Another Fuel Pump Failure

Another Fuel Pump Failure

Postby bkilby [OP] » February 19th 2011, 1:44am

<rant on>

I bought my Astro about a month ago and knew I was going on a Death Valley trip this weekend. I busted my arse getting that van as ready as possible for this trip including new carpet, new headliner, all new (to me) seats, replace PS pump, Hydro boost unit, master cylinder, all PS hoses, belt, cap, rotor, plugs, wires, changed all fluids front to back, sway bar bushings, installed CB and Ham, bought a new portable fridge etc etc.

This morning heading into Mojave, the LR tire decides to come apart on the freeway. Literally chunks just flying off.
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I pulled into a Napa service center and bought 4 new tires. I really didn't want to buy them because I plan on going to 31's here very shortly but after considering the fact that I was going to put around 200 miles on these tires in the middle of no where, I thought the $425 would be a smart idea. So, 4 new tires please! The tire guy get's all done, pulls the van out of the stall and hands me the keys. I paid for the tires and left. Well, I tried. The van won't start. Son of a gun, I think the fuel pump is dead! Ok, I didn't really say "son of a gun". :o

The Napa service center wanted $438 for a pump and $285 labor to install it, $723.00 total. WTF? I call my local store in Burbank and they have the pump in stock for $195.00. I have a lift so I can do it myself and can't justify spending that much for a crappy fuel pump. A call to AAA and I'm heading home, canceling the trip. BTW, my brother is already out there on a motorcycle pulling a trailer. I had to bail on him too.

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I remember seeing a couple of topics here about replacing pumps but don't recall anyone having a solution to put an external pump on the van. Well, I plan on investigating this next week and will let the forum know what I come up with, if anything at all. I'm sure I can make it happen though.

<rant off>

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Re: Another Fuel Pump Failure

Postby RECox286 » February 19th 2011, 5:57am

Hey Brad,

The first thing you could have tried, when the pump failed, was to have beat on the tank to see if you could vibrate the pump motor to life, then go home, do not shut off engine, do not pass GO, do not collect

200 dollars, etc.

If repair proceedure #1 fails, then call for a flatbed.

The actual replacement of the pump is not difficult, but it can be frustrating, and time consuming, especially if it is your first time doing it. The truck needs only to be raised 4 to 6 inches to do the job comfortably.

As for Nuts and Bolts, it is pretty straight forward. The hardest parts are disconnecting the plumbing, and making sure that the fuel tank is fairly empty before you get it free from the straps.

I would question the price of the fuel pump that you quoted. Usually gen 2 trucks take a Module, rather than just the replacement pump itself, and that ramps up the price to around $300-400. Check that it is a

nationally reputable brand, there are imports that are cheaper, but will leave you stranded long before they should. Most of the guys and gals here recommend Delco or Delphi brands. Both are GM suppliers of

OE parts. I have always used Airtex, and not had any trouble with that brand. Just don't go with junk parts, the job isn't one that you want to do everyday. Don't forget to put a new "sock" filter on the bottom of the

pump if it doesn't come with one (some pumps do not include the sock) and definitely replace the in-line fuel filter. OE fuel pumps should give you at least 100k to 150k mi. service life on the average.

Keep truck'n

Bob
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Re: Another Fuel Pump Failure

Postby bkilby [OP] » February 19th 2011, 6:30am

Thanks for he info Bob. We beat on the fuel tank for 10 minutes with no luck. That's why we called the truck.

I know folks don't know me here but I'm actually quite handy with a wrench. I have a 4000 sq ft shop with a lift, CNC plasma cutter, iron worker etc. The van is already on the lift waiting for tank extraction. I used to make gas tank skids for Jeeps so I'm used to pulling gas tanks out of vehicles. Along with that business came the business accounts to buy auto parts at wholesale prices. The $200 pump actually retails closer to $350.

