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JC004
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« on: May 12, 2015, 04:36:57 AM »

I'm consolidating some uniform tips to make available (I'd like to include some photos when finished).  Here are some of mine.  Any suggestions?

General Information & Purchasing
  • To acquire Air Force uniform items - coats, jackets, sweaters, belts, shoes, etc., you may use Army Air Force Exchange Services (AAFES) by way of base access to a Military Clothing Sales Store (MCSS), or by phone/fax directly from AAFES.  For more information on CAP member access and eligibility, check the information here.
  • Air Force service uniform trousers come in 2 materials - poly/wool blend and 100% polyester.  100% polyester is a good choice for people who are genuinely allergic to wool, but keep in mind that 100% polyester pants may NOT be worn with AF Shade 1620 (namely, the service coat) - it may only be worn with the light blue service uniform shirt.
  • Air Force service uniform shirts come in 2 materials - the DLATS Air Force issue (inexpensive) shirt, made of polyester/cotton blend; and the "commercial" shirt, made of polyester/wool blend.  The issue shirt is machine washable, and the heavier, higher quality commercial shirt is dry clean only.  When purchasing in-store, you may have to ask for a commercial shirt, as they may be stored in the back.
  • The Air Force-style blue cold weather cap (authorized in CAPM 39-1, section 6.2.6) is available from AAFES, Item # 6639252.
  • Vanguard is CAP's official supplier for items not available through AAFES (insignia, etc.).  Connect with Vanguard on Facebook and Twitter for regular discount codes (usually around 10% off your order).
Ironing
  • Use a pressing cloth when ironing to avoid causing shine on the uniform (I wish that a lot of people knew about this one)
  • Use a mini-iron for difficult-to-iron corners, spaces between insignia, the edges of insignias, etc.  A slim-line attachment works well for uniforms and insignia.
  • Use a sleeve board or seam roll for ironing sleeves.  If unavailable, you can use a CLEAN tightly-rolled towel to press the sleeves.
  • Keep your ironing board cover clean.  Stains can easily transfer to your uniform when ironing.  For a better solution, purchase an ironing pad or blanket and keep it sealed in a plastic bag when not in use.  The pad can also easily be packed for weekend activities, encampments, etc.  These will also allow you to iron on a table or other surface, if necessary.
  • If you have hard water, use distilled water to avoid mineral build-up in and on your iron (unless the manual specifies not to)
  • To iron out difficult wrinkles or creases, place a metal ruler, hemming measuring tool, or aluminum foil under the area to be ironed.  The radiated heat from the bottom will help remove the wrinkle or crease.  USE CAUTION when removing; the metal will be very hot.
Wearing Your Uniform
  • Use a military tuck to deal with excess fabric in your shirt
  • A v-neck white undershirt is required when the Air Force blue shirt is worn open-collar.  However, when worn closed-collar (with a tie), the v-neck will show through thin shirt material.  To eliminate this, wear a white crew neck shirt with closed-collar combinations.
  • Wear shirt garters to keep your shirt tucked tightly and your socks up.  These are available in sets of 2 (Y-shaped; one worn on the outside of each leg) or 4 (2 worn in front, 2 worn in back).
  • Carry a pocket-size stain remover for emergencies.
  • Use a mesh cap block to keep your BDU/Blueberry Suit cap sharp.
  • Choose behind-the-head style earmuffs to accommodate your uniform cap.
Maintenance
  • Trim threads/frays (use curved embroidery scissors for a close cut) and seal with a liquid fray sealant.  Do not burn threads on dress shirts (the burned edge will show).  (Fray Check link)
  • To restore waterproofness of Gore-Tex, use a DWR treatment (available as a pump-spray or wash-in product).  Wash with a DWR detergent such as Nikwax Tech Wash, then restore the water repellant with treatment such as Nikwax Tx Direct (wash-in or spray).
  • You can check the condition of your Gore-Tex's water repellant using a spray bottle of water, or by running the garment under a sink faucet.  If the water soaks in rather than beading off, the garment requires a fresh treatment.
  • Gore-Tex patches are available for rips and tears.
  • Cleaning gunked-up Velcro: Carefully comb through the hooks using a needle or pin, or scrub the hooks using a dry toothbrush.
  • When machine-washing any item with Velcro, make sure both sides are joined. Not only will this prevent stuff from accumulating, it will protect face fabrics from scratching on the hooks.
Storing Uniforms
  • Hang pants upside-down from clamping pant hangers to avoid unwanted creases and wrinkles
  • Do not use thin wire hangers.  Use thicker coat-type hangers for uniform shirts to avoid unwanted creases and rust marks.
  • Use shoe bags to protect your shoes while they are being stored, especially for transport.  A divider adds extra protection by eliminating rubbing/scuffing.
  • To keep your uniforms clean and protected, always keep uniforms in garment bags when not in use.  For wool items, place cedar blocks in the garment bags to protect against moths.  Don't forget your caps:   Flight caps fit in the bottom of your garment bag and a service cap fits in a 2.5 gallon plastic storage bag.  Plastic keeps your uniform protected from dust, dirt, mold spores or other things that might be around your home like pet hair, smoke, or moths.
  • When not in use, place ribbons and insignia in plastic resealable bags to keep them clean.  Pin the insignia to cardboard to avoid scratches from pins rubbing together:


Footwear
  • To restore the color and appearance of the soles and heals on your shoes or boots, use edge dressing (also sold as sole edge polish or color renew).  This is a bottled liquid product.  If you are unable to find edge dressing, you could use liquid instant-shine "polish" in the same way.
  • Use a wet toothbrush to clean difficult-to-clean seams and crevices on boots and shoes.
Insignia
  • Use water-soluble fabric glue (NOT permanent fabric glue) to precisely attach cloth insignia to your uniform prior to sewing.  Pins bunch the fabric; glue allows for a flat, precise attachment.  Use a pen style fabric glue (link), rather than a glue stick, to get a more precise, clean application.  After applying the glue and double-checking your placement measurements, gently place heavy objects (like books) on the insignia for about 3 hours, until it is dry (place the weights straight down; moving them side to side can shift your insignia placement).  Once it is dry, you can sew the insignia and clean up any excess glue with a wet paper towel.
  • Pre-shrink your cloth insignia before sewing them to your uniform.  Place them in your uniform pocket or a lingerie bag to minimize fraying.  Do a final pre-shrinking with an iron on a steam setting.  Your insignia will likely bleed slightly.  You can get the bulk of the excess dye out by washing the insignia in hot water (with hand-washing detergent such as Woolite, if you have it), in your sink, then blotting them dry with a paper towel.
  • When preparing your ribbons, use a Ribbon Checker to figure out which ribbons you have, their proper order, and the proper attachments for those ribbons.  Check CAPR 39-3 for details on award of medals and ribbons.
  • When sliding on ribbons, gently bend the ribbon holder just enough to prevent the ribbon from pulling on the ribbons above and below it.  This prevents excessive shifting of the ribbon fabric, which stretches and distorts the ribbon.
  • If a ribbon becomes distorted or the back fabric begins to show, you can gently pull out the back metal rectangle, straighten the ribbon, and pop it back into place.
  • Make sure your hands are clean when handling ribbons.
  • If you use a commercially-sold fleece for the black CAP fleece jacket, regulations require that any logos be subdued or small.  You can remove embroidered logos with a seam ripper (this is time-consuming, but produces a clean result), or spot-dye the logo black with fabric dye.
  • Use industrial strength sew-on Velcro (available at fabric and craft stores) for leather jackets, fleeces, and flight suits.  Self-adhesive Velcro gums up needles and thread, and can cause damage to a sewing machine.  You can purchase this by the yard.  Use Olive Drab Velcro (available from Vanguard, and elsewhere online) for AF-style flight suits and jackets.  Use black for CAP distinctive flight uniforms, CAP black fleeces, and leather jackets.  Velcro is NOT authorized for other uniforms (such as the BDU); insignia on those uniforms must be sewn on IAW CAPM 39-1.
  • If you have earned a U.S. military badge that is authorized for wear on the Air Force-style uniform, you can have your badges custom-made in ultramarine blue and white to match your CAP insignia (this is optional).  If not available through Vanguard, there are third-party vendors who offer these badges, such as Williams and Williams, Spur Name Tapes, and The BattleZone.
  • Prior to attaching patches (particularly pocket patches), be sure to iron the area first, to avoid fabric bunching.  Use a high setting with steam to encourage any fabric shrinking to take place BEFORE the patch is attached.  As always with ironing, use a pressing cloth.
  • When attaching sleeve braid to the service coat, pull the coat lining up and sew directly to the jacket fabric.  Sewing through the liner can cause fabric bunching.
  • Instead of attaching shoulder and pocket patches with a sewing machine (which leaves a more visible stitch), use a whip stitch and matching thread to hand-sew your patch.  Insert the needle through the edge of the patch border, then bring it over the patch, matching the direction of the patch's thread, and pull it slightly behind the border.  You should get strong, a invisible stitch:
  • To get a crisp, square edge on cloth insignia, and flatten out any show-through of your folded edges, iron a piece of heavy interfacing to the back of your insignia prior to folding over the edges:


  • When folding over the edges on cloth insignia, the fabric will bulge out.  Simply make small slits on the bottom edge to accommodate the extra fabric.  This will keep your edges clean, with no fabric popping out from the bottom.  To secure the edges, tack them down with a fabric glue pen.  You can use liquid fray sealant on the edges: 


What You Need for Uniform Care: The Essentials


What You Need for Uniform Care: Optional/Nice-to-Have Items

What You Need to Do Your Own Sewing
  • Needles
  • Thread (for insignia, use Yale Blue - Coats & Clark color #4470, all-purpose thread).  For AF-style flight suits, Olive Drab or clear thread for plastic insignia (note: clear thread is difficult to manage, as it curls easily, and it breaks easily).  Heavy-duty thread is best for attaching Velcro.  For service uniform alterations or sleeve braid, use navy blue (Coats & Clark color #4900).
  • Water-soluble fabric glue
  • Straight pins
  • Thimble
  • Sewing scissors
  • Sewing machine (highly recommended for clean stitching - an older, used machine from somewhere like Goodwill is sufficient)
  • Sewing gauge and/or clear ruler (preferably both)
  • Seam ripper (optional; highly recommended)
  • Fabric marking pencils (optional; highly recommended)
  • Beeswax (for hand-stitching; makes your threads more stable, sturdy and reduces knotting) (optional)
  • Needle threader (optional)
« Last Edit: May 17, 2015, 09:23:16 PM by JC004 » Logged
JacobAnn
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« Reply #1 on: May 12, 2015, 06:06:54 AM »

These are great tips.  Some I knew, some I did not.  Thank you for sharing.
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JC004
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« Reply #2 on: May 12, 2015, 06:10:07 AM »

If you have any more, please share.  I'd like to consolidate as many as possible.

I wish that someone had told me about pressing cloths long ago.  Shiny uniforms look awful.   

I'd also like to address any lousy practices.
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NIN
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« Reply #3 on: May 12, 2015, 06:53:09 AM »

Wash your BDUs/BBDUs in cold water and avoid tumble drying.  (This is slightly less of a factor now with fabric strip nametags than it was with the old webbed strips)  This keeps your uniform "newer looking," reduces unnecessary shrinkage, and prepares it for ironing.   Hang the uniform to dry before pressing. 

If you're *REALLY* crazy about starching your uniform, use StaFlo or similar starch in a spray bottle mixed down 2:1 water to starch, spray the uniform down after it comes out of the wash on the hangar while you let it hang-dry.  Then press with steam.  You'll like the results.
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Darin Ninness, Lt Col, CAP
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The contents of this post are Copyright © 2017 by NIN. All rights are reserved. Specific permission is given to quote this post here on CAP-Talk only.
NIN
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« Reply #4 on: May 12, 2015, 07:01:13 AM »

When folding insignia, use some lightweight water-soluble craft adhesive to hold the insignia. (actually, I've been using Elmer's Craft Bond for years and its *not* water soluble...whoops!)

Trim the insignia down using pinking shears to reduce fraying.  Lightly dust the backside of the insignia with adhesive (use a box or mom will get mad!). Fold the insignia on parallel sides. Place under a book or something else heavy to hold it for a few minutes (ie. M-1 tank, a handy aircraft carrier, etc). Dust the back again with adhesive, fold the other two sides. Place back under convenient half-track or APC for a few minutes.  Dust one last time, position & measure, then hold until relatively secure. Sew in place (WITH A SEWING MACHINE).

