2014 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon - GUARDIAN - OB14045

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Hourless Life

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First Name
Eric
Last Name
Highland
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(Disclaimer: Format shamelessly stolen from @rubicongoldberg who has a pretty epic build. Would love to connect someday with you Rube.)

We're new to overlanding but not to Jeeping. Been traveling full-time around the nation currently on our 5th year of fulltime travel. But we've been doing it with an RV and a Jeep. In 2019 we're leaving the RV and just taking the Jeep into Mexico.

Our Jeep is named GUARDIAN in honor of my 20 years of Active Duty service in the U.S. Coast Guard. My son followed in my footsteps, also bought an Anvil JKUR and joined the Coast Guard. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree and honestly I'm proud of that.

Jeepsies-Promo-Shot-Eric-Highland-Jeep-Blog-Guardian 2.jpg

The Jeep has over $22,000 in upgrades and mods. And like all Jeepers we're still not done...

Vitals
  • 2014 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon (color Anvil with International Orange accents)
  • Automatic
  • Dana 44 w/4.10 gearing
  • Hard Top
Current Mods

Suspension
  • RockKrawler 2.5" lift (Stock Mod Stage 1 JK25sM-4s1)
  • TeraFlex Falcon 3.3 adjustable shocks
  • Custom built Heritage Driven Transmission skid plate
  • Synergy ball joints
  • JKS Manufacturing Adjustable Trackbar
  • TeraFlex Suspensions HD draglink
  • Front brake line extensions
Exterior
  • Rock Hard 4x4 grille length front bumper with lowered winch plate and bull bar
  • Slayer Off-Road Patriot rear bumper with LED reverse lights
  • Vacuum Pump relocation bracket to accommodate winch
  • Burnt Customs custom made Coast Guard Chief's Anchor foot pegs
  • TeraFlex JK Alpha HD Hinged Tire Carrier
  • Rugged Ridge grille protective insert painted International Orange
  • Rugged Ridge hood catch latches
  • Rhino-Rack Pioneer Platform JA7697
  • Hi-Lift Jack X-treme
  • Dominion Off-Road Hi-Lift Stealth Jack Mount
  • Hi-Lift Jack Base
  • Rugged Ridge Locking Gas Cap
  • Stock Rubicon Trim Rock Sliders
  • Weathertech window rain guards front and rear
  • ACE Falcon Aluminum Powder Coated inner front fender liners
Drivetrain
  • ARB Dana 44 Diff covers front and rear (Red)
  • Rubicon E-Lockers front and rear
Lighting
  • JW Speaker 8700 Evolution J LED Headlights
  • Rigid Industries 10" E-series Pro Combo light bar
  • Rigid Industries Hyperspot D-Series Pro x2
  • Custom Switzer LED Pulsating 3rd brake light
  • Slayer Off-Road Dual LED reverse lights inset in rear bumper
Communication
  • Cobra 75WX ST CB radio
  • Firestik 4' antenna
  • Firestik SS-3H spring for antenna
  • Firestik K-1a antenna quick disconnect
Interior
  • Bestop underseat lock box
  • Soft roll bar mounted fire extinguisher holder
  • Bartact Orange front grab handles
  • Bartact Orange rear grab handles
  • Rugged Ridge A-Pillar switch panel drivers side
  • VDP-31600 rear cup holder and storage
  • Quadratec Triple Tire Tread floor mats
  • Logitech Universal Magnetic Phone Mount
Safety
  • H3R Performance 1lb dry chemical extinguisher
  • Adventure Medical Kits First Aid Kit
Recovery
  • Warn Zeon 10-S winch (synthetic line, that's what the S stands for)
  • TeraFlex Recovery Kit
  • Warn Snatch Block
  • 8 TeraFlex D-Rings (Shackles)
  • Standard tools
  • A few oh crap tools (y'all know what I mean)
  • ARB Tire Inflation Kit
  • ARB Digital Gauge Tire Inflator
  • ARB EZ-Deflator
  • ARB Tire Puncture Kit
Engine / Underhood
  • Optima Yellotop AGM Battery
  • ARB Dual air compressor
  • MORE mount for air compressor
  • Superchips FlashPaq programmer
Wheels and Tires
  • Mickey Thompson ATZ P3 35 series tires
  • Stock Rubicon 17" wheels
  • Synergy Wheel Spacers
Overland Lifestyle Equipment (disclaimer, don't laugh we're new to this so we're just getting started here...)
  • IKamper Sky Camp RTT Rocky Black Edition
  • IKamper vinyl canopy addition
  • ARB 50 QT Fridge/Freezer
  • ARB 50 QT Fridge/Freezer thermal cover
  • Overland Bound Badge x2 #OB14045
  • Rhino-Rack Batwing Awning
  • Genesis Base Camp camping stove by JetBoil

General Thoughts
  • I don't believe in going cheap. I believe in buying a solid product and buying it only once if possible.
  • Guardian is a very capable off-road rig but he's not a beast by any means. I've tackled some of the toughest off-road trails in the nation, but there are a few that I haven't dared... yet...
  • I do a lot of research but like everyone I make mistakes. Don't judge me haha.
  • If you have questions about any of the equipment that I have let me know.
  • If you have any suggestions I'd love to hear them.
 
