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 Post subject: Re: 1973 Mazda Rx3
PostPosted: Fri Aug 17, 2012 1:35 am 

Joined: Wed Mar 11, 2009 6:09 pm
Posts: 571
Location: Australia
Tim I don't know the spring rates for a 323, I'd expect a wagon to have much firmer springs than a sedan due to carrying capacity. I know a couple of people who have coil over upgrades in their Rx3 street cars, one in particular mentioned they were too stiff for the street.

Some extra photos of work that was carried out on the booster some weeks ago. The booster has already been installed in the car so I'm back tracking a little.

Photos of the booster reco job, carried out by Northern Brake and Clutch. The booster tested for a very minor leak, most likely wouldn't be noticed by the driver. These photos show why it's worth rebuilding old parts you buy. I could have popped it in my mates blaster and made it look pretty but that wouldn't have addressed the inner workings of the unit. These are 40 years old so chances are if it's never been rebuilt its going to be in a similar state. The case although looks bad was actually quite good after being sand blasted clean.
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Pic 1, some of the old "guts" that were replaced with the new "guts" in pic 2. Part of the internal mechanism was apparently seized solid. The diaphram although was good and functioning was damaged when trying to work free the rusted parts so got a new one of those as well.
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The case was sandblasted and primed, you can see the outside case is still in raw steel. The final booster and install photos can be found in one of the previous updates.
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I've been talking about upgrading the front brakes recently. This has turned out to be a headache, mainly because I want to retain the originality of the car. These were off someones race car (Rx3). The calipers I've had inspected and are in quite good condition and haven't been butchered in anyway. I thought the one caliper had been shaved slightly on the inside but the engineer I'm using assures me that's not the case. It has more to do with cleaning up the original casting. The original job I had in mind was to make up a new backing template and have a laser cutter cut them out for us and that was pretty much it. It's turned out a little more involved as always.

Here I've fitted the original mount brackets that came with the setup to the strut to trial fit everything. Too my dismay neither the standard steel rims nor the Watanabe wheels were going to fit. The problem if you're cluely is that the caliper protrudes above the face of the wheel hub meaning that while other wheels may fit, the ones I want to use don't !

Some bright spark may say, easy solution I'll just use wheel spacers on the front. They'll just need to be 10 - 15mm thickness. We'll using spacers on the front could upset the balance and handling of the car. Rx3's have a front and rear equal wheel track of 2310mm. If I add a 10 -15mm spacer the front wheels would have a wider track than the rear. The Wats have a +9.5 front offset and a +3 rear offset, this means even with the Wats the front are going to stick out further than the rear wheels. Not only that I'll be struggling to fit the front Wats on the hub with the original hub face location without running into guard clipping problems. I could space out the rear as well but the rear Wats sort of sit exactly where I want them. The task was going from one undesirable workaround to another. At that point I called it quits and spoke to several professionals who deal with suspension and brake upgrades. So I made an appointment and off I went with my boxes of bits :)
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The engineer fabricator listened to my requirements, one of which was to retain the original front hub wheel track. He made some measurements made a few extra suggestions and then took on the task :) The calipers will be changed to a single line arrangement. Generally speaking people drill holes through the piston sleeve to join the hydraulic circuits together. Apparently this can lead to difficulty bleeding the calipers, he explained another modification that is performed to do this. At that point I just said to do it, saves me the hassle and I know its been by someone who does this for a living.

The rotors that came with the calipers were in quite good condition as well, they measure 264mm in diameter and 22mm thick, vented :) As far as I know these won't need to be turned down on the lathe. The replacement rotors pressure fit over the rear of the wheel hub just like the original solid rotors. Photo 2 is of the make shift caliper brackets off the race car. They'd never pass a road inspection and place the caliper were I don't want them so these are being thrown out and replaced with new engineered components, the goal is make the new brackets from a solid piece of metal that will be machined to the correct dimensions and caliper offset.
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As you can see fitting good brakes over the wheels I want has turned into a headache. You can forget about using the original steel 13" rims. Due to the inner rim design there simply is no clearance for any decent brakes. To add further insult to my plans the 14 inch Wat's are a headache to fit as well. The inner Wats spoke design just doesn't provide the required clearance without some careful engineering. Other 14's may fit without problem but Wat's arent a bolt on fit in my case at least. Watanabes are quite popular in Japan, I suppose they don;t do brake upgrades over there just the cosmetic stuff.

