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Flite Metal... Help!!!

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Flite Metal... Help!!!

Old 05-04-2006, 09:53 AM
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bluestratos
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Default Flite Metal... Help!!!

Well after years of buidling some nice aircraft I decided to try the flitemetal covering. The plane is glassed, primed and wet sanded to 1200 grit untill the primer is almost as glossy as paint. Ok.. so I read everything thing I can find on flight metal, lay out all of the panel lines off of scale drawings, measure my first panel (bottom rear of fuse) cut out the fight metal to fit the tape outlined panel I am going to cover. I carefully pull the backing off and find out that the adhesive is very agressive but manage to get the piece placed about right(once it touches it sticks and repositioning creates mega wrinkles). I use my index finger to start working the metal into place starting at the center and working out. The panel is curved but not componded so it should be easy.. right? Wrong.. part way around the piece a wrinkle develops. I keep working it down thinking that I can burnish the wrinkel out. I start with the fiberous tool and things go well untill I hit the wrinkle. No luck so I try the sharpie pen that also serves as the hard tool for working the surface. No luck and the pen actually creates its own problems. I made a tool that has a rounded end and buffed it as smooth as glass.. no luck the wrinkles are there to stay. Not as bad as at first but very noticiable. So I pull off the piece to start again.. I use heat per instructions but the glue is tanatious and aluminum conducts the heat so quickly that the primer is screwed up. Once off glues is every where, which comes off with elbow grease and paint thinners.

Moving on to a new piece, same problems as before but not as bad of wrinkels. I create the cut line by burnishing the material down along the 3M fine line tape then taking a sharp rounded exacto blade as per instructions try to cut. The blade drags and fights the cut. I make serval passes then pull up the excess. I find that I have cut through the flight metal but not its adhesive which stretches out from under the fixed part before it lets go. The adhesive snaps back and cause small blemishes under the metal along its finished edge.

I tried one panel using windex per an artical I read on RC universe about a Jug covering. It must take days to evaporate because try as hard as I could to squeegy out the windex the panel remains wet, getting trapped between the fite metal and the primer. Mean while the tape that defines the outline lifts off from the wet and the panel lines put on with the supplied pen start to bleed and make a mess. It is impossible to cut the metal when it is wet as it slides around. Now what????

So.. anyone out there have a lot of experience with this product. How do you get the wrinkles out... I can only guess that this is going to get worse as I move onto more and more complex areas. And how do you cut the material so you do not go too deep or too shallow? Any help is appreciated

Randy


Old 05-04-2006, 11:01 AM
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Default RE: Flite Metal... Help!!!

Check this thread:
http://www.rcuniverse.com/forum/m_2383762/tm.htm
Old 05-04-2006, 01:42 PM
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bluestratos
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Default RE: Flite Metal... Help!!!

I read that one first before I even ordered the metal. It was of no help when I actually tried applying the material per his directions. The metal is very stiff and while they say it stretchs 25% I have my doubts. So far it has split before it stretched more than a very small almount. Maybe I got a bad batch.. but this is going to be hell.. spent the last 4 months doing this bird now the finish is likely be unexceptable unless I discover the secrete.

I also found that if if you push to hard you dent the wood beneath even though it is glassed. what Nightmare.


Randy
Old 05-04-2006, 02:52 PM
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Default RE: Flite Metal... Help!!!

I am building a TF Spitfire. While I am not covering the entire plane, I am using aluminum tape for inspection plates and the like. I find that an 11" nylon APC prop makes a great burnisher.

Scott
Old 05-05-2006, 09:30 AM
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bluestratos
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Default RE: Flite Metal... Help!!!

I spoke with the supplier yesterday. I tried using just a light, very light mist of windex and things went much better. Layed in place, adjusted it and started spreading out with my finger, pushing the windex ahead as I went. This way the material will not start to grab ahead of its self and cause the wrinkles. The panels I did went on nicely. The other thing I learned was that you cannot just look at one panel, you will see small scratches and any other blemish. Once a few are on the small things tend to not be seen. I also learned that after the panels are on I should wet sand the entire surface with 600-800 grit wet and dry, used wet. Then you scuff or polish the metal. I tried this on a scrap placed on my glass work top and discovered that I had a lot of scratches in my glass..lol... but the sanding goes very slowly, probablay take half as long to sand it as it does to lay it on the plane.

