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Discussion Starter #1
I didn't start out intending to own a Camry for this long. But when I bought this 1993 Camry SE V6 (3VZ-FE) 5MT, in October of 1992, it seemed to be good enough for my needs. It handled like a pig when new, but finally I found a shop which specialized in race cars and they set up the alignment which brought it to life (secret recipe: reduce the rear toe to the minimum allowable tolerance = faster turn in). Being a manual it weighs much less than an AT, plus I decide everything. With 4 snow tires there is nothing it can't get through in the winter. It has no ABS, only 1 airbag; all the rest is up to the driver. When the 1MZ came along (-100lbs from the cast iron 3VZ, but no MT available on the Gen3.5 = X). Later, the Gen4 came along, with the light 1MZ, and finally with an MT option, but the seats didn't fit me, so I hung on to my Gen3, "for a little longer" ).

Each year I'd ask myself, "What to replace it with?", and each year the answer was, "Wait another year, this car is better than any of those." Next thing I knew, it was WAY many years later, and still the same answer. After 25 years of daily driving, 200,000 miles, in SE Michigan (=lots of rust), and having taken no particular precautions against rust, or any other kind of effort made to "make it last", simply normal maintenance and replacing the suspension twice (and steering rack once), of course with all Toyota parts, it still drives and handles like a new car. Until the rust got too bad, it also looked like a new car. The interior is still in amazing shape.

Last year the rust was too bad that I simply couldn't put it off any longer: time to shop seriously for a new car. Result: I don't like any of the new cars, and this old car has everything I want and none of what I don't want. Then I realized it could be cheaper to restore it than to buy a new car.

Begin: operation '93 Camry restoration, for another 25 years of trouble free motoring.

More to come...
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Step 1) find a donor car.

On Cargurus.com I found the perfect donor. Although mine is an NAP (made in TMMK, in Kentucky), the donor was JPP (made in Tsutsumi, in Japan) the parts are all interchangeable. The donor has ABS, so that has to go, and its an automatic, so of course my engine and MT transmission are going to be used. Since the 3VZ has issues with head gaskets and erosion between the head and block, I've got 4 heads now to make one good engine with. However, both engines register as completely healthy (the donor came with the check engine light on, and the OBD1 code said bad knock sensor, I'm replacing all sensors with new anyway). So, when I'm done, I may have one complete JPP engine and AT for sale (for the project I keep them as a guide for re-assembling mine).

The donor came from Spokane, WA, was a 2 owner car, no accidents. 1st owner had for 20 years, and obviously took lovingly good care of it. Although it also has 200,000 miles (same as mine) it is totally rust free, and every part is in "like new" condition (though, completely worn out). I wish I could meet that owner and shake their hand in gratitude, for taking such good care of it. Now, I feel like I am giving it a new lease on life.

After stripping the donor down to its bare body shell, I've sent that on to the painter, along with all of the suspension parts for a good coat of black paint (Toyota code 202 black).
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Step 2) strip my car for necessary parts

It turns out the donor car and mine both have grey interiors, and both are in excellent shape so I've got two entirely equal ones to work with. I may have to store all of the spare parts (a big space hog) simply because I know after some point I'll never be able to get any of them anywhere else, ever again.

Today I pulled the engine out of mine (with about a week's worth of prep, loosening or breaking off, or cutting off with a cutting wheel, all of the fasteners holding the suspension on, and front subframe). The donor car came apart nicely. My rusty black one, not so much. The LH driveshaft was a real bugger, but the cutting wheel solved that problem.

My strategy is to leave my black car as assembled as possible (as a guide for assembly later).

Next step: strip down the engine to rebuild it, and send the E53 manual transmission for rebuild to Monkeywrench Racing, in Detroit, who specializes in Lotus (Lotus used the E153 transmission for their Toyota engined, turbo 4 cyl. cars, and it is very similar to the E53, except for gear and FD ratios).