Anyhow, I'm on the war path to eliminate in intank pump and strictly external. I don't want to do this twice! :-)
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Re: Another Fuel Pump Failure

Postby redfury » February 19th 2011, 7:07am

Makes you kind of wonder why they went to internal pumps in the first place. I'd rather just have to deal with a sending unit than the pump and sending unit in one component. If the gauge doesn't work but the pump does, hard to justify a new unit.
A temporary fix usually becomes a permanent solution, therefore it does not exist.
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Re: Another Fuel Pump Failure

Postby bkilby [OP] » February 19th 2011, 7:33pm

In searching for a fuel pump solution, I came across this page. Might be interesting reading for those interested as to why fuel pumps fail. http://www.fuelpumps.com/page.html?id=7
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Re: Another Fuel Pump Failure

Postby Phantom » February 19th 2011, 7:58pm

Reasons for pumps to be placed inside the tank is
1. the fuel cools the pump and prevents overheating
2. inside the tank covered with fuel it deadens the humming sound and vibration of pump in operation
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Re: Another Fuel Pump Failure

Postby bkilby [OP] » February 19th 2011, 8:16pm

1. True, but there are many external pumps working just fine without the fuel cooling them.
2. Again true, but I'd rather hear the vibrating pump than have to drop the tank again. I have an aftermarket external pump on my Dodge Cummins and the sound doesn't bother me. YMMV. Also, most pumps come with a rubber isolator of sorts to help kill the vibration.
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Re: Another Fuel Pump Failure

Postby bkilby [OP] » February 26th 2011, 11:17am

Well it's been a crazy hectic week but I've still managed to gather some parts to get an external pump installed on the van. I'm not done but I'm hoping to finish tomorrow. I have one issue right now and that's finding a fuel sock, or fuel screen that I can use inside the tank. The ones (2) that are in there now are not easily adaptable to a simple gas hose. Anyhow, it begins....

Dropping the tank was pretty easy and straight forward. I think there was around 22 gallons in the tank which made it a tad heavy and because of this, we ended up breaking the high pressure hose connection when lowering the tank. I don't recommend breaking this part. It kinda sucks. :banghead: What we found inside the tank was disgusting. The main fuel strainer had a lot of gunk stuck to it and we found a lot of debris inside the tank. When I removed the fuel filter, the inlet was completely plugged with the same debris. Even after blowing the junk out of the filter, you could barely blow through it. It appears the filter clogged causing the pump to fail. Yes, I tried testing the fuel pump before I removed it. Pics of the dirty parts:

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We searched around for a couple of days for a used pump assembly but wasn't having much luck. I went into the local parts store and ponied up $125 for the cheap Chinese pump assembly and cried while doing so. I really was not happy about spending $125 just to use the plastic housing. While I was there, the counter guy said I was the 3rd or 4th guy that day to purchase an Astro/Safari fuel pump! Well today it dawns on me, why not call them back and find out who else bought a pump? That just means someone has a busted one being thrown in the trash. Score! Got one today for free so the Chinese unit will go back for a refund. :D I disassembled the broken unit to see what's inside. Here is one assembled:

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Here is mine torn apart.

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The white corrugated hose is the main feed coming off the fuel pump and out to the van. Notice the missing hose nipple just above it. The white housing top center holds the fuel pump, the small fuel strainer and the yellow gizmo all on the inside. On the outside of that housing is where the sender mounts along with the large strainer. The only thing I intend on using is the fuel sender and the plastic housings to seal the gas tank and feed the gas to the new pump assembly. The idea is to feed the white corrugated hose on the outside of the white housing and extend the hose to the bottom of the tank and re-install a fuel strainer.....if I can find one that I can use. As you can see in the first pic, the strainer is kind of important. I plan on securing the hose and strainer by drilling a couple of small holes in the lower white housing and using stainless tie wire to hold it in place. This will be opposite of the sending unit.
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Re: Another Fuel Pump Failure

Postby bkilby [OP] » February 26th 2011, 11:26am

For the new fuel pump, I decided to go with a Walbro unit. It has the specs I need and wasn't too expensive at $95. The filter is an aftermarket item that I already had laying around the shop. It's about the same size as the new pump and the internal element is replaceable. It just so happens I have around 230 of the elements in stock so I doubt I'll ever run out. :D More on all this later. I have pics but the camera is still at the shop. For now, a teaser pic. Stay tuned for more.
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Re: Another Fuel Pump Failure

Postby Gary » February 26th 2011, 1:58pm

A cheap O.E.M.pick-up is the 1985 carb version.
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Re: Another Fuel Pump Failure

Postby bkilby [OP] » February 26th 2011, 7:01pm

Gary, if I found the correct picture of the part, this should be it

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It's basically the same as the screens on the 2003 assembly. The problem is attaching a hose to it that won't fall off. If that's not it, please let me know. I have a lead on a couple of possibilities that have a hose barb. I'll be looking for that today.
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Re: Another Fuel Pump Failure

Postby bkilby [OP] » February 27th 2011, 9:37pm

As it turns out, I had to change the plans a little on how the new tube and fuel strainer were attached. I think this came out better though. This pic shows the parts used but not installed. Btw, I finally found a strainer that works with a 5/16" tube. It only took two days. :?