The brake upgrade also means that I'm going to need a 14" spare because if I ever get a front flat I'll be stuck... uhhh !

Well the only way from here is obviously going to be a compromise. I've pulled the original Mazda calipers out of the bin, these will be cleaned up with new seals fitted. The pistons are well beyond their used by date (pitted) so new ones are being sourced along with hydraulic hoses. They'll be as good as new in the next update or so. With the Mazda brakes I can fit any wheels I like, with the upgrade only the 14" Wat's and larger rims will fit. Basically the compromise is I'll need to fit the original calipers when ever I want to use the standard wheels, not what I wanted but there's no other option. I can live with it, for now standard rims it is until the car is sorted. I'll post photos of the upgrade setup once it all comes back.

Moral of the story is sort all this stuff out before paint and wheel selection !


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 Post subject: Re: 1973 Mazda Rx3
PostPosted: Fri Aug 17, 2012 1:53 am 

Joined: Sat Nov 13, 2010 8:48 pm
Posts: 21
Location: australia
you should have given me a buzz john....ive made many caliper brackets/brake conversion offset hubs before


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 Post subject: Re: 1973 Mazda Rx3
PostPosted: Sat Aug 18, 2012 6:01 pm 

Joined: Wed Mar 11, 2009 6:09 pm
Posts: 571
Location: Australia
Hey Troy, I had no doubt you could make it all work. I just didn't think you did this sort of work for others otherwise I would've called you. Ahh well, I'll know for next time. I have a couple of other things in mind that I'll run by you when I'm ready.


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 Post subject: Re: 1973 Mazda Rx3
PostPosted: Sat Aug 18, 2012 10:34 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jan 31, 2010 11:42 am
Posts: 316
Location: Australia
gypsy wrote:
Tim I don't know the spring rates for a 323, I'd expect a wagon to have much firmer springs than a sedan due to carrying capacity. I know a couple of people who have coil over upgrades in their Rx3 street cars, one in particular mentioned they were too stiff for the street.

As in I bought the same part # King Springs for the front of my wagon - KMFL-06.

They are the same through 808/RX3/323.

Lower but not too low, stiffer but not too stiff !


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 Post subject: Re: 1973 Mazda Rx3
PostPosted: Tue Aug 21, 2012 6:11 am 

Joined: Mon May 17, 2010 9:12 pm
Posts: 28
Location: Melbourne
A quick, easy and very effective brake upgrade is to fit Series 2 RX7 struts and use the vented disc and callipers. Very minor mods to fit and its nearly all ( Or can be all ) factory Mazda stuff. I would doubt a RWC guy would even pick it.

Mine didn't. :lol:

I was told to redrill my crossmember out 15mm to get more camber and correct the king pin angle. This gave it way to much castor and made the sway bar a bitch to fit and pulled the lower arms so far forward the bushes were so stressed they weren't doing anything. So I put it back to the original position. This may have worked with an after market adjustable sway bar to decrease castor . But I dont have one. :(
I just put the left strut on the right and the right on the left so the brake hoses lined up with the RX3 brake line holes and ran a decent adjustable strut top (not a K-Mac) to get the king pin angle correct.

It amazes me that more people dont do this. It quite simple.

1.It stops way better than the RX3 brakes.
2. Standard steel wheels fit.
3. You get a nice tapered spring design.

The other advantage is that S2 parts are way easier to get.


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 Post subject: Re: 1973 Mazda Rx3
PostPosted: Tue Aug 21, 2012 5:03 pm 

Joined: Tue Sep 27, 2011 4:15 am
Posts: 289
Location: Adelaide
rxfury wrote:
A quick, easy and very effective brake upgrade is to fit Series 2 RX7 struts and use the vented disc and callipers. Very minor mods to fit and its nearly all ( Or can be all ) factory Mazda stuff. I would doubt a RWC guy would even pick it.

Mine didn't. :lol:

I was told to redrill my crossmember out 15mm to get more camber and correct the king pin angle. This gave it way to much castor and made the sway bar a bitch to fit and pulled the lower arms so far forward the bushes were so stressed they weren't doing anything. So I put it back to the original position. This may have worked with an after market adjustable sway bar to decrease castor . But I dont have one. :(
I just put the left strut on the right and the right on the left so the brake hoses lined up with the RX3 brake line holes and ran a decent adjustable strut top (not a K-Mac) to get the king pin angle correct.

