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  1. #1

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    1/5 Scale BT-13 Vultee Vibrator Build from American Eagle

    I have been wanting a large scale BT-13 for a while. I have a NorCal kit built BT-13 but have converted to 1/5 scale warbirds. I have owned a few full scale BT-13 projects, but was never able to complete them to flying condition. I ended up selling them. I did complete one BT-13 cockpit for static display that is at a museum in Arkansas, forgot teh name of it, maybe Walnut Ridge.
    I have many detailed pictures and drawings so I have what I need for reference materials. I bought a set of Pat Massey 100" BT-13 plans his details are amazing. I also spoke to Bob Neifer at American Eagle. He offers a 100" BT-13 with a composite fuselage and foam wings. I have no experience with foam wings and feel like I can use the very detailed Pat Massey plans to build a detailed wing with scale hinges and such.
    I purchased a composite fuselage, cowl and canopy from American Eagle. Ordered a set of struts from Hank Likes. I have recieved the items from American Eagle and I should have the struts in a week or so. Both of these guys have been very helpful and patient in answering my many questions. They have been great to deal with. I hope to have this plane ready in time for Top Gun. I heard a rumor that there may be two other people working on large BT-13s also with the intent of taking them to Top Gun.

    I have some pictures of the BT-13s posted along with many other full scale warbird related pictures here ;

    http://rides.webshots.com/album/552141172xfdmUK

    Here are some pictures of what I have on hand so far. The quality is great on all the items, the canopy is crisp and clear, the composite fuselage is strong and light as well.

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  2. #2

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    RE: 1/5 Scale BT-13 Vultee Vibrator Build from American Eagle

    I weighed the fuselage shell, it is right at 3.5 pounds. I am still working to finish my P-47 before I put this on the bench,. For now I am studying the pictures and drawings of the full scale BT-13s I have had. I had to fabricate several parts for the cockpit so I have those dimensions and drawings. I cant wait to get started on this. Off to got the P-47 done enough so I can put the BT-13 on the bench!
    Denny
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  3. #3

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    RE: 1/5 Scale BT-13 Vultee Vibrator Build from American Eagle

    Worked on the P-47 for most of the morning but at noon, I took the boys to Fantasy of Flight, I was told by a friend that Kermit had a BT-13 now being put together. Even if he didnt I took my tape measure, and things and took some measurements of the BT-13 cockpit he has on display there. I asked if I could take measurements so they didnt think I was doing anything wrong and I explained to the that I had worked there at one time. I found Ken Kellet there doing some work, he and I had worked together back when I worked there. he got one of the employees to escort me back to where the BT-15 was. I was left for about 45 min to take measurements and pictures. It was a very productive time. I have many measurements and pictures that will help in this build. As a mater of fact, Kens son wants to learn to fly RC planes, we will go back and get them both on the buddy box using our trainer. They have a flying field there now at fantasy of Flight. I can get more pictures then. Thanks for the help Ken!
    Denny

    I posted pictures of the Triplane that Ken built, full scale. And the T-6 that I flew with Kermit in and made a knife edge pass along the water tower at his place, still gives me chills thinking of screaming by that huge watertower.
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    Live to Love and laugh, anything else is rubbish!
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  4. #4

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    RE: 1/5 Scale BT-13 Vultee Vibrator Build from American Eagle

    I was looking at your BT 13 fiberglass fuselage, it looks great and feels light. I understand you might be using Flite metal, I would look awsome! Keep up the good work!


    I still getting fasteners and butchering material for mine, Hopefully more modelers become interested on modeling such a nice and simple airplane.

  5. #5

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    RE: 1/5 Scale BT-13 Vultee Vibrator Build from American Eagle

    Hey Carlos,
    I am getting excited about getting starting on it. It is motivating me to get the P-47 done, I have the silver paint done, now I need to assemble and paint the details. I need to figure out how to do good raised rivets with the Flite Metal. I am thinking that I am going to try mixing canopy glue with silver paint to make the rivets. I dont want to poke holes to simulate rivets as suggested, it just isnt what I want to do. I hope that this post will help anyone wanting to build one of these to take on the task. I am thinking if Top Flite was to offer a 1/5 scale ARC kit, many people would jump in for this airplane. A warbiird that flies like a trainer and is cheap since it has no retracts. Quite an interesting plane in my opinion. Almost every WW2 military pilot learned to fly in them, think of any of the WW2 aces and you will find they flew a BT-13 in training.

