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Ho-made stove

This is that home made soup can stove I was referring to in a earlier post.

Just as I said before put a BBQ briquette inside and light (I use the easylight ones) let it go to a coal and put your cookpot on top. Maybe have to brace the sides with soil or rocks. Re-usable over and over. I carry the extra briquettes in a Ziploc bag. And the cooled of stove in another to keep it from blackening my other gear.

Add another briquete if the other one starts cooling off.

I prefer homemade Alcky stoves. Less than an oz. will boil a couple cups of water in a few minutes and there is no muss-fuss or black.

better pic

This one is a pressurized stove and is a heat blaster.

They are so easy to make with few tools.

What sort of alcohol does it use? Can you show the stove without the cookpot?

Denatured Alcohol and Heet (yellow bottle) are probably the best options.


I have made several different alky-can-stove variations but mine never seem to get that kind of flame output...even the "pressurized" ones I have made. I like the way that one looks like it outputs, do you have plans for making that particular one? If so are you willing to share? I enjoy making different alky-burners, because it is fun and they are uber-lightweight!


Excellent idea Gary.

Alky stoves are nice, I have several, and they do have their place in my backpack. However, with all stoves, each can do things the others can't, or can't do as well.

A tin can is great (at least in the Southeast) because even if you do not have charcoal, it will burn twigs, bark, pine cones, etc. Something alky and white gas stoves don't do. If you run out of fuel with an alky or WG stove they become dead weight. That should not be a common problem if you plan well, so no biggie, but it's nice to have an unlimited fuel supply on longer hikes.

In the areas I backpack in there is more down timber than you can shake a stick at, and I don't think it hurts a thing to burn a little in areas like that. I often take a wood gas stove as a way to cook without having to carry fuel. They have a learning curve, not bad though, and if you have a good stove they burn so efficiently you get very little to no smoke.

I'll post a photo of mine shortly

I used two soda cans to make this one. I do not drink soda but they are much easier to sand when full rather than empty. People just look at you kinda strange when you ask, "Hey can I sand off the bottom of your soda before you drink it?" "And keep the can?"

This one has the top fit over the bottom and then crimped to keep it together. I did not want to depend on epoxy or muffler tape.

You can see the internal wall in the pic. I used to think you needed to cut some slots at the bottom of the wall but it is not necessary.

I use denatured alcohol.

Too I have made one in just a few minutes with a knife. Not to pretty but gets 'er done.

I recommend making a few different types. The materials are cheap, and if you like working with your hands it's a fun hobby. Try working your way up in terms of difficulty. Try a super cat stove, then a regular cat stove, then a soda can stove (like noddlehead's), and throw in a wood hobo stove for good measure. And like what others have said, each stove should be used for different situations (weather, destination, cooking pots, etc.)

Here's a great site about the super cat stove, with probably more information than one would ever need:

A alunimum can lantern can also be made. Just put a candle inside after dripping some wax to hold it in the bottom. We were making these back in the late 60s in Boy Scouts. be sure to keep the pop top tab on to use as a lanyard.

This one was made from a tall Miller beer can.

Nice lantern Gary.

You and I seem to like a lot of very simple things / methods.

My Grandfather used to call really simple stuff that worked well "Dirt Simple".

I'm still trying to get a photo of my wood gas stove posted, my camera batteries had to charge.

Edit: My rechargeable batteries seem to have died.


The lantern looks great, but positively diabolical! I might be worth your while to take some steel wool and dull the edges where you cut into the can. Arterial spray is bound to look spectacular under the soft backcountry candlelight, but I'm not sure it's something you'd like to experience. =)

Actually in the years I was in Boy Scouts in California's Beale Air Force Troop 111, I never remember anyone cutting them selves on the can edges. It is so light and springy that its very easy to handle without getting sliced. The open side will fold back into the can for storage. And aluminum cans is those days were of thicker metal, in fact some were actually still made of steel with steel ends instead of one piece molded aluminum with a top as they are today.

An equally usable lantern can be ade from a plastic soda bottle in the same way, but of course are more prone to melting.and give off light in all directions.

..anyone have a problem with sticky residues left behind when cooking with a wood stove? Also, how do you guys store your stoves when in the bag for long periods of time, and no readily available water?

