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Just out of curiosity, what size of market do members of this forum think exists for some better RTR OO track ? Would you and/or your club use it if it was better than current products ? What sort of price point would you be prepared to pay for it ?

Graham Plowman
 

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I thought there was quite a bit of decent RTR track out there... ?

What is the name of the Japanese company that makes all the nice turnouts etc... ?

Jonathan
 

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another thought...

does anyone else think that if peco or hornby widened the sleepers on their RTR track by 1-2mm either side the look of the track might be more realistic ? All of the current track would still be compatible....

have a look at the P4 or EM rtr straight lengths of track to see what I mean......

Jonathan.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
QUOTE (neil_s_wood @ 10 Jan 2007, 11:30) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>I decided to go with Tillig track for my new layout as Dougs review had shown that, visually, it was significant improvement on Peco. However technically this HO track.
It isn't just HO track.
It is German track using German sleeper arrangements with German chairs and German Geometry all modelled in HO.
There is nothing wrong with any of that except that it looks nothing like a British turnout!

I suppose at least the sleepers are in proportion to the gauge!

But interestingly, if people are prepared to accept an HO model, could this be the way to go for British outline so that we get our sleepers and gauge in the same scale instead of the SMP/C&L hybrid of scales ?

Graham Plowman
 

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QUOTE (Graham Plowman @ 9 Jan 2007, 23:52) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Just out of curiosity, what size of market do members of this forum think exists for some better RTR OO track ? Would you and/or your club use it if it was better than current products ? What sort of price point would you be prepared to pay for it ?

IMHO I think that there would be fairly limited market for the serious/semi-serious modeller. However, how many people that would make up the customer base actually know that their OO models are running on HO track ? (or even care if they do).

Personally, if I modelled in OO (I model in HO & have some LGB in the garden) I would pay more for better track - probably around twice the present P prices.

Again, you have to look at the commercial prospects for a manufacturer - if you had several thousands of pounds available (probably more) to invest in tooling for model railway track what direction would you go - a fairly limited OO/16.5mm UK market (& that's before you consider period/railway company/code & so on, which the more discerning UK modeller will demand) or a more worldwide HO/16.5mm market ...............
And all the while P are continuing to produce OO/HO trackage with a point design that IMHO is dated with poor quality for "UK prices".

Unfortunatly, I don't think we will be seeing OO/16.5mm UK outline track at a price the UK modeller will be prepared to pay.
 

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I know this issue has been raised many times, but I thought I'd raise it again. MRE Mag has also chased this topic into the long grass once or twice, but I wondered if Michael Pritchard's recent letter in BRM (which I haven't read but people are referring to) is some kind of tipping point in this debate?

In my case, I would buy "better" OO British outline track for my scenic level, if it was commercially available. To my mind, the fact that most buyers/modellers don't care is less relevant - if such track were available, they'd buy it and be none the wiser.

Like others, I don't see any particular commercial imperative operating on any of the major companies which would lead them to invest in new track. In which case, could some smaller, bolder, more innovative company just pull the rug out from under the big boys' feet?

I won't hold my breath - but do MRF readers think change is in the air, or is it just another round of debate?
 

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Many people I know are happy with Peco code 100, once it is painted & ballasted, usually it is the moving trains that others notice.
dbclass50 on Jan 10 mentioned he would be prerapred to pat twice as much for good looking track. yes sounds OK but having 80+ points & around 140 yards of track Code 75 that cost around $2440 - GBP 986 so I would not have to pay double.
 

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This is all starting to remind me of 1990s discussions about whether British modellers would pay for more detailed locos with better mechanisms . The widespread view then seemed to be that Lima were ok and only a few people would be willing to pay a premium oer the £50-60 then prevailing

So it was generally held there would only be a small market for such models and they wouldn't be economic in the small British market

While some of the prices now seen for new tooling are starting to test modeller's limits (Hornby being percieved as the prime offenders) the fact is that when the product was made available for an extra £20-30 per loco, lots of people bought it . To the point where the more basic stuff from Lima became rapidly uncompetitive

I suspect the same applies to track. If a better product than Peco were available, the market would soon start to buy it in preference, and Peco would respond.