(use something other than Craft Bond, BTW. I've apparently been using the wrong stuff for too long..)
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Darin Ninness, Lt Col, CAP
Sq Bubba, Wing Dude, National Guy
I like to have Difficult Adult Conversations™
The contents of this post are Copyright © 2017 by NIN. All rights are reserved. Specific permission is given to quote this post here on CAP-Talk only.
Flying Pig
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« Reply #5 on: May 12, 2015, 09:01:08 AM »

When attaching devices on ribbons, break the back prongs off of the devices.  They will break off clean.  Then use white Elmers glue, put small dab on the back of the device with a toothpick.  Then press the device onto the ribbon.  Use a clean toothpick to easily wipe off any excess guy that me squeeze out.  Any small amounts left dry clear.  Your ribbons wont get all warped or distorted by punching the clasp through.  Ive done this for years.  Its sticks grey and your ribbons stay looking sharp.  Elmers Wood Glue works the best, but its yellow.  You just have to be more careful about what squeezes out.   Get an old ribbon and practice it before you go to working on your real set.  If you have fat fingers.... use a pair of tweezers or needle nose pliers to set the device on the ribbon.  You don't want to slide it into place. 
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JC004
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« Reply #6 on: May 12, 2015, 11:09:52 AM »

When attaching devices on ribbons, break the back prongs off of the devices.  They will break off clean.  Then use white Elmers glue, put small dab on the back of the device with a toothpick.  Then press the device onto the ribbon.  Use a clean toothpick to easily wipe off any excess guy that me squeeze out.  Any small amounts left dry clear.  Your ribbons wont get all warped or distorted by punching the clasp through.  Ive done this for years.  Its sticks grey and your ribbons stay looking sharp.  Elmers Wood Glue works the best, but its yellow.  You just have to be more careful about what squeezes out.   Get an old ribbon and practice it before you go to working on your real set.  If you have fat fingers.... use a pair of tweezers or needle nose pliers to set the device on the ribbon.  You don't want to slide it into place.

UltraThin uses tweezers to place their attachments on the ribbons.  It does take some practice, but many squadrons likely have some old, dirty ribbons that have little use beyond acting as a practice piece.
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kwe1009
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Posts: 740

« Reply #7 on: May 15, 2015, 03:39:21 PM »

When attaching devices on ribbons, break the back prongs off of the devices.  They will break off clean.  Then use white Elmers glue, put small dab on the back of the device with a toothpick.  Then press the device onto the ribbon.  Use a clean toothpick to easily wipe off any excess guy that me squeeze out.  Any small amounts left dry clear.  Your ribbons wont get all warped or distorted by punching the clasp through.  Ive done this for years.  Its sticks grey and your ribbons stay looking sharp.  Elmers Wood Glue works the best, but its yellow.  You just have to be more careful about what squeezes out.   Get an old ribbon and practice it before you go to working on your real set.  If you have fat fingers.... use a pair of tweezers or needle nose pliers to set the device on the ribbon.  You don't want to slide it into place.

UltraThin uses tweezers to place their attachments on the ribbons.  It does take some practice, but many squadrons likely have some old, dirty ribbons that have little use beyond acting as a practice piece.

A small pair of needle nosed pliers work well too and have a better gripping surface.
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Flying Pig
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« Reply #8 on: May 15, 2015, 03:45:28 PM »

^^true.  Just don't get the grungy pair out of daddy's tool box :).
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kwe1009
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Posts: 740

« Reply #9 on: May 15, 2015, 04:25:37 PM »

^^true.  Just don't get the grungy pair out of daddy's tool box :).

Definitely.  I have a pair that I keep in my uniform box with all of my other supplies like thread and extra frogs.
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ProdigalJim
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« Reply #10 on: May 15, 2015, 08:33:00 PM »

James, as usual you've nailed it. Awesome list!
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Jim Mathews, Maj., CAP
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abdsp51
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« Reply #11 on: May 16, 2015, 12:46:11 AM »

Don't use any type of floor wax on your shoes/boots.

Don't use edge dressing to shine your shoes/boots.

Use a seam gauge when you do your measurements for insignia.

Always wear thick boot socks when wearing boots.

You only need at the most 4 shirt garters for your blues shirt. 

Dry clean pants and service coat.  (Yes some pants can be washed but dry cleaning is the preferred method)

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HGjunkie
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« Reply #12 on: May 16, 2015, 01:10:32 AM »

Always wear thick boot socks when wearing boots.
Depends on the sock, UA makes some mean boot socks which are thin and extremely comfortable. Also depends on the boot, get good boots and you won't ever worry about it.

