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Desert Rat
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7,151 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
my bride has decided we need a compact tractor to maintain our wooded sand dune. I have a thirty year old Snapper lawn tractor for grass cutting. I also have a twenty year old Simplicity garden tractor with a blade for pushing snow. Both have seen better days, but prior to the move received regular maintenance and will be staying. It is a little thing, but neither one has a left pedal.

Not knowing what I don’t know, I figured the wealth of knowledge in such things on here could only help. we are looking at something 4x4, diesel, less than 25hp. We plan on looking at a used Kubota next week.
 

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Gustafson
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10,085 Posts
@wave_crusher just purchased a tractor and I believe he looked at several different manufacturers before settling on a Kubota. He could probably give you some good information.
 

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I'll Direc your TV
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First thing is just to figure out what you want to do; then what you are going to want or "might want" to do down the road. That'll steer what you get in the direction you want.

Decide as in, do you want a belly mower? If so that'll limit the size of the machine you get, cause the larger compacts don't have belly mower options. Things like a Kubota B and BX series have belly mower options, and are pretty good machines. All kind of of options; larger compacts like the L series, mine is an L3901 don't have an option for a belly mower, but have more capability. How much 3pt do you want, might you want later on? Do you mostly just want a bucket? There's a lot of options for basically a lawn mower on steroids, though they're about useless to me. There's a lot that you can figure out you can do with a good machine, so that's why thinking about what you "might want" to do in years future is a good way to start as well.

Sorry, Know you posted some ideas of what you want, but I like to always throw the above out first. So, for 25hp or less, looking at say a B series Kubota. what do you want less than 25hp for? I only ask cause I talk to a lot of people that want that less HP or older cause of the DPF system; though personally I have not had one problem with it so far. I went with Kubota, cause I could not find anything used that was worth the purchase. At the time, the only thing used in the range that I wanted, was a 1996 L3300 (or whatever it was). An almost 20 year old tractor, for $3,000 less than I could purchase new. Kubota was running a 0% financing for up to 84 months; so that was a no brainer for me to buy new. I picked up a L3901, I wanted the higher HP I could get in a smaller frame. I run a lot of ground engaging and mowing 3pt so the HP was a necessity. The loader lift was the same with either a 25hp and 39hp, so it was the PTO HP that I was looking at. Plus, I knew Kubota and like their tractors, like what I heard from warranty work, and I have a pretty local dealer that i've done lots of business with.

I didn't like anything about John Deere, I don't like their 3pt setup, nor the plastics on the hood, and overall didn't like it. Admittedly, I did not look too close at them. I was not impressed by New Holland, just same thing in general. The TYM I liked, I looked at a few, actually liked the tractors slightly more than Kubota; but the financing was a cluster fuck, IMO. In the end, the simple, 0% financing, known brand, won out for me. Haven't looked back since, and i've done a lot of work in the little time i've had the tractor.

Just did a quick look at Ginop sales website, the dealer I bought my tractor from, and without knowing your budget, they have some really good looking used B series tractors.




The BX series is the tiny ones, but they're really popular.
 
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Yooper In Training
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7,346 Posts
I bought a Kubota LX2610 earlier this year, which is just a renamed version of the tried and trued B2650. I love it. Basically it was the biggest chassis size available with a mid PTO, which I got because I wanted to go for the one-size-fits-all approach and mow my yard with it. It does it very well too. Lift capacity front and rear are both very good. For my yard size I easily could have gotten by with a BX(subcompact) or small B(small compact) but I wanted the increased lift capacity for all the firewood and crap I move around in the fall and winter. A B2601 probably would have been the perfect mid-range option for me, but the LX2610 was only slightly more money, slightly more capable, and easier to get. I would have had to wait 3-4 months for a B2601, where I had to wait a week and a half for the LX2610. An L would be even better for stuff like moving firewood, is way heavier duty, and nearly identical in cost to mine, but it would be much harder on the lawn and isn't avaible with mid PTO. Better for farm-type work, worse for homeowner-type work.

For what you're doing it sounds like a midsize would be about perfect. Still great as a regular lawnmower, but also shockingly capable for lifting, digging, etc.

Brand choice is up to you. For a midsize I'd have gone with a John Deere 1025R all day. It's close in price to the Kubota offerings but more capable in just about every way. The side-by-side forward/reverse pedals are much nicer than the Kubota treddle pedal too, but either works fine with a little getting used to.