To somne extent the interest in Tillig track in the UK is a marker for the level of suppressed discontent with Peco's efforts Using Tillig is only an expedient and not an especially satisfactory one , but the stuff is increasingly making a name

I think the rumbles of discontent are starting to reach a critical point with BRM clearly giving it a push (Warners have no reason to make life easy for Railway Modeller's publisher).

This has now gone beyond the point where the various vested interests (P4, EM, Peco) can suppress the subject by clouding the issue and telling us firmly its not on anyones agenda
 

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QUOTE (Sol @ 19 Feb 2007, 13:12) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Many people I know are happy with Peco code 100, once it is painted & ballasted, usually it is the moving trains that others notice.
dbclass50 on Jan 10 mentioned he would be prerapred to pay twice as much for good looking track. yes sounds OK but having 80+ points & around 140 yards of track Code 75 that cost around $2440 - GBP 986 so I would not have to pay double.

I will never use Peco Track again, code 100 or 75 mainly due to my recent bad experiences with using brand new Peco points on the fiddle yard for "St Laurent" (not being able to get the automation 100%, due to the poor quality of the mechanics of the wretched things). As soon as time permits the whole fiddle yard will be replaced with Flesichmann Profi Track & points - not, admitted the best looking track but it's 100% reliable & it's more "universal" than Peco code 100. It's not just the looks.
The visible section of "St laurent" was already laid with code 100 Peco points & track. Most of these points were salvaged from a previous layout & are probably 20 years old by now (this is what made me comment in the past about maybe the moulds being worn out !). These are much better & are operated with Fulgurex slow action point motors.
My next layout will feature either Tillig, Fleischmann or maybe Roco on the visible sections - the only certain thing is that it will not be Peco (unless they invest in some new tooling). Shame - I used to swear by Peco track. The trouble with Peco is that they don't realise that things move on in an increasingly quicker pace these days.
Just because a product was good years ago, dos'nt mean it's good enough for todays discerning modeller.
Just look at the offerings from (to name a few) Fleischmann, Hornby, Peco & Roco from the 70's & look at the quality and/or levels of detail nowadays. Which ones products are virtually the same ?

I rest my case.
 

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Oddly enough, last week I bought a few issues of Iain Rice's ''Railmodel Digest'', from the '90's.

One of his 'editorials' themed on the 'cost' of model railway equipment in the UK at that time.

His view was, that stuff was ''too cheap''...ie British modellers refused to pay the prices paid by, for example Germans and others, for their stuff.......thus profit margins in the UK market were too low, thus manufacturers and dealers were operating close to the knuckle.

Overheads were forced to be pared to the bone.

He used the example of Lima's market policy back then....of how they were willing to produce high quality mechanisms and highly detailed bodyshells, for the continental market....with consequent high retail prices.
They got a good return on their investment, and modellers on the continent were willing to pay.

For the UK market...despite Lima's high quality production and design experience, they were forced to 'build down to a price'...because UK modellers simply refused to 'pay' for quality...a sort-of ''summat for nowt'' syndrome??

Thus for the UK we got pancake motor bogies, and other cost - cutting exercises.

I suspect this customer phillosophy still exists.

In my view....much of today's high quality production stuff is too cheap!

The downside of the above notion, is that we have seen the death of 'scratch-building'...not for the unusual,but for the commonplace...on the grounds of 'saving money?'
With such superior quality, available so cheaply, there seems little point.

Now if the high quality mundane stuff was more costly.....(hence greater profit margins...for manufacturer and retailer).....scratch-building would be a lot more cost-effective..thus worthwhile....and perhaps we would see an increase in the old modelling skills?

