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Steinway Model R Upright #2440245
07/10/15 11:14 AM
07/10/15 11:14 AM
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Erchoukyrie Offline OP
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First let me say how helpful this forum has been to me.

I was tempted to resurrect a thread from 2012 regarding the pianos on the Titanic, but thought I might start a dedicated thread to share information on a rare model of Steinway. The OP quoted an article pointing out that there were five Steinways on board the Titanic, one Model B grand (first class), two model R uprights (first class), and two Model K uprights (second class). Everyone knows the B and the K, but few have heard or seen the R. So the question was even raised as to whether Steinway ever made such a thing. The question was seemingly resolved when someone posted pictures of an extant Model R.

The problem is, that the model pictured was discontinued years before the Titanic sailed. As best I can determine, Steinway actually made two different Model Rs, the first was a double plate design (iron plates on either side of the soundboard) made during the late 1800s by both factories; this is what is shown in the pictures.

The second Model R was also 138cm/54" but designed around the turn of the century and has the same basic design as the K. The difference are that it is larger in every dimension (54.3" tall by 62.5" wide by 27.7" deep; it weighs about 750 lbs), has the "Upright Grand String Frame" with capo d'astro bar rather than the chrome pressure bars on the K, and has a layered design in which the keyboard and first half of the case is the normal width but the soundboard and frame extend out by a couple inches in the back (resulting in what is probably the widest piano Steinway made in the 20th Century). It was apparently made only in Hamburg, but the factor rep told me all records were lost when the plant was destroyed by Allied bombing in 1943. Steinway catalogues from the late teens list only two uprights, the entry Model K "Vertigrand" at 52" and the step-up Model R "Upright Grand" at 54".

There is one Model R currently for sale in the UK, http://www.thepianogallery.co.uk/details_link.php?steinway-model-r-upright
This earlier case style shows very clearly that the Model R's close NY cousin is actual the Model I.

Here is a fully restored 1919 Hamburg R in gloss black: http://www.clavierento.de/steinway-sons-modell-r
I have an unrestored 1925 example in Mahogany, with the three removable front sound panels like Ks of this era. I do not intend to restore it cosmetically (it is fine, really), but I have ordered a set of hammers from Ari Isaac, and hope to be able to have it restrung (and rescaled) by Phil Taylor soon.

If anyone has any corrections or additions to make, please say on.


1926 Hamburg Steinway R (138cm upright rebuilt in 2015)
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Re: Steinway Model R Upright [Re: Erchoukyrie] #2443137
07/20/15 05:52 PM
07/20/15 05:52 PM
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No additions or corrections to this information so far? It is a rare model, I suppose. Incidentally, in the process of determining the reconditioning work needed and researching the technicians and suppliers to do it, I spoke to a number of people who have spent their lives working on Steinways. Not one of them had actually encountered a Model R in the flesh (although a few had heard of them) so I should not be surprised.

Anyhow, I just wanted to add something of interest to all owners (and potential buyers) of vintage Steinway uprights with brass action rails. My main compliant was a "muted" lack of power relative to the size of the instrument in the tenor and treble (the bass, even with old strings, sounded great). The diagnosis from three separate techs zeroed in on the worn and over-voiced hammers. This much was true (and Ari Isaac Cadenza S is the prescription), but Phil Taylor suggested that I have the brass action rail checked for cracks. http://www.pianos4me.co.uk/steinway_rails.html Sure enough, a fourth tech looked for, and found serious cracks (Phil will have an even more graphic photo for the website now) in the tenor and treble sections. Such cracks will sap power as they flex excessively. Thankfully, the new rails produced by Steinway are made of thicker brass. So if you think the power is off, get the rails checked.

A thought that occurs to me. With a) the ongoing erosion of the market for small prestige verticals due to good digitals and Chinese acoustics (and that includes Steinway's own Essex line), and b) the re-emergence of the over 52" class with legitimate grand piano replacement models like the Steingraeber 138, Steinway should consider dropping the 1098 and resume production of the R. That would result in a vertical line-up of V, K and R; any takers?


1926 Hamburg Steinway R (138cm upright rebuilt in 2015)
Re: Steinway Model R Upright [Re: Erchoukyrie] #2443148
07/20/15 06:36 PM
07/20/15 06:36 PM
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Is the V sold in the States ?