It amazes me that more people dont do this. It quite simple.

1.It stops way better than the RX3 brakes.
2. Standard steel wheels fit.
3. You get a nice tapered spring design.

The other advantage is that S2 parts are way easier to get.



Have you got pictures of this setup installed? I hear mixed reports about how "easy" this really is to do.

Mr Gypsy I'm confused, are you staying on steelies and standard brakes after all that or swapping stoppers and going the Watanabe's full time? I'm a JDM watanabe fan but in your case it would be a shame to not be able to roll around full grandpa spec!


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 Post subject: Re: 1973 Mazda Rx3
PostPosted: Wed Aug 22, 2012 2:20 am 

Joined: Wed Mar 11, 2009 6:09 pm
Posts: 571
Location: Australia
Thanks for the tips... rxfury I did take note of the Rx7 upgrade and it is something that I will consider on the next Rx3 I have in mind which will be a standard looking 12a model with some modern improvements such as the early Rx7 brakes.

This 10a car will see the odd track day, nothing too serious though and thought it would be good to go the extra effort with a better than average upgrade while still maintaining the period look. The steel wheels are obviously a sticking point. I think eventually the standard wheels will go on the future 12a car and this car will use the Watanabes full time. None of my cars will ever have big wheels or be highly modified, not my style. To be honest I don't remember why I went down this path to start with, being a tech head doesn't help !

For now though, its standard brakes and steel wheels.

Ben, I don't think Rx3s were ever marketed as grandpa cars ! I've already bought the tires so they'll be going on for sure. The brakes will be swapped over for track days, nothing hard about the swap and shouldn't take more than a couple of hours to change them over. While in Vic I'd love to take the car across to both Winton and Philip Island with a couple of similar minded friends who run Escorts.

Im not entirely happy with the steel rim look, they need to have white walls painted on the sides to make them look a little bigger then I'll be 100% happy with them.

Although not entirely original I do want to keep the car reasonably standard. I have another standard engine and setup which could be dropped in with little effort. Your only confused because I cant make up my mind as what I really want, the real solution would be to build another 10a coupe to use up all the standard running gear I have :lol:


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 Post subject: Re: 1973 Mazda Rx3
PostPosted: Wed Aug 22, 2012 2:35 am 
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Joined: Mon Jun 08, 2009 9:26 pm
Posts: 748
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Could you not use that kit on ausrotary that is sold in the normal parts for sale section that uses S4/5 calipers and fits under a stock 13in wheel?

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 Post subject: Re: 1973 Mazda Rx3
PostPosted: Wed Aug 22, 2012 7:38 am 

Joined: Tue Sep 27, 2011 4:15 am
Posts: 289
Location: Adelaide
8) either way steelies or wats it's going to be looking tuff!!

Brakes and wheels etc have been a source of many a pondering moment for myself also.


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 Post subject: Re: 1973 Mazda Rx3
PostPosted: Wed Sep 05, 2012 3:46 am 

Joined: Wed Mar 11, 2009 6:09 pm
Posts: 571
Location: Australia
Not much going on, waiting on everyone else so I can finish my car. These arrive the other day, thanks to a friend who sorted me out.

Genuine adjustable Rx3 front and rear Koni shock absorbers.
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Super cool 70's install and adjustment instructions, more than what you'd expect these days.
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I got a call for the front brakes, they are done. Workmanship looks nice and best of all they will fit over rims starting from 13 inches. They are huge compared to the original brakes and should stop the car without any problems. The setup is similar if not the same as used on the Group Nc Mazda race cars. Will put a photos up when I pick them up.

To fit my Japanese Watanabe rims I've had to have part of the casting cleaned up on the front rims to provide a bit of extra clearance with the calipers, nothing is ever straight forward for me.

I'm reasonably close to finishing the car, I'm waiting for the diff housing, front struts and a few other things to come back The brakes are pretty close, I have to hassle the rear windscreen manufacturer once again, new glass really can't be that far away, and last of all I haven't heard anything regarding my distributor modifications.

There's still a few small bits and pieces that I need to buy but not much left really.