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All unnecessary parts were removed. Parts needed is a section of 5/16" tubing, the fuel strainer and a hose clamp. Insert the strainer on the tube and insert through open hole at the bottom of the old pump housing.

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Bring the tube up through the hole as shown here and point the strainer in the same direction as the float.

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Notch a hole on the opposite side of the old housing to allow clamp access. I suppose you could notch the other side but you have to do it where you're not cutting both lower plastic housings. It'll make it harder to slide them apart down the road.

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Blowing through the tube while plugging the other end will tell you if you have a leak or not. This is the old pump housing ready to re-install.

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This will get installed in the tank tomorrow after I clean the tank one more time and get some measurements for future reference.
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Re: Another Fuel Pump Failure

Postby bkilby [OP] » February 27th 2011, 9:58pm

On to the van! As I mentioned earlier, I'm using a Walbro pump and aftermarket fuel filter. I also had to have a couple of custom fittings made. For the rest of the connections, I chose what was immediately available and turns it out it was some Russell Push Lock fittings and Goodyear Push On hose. All fittings are AN-6 and barbs are 3/8".

The goods layed out on a table.

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The filter disassembled.

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The mounting plate ready to paint.

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The new pump location is on the outside of the "frame", just behind the rear body mount, drivers side.

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I held up the parts, measured, cut the plate and marked the holes to drill. I had some metric nutserts laying around from a Jeep project and used those to mount the plate. The nutserts getting installed...

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I chose to use the stock fuel filter fittings to "tap" into the system. These are some funky fittings that no one seems to make a female fitting to connect to. It just so happens that I recognized the fitting to be the same as you'd find on a high pressure steering hose, possibly even the same one on these Astros! I can verify that tomorrow. I had a couple of inlet fittings for a Jeep power steering pump that seemed to work so I had a shop cut it apart and weld the AN -6 fitting to it. This of course allows me to use a fitting that is more off the shelf stead of that funky O-ring fitting. This is the stock filter location.

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The custom fittings and the -6 fittings installed, but not tightened yet.

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And the final pic of the day, the new fuel pump and filter installed and plumbed in. Tomorrow, I get to install the pump housing into the tank, install the tank add two wires to the new pump and hope like hell nothing leaks! :confused:

Image
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Re: Another Fuel Pump Failure

Postby bkilby [OP] » March 1st 2011, 5:41am

Today we installed the old housing in the gas tank, wired up the new pump and let 'er rip. Everything works just fine without leaks. So far anyhow! Tomorrow, I plan on a 60-70 mile round trip in the van to see how things go. Hopefully, we won't have any issues. If we don't, we're done and good to go!

Besides breaking the old housing, I think I'm into this mod for about $180. Keep in mind that I had some of the stuff in house already and I do get wholesale discounts but if I had to go out and buy all the goods, I'd say the total would be approx:

Pump $110
Filter $35
Custom Fittings $20
AN fittings $80
Hose $6
Strainer $6
Clamps $4
Steel plate $0
Misc $10
Total $271

Now keep in mind that you don't have to go fancy like I did, just get stuff that works. The $80 worth of fittings can be replaced by simple barbed fittings and hose clamps to reduce the price dramatically. The filter I use can be replaced by a cheaper unit as well. YMMV and all that. I'll report back if I have any issues!

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Re: Another Fuel Pump Failure

Postby 97TurboAstro » March 1st 2011, 1:58pm

Since your pickup tube is not inside that module/bucket, you will probably run into troubles during low-fuel conditions. That tank does not have any baffles in it. When fuel sloshes away from your pickup tube, your pump will suck air... which isn't good for fuel injection setups.

You have your fuel filter installed before the fuel pump. That is not the optimal setup. Those pumps push fuel a lot better than they pull fuel. You already have the pump working hard to draw the fuel out of the tank, now you're asking it suck fuel thru that filter.

