with the right bit and a piece of round aluminum stock the right diameter would duplicate that fixture. Has anyone besides M-D tried this?  (Wayne Kifer)

      It would be easier to start with a piece of aluminum HEX stock.  (Neil Savage)

      M-D had these fixtures extruded from aluminum.  I think that's the way to go if you're going to do it.  I know he's talking about turning the fixture business over to someone else since he isn't involved in making rods right now.  (Harry Boyd)

        I'll look forward to hearing if they'll be available again. Meantime, I'll look into a NW source for hex stock as Neil suggested. I don't believe it would be to hard to make one. One would be all a hobby builder really needs.  (Wayne Kifer)

          Unless you heat treat only one rod section at a time, I would highly recommend getting at least one per section.  I have eight.  With those eight fixtures, I can heat treat two 3/2 rods at one time.  (Harry Boyd)

      It would need to be a pretty fancy bit to duplicate them. They are not just a 60° groove in a piece of aluminum. There is a rib on each side of the groove, running the length of the fixture. The ribs actually support the strip.  (Larry Blan)

        Maybe a high school shop could machine them out of aluminum hex - 2 60 degree end mills, one small for the bottom of each "v" and a larger one for the top and leave a ridge between.  Might be an interesting project.  (Neil Savage)

        Interesting Larry. Has anyone actually explained the need for the ridge? I'm sure I'm missing something but as I understood it the purpose was to transfer heat from the form to the two pith sides of the strip while the air heated the power fiber side. Without the ridge the strip would sit deeper in the fixture and maintain more uniform contact with it transferring more heat to a larger surface area. Perhaps you can enlighten me to what I'm not seeing.  (Wayne Kifer)

          The ridge lets more air circulate around the strip. The main purpose of the fixture isn't to transfer heat, it is to keep the strips straight and not bundled together. M-D went through it pretty well when he was designing them. Unfortunately, I lost my mail archive for that time  period. Someone else might have his original posts lying about.  (Larry Blan)


When I'm done beveling my tip strips on short rods they are too thin to be tightly bound into the heat treating fixtures Harry Boyd sells. In fact, strips can slide out the end of the fixture, but the results are still good.  (Henry Mitchell)

    I know that works, almost anything will appear to work, but why? For the sake of consistency at least, you might consider heat treating before you bevel.  (Jerry Foster)

      I think there's greater consistency to be had by heat-treating strips that have already been beveled down to the same size, not to mention that it's easier on plane blades and other cutting devices if you don't pre-harden the cane. I've actually re-soaked cane after pressing nodes just because it's so much easier to bevel them. once they're beveled they're heat-treated and dried before tapering.  (Henry Mitchell)

      Why on earth would you want to heat treat before you bevel?

      You are just making it harder to plane or bevel down to size, I use the beveller to produce strips of equal dimensions before I bake them so they all get equal amounts of heat.  You could, admittedly, plane the rough strips down to the same size before you baked them but this is an unnecessary stage as the beveller will do it for you. My split strips get vaguely straightened, more in the lateral plane than the vertical, and whacked straight through the beveller.  Which I have just spent a ridiculous amount of time upgrading to 750 watts, I doubt if it will be worth it, If I'd known how much time it was going to take I'd have put a half inch beveller on it.

      I've never tried soaking cane, but intend to experiment with it on the baked triangular strips before final planing.  (Robin Haywood)

        My error, I took bevel to read taper, of course your analysis was correct.  (Jerry Foster)

    Bevel the strips thicker, then after heat treating, bevel them again.  I do that for tips strips all the time.  I rough bevel my strips to about .210", so that they are all the same thickness for even heat treating, then bring out the beveler again afterwards.  (Mark Wendt)

      That comes under the heading "What the heck is wrong with my brain that I didn't think of that." It's so obvious it's painful. I don't know about the rest of you guys who that hadn't occurred to but not having thought of it is almost embarrassing.  (Wayne Kifer)

      Duh, thanks Mark.  Something else I should've thought of myself.  (Henry Mitchell)

      On narrow strips, I have put two strips in the same slot. (Tony Spezio)

      Took a while to come up with that meself. (Mark Wendt)


I have tried on the last two rods to just use one string wrapping with the fixtures and the uniform strips come out very straight from the heat treating process.  That saves time and effort in my opinion. Have you tried doing that?  (Frank Paul)

    I just use one also, with the tension as high as I can get it.  (Scott Grady)

      I replied offlist to Frank without realizing this had been posted to the List.  Let me repeat my comments to him for everyone.  I'm always a little hesitant to post anything to the List that sounds like a commercial.

