S. Berliner, III's sbiii.com Z-Scale Model Railroad Page keywords = Z scale model rail train HO mini Club Ztrack Western Fruit Express WFEX Great Northern GN Pennsylvania Pennsy PRR Berlinerwerke Vest Pocket Degnon Brooklyn Eastern District Terminal BEDT Marion River Carry schnabel "

Updated:   19 Nov 2019; 17:00 ET
[Page created ; converted 17 Jan 2011
    original AT&T Worldnet Website begun 30 May 1996.]
URL:  http://sbiii.com/z-scale.html
[was at "home.att.net/~Berliner-Ultrasonics/z-scale.html"]

S. Berliner, III
Consultant in Ultrasonic Processing
"changing materials with high-intensity sound"

[consultation is on a fee basis]

Technical and Historical Writer, Oral Historian
Popularizer of Science and Technology
Rail, Auto, Air, Ordnance, and Model Enthusiast
Light-weight Linguist, Lay Minister, and Putative Philosopher

note - The vast bulk of my massive Web presence (over 485 pages) had been hosted by AT&T's WorldNet service since 30 May 1996; they dropped WorldNet effective 31 Mar 2010 and I have been scrambling to transfer everything.  Everything's saved but all the links have to be changed, mostly by hand.  See my sbiii.com Transfer Page for any updates on this tedious process.

S. Berliner, III's


Z-Scale Model Railroad Page


WorkerZ of the world, unite;
you have nothing to loZe
but your
micro- trainZ!

NOTE:  Page size was limited by HTML to 30kB; thus, I was forced to add new pages just for Z-Scale, more Z-scale, and articles about Z-scale.

Datsun/Nissan Z cars
If somehow you got here in error while looking for Datsun/Nissan Z cars, go away!
No, really, you are welcome, but you need to look elsewhere;
you might start at the Z Car Home Page.


The internal links, which work fine on my home page and others, don't seem to work here!  I'm working on it, but haven't a clue; I even just copied the working links over and they don't work here.  So, scroll away!

The Z-Scale Index Page:
    (Non-Z links have been truncated to save space.)

On this page:

    Z-Scale (follows)
    Z-Scale Narrow Gauge (really)
        (moved to the Sub-Z-Scale page 13 Nov 01)
    Scale and Gauge
        (moved to the Scale Conversion page 04 Jan 02)
    Scale Conversion Table
        (moved to the Scale Conversion page 04 Jan 02)
    Z-Scale Miscellany
    Z-Scale Wiring Conventions
        including Z-Scale Locomotive Wiring Conventions   added (20 Mar 2017)
    Z-Scale Repair and Hobby Shops
    Z Quick Oats - Ze BreakfaZt of ChampionZ!
    Z. Penn - Z-Scale Cat Dealer   new (17 Nov 2011)

Sub-Z-Scale Page :

    Z-Scale Narrow Gauge (really)
        (moved from the main Z-Scale page 13 Nov 01)
    Z-Scale Meter Gauge
    1:450 T Scale   new (15 Aug 2011)
        Half-Z Scale - 1:440 Tiny Trains, and even 1:900 Tiniest Trains!

Sub-Z-Scale Continuation Page 1:

    Fabergé Egg (moved from Sub-Z-Scale Page to this page on 24 Mar 05)
    ZZ Scale (1:300).
    T Scale (1:450).
    More 1:900 Scale - Tiniest Trains!

Sub-Z-Scale Continuation Page 2:

    IDL ~1:1000 Teeny Trains   new (03 Jan 2015)
    IDL Modular Track   new (31 Jul 2015)

Sub-Z-Scale Continuation Page 3:

    IDL ~1:1000 Teeny Trains Update - Connectable Track   new (27 Oct 2015)

On Z-Scale Continuation Page 1:

    Zictionary - lotZ of wordZ (Part 1- A-M)
    and continued on Zictionary - lotZ of wordZ (Part 2- N-Z)

On the Z-Scale Continuation Page 2:

    Brooklyn Eastern District Terminal RR in Z
    Z-SCALE DIMENSIONS (with how to approximate a mile of track).
    Wish List - some goodieZ I'd like and some I have,
    like Freudenreich's Z Boxcab Diesel and GN/WFEX Reefer
    and Larry Hoff's Bobber Caboose and Crane!
    MT SP Moguls - the absolute top of the Wish List!