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Hourless Life

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Eric
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Highland
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Here are a few photos of my Jeep pre-tent and roof rack which are being installed in Colorado in September.

ikamper-skycamp-jeep-closed.jpg
Our iKamper RTT closed

ikamper-skycamp-front-passenger-side-jeep.jpg
Our iKamper Skycamp open. Sleeps 4. Deploys in about 30-45 seconds. Stows in about 1 min 45 seconds. Has a rhinolined texture finish on the hard shell.

Liz-Williams-Guardian-Jeepsies.jpg
Guardian at Hidden Falls in Marble Falls, Texas

Guardian-After.jpg
Flexing a bit on the trail. My inner fender liner on the passenger side has marks from this run.

Guardian-Promo-Shot-Broken-Arrow.jpg
On the Broken Arrow Trail in Sedona, Arizona

Wild-Horses-Guardian.jpg
On the Outer Banks in North Carolina where the wild mustangs roam free.

ARB-Dual-Air-Compressor-GUARDIAN-Jeep-Install.JPG
The ARB Dual Air Compressor. We had to relocate the horn to accommodate the MORE mount.

Northridge-4x4-ARB-Red-Diff-Cover.jpg
ARB Diff covers and Falcon 3.3 shocks. Photo taken at Northridge 4x4 in Silverdale, Washington (I also have the diff cover and the shocks on the front too)

I've got hundreds more, but just figured I'd share a few.

Eric AKA Jeepsies
 
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ovrlndr

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Looking good! Man, I need to finish catching up my build thread but I’m down about 18 wormholes with the Sprinter purchase :)
 

Kyle & Kari Frink

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Here are a few photos of my Jeep pre-tent and roof rack which are being installed in Colorado in September.

View attachment 64802
Guardian at Hidden Falls in Marble Falls, Texas

View attachment 64803
Flexing a bit on the trail. My inner fender liner on the passenger side has marks from this run.

View attachment 64804
On the Broken Arrow Trail in Sedona, Arizona

View attachment 64805
On the Outer Banks in North Carolina where the wild mustangs roam free.

View attachment 64806
The ARB Dual Air Compressor. We had to relocate the horn to accommodate the MORE mount.

View attachment 64807
ARB Diff covers and Falcon 3.3 shocks. Photo taken at Northridge 4x4 in Silverdale, Washington (I also have the diff cover and the shocks on the front too)

I've got hundreds more, but just figured I'd share a few.

Eric AKA Jeepsies
Love the falcon shocks, we have the 3.1 and love them. We are however looking to upgrade to the selectable switch 3.3 option. Spare any comments on the use of the selector switch, such as do you actually notice a difference or not? Thanks!
 
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Hourless Life

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Love the falcon shocks, we have the 3.1 and love them. We are however looking to upgrade to the selectable switch 3.3 option. Spare any comments on the use of the selector switch, such as do you actually notice a difference or not? Thanks!
Hey Kyle & Kari. The TeraFlex Falcon 3.3's are great. I have nothing but praise for their performance on some of the toughest trails in the nation. The selector switch allows you to from the firmest setting to the softest setting. Those two settings are not adjustable and there is a night and day difference when using those settings one right after the other.

The middle setting "2" is a micro adjustable setting which you can use to customize your daily drive preferences or even for wheeling.

My wife likes the softer ride on the daily drive so we keep it set to the softest setting and it just soaks up the bounce. If I'm doing some serious flexing or crawling where I might bottom out the shock, I switch it all the way to the firmest setting. Never bottomed out on the firmest setting.

Also believe it or not, if you are driving on the highway in high winds and you put it on the firmest setting you don't hardly get pushed around by the side winds and there is no roll to speak of on turns.

Overall great shocks, I'd get them again no doubt. One word of caution watch your hard brake lines on the rear shocks. You'll need to make sure that if you install the bolt is facing the correct way away from the hard brake line. Don't ask me how I know this...