Karl Watson,
Staten Island, NY

Re: Steinway Model R Upright [Re: Karl Watson] #2443169
07/20/15 08:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Karl Watson
Is the V sold in the States ?

Karl Watson,
Staten Island, NY


Not any more, unless there are some brought from Hamburg.


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Re: Steinway Model R Upright [Re: BDB] #2443248
07/21/15 06:00 AM
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Now that both factories make the Model O, I suppose the V (which some people actually prefer over the K, as some prefer the shorter Yamaha U1 over the U3) and the C remain as the only "Hamburg only" models. Yet even the same models are different enough between the factories to warrant consideration of Hamburg vs. NY.

Apparently, you can now special order any Hamburg model from any USA dealer. Some of the larger dealers actually carry some Hamburg models in stock, but I think these are usually grands. I wonder if anyone has ever special ordered a Hamburg V, which probably costs as much as retail for a NY K.

Of course, the additional cost is offset by the fact (consensus opinion?) that the Hamburg factory maintains a more consistent standard of craftmanship.

Someone should special order an "R-138" just to see what happens.


1926 Hamburg Steinway R (138cm upright rebuilt in 2015)
Re: Steinway Model R Upright [Re: Erchoukyrie] #2443267
07/21/15 07:41 AM
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I'm afraid that a special order of an R-138 would fall on deaf ears.
Any discussion of S&S (Astoria) equals asking for trouble. As an American baby-boomer, the Astoria firm dominated my sound-world for most of my young life (some exceptional Baldwins and VINTAGE Masons notwithstanding). But, as I edge toward my '70s, I still wonder about the worth of the 1098, the S and the M. The answer is obvious. If they didn't sell, they would not remain in production.
It's hard for me to grasp why the 1098, the horror of the technical community, is still made when the much nicer V might replace it.
I'm sure that some worthy will rush into print to defend the 1098 against all critics. If I were to purchase one, I'd risk the ire of my RPT and face tuning and regulation visits of double the usual length.
Karl Watson,
Staten Island, NY

Re: Steinway Model R Upright [Re: Erchoukyrie] #2443419
07/21/15 03:45 PM
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Karl,

The decision makers at Astoria should take a look at Glen Barkman's article: http://pianopricepoint.com/tag/steingraeber-model-138/
I think the trend is very real. If they can decide to restart production of the O after all those years, they can decide to restart the R.
Concur that said decision makers seem a bit tone deaf these days, however. A shame for a firm that was once known for bold innovation (driven by a keen sense of market forces).




1926 Hamburg Steinway R (138cm upright rebuilt in 2015)
Re: Steinway Model R Upright [Re: Erchoukyrie] #2443426
07/21/15 04:04 PM
07/21/15 04:04 PM
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Although there are certainly some tremendous large vertical pianos out there, particularly from Europe, I don't think the market exists for them here, as there's a perception of prestige here in the US in owning a small grand piano, by a large portion of the population (not that I agree with that thinking, personally!).

I get to visit my fair share of piano dealers in this country, and many of the oldest serial numbers among their "new" inventories tend to be tall uprights. I don't think the model K is a big seller for NY Steinway, so what purpose is there to require dealers to stock an even larger, more expensive vertical model that tends to sit in the showroom for years before selling?

Without naming names, I have run across examples of vertical pianos where things start to sound bloated and unbalanced in the bass (compared with the rest of the compass) once the sizes grow to 52"+ ... at a variety of price levels.

p.s. The resumption of production of the model O does not seem germane to your argument - it was consolidating the production between the two facilities at a size both were already producing in some numbers. There also seems to be something of a preference from the technical community for the design of the model O over that of the L, though that is subject to debate.


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Re: Steinway Model R Upright [Re: Erchoukyrie] #2443457
07/21/15 05:34 PM
07/21/15 05:34 PM
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Those big Steinways with the capo bars are difficult to tune. The bars get in the way. There is probably enough difference between the V and the K that it is worth having both in the line-up, but the differences get smaller with as the pianos get bigger.


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Re: Steinway Model R Upright [Re: terminaldegree] #2443479
07/21/15 06:34 PM
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My apologies, Terminal; my reference was not germane but neither was it (or the suggestion to special order a model that has not been in production since the 1930s) intended to be taken completely seriously. I think I was being too British in flitting from the completely serious to the half serious without warning.

