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PostPosted: Fri Mar 21, 2014 8:59 pm 
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Hi Forumites,

A while back, about 18 months or so ago, I decided that I would seriously consider doing a mid-mount, RWD Mini conversion and for a few good reasons:
1. I already had the approval letter from the QLD Department of Transport to do the conversion
2. I wanted to do one, and push the engineering envelope so to speak
3. A lot of people said it couldnt be done, and if it could, it wouldnt be registerable!

Loving a challenge, I went on the hunt for a suitable donor and a suitable shell. In the original proposal I had stated the use of a 4E-FTE powerplant to power the beast, but quickly dismissed it - not enough power without going silly on the boost scales, and just too problematic getting air to intercooler if its in the back, and too much plumbing if it was in the front. I decided I wanted to go NA, and forego all the plumbing nightmares associated with forced induction.

After doing a lot of research, I settled on a Honda VTEC F20B - a really sweet motor designed by Honda to form the basis of their 2.0 litre touring car assault in the European Touring Car series. The engine never came to Australia, but lived on in the JDM and European Accord and also the JDM Torneo. I chose the unit for its wonderful archtecture - all alloy with steel liners (light), short stroke (8500rpm redline easy), excellent rod/stroke ratio (better than B18), large valve head (breathe baby!)and of course VTEC. I finally found one imported into Australia, and grabbed it.

The F20B - brilliant donk and grossly underated:
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The next checkbox was to find a good shell. And it had to be a roundy, seeing as I already had a Clubman (El Gato). I ended up grabbing one through the Trading Post from a guy just over the border in Terranora - the shell was sound, reasonably straight, minimal rust, came with hanging panels, but nothing else - perfect, as I wasnt going to use much more of the Mini than this - I ended up getting it for a steal.

The shell came home the usual way - on the trailer, and I made up a little trolley for him to sit on, as I didnt know exactly when I would get around to starting him. At this point he needed a name, as all my cars have names, and I decided on Leonidas - the legendary King of the Spartans - wild, defiant, strong and capable, and a leader (as in being out in front and breaking new ground) - the name suited him and so it stuck.

Leo finally arrives at home:
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At one point someone had put a sunroof in it, and the guy I bought it off ended up filling it in:
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Its a very early shell, July 1964 was the date the PO mentioned - way older than me even :shock: :
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The trolley, quickly knocked up but sturdy:
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Just ended up pulling him to the end of the trailer, and lifting him on one end at a time:
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And there he sat in the top shed, and sat, and sat - how indignant with a name like Leonidas:
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When the new workshop was built, I ended up transferring him down there as there was more room, and just on the off chance that he might get started one day. Found a cover for him to keep the dust off:
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Anyway, fast forward to July 2013 - I get made redundant from my long time job with RSL Care. I took the redundancy and decided to start Tricky Performance Engineering as most of you know. The problem was now that I was doing clients cars, Leo was an even longer odd to get started. So, I decided to sell Leo as we needed the cash as well. I had the thought of selling him as a project with all that I had collected for the conversion - which in the past twelve months was a considerable amount of stuff - I also offered the incentive of completing the project for the succesful buyer.

Within a week I had an email from a guy in Victoria called Justin Lilburne - an avid Mini fan and previous owner of some very hot cars. Justin, like me, was after something unique, something special, something wild - like Leo. After some discussions we agreed that Justin could have the shell, engine and all the parts that I had accumulated over the past twelve months for what I paid for them - but, and extremely good news for me - I got to put him together!!! Luckily for me, Justin's vision for Leo and mine were almost identical (except for the colour, I wanted Rothmans Livery) - so everything that I had accumulated wouldnt be wasted - my dreams of building a mid-mount, RWD, road registerable, track beast would come true - thanks to Justin!!