Anyway, I'd say go for it. They are pricey but they do exactly what they claim to do.

All by best,

Eric AKA Jeepsies
 
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MazeVX

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First of all, impressive setup, thanks for sharing! Probably a good thing to join the overland community from this side.
About recommending stuff for overlanding... I would think about three things which are not necessary but makes life easier, drop down tailgate table, a carrier that adds a second level to the trunk (actually don't no the right name) and a fridge slide.
ARB builds one specially for your fridge, tailgate tables are made by various companies, but both are available by teraflex, for example the wasatch cargo rack.

Have fun and safe travels.
 

Hourless Life

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Hey @IronJackWhitton I was going to try and get the weights for everything I've added to my Jeep but I've found that this is an exercise in futility. So I've decided on another route.

I'm going to empty my Jeep of everything except what is bolted down. Take it to a fuel station fill it to the brim, then take it to a scale and weigh the Jeep without me in it. Then subtract the total weight from the weight of a 2014 JKU Rubicon stock.

That should give me the weight I've added and therefore let me know how much left I have for gear. Does this make sense or am I missing something? I feel like I'm missing something simple.

Eric AKA Jeepsies
 

Hourless Life

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Highland
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First of all, impressive setup, thanks for sharing! Probably a good thing to join the overland community from this side.
About recommending stuff for overlanding... I would think about three things which are not necessary but makes life easier, drop down tailgate table, a carrier that adds a second level to the trunk (actually don't no the right name) and a fridge slide.
ARB builds one specially for your fridge, tailgate tables are made by various companies, but both are available by teraflex, for example the wasatch cargo rack.

Have fun and safe travels.
Thanks! We’re making a list.

The fridge slide is definitely on the list, as is a tailgate table. We’ve been looking at Goose Gear but others have been showing us theirs as well. So we’re keeping our options open. As far as the shelf, we’re heading to Expo East this year and want to see what others have done. Appreciate all the tips!
 
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ovrlndr

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Hey @IronJackWhitton I was going to try and get the weights for everything I've added to my Jeep but I've found that this is an exercise in futility. So I've decided on another route.

I'm going to empty my Jeep of everything except what is bolted down. Take it to a fuel station fill it to the brim, then take it to a scale and weigh the Jeep without me in it. Then subtract the total weight from the weight of a 2014 JKU Rubicon stock.

That should give me the weight I've added and therefore let me know how much left I have for gear. Does this make sense or am I missing something? I feel like I'm missing something simple.

Eric AKA Jeepsies
I have stuffed my 4-door full to the ceiling (literally couldn’t have put another thing in it) when I was moving across the country, and what was packed in was certainly heavier than the sum total of 4-5 people and recovery gear, fridge, food, etc... it handled the load fine, and I even did a little light wheeling with it full up like that, just for kicks (nothing shelfy or unsafe for the load)...

I’ve also wheeled it with 4 people (plus me) in it, with fridge packed full, RTT up top, and geared up in the back with tools (268-piece mechanics tool set, ARB premium recovery kit, impact driver, drill, various other tools)... it handled the load swimmingly.

I would say all the weighing stuff and math calculations is time better spent doing something else... like more mods :-)
 

Pathfinder I

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Hey @IronJackWhitton I was going to try and get the weights for everything I've added to my Jeep but I've found that this is an exercise in futility. So I've decided on another route.

I'm going to empty my Jeep of everything except what is bolted down. Take it to a fuel station fill it to the brim, then take it to a scale and weigh the Jeep without me in it. Then subtract the total weight from the weight of a 2014 JKU Rubicon stock.

That should give me the weight I've added and therefore let me know how much left I have for gear. Does this make sense or am I missing something? I feel like I'm missing something simple.

Eric AKA Jeepsies
Yes absolutely! That will for sure give you an idea, and I don’t think you are missing anything. It may be off by 50-100 lbs depending on the options you have in your Jeep (I.e air con, auto windows, etc) but it will be close enough for your purposes. My opinion is if you are getting so specific where 75 lbs matters to stay below limits, you are probably too heavy! I shoot for 70% max but that’s kinda arbitrary based on what I’ve read some nations stipulate in law.

I would suggest also bring the Jeep kitted out as you “normally” would be on a trip and taking a second measurement. Unless you are hauling elephants, a trip or two overloaded won’t do any long term harm, it’s the cumulative effect of higher stress/heavier loads over time that’s the issue. That will let you know what your loaded weight is and if you need to shed pounds you will know how much so you can be strategic.