On the Z-Scale Continuation Page 3:

    Z-Scale Vehicles and Märklin Rubber Autos
    Half-Z Scale - 1:440 Tiny Trains!
    1:900 Scale - Tiniest Trains!
    Power - Volts, Amps, Watts for Z.
        [This is critically important!]

Z-Scale Continuation Page 4:

    Some More Z (all the latest!)
        including HomaBed Z roadbed.

Z-Scale Continuation Page 5

    (a page for the Third Millennium):
    Even More Z (all the latest!)
    Microscopic Z Accessories.
    Anhalter Bahnhof in Z.
    Hermaphrodite (Conversion Coupler) Cars.

Freudenreich Z-Scale page:

        including more on Freudenreich's Z Boxcab Diesels, Freight Cars, and other Z products.

On the Z-Scale Articles page:

    Z-Scale Hell Gate Bridge

On the Ztrack page:

    Ztrack Magazine

On the first Model Railroad page:

  Sunrise Trail Division (STD) of the
        Northeastern Region (NER) of the
        National Model Railroad Association (NMRA)
    Long Island - Sunrise Trail Chapter (LIST) of the
        National Railway Historical Society (NRHS)
    Long Island Live Steamers

On the second Model Railroad page:

  Vest Pocket Railroads You Can Model

You may also wish to see how I take the detailed photographs on the these pages; see my model RR page 4.

On separate pages:

BW-Z Script
    Berlinerwerke-Z Saga
    Berlinerwerke-Z Saga Continuation Page
    Berlinerwerke Saga (HO, included with Horseshoe Curve info.)
    Berlinerwerke Apocrypha (tall tales of the BW and its equipment and such).
    Schnabel and other Giant RR Cars.


Z-Scale model railroading, at an incredible 220 times smaller than life size, or slightly under half the size of the familiar HO scale, with rails only 6.5mm (~¼") apart, was started in 1972 by Gebrüder Märklin (Maerklin Brothers - der site ist auf Deutsch) in Göppingen, Germany, as "mini-Club".  It is now handled in the U. S. by Märklin, Inc., in New Berlin, Wisconsin, and their site has a Z page.  The renowned N-Scale manufacturer, Micro-Trains Line Co., in Talent, Oregon [itself a brotherly spinoff from equally-renowned Kadee® Quality Products Co., the coupler manufacturer in Medford, Oregon], now has a large line of Z-scale locomotives and cars.


Anyone interested in trading my unused (MIB) 2004 Insider 88290 DRG cl 96 (Roy. Bav. cl Gt 2x4/4) 0-8-8-0T articulated steam locomotive for a 2006 88291 or a 2008 88292?

88290 88291 88292
88290        \        88291        /        88292

More on the 88290 at Wheelz II on Z-scale Page 7.

Rogue Locomotive Works, also of Medford, Oregon (see below), announced the release of a GP38-2 with dynamic brakes, powered by the minature but powerful Faulhaber motor, and offered a C44-9W and C40-9W!

The leading U.S. manufacturer of Z is still Micro-Trains; they had introduced a trio of Z-scale SP 2-6-0 Moguls that was simply scrumpious!

Here's a teaser:

MT Z SP Mogul 16000
Micro-Trains® photo used by permission.

It is with great sadness that I note the passing of a model RR great, Keith Edwards, on 26 Jul 2012 at 91, co-founder, with his twin brother Dale, of Kadee Quality Products.  Keith and Dale restarted a pre-WWII business after Keith served in the Army Air Corps, naming it after their initals ("K" "D").  They introduced the Micro-Trains Line for N Scale ca. 1990, and split the company, with Dale retaining Kadee and Keith taking MTL and later adding Z scale.  Keith was the father-in-law of MTL's Eric D. Smith.
new (29 Aug 2012)

However, a lot of Z equipment comes from Germany and a good Eisenbahn- und Modellbahn-Wörterbuch - Deutsch-Englisch (Railroad and Model Railroading Dictionary - German-English) is available courtesy of Chris Ozdoba.