They say to use a ruler to find the greatest contact patch but I must not be understanding this part too well. I thought it ment to look for the straightest point of contact, but that did not work on the compont piece I tried putting on dry. I will have to rethink that part.

Well, though not for the unpatient, I think I am slowly getting the hang of it.

Regards,
Randy
Old 05-08-2006, 10:28 AM
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bluestratos
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Default RE: Flite Metal... Help!!!

Learned an very important secrete this weekend. When cutting the flight metal, dip the knife into paint thinners before each cut. This way, the lubrication allows a much smoother cut but more importantly.. the thinners desolves the glue along the cut allowing the waste to be pealed off cleanly. Before this I had to cut way to hard and deep to make a clean seperation. The difference is day and night and the blade lasts 10 X longer

Getting the hang of it more and more.. still have problems getting enough stretch for complex shapes. I think the trick is to creat excess material further back so there is enough material to work into or around a concave or convexed area. I keep getting close but the material finally splits just as I think I may finally get it all down.

Also, though a shoot of windex allows repostioning, it takes several days before you can add the next panel next to it or the tape will pull the first panel up. When ever possible, I found that making a template just big enough to cover the panel + the tape outline, then carefully lay the piece on the plane dry.. If it is curved area, find the longest run with in the panel, usually diagonally, then cup the flitemetal so it can only contact a center point. I then use my finger to work it down along the longest point being sure to keep the edges cupped up so you do not have premature grab. I keep working the the piece down using my finger,slowly allowing more and more of the cuppled sheet to come into contact. Your finger is less likely to cause stretch, but when stretch is need, the artists stump used at the point allows a smooth application.

The one thing I think the supplier should do is supply much better instructions on the application methods. The pictures are too small and the text is very brief. I know he did not want to confuse but in reallity, the lack of info is the real problem. The material is very pricey, I dont think adding a few more pages of instruction would subtract from the bottom line.

Best regards,

Randy

Old 05-20-2006, 09:52 PM
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Default RE: Flite Metal... Help!!!

Hello Randy:

I'm actually rewriting the application instructions. There are many hints and suggestions which we can add to
the instructions as well. These will appear with the CD I plan to offer thanks to Mr. McFarland's camera work
as he covered his P-47.

Ian Richardson's BVM F-100
Placing a plastic ruler on its thin edge in the center of a panel and rotating it about its center will help you to
see the largest contact patch between the surface and the yet to be applied Flite-Metal. Placing the rectangle
of Flite-Metal square to the center of the masked off panel then making the initial burnishing with your finger
along the line of the largest/longest contact patch will permit Flite-Metal to gently stretch while you burnish.

When stretch is needed, simply burnish with greater force across the shape change, working outward across
the entire panel area rather than concentrating in one area. Think in terms of covering with plastic film. It has
to be ironed on over a large area to prevent wrinkles...being evenly ironed as you move forward and across
the surface.

Hope these suggestions helped.
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Old 05-21-2006, 01:49 PM
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Default RE: Flite Metal... Help!!!

Hi!
600-800 wet sanding paper is way to coarse ...use 1000-1200 instead.

Regards!
Jan K
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Old 05-22-2006, 10:00 AM
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bluestratos
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Default RE: Flite Metal... Help!!!

I agree Jaka...I did some test panels up on some very smooth plexi I had. I wet sanded starting at 400 grit and worked up to 1200 girt.. did not like the finished product. I polished it with several different polishes.. mothers etc... but while it got shinier.. never really came up like I expected it.. in fact so far just polishing the flite metal on the plane unsanded looks better.. so another learning curve I guess, lol...

I have the plane and wing completely covered.. The wing tips were the worst, while I have the stretching part down now... (I work the metal ahead of the surface creating stretch before it contact). There just is not enough stretch to cover a bulbous compond curve. Eventually the metal just tears. So I did the bottom first to the the 1/3 point, then did the the center front to tip, then finished with the top over lapping the center. The lap line is just about invisiable because it is in the curve. I tried 6 different times, started the piece in different locations but no way I could get it to conform to such a complex piece with out spitting or bunch up (you cannot shrink the material so if you start in the wrong spot you will eventuall wind up with wrinkles.)

Ok.. Now what the plane is covered.. Do I wet sand??? As I said, I tried a test piece that had a lap on it and sanded to 1200 grit with not great results..

