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Unread 03-15-2014, 09:55 PM   #1
Opihi59
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NV 3550 to AX 15 Swap

I'm swapping over an AX 15 into one of my '04 Rubicons to replace the NV 3550. Despite only having 52K on it, the 3550 had water in it when I bought it a few months ago and shifting it feels like stirring a broomstick in a bucket of gravel in the 1-2 range, especially in the 2 to 1 downshift. I have 3 rebuilt AX 15s laying about and figured I'd give it a shot. For the YJ readers, some of the measurements and photos may be useful even though the NV3550 was used in the TJ, not the YJ, from 2000-2004.
I read what I could find on this forum and others about this, but found the information disappointing at best--the threads deteriorated rapidly into the merits of one transmission over the other with unsubstantiated claims and innuendo, a raft of trolls submitting useless drivel, and none of these well-intentioned but poorly informed threads ever came to a conclusion or were ever closed out. So, figured I'd do my own writeup on this, and I am not going to entertain discussions of which is better and why, why I chose to do this or which can handle more torque or other scatological diatribe.
I am going to show measurements of both of these, how they mate to the NP 241J that is in this Rubicon, etc and enough photos and details to bog down the server. Here we go.

AX 15 on the left, with bellhousing, and NV 3550 on the right.



Side-by-side, NV top, AX bottom. Notable differences--there is no intermediate plate in the NV, and the front case half is shorter in the NV than the AX, while the rear case is way longer. Larger, square shift tower opening in the NV than in the AX.



Overall length of the 3550



Length of the AX 15. They are the same length.



Bellhousings. NV 3550 on right, AX 15 on left.



Length of 3550 bellhousing.



Length of AX 15 bell--they are the same.



Length of the NV 3550 gear case.



Length of the AX 15 gear case. They are same-same.



Location and fit of the CPS between both of these bellhousings are the same, the AX bellhousing will bolt to the NV 3550 without any need for clearancing, and the NV3550 will also bolt to the AX 15 bellhousing with the same 9 bolts--size, thread pitch and length. The clutch forks are the same and interchangeable, as is the throwout bearing fit. The starter bolts up to either of these bellhousings, and properly engages the flywheel without need for adjustments. Clutch spline count, input shaft length and pilot snout (0.750") are also the same. The 1991 and older AX 15 featured a 0.590" pilot snout, and the AX 15s 1993 and older came with a flat-faced input bearing retainer which was used with the Internal Clutch slave cylinder (AKA "concentric bearing") used in these editions.

Since TJ Wranglers used the external clutch slave version AX 15 up to 1999, and the same 4.0 engine was used in the TJ up to the end of the series in 2004, while the NV 3550 replaced the AX in the 2000 to 2004 model Wranglers, it is not surprising that there are these interchangeabilities. Until I checked it out for myself though, it was all innuendo because I could not find a thread legitimately documenting this information.

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian4.2 View Post
We will be going Metric every inch of the way.
Quote:
Originally Posted by 40dog View Post
yes I'm a some guy and have always put gasket sealer on my surfaces before mating
Quote:
Originally Posted by Virjeep View Post
You should go to Pirate. I hear they are real smart over there. You'd fit right in.
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Unread 03-15-2014, 09:56 PM   #2
Opihi59
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Page 2

AX 15 bellhousing on the NV 3550, and no interference with the NV "unicorn snout"






Location of the shifter tower between the 2 transmissions is also the same. NV first.



And the AX shift tower location. Same-same. What I am measuring to here is the centers of the receiver holes in the shift arm--the place that receives that little nylon bushing on the very end of the shifter mechanism, right at about 4 1/2" on both of these transmissions.



Dimensional differences between the AX 15 and the NV 3550.

The output shaft of the NV 3550 has a rear stick-out of approx 1/8" Most sites say that it is flush with the rear of the case.



Output shaft of the AX 15 has a stick-out length of just under 0.5" (1/2 inch)



Despite this stick-out, the NP241J transfer case bolts up to it without interference, and there appears to be no difference in "clocking."




There is a "unicorn snout" on the front case of the NV 3550 for a shift rail which extends beyond the front of the case.





Front of the AX 15 does not feature this snout.



The switch for the reverse light is on the Driver's side on the NV 3550



While on the AX 15, it is on the passenger side. I did find that the wiring harness was long enough to loop over the top of the AX 15 when installed, and the plug was somehow the same. But as of yet, I have not tested for actual backup light function. EDIT--tested, it plugs in and works, no change in wiring necessary. Plug-and-play.