In full seriousness, I think the trend favouring smaller pianos really has come full circle. However, that only leaves us where we were in the years before the Great Depression. Meaning, there is a reason why the Model R is so rare: even in the Gilded Age, the market for them was small, probably for the very same reasons you cite. I have no idea what the production figures actually were for the R (again, they were lost in 1943), but there is little doubt that they amounted to less than 1 in 10 relative to the K. That was on production numbers 4-5 times what they are today, and as you say, the K itself is not exactly a best seller.

I suppose the prospective customer for a Model R would be about the same today as it would have been 100 years ago. Someone who a) wanted the best sounding piano possible, and b) could afford to buy a grand, but c) had serious space limitations. In other words, the makers of a luxury ocean liner like the Titanic. Or (as you rightly imply) people who meet the description because they live in small European houses/flats.

Thankfully, we happen to live at a time where old pianos can be rebuilt to as-new, or better than new, standards. Which is frankly what I would be doing even if Model Rs were coming off the Hamburg line today.


1926 Hamburg Steinway R (138cm upright rebuilt in 2015)
Re: Steinway Model R Upright [Re: BDB] #2444251
07/24/15 02:09 PM
07/24/15 02:09 PM
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BDB, I read one of your posts (one of your many, many excellent posts!) from 2003 in which you said: "Incidentally, the large uprights cost as much as a Steinway A new!"

The few early 20th century catalogues I have seen do not actually list prices. Do you have any more specific information or reference on that? I do not doubt it, since as a rule of thumb, you essentially pay by the weight for a given quality of item and the large uprights weighed about the same as a Model A (actually, closer to a Model B; it was an interesting object lesson to see the professional piano movers struggle mightily at each point with the R, and then lift the Yamaha U3 it replaced like a toy. When it went to the shop, the lift on the truck pulled the truck right down on its suspension but did not move the piano up at all; they had to take it off the dolly and do some other things to get it to go).

On the capo bar, when you say it gets in the way of tuning, what do you mean? Do you mean that it gets in the way of the tuning physically, or do you mean that the design retains too much differential between the tensions on the speaking and non-speaking lengths (if so, I guess that would be the opposite problem to the 1098)? My tuner has not mentioned any difficulties, but that does not mean they were not there.

Also, does a capo bar at all do a more effective job of transferring energy to the soundboard, or was it just a marketing thing to distinguish the high line of uprights?


1926 Hamburg Steinway R (138cm upright rebuilt in 2015)
Re: Steinway Model R Upright [Re: Erchoukyrie] #2444269
07/24/15 04:26 PM
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There are some 19th Century ads which list the prices of Steinways. You can find them in books on Steinway. My books are packed away until I can move back in my house, so I cannot be more specific, but someone may find them for you.

The capo bar makes it very difficult to mute the treble strings for tuning. There are clearance problems, and it is difficult to see where you are when you tune. That just may be me, and it has been a while since I tuned a piano with them, either a Steinway or a Baldwin.

It is difficult to detect any difference between the way the strings are terminated. There are too many other factors that come into play to be able to tell what is due to the termination, and what is due to a difference in scale, hammers, soundboard design, etc.

The G and H, predecessors of the R and other large uprights, did not have capo bars. But I have not seen a lot of them. Most old Steinways seem to be model F or K, 51 inches tall, followed by E or V, 49 inches tall. The larger ones seem to be rarer, and they did not last as long in Steinway's production, which pretty much ceased early into the Depression. I read somewhere that they had difficulty finding anyone who remembered building an upright when they started making the 40 inch models about 1940.


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Re: Steinway Model R Upright [Re: Erchoukyrie] #2444296
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That makes sense, BDB, thanks.


1926 Hamburg Steinway R (138cm upright rebuilt in 2015)
Re: Steinway Model R Upright [Re: Erchoukyrie] #2444338
07/24/15 11:01 PM
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Re: Steinway Model R Upright [Re: BDB] #2444510
07/25/15 06:03 PM
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BDB,
Yes, a Model I. I would love for someone to enlighten us on the differences, if there are any, between the I and the R. The only thing I have seen is that the R seems to have come in a greater variety of case styles. Also, I can no longer be sure that the R was made in Hamburg only; the re-builder just found newspapers from NJ in mine! Yet it has markings inside and out indicating it was sold by Harrod's in London! Is it possible that the UK dealers changed their source of supply from Hamburg to NY because of WWI, and remained that way for some years afterwards due to patriotism?