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 21, 2014 9:13 pm 
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This conversion is going to be very 8)

I can't wait to see progress

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 21, 2014 10:03 pm 
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I wanted Leonidas to be something special, so I had decided early on that he would get the very best of parts and equipment that I could afford. The search over the past twelve months yielded some great stuff, and some of it I got for a very good price.

The start was the F20B engine, that I have previously stated, I went in search of a suitable gearbox. I ended up finding on the web a spreadsheet that listed every gearbox ever made to suit the F/H-series engines - from there I chose one with the right ratios, the right final drive, and with LSD as standard - the T2T4 5-speed out of the Accord SiR-T. Brilliant, and it came with another set of final drives (crown and pinion) gears for free. I ended up getting the shifter mechanism and new driveshafts from the same guy for a great package price.

Next on the shopping list was suspension. I had decided early on that Leonidas, being destined to grace the racetracks and hillclimb courses, should have performance-oriented suspension - and what better architecture than pushrod suspension - yes, Leo would have remote mounted coilovers operated by pushrods and bellcranks, to reduce unsprung weight and maximise suspension tunability. The shopping list for coilovers was very exclusive - Ohlins, Penske, Protech or similar. In the end I ended up getting four Ohlins coilovers with remote gas reservoirs, with 2-stage compression and rebound adjustment from the USA for a song!! Another reason for Ohlins - they are rebuildable and the valving and spring rates can be tailored for your car and your driving style:
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Next on the shopping list was an ECU - there was no way that the standard engine management would be able to cater for what we had in mind for Leo. Once again a few came to mind - MoTec, EMS, LInk and Wolf3D. I even considered the new Aussie unit ViPec - but they were extremely expensive. Once again I turned my vision to the USA and the 2nd hand market. With a little patience, I found a used AEM unit in Canada of all places. This was a good choice, as AEM is the preferred brand for a lot of Honda tuners, and this unit was plug n play for OBDII Honda's (like the F20B). It comes with lots of features - multiple coil firing for COP installs, launch control, anti-lag, secondary injectors, multiple mapping, wet/dry modes and of course, programmable VTEC shift points and the ability to lift the redline etc. It even came with the programming CD:
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Because the engine was going in the back, it gave us a huge amount of room to play with. There were no packaging constraints that you would find if it was going in the front. So, the next thing we looked at, to unleash the full potential of the engine, was the inlet manifold. The F20B does not come with anything wild - it does not have extended inlet runners or variable length inlet tracts. So, we decided that the standard IM would go and we would go with ITB's. ITB's give us better tunability and better throttle response - plus, we could tune the length of the inlet tracts to maximise the power output and where it was delivered in the curve. There are companies that make ITB's for the F/H-series engines, but they are very expensive. We decided to go a different route that some others have taken - motorcycle ITB's. The main reason is motorcycle companies are always at war with each other trying to extract the very last amount of HP out of their tiny engines - so, in order to do this they must breathe, and breathe very, very well. We wanted to go big, for the 500cc per cylinder we needed at least 46-48mm so this made the choice very limited. Quad throttle bodies of this size were hard to come by. But, after a lot of research, and some initial design we found that we could make Ducati throttle bodies off a 996 work - and the size - a whopping 51mm!!! Also, as a bonus, they use what's called a shower injector - a fuel injector that sits outside the bellmouth of the throttle body - this aids in air/fuel mixing and inlet charge velocity - giving better cylinder filling. So, being the brainiacs we are, we decided that we would mate the Ducati throttle bodies to the Honda IM stubs, and use the (uprated) Honda injectors for low rpm applications, and then the Ducati shower injector would kick in at higher rpm's for more fuel!! And the good thing was, the AEM ECU could run the secondary injectors without any problems - it had that feature built-in:
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Another feature of the AEM ECU was the ability to run a Coil On Plug (COP) setup, and do away with the traditional distributor and ignitor etc. COP gives better and more consistant spark, and also allows you to do tricky stuff like cylinder deactivation etc. We werent interested in that, but we were interested in the efficiencies and performance benefits that you get form a COP setup. After a lot of trial and error, I discovered that Honda 954RR Fireblade COP stalks fit the F20B engine - exactly!!! It was almost like they were made for it!! A quick hunt around the wreckers in Oz revealed no wrecked Honda Fireblades, but, in the USA - many!! So, for a trifling amount, I had a set of 954RR COP's and loom on their way.