No sticky residues for me. If you rub a bar of soap all over on the bottom sides of a cookpot that is being used on a campfire, the soot will not stick and will wash of easily afterwards. If I cook on a wood can stove or campfire just to be safe I store my cookpot in a stuffsack.

Gary is right, just rub some soap on the bottom of your pot or pan and leave it there while cooking.

Sticky stuff? Are you cooking with pine?

Sounds like creosote maybe, which is black (ish) and tarlike. You usually get this from burning unseasoned green wood especially pines, it can also mean your fire is not getting enough oxygen, resulting in poor combustion.

A well built fire, whether in a wood stove or with an open fire, should burn with very little smoke and should produce a mix of orange & blue flames. Sometimes of course you have to burn what you have, and in less than optimum conditions.

Smoke = poor combustion.

I'm still trying to get a battery for my camera dang'it, when I do I'll post a photo of my wood gas stove, it burns with almost no smoke to blacken your pots and get in your eyes. Plus it burns to a complete white ash.

Trout and Gary-

Will coating the outside with a little of liduid biogegradable pack soap work the same?


I have had some sticky residue sometimes as well, it is usually from having some everygreen in the fire or when combustion is impeded by wet conditions. I don't know if the areas you frequent have adequate flora to use the following method, but here in the eastern mountains where it is lush a verdant there are no worries. I find that scrubbing the residue with some grass or leaves and a little paste mixture of soil and soap works very well. A tiny bit of water and some more fresh grass or leaves will finish the cleaning nicely. I carry my cookset in a stuff sack just large enough for it to fit in. I also have all of my cooking & "kitchen" gear inside the pot set.

I am just starting to experiment with alky stoves, and am loving it. My first attempt didn't turn out pretty, but it works ok and I learned alot. I am certain after making a few different version I can get something that really works well.

Trouthunter, I am interested in either getting or building a woodgas stove, did you buy or make yours? And which one is it if you bought it, or do you know where I can get good plans to build one? I love being able to be completely self suficient and not have to carry liquid fuel with me everywhere.

Yes, Gonzan, most any liquid or hard soap will work to coat the bottom of the cook pot. It has always amazed me since doing it in Boy Scouts 40 years ago, that the soap doesn't just melt off in the fire.

And to TheRambler, I am still looking to see Trouthunters wood gas stove to, but I often carry just a #10 can like restuarantsget there canned foods in and make a woodstove from them. Its pretty much like my soup can stove pictured above but on a larger scale and the can is turned upside down with the holes cut with a old style canopener for air holes. The bottom of the #10 can becomes the top. The can increases the heat range of the fire underneath. A single hole cut in the bottom/top of the can is also needed to let the stove breathe.

I dont still have the last one I used a couple years ago or I would show it here. Tho the steel turn grey after use the can will last a long time.

Okay finally got batteries for my camera (I've been very busy) and was able to take some photos out in my camping shed.

I make a double walled wood stove using a 11.5 oz coffee can that has a 1/4 inch rim around the top, you can also use a quart paint can. For the inner can I use a Progresso soup can, the soup can makes the combustion chamber. Any two cans will work, but the larger can must have a rim around the top, and the second can should fit tightly inside the larger can, and should also be slightly shorter than the outer can so that there is a gap between the bottoms of the two cans to allow air to enter the bottom of the inner can.

The first thing I do is to drill 40 - 50 1/8th inch holes in the bottom of the soup can (the smaller can). This does not have to be real neat, but a center punch used before drilling helps a lot.

If you look closely at the photo below, you can see the 1/4 inch rim I'm referring to around the top of the coffee can. This rim allows for a very tight fit between the two cans, I have to shove the soup can down inside the coffee can.

I drill 6 -3/8th inch holes around the bottom of the soup can (this can be seen in the first photo) and 8 -3/8th inch holes around the top.

I drill 6 -3/8th inch holes around the bottom of the coffee can, and that's all you have to do to the coffee can.

Below is the finished wood stove with a wire pot stand on top, the gap in the wire pot stand allows you to add wood while you are cooking if needed.

Let me explain how this works real quick.

