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  1. #1

    Default Small Engine Experts? Snow Blower Won't Stay Running

    I have to preface this by saying I know VERY little about small engine machines or for that matter, carburetors.

    This part is fuzzy, so I can't say for sure this is how it happened: Last year the snowblower was running poorly and leaking fuel, so I thought I would try slapping a new carb on it. To the best of my recollection, it worked fine after that.

    I keep my yard machines outside under the deck because my garage is so damn small, I don't have room for them in there with 3 cars. I got out my snowblower to use for this winter. I went to put gas in it, and it started leaking again. It seemed to be leaking from where the air cleaner stuff meets the outer flange of the carb. I got some new gaskets and put them on. Put gas in it, no leaks. Started the engine so far so good. Went to take it off choke, and it died. Tried letting it warm up for a while and then took it off choke. Died. I noticed there's this thingy that's conveniently hidden under the gas tank that operates these two linkages that I assume have something to do with the choke yanking back and forth on them making the idle roll. I have NO idea what that is, or how it works. I tried holding the linkage steady and the engine died, so apparently it needs to do that. Whatever. Noted and moved on.

    I did a little internet searching and found that there are little air passages in the carb that can become blocked. Like an idle air bypass on a car. So, I took the stupid thing back apart. I had noticed that the gaskets I had just installed didn't so much match the holes in the brackets or carb that well, but I tried to match up the gasket names to the diagram in the manual. Of course none of them matched the holes perfectly like they should, so I was just pulling answers out of my ass using the names. The stupid diagram is a mirror image of what i physically have (so helpful!) and my brain just doesn't work in a way that lets me visualize it like it actually should be. Anyway, I cut the one gasket on the outer flange to the carb so that all of the holes and whatever around the outside were not blocked. Put it back together, and now things are worse. It will start, but it acts like it's out of gas. It runs for less than a second and dies.

    Internet searches about THIS problem pretty much yielded a gummed up fuel system inside the carb. That doesn't make a lot of sense to me since the carb is so new. Although, I have been using 87 octane gas station regular unleaded, which as we know, has ethanol in it. Could I really be looking at a gummed up carb already? What about the fact that it at least ran on choke before?!

    I really hate working on this thing because the stupid carb is underneath and behind, so it's really hard to get at, and you really can't see what the f*** you're doing unless you crouch and hold your head upside down! Argh! You have to take like 15 bolts out and two big pieces of outer structure off too.

    Any ideas?
    Brad

    '79 Mercury Zephyr ES 5.0L GT40 EFI, T-5
    '17 Ford Focus ST
    '14 Ford Fusion SE Manual

  2. #2

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    Sounds like it has a major vacuum leak. when the choke comes off it is starving for fuel.

    As an aside, the gasahol we use in our cars now (80% ethanol) is not good for small engines. I would recommend getting fuel that has zero ethanol in it.

    Ethanol will eat some gaskets, rubber and float seats. Its not good for cars that wasn't designed to use it either.
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough."
    Albert Einstein

    1984 20th Anniversary GT350
    Almost "Stock"

  3. #3

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    Well it would be helpful to know what machine you have and maybe a couple pictures?
    I have built a few small engines, all with carburetors.
    I use 93 octane in all my small engines, and add fuel stabilizer in the winter.
    It definitely sounds like a vacuum/air leak but it could be several problems.
    Many cheap aftermarket carbs are really not great quality.
    i would also check your float height. Check fuel filter also?
    Last edited by massacre; 12-18-2020 at 08:26 PM.
    79 Zephyr, 4v/4r70w swap planned, with team z front and rear suspension, 8.8 and upgraded brakes and coil overs.

  4. #4

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    Also install a fuel cutoff valve and run it out of gas at the end of summer. Fuel coming out of the air cleaner area is either dirty needle and seat or stuck float. Those rods you describe are for the governor, and they need to move easily or it won't run right.

    The throttle you operate just allows the governor more swing (less spring tension) so it revs higher. Not like a car, more like a CV carb on a motorcycle.

    Not sure this is helping...
    Kenny

    Run non-ethanol fuel, no question. Most floats are not adjustable, thus it is usually the needle.

  5. #5

    Default

    Like Massacre says, make, model number, pics would help. 2 cycle or 4 cycle? Fuel tank above or below the carb? Surging or no idle would likely mean the idle fuel feed is partially or fully plugged. I put a new carb on my neighbor’s Craftsman 4 cycle snow blower 2 years ago. It wouldn’t start 1 year later. Of course he left gas in it. The fuel had somehow reacted with the brass of the main jet and became green slime. I cleaned it with a drill bit and a flush with Gumout. Started and ran fine after that. Haven’t heard if he tried to run it this year. 4 inches of snow on the ground day before yesterday. If fuel is leaking out, I’d check/replace the needle valve and maybe the seat.
    W

    As always, "It ain't what you don't know that gets you, it's what you think you know that just ain't so."