Anyhow, here is a picture Phil Taylor just took of my piano on its back awaiting de-stringing. Note the capo bar, and the infamous "hockey stick" foreshortening of the low tenor just before the break. This one will be getting 3 wound bi-chords on 27-29 (Steinway has been putting 4 wound bi-chords on 27-30 on the Model K for years). [img]http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/galleries/2444507.html#Post2444507[/img]


1926 Hamburg Steinway R (138cm upright rebuilt in 2015)
Re: Steinway Model R Upright [Re: Karl Watson] #2444702
07/26/15 05:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Karl Watson
I'm afraid that a special order of an R-138 would fall on deaf ears.
Any discussion of S&S (Astoria) equals asking for trouble. As an American baby-boomer, the Astoria firm dominated my sound-world for most of my young life (some exceptional Baldwins and VINTAGE Masons notwithstanding). But, as I edge toward my '70s, I still wonder about the worth of the 1098, the S and the M. The answer is obvious. If they didn't sell, they would not remain in production.
It's hard for me to grasp why the 1098, the horror of the technical community, is still made when the much nicer V might replace it.
I'm sure that some worthy will rush into print to defend the 1098 against all critics. If I were to purchase one, I'd risk the ire of my RPT and face tuning and regulation visits of double the usual length.
Karl Watson,
Staten Island, NY


My school is that school that bought 26 new Steinways to enter the "All-Steinway" fraternity. Most of those Steinways are actually 1098s. I have played them. The poor maintenance may have some relation to the Summer semester, but nonetheless they were lackluster for me. I found it extremely difficult to play quietly on them, and some minor tuning and action problems existed. I have heard people talk about the troubles technicians have with them. I just felt like the University could have done better with their 1.6 million dollars.

Re: Steinway Model R Upright [Re: Bassano] #2450169
08/13/15 10:38 AM
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According to Steinway's NY office, my piano is in fact an early 1926 (rather than 1925) Model R in Mahogany and it was definitely made in Hamburg. So yes, the NY office does have records for Hamburg instruments during this era, and yes, by 1926 London dealers were again selling German-made pianos (something that surely did not happen in 1918). As to why there were newspapers from New Jersey found in it, I have no idea. Any theories as to why that might be?

One other thing I might say is I am amazed at the basic durability of the design of these old pianos. Before it went in for rebuild it was still a fully serviceable instrument, indeed, one preferred by myself and others to the U3 it replaced both in terms of sound quality and even of the way it played (satisfying touch, and the repetition fast for an upright). Well done, Steinway.


1926 Hamburg Steinway R (138cm upright rebuilt in 2015)
Re: Steinway Model R Upright [Re: Erchoukyrie] #2454518
08/28/15 08:03 AM
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And just to close out the question of whether there are any differences at all between the Model I and the Model R other than the mere name, I have found one. Take a look at these two pictures, the first of a 1919 NY Model I:
http://ancientpoint.com/imgs/a/g/u/q/y/steinway_model_i_upright_1919_5_lgw.jpg

and the second of my 1926 R:
http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/gallery/42/full/5299.jpg

Spot the difference? The I has six intermediate supports cast along the raised capo bar whereas the R has only three, two of which are integrated into the long vertical support lines of the frame. Makes for a slightly more passable emulation of a grand frame, I suppose.

Also, I am now fairly sure that the I was NY only and the R was Hamburg only, so this ends up being something akin to the O and L situation (two pianos of the same size with only minor design differences, but from different factories). According to one source, the R was made in Hamburg from 1897 until 1956! http://www.ebay-kleinanzeigen.de/s-anzeige/klavier-steinway-sons,-modell-r-%7C-fluegel-%7C/353438024-74-3378 Considering Astoria stopped making the I in 1923, I guess the market for large uprights was a different story in Europe.


1926 Hamburg Steinway R (138cm upright rebuilt in 2015)
Re: Steinway Model R Upright [Re: Erchoukyrie] #2454554
08/28/15 10:54 AM
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The L and O are not the same shape, so it is not a minor difference.


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Re: Steinway Model R Upright [Re: Erchoukyrie] #2454745
08/29/15 04:01 AM
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Thanks, BDB. That reminds me that I understand the L and the O also have different string tensions (the O higher than the L, correct me if I am wrong). We came up with a figure of 34,065 lbs of tension for the R. If someone happened to have the number for a Model I to hand, that would be interesting to know.