Brands are personal preference, I'd find a dealer that you like and trust and buy whatever they're selling.
Most of the smaller John Deere are basically rebadged Yanmar.
Kubota is all Kubota.
Rural King is rebadged TYM.
TYM is TYM. Limited parts/dealer support compared to Kubota or JD.
LS is LS. Limited parts/dealer support compared to Kubota or JD.
Kioti is Kiota, but has a lot in common with Kubota design/styling. I hear some of their loaders are heavier duty that Kubota. Limited parts/dealer support compared to Kubota or JD.
New Holland is rebadged LS.
Bobcat I think is rebadged TYM.

General recommendations:
If primary use is mowing and lawn work, turf tires will do the least damage. My R4s aren't bad on the lawn but I have to be careful turning tight, especially going uphill. I suspect a lot of that is due to tractor size and weight though. R14s seem to be a great all-around, but are primarily only available on Kubotas so far. I kinda wish I'd gone with those over the R4s.
I'm a big, big fan of hydrostatic for general home and yard work. I've used manual a bunch as well and like hydro infinitely better. The 3 speed Kubota is much nicer than 2 speed JD.....although the smaller ones might still be 2 spd.
The swift-tach loaders on Kubotas are much sloppier and more problematic, I'd avoid that option. Even the standard loader only takes a couple minutes to remove or install.
Absolutely, positively, 100% do not buy a pinned bucket, get a quick attach, whether it's SSQA or JD's system. I use pallet forks and stump bucket as much as the standard bucket, not being able to switch out would suck.
BXPanded Pirahna tooth bar is a must for any digging or scooping.
 

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Yooper In Training
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7,346 Posts
I'll also agree on 0% financing. I was fully planning to buy a used machine with cash, but even something 5-10 years old was only $3-4k less than a new one from the dealer with a warranty and 0% financing. It just didn't make sense to go the used route with such high resale.
 

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I'll Direc your TV
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8,822 Posts
I'll also agree on 0% financing. I was fully planning to buy a used machine with cash, but even something 5-10 years old was only $3-4k less than a new one from the dealer with a warranty and 0% financing. It just didn't make sense to go the used route with such high resale.
I'm not even a year into my purchase and I think i'm already in good positive equity on the tractor. Prices went up and I must have just gotten the last one in time before they jumped.

Granted I don't plan to, probably ever, sell my tractor, unless I want a bigger one. Still, tractors keep their value, probably always will.
 

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I'll Direc your TV
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8,822 Posts
Another think that I'm not sure what other manufactures' have/don't have; is the quick disconnect loader on the Kubota. It literally took me 5 minutes to take off the whole front loader on my tractor the very first time. Now I can do it in about 2 minutes.

x34billon on the quick connect bucket/implements. I would not, and will not ever go back to standard pinned buckets. The ability to change from my bucket to pallet forks in less time than it takes me to get off the tractor and pull the levers, is awesome. I have added some convenience things to my tractor as stated, and think another thing I want to put on is a level indicator for the bucket; so I easily know when it's level to the ground. A lot of tractors have those already, but they're not standard on mine. Mine is cool, but it's a more economy tractor.
 

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F-U-CANCER!!!
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5,686 Posts
^^^^^ On my fathers deere the top of the bucket is parallel to the bottom of the bucket. Is there more reason to need a level indicator?
 

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Project Antitube
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1,042 Posts
Don't mow lawn with a $20-40k tractor. Mow lawn with a $3-10k zero turn. It will go faster (about twice as fast as a normal garden tractor), your back will thank you, there will be little lawn repair needed and no ruts, and it will keep the hours off your expensive tractor. If you value your time at all, the time saved by using a much faster piece of equipment and not having to deal with the bullshit of donning and doffing the belly mower will pay for the zero turn in a few years. I've got 9 seasons and 700 hours on my zero turn with nothing other than a set of blades (Oregon G6) drive belt, deck belt, oil, and filter change every year... and once I replaced the filters and fluid in the wheel motors. I used to mow with different tractors, including one that went way faster than my zero turn, and it still took twice as long.

What are you going to do with it? To me, it is kind of pointless to have a tractor if it can't lift ~2k at the pins. Needs to have fast hydraulics so you can run a 3 point backhoe. So you're looking at a 30-40hp tractor. Otherwise, why spend $20-40k on a tractor when you can buy a 30 year old used one oldtimer bought when he was a middle-aged man to mow the lawn and till the garden for $5k? There are lots of suitable $5-10k 80s 2wd and 4wd tractors out there that are easy to work on. A lot of them just sit in the corner of a pole barn.