One of the leading smaller German manufacturers of Z-scale railroad models is Harald Thom-Freudenreich in Sanitz (Mecklenburg); his Freudenreich Feinwerktechnik (abbreviated as FR), which has its own Website, is also covered on my Freudenreich page, et seq.  I have an abiding interest in a number of things, including, especially, Z-scale (this page, et seq.), the Long Island Rail Road, Long Island history, and the earliest production diesel locomotives, known as oil-electric boxcabs and the American Locomotive Co. (ALCo), builder, with General Electric and Ingersoll-Rand, of those first boxcabs.

This multiplicity of interests leads to an interesting dilemma; where do I cover FR models of historic LIRR oil-electric boxcabs?  The answer?  On all those pages!  Many are cross-linked but I commend to you checking out all of them.  Here, for a teaser, is the first mating of the custom FR body shell to the custom FR chassis of LIRR #401, the world's first diesel road switcher, the second production diesel locomotive, and the first diesel locomotive to make a long-distance revenue run:

Z 401 Shell Z 401 Body
(photos 31 Oct 02 by and © 2002 S. Berliner, III)

That's a "gold" dollar for comparison and the clerestory roof is only sitting there, not yet properly emplaced.

The LIRR #401 was soon followed by an unsuccessful #402 (returned) and then an eminently successful #402, and a pair of tiny units, #403A and #403B; they all (even the first #402, but for the GT&W) soldiered on well into the mid-50s.

There are so many German firms in Z but another one that caught my eye (22 Feb 2008) is MARSILIUS®-Line GmbH in Krefeld; they make U.S. prototype ACF and Pullman Standard 85' passenger cars in Z.  Their smooth side cars come with full interiors, operating diaphragms, and MTL couplers:

(Marsilius Passenger Car)

Their website ist nur auf Deutsch but Ztrack carries their line, including spare parts for repair, kitbashing, or scratchbuilding!

This is a wee bit hard to believe, but doing a search 11 Jun 1998 on HotBot for "Ztrack" yielded exactly 220 hits!

Z Track Cross Section
(Image by and © S. Berliner, III - 1999, 2001 - all rights reserved)
(Typo in fractional rail height corrected 21 Dec 01)

Märklin Z miniCLUB Track Dimensioned Cross-Section

Z scale is about 2½ times smaller than HO!  In Z scale, a scale ¼-mile is exactly (and only) 6 feet; in other words, a mile is only 24 feet!

HO is a mix of metric and English measurements in a scale of 3.5mm to the foot or 0.138" = 1', which is about 1:87.1.  HO-gauge rails are 16.5mm or 0.650" (<¾") apart.

Z is still the smallest production scale available today, but - - -

Don't tell anyone but there just MIGHT be a "Half-Z" 1:440 scale coming out of Germany, if they ever get it off the ground!  2' 4" Z-scale narrow gauge, anyone?

Incidentally, I joke about Zn3 narrow gauge; Micro-Trains issued an Nn3 D&SL Mogul on a Märklin Z 2-6-0 chassis; even at nearly $500, it sold out instantly!

For Zf (Zn2) 600 mm (= 2') [2.75 mm (= 0.11") in Z] narrow gauge, Z meter (metre) guage [1m = 39"], and sub-Z-scale (1:440, 1:900, etc. {etc.?}), see the Sub-Z-Scale page.

Railex made (or proposed to make) a Z-scale model of the famed "Glaskasten" (Glass Case) tank loco of the K.Bay.Sts.B. (Royal Bavarian State Railroad) Class Ptl 2/2:

Railex Z Glaskasten
[That's a German pfennig (penny) for proportion!]

More exactly, (TOO exactly!),

HO is 3.5mm = 0.1377953" = 1' (1:87.08571428571)
[Which might well turn out to be a repeating decimal].

Z to HO = 2.5262467:1 (use 2.5 for quick approximations).

HO to Z = 0.3958442:1 (use 0.4 for quick approximations).

For the other purists/perfectionists/maniacs out there, HO scale is exactly 3.5mm to the foot (3.5mm = 12 inches); yes, it is a cross-system dimension!  Dividing 3.5 by 12 inches/foot and then again by 25.4 mm/inch yields a reduction factor of 0.0114829 and inverting the result (on a simple calculator - I used a far more powerful one in my computer to get the full eleven decimal places, which appear to be a repeating decimal, 857142) gives the final inch-to-inch conversion factor!