1926 Hamburg Steinway R (138cm upright rebuilt in 2015)
Re: Steinway Model R Upright [Re: Erchoukyrie] #2547812
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I also own a 1922 Model R Upright, in a very good condition, the sound quality is superb. I did not know many of the facts that you disclosed in this forum. Thank you kindly.
👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻

Re: Steinway Model R Upright [Re: Erchoukyrie] #2548542
06/11/16 01:22 PM
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Thanks, Ballena2002; great to know of another Model R being enjoyed. I was just listening to mine from upstairs and was reminded of its amazing depth (which probably has some relation to its monstrous weight). In addition to what you hear, it vibrates the floor under it and above it.

Do you have any history on it, such as an indication of which shop sold it? Mine was from Harrods, marked on the inside and out. As I mentioned, Hamburg does not have the records, but it would be interesting ever to know some sales figures from the main shops that sold Steinways in the 1920s. Just judging by the number of Rs you see for sale compared to Ks, it would seem something in the range of 10-20 Ks sold for every R. So the reason why they were discontinued is obvious--people who could afford an R would normally buy an M, and the Titanic story is really an example of the rare scenario in which a money-is-no-object budget and limited space came together. The fact that the current top upright was conceived as as a more mass-market alternative to the R is a pity.

Anyhow, I have what I was looking for: a credible upright alternative to an M or O.


1926 Hamburg Steinway R (138cm upright rebuilt in 2015)
Re: Steinway Model R Upright [Re: Erchoukyrie] #2618685
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Hi,

I finally got approved to post on this awesome forum. I recently purchased a Steinway upright piano. According to the factory it is indeed a Model R from,New York, not Hamburg and was built in 1896 in a mahogany finish.

I sent a note back to the factory to verify and was told by mr Dave Kirkland that both Hamburg and New York produced the model R

My keys are perfect, had to repair a few small fractured pieces on the hammer butts and replace 1 wippen flange as it was tied together and flopping around.

The main question I have is does anyone out there have any good,used,damper levers? I have 5 that need help as it looks like someone glued a popsicle stick on the back to make them work.....I also need an action retainer nut as one is missing. I want to keep the piano as original as possible and NOT have to reconfigure the action to fit the available parts


Bob hendrickson
Re: Steinway Model R Upright [Re: Cardoctor416] #2618707
02/27/17 10:43 PM
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Ed A. Hall Offline
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Ed A. Hall  Offline
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Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 617
Originally Posted by Cardoctor416


The main question I have is does anyone out there have any good,used,damper levers? I have 5 that need help as it looks like someone glued a popsicle stick on the back to make them work.....I also need an action retainer nut as one is missing. I want to keep the piano as original as possible and NOT have to reconfigure the action to fit the available parts


These are not used but WNG sells these Steinway style damper levers.

Re: Steinway Model R Upright [Re: Erchoukyrie] #2635521
04/22/17 09:19 PM
04/22/17 09:19 PM
Joined: Feb 2017
Posts: 2
Nc, USA
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Cardoctor416 Offline
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Cardoctor416  Offline
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Joined: Feb 2017
Posts: 2
Nc, USA
Thanks Ed!

Found a great resource for antique Steinway parts. Yuri at Amedeus piano in CT

Also found it much easier to use a cabinet scraper to fracture and flake off that 120 plus year old varnish. The piano laughs at chemical strippers as they just haze the finish.

the case is solid white oak with a flame mahogany veneer finish



Bob hendrickson
Re: Steinway Model R Upright [Re: Erchoukyrie] #2635529
04/22/17 10:20 PM
04/22/17 10:20 PM
Joined: Jul 2001
Posts: 15,418
Surrey, B.C.
Norbert Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
Norbert  Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Joined: Jul 2001
Posts: 15,418
Surrey, B.C.
Quote
but I have ordered a set of hammers from Ari Isaac, and hope to be able to have it restrung (and rescaled) by Phil Taylor soon.


I understand the 'restringing' but not the 'rescaling' part.
Perhaps time to learn something new?

Norbert



www.heritagepianos.com
Greater Vancouver B.C. piano dealers for : Estonia, Brodmann, Ritmuller
604-951-8642
Re: Steinway Model R Upright [Re: Erchoukyrie] #2642311
05/11/17 05:40 AM
05/11/17 05:40 AM
Joined: Apr 2017
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gatwood Offline
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