  6. #6

    Default

    I agree that it does seem like fuel is leaking out the vents which usually to me says a stuck needle valve.
    But a lot of this depends on what type of carb is being used.
    In the regular stock small engines I work on, the tab that the needle valve connects to (on the float) can be bent to change the float height in the bowl.
    That is why I was asking which machine we are talking about. Modern carbs are different. Many have primer bulbs which can also crack and leak over time and heat cycles.
    OP let us know which engine you have, is it a Briggs & Stratton, Honda, etc?
    79 Zephyr, 4v/4r70w swap planned, with team z front and rear suspension, 8.8 and upgraded brakes and coil overs.

  7. #7
    FEP Super Member gr79's Avatar
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    Default Can't wait to use it?

    Here six or so (10 year and older) small 2 or 4 cycle gas powered machines run.
    Briggs and Stratton, Tecumseh, Honda, Homelite, McCullough. 1.5 to 10.5 hp.
    Have cleaned, adjusted, or repaired all those machine's carbs least once and as needed. Cleaner, shop air and rags.
    Rarely have or had to replace any spark plugs in them. Very easy to overthink working on these simple engines.
    Regular 87 gasoline, Stabil, oil mix for the 2 cycles. Gas run out at season end, fog cylinders if in the mood.
    All stored in unconditioned sheltered areas, old towels covering machines with exposed engines.

    If equipped with primer bulb 2-10 primes and/or brief choke session to warm up but not always, depending on outside temp.
    Normal has been 5-10 pulls first use at beginning of seasons. During season, 1x week use, 1-3 pull restart warm or cold.
    Primer bulbs can wear out. Leak. Weak suction. "Your use or results may vary" they say.

    2000's era Homelite backpack blower issue, 2018:
    2 cycle. Bought brand new in box 2009 clearance from HD. Kept it unassembled in box for years. A new spare.
    One day 2018, 20 year old Mac blower suddenly broke a rod. Ah well. Yay unboxed a new backpacker.
    Dang. Hard to start. When it did would not run past mid-choke cold or hot, bog adding throttle, low rpm.
    Then major fuel leaks. The NEW black plastic fuel lines were brittle, splitting.
    Thought= "Is this why the model was on sale?" Disappointing PITA tool for being brand new.
    Was determined to do what was needed for a close as possible 100% result. Mods to stock if last resort.

    Was in new territory with the backpack blower's 50:1 fuel system. Both parts and adjustments were causing trouble.
    Read up, translated, and added to my current engine/carb knowledge. Reviewed and planned repair procedures.
    Spark was ok. Exhaust smoke was visible during start attempts. Had to figure out if engine was starving or flooding.
    Fix: Replaced fuel line sections, a no load carb idle adjust, then a full RPM richer fuel mix adjust. Many times.
    Happily, after repairs and adjustments, everything consistently operates like it should. Cost= zero. Time- months.
    The engine now likes a normal couple primes for a 1-2 pull restart. Add normal choke procedure for cold engine.
    A fun to use ready to go cool looking trained work horse.


    1970's era 17" Jacobsen snowblower, 2018.
    2 cycle 15.00 house sale item, well cared for, usual wear, intact nothing broken.
    Got it home. Not starting, tried to start, then hard restarting, then running too weak, stalling, under load.
    Fuel issue again. Not enough fuel again. Same problem as backpack, different fix. Took carb apart. Problem found.
    Fix: New correct carb diaphragm kit. 1970's carb? No problem. In stock 5.00. Local hardware/small engine everything store.
    Has a sticky choke cable assy. Found engine starts cold without choke if primed right.
    Consistent start and run. Recent fall check confirmed start procedure. Prime 10+ 3 pulls after being stored since spring.
    Gobbles up and throws snow and even slush like i remember the old one did. Pleasant machine. Same smell, engine sounds too.

    Refixes are easier if one can remember basically how and what to do, plus refreshing details by rereading notes and manuals.
    The learning curve. What works and what don't. Detective work. Goal includes correct and consistent diagnosis for positive results.
    There are times non-destructive (or even destructive) trial and error can be of high value when moving towards the goal.
    Last edited by gr79; 12-19-2020 at 01:10 AM.

  8. #8
    FEP Super Member cb84capri's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by gt4494 View Post
    Sounds like it has a major vacuum leak. when the choke comes off it is starving for fuel.