That's how one gets to it, but I wouldn't sweat it if I were you!  1:87.1 is more than good enough.

Updated:  31 Mar 98, 09:45

SCALE and GAUGE - the table of comparative scales and the discussion of "scale" vs. "gauge" were moved to their own page 04 Jan 2002.

BW Script

The BERLINERWERKE SAGA, the story of the HO Berlinerwerke pike,
is now on its own page with the Horseshoe Curve story.

Berlinerwerke-Z Script

The full BERLINERWERKE-Z SAGA, the Z-scale pike story
now appears on its own page (and continues onto two more).

Visit these courtesy and official home pages:

Long Island Sunrise - Trail Chapter
(National Railway Historical Society)

Sunrise Trail Division
(Northeastern Region)
(National Model Railroad Association)

Ztrack Magazine
The Newsletter for Z Scale Model Railroading

Long Island Live Steamers

Brooklyn Eastern District Terminal Railroad

Degnon Terminal Railroad

Marion River Carry Railroad

You may also wish to jump to SB,III's RAILROAD Page,

Z-Scale Miscellany

There are several excellent Z-scale sites or pages on the Net; here are some of the best:

Brian Redman's Z-World, which is simply fantastic, especially his Märklin mini-club Finder, with its actual-size pictures of most Märklin Z production and custom items, in numerical order.

Dr. Christoph "Chris" Ozdoba's equally fantastic and comprehensive Z site.

"The Z Collection", Joris Ilegems' indexed illustrated list of Märklin Z items.   (new URL 11 Jun 08)

Rob Albriton's complex Z:220 site; ya gotta see his track development sketches!

Stan Jones has an interesting site at Z Model Trains.

I heard (Jan 99) from Graham Jones, Chairman of ZClub(GB) {Great Britain}; they now have a Web site and are a member of the Railroad Web Ring.

Another Web Ring, but one devoted solely to Z, is the Z-Ring of the Z-Modul Team Rhein-Ruhr {Deutsch} ( English); this and other RR rings are listed on Joris Ilegem's Index page (new URL 11 Jun 08).

A Märklin enthusiast's site, with some Z, is at Modellbahn Collectors.

A sampling of some of the finer (and tinier) Z accessories can be found at Microscopic Z Accessories on Z Scale Continuation Page 2; Miller Engineering material formerly here has been moved there.

Märklin Z-Scale Wiring Hookup Convention (09 Dec 2015)

Z Track Wiring Convention
(Image by and © S. Berliner, III - 1999/rev'd. 09 Dec 2015 - all rights reserved)

Standard Märklin Z-scale miniCLUB DC (track power) wiring has the RED (Hot) wire going from the "B" (Hot DC) terminal to the right-hand rail and the BROWN (Neutral) wire going from the "O" (Neutral DC*) terminal to the left-hand rail for forward motion of a locomotive;
remember - RED = RIGHT.

AC (accessory power) wiring is YELLOW/GRAY (or GRAY/GRAY) to the Common Leg of the turnout from the "L" (Common AC) terminal and BLUE/RED to the Reverse Side of a turnout and BLUE/GREEN to the Normal Side of a turnout from the "O" (Hot AC*) terminal, each through a controller (switch).

[ * - Please be certain not to confuse the Neutral DC "O" terminal
with the Hot AC "O" terminal on Märklin transformers
{what a dumb way to label terminals!}.]

Solenoid accessories, such as the turnouts or the 8945 Relay, always have the BLUE wire connecting the contactor, such as the 7272/72720 switch or 8529/8539/8589 circuit track, to the accesory and the GRAY wire connecting the contactor to the power pack.   added (09 Dec 2015)

- - - * - - -

Z-Scale Locomotive Wiring Conventions - Whil(e)(st) we're on the subject of Z-scale wiring, let's carry this a step further and detail just how this applies to Z-scale locomotives.  Of course, this applies to ANY 2-rail DC-powered loco in ANY scale, but Märklin started this ball rolling in 1979 and let's see how they did things:   added (20 Mar 2017)

Z Track Loco Wiring Convention
(20 Mar 2017 image by and © S. Berliner, III 2017 - all rights reserved
after R. O'Connor/Minitrix)

