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Vermont Castings "Defiant" vs Quadrafire "Isle Royale" vs Jotul "600 firelight"....

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by Mr_Super-Hunky, May 22, 2007.

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  1. Mr_Super-Hunky

    Mr_Super-Hunky New Member

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    Well, I have narrowed my search for a single wood burning stove to the threebrands and models mentioned above.

    The wife put her foot down and is very "asthetic" oriented and asked me to "compromise" a little on performance for looks. While this makes absolutely no functional sense, I can still get similar performance (I hope) with the models mentioned above and keep her happy as well.

    The "runners up" were the Hearthstone "Mansfield" and the Quadrafire 5700. The reasons they are not in the top three is that the wife cannot take the looks of the quad 5700 "doublewide" as she calls it and I am not sure if the Mansfield will keep up with the volume of air space I have to heat due to its lower emited temperatures radiated through the soapstone. The Mansfield also clashes with the decor of the home even though its a beautiful stove.

    Once again, I am concerned with the Vermont Castings quality and don't want a "throw-away" stove.

    The Isle Royal by Quadrafire seems to have good reviews other than shorter burn times.

    The Jotul 600 firelight seems to have very poor reviews (on the cat version), but I am only interested in non cat as I will be burning primarily pine.

    Can anyone give me some insight on any of these models?; your experiences would be much appreciated.

    NOTE: We have a 25 foot (not 28 as previously mentioned) open vaulted ceiling in the great room.. 2100sf downstairs, 1500 in a VERY, VERY open loft upstairs with three ceiling fans for winter air circulation. We will be burning primarily pine at an elev of 7600 ft.

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  2. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    I think it is time for the buggaboo about VC stove quality to die a natural death. They had some issues in prior years but seem to have addressed them based on what I have seen in a couple of years on the Forum. The whole things seems like saying "Man, I would never buy a Ford. They made that Edsel thing." If my wife didn't love our new Englander Double-Wide (a born wood burner's wife that gal) so much I would consider a Defiant in a heart beat. Quality every bit as good as Jotul if not better.

    As to the Quad if it won't burn hardwood very long, it ain't got no business heating that big barn in Flagstaff.

    Boy I hope all those women keep teeing off on steel stoves. Helps keep the prices down in case I ever need another one. Or decide to replace these two cast iron pieces of crap.
  3. babalu87

    babalu87 New Member

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    3500 sq feet is A LOT of space, what kind of insulation does the place have and where is it? You are going to have very short burn times with pine, no way around that.
    Did you look at a Morso 3610?
  4. Mr_Super-Hunky

    Mr_Super-Hunky New Member

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    Roof insulation is R-40 PLUS. The "plus" is the 12 inches in addition to the insulation which is comprised of 2 inches of T&G plus several inches of OSB, plywood etc. The walls have no insulation other than 12-16 inch full logs chinked on both sides.

    BrotherBart:

    Please understand that I am NOT ripping Vermont Castings. I am only basing my judgements on individual replies in the review section of this forum!. Of the 12 or so reviews, only 4-5 are positive, the rest are pretty brutal.

    We looked at the Morso 3610, and again, like the Mansfield, a beautiful stove in its own right but too contempory for our "rustic" log home.

    NOTE: An unhappy wife can be more difficult to please than even the most finicky stoves!
  5. Corie

    Corie Minister of Fire

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    Yeah Vermont Castings has an awful reputation here, but when you think of the huge number of stoves they sell and the very small portion of the market the reviews on this site represent, its easy to see that in reality they do pretty well. I honestly wouldn't think twice about buying one of the high dollar cast iron Vermont Castings stoves (although mine would be catalytic). If that's what the wife likes and you also like it, I'd say find a VERY REPUTABLE dealer, just in case, and pick up the vermont castings stove of your choice. I highly doubt you'll be disappointed.
  6. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Both the Defiant and the Jotul non-cat Firelight are relatively new models - it would be nice if some users here could describe their experiences. We have some dealers that have sold both.. maybe they will chime in.

    One place when Jotul usually beats VC is in the amount of future service - certain VC models needed many hundreds of dollars of replacement parts in a relatively short period....but some of this was particular models - cats, for instance...

    I would buy and burn a VC, but my experience with both brands as a dealer is that we had fewer problem (over a decade or more) with Jotul. That does not mean we had a lot of VC problems, we didn't! But we had almost no Jotul problems.
  7. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    Some have ask why I waited so long to make the VC recomendation.. The longest burn time you will get with your pine soft wood would be a cat stove.