      I often bind with only one string.  But when I do, I make sure to use a fairly heavy cord that runs little risk of being cut on the sharp edges of the bamboo or when sliding the  bound strips in and out of the oven.  For time's sake sometimes I'll even wrap a single string by hand around the strips and fixture.  My shop is tiny and binding by hand prevents me from having to clear off a bench and set up the binder.  Of course when things are nice and tidy in the shop I go ahead and use the four string binder.  Then it's just as easy and quick to apply four strings as one.  If I had room to leave every tool in my shop set up and ready to go I wouldn't know how to act.  (Harry Boyd)

    I bind strips in the forms somewhat differently. Since I use a hand mill, my strips have the little nub at the end where the holddown screw goes. Won't fit in the form. I alternate the strips with three nubs hanging off each end. I secure the strips with a wrap of tape several inches from each end. L take the tailstock off of my lathe and chuck one end in the lathe. I support the off end with a 1x6 with an appropriate sized hole in it held in place by my drill press vise is do my nodes with. I run the lathe at a very low speed (probably 30-40 rpm max). Start slow and work up the speed. If it seems too fast, it probably is. I tension the cord with my fingers. One pass down and back and tie off. I've done several that way without it swarming on me, although I can see that the potential for it to do so is there. It helps to have another person handy to man the go button on the lathe. Make sure there is nothing for the cord to get hung up on.  (David Atchison)

      I have used "Marty's binder" for binding strips and glued up sections for the last 3 years. It is a very simple and cheap process which  produces straight strips.

      The Binder is very very simple, merely a plastic pipe of the appropriate diameter, say 1/2 inch for glued strips, with a narrow slit cut its length. The motor is any cheap variable speed reversible drill and the binding cord is on a tensioned spool and slid  along the slit in the tube.

      There are details on Todd's site, and feel free to ask me for any details or operating advise.

      Please not that this binder will not appeal to many rodmakers as it is not a particularly fun toy to have, takes 30 minutes to build, and does not look very impressive on the work bench.  (Ian Kearney)


The use of aluminum fixtures such as MD's or other similar metallic structures are important in the heat treating process if one wants straight rods. My experience over the past 10 rods suggest that I have very little straightening to do out of glue-up. The metal structures not only permit the natural internal stresses of the bamboo section to be relieved and the bamboo take the straight shape of the structure, but the fact that heat enters the bamboo strip from three sides provides for more uniform heat treatment of the bamboo. Bamboo has much lower thermal conductivity than does the metal structure and adding thermal energy from three sides improves the uniformity of the process. It is my opinion that the use of some form of supporting structure for heat treating should be a part of the bamboo rod making process.  (Frank Paul)

    Has anyone tried milling the fixtures down to accept narrower strips?  I recently acquired some from Harry and am anxious to try them out, but my tip strips are too narrow to fit the forms.  His site does inform you of this but after playing around with a few ideas on how to overcome this I thought maybe someone else had tried milling.  If so, did they become too weak to be stable?  (Ralph Tuttle)

    I have to go along with this. I have one of the first sets MD sold and have been using them ever since. This is one of the best things to come along in  to rodmaking since I started making rods. To prove this, I made up three blanks a few weeks ago. Just wrapped them, dried and heat treated them like one would do without the fixtures. Just got lazy I guess. I did not get the quality strips I normally get with the fixtures. Had to straighten some and take the twist out of others. Needless to say, I will not do that again.

    I dry me strips with the pith side out.  (Tony Spezio)


Hello everyone, another "newbie" joining in. I never felt the need to chime in before but now is the time. I started reading this list last May or June and have immensely enjoyed it. I'm up to the rough planing process in my learning curve (already have built planning forms, binder, and heat gun oven). I've been using Wayne C.'s book and this list as instructional guides. What a wealth of information!