Märklin Z-Scale Locomotive Wiring Convention

To run an electric locomotive (prototype electric, that is) on catenary instead of 2-rail power, you must have a working pantagraph or two and, if you want to run either way, an SPDT (single-pole, double throw) switch in line with the HOT side of the DC motor:

Z Track Loco Catenary Wiring
(20 Mar 2017 image by and © S. Berliner, III 2017 - all rights reserved)
Märklin Z-Scale Locomotive Wiring for Catenary Operation

In this latter drawing, the lower set shows the HOT rail in gray since it's dead (not in use); with the HOT lead connected instead to the overhead catenary wire.  Just to be absolutely sure there's no question of how to wire the SPDT switch, here's a detail of that (gross overkill):

Z Track Loco Catenary SPDT Wiring
(20 Mar 2017 image by and © S. Berliner, III 2017 - all rights reserved)
Märklin Z-Scale Locomotive SPDT Wiring for Catenary Operation

To run the loco in 2-rail mode, simply throw the SPDT switch the other way.  Now you know.


    (moved to Z-Scale page 3 on 01 Jan 2000 - click on heading above to go there directly)

SCHNABEL CARS - please note that the Märklin 8620 "Depressed-Center Flat Car" isn't such at all!  It is a SCHNABEL car!  Click on the link for more about these and other strange giant freight cars.

Schnabel Car - Märklin 8620 picture
Image from Z-world

Repair and Hobby Shops for Z-Scale

I had forgotten to tell you of one of the finest couples with whom I have ever had the pleasure of doing business, who specialize exclusively in buying and selling Märklin mini-Club Z scale equipment and in rebuilding Z locomotives and ICE cars to better-than-new condition (Göppingen, please note!).  I refer to Glenn and Sandy Stiska, who can be reached at:

Mr. & Mrs. Glenn Stiska
1045 Porter Drive
Largo, Florida  33771
e-mail:  stiska@earthlink.net

The Stiskas, in turn, referred me to another dealer in used (excuse me - pre-owned) Z stock:

Ronald (Ron) E. Rygielski
8071 West Eugie Avenue
Peoria, Arizona  85381
Home 623-979-2930 or Work 602-313-5073
e-mail:  rfryg@mindspring.com

I also recommend two local (formerly for me in northern Nassau County on Long Island, New York) hobby shops I patronised, all of which have given me outstanding service for Z scale:

    Willis Hobbies in Mineola - I bought my first HO engine and power pack (as an adult - both still in use) ca. 1960 from the late Karl Boehringer, founder, and have continued with Willis through the successor, Al Ford, and now his sons, Steve and Ken!

Gold Coast Hobby, in Glen Head - nearest to me; owner Charles Gonder has an incredible stock of abstruse items I find useful in model railroading, such as architectural and ship modeling supplies.

There is also Joel and Barbara Berse's Trainville Hobby Depot at 535 South Broadway in Hicksville (11801), 516-433-4444 (888-387-2468 outside NY); their forté is N-Scale but they order and stock regularly from Micro-Trains Line, and are building up a line of Z so they can serve us well.   (new URL - 26 Jan 2007, and 20 Mar 2007)

All of these shops are strong on special orders from Märklin and Z mail orders (with discounts).

Hans Nagengast's Hobbies 'R 'Us, in his Nagengast's Tru-Value Hardware on Fresh Pond Road, Ridgewood (Queens), New York is no more as of mid-2015.   new (09 Dec 2015)

The Caboose, Inc., in Huntington closed effective 15 Dec 02; I bought my first Märklin mini-Club Z-scale equipment (an 8907A starter set listing for $99.50!, less its awful 6727 power pack) from the late owner Charles Schaeffer in 1980.

A top mail-order house that specializes in Märklin mini-Club and Z imports from Europe is Roman Plaszewski's Reynauld's Euro-Imports, Inc. at 113 S. 3rd St., Geneva, Illinois  60134, 1-888-768-6872 for orders (except from Illinois or Canada), 1-600-262-0771, email at: eurotrains@inil.com, FAX:  1-630-262-0778.  Reynauld's carries Roland Kimmich's Railex Z items but there is no information forthcoming to put up on REI's site*.  REI has several other URLs, including "http://www.Fleischmann.com/" and "http://www.Liliput.com/", but they all bring up Reynauld's and RoCo (which REI distributes).