    Denny
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  6. #6

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    RE: 1/5 Scale BT-13 Vultee Vibrator Build from American Eagle


    ORIGINAL: tenacious101010

    Worked on the P-47 for most of the morning but at noon, I took the boys to Fantasy of Flight, I was told by a friend that Kermit had a BT-13 now being put together. Even if he didnt I took my tape measure, and things and took some measurements of the BT-13 cockpit he has on display there. I asked if I could take measurements so they didnt think I was doing anything wrong and I explained to the that I had worked there at one time. I found Ken Kellet there doing some work, he and I had worked together back when I worked there. he got one of the employees to escort me back to where the BT-15 was. I was left for about 45 min to take measurements and pictures. It was a very productive time. I have many measurements and pictures that will help in this build. As a mater of fact, Kens son wants to learn to fly RC planes, we will go back and get them both on the buddy box using our trainer. They have a flying field there now at fantasy of Flight. I can get more pictures then. Thanks for the help Ken!
    Denny

    I posted pictures of the Triplane that Ken built, full scale. And the T-6 that I flew with Kermit in and made a knife edge pass along the water tower at his place, still gives me chills thinking of screaming by that huge watertower.
    What a wonderful experience! I am getting jelous! Nice pictures! I wish I was there as well!

  7. #7

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    RE: 1/5 Scale BT-13 Vultee Vibrator Build from American Eagle

    I will let you know next time I go. Ken said to let him know and he gan get us in to the BT-13 again. You would enjoy seeing the shop where he builds the planes, there is a Curtiss Jenny buing built and a DH-4 in the next room. I really enjoyed visiting with Ken, we remeniced about many things including when we moved the B-17 from Tom Rileys Kissimee to Fantasy of Flight, it was quite an adventure.
    I hope to go back to visit again towards the end of next month. We might see about bringing something to fly. jay told me that Tom has his BT-13, he flew it back on Saturday I believe. He also said it was a BT-15.
    Denny
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  8. #8
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    RE: 1/5 Scale BT-13 Vultee Vibrator Build from American Eagle

    Here's a future Oshkosh winner under restoration. http://warbirdinformationexchange.or...856&highlight=
    He's crazy Lew, he builds toy airplanes!"
    Frank Towns - Flight of the Phoenix (1965)

  9. #9

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    RE: 1/5 Scale BT-13 Vultee Vibrator Build from American Eagle

    The struts are here! I recieved them from Hank Likes yesterday. They look very robust and will work great on this project. Thanks Hank. The other wheel should be here soon from Robart.
    Denny
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  10. #10

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    RE: 1/5 Scale BT-13 Vultee Vibrator Build from American Eagle

    I just finished a bombsight so it has slowed me some on the BT-13. I have almost finished the TF giant P-47 and am making good progress in helping Sean get his TF Giant Mustang done so I took some time to work on the BT-13.
    I got out the American Eagle wing and fuselage drawings and compared them both. Looks like the Pat Massey Wing will not work with the American eagle fuselage, the wing profile is just too different. I will probably be using a foam core wing from American Eagle.
    I began cutting out some of the ply formers for the fuselage, seemed appropriate to be using this saw, as I was cutting the wood, I remembered the Consolidated Vultee placard that was on it. The BT-13 has two handles on the outside of teh fuselage, I have two 1/5 scale handles almost done. It felt good to get a bit of work done. I have recieved two sets of instruments to detail the cockpit. I will be going back to fantasy of flight this saturday to get more pictures and measurements. I hope to get to work a lot more steady in a few weeks.
    Denny
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  11. #11

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    RE: 1/5 Scale BT-13 Vultee Vibrator Build from American Eagle

    Here's a bit more incentive for you Denny, a picture of a very nice BT-13 at the recent FAI Championships in Norway. Photo taken by competitor Richard Crapp.