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 Post subject: Re: 1973 Mazda Rx3
PostPosted: Wed Sep 05, 2012 4:37 am 

Joined: Tue Sep 27, 2011 4:15 am
Posts: 289
Location: Adelaide
Wow, I can't wait to see it. I can't wait to see it shiny in the sun all angry 10a. :tu:


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 Post subject: Re: 1973 Mazda Rx3
PostPosted: Wed Sep 05, 2012 9:28 pm 

Joined: Mon May 17, 2010 9:12 pm
Posts: 28
Location: Melbourne
Nice work sourcing the Koni's they are a definite "hared to get" part.


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 Post subject: Re: 1973 Mazda Rx3
PostPosted: Sun Sep 09, 2012 3:17 am 
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Joined: Tue Jun 21, 2011 4:38 am
Posts: 21
Location: Still aboard the Deathstar with my Plasma cutter
Hey John, could you post a close up picture or somthing on how to adjust the rear shock settings as i could not understand what was stamped on my rears. I would just like to check to make sure my pair are working in sync.

Regards Kurt.


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 Post subject: Re: 1973 Mazda Rx3
PostPosted: Sun Sep 09, 2012 4:46 pm 

Joined: Wed Mar 11, 2009 6:09 pm
Posts: 571
Location: Australia
I've scanned both the fitting and installation instructions. I can't upload them here or photobucket (won't allow it). Send your email address and I'll forward them on.

When you work it all out you can let me know what needs to be done. Generally speaking I didnt think Koni reds were adjustable, I thought that was a feature of the Koni Yellows. Being original old 70's stock, Koni probably did things different back then and these are definately adjustable front and rear.

What I do know is that the damper needs to be removed from the car for adjustment. Looks like you compress fully and twist. Sorry haven't paid much attention to them as my stub axles are not back yet and I can't do anything with the rears at the moment as the car is on stands.

They suggest putting 50ml of antifreeze and engine oil in the struts to aid damper cooling. That pretty much explains the oil in the struts when I removed the old shocks.


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 Post subject: Re: 1973 Mazda Rx3
PostPosted: Sun Sep 09, 2012 9:45 pm 

Joined: Thu Aug 13, 2009 7:27 am
Posts: 350
Location: salt lake city
so your shocks require you to check your fluid levels? wacky stuff the 70s was.

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 Post subject: Re: 1973 Mazda Rx3
PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2012 1:41 am 
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Location: Adelaide
gypsy wrote:
I've scanned both the fitting and installation instructions. I can't upload them here or photobucket (won't allow it). Send your email address and I'll forward them on.

When you work it all out you can let me know what needs to be done. Generally speaking I didnt think Koni reds were adjustable, I thought that was a feature of the Koni Yellows. Being original old 70's stock, Koni probably did things different back then and these are definately adjustable front and rear.

What I do know is that the damper needs to be removed from the car for adjustment. Looks like you compress fully and twist. Sorry haven't paid much attention to them as my stub axles are not back yet and I can't do anything with the rears at the moment as the car is on stands.

They suggest putting 50ml of antifreeze and engine oil in the struts to aid damper cooling. That pretty much explains the oil in the struts when I removed the old shocks.


I had a set of these old school konis in my Sigma Turbo.....bloody good shocks. I set the rears up as hard as they would go.....was really stiff in the back.....but would light up the rear tyres EVERY time it came on boost...the things we did when we were young :D

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 Post subject: Re: 1973 Mazda Rx3
PostPosted: Thu Sep 13, 2012 12:57 am 

Joined: Wed Mar 11, 2009 6:09 pm
Posts: 571
Location: Australia
A few parts have made their way back. Also windscreens must be close, I'm told that the rear demister patterns have now been produced as has the glass. The last step is to print and bake the demister onto the glass. I called the manufacturer today, apparently the boss (the one doing the work) is away at the moment.

I was after a few bits and pieces so made my way down to a wrecking yard. There were a few JNCs wasting away. I havent done this in a while and have too say I enjoyed a day amongst the wrecks and the sunny afternoon.