My cousin has two subcompact tractors, including a BX23S TLB that he mows the lawn with. It's the dumbest thing I ever saw to see a guy driving around with a TLB and a belly mower mowing the lawn. And he's got another tiny tractor, a Cub 6284D TLB, that just sits there because the Kubota is "prettier" (he has been saying he's going to sell it for years). They both can only lift about 1,000lbs at the pins and the loaders suck for digging so you pretty much have to use the backhoes. I have an old Bolens that can lift more, in fact, the limit is the weight on the tractor and I have loaded tires with 300lb lead wheel weights on it.

One of my friends has a Massey GC1725MB. Suffers from the same problem as my cousin's tiny BX23S TLB. Only can do about 1000lbs, FEL sucks but for whatever reason does better than my cousins BX23S for digging, backhoe only digs down 6' with what I call a trenching bucket, etc.


How much does the "dealer" actually matter to you? The kind of people that are on off-road forums tend to be handy. I doubt you buy your car because of the dealership experience. So why would you do the same for a tractor that at worst you can load onto a car hauler and take somewhere? I'd understand it more if it was a row crop or true utility tractor that you either need to drive there or have someone come and work on it. But we're talking tractors under 82" wide and 10,000lbs. So load it on a trailer. And how often are you planning on needing the dealer? Once every few years? I, personally, am going to buy a tractor I expect to never have to have the dealer look at after the warranty is up. Just like my cars.


So, I'm kind of a fan of Massey (AGCO) tractors. They tend to make their own stuff, but have other people's engines. You have to look at the particular model. There are good ones and bad ones and the whole line might have the same engine or not with different levels of "boost". Perkins, Shibaura, Mitsubishi, etc, you never know. Some of the "bigger" ones just have/had EGR instead of DEF by some magic. The Premium line of tractors is usually a better bargain. Oh, and the engines can change year to year. They sell an electronic manual of how to use diagnostics for like $40. In the compact to light industrial/light utility area you tend to get the most tractor for your dollar.

Deere is kind of a shitty company. They're the ones that were fighting to lock everyone out of their tractors (new ruling says Right to Repair is a thing again). They were very hard on this, until they realized they were losing a couple years ago. Now they have a shitty webpage saying they are happy to help, but most of the new old stuff still require a software update to open up the diagnostics through the menus. They're also the same company that always tries to buy a competitor and can't, they sue the shit out of them. They were trying to buy a seed planting company and the courts wouldn't allow the monopoly to be created so they waited until someone else bought the company then started suing the shit out of them. Deere's business practices make them a no-go for me. Plus most of Deere's equipment I'd buy is just Yanmar with green paint. When I was looking at zeroturns half the shit on them had MTD part numbers.

The only thing I don't like about Kubota is they're hard to work on, especially their smaller stuff, because everything is one engineered unit. But they don't break often so there is that. You can probably plan on it lasting with nothing but oil changes just fine until the 0% financing is complete.

Kioti... is like a Kubota as far as I'm concerned. I used to think they were sharing shit between them, and apparently they did, then there were lawsuits. If you look at them side by side they literally look like they share the same engineers. Kiotis aren't sufficiently cheaper than a Kubota to warrant getting a Kioti. It's like buying a Kia that costs 5% less than a Chevrolet. Why? If you ever need to sell it, nobody wants a used Kioti for the same reason no one wants a used Kia. They say you were too poor to buy a real car years ago and now you know it is going to Grant and Benjamin you to death on repairs.

I've spent a lot of time looking at LS. I want to like them... but get a Kubota.

New Holland still exists... but they aren't cheaper anymore. Might as well get a Massey, Deere, or Kubota. Most of their small stuff is rebadged anyway.

TYM makes stuff for a lot of other companies just like Yanmar but I haven't bothered looking at either of them. They seem to be the MTD of the subcompact/compact cheap tractor world. Only they aren't any cheaper than a Kioti.
 

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Sore and Tired 24/7
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13,054 Posts
I recently bought a LS MT225S because I wanted the belly mower, It's too big to mow with the bucket on it, so I don't even use the belly mower. I like the tractor, but if I would have realized I hate the belly mower I would have gone with the MT225E I think, it's still a 25hp. But bigger tires, weighs more, and has more bucket lift capacity. If I would have realized how often if be using the tractor or lift stuff I would have bought with a better lift capacity.
 