Dave Paegelow has prefab and custom Z layouts, Z cork roadbed, Z display cases, and some other neat stuff at his IBL Products (Itty Bitty Lines) site.

* - Chris Ozdoba has the Railex Catalog up on his site.

Tony's Train Town at 575 Pompton Avenue, Cedar Grove, New Jersey  07009-1720, Tel.:  973-857-2337, FAX:  973-857-0772, tpunt@prodigy.net.  is a multi-line train store but specializes in Märklin, in service, and in hard-to-find items.

Also, Z aficionado William Dean Wright, d.b.a. "Full Throttle", specializes in American prototype Z equipment (although he also services Märklin locos); he is at 128 Burma Island Road, Leesburg, Florida  34788-2914, Tel.:  352-589-0303, e-mail:  dewaa128@aol.com.  Will has a large and constantly changing stock of out-of-production Märklin and Freudenreich items (American prototype) as available.  Will has turned into quite the manufacturer, as well, with a major line of Z freight cars of many styleZ.

Z-Scale continues on the Z-SCALE CONTINUATION page.

For Z-scale construction articles, see my Z Scale Articles page.

For the story of the Berlinerwerke-Z (my layout), see the Berlinerwerke-Z Saga page, et. seq.

For tall tales of the BW and its equipment and such, visit the Berlinerwerke Apocrypha page.

BreakfaZt of ChampionZ!

Hey!  How come there are H-O Quick Oats but no Z Quick OatZ?  AHA!  I went grocery shopping on 23 Feb 2005 and you won't believe (you'd better not) what I found:

Z Quick Oats
(photo by BW-Z Art Department; with apologies (sort of) to
GFA Brands, Inc. - all rights reserved (but to whom -
and would GFA even want to acknowledge this?)]

Now, at long laZt, we have a real Zed-head'Z breakfaZt food!

While we're at it (17 Nov 2011), H.O. Penn has been "serving New York and Connecticut with the best in Caterpillar Machines and equipment since 1923":   new (17 Nov 2011)

H. O. Penn logo
(H. O. Penn logo - all rights reserved]

Unfair sez I!  Z-scale Cats should have their own dealer:

Z. Penn logo
(photo by BW-Z Art Department; with apologies (sort of) to
H. O. Penn - all rights reserved (but to whom -
and would H. O. Penn even want to acknowledge this?)]

Should you run across a Z-Auction (I found it on the HotBot search engine), it has nothing to do with Z-Scale; it is an electronics, computer, and Beanie Baby (really!) auction!

Oh, Hell!  Wouldn't you know!  Amazon.com now has some feature called zShops, whatever they might be (I can't find any explanation on their site).

It gets worse; there's a singles site at Zoosk.com!  (13 May 2013)

More recently, I became aware of John Deere's ZTrak™ Zero-Turn Mowers!   added (19 Nov 2019)

Best regardZ,  S.B.,III

Someone else signs off, "Be Z'ing you!"

Visit these courtesy and official home pages:

    Long Island Sunrise - Trail Chapter
    (National Railway Historical Society)

    Sunrise Trail Division
    (Northeastern Region)
    (National Model Railroad Association)

    Ztrack Magazine - The Newsletter for Z Scale Model Railroading

    Long Island Live Steamers

    Brooklyn Eastern District Terminal Railroad

    Degnon Terminal Railroad

    Marion River Carry Railroad

You may wish to visit the Railroad Continuation Page, et seq.

of this series of Railroad pages.


  What happens to all this when I DIE or (heaven forfend!) lose interest?  See LEGACY.


See Copyright Notice on primary home page.

U.S.Flag U.S.Flag


THUMBS UP!  -  Support your local police, fire, and emergency personnel!

Contact S. Berliner, III

(Junk and unsigned e-mail and blind telephone messages will NOT be answered)

To tour the Z-scale pages in sequence, the arrows take you from this first Z-Scale page and the Z-scale index page, then to the Sub-Z-Scale pages and continuation pages 1 and up, the Z articles page, the BW-Z saga pages, the Dirk Kuhlmann/Sven Rohmann page, and finally the FR pages [as of 23 Aug 2019].

The no-longer-current Ztrack pages are no longer in the tour sequence.

nextpage.gif = subjndex.gif

© Copyright S. Berliner, III - 1999, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2019  - all rights reserved.

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