Mid 70's Corolla (or whats left of it). Datsun 180B or 200B, havent seen one of these in yeaaaaaaars !
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A couple of Datsun 120Y's, surprised that there's still a few around that havent rusted to the ground !
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Daihatsu ? and a poor little Civic that were once common on Australian roads.
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Civic interior and a hatch Celica, gullwing doors and who said anything about safety !
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A beat up Gemini and an old 70s Wagon Corona.
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Friends used to go mad over the 18RC or was that the RG, never been a Toyota fan so dunno ! When was the last time you saw a wagon version of these Corollas ? Rx7 wheels on the Corolla ?
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The interior brings back memories. A good school mate who became NSW transport minister killed a few of these Corollas.
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Now onto the Mazda.....

Pic 1, new lowered springs, decided not to use coilovers. Pic 2, Original solid rotors V's the vented ones.
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As you can see there is no comparison between the new and old. They are approx 264 diameter and either 22 or 24mm thick. As previously mentioned they came off someones old race car and I had everything refabricated to a better standard. The rotors don't look like they have done much work. I'll paint them up before installing them. Pic 2, the replacement 4 spot calipers V's the original single spot calipers. The 4 spots have been checked over, cleaned on the inside. One had a bit of vaseline on the inside which would have made bleeding them a pain. They were also clean from corrosion on the inside which is good. You could go for a sliding caliper design which provides more clearance for everything but I'm told performance wise these are superior.
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I'll put a seal kit through these and new bleed nipples prior to installiing them although Im told the seals on these should be ok for a couple of years yet. I'd rather do them now than pull them off later. Pic 2, the new custom made brackets against the ones off the race car. I had everything remeasured and adjusted so I could fit my Japanese alloy wheels. They run a totally different caliper offset to the ones that came off the race car. Alot of measuring and checking for fit, glad it wasnt me doing it. We used to own a 240 Volvo with these brakes and they had no trouble pulling up the brick. The Mazda wieghs sub 900 Kg V's 1500 Kg (Volvo) so they are probably a little over kill but great for the odd track day I have in mind.
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I went a little crazy having everything cleaned up and powdercoated. These are the drum backings and the original front brake backings. I had them done incase I want to return the car back to original spec.
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Over flow bottle bracket blasted and coated, Pic 2 same goes for the front stub axles, they are ready for the new Konis.
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Some trick items, Mazdas Im told suffer from front axle flex so had stub axle stiffeners made to strengthen the front setup. They fit between the front axle bearing and the axle nut is done up full tight which transfers the load to this stiffener. We'll see how it all goes. Last pic, diff housing was blasted and powdercoated. I now have all the bits to assemble the rear end aside for a new set of leaf suspension bushes.
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Big thanks to Marcus from MSF Race Components, he made everything so easy. If you are like me his workshop is a dangerous place to visit, he has so much good stuff. Everything from magnesium diff carriers to full floating kits, coil overs, brake conversions, large stub axle modifications, custom hubs... you name it !.

Everything in my conversion had to be custom made mainly due to my requirements to run small diameter wheels (by todays standards, not 70's standards). If I fitted large diameter rims I probably could have used one of the off the shelf conversions. One of my other requirments was that I wanted to keep the standard wheel track which also limits wheel clearance with the calipers, also if I increase the wheel track I knew I'd run into problems with the front rims clipping or rubbing on the front guards. Since I repaired them I wasnt prepared to chop them which is how I bought them. .....next update I'll be fitting some of this stuff :-)


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 Post subject: Re: 1973 Mazda Rx3
PostPosted: Tue Sep 18, 2012 5:20 pm 

Joined: Tue Sep 27, 2011 4:15 am
Posts: 289
Location: Adelaide
The volvo brake conversions were popular in the 90's, should work a treat!

Those pics in the wrecking yards reminds me I need to take a camera more often. I quite often do a little picking and see many a nostalgic but forget to get snap shots for other builders to enjoy. :tu: thank you


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 Post subject: Re: 1973 Mazda Rx3
PostPosted: Fri Sep 28, 2012 9:25 am 
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Location: Colorado Springs, CO
The car is really starting to come together.

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 Post subject: Re: 1973 Mazda Rx3
PostPosted: Sun Sep 30, 2012 6:13 pm 
JNC Enthusiast

Joined: Mon Jun 08, 2009 9:26 pm
Posts: 748
Location: Melbourne, Australia
that corolla wagon (KE26?) is quite a rare beast these days...

Nice work with the struts there.

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