Other jobs for me to accomplish, while the body is being painted, and engine and MT are being rebuilt:
- convert from R12 freon ('93 was the last year at Toyota for it) to R134a (the O-rings which are R134a compliant are all 1mm larger outer diameter). Unfortunately, along with the coolant change for '94, Toyota also changed from the 3VZ to the 1MZ engine, so there are several changes in the AC system I'm working out.
- I already got a full set of hard lines from a '95 from a scrap yard, in case there is any shape difference in the joints, due to the O-ring size difference, though it is entirely possible the O-ring change was merely to increase squish of them, for sealing against the slipperier R134a molecule, and maybe the hard line joints are unchanged. I'll find out soon, and be prepared in either case.
- rebuild the HVAC assembly, with a new, +12% larger evaporator (to deal with any possible performance tradeoffs from the coolant change), and replace all foam rubber seals throughout.
- rebuild the power steering pump, and hydraulic fan motor, and figure out how to re-do all of their flex hoses (none of which are available from Toyota, it seems).
- rebuild my SE steering rack (which has a quicker ratio than the LE or XLE Camrys). This will be tough because it will require fabricating some special tools.
- rebuild my brake, fuel and clutch lines (the donor came with good parts, but the brake lines are different - remember I don't want its ABS), and my clutch lines are shot). What I can't get from Toyota as new parts I'll make myself.
- rebuild the radiator and condenser and fan assembly (with new rad, new cond., new hoses and new foam seals).
- have the headers and heat shields ceramic coated, inside and out.
- add heat insulation to the cowl, to prevent heat soak in the summer time (in the summer the vents always blow hot air after a stop, even if the air was cool until the first long stop, because the upper part of the cowl is just bare metal, so the engine's heat gets to the air in the cowl plenum. A simple layer of insulation should make a world of difference.


Still seeking:
- although ALL of the other suspension parts are available through Toyota (necessary to get the "like new" ride and handling, unlike "random tune" aftermarket dampers, springs and mounts), the rear struts seem to be NLA. So, I'm still working on that part. My rusty ones only have 20k miles so I may repaint and reuse those.
- the "SE" badge on the trunk lid is all worn out, it is NLA, so I'm looking to get it re-chromed somehow.

More updates to come.

Ultimate target: one brand new, 1993 SE Camry. I'm well past 1/2 way there.


Norm
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Notice that I said, "way past half way there"? Laughter all around.
Probably I'm only about 1/4 of the way, or less, but it feels so good to reach a major milestone.

"Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning. " - W. Churchill
 

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Notice that I said, "way past half way there"? Laughter all around.
Probably I'm only about 1/4 of the way, or less, but it feels so good to reach a major milestone.
That comment *did* get a snort outta me!


Regarding the ABS: I think the tough part would be sourcing axles with the tone rings. My fuzzy recollection is that the 5spd takes different axles than an auto. And I'm not sure the 5spd ever came with ABS. Except for that, the ABS system is stand-alone; it's got its own computer module.


Following this thread with interest. Post lots of pics.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
No tone rings = no problem. My plan is no ABS. :)


My '93 never had it. The donor car came with it, but its not going back in after the restoration. To deal with eliminating it, I was going to make all new brake lines (I've used copper nickel tubing for past projects), but have found the long rear ones are available new from Toyota (for only like $30 each), and the front hard lines, though new, non-ABS ones are NLA I got nice used ones out of a pick-n-pull last weekend so I might get away without having to make anything.


BTW, my research says the Camry MT and AT axles are common, for the Gen3 (perhaps they became not common later, like Gen4). This is true for both the I4 and for the V6 versions of the axles. The difference for each is only "*66" (the code for "w/ABS"). One other axle difference that exists is two makers: GKN (NAP parts) and Toyota (JPP parts), each is interchangeable, just the additional part numbers makes the research take longer to sort out!. For I4, 3VZV6 and 1MZV6 there's 10 different axle part numbers (4 each for GKN/TOY, plus 2 more for 1MZ).