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Yooper In Training
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7,346 Posts
I recently bought a LS MT225S because I wanted the belly mower, It's too big to mow with the bucket on it, so I don't even use the belly mower. I like the tractor, but if I would have realized I hate the belly mower I would have gone with the MT225E I think, it's still a 25hp. But bigger tires, weighs more, and has more bucket lift capacity. If I would have realized how often if be using the tractor or lift stuff I would have bought with a better lift capacity.
I was worried about that as well, but I've discovered that 90% of my loader usage is in the offseason for mowing so it actually works out well. Spring landscape work, firewood hauling, snow clearing, etc. I haven't pulled the mower deck off since I first installed it(fortunately it can be pinned up to the frame so it doesn't move with the 3pt), and I've only had the loader on and off since the start of mowing season 4 or 5 times.

I wholeheartedly disagree with Wrath's opinion about not mowing with your good machine. It works out great for me, and I can still mow my 2 acres of super hilly grass with lots of trees and obstacles in ~45 minutes. It takes me as long to weed whip as it does to mow. I was worried it would be a pain and if it was I had another machine available to use for strictly mowing(the one I've been using for the past 7+ years). No need. And it's that much less crap to store and maintain. Others' situations, terrain, and desires will vary so I won't claim it's a one size fits all approach, but I can say with absolute certainty that it works for me far better than expected. Knocking 5-10 minutes off my mowing time isn't worth having an entirely separate machine on hand. I've put 50 hours on the machine in 7 months, that's fine, that's what I got it for.
 

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Project Antitube
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1,042 Posts
I forgot, I'm on my third battery in my zero turn. I should probably replace a spindle or two. I have them sitting in the garage because I've thought they were going bad for two years. I think I changed the air filter once, but I'm not sure. It has a prefilter on it and I blow it off with the leaf blower when I'm done mowing. I mow about 3 acres, sometimes four, depending on if I mow everything. It takes between 1h40m and 2h to mow the 3 acres, another hour to do the rest (mostly trails and open areas in the woods). It used to take 5 hours or a Saturday to mow with a tractor. This is 100% due to all my trees. I only have an acre that is "open" but still has trees... cut this in about 30 minutes depending on direction I mow it and if I mow full width or overlap.

I also like the zero turn because I can mow steep hills. It's still a white knuckle ride but I don't have to sit on the fender like my garden tractors. I have a lot of spots in my yard that are 30 degree slopes. The pond is pretty much always a bit dicey because the banks are steep and the grass is always moist due to the water table. Usually at least once a year I lose the lawn roller and/or the garden tractor in the pond and have to use another tractor or my truck to pull it out. So far with the zero turn I've gotten it stuck a few times along the pond and probably 20+ times in the woods but if I got off and operated the controls it got itself out. Safety second.

It takes me 4 tanks of fuel in my Stihl Kombi to trim everything, or approximately 5 hours. I trim about 3 times per year. All my plantings and landscapings are such to maximize my ability to not need to trim with the zero turn. Due to this, I've made some light modifications to the deck (no discharge chute, reduced size on the discharge so the blades suck the grass in, no antiscalp roller on the other side of the deck because it'd push the grass out, all safeties disabled but the parking brake set to start). After a while you get used to it and you run the mower WFO all the time. I don't slow down for much.

The reason I say all of this is my Dad has 2100h on his zeroturn, it's twice the age of mine, he's wore two sets of tires to the cords for the front and the rear tires are bald. He never even changed the fluid in his wheel motors. I think he's on his fourth PTO clutch. Deck is getting tired (rust). It kept all that wear off his tractors. My cousin's two tractors are noticeably sloppy in the steering and rear end, I don't know how many hours but last time I sat on them they were at 700 and 300. I don't have a lot of tractors to compare to, but I do use the neighbor's Kubota ( a bigger one, I forget model, but it does have a 8' backhoe attachment it runs well) once in a while. It's probably 10 years old and drives like new, but it only has 150 hours on it and probably 100 of them are backhoe hours. My cousin's tractors are as sloppy as a 15 year old Kia Sportage. Rear end slop and steering slop galore. If I had a BX23S that was shiny and pretty but as sloppy as a second generation Dodge Charger I'd be pissed. It's not as bad as my firewood beater Bolens for sloppyness, but it's close.