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian4.2 View Post
We will be going Metric every inch of the way.
Quote:
Originally Posted by 40dog View Post
yes I'm a some guy and have always put gasket sealer on my surfaces before mating
Quote:
Originally Posted by Virjeep View Post
You should go to Pirate. I hear they are real smart over there. You'd fit right in.
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Unread 03-15-2014, 09:57 PM   #3
Opihi59
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Page 3

There was a difference in fit of the transmission mount. There was interference between 2 of the case bolts on the AX with part of the transmission mount as shown.





I drew out the area that needed to be clearanced on the mount here.





So with a little grinder work, and then some rattle can, interference issue solved. Once installed onto the AX 15, the 4 bolts connecting this assembly to the skid plate end up in exactly the same location they were in when installed onto the NV 3550 originally. Perfect fit.



Shifters. They are not even close to being interchangeable. NV top, AX bottom.



The AX 15 shifter stub for the TJ has a crook in it to allow it to clear the dash/console, while in the YJ version the shifter stub is straight.





NV shifter











After separating the shifter stub from the shifter shaft itself, I have not felt confident with the press-fit spring-detent mechanism, so I simply modify them (from JBolty on the YJ forum) by drilling thru to the square stub, welding on a nut, and installing a socket head set screw. Then of course, clean it up and a little rattle can finishes it off.



Square stub here presses in about another half inch, then I tighten down the set screw.



On this view of the AX 15, you can see the 2 threaded bosses where the T case shifter bolts onto the transmission. The NV 3550 does not have this feature.



On the NV 3550, the Transfer case shifter mounting is different, it bolts in 2 places to the threaded studs of the T case where it joins the rear case of the transmission. This does not change when the AX 15 is installed, the threaded bosses do not interfere with this mechanism and do not need to be altered or ground off.

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian4.2 View Post
We will be going Metric every inch of the way.
Quote:
Originally Posted by 40dog View Post
yes I'm a some guy and have always put gasket sealer on my surfaces before mating
Quote:
Originally Posted by Virjeep View Post
You should go to Pirate. I hear they are real smart over there. You'd fit right in.
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Unread 03-15-2014, 09:57 PM   #4
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Page 4

So just a few general photos if anyone needs them for reference. AX 15







NV 3550



I needed to remove the threaded studs that hold in the external clutch slave, and install them into the AX 15 bellhousing. "Double nut" technique; lock 2 nuts together, then put the wrench on the lower nut and back it out, install into new location, tighten in with wrench on the top nut, then unlock the 2 nuts and remove them.



Stud size, length, etc. Long side sticks out from the bell to bolt on the slave, short side into the bellhousing.



Bolt sizes, length, pitch etc. Bellhousing bolts--bellhousing to transmission, 9 of them.



Bellhousing to engine bolts, you may have to full-size this photo to see everything. Bolts/nuts to left are bottom 2 bolts, the E12 torx are on the very top of the bellhousing, and you should throw them away when you take them out and replace them with hex head bolts, and the other 2 bolts to the right are the 2 widest-apart bolts on the bell to engine collection.



When I yank a transmission, I remove all the bolts, then screw back in those 7/16" - 14 bolts back a few turns, so that when I pull on the trans and it suddenly gives way and slides off, it is caught by those bolt heads and doesn't end up with my face cushioning it from smashing into the concrete.

Since I am installing etc by myself, I like to use another trick with threaded dowels, they are headless, with a screwdriver slot cut into them, and they are 7/16" - 14. They thread into the 2 widest bolt positions, and when I stab the trans back in, they act as guides, and they also then take the weight of the front of the trans so the input shaft isn't snerking on the clutch or pressure plate fingers and totally wrecking that part of the system. Here they are.





And "installed" Wrapped in blue tape so you can see them better. The screwdriver slot comes in handy in removing them, but if you make them too long, the dome of the bellhousing will not clear them and will be jammed against the front of the transmission tunnel. About 4 1/4" stickout is the max unless you drop the back end of your motor way down, but you can thread a longer section of dowel so you can screw them in deeper. I don't use all-thread since it hangs up like a file on the aluminum bellhousing holes.





Once transmission is stabbed up to the motor properly, you can put in the top 2 bolts, or bottom 2 bolts, and take out the dowels, then screw in the proper bolts before you remove the support from under the back of the transmission.