One awkward aspect of the brake lines is they are a part of a great big assembly, including the fuel and vapor lines, which gets attached to the body shell LH rocker area first, before anything else, and is, like 8 feet long and very fragile. Gonna have to get that ready, and then stage it somewhere safe until ready for re-assembly.


The other, especially fragile part is the headliner (I'd hate to accidentally damage that). I keep meaning to pick up a mattress bag to keep it in!


Norm "the Camry that wouldn't die" Kerr
 

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And I'm not sure the 5spd ever came with ABS.
Pretty sure it did, in fact the gen2 Camry V6 5-speed also came with ABS so props to Toyota. On the axles the inner stub (that goes into the transmission) is the same auto/manual so I'd imagine the axles are also the same. Speaking of fuzzy memory I think I've put in an ABS axle into a car with no ABS because that's what I could get over the counter.
 

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Oh man R12 AC is PIA... Im running on fumes, i wash my outcoming hose from compressor and it gets oily after month, same on left side condenser connection.

My AC still works

What to do?
 

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Oh man R12 AC is PIA... Im running on fumes, i wash my outcoming hose from compressor and it gets oily after month, same on left side condenser connection.

My AC still works

What to do?
You should make your own thread, but the short answer is run it 'til it doesn't work, then convert it to R134a. Here's a thread with a lot of info. I converted my '92 after the compressor failed, and the AC worked fine.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Regarding R12 or R134a, I did a lot of research:

It turns out domestic/commercial HVAC companies deal with R12 in old legacy systems in buildings and restaurants all of the time. You can buy R12 from them, or off the internet, and can find shops who will fill a system with it.

However, from your description, your system is leaking, so fixing the cause of that should be first (if its leaking at a joint, replace the o ring, if its leaking at a flex hose, get a new one, or find a local hose shop who will make you a new one). If its leaking mid way along a hard line, the aluminum has corroded and that piece should be replaced. Filling a constantly leaking system will eventually lead to enough crap getting in to destroy the compressor, and fill the condenser with junk, forcing you to replace those things too.


N
 

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An interesting thread! I don't have your rust problem but have racked up lots of miles and am reluctant to just turn my car out to pasture. As you noted, the new cars just don't have much appeal to me. My brother is still driving my old manual transmission V6 Camry and I have toyed with the idea of having his transmission rebuilt and installing it in my V6 Solara. Change out the rear main seal and the valve guide seals on the Solara during that job and it would be like a new engine.

Keep the updates coming!
 

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Sorry about the rust... Toyota really did a good job with rust, on the Gen4. Our Gen 4.5 has 19yrs and 305k miles of Detroit daily-driving, and has almost no rust... just a tad, starting at the wheel well lips. We figure at this rate, we have at least 10yrs, before even addressing. Yet amazing job, keeps us up-to-date with progress reports...!
 

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norm365, simply by viewing your working area, there is no doubt this will be a top shelf resto when you are done. I'm in a similar position as you with a '97 Maxima. Mechanically is sound and the A32B's are a near bullet-proof mill but the body on mine is quickly approaching the condition of your black Camry. While the car owes me nothing at 390K, and I feel I have the skills to pay the bills I don't want to take the time to resurrect it. So we will drive it till it drops. In the meantime I've completed a refresh on a '98 Camry 5SFE with 118K on the clock, a near cream puff car as I call them with zero rust, which is unique living in the rust belt. One or two more shopping trips at the Pick-n-Pull and she ought to be finished.


I'll be following your thread as well, please post frequently with tons of photos.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Thanks everyone!

The next job: strip the engine down to a bare long-block, and the MT down to a bare unit, for delivery to their respective rebuild shops, I started and was immediately overwhelmed by the shear number of hoses (vacuum, fuel, vapor and otherwise), wiring, small nondescript brackets and sub assemblies.

Then an old friend pointed out to me: the shop manual goes through each of those as individual systems.