Also grabbed a set of new engine mounts from the USA, as the F20B didnt come with any (bit boring this bit :roll: )....

And so, with a lot of bits together in one spot, Justin on board and keen, the build started on Monday, 10th March 2014...

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 22, 2014 2:28 am 
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MrFail wrote:
This conversion is going to be very 8)

I can't wait to see progress


Hey MrFail,

yes, we hope its going to be very cool too!
Heaps of progress made since Monday 10th, and I will post more up soon.

Enjoy!!

Cheers,
Tricky

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 22, 2014 8:21 am 
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This should make for interesting reading/viewing so we want lots of pictures. I've not read the rules regarding doing a project like this and rego'ing it but it would come under a 'major modification' rather than an engine upgrade wouldn't it? What's the rules say about changing engine positon?


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 22, 2014 11:35 am 
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Holy Crap Tricky

Cannot wait for this

Freakin awesome

Cheers Hallsey


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 22, 2014 8:11 pm 
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Hey Pete,
Yes, the approvals were issued by the Vehicle Modifications and Standards Dept. under an ICV, or Idependantly Constructed Vehicle. The Engineer believes it should be assessed otherwise as we are enhancing, not detracting from, the basic vehicle structure irrespective of where the engine ends up. I think it will be assessed as an ICV. Thanks for your interest too!

Hey Hallsey,
Well not before time hey bro. You, me, Matt Read and a few others have talked about doing something like this for a while now. I remember a while ago when I was over at Matt's place and this subject came up and he just turned to me in 'Mad Matt' fashion and said "For f*&cks sake Trickster, you have all the approvals already, why dont you just start it". And yes, I hope it will be freakin' awesome too!!

An Update:
Monday 10th - D-day, or Destiny Day!! It was time to begin. I took Leonidas outside into the bright, early morning Queensland sun and gave him a tub with the Karcher. 18 months of collective dust was washed off and I almost felt him shiver with excitement - or was that me? Anway, back inside and we transferred him from the trolley to the hoist, and levelled him up and ran the tape measure over him. Dimensionally he was alright, diagonals were within tolerances and he was, for all intensives purposes, level and true:
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Next step was the setout. We had to ascertain, in space, exactly where the engine was going to reside, where the suspension components would be affixed, and where our datums would be located. The first order of business was to deduce, and to what extent, would the Mini sheetmetal be removed, and where the rear firewall would be located. Because we had the engine and gearbox on hand, we could measure this, and then transfer these dimensions to the shell. We knew the depth of the engine from crank to the front extremity and the gearbox input shaft to output centreline dimensions - from this we could work out how deep the powerplant was from front to back. Working back from the standard Mini rear axle centreline, we then had a point in space that was the front of the engine. We transferred this to the shell, and then meaured from this point back to a reference point on the shell. In the end, the firewall location ended up being 200mm rearward of the rear door jamb:
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While we were setting out, we went around the entire shell marking points of interest, and also establishing relationships with one key feature to another - this was crucial so we didnt forget where things were going to be located, and how they interacted with their neighbours:
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Now that we had the rear firewall fixed in space, we could decide what sheetmetal we KNEW would be redundant, for the first pass cut. This was some of the floor, the rear seat base, rear seat back, side bins and some of the boot floor. We crossbraced the shell to ensure dimensional stability, then it was out with the reciprocating saw and cut out this stuff:
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A pile of redundent sheet metal:
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Removal of this steel revealed a few surprises - the floor under the bins, and the adjacent sills were badly affected by tinworm. This area was crucial, as located adjacent to this area was the new transverse crossmember and also the floor mounting plates for the roll cage (a six-point roll cage was part of the design submission, and became part of the blanket design approval). The floor and inner sills were affected on both sides:
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Only one thing for it, out with the grinder. The affected area was removed, new sheet metal formed up, and welded in. The surrounding areas were rust-treated, sprayed with weld through primer, and then etch primed after the repairs affected:
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Both inner and outer sills were replaced in the affected areas:
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Luckily, that was all the major rust problems in the shell. There are some spots on in the floor that will require some attention but they are minor in comparison.