After you have loaded the stove with bark, sticks, pine cone bits, ect. you light the fire with your tinder on top, not the bottom. As the fire gets going air is sucked in the holes at the bottom of the coffee can (outer can). This air gets super heated as it is drawn up between the walls of the two cans, part of the air goes into the tiny holes in the bottom of the inner can for primary combustion. Part of the air continues up between the two cans and comes out of the holes in the top of the inner can which you can see in the photo above. This serves two purposes, first the air coming out the top holes creates a secondary combustion at the top of the wood stove that burns so efficiently there is little or no smoke, you get complete combustion.

Second the air passing between the walls of the two cans keeps the outer can much cooler than a single wall can.

I will put up a video of the wood stove burning soon. So far I get a 30 + minute burn on one load of wood.

The first 15 - 20 minutes you get flames, then the wood turns to coals and burns another 15 minutes so hot you can not hold your hand over the stove.

Using a hand held infrared thermometer I measured the combustion temp at well over 900 F degrees. The top rim of the stove measured 473 degrees F. The outer wall of the stove measured 203 F degrees, much cooler than a single wall stove measures.

Boil times are less than 5 minutes with two cups of cold water.

First off I want to thank you for posting that walk through on how to contruct a woodgas stove. I plan on making one this week now that I see how easy it is! I do have a question though, how durable is that setup. Do you find that the thin metal wears out after a couple seasons of use, or does it hold up fairly well? I only ask because its getting harder and harder to find metal coffee cans lol.

Hey Rambler,

I can get at least a couple seasons use out of a stove, they are fairly durable, I can stand on mine no problem. They will rust if left out in the weather, but I don't care. I can extend the life of a wood stove by replacing the inner can which wears out faster.

I should have stated above that the temps I measured were after the wood turned to coal, and I have not measured the temps of the flames during the initial burn.

If you can't find a metal coffee can you can also use a 'new' quart paint can, they sell these empty at paint & hardware stores for a couple bucks. The coffee cans are stiffer though due to the way the sides of the coffee cans are corrugated.

I have yet to weigh a completed stove, but it isn't much and as you know you don't need to carry fuel so a weight savings there too.

The Bush Buddy wood stoves a very nice too, my friend has one, but to tell you the truth the homemade ones are just as efficient at burning wood to a fine white ash like the Bush Buddy. The Bush Buddy should last much longer with care but weighs more. The lighter Bush Buddy Ultra probably weighs close to what mine does.

For those that don't know, I backpack in the Southeast and we have so much downed timber you can literally trip over it all day long. I collect wood sparingly, and from multiple locations around camp. If it is going to rain later that day, we either just use a backpackers stove, or we collect wood as we hike while it is still dry. In fact I think collecting wood as you hike lessons impact, and helps keep the trails clear. I use my white gas stove most of the time, but on longer trips, or where I need to travel light the wood stove is a great option in my area.

Wow, trouthunter thats quite a elabrate set-up, but looks like a great wood gas stove. How did you come up with that? Maybe you could make a intructional video or a picture book and sell it for a profit.

This is awesome, Trout, thank you so much for posting this!

Wow, trouthunter thats quite a elabrate set-up, but looks like a great wood gas stove. How did you come up with that? Maybe you could make a intructional video or a picture book and sell it for a profit.

Gary, the design is not mine by any means, I gleaned the design from several sources on the internet. There are different variations of this type of stove, and various YouTube videos showing how to make it.

I will say that my latest model has a couple improvements that I didn't show, and I do plan on making a video as soon as I do some more testing so I don't stick my foot in my mouth.

My biggest complaint about YouTube videos on stove making is that most videos are made showing the stove working in someones garage or on someones patio. Now.... I know that makes the video easier to make, but it's not an accurate demonstration of the stoves ability out in the woods with the wind blowing, or other less than desirable conditions.

Heck, one guy even demonstrates his wood stove performance using wood pellets. Wood pellets? I have yet to run across a bucket of wood pellets in the mountains around here.

This is awesome, Trout, thank you so much for posting this!

No problem my friend, just passing stuff along. I hope you find it useful.

I hope my explanation on assembly was satisfactory. It's going to be much easier to explain by video. In the mean time I will try to post a diagram with a cut away view.

I am going to do my best to do a video while on an real camping trip, with the stove in actual use boiling water & cooking something.

What do you use to get the stove going, as I assume starting a fire to burn from the top down is a bit different than a regular fire. Any special technique you use? Or basically just put some tinder on top of a bunch of twigs and light?