  12. #12

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    RE: 1/5 Scale BT-13 Vultee Vibrator Build from American Eagle

    Thanks for posting the picture, sure is good to see a BT out there.
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  13. #13

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    RE: 1/5 Scale BT-13 Vultee Vibrator Build from American Eagle

    Its all Carlos fault, he and I talked BT-13s for hours and last night I couldnt sleep. When I did I was dreaming BT-13s. I built it in my sleep last night, unfortunatly when I woke up, I looked around and there was no BT-13 to be found.
    I taught my son Sean how to sand the glazing putty and to apply it to his Giant P-51, he is out there sanding now. It sure fels good him out there working in the shop as I relax in the house The more that gets done to the Mustang, the closer I get to getting more done to the BT-13. I have found the BT-13 that I want to make mine look like. It is based here in Florida, I will post a picture of it when I can find one I can post.
    Denny
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  14. #14

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    RE: 1/5 Scale BT-13 Vultee Vibrator Build from American Eagle

    Well..so it is my fault, but yours too!!!

    Just wait...Good to see you starting on that America Eagle bird.. Are you using thier wing plans?

  15. #15
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    RE: 1/5 Scale BT-13 Vultee Vibrator Build from American Eagle

    Denny,

    Great to see a BT-13 project underway (one of my favorites). I'm enjoying the build thread. Thanks!

    Matt
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  16. #16

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    RE: 1/5 Scale BT-13 Vultee Vibrator Build from American Eagle

    Hello Matt, glad to see there are BT-13 fans out there.
    I took my boys and Seans friend Kirby to Fantasy of Flight for some fun. Before they opened we went to the Mid Florida RC club ( www.midflrcclub.com ) and took Ken and his son to give them a try at flying RC airplanes. The people at the club were friendly and very enjoyable. Ian and Ken made several flights and both did very well. Ken and I worked together at Fantasy of Flight when I worked there several years ago. I got a picture of the instrument panel I built for the B-17 that is on display there. One of the first trips I made for Kermit after getting my CDL was to haul the B-17 from Tom Rileys place in Kissimmee to fantasy of Flight. The tail of the B-17 cleared some of the overpasses by only 3 inches. The pucker factor was high on that trip!
    He still works there building and repairing very cool airplanes, he is in the wood shop. He has currently in the shop a DH-4, a Jenny and a few other very interesting projects. Ken was nice enough to vouch for us and we had unlimited access to everything but the kitchen. Ken did a tour of the shop while I was there and I learned more about his aviation experience, He built a full scale Triplane that is on display there, he also built a Wright Flyer that he flew for the Centennial celebration of the Wright Brothers flight at Kitty Hawk. He among many other things, flew in the movie " Flyboys. I believe he was also in an episode of "junkyard wars", I havent seen that one, but would like to. I see him now and then on the Discovery channel, he is a very talented aircraft builder and a really good guy.
    The boys had a blast while I was getting pictures, they were all over the place and I think Sean and Kirby enjoyed the warehouses of old engines and parts the best. The younger ones, Chad and Ian spent most of their time in the simulators destroying Zeros and flying the hot air ballon simulator. While I was there Kermit Weeks was nice enough to autograph, write a message and draw a p[icture in a book he wrote as a gift to my grandson Quillen. We had a great time and just as we were leaving, Kermit took the P-40 up for a flight so we really loved watching that. He did several passes, loved the sound of that engine screaming by! !

    Denny
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  17. #17

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    RE: 1/5 Scale BT-13 Vultee Vibrator Build from American Eagle

    There I was so proud as my BT-13s engine roared to life, then I woke up......
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  18. #18

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    RE: 1/5 Scale BT-13 Vultee Vibrator Build from American Eagle