More to this yet, but I've put too much time into it for now, will edit more in later on.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian4.2 View Post
We will be going Metric every inch of the way.
Quote:
Originally Posted by 40dog View Post
yes I'm a some guy and have always put gasket sealer on my surfaces before mating
Quote:
Originally Posted by Virjeep View Post
You should go to Pirate. I hear they are real smart over there. You'd fit right in.
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Unread 03-16-2014, 12:07 AM   #5
Opihi59
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So where am I now on this? Not yet done. More to follow, I'm not back on the trails yet.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian4.2 View Post
We will be going Metric every inch of the way.
Quote:
Originally Posted by 40dog View Post
yes I'm a some guy and have always put gasket sealer on my surfaces before mating
Quote:
Originally Posted by Virjeep View Post
You should go to Pirate. I hear they are real smart over there. You'd fit right in.
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Unread 03-16-2014, 01:30 AM   #6
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Very detailed and in depth. Can't wait to read more.
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Unread 03-16-2014, 10:39 AM   #7
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What is the significance of the threaded studs for the slave cylinder? When I did my AX5 -> AX15 swap the new bellhousing didn't have them so I used a pair of grade 8 bolts. Had I known about your two nut method of removing the studs from the original bellhousing I would have done that. Nice thread!

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Unread 03-16-2014, 11:16 AM   #8
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I swapped a nv3550 in my 97 when my ax15 lost a synchro in 3rd. Bolted right up. No big deal.
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Unread 03-16-2014, 11:40 AM   #9
Opihi59
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Line58 View Post
What is the significance of the threaded studs for the slave cylinder?
Nothing really, as you noted you can just use a bolt instead.

The advantage of the threaded stud is it's a little less awkward getting the slave in place. The rod of the slave has to nestle in the dimple in the clutch fork, and if it's not a new slave you have to compress the rod back into the slave, hold it there under tension while you try to get a bolt started in both holes. With the threaded studs, you just slide it over and it registers into place, and you spin on the nut. I just like having the studs here.

There is a special "cam-lock" stud remover tool available from most quality tool companies, it is very useful in removing threaded studs in things like engine building applications, etc. I'm not too sophisticated so I just use the double-nut method.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian4.2 View Post
We will be going Metric every inch of the way.
Quote:
Originally Posted by 40dog View Post
yes I'm a some guy and have always put gasket sealer on my surfaces before mating
Quote:
Originally Posted by Virjeep View Post
You should go to Pirate. I hear they are real smart over there. You'd fit right in.
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Unread 03-16-2014, 12:29 PM   #10
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Great write up! Thanks
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Unread 03-16-2014, 01:27 PM   #11
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Thank you very much for putting this thread together. This will be a great resource for myself and many others in the future.
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Unread 03-16-2014, 08:42 PM   #12
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Great thread. Been thinking of doing this myself as my NV is failing and AX15s are much easier and cheaper to find.
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Unread 03-16-2014, 09:19 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by andybloch1 View Post
Great thread. Been thinking of doing this myself as my NV is failing and AX15s are much easier and cheaper to find.
Easier, cheaper to rebuild, parts are available, and there is a lot of crossover for hard to find snaprings from Toyota. I'll post up a cross reference in a bit if that's of interest. Well, whatever......I know everyone wants them ennyhoo. "Twist my arm...."

Here's the part Jeep part numbers/locations of the AX15 snaprings.

There are a lotta numbers associated with all the AX 15 snap rings, hopefully they transmit without too much confusion. They are marked A, B etc on the ring itself with an acid mark.

Snap ring for front bearing (Input shaft)

A- 2.10-2.15 mm 0.0827-0.0846 inches PN 8350-6099
B- 2.15-2.20 0.0846-0.0866 8350-6214
C- 2.20-2.25 0.0866-0.0886 8350-6215
D- 2.25-2.30 0.0886-0.0906 8350-6216
E- 2.30-2.35 0.0906-0.0925 8350-6217
F- 2.35-2.40 0.0925-0.0945 8350-6218
G- 2.40-2.45 0.0945-0.0965 8350-6219

Front bearing on cluster gear

A- 2.00-2.05 0.0787-0.0807 PN 8350-6081
B- 2.05-2.10 0.0807-0.0827 8350-6082
C- 2.10-2.15 0.0827-0.0846 8350-6083
D- 2.15-2.20 0.0846-0.0866 8350-6084
E- 2.20-2.25 0.0866-0.0886 8350-6085