(I noticed this trend in the US model railroad market some years back.....what WAS the point of modelling a boxcar in card or wood...if a better plastic item was on the market for less than the scatchbuilt wheels would cost?)

plus, more innovation?

and fewer articles in the press about piecing together an etched kit costing hundreds??

what has all this to do with better-scaled track?

dunno really...except perhaps the comments in other posts re - willingness to pay more, struck a chord?

Can one still get scatchbuild track components from Peco?

Could someone put together a mould for a small panel of sleepers...maybe 2 or 3.....with no more detail than Peco put in at present.......to which we could add our own flat bottom rail?

A bit like, removing Peco's sleeper strips, and adding our own?

Points are another issue.......maybe a compromise there?

I could never understand why folk layed SMP plastic flex track, with all its detail...then laid pointwork on copperclad sleepers...with solder instead of chairs????

All I want are better sized sleepers!
 

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Alastair:

Some interesting points.

Firstly coming back to Iain Rice's comments in MORILL (which I recall) and what has become the stock explanation of the British Lima saga.:

QUOTE He used the example of Lima's market policy back then....of how they were willing to produce high quality mechanisms and highly detailed bodyshells, for the continental market....with consequent high retail prices.
They got a good return on their investment, and modellers on the continent were willing to pay.

For the UK market...despite Lima's high quality production and design experience, they were forced to 'build down to a price'...because UK modellers simply refused to 'pay' for quality...a sort-of ''summat for nowt'' syndrome??

Thus for the UK we got pancake motor bogies, and other cost - cutting exercises.

With the benefit of hindsight and the history of the last 10 years, I now believe Iain was wrong here. "British models are rubbish and its all the fault of British modellers who have something wrong with their attitude" has become a club to beat us over the head from various interested parties who have a great deal less commitment to supporting British outline modelling than Iain Rice (I'm thinking particularly of certain commentators associated with REx and MRM in its early stages.)

British Lima was poor because of Lima's attitude to the British market and more especially the then UK importer's take on it, not because UK modellers forced them to "build down to a price" .

In the 1980s Lima were an innovative brand , boldly modelling modern image subjects that no-one else was daring to go for, and challenging older Hornby models with something a bit better. Their kettles were pretty mediocre , and faced with a reasonable level of competition , Lima walked awayfrom kettles. The Lima Crab and J50 were never ever in the same league as the Mainline/Airfix Scots or the Mainline J72 , and people bought the better models

It's easy to forget how modern image modelling almost died out in the UK between 1965 and 1975 . Whwen Lima came on the scene any modern image subject was seen as risky and marginal. Between the Triang Met-Cam and Lima's - which would you choose? Between the Hornby 37 - which has always had completely the wrong bogies - and Lima's , with the right ones? What were the alternatives to the Lima Deltic? In that kind of market , you didn't have to be that good to make a mark - and your buyers were mostly in their teens and twenties, and not the more sophistcated folk who built whitemetal and (gasp) etched brass kits

Lima chose to focus exclusively on the cheap'n cheerful sector of the hobby where product was scarce and buyers less demanding (OO modern image). They didn't have to focus on that sector exclusively , but they did

In the 90s, the flow of new models effectively dried up. All we got were endless limited edition liveries on existing tooling. Basically Riko, the then importer, seems to have convinced them that the British market was all about collectables , not railway modelling. When the most important features of a loco are the mint box and the limited edition collector's certificate , fitting a decent mechanism is going to look like an irrelevance. If you believe the model will never be run on a l;ayout , why waste money on unnecessary features like decent wheels and better pick up?

Lima never had direct contact with the British modeller - they never turned up at a show with their stand like Heljan do at Warley (It took Heljan 2 days at their first Warley to realise the British market was 4mm not 3.5mm and they instantly switched horses). So the people back in Italy must have been entirely dependant on what the UK importer fed them

I was told that when DOGA started campaigning for various improvements in the mid 90s , they wrote to all the players in the market at that time . Everyone at least gave them the courtesy of a letter in reply - bar one. Riko never bothered replying to several letters

I don't think Riko had any interest in or even recognised the existance of the "scale" market

In the 90s Hornby backed away from modern image so Lima had the field largely to themselves. When Bachmann turned up the heat with US style products - RP25 wheels, decent mechanisms accurate bodies - Lima were in trouble. Hornby responded with theirv own super detail models - and I don't think Lima would have survived much longer in Britain even if Rivarossi hadn't folded.