So, now I am stripping off one system at a time, learning about it as I go, following the (print) shop manual beside me, and making notes/sketches as I go, about what the manual isn't clear enough about for my liking (sketches which don't show well enough which hose goes where, etc.). Knowing that it will be the instructions for re-assembly is very reassuring.

Here's hoping that when I'm done, I'll have a half a chance at getting it all back together again later!

The interior, the doors, the suspension, the fuel system, these things are very familiar and easy for me to keep track of. I've rebuilt old British engines and transmissions, and carburetors before. But, the IP wiring, and the engine on this car, are in this other league.


Having a parts car is a godsend. There are so many parts from it that are in better shape than mine, even though that other car is a different spec, and it serves as a guide for putting things back. Also, having access to a car at a pick-n-pull, to get other parts from. There is no way I could do a project like this otherwise, especially because there are so many small parts no longer available new.

Reflection: my other "forever car", is an FJ. This morning I searched the internet and ordered its 3 volume print shop manual (for when this comes due, many years from now). The price of the print manual isn't cheap, but its easy access in the shop, with greasy fingers, and its non-volatility (no worry about some on-line version disappearing later when I need it), and all that, are well worth it.


Norm
 

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Discussion Starter #15
oops, I forgot to take a photo of the bare engine long block sitting on its side, when I took it to the rebuilder. Picture a dirty, dark blob.

Next phase: manual transmission.

The local shop I'd planned to rebuild it with last fall has now changed their mind. Even though the Toyota data states the later, and much more popular, and all parts available for E153 MT is the same as the earlier E53 (the one I've got), except for gear ratio, they now say the parts aren't available and aren't interested.

So, I've got two choices:
1) try finding a rebuilder from much farther away (KO Racing in Oregon, or ATS Racing in Texas came up in a quick google search)
2) decide that the E series MT last really long, and since mine was quiet and shifting fine, to just clean the outside, replace exterior seals and put it back

Anybody got suggestions/advice for me about it?

On the one hand, an MT with 200,000 miles on it isn't necessarily a big durability risk. On the other hand, synchros do wear, and it would be nice to put it in with new ones, rather than wonder.

On the third hand, I don't expect to get more than another 100k out of the car after the restoration simply because I won't be driving it nearly as much as I did daily the 1st 25 years.


Bonus round: anyone got advice for me how to replace the seals without disassembling it? I totally get how to swap seals when covers are off, and I've a press to remove bearings and stuff, but would rather not disassemble if theres a more direct way to change them.



N
 

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oops, I forgot to take a photo of the bare engine long block sitting on its side, when I took it to the rebuilder. Picture a dirty, dark blob.

Next phase: manual transmission.

The local shop I'd planned to rebuild it with last fall has now changed their mind. Even though the Toyota data states the later, and much more popular, and all parts available for E153 MT is the same as the earlier E53 (the one I've got), except for gear ratio, they now say the parts aren't available and aren't interested.

So, I've got two choices:
1) try finding a rebuilder from much farther away (KO Racing in Oregon, or ATS Racing in Texas came up in a quick google search)
2) decide that the E series MT last really long, and since mine was quiet and shifting fine, to just clean the outside, replace exterior seals and put it back

Anybody got suggestions/advice for me about it?

On the one hand, an MT with 200,000 miles on it isn't necessarily a big durability risk. On the other hand, synchros do wear, and it would be nice to put it in with new ones, rather than wonder.

On the third hand, I don't expect to get more than another 100k out of the car after the restoration simply because I won't be driving it nearly as much as I did daily the 1st 25 years.


Bonus round: anyone got advice for me how to replace the seals without disassembling it? I totally get how to swap seals when covers are off, and I've a press to remove bearings and stuff, but would rather not disassemble if theres a more direct way to change them.