    Who miss informed about Cat combustor stoves I bet it was not a seasoned burner that know how to opperate one. Yeah I used to believe that BS till I ended up owning one.
    It worked so well I went out and got a second one fo for my main stove. What it has delivered is long clean burns. Remember these stoves are als thermatically controled. Its about as close to set and forget as it gets. As for the ratings the ci urrent VC Defiant model has only run form 2002. I found very few that were not satisfied with the current modelsAs Corie said a few have rated the manufacture's stove negatively from that some are plain user errors. What the rationgs do not project is the millions of satisfied customers that have not found this site and written a review they are just satisfied and enjoying the heat. The Defiant is one serious heater over 3 cu ft fire box m,and the cleanest ever tested by the EPA

    Got love the ashless dustless disposal system put the lid on and walk it out of the home no dust no fuss a real wife pleaser. Then there are the bread warming racks and wet mitten racks to dry them out. Then the romantic door open fire screen option where you can enjoy the open fire sipping wine with the wife watching the dancing flames. Finally the patriotic pitch, the only Cast iron stove still made and cast in USA with American workers..

    Wait I save the best feature for last smokless top loading. For 35 years my wife took no interest in stove opperation. Enter smokless top loading My wife took over stove opperations including knowing how to engage the cat.. My wid fe also likes the look with the bread shelves and actually raises bread on them. Some times she will simmer stew or sauces.

    Will it heat your vast area to a degree even if it causes your heating system to take a longer cycle times you are still using less fosil fuel. Another thing VC does it try to reflect a BTU output to reflect a realistic production over a long period of time They would rather you achieve 600 griddle top heat 10 hours than a flash of higher heat 4 hours. VC told me they have tested them in their lab to b produce 125,000 BTUS but that a one time systems full bore . And not reflective to real world expectations..

    If you are truely interested I have posted a video of the plant tour. Want to see the people making your stove. Want to fully understand the process then you can decide ,their dedication to quality control
  8. titan

    titan Minister of Fire

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    Mr s-h, I understand the task of keeping the wife happy with an aesthetically-pleasing stove,but if I was serious about heating a log home of your size, I'd find a way to like the looks of a Blaze-King 1107 Classic.A claimed 90,000 Btu's and up to 40 hrs. burn time?Sounds like a suitable solution to your dilemma; that stove could hold 90 lbs. of pine!If my wife just wouldn't bend in the stove decision.....I'd just tell her she looked fat in the wool socks and sweaters she had to wear around the big house with the undersized stove. :bug:
  9. Mr_Super-Hunky

    Mr_Super-Hunky New Member

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    Elk:

    That was a great reply. Are you saying to get the cat Defiant over the non cat?. I also agree that people who need to "vent" may be more inclined to do so in a bad review as opposed the the ones that are totaly satisfied. You know, how many times have you heard that the plane landed....safely?!.

    I must say that I do like the looks of the VC Defiant the best over the others.

    Titan:

    The very first stove we looked at was the Blazeking. At first, I was not interested in it as it looked so plain. Then I checked out the specs.....and they were sick!

    I wish I could wave my magic wand and get the performance of a Blazeking in the looks of the Defiant!.
  10. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    I think you should PM MSG re: the Isle Royale. There are too many happy campers in the CO hills to accept that this is not a good burner for softwoods. Your neighbors are a small sampling. Which of them are getting good, long burn times and in what stove(s)?

    Though in this case you have already decided to go for form over function, so what does it matter?
  11. Mr_Super-Hunky

    Mr_Super-Hunky New Member

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    BeGreen, why do you say this?. Do you think that the VC Defiant is more a "poser" than a real dependable workhorse?.

    I know it has fluffy accessories like "mitten racks" and shelf warmers along with a nice ash pan with lid and handle, but I'm not looking to weld a couple of oil drums together either in terms of appearance.

    My wife really likes the looks of the Vermont Castings stove and from a pure "power" stand point, the stove has some really impressive features like 3.2 cf fire box, longer burn times than some and extremely low emissions (which means it burns cleaner, a plus when burning crappy pine!)

    If you suggest a better "compromise" stove...i.e meets both form AND function, I'm very interested.
  12. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    The general recommendation as the best compromise given the wood source has been for a soapstone stove. This has been dismissed due to aesthetics, even though they are among the most traditional look for a "rustic" cabin. The VC stove seems to be out due to concerns about quality, but maybe it will qualify because it looks good. The PE Summit hasn't been discussed, in spite of being strongly recommended, so I am gathering that the look of things is much more important than ideal function. This discussion doesn't seem to get any traction because it started out asking what is the very best and is ending up with a discussion of "looks". This is what governed the decision to have a central fireplace that will as noted suck the heat out of the house and seems to continue to be the rule of the roost.