Picked up a coffee can and soup can today. After lunch tomorrow (the soup) I will try my hand at making the stove and give it a test run. Hope to use it this weekend if it turns out well.

Okay Rambler......I'm going to be honest and say that I use dryer lint (great tinder) and a good squirt of alcohol most times, if I have it on hand.

You see I carry a alky stove stored inside my wood burner as an additional stove sometimes so I often have the alcohol handy. When using the alky stove I place it inside the wood stove, the wood stove acts as a pot stand & great wind screen so no need to carry those separately for the alky stove.

If I'm starting a fire naturally, (the right way?) I put the bigger stuff on the bottom and top it off with dry twigs, leaves, and my secret ingredient.......pine sap for a fire starter.

Some people save their used toilet paper and start a fire with that, or if you have any paper trash from food packages etc. that works great too.

Good luck with the stove, if you have found two cans that fit together you have probably already done the hard part.

One thing I do that makes it much easier to drill the bigger holes is to use a center punch or big nail and a hammer to mark the holes, then pre-drill the holes with the same 1/8 bit I used to drill all the holes in the bottom of the soup can before drilling with the 3/8 bit. A small drill press makes it even easier.

Also if you can slide the cans down on / over a small log or something similar to support the can from the inside while you center punch the holes in the sides of the can, that helps too.


How long does a single charcoal briquette burn? I don't know if you've timed it but a guess would be sufficient.

I think the idea of using charcoal in areas that do not have a lot of downed timber is a good one, charcoal releases a lot of energy for it's weight and if you store it properly plain charcoal will last for years on the shelf. I don't know how long the easy light charcoal lasts on the shelf.

I guess you can store two or three briquettes inside the tin can?

So I gave a go at making the woodgas stove. All in all the making went fine, a few of the drilled holes or a little uneven but that shouldn't really matter. So I am doing a test burn now and am getting alot of smoke..alot. I am thinking I didn't get the fire off to a good start. Will give it another try when this burns out.

One question though trout, Do I shove the soup can in just until the upper rim of the soup can catches on the coffee can, or do i shove it in until it is actualy fully inside the coffee can / loose inside the coffee can/ rattling around inside. I shoved until it finally entered the coffee can and it stopped almost naturally at the top rim of the soup can leaving a small gap between the bottom of the soup can and the bottom of the coffee can. I couldn't really tell from your pictures, but I think I have it in the right spot.

Might have just been some bark pieces off the ground I put in, It is no longer smoking, but is still going piping hot.

I discovered what was causing all of the smoke. The liner of the soup can, the resin liner or whatever its made out of, after it burned out about 3/4 through the first burn everything was good. The 2nd test burn I did had next to no smoke and boiled a liter of water in about 4 and a half minutes. I like it! I will try a few more test burns before friday then I will bring this stove with me for the weekend. Will bring my whitegas stove with me as well for a backup. Trout, i don't think I can say this enough, but your the best!

So far I have gotten both test burns going with a small amount of leaves/pine needles and a drop or two of hand sanitizer gel. Well the 2nd one had a drop of olive oil and a drop of sanitizer, that worked quite well I must say. I usually carry both with me, so I probally wont need to carry anything extra besides the stove itself.

Yeah rambler, the two cans should be even on top, if they fit good the inner can will stop when its rim bottoms out on the top of the coffee can. You do not shove the inner can all the way inside the outer can. The stove works best when you have at least 1/2 inch clearance between the two cans at the bottom.

Once the stove heats up you should see flames coming out of the holes around the top of the inner can, that is the secondary combustion, and what makes these stoves burn so clean.

As far as getting the fire off to a clean start, that just takes practice, after a few times you will figure it out. One thing I did neglect to mention is that you need to keep the wood just below the holes at the top of the inner can.

Thanks for all the help and feedback Trout. I owe you a beer.

I second that thought- Any time you are in Chattanooga, I'll be happy to buy you one too!

Just posted a reference to this thread in response to a trip planning query about the JMT (I did it without a stove some years ago) and it got me to thinking...

First, I want to add my compliments, this one of the most useful of the many informative posts I have seen in the forum. Now I just have to get around to trying it out...