N
I think most of the seals are easily replaceable without disassembly, unless you're talking about internal ones. Going to refresh my S51-designated E153 in my '99 later this year and have several small leaks myself to take care of: control shaft seal is leaking and eating the protective boot (can't get needle bearing anymore or the refresh kit, just paper gasket, boot, and oil seal), grimy-wet around breather valve (I'm guessing more likely overfilled), leak from slave cylinder (which is busted, causing accelerated clutch wear. Thanks @slavie). I'm going to try and find a new-old stock MT seal kit and replace synchros while I'm at it. They're in good shape, minimal notchiness but I'll do it at the same time as my Insight's trans, which needs synchro modification from the common Honda double-cone synchro problem in 2nd. Also was looking at Quaife's LSD option for the MR2's which supposedly fits, but I hear you have to get a new speedo sensor gear?

TBH the MT gasket kit from Toyota doesn't come with much - axle seals, several o-rings, and a paper gasket. My P/N is 04331-17011, dunno if it's the same for yours. Looks like a lot of the synchros are still available as well, with updated part numbers. Check against your VIN on japan-parts.eu
 

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Discussion Starter #17 (Edited)
Update: bare shell at the painter

Even after removing the doors, fender and hood, there's still no sign of any rust on it anywhere. This is a car with 200,000 miles.
I sure got lucky when I found this car to use for my restoration (the dark stuff in the photo is dirt/oil/underbody wax, which will wipe/wash off before paint).

Part of the prep before paint is adding an additional puddle weld between all of the spot welds around the door openings and the front and rear window openings. OEMs are doing this, these days, on new cars. They call them "agility welds", because the body is stiffened just a little, making handling things like turn in just a little bit sharper. In mass production they can only make the spot welds so far apart, but either by hand (like I am doing), or with a robot with a laser stir welding device on it, they can shoot the extra welds in between (Audi even has a continuous welding process for their door opening flanges).

One other thing I'm doing is crack check of the underbody spot welds, using a magna flux ink process. After rough road durability testing there are always some which have developed stress cracks, and I expect to find some on this shell. A small drilled stress relief hole at each end of the crack and a dab of mig weld over it should make it as good as new.

This crucial crack checking step is almost always skipped during restorations, and a high mileage unit body shell is not as rigid as it originally was, unless this is done, and the (invisible to the naked eye) cracks are repaired.


I thought about seam welding all of the major joints, like you would do for a racing shell, but decided against it for two reasons:

1) a race car also gets a full roll cage, which takes almost all of the suspension loading, but a road car with a seam welded unit body shell, would experience concentrated loading in all kinds of unexpected places, and actually be more likely to crack. The agility welds, on the other hand, don't create that risk.

2) a race car's ride and handling are kind of irrelevant (the driver wears earplugs and cares nothing about if the ride is buzzy or rough). For a road car, though, dramatically stiffening the shell would call for re-tuning the whole suspension (dampers, bushings, spring rates, and so on) to soften all of those things to deal with the much stiffer shell. Otherwise it could become buzzy and "busy" feeling (and unpleasant).

So, only the agility welds, and crack check.


Norm
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Spent the last two days stripping my '93 of parts. It is in surprisingly bad shape, much worse than I'd expected. But the wire harnesses I need, and the optional audio (amp under the passenger seat, better speakers, diversity antenna in the back window). I'll harvest all of the body parts that I can to put the two cars together into one "brand new" one. Of course, getting the parts I need: clutch and brake pedal assemblies, non-ABS brake lines to use as patterns for new ones, wire harnesses, HVAC unit, they are all at the bottom, so the whole car has to come apart to get at them. Lots of labor.

I was able to buy the two rear brake pipes (from the proportioning valve to the rear flex lines), but the rest are no longer available, so I've placed an order for 4.76mm copper-nickel brake pipe (3/16") to make my own brake and clutch hard lines. The OEM (steel) pipes came with a black PVC coating to prevent rust, so I ordered thick wall heat shrink tubing from McMaster-Carr to put on the new Cu-Ni tubing, so they'll look "factory" when I'm done.