Sadly the collapse of Lima was the best thing that has happened to British modelling in the last 25 years - it opened up so many gaps for fine new models , kept the boom rolling and sorted outb OO wheel standards overnight

It isn't true that British Lima was poor because British modellers wanted poor models. All that was on offer was what Hornby and Lima were prepared to offer.

And added to this , the top end of the British 4mm market was syphoned off by the finescale movement. There are people who will pay £200 for a top class 4mm loco. They are called the kit market . (Or Gauge O modellers) Finescale modellers simply didn't want good RTR . Not only did they not want to buy it themselves - RTR wasn't in their eyes a legitimate part of modelling

So I'm not sure I'd agree with the idea that prices should be much higher so that people can't afford RTR locosand will be forced to scratchbuild

You can buy individual component from Peco . You can also do so from C+L. I don't know if you've ever threaded individual plastic chairs on a yard of rail . I have - once , and once was quite enough. Our club project would have been a non-starter if we'd tried to build a large continous circuit layout like that

InterCity Models offer "Fasttrack" - sections of concrete sleepers much as you describe. Threading up the rail is awkward , but much better than C+L chairs. Unfortunately the webbing is rigid, so you have to separate every sleeper to lay a curve, and getting loose sleepers evenly spaced is an awkward job.

The advantages of copperclad points are that they have the right sleepering and can feature bullhead rail. They are also cheap and nearly bomb proof - neither of which applies to C_L or P4 Track Co. If solder blobs offend you, just stick half a C+L chair in place with evostick

But if you go this route , most people can forget building large layouts.......
 

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QUOTE (Ravenser @ 20 Feb 2007, 07:17) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>But if you go this route , most people can forget building large layouts.......

Ravenser, that is the reason many of us are prepared to use commercial track - .
It is OK to handlay on a small scale but a bit much for a 12 x 20 ft layout. Here in Aust, Peco is the dominant supplier, Tillig is starting to raise it head but when it is 30% or more dearer than Peco, one has to look at overall costs. I am fortunate that a majority of my points are manually operated & the others use Peco motors. A new layout (if constructed subject to operator availability)) will be smaller & any motors will be Tortoise.

Ron
 

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Some fascinating and useful thoughts there, especially your comparisions with the nineties market.

I am wondering whether to try Tillig for my scenic level, or use Andy McMillan-style cosmetic changes to improve Peco, or just forget it and live with it, so I can get on with something else.

The kit-building idea from C&L or P4 Track Co appeals to me as an experiment (and I do plan to try it eventually), but I am worried by the time/cost implications, even on a small layout like mine. It's a bit like the work cliche of finding yourself up to your *rse in alligators when you only wanted to drain the swamp.

I want to run the bloody trains, not spend forever at my work bench (which isn't to say I don't expect to spend a proportion of my time at the workbench).

For me, if a major, medium or minor manufacturer did some of that work for me, I'd buy it.

I have to say I hope you're right, Ravenser, and that the time is nigh!
 

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I think Michael Pritchard and Peco are totally oblivious to the way that 'serious modellers' feel about his company's offering. In his BRM letter he stated that serious modellers didn't model in 00, so what does that say about most of the layouts featured in Railway Modeller, or fantastic models like Bromsgrove which was featured in the same issue of BRM as his letter?

Peco are not as yet in this millenium, just look at their website. I wonder if Mr Pritchard was to review his business and publish Peco's mission statement whether what it would state as Peco's primary actitvity, would it be 'Tourist attraction' i.e. Pecorama, would it be 'Magazine publisher', I very much doubt if it would be 'Model railway track manufacturer' and it would be a lie if it was 'Realistic model railway track manufacturer'

I wonder where he gets his opinions from, if it is feedback from his distribution channels asking questions of the local model shops then of course they are going to get the answer 'No one asks for a realistic british 00 track system'. This is because we all know it doesn't exist, so why ask your model shop for something that isn't available.