    As an aside, the gasahol we use in our cars now (80% ethanol) is not good for small engines. I would recommend getting fuel that has zero ethanol in it.

    Ethanol will eat some gaskets, rubber and float seats. Its not good for cars that wasn't designed to use it either.
    Standard pump gas is 10% ethanol, unless you are buying e85? I haven't had any problems with e10 87 octane in any of my small engines, but my stuff is all old and free of offshore aftermarket garbage replacement parts made with incorrect materials. When a small engine carb costs $25 shipped, what do you expect to get? I don't play with fuel stabilizer, fogging oil, or anything else. I only buy gasoline from top tier stations. My snowblower sits from one winter until the next with the same fuel in it in a shed in the sun, and I do the same with my lawnmowers and Capri too through winter without issue. The only time I have ever had a problem with the Capri was when I put stabilizer in it.

    There is no point in running premium gas in an engine that isn't designed for it, it will produce less power and more emissions. The premium around my area is still e10. Octane rating is burn time, the higher the number the slower it burns. But if you really want pure gas, there are options in Shakopee, MN:

    https://www.pure-gas.org/index.jsp?stateprov=MN

    The top tier stations are Holiday and Kwik-Trip, and the pure gas at those is 91 octane.

    I'd pull the carb off and clean it out with brake clean and inspect/blow air through every orifice, there's probably something foreign inside of it. Don't get brake clean on gaskets or needles regardless of how safe the can says it is. That is usually all it is with these things.

    Cale
    Last edited by cb84capri; 12-19-2020 at 02:12 PM.

  9. #9

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by cb84capri View Post
    Standard pump gas is 10% ethanol, unless you are buying e85? I haven't had any problems with e10 87 octane in any of my small engines, but my stuff is all old and free of offshore aftermarket garbage replacement parts made with incorrect materials. When a small engine carb costs $25 shipped, what do you expect to get? I don't play with fuel stabilizer, fogging oil, or anything else. I only buy gasoline from top tier stations. My snowblower sits from one winter until the next with the same fuel in it in a shed in the sun, and I do the same with my lawnmowers and Capri too through winter without issue. The only time I have ever had a problem with the Capri was when I put stabilizer in it.

    There is no point in running premium gas in an engine that isn't designed for it, it will produce less power and more emissions. The premium around my area is still e10. Octane rating is burn time, the higher the number the slower it burns. But if you really want pure gas, there are options in Shakopee, MN:

    https://www.pure-gas.org/index.jsp?stateprov=MN

    The top tier stations are Holiday and Kwik-Trip, and the pure gas at those is 91 octane.

    I'd pull the carb off and clean it out with brake clean and inspect/blow air through every orifice, there's probably something foreign inside of it. Don't get brake clean on gaskets or needles regardless of how safe the can says it is. That is usually all it is with these things.

    Cale
    OOps, I meant the other way around. 10 % to 90 % unleaded.

    I used to have issues with things that set a while between uses. But then I started using non alcohol in 4 strokes and canned premix for the two strokes.

    The generator (4 stroke) gets cranked once a year and most of the time it starts on the first pull after priming.

    The Stihl (weed eater, edger, hedge clipper, multi tool) has had no issues since bought 4-5 years ago. Its only had canned premix in it and it normally starts on 1-2 pulls.

    Just my opinion.
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough."
    Albert Einstein

    1984 20th Anniversary GT350
    Almost "Stock"

  10. #10

    Default

    Thanks for the answers so far. It is a 5-7 year old Craftsman 4-cycle 2-stage. Model 247.881730. I believe the engine is a standard Chinese throwaway type shared with many other brands.

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    Other history: the first year I stored it outside, in the fall the cylinder had somehow filled itself with water. Brought it to a guy and had it fixed. Then last year, came the fuel leak problem. Replaced the carb, and also got a service kit for it that included a new primer bulb. The fuel had been actually leaking from where the primer bulb hose attaches to the carb. The hose had gotten brittle and disintegrated. So, the bulb and hose on it are pretty new too. The kit also came with a fuel filter you can add to the fuel line (which doesn't have one), but I thought cutting into the fuel line was probably asking for trouble so I didn't do it.

    And yeah, I don't use E85, it's 87 Regular from Holiday. I do know where I can get non-oxygenated too though if needed since I get it for the Zephyr.

    And also, I do run my yard machines out of fuel at the end of the season.