    If it were me, I would be deciding between the Hearthstone first and the Isle Royale or PE Summit second. I'd like to try a Defiant cat, and as a new stove, I think it would be an admirable performer. But I wouldn't recommend one to a first time woodburner for the reason that it takes a bit of learning. This is not an electric stove one just turns on and gets heat out of. To get a nice long burn with good heat requires a bit of observation and timing on the part of the person running the stove. If not, a cat can be a bad experience due to no fault of the stove. And if the stove is developing quality issues, will a new stove user know it? Thus I recommended the Hearthstone and the Summit as simple to operate, with predictable long burns and good long usable heat. The Isle Royale has a good track record burning spruce, pine or alder, but it is a slightly more complex stove with a few more options for air control. In the hands of an experienced wood burner, this is desirable, but perhaps not to a novice. Misuse of the controls like the startup air control can lead to overfiring, excess wood consumption, owner unhappiness. That again is not the stove's fault, but it happens.

    Sorry, I'm in a cynical mood tonight. So I'll just stop posting now.
  13. Mr_Super-Hunky

    Mr_Super-Hunky New Member

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    BeGreen:

    I can't agree or disagree with your recomendation of the Hearthstone first as your recommendation as the best stove for my circumstances. I simply do not have any woodburning experience so I can only go by mfg's brochures and advice from others, comparing specs and reading reviews.

    From a newbie's point of view, this is al VERY confusing and I really want to make an educated descision the first time; especially since it will cost me around $4-$5k initially.

    The reviews on your #1 choice (Hearthstone) have, for the most part, been very positive (throwing out the high and low score of course!). I do realize that this stove really should address "form" before "function", but to be totally honest, I really don't see any huge advantage of the soapstone stoves over anything else other than they remain warmer after the fires dies down or goes out completely.

    Due to the fact that it gets very cold and windy almost year round here (remember, I'm at almost 8k feet!), We will probably keep the stove burning at some level 24/7; at least in spring, fall and winter.

    I am concerned that even Hearthstones current largest stove "the Mansfield", will not be able to produce the amount of heat needed to meet our demands. I am basing this statement from their much lower heating temperatures (radiated into the room) as well as a concern as too how much heat is simply going up the chimenea.

    I can only ASS-ume!!! that the Defiant would meet more of our "form" requirements than even the Hearthstone can based on a larger firebox (3.2cf vs .30cf), higher BTU outputs, higher square footage ratings, along with better creature comforts...(read the reviews of the Hearstones ash pans!!).

    All I am saying is that "comparitively speaking", or "on paper", it seems that there are several stoves that will outperform the Hearstone stoves quite easily.


    As I've said before, "I'm all ears!". If you or others recomend a specific stove (which you did), I will certainly check them out and compare them. I can't help my wifes tastes but I also don't see anything wrong in purchasing a reliable heat source that also looks good.

    As you have suggested, I did look closely at the Hearthstone stoves but did not find them to be equal or better in any category as compared to the other stoves mentioned other than they radiate heat longer when fire dies down or goes out.

    Remember, I am as green as they come so if you think I am missing something here, please let me know what it is. I really appreciate all of your input.
  14. Mr_Super-Hunky

    Mr_Super-Hunky New Member

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    BeGreen:

    Looking over the previous replies, I realized that I had totally missed a very possible candidate; that being the "pacific energy" stoves. We do not have any Pacific energy dealer here in the state and I did'nt realize what "PE" stood for.....my fault.

    From your suggestion and looking at their website, it seems that there "Summit" series or the new Altadera..sp? could definitely work (as in do the heating job, as well as pass the wifes approval).

    I'm still not sure why so many recommend the soapstones stoves, but on paper, the Pacific Energy stove @ 93kBTU's rated at 3k square feet sure seems to justify some looking into.

    I have not purchased anything yet and will continue to look for more useful info from this site as my guide.
  15. titan

    titan Minister of Fire

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    Definetly check out the PE Alderlea.In its largest form, it is a summit firebox wrapped in attractive cast-iron surround panels;thus giving you convective heat which should heat your large open space more easily than a radiant-only stove.
  16. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    Here is a few post concerning the defiant. All complaints posted here did not include the defiant as a problem stove but a rock soild contributor.

    Personally iif my location would setup for the cat defiant I would have one. Then again my rear exit setup limits all top exiting stoves.