Cheers,
Tricky

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 22, 2014 8:38 pm 
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This needs to be on video like the uk gt4 celica one .
Im excited already.

So how does the f20b compare to the later integra 2L (k20a isnt it?)?

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 23, 2014 10:57 am 
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Hey MrFail,

Yes, I love those videos by Nik and Richard. But then we would have to call it 'Project Fluffy', or something like that. Those two are p!ss funny, would love to do a video like that!! Any takers...??

The K20 is a whole next gen further on than the F/H/B-series engines, so you would expect them to be have better specific power output and also better volumetric efficiency. They have i-VTEC, (intelligent VTEC), roller rockers, COP ignition and variable length inlet runners etc, so they should be a quantum leap ahead, but are they.....??

If you have a look at the K20A2 - available in a few models including the Aussies Integra Type-R, the specs say (Wikipedia):
Integra DC5-R (Australia) Displacement: 1,998 cc (121.9 cu in)
Bore x Stroke (mm):86.0 x 86.0
Compression: 11:1
Power: 200 hp(147 kW) @ 7400 rpm
Torque: 142 lb·ft (193 N·m)* (196 N·m) @ 6000 rpm
Redline: 7800 RPM
Revlimiter: 8100 RPM
i-VTEC Engagement: 5800 RPM

Now compare this with the F20B (Wikipedia):
Accord SiR, SiR-T, Torneo F20B 97-01 2.0 L
Valve train: four-cylinder, DOHC VTEC, 16-valve
Bore: 85.0 mm
Stroke: 88.0 mm
Displacement: 1997 cc
Torque: 145 lb·ft (197 N·m) @ 5500 rpm
Horsepower: 200 hp (150 kW) @ 7000 rpm
Red line: 7400 rpm
Compression: 11.0:1
Fuel control: OBD-2

As you can see, they have gone back to a square block, and they have gone back to using cast iron sleeves instead of FRM sleeves as seen in the H- and some F-series engines. I think with our engine mods, we can get from 200hp to the 220-230 mark which isnt bad for N/A engine. If we skim the head and get the static comp to 11.5:1, I think we may nudge the 250hp mark!! 125hp/litre SPO is not a bad outcome!!

The F20B is the forgotten cousin in the Honda engine line-up, but it really is an exceptional engine and, as you might haved guessed, I am a big fan. If you couple the above specs with facts like larger main journal diameter, exceptional rod/stroke ratio and the fact that they are cheap (as compared to the newer i-VTEC engines and any B-series) they are very hard to pass up. The only issue I have with the Honda VTEC's is the inability to switch inlet and exhaust cams independently of each other (so you could tune for more torque or more HP) as you can with the Nissan SR-Neo engines (also a huge fan).

Anyway, my $0.02 on that!! (now, about that video).....

Cheers,
Tricky

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 23, 2014 7:06 pm 
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Ok.
Cool.... it sounds like a good little engine.
It would go great in a little EG civic too by the sounds of it.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 24, 2014 1:13 pm 
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Hi MrFail,

Yep, great little engine.

Because they never came to the USA, they never received the popularity of the B16/18 like in Need for Speed. They are just discovering how good they are.

Yes, drop straight into a 4th or 5th Gen Civic.