    So, it sounds like it's probable that I assembled something wrong after my first crack at fixing it this year, hence the vacuum leak. But what about now? It won't even run on choke. I did noticed that it did NOT leak fuel when I took it back apart yesterday like it did the first time. Does that mean whatever was stuck open before might be stuck closed now? It's certainly acting like it's a car you start with starting fluid, and then no fuel flows to keep it running.
    Brad

    '79 Mercury Zephyr ES 5.0L GT40 EFI, T-5
    '17 Ford Focus ST
    '14 Ford Fusion SE Manual

  11. #11
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    Default

    All the issues I have had with small engines were solved as soon as I put a new carb on and stayed away from ethanol fuel. You can find them on fleabay for cheap.

  12. #12

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    On the back, on the bottom of the back-plate, you'll see your Model Number, Serial Number, and likely Year. You'll often need the Model Number and Serial Number, because of yearly changes.

    Edit: I just noticed:
    5-7 year old Craftsman 4-cycle 2-stage. Model 247.881730.


    When keeping it outside, get a snow blower cover, and a sheet of plywood just wide enough for the snow blower. That's what I do for my lawn tractor, until I make room for it again.


    Fwiw, I swear by my Toro.
    Btw, the video below shows why Toros are the choice for professionals that clear snow for clients.
    (Most businesses have a tendency to use Ariens for their own use - cheaper and super easy to get serviced).

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2U_o9w0w-zM
    Boston, MA Snowstorm February 15, 2015 TORO POWER MAX HD 112XE / OHXE


    Good Luck!
    Last edited by stangPlus2Birds; 12-19-2020 at 09:05 PM.

  13. #13

    Default

    Do you have a 203cc Briggs?
    79 Zephyr, 4v/4r70w swap planned, with team z front and rear suspension, 8.8 and upgraded brakes and coil overs.

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by massacre View Post
    Do you have a 203cc Briggs?
    The Owner's manual for his snow blower:
    https://www.searspartsdirect.com/man...owblower-parts




    It looks like he may have a 208cc engine?

    https://www.craftsman.com/products/o...-blower-sb410-





    https://www.troybilt.com/en_US/two-s...BS6BN2766.html







    Btw, a good quality carb for that engine:
    https://www.jackssmallengines.com/ja...iversal/520852

    Stens 520852 Carburetor
    Part#: 520852
    Replaces Cub Cadet 95110638A 95114026A MTD 95110638A 95114026A
    $58.54





    There are cheaper carbs for ~$18 on ebay/etc.
    Imho, stay away from the very cheap carbs. They have inconsistent quality.
    Last edited by stangPlus2Birds; 12-19-2020 at 09:22 PM.

  15. #15
    FEP Member
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    Where do you think Jack's gets their carbs? Let me give you a hint: CHYNAAA. All the cheapo's I have bought are still in service and running just fine.

  16. #16
    FEP Power Member Ray Dog's Avatar
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    Default

    Brad, 2 things, 1 Mice, under the cooling shroud is an air driven governor. A mouse nest could be holding
    it from moving. 2 all the holes in the gaskets line up to ports that could be blocked if not the correct one.

    First storm of the year here and ours worked fine.
    But with remote learning, our road wasn't plowed until around 9 AM
    Ray
    86 Mustang LX 3.8 Convertible (bought new
    84 Capri (needs help)
    05 Volvo XC90 DD( The Swedish Tank)...................Used to own
    08 Magnum (The Roadie Wagon)...........................Too many. the good ones
    95 Saturn SL2 (Kid's Ride).................................65 Chevelle SS, 69 Torino GT
    94 Saturn SL2 (now parts for above) ................39 Willys Overland, 69 Fleetwood, 86 Saab 900
    65 Galaxie 500 XL 390 auto (Waiting for funds)..81 Mustang T-Roof hatch, 88 Lincoln LSC,
    2a

  17. #17

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    and don't forget the simple checks like the feul pickup in the tank. Doesn't take too long to drop the tank and look for rust/foreign material.
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough."
    Albert Einstein

    1984 20th Anniversary GT350
    Almost "Stock"

  18. #18

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    Yeah, not quite ready to give up on this snowblower yet. But I'm not far.

    I did cut the one gasket so that the holes are all open now. I thought that would fix it, but now it's starved for fuel. Carb time.

    The carb that's on it is a cheapie replacement, so I think I will junk it and get a new one. I do still have the original (if it's even any better), so I'm thinking I might clean up and rebuild that one so I have it in reserve.

    I think I may have worded this in a confusing way, but those linkages are not stuck, they were just constantly moving back and forth, so I wanted to see what would happen if I held them in place. I just stuck a screw driver down there and held it in place for a few seconds. It sounds like that governor thing is working like it's supposed to. Probably trying to work against a vacuum leak.