Also, do you apply the rivets before polishing?? The stuff is so soft that I would think you should imprint the rivets first then polish as other wise you will have a million more scratchs as you handle the parts. I want to have all of the rivets imprinted before I paint the anti-glare panel on the cowl and the wing walk stripes... decals etc...

Thanks for any help...
Randy
Old 05-22-2006, 11:07 AM
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Default RE: Flite Metal... Help!!!


There isn't a specific sequence to marking rivet locations, making the actual rivet, and polishing Flite-Metal because there are multiple ways of accomplishing this, with results that vary from semi weathered to mirror polished surfaces. You should experiment with your resources to see what results in replicating your documentation.

There are as many surfacing methods as I have customers. That in itself is what makes Flite-Metal part of your model construction experience. I like to think of it in terms of combining one's model construction/finishing skill with Flite-Metal for a winning combination. For example, most customers cover a wing tip in two pieces. That would be the bottom to just below the shadow break line, then top down from the panel line to the shadow break line.

Stretching the aluminum at the surface contact point permits up to a 25% area mass stretch. Attempting to stretch off of the surface will result in under cupping the unburnished aluminum as it stretches. Under cupping typically results in immediate wrinkles when the overly stretched aluminum is pressed onto the surface. If the aluminum is permitted to simply be adhered to the surface without too much pressure applied to the surface, stretching and resulting wrinkles will be minimized to virtually non-existance.

The twelve inch packaging of Flite-Metal behaves entirely different from the six inch width product. Inidividuals whom have only used twelve inch widths are amazed at how much less aluminum is wasted in the application process and how quickly the six inch Flite-Metal is applied. Our twelve inch product is intended for use on larger than six inch width panels...period.

Attempting to cut down the twelve inch width product to achieve savings on the overall project is a false economy because of inherient stretch factors of this specialty alloy. Each time the poduct is handled, it will stretch. To minimize wrinkles and reduce overall stretch of the aluminum, I arrived at a six inch width on three inch cores for ease of packaging and application of Flite-Metal.

Originally, Flite-Metal was not backwound onto cardboard cores, it was simply converted to a loosly wound 25 or 50 foot length, placed in the plastic sleeve and a cardboard box. In order to reduce damage in transit and improve application results the cardboard core was introduced.
Old 05-22-2006, 06:29 PM
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Default RE: Flite Metal... Help!!!

I found today that using a small nail punch and the top flight rivet templet I can make a nice looking rivet. The nail punch has a concave end that I softened the edges with on my buffing wheel. When I poke the punch throught the templet hole and give a easy twist I get a great looking rivet. Actaully goes pretty fast too, making about a rivet a second including transfering the templete.

I obviously need more training on complex convex curves. I wasted many feet of the foil trying to cover difficult spots with no success. Hope you get that video done showing lots of examples of covering wing tips and round cowls at the front where it rolls over and back into the engine opening. Bulbous shaped points are the hardest I found.. ie leading edge of round wing tips, cowls etc...

The pictures you attached to the thread just now are too small to view and I have a 21 inch monitor. To seal details the pics need to as big as the monitor screen. The bird dog is ok, but I cannot see details such as the rivets. I tried saving the pics and opening them with a picture view where I could inlarge but the pic quality is too low.

Regards,
Randy
Old 05-22-2006, 07:38 PM
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Default RE: Flite Metal... Help!!!

Revisiting our web site and the customer examples will yield images in large format.
I do not want to use excess bandwidth on RCU. That may not mean anything to you
but they appreciate it when we don't present cinemascope images here. There are
plenty of those within our site.

As for a CD or DVD, we will never have lengthy how-to's on the application of our
product because that is about as exciting as watching Dave Platt's paint dry. What is
important to see is how a modeler should gather documentation on their subjects way
before beginning to construct, then finish a project. Then applying the documentation
to the airframe components.

For example, you referenced the cowl lip. There are a few one piece cowl lips out there,
most are on turbofans. WWII cowls on round engines were for the most part four or five
piece cowl lips with multiple sections comprising the cowls and nacelles. Each is covered
individually without panel bridging.
Old 05-23-2006, 11:52 AM
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Default RE: Flite Metal... Help!!!