    Well, the Giant TF Mustang is off the bench for now, I am sure I will have some odds and ends to get it ready for its planned first flight tomorrow. I cleaned the bench and put my fuselage build stand on the bench and got the BT-13 Fuselage down and it looks good sitting on my bench. The toughrest part of this build is to decide what sequence to build this. I decided to start out with the forward fuselafe former/wing support. I cut it out and fit it in place but then realized I needed to install the firewall ply plates first since they wont go in past the support. I now need 1/8 ply for the two p[ieces and a saw blade for my band saw so I can cut them out. Hmm, ok, next I decided to look at how I was going to do the tubular in the cockpit area. I bought various sizes of Wood dowels to make the tubular out of. Carbon fiber might be a lot loightr but it is also far more expensive. For now I will continue making it from wood. I then se that I will need to make the tubular a structural member, at least parts of it since I am cutting out so much of the composite fuselage around the cockpit. I have to make a former where the tubular ends and the tailcone begins, just as the full scale does. I temporarily glued in some balsa spacers to align the top tubes for the tubular and marked the location where the dowels will pass thru the former giving me a good strong attach point.
    I have a cowl section from a full scale BT-13 to use as a guide for the front part of the cockpit and windscreen attach. I have many copies from the BT-13 Maintenance manual to use as reference. The pictures I took as I assembled the BT-13 Fuselage/cockpit are coming in handy too, especially as I make the tubular and the internal cockpit components.
    I made a paper pattern of the rear cockpit former and then after it was close to the correct shape, I glued it to some posterboard and after test fitting that realized I had to be able to get to the back side of this so now it seems I need to cut out the tailwheel area so I can reach into the fuselage from there. Time to research how I will do the tailwheel. I need to find a good casting for the tailwheel and a mounting system. Time to head for the hobgby shop for some 1/8 inch ply. I will be mounting a G-62 to the plane so I prefer to have a 1/2 inch thick firewall, but the plans call for two 1/8 inch plywood pieces along with the fiberglass of the front to make up the firewall. I know that with all the details I want to include with this project, weight is definatly an issue, more than any other airplane I have built.
    Denny
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  19. #19

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    RE: 1/5 Scale BT-13 Vultee Vibrator Build from American Eagle

    I have been on hold waiting for the wing foam cores from American Eagle. I give up, I am going to forget that option, I am going to go the built up route. I hope to start on the wing by this coming weekend. I am sure it will be a lot of work and nothing like I have ever done before. It will be a learning experience to say the least.
    Denny
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  20. #20

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    RE: 1/5 Scale BT-13 Vultee Vibrator Build from American Eagle


    Hopefully you get the wing plans this week.


  21. #21

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    RE: 1/5 Scale BT-13 Vultee Vibrator Build from American Eagle

    Thanks Carlos,
    I looked over the plans and I agree, these are great. This is what I am going with. I enlarged the plans by 141% to get the wing chord to match the fuselage at the wing saddles/wing fairings. The airfoil of the fuselage and the wing are not the same but I can modify the wing saddles to contour to the wing. The wingspan ended up being 103 inches, the little extra wing area shouldnt hurt a bit.
    I have never done anything like this before, if anyone has any suggestions, please feel free to give inputs.
    I started out by cutting out the rib drawings and using a removable spray adhesive, I glued them to some wood. The Brian Taylor plans called for using balsa for all the ribs, but I decided to make the ribs from the center of the wing out to the landing gear attach out of ply. I believe 1/8 ply should be plenty strong and the rest of the ribs will be 1/8 balsa. After glueing the rib patterns to the wood, I stacked two sheets of wood together and drilled two 1/4 inch holes in each rib to ensure that when I cut the ribs from the sheet and shaped the ribs, they would stay aligned so I could do two at a time. I drilled the holes and glued in some short lengths of 1/4 inch dowel rod. I put the holes in places that I plan on grinding out for lightening holes.
    I have the airfoil shapes done, now I just need to cut the notches for the stringers and the wing spar. The wing will be glassed so I believe even tho the original size plane called for 1/8 inch ribs, the larger wing will be good with the same thickness plus the added strength of the ply inner ribs. I have a wing from our crashed Giant Top Flite P-51 and will follow it as a guide as far as thickness and type of wood to use. This will be a trainer and flown similar so I dont think I have to worry a lot about high speed and high G manuvering loads. I have not decided on how to do the front wing attach, the Brian Taylor plans call for two 5/16 dowels, I will plan on using a single 3/8 inch dowel. It fels good to finally get started on this wing, I have spent a lot of time and money enlarging different wing plans to see what would work the best. I was hoping to use a semi-symetrical wing profile, this is a symetrical.
    One of the reasons I picked these plans to use was also that the plans had tabs included to align the proper washout into the wing build, a very important feature in my opinion.