    You heard right My two stoves are Cat combustor stoves thay are so easy to opperate set and forget I feel like the old Maytag repairman

    Don't let me concvince you read these threads and watch the video of the plant tour goose and I did.

    http://www.hearth.com/econtent/index.php/forums/viewthread/5145


    http://www.hearth.com/econtent/index.php/forums/viewthread/5224/



    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-3397773981046662187
  17. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Thank you for your interest in Pacific Energy Fireplace Products.

    Below are the results of your search for Pacific Energy fireplace dealers in Holbrook, Arizona:

    Burrs Stove Shop
    200 2nd Street
    Holbrook, Arizona
    USA 86025
    phone: 602-524-1644

    ------ also -----

    Mountain West Sales Inc.
    2718 University Boulevard NE
    Albuquerque, New Mexico
    USA 87107
    phone: 505-888-4464

    Cedar Builders Supply
    309 N 200 W
    Cedar City, Utah
    USA 84720
    phone: 435-586-9424

    For more real world Hearthstone info search on Hearthstone posts by MountainStoveGuy. He's expecting a new addition to the family any moment, so this will have to do in absentia:
    http://www.hearth.com/econtent/index.php/forums/viewthread/2859/
    and HS vs VC discussion:
    http://www.hearth.com/econtent/index.php/forums/viewthread/2612/
  18. ChrisN

    ChrisN Feeling the Heat

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    Hey Super-Hunk. I have a similar home set-up as you describe yours, The stove (Jotul Oslo) is located on the first floor in a great room w/ a cathedral ceiling that is open to the upstairs loft with 3 bedrooms off a short hallway from the loft. My house is about 1000sf small than yours, and the stove does a great job of heating the upstairs and the main area of the downstairs. the outer rooms of the first floor don't get a whole lot of heat from the stove. One thing for you to consider is the volume of wood you will be burning each season. My intermediate sized Oslo burns 24/7 from mid Nov through early April and I go through 7 or 8 cords. It's a lot of work keeping up the wood supply unless you are buying it. Dedicated wood burning to heat your home requires a substantial investment in time and effort. Make sure you go into this with your eyes wide open!
  19. wg_bent

    wg_bent Minister of Fire

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    Let me pose another way to look at this.

    If your burning 24/7, the heat life of a stove really doesn't matter especially when your looking at stoves that can handle an entire 200 year old oak in a single burn. A 3.2 cuft firebox is very large. You will not have trouble achieving overnite burns, so heat life is not all that interesting. If you had a 2.0 cuft firebox or smaller like in the Hearthstone Tribute, then the soapstove will really work for you.

    Another thing to think about. If your using the stove to take the chill off, a soapstone stove might be a pain since they take a while to heat up, and a couple people have indicated problems getting them going when stone cold (pardon the punn) (but I think they have a basic draft problem, not a stove problem) On the otherhand, once a soapstone stove is up to temp, I understand a relight is super easy.

    In reading all the posts thus far, and from hanging around here for the better part of a year or more, I'd say the Defiant Cat would be your stove. I have a friend with one and it heats his house. Granted this guy has like r100 walls, so on warm days light bulbs heat the place, but the stove is in his basement and it works well.

    The other observation around here is that people are very loyal to their stove companies. Elk has two VC Cat stoves and loves them, Rhonemas has a Hearthstone and loves it. I'm the local Osburn evangelist along with McGriz, and so on. Most people seem basically happy with their stoves unless they get a problematic one or have draft issues.

    Vermont Castings sells something like 10x the stoves others do, so their bound to get more unhappy customers than say Woodstock. (although I have yet to hear about even 1 unhappy woodstock customer, so that might tell you something) but you get the point.

    If you like the way the stove looks, and you purchase a large enough stove, and you have resonable expectations for it, you will likely be happy.

    Looks... well, all the stoves you originally posted about look similar (did you check out the biggest Morso?) so on looks, well, it's your choice. On heating ability, I'd bet those all will do the job, just purchase a stove that's somewhat bigger than you think you'll need. You can always burn just a single log at a time or open a window, but you can't make your stove any bigger.

    Possibly my biggest mistake was not thinking big enough. If I had to do it all over again knowing then what I know now, I probably would have completely replaced the 0-clearance Majestic my insert sits in, and replaced it with something like a Quad 5700 fireplace or turned the fireplace into an alcove and installed a very large stove like what your looking at.
  20. Mr_Super-Hunky

    Mr_Super-Hunky New Member

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    Begreen, titan, elk warren Chris..... others too!