I guess I am on my own since I can't seem to get it clear that I have complete documentation and over a hundred pictures I took of every detail of the real plane. I just cannot get the product to contour to complex shapes and none of the pictures or information I have recieved from everyone really clearly demonstrates the technique. I spent weeks researching flitemetal before I even purchased it. I checked you pics out on your web site and unfortunately most of them will not open on any of the computers I have access too. Besides, pictures of a finished part is of no help in actually applying the product to look like the end result. I reread the Jug covering info from start to finish several times and found no good description of how to work the material around rounded shapes like leading edge tips of the tear dropped shape of my wing. The AT-6 Texan had a three part cowl on the front portion where the curve starts, but I had to use 12 segments to cover it.

A video showing the actual process of appling the metal on complex shapes would solve the problem and it would not have to be like watching paint dry lol. If topflight can make a video for coving using monkote of which I have no problem working with, I am sure we builders using flite metal would love to see video for application technique for differenent examples on a plane including some finishing examples.

I am sure with the lack of specific detail most builders have developed their own style as have I. For example I learned that if I cut the piece slightly oversize, then lay it on the area to be covered before removing the backing, I can use a felt marker to index it.. that is make reference marks on the piece and the tape boarder. Then, I remove the backing using me knee to capture the free end of the flite metal backing so I can peel the backing off and have two hands available to grip.. one for each end of the piece. I then pinch each end and use a third finger to create a slight upwards curl so that as I lay the piece onto the plane I can align the index marks with out premature contact with the part. Once aligned I use a one hand to press the contact area down and the other to hold the material away from the surface. I can then use my finger to work the metal down slowly and with out pressure to avoid unwanted stretch. Doing this allows a perfect application, no wrinkles, no air bubbles. I then burnish down with the artists stump and ensure the outline along the fine line masking tape is clear for cutting. I dip my No 11 exacto blade ( I tired the curved blades but did not like them) into paint thinners and cut following the tape line. If it is a long cut I dip more than once to esure the blade is lubricated and that the glue seperates cleanly when I pull it off. So flat panels or easy contours work flawlessly.. Just cannot get the hang of complex shapes with out watching someone with the skill apply it.
Old 05-28-2006, 11:57 PM
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Default RE: Flite Metal... Help!!!

While we strive to provide basic application instructions to assure proper adhesion and finishing at the minimum level,
it is always a desire to provide the lowest level of instruction to prevent confusion. As you indicated in a previous post,
you were pleased with your application of our product after you reduced the amount of Windex you applied to the
surface of the model prior application.

Thanks to Richard McFarland and several other customers I am composing an application CD/DVD (format has yet to be
decided upon) which will include photo/video examples of specific shapes and forms commonly found on the surface of a
model airframe. While this can not cover very possibility, it will illustrate the typical application and how to control stretch.

As has been described in our application instructions and online here and elsewhere within the web...stretch is the specific
attribute of Flite-Metal which differentiates it from construction grade adhesive backed aluminum foils. Flite-Metal can
stretch 25% and greater than its area mass. This is to say a 4" x 4" inch piece is capable of stretching to an area
approximately 5"x 5". Reserving this stretch, or not invoking stretch until stretch is required, is the application process
you should strive to achieve.

Nothing about applying and finishing our product is an exact science. The majority of the finishes you have seen on our
web site and magazines covering domestic and international scale competition are achieved by customers whom have
experimented with the application and finishing of Flite-Metal to achieve replication of an actual airframe surfacee.
Old 03-29-2014, 09:52 AM
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For the sake of anyone reading this thread in the future I include the animated application instructions
found on our web site and on the CD accompanying FK packaged products sold on the site. This should make it much easier
to understand since unlike videos it takes the hands out of the way so you can clearly see the model surface and process of
application "after" identifying the largest contact patch in the "to be covered" model panel.

Click the animated .gif below to view the recommended method of applying our products. .



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Old 02-13-2020, 03:28 PM
  #16  
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Default Flite-Metal How2's

Originally Posted by FliteMetal View Post
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There isn't a specific sequence to marking rivet locations, making the actual rivet, and polishing Flite-Metal because there are multiple ways of accomplishing this, with results that vary from semi weathered to mirror polished surfaces. You should experiment with your resources to see what results in replicating your documentation.
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There are as many surfacing methods as I have customers. That in itself is what makes Flite-Metal part of your model construction experience. I like to think of it in terms of combining one's model construction/finishing skill with Flite-Metal for a winning combination. For example, most customers cover a wing tip in two pieces. That would be the bottom to just below the shadow break line, then top down from the panel line to the shadow break line.