Other:
Invest in dry cleaning for blues, tailoring for the shirts (it really looks 100x better than just tucking it)

Edge dressing will work wonders on the edges of your shoes, just not any other part of them.

Get the shirt garters that wrap around your foot instead of the other kind

Corframs will last for years if you treat them well

Use backing on ALL your insignia (even service coat, it works and looks sharper than nothing)

Sew down the pockets on your blues shirt, they're useless and look bad when they stick out
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abdsp51
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« Reply #13 on: May 16, 2015, 01:26:51 AM »

Depends on the sock, UA makes some mean boot socks which are thin and extremely comfortable. Also depends on the boot, get good boots and you won't ever worry about it.

Yeah no I wear and have worn nothing but high quality boots for 16 years both in CAP and my day job.  Thick boot socks are a key factor in preventing many issues that can develop with your feet from wearing boots.  The money is well spent on both items and go along way in preventing other issues down the road. 

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Mordecai
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« Reply #14 on: May 16, 2015, 01:29:24 AM »

Hrm. As a cadet I was just told to wear two pairs of socks.
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abdsp51
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« Reply #15 on: May 16, 2015, 01:38:32 AM »

Hrm. As a cadet I was just told to wear two pairs of socks.

Your feet and back. I always wore boot socks even as a cadet and good boots.
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JC004
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« Reply #16 on: May 16, 2015, 03:48:18 AM »

I would not recommend wearing 2 pairs of socks to anyone, especially if they're cotton.  They are likely to separate and can rub, causing blisters and such.  The only exception I'd make would be to say sock liners are fine because they're skin tight and thin.

I plan to include footwear choice recommendations in my final printable version.  I have taught members how to choose socks, boots, and shoes as part of uniform classes and GT gear classes.  That includes considerations like material types for socks, construction of shoes/boots based on your individual needs (say, if you have foot/ankle/knee/back issues, or if you pronate/supinate), if you have dry skin or sweat a lot, etc.

I wear SmartWool socks for boots, pretty much exclusively.  I also have some Under Armour boot socks that I got from AAFES Clothing Sales.
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HGjunkie
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« Reply #17 on: May 16, 2015, 03:04:24 PM »

I have some boot suggestions:
Bates Delta 8's with their adjustable support insole (mine are going strong after 4 years of regular CAP wear).
Rocky C4T's and S2V's - very popular here at the zoo (I have some C4's they're great)
Literally anything other than jungle boots
Belleville (700?) flight boots
Corcoran marauders - NOT the all leather variant, the cloth and leather one. (also decently comfortable but pricier).
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LSThiker
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« Reply #18 on: May 16, 2015, 04:34:34 PM »

I would not recommend wearing 2 pairs of socks to anyone, especially if they're cotton.

I would not recommend wearing cotton anything if you can avoid it. It is a horrible fabric. For tbe undershirt, wear polyester. For the socks, either merino wool or polyester.

For those that do not know, cotton when wet is horrible at retaining heat. In addition, it takes a long time to dry. Polyester is better at retaining heat and is quicker to dry. In addition, it is typically lighter than cotton. Wool has fantastic heating abilities when wet. The down side is that it is heavy and can a while to dry. Merino wool is more breathable and does dry faster than regular wool.

Backpackers are pretty much straight anti-cotton clothing.
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JC004
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« Reply #19 on: May 16, 2015, 08:01:50 PM »

I would not recommend wearing 2 pairs of socks to anyone, especially if they're cotton.

I would not recommend wearing cotton anything if you can avoid it. It is a horrible fabric. For tbe undershirt, wear polyester. For the socks, either merino wool or polyester.

For those that do not know, cotton when wet is horrible at retaining heat. In addition, it takes a long time to dry. Polyester is better at retaining heat and is quicker to dry. In addition, it is typically lighter than cotton. Wool has fantastic heating abilities when wet. The down side is that it is heavy and can a while to dry. Merino wool is more breathable and does dry faster than regular wool.

Backpackers are pretty much straight anti-cotton clothing.

I had "Cotton Kills" on about 3 slides of my most recent presentation on selecting cold weather clothing.

This is when goons from Cotton Incorporated showed up at my front door, attempted to smother me with a bag of cotton, and told me that I had to replace it with their "Cotton - the fabric of our lives" song.

Before leaving, they branded me with their trademark:
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