You can easily change the plumbing for that filter, but you'll probably need some in-tank pickups if you want to have access to all your fuel.
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Re: Another Fuel Pump Failure

Postby bkilby [OP] » March 1st 2011, 3:44pm

The OEM setup has two fuel strainers, one on the inside of the plastic housing, one on the outside. The one on the inside is attached to the fuel pump and is after a check valve. The inside one always sits in a small puddle of gas. This acts as a baffle as you suggest. Many vehicles don't have this option and yet they still run just fine. I'll take my chance on sucking air over a crappy fuel pump failure. Btw, with 5 gallons of gas in the tank, the gauge read one notch above the empty mark. The pump wasn't sucking air at that time.

On the filter setup, I could put one after the filter but that seems a bit silly since the dirt will get introduced in the tank, before the pump. What good is the filter if the pump is getting damaged by sucking in all that dirt? Besides that, Walbro said a pre-filter is perfectly acceptable. Yes, I did my homework. ;)
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Re: Another Fuel Pump Failure

Postby 97TurboAstro » March 2nd 2011, 4:20am

bkilby wrote:The OEM setup has two fuel strainers, one on the inside of the plastic housing, one on the outside. The one on the inside is attached to the fuel pump and is after a check valve. The inside one always sits in a small puddle of gas. This acts as a baffle as you suggest.


That is my point. The former setup had a pump in a bucket. You have the flex hose connected to your metal tube, don't you?
If so, that module isn't doing you any good. I believe your return line dumps into that module, too. You should move your pickup tube to inside that module - that should give you a little baffle-ing.

Many vehicles don't have this option and yet they still run just fine.


A carb has a bowl, so the pump can suck air from time to time and it won't do any harm. All fuel-injected vehicles I know of have baffles in the tank, a module, or two pumps.

I'll take my chance on sucking air over a crappy fuel pump failure. Btw, with 5 gallons of gas in the tank, the gauge read one notch above the empty mark. The pump wasn't sucking air at that time.


Good luck. Remember, don't run that Walbro pump dry. They do not survive long at all when running without fuel.

On the filter setup, I could put one after the filter but that seems a bit silly since the dirt will get introduced in the tank, before the pump. What good is the filter if the pump is getting damaged by sucking in all that dirt? Besides that, Walbro said a pre-filter is perfectly acceptable. Yes, I did my homework. ;)


The filter between the pump and the injectors is there to protect your injectors. Your pickup tube has a filter on it. That is there to protect the pump. Any pre-pump filter should not be any finer than about 30 microns max. You need a finer one 5-10 micron to protect your injectors. Check the filter you have inline. If it is finer than 30 microns, you really should move it.
Ron
1997 2WD Astro LS w/ turbo - SOLD
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gQsvhXpV6jc
http://gregoryusa.net/astro/turbo/
1987 GN - R.I.P. April 2011
1991 Syclone
1995 Formula Firebird
97TurboAstro
AstroSafari Pioneer
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Fueling (1/2 tank)
Fueling (1/2 tank)
Years of Membership: 97TurboAstro has been a member for 13 full years97TurboAstro has been a member for 13 full years97TurboAstro has been a member for 13 full years97TurboAstro has been a member for 13 full years97TurboAstro has been a member for 13 full years97TurboAstro has been a member for 13 full years97TurboAstro has been a member for 13 full years97TurboAstro has been a member for 13 full years97TurboAstro has been a member for 13 full years97TurboAstro has been a member for 13 full years97TurboAstro has been a member for 13 full years97TurboAstro has been a member for 13 full years97TurboAstro has been a member for 13 full years
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Re: Another Fuel Pump Failure

Postby bkilby [OP] » March 2nd 2011, 5:55am

I'm sorry Ron, I did research the internet to find out who did this mod before I performed my work but I didn't see your comments where you did this modification. Please send the link so I can see how you performed this mod on your own Astro or Safari.

On your first comment, I don't have my strainer in the pump housing because I couldn't find a strainer that would allow me to do the same thing. That is what I wanted to do but I ran out of time and the aftermarket was not forgiving. I chose the next best thing. What did you use?

On your 3rd comment about running out of fuel, yeah yeah, same goes for OEM setups too.

On your 4th comment, the filter is there to protect the injectors, yes, but you're getting too anal about this. Let me ask you, since you're an expert and all, what's the difference if the filter in front of or behind the fuel pump? Filter the dirt before or after the pump? What's better? I chose to filter before, where it's more important. After is just a waste of pump and the crap gets inside your injectors.

Now before we go one with this, please show me you have done this mod yourself with success. Otherwise, we're shooting opinions from the arm chair. I'm not interested in arguing with someone that hasn't done this mod himself. If you have done this mod with success, please send the link so I can review what you've done.