The other X factor is how much the payload increases with your suspension upgrades. As we were discussing earlier I don’t think the company will have a number but it’s worth looking around to see. I think AEV does provide guidance on a typical load with varying spring rates but I’m not sure. Note: according to DMV types NO suspension upgrades increase payload. That is determined by the manufacturer and is static from their perspective. Makes sense when you consider frame strength, rating on ball joints, etc. All play into payload. But practically speaking, a decent aftermarket suspension will increase carry capacity, just its tough to say how much and the increase won’t be “official”.
 
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Pathfinder I

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I have stuffed my 4-door full to the ceiling (literally couldn’t have put another thing in it) when I was moving across the country, and what was packed in was certainly heavier than the sum total of 4-5 people and recovery gear, fridge, food, etc... it handled the load fine, and I even did a little light wheeling with it full up like that, just for kicks (nothing shelfy or unsafe for the load)...

I’ve also wheeled it with 4 people (plus me) in it, with fridge packed full, RTT up top, and geared up in the back with tools (268-piece mechanics tool set, ARB premium recovery kit, impact driver, drill, various other tools)... it handled the load swimmingly.

I would say all the weighing stuff and math calculations is time better spent doing something else... like more mods :-)
Sounds like some fun trips!

And your right, an occasional overload won’t be too hard on the vehicle and it may handle fine, but the way I describe it is like a person carrying a pack up a mountain.

The person with the 70 lbs pack and the person with the 30lbs pack will probably both make it to the top, but if they did it every day, the 70lbs pack guy would likely have issues in knees, back, etc. Sooner than the 30 lbs pack guy! Same goes for the Jeep, those joints are tough but not invincible. This is especially if you have wheel spacers

(Spacers change where the wheel rim mates with the hub and puts a levering force on ball joints, increasing wear — they are actually illegal in some countries and this is partly why).

Plus, riding to the max payload will mean you have less suspension travel available for rough stuff, and your fuel economy will suffer. It also puts more wear and tear on clutches and transmissions.

Over time this wear and tear combines with other wear and tear and increases the chance of a critical failure.

Not to mention — the only thing worse than a stuck rig is a really heavy stuck rig. It can make extractions really tough; the winch has to work harder, winch points in the environment need to be that much stronger, and the vehicle will sink further into mud. All a royal pain.

Most of the above is true with any vehicle, but it’s especially true with jeeps due to the lower than average payload as compared to a Defender or Tacoma or whatever.

The moral of the story — Reduced rig weight is everyone’s friend!
 
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ovrlndr

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Sounds like some fun trips!

And your right, an occasional overload won’t be too hard on the vehicle and it may handle fine, but the way I describe it is like a person carrying a pack up a mountain.

The person with the 70 lbs pack and the person with the 30lbs pack will probably both make it to the top, but if they did it every day, the 70lbs pack guy would likely have issues in knees, back, etc. Sooner than the 30 lbs pack guy! Same goes for the Jeep, those joints are tough but not invincible. This is especially if you have wheel spacers

(Spacers change where the wheel rim mates with the hub and puts a levering force on ball joints, increasing wear — they are actually illegal in some countries and this is partly why).

Plus, riding to the max payload will mean you have less suspension travel available for rough stuff, and your fuel economy will suffer. It also puts more wear and tear on clutches and transmissions.

Over time this wear and tear combines with other wear and tear and increases the chance of a critical failure.

Not to mention — the only thing worse than a stuck rig is a really heavy stuck rig. It can make extractions really tough; the winch has to work harder, winch points in the environment need to be that much stronger, and the vehicle will sink further into mud. All a royal pain.

Most of the above is true with any vehicle, but it’s especially true with jeeps due to the lower than average payload as compared to a Defender or Tacoma or whatever.

The moral of the story — Reduced rig weight is everyone’s friend!
Yeah, I already understand all of that.

I just wouldn’t make a science fair project out of getting the weight, because if you wanted to get technical, you should have all fluids (not just fuel) topped off, and what happens if you’ve done an axle swap to axles with higher GAWRs (which is a factor in calculating a vehicle’s GVWR), or a put in a big brake kit with larger rotors and double piston calipers, or installed stiffer, stronger springs capable of supporting more weight than OEM springs? All of that affects GVWR... We could go on and on...

Hop in the Jeep, fill it up, drive it onto a scale, subtract resulting weight from GVWR (5700 lbs). No sense in getting out, as you’ll be in the vehicle 99% of the time it’s in use.
 
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Yeah, I already understand all of that.