    Oh, and I do keep it under a cover too. I got an actual snowblower cover. I should do the plywood thing though.
    Brad

    '79 Mercury Zephyr ES 5.0L GT40 EFI, T-5
    '17 Ford Focus ST
    '14 Ford Fusion SE Manual

  19. #19

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    The linkages should be for the throttle governor.
    They should be free to operate. the idea is to keep the throttle from going wide open when the engine RPM cant handle it.

    Remember unlike a car there is no accelerator pump on the carb and no ignition advance on the magneto. They have to control throttle opening so it doesn't slam open from an idle when you move the throttle lever.
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough."
    Albert Einstein

    1984 20th Anniversary GT350
    Almost "Stock"

  20. #20
    FEP Supporter Broncojunkie's Avatar
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    Coming from a guy who neglects small engines quite regularly, I would suggest dropping the bowl and seeing what it looks like. As others have mentioned already, the ethanol in our fuel these days causes problems after sitting for any length of time.
    79 Pace Car - 331, t5
    79 Cobra - working on 351w, t5
    86 coupe - rotbox roller (4cyl build?)
    82gt - working on 408w, c4

  21. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by gt4494 View Post
    The linkages should be for the throttle governor.
    They should be free to operate. the idea is to keep the throttle from going wide open when the engine RPM cant handle it.

    Remember unlike a car there is no accelerator pump on the carb and no ignition advance on the magneto. They have to control throttle opening so it doesn't slam open from an idle when you move the throttle lever.
    Thanks. That might make more sense if I knew more about carbs, but I really know very little about them. My Zeph is EFI so I've gotten away with being ignorant about them. Probably good knowledge to brush up on though just so I'm better educated on how engines work.

    Quote Originally Posted by Broncojunkie View Post
    Coming from a guy who neglects small engines quite regularly, I would suggest dropping the bowl and seeing what it looks like. As others have mentioned already, the ethanol in our fuel these days causes problems after sitting for any length of time.
    Haha, okay no reason I can't do that. I'm certainly curious. I guess I was ignorant about ethanol affecting my small engines too. You'd think they'd consider that when designing them these days, when it's pretty hard to get away from unless you know you need to.
    Brad

    '79 Mercury Zephyr ES 5.0L GT40 EFI, T-5
    '17 Ford Focus ST
    '14 Ford Fusion SE Manual

  22. #22

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    Got 8-10" inches of heavy, wet snow with blowing and drifting yesterday followed by near-zero temps today. Got to shovel that s*** by hand. Yeah, you'd better believe I barely shoveled wide enough for two cars to get in and out. Ugh.

    My parts haven't come yet.
    Brad

    '79 Mercury Zephyr ES 5.0L GT40 EFI, T-5
    '17 Ford Focus ST
    '14 Ford Fusion SE Manual

  23. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by ZephyrEFI View Post
    Got 8-10" inches of heavy, wet snow with blowing and drifting yesterday followed by near-zero temps today. Got to shovel that s*** by hand. Yeah, you'd better believe I barely shoveled wide enough for two cars to get in and out. Ugh.

    My parts haven't come yet.
    Wow!! we are in the low 70's here. Just playing with ya!

    I know the only thing worse than a sunburn as you mow the lawn, is frostbite when you are clearing the sidewalk.
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough."
    Albert Einstein

    1984 20th Anniversary GT350
    Almost "Stock"

  24. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by ZephyrEFI View Post
    Got 8-10" inches of heavy, wet snow with blowing and drifting yesterday followed by near-zero temps today. Got to shovel that s*** by hand. Yeah, you'd better believe I barely shoveled wide enough for two cars to get in and out. Ugh.

    My parts haven't come yet.
    That sux man sorry to hear that.
    A small engine carb is actually a good one to learn on if you don’t understand carbs. Because they are so basic. Single barrel, the bowl, the float and the needle valve and fuel jet. Doesn’t get any more basic than that lol. It’s a good way to get a basic understanding of how carbs work.
    Obviously an automotive carb will be way more sophisticated and complex, multiple bowls, multiple jets and different linkage, primaries and secondaries etc. but the basic idea is basically the same.
    I would take apart the carb you have and clean it real good and make a new intake gasket. You can make one from a Manila folder. It will not last too long but it might get you by until your parts arrive.
    79 Zephyr, 4v/4r70w swap planned, with team z front and rear suspension, 8.8 and upgraded brakes and coil overs.

  25. #25

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    what "massacre" said.

    Whats neat is when us "old guys" can tune a carb to perfection and then plug into our newer cars and reset the system with our laptops. Makes kids wonder!!
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough."
    Albert Einstein

    1984 20th Anniversary GT350
    Almost "Stock"

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