    You guys are great. I really appreciate all the good advice you are giving me and don't hesitate to set me straight if you see my thinking going off couse!.

    Please just understand that to a total novice, making the right choice can be a bit overwhelming.

    I am starting to see a sort of "Ford vs Chevy" loyalty between various brands, and even designs (i.e cat vs non-cat).

    There may be no simple answer......actually, scratch that, there is no simple answer to my situation since I am throwing so many wrenches into the equasion!.

    I am not used to a forum that does not use html codes to post pics and lets just say that I am a "natural" blonde...(really)!. so it may take a bit to figure out how to post up some pics but I will take some pics of the log home (inside and out) so you all can see exactly what I am working with.

    I really appreciate Begreens "tactful" way of telling me that you MUST choose function first, then form. Even though I do get that, I still would like to find a good looking stove that actually is a real workhorse, if thats even possible.

    As soon as I get some pics uploaded (hopefully later today), I will post 'em up.

    BTW, don't be afraid to just "say it" if you think I am screwing up. I will even post a direct quote for anyone to use by just copying and pasting should you think my vision is getting a bit blurred.

    Here it is:

    "Listen to what we are saying you dopey blonde idiot, WE are the ones with the experience, not you!"

    Again, don't be afraid to use that quote on me if you really think it applies!!

    To be con't.
  21. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    If you want to post a picture, first downsize it so that is about 800 x 600 pixels or less. Then, use the "Post Reply" button, not the "Fast Reply" button. At the bottom of the reply screen you will see a section for attachments. Click on the "Browse" button to link to the picture file on your computer. The click on "Preview Post" button if you have another picture to post, and if not, click on the "Submit Post" button.

    Attached Files:

  22. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    I'm staying stove agnostic, even though I like Jotuls and think it would work well for you. My strong recommendation is to keep it simple. The F600 fits that criteria, but the VC or Hearthstone will possibly give you longer usable heat.

    You have a lot to learn about burning wood. Warren is right, heating 24/7 is work. At times it can grow old, especially if you can't be home all the time or have a job. How many nights are you willing to get up at 5am to stoke the stove? It will happen. At least if a soapstone stove's fire dies down at 5am, it will continue to heat until maybe 7am. That can be a blessing. How about having to dig down through 6 feet of snow to get at the wood? Can happen, ask MSG. You're going to learn a whole lot the first year about wood burning. Once the newness wears off, you may very well get tired of it. So keep it simple and accept that if you really like burning wood 24/7 you may be changing the stove in 5 years. That's really not the end of the world.

    As far as the new stove goes, be sure it is placed centrally. Keep the flue in the interior of the house until it exits through the roof. If possible, build the hearth deeper and wider than required so that you can accommodate a variety of stoves should you desire a change. Pay attention to clearance requirements from combustibles. Locate a good installer.

    PS: What is your primary source of heat besides the woodstove? Make sure that is sized correctly for the house. You will get sick or need to travel at some point and will need to have the peace of mind to know that system can handle the house with a margin of comfort.
  23. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    Buster thanks and good luck with your stove. It is time for me to move on.. This maybe my last post. I'm glad I have helped a few while I was here.

    I guess 5 years is enough
  24. Mr_Super-Hunky

    Mr_Super-Hunky New Member

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    Okay, I think I may have finally have goten a pic of the inside of our log home resized to stick!.

    As I mentioned, this is an EXTREMELY open floorplan. I'm not really sure how to figure the livable sq footage because they count only the actual floorspace. If the upstairs loft was all filled in with "livable" sq footage, as opposed to open air space, the sq foot amount would be even higher than it is.

    I know I have a LOT of space or "volume" of air to heat which is why I don't want to make a poor choice of stove. The open three sided penninsula fireplace in the picture (not rocked yet) will be a feature in the home, but unfortunately worthless for heat.

    I know your thinking "why not convert the large free standing fireplace into an actual heating unit"... That makes TOTAL sense!!.. I know, but my wife REALLY wants this "decorative" feature in the house and wants all three sides exposed.

    I plan on putting a large wood stove just in front of the vertical log post supporting the second floor. (in front of kitchen). As you can see from the pic, its a straight shot to the roof with no obstructions. There are also three ceiling fans ready to blow heated air back down.

    SO, back to the original question, do you guys think I will be able to heat this area with a wood stove?

    Attached Files:

  25. Mr_Super-Hunky

    Mr_Super-Hunky New Member

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    BTW, Elk, why are you leaving?. You seem to have made a big influence on others and I certainly appreciated all of your suggestions.
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