Cheers,
Tricky

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 26, 2014 10:46 pm 
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Hey tricky awesome project ...ill be watching this with excitement...oh btw did you have a look a the nissan p12 20v and6sp box for size as these motors have 150kw factory or down grade to the p11 sr20ve I know there a bulky motor but its goin in the rear so could be a different story ....either way great way to think out the box and get approval from dot :-)


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 27, 2014 4:45 pm 
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Thanks mate.

Yeah, on the shopping list was the Nissan SR16VE Neo VVL (N15) engine as mentioned above, and also the SR20VE Neo VVL (P12) engine if I couldnt get an F20B. I am a big fan of the Nissan big-hitters as they are well built, gobs of power and uber-reliable. Easily comparable in terms of performance with the Honda's. At the time they were pretty rare, and pretty pricey. More have come onto the market now, so priced have dropped a bit, while people are waking up to the F20B so the price for them has gone up a bit.

If I did another one, and I couldnt source a Honda cheaply, the Nissans would be my first choice.

More updates soon and thnks for the kind words.

Cheers,
Tricky

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 28, 2014 10:39 pm 
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Popped into see Tricky today and got to have a look first hand at this little beastie.

With a quick wander round his workshop you can tell that this is going to be something very special. With a few teaser photos of what it might look like dotted around the workshop, scattered amongst technical drawings of mx-5 suspension and Ford prefect schematics, nothing remotely standard will be created at Qik Brix Racing.

I can't wait for more of this build to be completed. The work that i've seen definitely wouldn't seem out of place in a silhouette racer or any other top line custom racing car with road tyres on it.

If only I had the cash to afford one myself...and maybe the time and attention to detail and perfectionist streak it takes to pull off a build like this.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 04, 2014 9:02 pm 
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Hey Joe,

Really nice to see you after so long, and sorry to hear you are divesting yourself of all your projects - I guess we just cant do them all, hey!! And thanks, sincerely, for the very nice words - its nice to know that people think that you do quality work. I must say that I am very envious of your latest adventure - The Mongol Rally - hope you have a great time and get back to Oz safely, its going to be an adventure alright! When you get back, we can talk about a mid-mount for you too!! :shock:

Update Time:
With the rust repair beneath the bins taken car of, it was time to actually fabricate something. In our design, the beltrail will actually become part of the structural elements and not just be there to make a window. To do this we need to box it in, to give it strength and rigidity.

Firstly, is to meaure up, cut and fold the piece of 1.0mm cold-rolled steel to box in the beltrail back to the body. Its a fairly simple profile, with a slight fall in it as curves downward toward the rear. The profiled piece will conform to the shape with a bit of effort. Once the piece was made, we then punch some 6mm holes in it with the hole-punch to plug-weld to the body.

Test fit:
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Then plug-weld to the body and seam-weld to the beltrail:
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Make sure of good penetrations through to the body:
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Grind off the welds and then prime:
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Then same again on the other side:
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With the beltrail now boxed in, it becomes immensely strong and part of the structural elements of the monocoque and will help take the loads that will soon be enforced onto the rear of the car. Time to also reinforce the floor. A new transverse crossmember will be installed just in front of where the floor cut will be. A second transverse crossmember will reinforce the structure by orders of magnitude and resist any torsional loads imposed by the engine. Torsional stiffness is paramount in a monocoque, and they cant be too stiff (weight restrictions notwithstanding of course). Our transverse crossmember will be made in two parts for simplicity, and then welded together in the middle.

Start by marking out on our sheet of cold-rolled steel the shape of the crossmember:
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Cut out and bend up in the panbrake:
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Wire-wheel the floor clean and then lay down some weld-through primer:
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Test fit - lovely!!!
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Then weld onto the floor, tunnel and sills:
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Ensuring good penetrations through to the floor with the plug-welds:
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Then do the same with the other side:
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Referencing back to the critical dimensions, and the datum we established which was the firewall final positon. The transverse crossmember has to be dead-on balls accurate or as close to it as you can get:
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