3-4 Synchro Hub snap ring

A-1.80-1.85 0.0709-0.0728 PN 8350-6086
B- 1.85-1.90 0.0728-0.0748 8350-6087
C-1.90-1.95 0.0748-0.0768 8350-6088
D- 1.95-2.00 0.0768-0.0787 8350-6089
E- 2.00-2.05 0.0787-0.0807 8350-6090
F- 2.05-2.10 0.0807-0.0827 8350-6091
G- 2.10-2.15 0.0827-0.0846 8350-6092

1-2 Synchro Hub snap ring (there is no “A”)

B- 2.35-2.40 0.0925-0.0945 PN 8350-6093
C- 2.40-2.45 0.0945-0.0965 8350-6094
D- 2.45-2.50 0.0965-0.0984 8350-6095
E- 2.50-2.55 0.0984-0.1004 8350-6096
F- 2.55-2.60 0.1004-0.1024 8350-6097
G- 2.60-2.65 0.1024-0.1043 8350-6098

5TH Gear snap ring (13 of them, there is no “I” in this sequence. In another source, there is an I listed, and the sequence goes only to “L” Caution is indicated here as I do not have a way of reconciling this variance. The astute Jeeper will notice there is a predictable progression in the thickness measurements, as well as the PN’s here. Hopefully this will not derail a project, but in the end, you may need to purchase 2 sequential parts to get the one you need.

A- 2.75-2.80 0.083-0.1102 PN 8350-6268
B- 2.80-2.85 0.1102-0.1122 8350-6269
C- 2.85-2.90 0.1122-0.1142 8350-6270
D- 2.90-2.95 0.1142-0.1161 8350-6271
E- 2.95-3.00 0.1161-0.1181 8350-6272
F- 3.00-3.05 0.1181-0.1201 8350-6273
G- 3.05-3.10 0.1201-0.1220 8350-6274
H- 3.10-3.15 0.1220-0.1240 8350-6275
J- 3.15-3.20 0.1240-0.1260 8350-6276
K- 3.20-3.25 0.1260-0.1280 8350-6277
L- 3.25-3.30 0.1280-0.1299 8350-6278
M- 3.30-3.35 0.1299-0.1319 8350-6279

For the counter 5th gear snap ring, I have found two separate listings of snap ring thicknesses, one that starts with 2.85mm thick (A) and ends with 3.20mm (H) but I have never been able to find a PN for the 3.20mm ring. What I am going to present is the list that starts with 2.80mm as the A mark, ending with the 3.15mm which is marked H. As with all things internet forum related, there are caveats, but with part numbers and thicknesses, you should be able to at least have a starting point for your search to source obscure parts, and from my experience, it is getting harder to find these snap rings. Yes, they are advertised on numerous sites, but if you try to order, they tell you that they are discontinued/no longer available.

Counter 5th Gear Snap ring

A 2.80-2.85 0.1102-0.1122 8350-6260

B 2.85-2.90 0.1122-0.1142 8350-6261

C 2.90-2.95 0.1142-0.1161 8350-6262

D 2.95-3.00 0.1161-0.1181 8350-6263

E 3.00-3.05 0.1181-0.1201 8350-6264

F 3.05-3.10 0.1201-0.1220 8350-6265

G 3.10-3.15 0.1220-0.1240 8350-6266

H 3.15-3.20 0.1240-0.1260 8350-6267


And here's all the snaprings from the Toyota 151F which is very similar and I use Toyota snaprings on my rebuilds as they are more available to me out here.

TOYOTA PNs for R151F transmission

Snap ring for front bearing (Input shaft)

A- 2.10-2.15 mm 90520-38008
B- 2.15-2.20 90520-38009
C- 2.20-2.25 90520-38010
D- 2.25-2.30 90520-38011
E- 2.30-2.35 90520-38012
F- 2.35-2.40 90520-38013
G- 2.40-2.45 90520-38014

Front bearing on cluster gear

A- 2.00-2.05 90520-23037
B- 2.05-2.10 90520-23038
C- 2.10-2.15 90520-23039
D- 2.15-2.20 90520-23040
E- 2.20-2.25 90520-23041

3-4 Synchro Hub snap ring

A-1.80-1.85 90520-30014
B- 1.85-1.90 90520-30015
C-1.90-1.95 90520-30016
D- 1.95-2.00 90520-30017
E- 2.00-2.05 90520-30018
F- 2.05-2.10 90520-30019
G- 2.10-2.15 90520-30020