Cu-Ni is great stuff to work with: more fatigue resistant than stainless, and actually more corrosion resistant than common grades of stainless. It is much easier to bend than steel, without kinking (and much much easier to bend than stainless), and the flares don't "mushroom" as bad as steel ones do when the nuts are tightened, making the joints more re-usable too.


Of course, getting the dashboard out meant removing the defroster vents, and, of course, those fractured into tiny pieces when I tried to pry them out. So, I've got to try and find either good, used ones, or old stock from Toyota, or Chinese knock offs. The list of bits and pieces I've got feelers out for is pretty long. Luckily, the list of parts I've now found and have in my hands keeps it from getting too awfully long to be disheartening. Thank goodness that a "modern" car, made mostly of plastic (though most plastic will never bio-degrade in any meaningful way for 100's of years, making it a pollution nightmare, still looses all of its practical strength after only a few decades, compared with old time materials which kept their mechanical properties almost forever) still has a decent service parts support. Or I'd be sunk.


The manual transmission is coated with a thick layer of grease and dirt. I'll take it to the self serve car wash, soak it in oven cleaner and get it as clean as possible on the outside before I start to take it apart to replace its seals (and inspect its bearings and synchros). But, to do that, the holes ought to be plugged with something. It was a good thing I had a pair of scrap axles on hand: I stripped the rzepa joint from the LH one, and chopped through the mid shaft of the RH one, to make two small stubs to plug the holes in the final drive (2nd and 3rd attached photos). Some tape over the speed sensor and the neutral switch connectors and over the breather and it should be sufficiently sealed and safe to power wash.


Tomorrow: keep harvesting wire harness, and begin painting the 100s of brackets and underbody parts to protect them against 25 more years of rust before assembly.


Reflection: the Gen3 Toyotas have their wire harness connectors oriented all willy nilly, making it a chore to get them disconnected (half the time they're oriented so you can't actually get at the release tab). From Gen4 a new company policy began to require them all to be positioned better, for easier removal by service technicians. Hurray for them, sorry for me. :p
 

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Discussion Starter #19 (Edited)
Today: rebuilding the hydraulic fan motor and painting all of the little brackets in the engine compartment.

Also, preparing to rebuild the brake master cylinder.

Wow, Toyota designed these things to be easy to rebuild. No special tools (just a snap ring plier), and the kits were super cheap.

The master cylinder, 25 years old, brake fluid only changed a few times in that whole time, looks like new inside.
The hydraulic fan motor, I seriously cannot remember ever having changed the power steering fluid, but it must have happened once, the measurements are all spot on factory original (motor inner ring within 0.002" levelness with the housing, shaft within 0.002" with the housing). Maybe they are so good because the Gen 3 came with a filter in the system (which, also had never been changed, until now).

Gotta buy some ATF Dextron II so I can lube the seal and o-ring and re-assemble the fan motor, and then re-assemble the whole radiator sub assembly (hoses, new filter and so on), and buy some 1" x 3/4" foam for the sides of the AC condenser housing.

Norm


Update: instead of buying 1" x 3/4" foam for the sides of the AC condenser, I bought some 3x3" foam rubber at the hardware store (originally made for packing out window AC gaps), and cut it down into strips. I used 2 sided butyl rubber tape (looked like that was what the factory had also used) to stick it to the condenser housing, and the 2 plastic push clips as mechanical anchors. Looks like new.


For the radiator surround, I bought some 1/4" x 3/8" foam rubber stripping, also from the hardware store (came with the butyl adhesive pre-applied to one side) and ran it all of the way around the fan shroud so that when it was bolted to the radiator sealed the perimeter.


Before installing the new foams, I first went around the parts and cleaned off all evidence of the old adhesive/foam. The most effective way was to put on some work gloves and use the friction of my fingers to "roll" it off. Took only a couple of minutes (using a thin scraper for some of the really stuck parts) and a quick wipe with rubbing alcohol to prep for the new adhesive.


Once things are bolted into place the foam is squished into a sandwich and get go anywhere, the tape is just there for handling, and to prevent it shifting side x side after installation.
 

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