Anyway, I'm wondering... Could the design be modified, maybe with some kind of insert, so that it doubles as an alcohol (rather than charcoal) stove? Then you could switch fuels when there is no wood or only wet wood available. I don't have any experience with (modern) alcohol stoves so I guess I would have to take a closer look at some of those to think about how I would do it.

BigRed, the answer to your question is yes. I took the design that trouthunter posted for the coffee can woodgas stove and modified it a little. I used it per the design for a while and kept finding that after 15-20 minutes or so of burn time the ashes and whatnot would clog up all or most of the tiny holes in the bottom of the soup can.

So.... I started looking around online at different woodgas stoves that are for sale. This led me experimenting.

I cut out the bottom of the soup can(where you drill all the little holes) and put a piece of hardware cloth in it's place. This worked ALOT better. Allowed all of the ash to drop down to the bottom. This also gave the fire much better airflow, and as a result burns a little hotter but for a little less time. So you have to feed it fewer pieces if you are trying to simmer is all.

I also had been carrying an alc stove as a backup. When I was researching woodgas stoves for sale I came across the bushcooker. This is where I got my idea. I take the top of a shoe polish can and place it under the hardware cloth. 1oz of alcohol fits easily into the shoe polish lid and will bring my water to a boil in about 5-6 minutes. The reason the alcohol works this way is that the gases from the alcohol recieve secondary combustion just like the woodgas removing the need from a typical alc stove to require some form of "pressurization".

The alcohol can also be used to get your fire going if everything is wet. I can easily light the alcohol from one of the side holes in the coffeen can, or by striking my firesteel in from the top of the can.

I used it for a while taking the polish lid out after every use...that got old so I began searching for a way to leave it there without it rattling all around. My solution? a rivet. There might be some heat resistant glue out there that may work well also.

This principle will work in any woodgas stove no matter the design, as long as you can put a container of alcohol under it somehow, so that the gases will enter the stove. It does not work on top of the hardware cloth very well, unlike a wood fire, the alcohol is not drawn down back into the initial side vents to go up the doublewall.

My only complaint about the whole coffeecan setup is that it is about twice as heavy as many other woodgas stoves out there. But, it works just as well as them. My whole setup weighs about 7 1/2 oz.


A lot of people cut the bottom out of both cans, and use wire mesh in the bottom of the inner can, and you are right it does increase air flow, and heat output. Cutting the bottom of both cans out probably saves weight as well.

I find I get a longer more efficient burn by leaving the bottoms in, but you have to drill holes in the sides of the inner can along the bottom to provide adequate air flow.

It's all a matter of how you cook I think, The great thing is you can experiment and adjust the draft to suit your needs.

Have you cut the bottom out of the coffee can?

How long is the burn time with the shoe polish lid / alky stove?

I want to try this. I've rummaged around in our recycling but I haven't come up with two cans that fit tightly together. I've got a nice 9 oz espresso can with a rim that should work if I can find a good inner can.

How sensitive do you think the aeration problem/solution is to fuel quality (hard vs. soft) or dryness. Seems like knocking out the bottoms would turn it into a regular chimney stove without as much/any secondary combustion.

7 1/2 oz doesn't seem too bad to me given the price and that you don't have to carry any or at least as much fuel.

I have not tried cutting out the bottom of the coffee can, I like having it somewhat contained to help protect the ground from any embers that may fall and prevent scorching in general.

The alcohol burns about 9-10 minutes. Which is perfect in the mornings when all I want is a quick cup of coffee and water for some oatmeal before I hit the trail. Dinner time I always burn wood. I have been able to get soaking wet wood and tinder going with about 1/4 of an ounce of alcohol. I could get the fire going in other ways, but the alcohol "primer" lets me just light it and forget about it while I get my tent up etc. By the time I get done with my tent the wood is ablaze and ready to cook on.

I use the exact instructions trouthunter posted previously, the only difference is I replaced the bottom of the progesso soup can with the hardware cloth.

I am borrowing a Bushcooker LT 1 from a friend for my 9 day trip coming up here on September 29th. It is basically a Ti woodgas stove that can burn alcohol as well(this is the stove that gave me the idea to use the shoe polish lif). The bushcooker weighs 2.5oz and fits inside my snowpeak trek 700 mug. Test burns with it so far are very promising. I just may end up buying one. The metal fins in the bottom is what makes the differnce, the cyclone effect really makes a great burn no matter the fuel. The bushcooker LT 1 is from four dog stoves,

I wish I had a way to measure just how much air is being used in both primary and secondary combustion. Currently I just judge by the amount of visible secondary combustion I see. You should see a strong blue jet / flame coming out of the holes along the top of the inner can.