1-2 Synchro Hub snap ring Jeep does not have an “A” in their sequence in this snap ring

A-2.30-2.35 90520-36007
B- 2.35-2.40 90520-36008
C- 2.40-2.45 90520-36009
D- 2.45-2.50 90520-36010
E- 2.50-2.55 90520-36011
F- 2.55-2.60 90520-36012
G- 2.60-2.65 90520-36013

5TH Gearsnap ring numerous differences here, 2 thinner sizes, 3 thicker sizes, and the part numbers do not always follow a predictable sequence.

A- 2.65-2.70 90520-28031
B- 2.70-2.75 90520-28032
C- 2.75-2.80 90520-28033
D- 2.80-2.85 90520-28034
E- 2.85-2.90 90520-28035
F- 2.90-2.95 90520-28037
G- 2.95-3.00 90520-28039
H- 3.00-3.05 90520-28042
J- 3.05-3.10 90520-28043
K- 3.10-3.15 90520-28045
L- 3.15-3.20 90520-28046
M- 3.20-3.25 90520-28047
N- 3.25-3.30 90520-28048
P- 3.30-3.35 90520-28049
Q- 3.35-3.40 90520-28050
R- 3.40-3.45 90520-28051
S- 3.45-3.50 90520-28052

Yes, you noticed I did not include the decimal equivalents alongside the metric thicknesses. If it’s important to you, some of these match the Jeep list, so look at that posting above, or just convert for yourself.

There is no Counter 5th gear snapring equivalent in the Toyota transmissions--it uses a bolt that is torqued and staked.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian4.2 View Post
We will be going Metric every inch of the way.
Quote:
Originally Posted by 40dog View Post
yes I'm a some guy and have always put gasket sealer on my surfaces before mating
Quote:
Originally Posted by Virjeep View Post
You should go to Pirate. I hear they are real smart over there. You'd fit right in.
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Unread 03-17-2014, 12:06 AM   #14
Opihi59
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I am back on the trails with this, at least to the mall that is for now. I used the "floor gasket" from the NV 3550 shifter to seal off the tub, but it seems a bit tight since it has to fit UNDER the thick part of the AX 15 shifter assembly whereas in the NV shifter, the thick part of the shifter is higher up the shaft. I am considering cutting up some old shifters I have laying around, and welding up/bending my own custom configuration that the rest of the shifter assembly bolts onto, it should be easy to do. Project for another time. Here is the seal I am mentioning, and you can see the part number on it.





You can see where it sits on the NV 3550 shifter assembly here.



This gasket/floor seal screws to the tunnel cover with 4 sheet metal screws, it tends to balloon up a bit in the NV but in my application, it is pushed down a bit. Nonetheless it serves the purpose of keeping fumes/water out of the tub.

I did find due to the configuration of the hole in the tunnel that if I pull back "too far" in shifting into 2nd gear, my shifter will contact the edge of the sheet metal. Interestingly, it is right where the nut I welded on happens to be so I ground the nut down a bit, and it just clears. Had I put the nut/set screw in any of the 3 other positions, it would never even be close. If it turns out that it hits and causes the shifter to jump out of 2nd, I'll have to pull the console/cover and clearance the tub a bit, like 5/32" with a burr in just that one spot. Otherwise, everything is back in action, the AX 15 of course shifts like an AX 15, and it is a vast improvement over what I had before.

Next endeavor is to tear into the NV3550 and rebuild that, so look for that writeup in the future when I get around to doing it, find parts, and time to play with transmissions again.

Edit-no worries with that nut, it doesn't contact the sheet metal or interfere with shifting/cause the trans to jump outta gear in 2nd or 4th. Honestly though, I do wish I had installed it 180* from where I did. Things to consider if you do this. Or, 90* either direction, and no worries at all.
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We will be going Metric every inch of the way.
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Originally Posted by 40dog View Post
yes I'm a some guy and have always put gasket sealer on my surfaces before mating
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You should go to Pirate. I hear they are real smart over there. You'd fit right in.
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Unread 03-22-2014, 10:54 AM   #15
Jerry Bransford
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Wow this was a great writeup, thanks Ian!! It is now a permanent part of our FAQ, thanks for all the effort you put into it... it will be a great help to many in the future.
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