Why don't Peco ask for our opinion via a survey in the Railway Modeller you may ask? Well I think it's because they think we are all content with c****y streamline.

The only way we can wake them up is through these forums and other methods such as moving away to Tillig etc. I think we should carry on our adverse comments - maybe even writing to the Railway Modeller stating how out of touch they are.

Lets keep it going.

Steve
 

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Well, that's settled it - if those right numbers come up one week on a rollover I'll do some research & maybe produce a realistic OO trackage system based on UK track.

Thing is though - bullhead/flatbottomed/code/WHY ?

It would (to be marketable) have to be very close to Peco's prices to sell - or would it - what premium would the UK modeller pay for the track he wants ?

Would something that looks like Tillig & have the same sort of quality be the way to go ?

Advertising could be a problem though - a doubt is the RM would like it much, but then again if it was good enough it's reputaion would probably do the trick.
 

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Perhaps if British-prototype modellers...or 4mm modellers...had a high-profile, well-established and respected standards body, as our US compadres have with the NMRA, then perhaps our pleas may not be ignored quite so much?

As an old-fahrt modeller, fringe-only (I don't often visit shows, etc......other commitments to time)...I recall in the 60's and 70's, continual reference to the BRMSB as an august body.

When I converted to the other form of pond life, US outline...everything was governed, or investigated, under the auspices of the NMRA.
I was a member..

I baulked a bit at their schemes for 'master modellers', etc...bit too much like a boyscout badge system for me.........yet they established standards which manufacturers dare NOT ignore...?

The NMRA made SURE that they had a finger in every pie, model railways-wise, in te interests of the MODELLER.

Yet, what do we have for UK modellers?

Primarily in 4mm scale?

3mm,7mm,2mm etc have very effectively-organised groups, able to arrange for products to be made, specific to their members' needs?

Yet.....specific scale organisations apart (EM gauge Soc, P4,etc)...the 4mm modeller, with 00 gauge interests..(the MAJORITY, perhaps???)...have little in the way of high-profile interest groups, of sufficient size to exert clout with manufacturers......to my knowledge.

PECO win, simply because they're there......it's the old supermarket ploy.....if a shop doesn't /can't stock what you want, they simply say there's 'no demand'....I believe, if Peco simply changed their sleeper moulds to suit british track......and ...within reason.....that was what was distibuted nationwide.....virtually verybody who buys OO gauge...and who is making a layout...would buy it......?

Their quality, and guarentee of standards,,,which is why they sell so well...[customers 'trust' Peco]...would not need to change.

Sadly, model shops may not be willing to stock a more 'correct' competitor...a case of 'better the devil we know?'

Yet, if 4mm,OO gauge modellers had access to a strong lobby, like the NMRA, years ago, then this situation may not have arisen?

Another question....why NOW, are we complaining about track appearance?

Peco Streamline has been around for......35 years or more???

Yet....when it first came out, modellers were so please to be able to buy such a [cheap??], easy-to-lay, plastic trackage system, they overlooked the (noted, I add) sleeper spacing and size.......''aren't we lucky at last?''

I may be wrong, but I feel the 00 gauge model market is actually still industry-led, rather than customer-led, as the HO market in the 'States seems to be?

If we had a sufficiently large (and representative) modeller's body in the world, then maybe the likes of Shinohara could be prevailed upon to meet our needs?

Given the world-wide market that Bachmann are so well into..perhaps it is THEY to whom we might appeal to redress the situation?
 

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I'd have thought the market would live with a premium over Peco of up to 50% .