When I was looking at the smaller end of utility tractors (compact?) the ones with available belly mowers wanted $1500-3500 for the belly mower. Looks like Kubota wants $3k for one. WTF. It's a metal box with spinny bits. You can get a serviceable zeroturn for that. And put the neighbor kids or your own kids or even your spouse to work on it without destroying your real tractor.
 

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In Da Faaaaaace!!!
1988 YJ
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5,935 Posts
Yanmar had 5 year financing 0 down 0% interest when my brother bought his 24hp loader two years ago. Compacts are cool, but I would spring for a bigger size. You'll find SO MANY USES with a tractor and you'll want to do more with it. They have nice belly mowers you drive over and hook up as well for finish mowing. Or drag a brush hog. Yanmar also has a killer warranty and they make all of John Deere smaller tractors...under 24-30 HP.

Rural King also has some nice machines with a yanmar diesel engine.
 

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Desert Rat
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7,151 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I’m learning.
There are two sizes of compact tractor: Too big and too small.
 

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Yooper In Training
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7,346 Posts
I’m learning.
There are two sizes of compact tractor: Too big and too small.
This is accurate. But IMO too big is less of a problem than too small. I purposely went more toward the too big end of the spectrum and I don't regret it. I'd probably get the B2601 if I were to do it again, but I don't regret my decision whatsoever. Keep in mind the longest, pushiest responses in this thread are from someone who's never actually owned a compact tractor, so take that for what it's worth. Hearsay can be dangerous.

Counterpoint to bigger is better, is even the little subcompacts will do an incredible amount of work for what they are, you may just need to make more trips to do it. One thing to keep in mind with lift ratings is what they truly mean. Ratings at the pin are deceptive for 2 reasons:
1. You're never lifting at the pin. A bucket is slightly further out, pallet forks or stump bucket could be several feet out, so capacity there will be lower than rated.
2. Any reputable company's ratings are for lifting to full height. It's not too often you'll need to lift a heavy load to full height. IIRC my tractor is rated for something like 1190lb lift capacity at the pins. I'm never going to lift 1200lb 7ft in the air. But it will lift 1800+ lb a foot off the ground, which is a scenario that I could very well see myself doing, such is transporting a loaded pallet of firewood up to my house. The higher it lifts the more mechanical advantage the loader cylinders lose, so full height lift is a conservative number compared to most people's real-world use.
 

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Yooper In Training
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@XXXJ you're missing a leg, correct? Which one? I just thought of this. If it's the right one, I'd give the throttle pedal some serious consideration. I don't mind the treddle peddle on my Kubota, but with a prosthetic it'd be a PITA. Something like the JD side-by-side pedals would be much easier for that. Just something to keep in mind as well.
 

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Desert Rat
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7,151 Posts
Discussion Starter · #18 ·
So. True!
I was thinking the smaller one will be easier to weave through the woods, now I think a size larger would be a more stable platform. And if it’s in the way I can “move it or take it with me”.
 

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Yooper In Training
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I was thinking the smaller one will be easier to weave through the woods, now I think a size larger would be a more stable platform. And if it’s in the way I can “move it or take it with me”.
Smaller is definitely more navigable. They're also much lower and prone to underbody damage if working in the woods. BX series have a whole line of aftermarket skid plates for this exact reasons. Being lower should help stability a bit, but they're also fairly narrow. The bigger tires of the compacts also help ride quality quite a bit. They roll over things much easier. I still wouldn't say they ride well, but they beat you up less than the subcompacts.

For any of these tractors size is more an issue for transport than weight. My LX2610 with loader, bucket, mower, and back blade probably isn't even topping 3000lbs, but it does take up my whole 18ft trailer.
 

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Desert Rat
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7,151 Posts
Discussion Starter · #20 ·
@XXXJ you're missing a leg, correct? Which one? I just thought of this. If it's the right one, I'd give the throttle pedal some serious consideration. I don't mind the treddle peddle on my Kubota, but with a prosthetic it'd be a PITA. Something like the JD side-by-side pedals would be much easier for that. Just something to keep in mind as well.
Left leg.
Hence keeping the two garden tractors I have. One has a parking brake on the left side, the othe has no left pedal and a right foot clutch.

Ironic that I used to joke that “automatic transmissions were for people without left feet”.
 
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