I just wouldn’t make a science fair project out of getting the weight, because if you wanted to get technical, you should have all fluids (not just fuel) topped off, and what happens if you’ve done an axle swap to axles with higher GAWRs (which is a factor in calculating a vehicle’s GVWR), or a put in a big brake kit with larger rotors and double piston calipers, or installed stiffer, stronger springs capable of supporting more weight than OEM springs? All of that affects GVWR... We could go on and on...

Hop in the Jeep, fill it up, drive it onto a scale, subtract resulting weight from GVWR (5700 lbs). No sense in getting out, as you’ll be in the vehicle 99% of the time it’s in use.
Totally fair! And I agree, I wouldn't make a science fair out of it either. It's one of those categories that most people never even think about -- people tend to pack for volume, not weight (just thing of how many pickup trucks with a bed full of gravel you've seen with the radiator pointing to the sky -- they sometimes look more like a space shuttle ready for launch then they do a truck!). Some thought given to weight is important though, especially if you are living out fo the rig.

I know from camping on the bike that it's easy to get obsessive with pounds and ounces and even more cubic inches. Sure, the regular spork weighs 28 grams but the TITANIUM spork is only 25 grams and it's only 3 times the price! (Sarcasm intended!)

I don't have mine calculated down to the ounce, not by any stretch. I don't think a person is going awry in any jeep until they start getting to 30%-50% over payload, which is easy to do with an overloading rig. Especially up near the 50% mark, you'd be riding the bump stops and that really accelerates wear and tear.

The jeep has a lot of potential for heavier loads too -- for instance, the J8 is the Military version of the JK. The biggest differences are in heavier duty wear parts (Axles, ball joints), heavier rear suspension and the frame; the frame is strategically gusseted, and the rear suspension is leaf springs instead of the stock coil springs. That ups the JK's payload to 2500 lbs, which would be fantastic. Theoretically, if one could get an idea of where the frame has been gusseted, the rest of the parts are 'easy' to swap in. Of course, if you happen to have $150k sitting around you could probably buy the J8 Civilian from AEV (I think they get 100 of them a year or something?) but...that extra $100 k can pay for a lot of gas!
 
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One more post from me on the weight thing then I promise I'll shut up :D

If folks aren't sure if they are overloaded, the JK has a lovely, easy-to-spot tell -- the gap between the top of the rear wheel and the fender flare.

Here's my two door unloaded. It was a 2011 model, with a payload of about 900 lbs (depending on whether you had the rear seat in or not). Notice the gap between the rear wheel and the fender.



There's a solid 4-5 inches there.

Now that same jeep on a trip loaded to within about 50 lbs of it's max payload.



So three things to note -- it may be hard to see due to the lighting, but the gap in the rear wheel and fender is almost nothing. That could partly be due to the fact that the weight is cantilevered off the back; the cargo area of the jeep was left nearly empty for my dog to have space. But, even with the lever action, it's still pretty depressed. Second - I'm not in the car, so that's 200 lbs near the front that would have changed that dynamic. And 3, note the gap in the front between the tire and the fender. I can tell you that I was getting lights flashed at me the whole way to Anaheim (our destination on this trip) because my headlights were aiming high.

Also worth mentioning -- every time we hit any bump, we'd hit the bump stops. It was jarring and hard on us as travellers, but also hard on our gear. After this trip, our little two door was never the same.

Then again, just 8 months after the above photo was taken, we traded for an Unlimited. The below pick is on our trip to Deadhorse -- notice that the gap near the rear is very small again:



We hit the bump stops a few times on this trip, and once again we weren't at Max (but we were close). Hard on gear, hard on equipment, hard on people. but you'll note the front isn't as drastically off kilter as the 2 door was; we got better at distributing weight more evenly!

@Jeepsies, given the aftermarket lift you have, you might want to take a quick look at your Rubi loaded and unloaded to see how much travel you have left. This can give you a dead-reckoning of if you're overloaded or not. General rule of thumb for me is suspension should never bottom out, as doing so is a jarring stop (but if it happens occasionally that's OK, that's why bump stops are made of rubber!). Progressive springs are good for multiple load levels too; if your lift has straight coils with no progression engineering, they will have the same spring rate no matter the load. They may handle empty great, but when full they'll bottom out. Or they may be perfectly sprung for a loaded jeep, but when empty, they are too jarring. Progressives have a varied spring rate so they will handle better both empty and loaded.
 
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Hourless Life

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You have a great build going, I’m looking forward to seeing it evolve.
Thank you Gabe! It's been a process as I'm sure you know. Right now we're slowing our roll on the Jeep itself and concentrating more on the gear we need for our Overland trip to Mexico that we're prepping for! We're pretty pumped. Appreciate your comment!

Eric AKA Jeepsies
 
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