Now this subject of straightening in "MD fixtures" comes up. What are they? Can I build them? Can I purchase them?

Thanks for all your shared info. (Bob Gansberg)

    These heat treating fixtures are now being supplied by Harry Boyd.  They are aluminum extrusions that facilitate the heat treating process.  If you go to the link, you can see the fixtures and read about the process as well.  (Todd Talsma)

    You can purchase them from Harry Boyd. They are an aluminum extrusion that from the end looks like a snowflake. They are used for drying and heat treating Bamboo. (Dick Fuhrman)

    They are extruded aluminum rods shaped like an asterisk. The cane strips are placed in the slots and bound in good and tight before placing in the oven. This keeps them nice and straight during heat treating so they come lout straighter. Harry Boyd sells them so you can see pictures and read more here. (Larry Puckett)

    Harry Boyd sells the fixtures.  Contact Harry and he can fix you up. They are aluminum extrusion about 5' long that hold 6 - 60° cross section strips. No, you can't build them.  (Don Schneider)


I bought 3 strip heating fixtures a few years back and used one the other day just for one replacement hex strip.

I am used a typical vertical, heat-gun oven, and after heating the strip for my "normal" time, I noticed that the strip was slightly brown Vs. the other strips.

This made me wonder about the following:

1. Does the heating fixture provide more (uniform) heat to the strips Vs. not fixture, and if so, what heating regiment is best. (i.e. 25% less than without the fixture, etc.)

2. Was it simply the fact that I only had one strip in the fixture?

3. Did I screw up somehow? (Strip touching the oven tube for example?)  (Larry Tusoni)

    I find in my heat strip oven, if I only have one strip, I need to cut the time down. The first time I did one strip, I had toast. I just keep checking it against the other strips for color by scraping the enamel off in spots on both the single strip and the other heat treated strips. I have only had to do this a couple of times. This might not answer your question.  (Tony Spezio)

      Forgot to mention, I do use the fixtures.  (Tony Spezio)

      Another reason for youse guys to upgrade to a PID controlled convection oven...   ;-)   Doesn't matter to my oven whether it's one strip or a 100.  (Mark Wendt)

    I use a heat-gun oven, but horizontally mounted, with a hardware cloth tray in the middle of the inner chamber. I also use the fixtures and occasionally do just one strip. I don't have the problem you describe. I do have two digital thermometers that have the probes inserted through holes in the side of the oven, down to the level of the tray.

    I hope you don't mind my offering a correction to you. The word "regiment" describes a size of a military unit. The word you should use is "regimen", which is a procedure or a process.  (Steve Weiss)

    I've found that the answer is that the fixture does provide approximately 25% more heat Vs. no fixture.  I took readings using a laser temp gauge.  (Larry Tusoni)


I think I know the answer but, I gotta ask.  Does using a heat treating fixture, Harry's model, affect the bamboo's actual temperature, during the heat treating process ?  Does it act like a heat sink and allow for a more equalized heating?  One thing is for sure, I will never stop using the fixtures.  Who can complain about arrow straight strips?

Background:  I usually heat treat my rough planed strips, using Harry's fixtures.  I put the strips in and start my heat gun.  When the temperature reaches approximately 300 degrees I shut it off.  The temperature will usually peak at approximately 350.  I let everything cool down naturally.  And yes I get "the smell" that we talk about.  Seems to work very well.  Recently I have started binding the final planed strips and heat them just enough to remove some of the sweeping bends that develop when I plan.  I only do this because it makes  it a little easier to glue up tip sections. 

Blah, blah, blah.... I know get to the point.  So recently I a hung a bound tip section in the oven , no fixture used.  Temperature never got over 275 degrees.  The butt end of the section turned a dark brown.  Yes, the butt end was in the top of my oven (vertical hot air oven).  Made for a neat fade job on the section.  Did this happen 1) because I didn't use a heat sink (fixture)?  Or 2) the fact that I let the heat gun angle toward the smaller tube containing the blank section?   The more I think about it the more I think the placement of the heat gun effected the section.  (Pete Emmel)

    The good heat conductance of the aluminum fixture will tend to equalize the temperature along its length. The effect your are asking about is perhaps a combination the two causes, but most likely due to not using the fixture.  (Mike McGuire)


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