Brad
Original Poster [OP]
bkilby
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Years of Membership: bkilby has been a member for 10 full yearsbkilby has been a member for 10 full yearsbkilby has been a member for 10 full yearsbkilby has been a member for 10 full yearsbkilby has been a member for 10 full yearsbkilby has been a member for 10 full yearsbkilby has been a member for 10 full yearsbkilby has been a member for 10 full yearsbkilby has been a member for 10 full yearsbkilby has been a member for 10 full years
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Re: Another Fuel Pump Failure

Postby 97TurboAstro » March 2nd 2011, 3:53pm

bkilby wrote:I'm sorry Ron, I did research the internet to find out who did this mod before I performed my work but I didn't see your comments where you did this modification. Please send the link so I can see how you performed this mod on your own Astro or Safari.


I'm just trying to help you avoid problems... which I believe was your inital goal.
I'm not trying to argue with you. I'm pointing-out facts.
Maybe some stuff your internet research pages probably didn't consider/discuss.

On your first comment, I don't have my strainer in the pump housing because I couldn't find a strainer that would allow me to do the same thing. That is what I wanted to do but I ran out of time and the aftermarket was not forgiving. I chose the next best thing. What did you use?

On your 3rd comment about running out of fuel, yeah yeah, same goes for OEM setups too.


The factory setups have baffles/modules for a reason.

On your 4th comment, the filter is there to protect the injectors, yes, but you're getting too anal about this. Let me ask you, since you're an expert and all, what's the difference if the filter in front of or behind the fuel pump? Filter the dirt before or after the pump? What's better? I chose to filter before, where it's more important. After is just a waste of pump and the crap gets inside your injectors.


If a too-fine filter is before the pump, it can become a restriction for the pump. That will make the pump work too hard, and it will die early. Plus, if the pump pulls too hard, you risk vaporizing the fuel [which is quite easy to do, actually]. That vapor will appear as bubbles in the line, and the system will react just as if it were sucking air.

Now before we go one with this, please show me you have done this mod yourself with success. Otherwise, we're shooting opinions from the arm chair. I'm not interested in arguing with someone that hasn't done this mod himself. If you have done this mod with success, please send the link so I can review what you've done.


I've been working with fuel systems as a career since the mid 90s. I speak with Walbro engineers on a regular basis. Walbro regularly sends people to me for fuel system solutions. Many folks consider me a fuel system expert.... how 'bout you?
Ron
1997 2WD Astro LS w/ turbo - SOLD
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gQsvhXpV6jc
http://gregoryusa.net/astro/turbo/
1987 GN - R.I.P. April 2011
1991 Syclone
1995 Formula Firebird
97TurboAstro
AstroSafari Pioneer
AstroSafari Pioneer
Fueling (1/2 tank)
Fueling (1/2 tank)
Years of Membership: 97TurboAstro has been a member for 13 full years97TurboAstro has been a member for 13 full years97TurboAstro has been a member for 13 full years97TurboAstro has been a member for 13 full years97TurboAstro has been a member for 13 full years97TurboAstro has been a member for 13 full years97TurboAstro has been a member for 13 full years97TurboAstro has been a member for 13 full years97TurboAstro has been a member for 13 full years97TurboAstro has been a member for 13 full years97TurboAstro has been a member for 13 full years97TurboAstro has been a member for 13 full years97TurboAstro has been a member for 13 full years
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Re: Another Fuel Pump Failure

Postby bkilby [OP] » March 2nd 2011, 4:29pm

Ron, you'd probably get a little better results if you started off by saying that you're a fuel systems expert instead of coming off as another internet based critic. Anyone that is not qualified can sit behind the monitor and criticize someone's work and it happens all too often. If you are indeed a fuel systems expert, then I apologize and I will take your suggestions into consideration. I will contact Walbro again to get their input.
Original Poster [OP]
bkilby
Site Contributor
Site Contributor
Fueling (5/8 tank)
Fueling (5/8 tank)
Years of Membership: bkilby has been a member for 10 full yearsbkilby has been a member for 10 full yearsbkilby has been a member for 10 full yearsbkilby has been a member for 10 full yearsbkilby has been a member for 10 full yearsbkilby has been a member for 10 full yearsbkilby has been a member for 10 full yearsbkilby has been a member for 10 full yearsbkilby has been a member for 10 full yearsbkilby has been a member for 10 full years
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