Stretching the aluminum at the surface contact point permits up to a 25% area mass stretch. Attempting to stretch off of the surface will result in under cupping the unburnished aluminum as it stretches. Under cupping typically results in immediate wrinkles when the overly stretched aluminum is pressed onto the surface. If the aluminum is permitted to simply be adhered to the surface without too much pressure applied to the surface, stretching and resulting wrinkles will be minimized to virtually non-existance.
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The twelve inch packaging of Flite-Metal behaves entirely different from the six inch width product. Inidividuals whom have only used twelve inch widths are amazed at how much less aluminum is wasted in the application process and how quickly the six inch Flite-Metal is applied. Our twelve inch product is intended for use on larger than six inch width panels...period.
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Attempting to cut down the twelve inch width product to achieve savings on the overall project is a false economy because of inherient stretch factors of this specialty alloy. Each time the poduct is handled, it will stretch. To minimize wrinkles and reduce overall stretch of the aluminum, I arrived at a six inch width on three inch cores for ease of packaging and application of Flite-Metal.

Originally, Flite-Metal was not back-wound onto cardboard cores, it was simply converted to a loosly wound 25 or 50 foot length, placed in the plastic sleeve and a cardboard box. In order to reduce damage in transit and improve application results the cardboard core was introduced.
The following is an index of YouTube videos showing the "multiple" methods Flite-Metal can be applied and finished. It is recommended sanding and polishing be completed before applying to the surface of a model. This will permit an electric palm sander to create the proper finish and smoothness desired...over the entire panel when applied. This is more of a "how" than "how much" process.

1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
There are others emailed to customers when their orders are received. Hope this helps.
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Old 02-13-2020, 03:28 PM
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Default Flite-Metal How2's

For some reason there was a duplicate of the above Flite-Metal How2 Videos.
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Old 03-23-2020, 09:05 AM
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Seems like this product has a nice appearance from a distance, as long as you don't look too closely at it.
Old 03-28-2020, 02:51 PM
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From what I have seen, the results depend on the skill of the modeler. Properly done, it looks good even up close.
Old 04-15-2020, 12:03 AM
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How close do you want to get to see "The Look Of The Real Thing"? The first image below was a pic taken of
Flite-Metal applied by the Toledo Show Best Of Show winner "just off the roll" with no finishing preparation at
all...that's raw Flite-Metal.












I have other pix of the Flite-Metal surface at about three to four inches...the above were
taken at around 6 inches as the closest.

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Old 04-15-2020, 12:34 PM
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Without a doubt, an extraordinary amount of time and effort went into these models and the builders have every right to be proud of their work. The material itself however, looks like what it is and other than being the correct color, fails to convince me that I'm looking at anything other than adhesive backed aluminum foil. I have yet to see a sheet of aluminum on an aircraft or elsewhere that has an orange peel texture embossed into it (apparently the texture of the adhesive). I have also never seen bare aluminum on a real aircraft whether highly maintained and polished or severely worn and weather beaten to look like it was methodically scoured with #36 grit sandpaper.

I did however see some close up photos that were posted here in RCU somewhere of a control surface that was clad in litho plate aluminum and even though it had a coat of paint, I thought that I was looking at a real aluminum aircraft part. Absolutely incredible!!! The funny thing is that the part suffered a touch of hangar rash and the damage even looked full scale!!!
Old 05-26-2020, 12:18 PM
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I love the look of Flite Metal and plan to use it on a future project. There is a lot of great info here and some truly beautiful aircraft.. Keep up the great work.
Old 05-26-2020, 04:15 PM
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Originally Posted by jdolomount View Post
I love the look of Flite Metal and plan to use it on a future project. There is a lot of great info here and some truly beautiful aircraft.. Keep up the great work.
Whenever I see Flite Metal, I get a strange craving for Hershey's Kisses!
Old 05-26-2020, 04:40 PM
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Originally Posted by FliteMetal View Post
How close do you want to get to see "The Look Of The Real Thing"? The first image below was a pic taken of
Flite-Metal applied by the Toledo Show Best Of Show winner "just off the roll" with no finishing preparation at
all...that's raw Flite-Metal.












I have other pix of the Flite-Metal surface at about three to four inches...the above were
taken at around 6 inches as the closest.
Amazing work! I've used it a little but your photos really show the tremendous potential. So realistic!

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