My take on controlling draft is that I want a sealed system except for the holes I have drilled for draft, I don't cut the bottom out of the outer can. Cutting the bottom out significantly weakens the stove unless you just cut a smaller section out, leaving some material for strength. I have done that, along with cutting to fit two cans together, it's a lot more work and if you can find two cans that fit snugly on their own the job is much easier.

By the stove being more efficient I generate a longer burn time per fuel load and consume less wood. Where I go backpacking there is so much downed timber lying all about that there is certainly no shortage of fuel, and compared to an open fire I don't think stove efficiency matters all that much from the perspective of conservation or impact as it does in some areas.

As far as fuel quality, I generally do not have a hard time finding enough dry or mostly dry wood to use. I would think the more heat & oxygen you can supply to damp wood the better. I personally cheat a little if I have to and use a small amount of alcohol to get it started.

The biggest drawback I see with coffee can stoves is bulk, but not having to carry fuel is a balancing plus. Another drawback is inconsistent heat and control-ability, like any fire I guess it takes patience and practice and I find the learning part fun.

If you want BigRed I could mail you two cans that fit together.

Really a great article, I have been asking around on other sites about using a can to burn wood. Thanks ever so much for the information....great job.

If you want BigRed I could mail you two cans that fit together.

Thanks for the offer, but it would cost way more than it's worth to get them to Norway. I should be able to come up with something.

And thanks for the for the info on the alcohol mod, Rambler, I'll try that too.

Speaking of two cans that fit together, if anyone has any ideas for a much smaller version of this type of set up I am in search. Ideally, I would find one that is the size of a typical soup can etc. The main issue with the coffee can one, like trout said, is it's bulky.

I have been trying numerous smaller cans with no luck as of yet. I was comtemplating using some stainless steel flashing cut to shape. I don't need a large one to use with my snowpeak 700. The bushcooker LT 1 I have borrowed from my friend is 2.5 oz 3.5' x 4' high, and is perfect for my snowpeak. and the stove fits inside it which is a plus.

So if you have any input I would love to hear it.

I have had the same problem with downsizing. The commercially made stoves are smaller and that is a plus, but a large and growing number of people on different forums are questioning if the smaller versions (DIY or comercial) have a true secondary burn. I haven't done enough comparisons myself to have my own opinion, and I don't know if it really matters all that much. If you're cooking happily, and like using the stove you're probably not going to care. The big advantage to secondary burn is very little smoke, but I was happy for years cooking over an open fire with smoke.

I try to pack as many stove related items into my coffee can stove as possible, however my pot won't fit in the stove and vice-versa. I just pack the pot with other stuff and it works out okay.

Maybe it boils down to how much you like tinkering and experimenting, I like it and I'm okay with a small amount of inconvenience in the pursuit of making my own stuff.

trouthunter said:

If you want BigRed I could mail you two cans that fit together.

Thanks for the offer, but it would cost way more than it's worth to get them to Norway. I should be able to come up with something.

And thanks for the for the info on the alcohol mod, Rambler, I'll try that too.

Yes you are right, it would be expensive. Let us know what you find.

TheRambler said:

Speaking of two cans that fit together, if anyone has any ideas for a much smaller version of this type of set up I am in search. Ideally, I would find one that is the size of a typical soup can etc. The main issue with the coffee can one, like trout said, is it's bulky.

I noticed on reviewing this thread as I try to figure out what kind of stove(s) I want to build that no one has posted links to some of the web sites I have found in trying research this. The best all round site I have found is Zen stoves:

Tons of info about alky stoves, how they work, step-by-step instructions for building, links to lots of other sites as well. Including:

about a particularly successful design for a pressurized alky stove, also a wood burner that's not quite as sophisticated as Trout's (simpe wind screen instead of outer can), and a mini wood burner using a Foster's lager can for the outer can which gives some good answers to the question above. Here's a "borrowed" photo:

I have upgraded mine some since the photo, but it functions the same.

You can see it at

March 6, 2021
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