To put this in perspective , C+L and P4 Track Co offer point kits that cost £25 per point , and require construction , although certain of the difficulties have been ironed out - C+L include a preassembled V , Copper clad construction is a good deal cheaper though you are making your own crossing Vs

I'd have thought £15 for a decent ready made OO point would be a viable price point

Ready made flexible track for OO is already available from both SMP and C+L - its only the matching points that aren't available ready made. In both cases this is chaired bull head track, and I'd be inclined to go for a match with SMP . The C+L flexible track has very prominent chairs which can get marginal with the flanges on some RTR stock , although a lot seems to be fine on it. C+L track is designed around the EM wheel profile , not RP25/110 (which is what the RTR manufacturers base themselve on)

Given that flexible track is already available, I'd say that forces the choice of bullhead and code 75 to match.

I can't see any reason to consider code 100 . The only things that actually need code 100 are Triang Hornby, Dublo, and earlier Lima . If you are happy running that without rewheeling , you are probably not going to be in the target market for proper OO track

While flatbottom has been around for decades, the bulk of the network would have been laid with bullhead into the 1970s - especially on secondary lines , which are the sort of prototypes most people model. These days the greatest interest seems to be in the 1950s and 1960s , when bullhead dominated. Laying a layout entirely in bullhead when strictly speaking a few running lines would have been flatbottom is only a marginal compromise. There is still a fair amount of bullhead around in sidings, platforms and in backwaters of the network (eg the Cambrian seems to be laid mainly in bullhead)

Bullhead would also give another Unique Selling Point against Peco, especially for anyone modelling steam when flatbottom was pretty uncommon

It's noticeable that the specialist trackwork component people only provide limited material for building flatbottomed track (especially wooden sleepered flat bottom for whick very little at all is available) . And PECO have never bothered making concrete sleeper track for code 75.

All this tends to suggest that bullhead is much the easiest option and the biggest market.

I'd suggest a simple range of 2 LH and 2 RH points , roughly equivalent to Peco's medium and large radius , or perhaps slightly tighter , plus a diamond crossing. This would keep the investment in tooling down . Perhaps a curved point and a Y might follow if the range proved popular.

Anything beyond that would be home made - building one or two points for a layout is a lot more thinkable than building 12-20 points. The alternative would be to tailor your track plan to suit what is available
 

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QUOTE the 4mm modeller, with 00 gauge interests..(the MAJORITY, perhaps???)...have little in the way of high-profile interest groups, of sufficient size to exert clout with manufacturers......to my knowledge

if 4mm,OO gauge modellers had access to a strong lobby, like the NMRA, years ago, then this situation may not have arisen?

We do have DOGA.

This is a bit of a chicken and egg situation : a large interest group with sufficient size to exert clout will only arise if enough individual modellers join it to make it large. An organisation for OO modellers with 10,000+ members isn't simply going to appear overnight from somewhere : it can only grow out of something smaller . If people feel it isn't big enough or high profile enough yet, then lend it your support by joining....
[And yes I am a member myself]
 

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QUOTE (alastairq @ 24 Feb 2007, 11:13) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>The NMRA made SURE that they had a finger in every pie, model railways-wise, in te interests of the MODELLER. Yet, what do we have for UK modellers?

Another question....why NOW, are we complaining about track appearance? Peco Streamline has been around for......35 years or more???

In answer to the fisrt point there is nothing to stop any group of like minded people starting their own "NMRAUK", except for the arguments about standards that would probably take over & the fact that (I suspect) the UK modeller, generally is a more solitary person than his US counterpart. It is probably the internet & excellent forums such as this one that has tended to bring us together for more discussion.

As for the second point - that's easy - just look at the other standards that existed 35 years ago - flangless driving wheels, huge couplings, great gaps between the coaches, valve gear made out of reduntant Forth Bridge steelwork, the list goes on. Yes, in those days Peco was great & was a godsend (I used it then). But now with all the detail of RTR it just is not good enough !

Peco need to well & truly wake up & spend some of the money they must have made over the years on some investment & retooling. I used to be a keen user & supporter of Peco Products until they got well & truly left behind.
 
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