    Denny
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    Live to Love and laugh, anything else is rubbish!
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  22. #22

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    RE: 1/5 Scale BT-13 Vultee Vibrator Build from American Eagle

    It has been a while since I worked on the BT-13, much has happened to keep me busy. A new job, a new granddaughter and many other things. I have read and seen movies about modern technology and how our machines will rebel against the human race. It has begun!! My van and car are the leaders, they are rebelling bigtime. I think I have their self destruct ideas solved for now, but I am sure they will be back with a vengance soon.
    I took the following pictures maybe 6 weeks ago and have done very little to it since. I plan ion getting it back on the bench today. I have a lot done on the wing, it doesnt fit the wing saddle perfectly, but I can modify the saddle. I decided to make this a 3 piece wing. I have wing connectors from Giant Scale Twins. they are heavy duty aluminum units and I think will be much easier to install and superior in use than a tube and sleeve. I have the center wing section and the outer wing panels mostly framed up. I still have the webbing, gear mounting and many other things to do but at least I can see how the wing will fit.
    I have to figure out how to align the horizontal stab and wing in relation to each other, I go back and forth as to which to permanantly align first but I have decided to do the horizontal stab first since it is not really adjustable once it is slid into the openings of the fuselage. I will then align the wing to that. Seems kind of backwards to how it is normally done, but not much normal about this build. I started the vertical stab, but now wondering if it wouldnt be better to do the horizintal stab before the vertical. I will pickup again with building the horizontal stab. I did fit the G-62, looks like my pitts style wraparound exhaust would require me cutting out a large section of the firewall and fuselage. I will wait on that decision, maybe a custom functional exhaust is in order.
    I look forward to getting back to working on this.
    George, if you are reading this, we want to see your build starting and posted
    Carlos, I am ready to see proof of your project too, I sure am gonna enjoy that steak dinner
    Denny
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    Live to Love and laugh, anything else is rubbish!
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  23. #23

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    RE: 1/5 Scale BT-13 Vultee Vibrator Build from American Eagle

    I am about finished with the Citabria and am ready to get back on the BT-13. I have a buddy making a scale tailwheel strut from aluminum. He is a machinest, not an airplane guy so I made a wood mockup so he could see what it looked like. I am cleaning off the work bench to get back to working on the vertical stab.
    Denny
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    Live to Love and laugh, anything else is rubbish!
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  24. #24
    georgewaldrop's Avatar
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    RE: 1/5 Scale BT-13 Vultee Vibrator Build from American Eagle

    Denny,

    Great to see you back working on the Vibrator! I haven't done much of anything on getting started on mine...I have been doing some research for the build later.....but then my wife went and bought me another winter project, partially built, so whats a guy to do?!

    I uploaded a pic of the new project, it is a 3/8th scale Starduster Too bipe @ about 90" on the top wing and right at 78-80" length. I have had the same kit the project was started from for years, but never built it. Then when I found the partly built one online, my better half said I should get it for Christmas...hmmm! [X(][X(]

    We also just got notice last week that as of March 12th, I am gonna be looking for a new job as the company I am working for is furloughing around 100 here (till around Sept, and possibly permanently), soooo I'm glad the project is here and paid for, but I may have to cover it with a bedsheet and krylon! I am determined to build the BT13, and am hoping that I can make it happen sometime this year. If I can find time and funds at all, maybe I will get going at least cutting parts before long.

    Glad to see you posting more on the build and I'll definitely be following along.

    Have a Blessed day!
    George Waldrop
    AMA - L1307 ~ IMAA - LM207
    Waco Brotherhood #151
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    George Waldrop~AMA-L1307~IMAA-LM207~Have a Blessed Day!
    Waco Brotherhood #151 ~~ Carl Goldberg Ultimate Brotherhood #58

  25. #25

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    RE: 1/5 Scale BT-13 Vultee Vibrator Build from American Eagle

    Hi there george, good to hear from you. I am sorry to hear about your work situation. I just came to the end of my contract job as of this past Friday. I have to get the Merlin engine done, but will work on the BT-13 a bit at a time. I will post some pictures soon as I progress. Another friend of mine from Sarasotea is allegidly building a BT-13 alos. It is nice to be able to talk to others about a project like this. I wasnt able to make it to Sun N fun to get pictures this year, I will have to find another source.
    Denny
    Live to Love and laugh, anything else is rubbish!
    A citizen of the universe


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