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Author Topic: My kiln is not cycling air as expected  (Read 1626 times)

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Offline GeneWengert-WoodDoc

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Re: My kiln is not cycling air as expected
« Reply #20 on: January 15, 2020, 12:03:47 AM »
You need some method of removal no the moisture from the air in the kiln.  Venting is how we do that.  So, modify your design and add a flat, horizontal, baffle running full length, located at the bottom of the fans running toward the back wall.  Leave about an 18 space from the edge of the baffle and the back wall.  

What will happen is that this will restrict some of the air flow circulating through the pile and up to the fans.  With this restriction, the vents will work well.  To reduce venting, as you often want very very little, the doors you described are essential.
Gene - Author of articles in Sawmill & Woodlot and books: Drying Hardwood Lumber; VA Tech Solar Kiln; Sawing Edging & Trimming Hardwood Lumber. And more

Offline Everest123

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Re: My kiln is not cycling air as expected
« Reply #21 on: January 15, 2020, 06:29:18 PM »
Thank you!!  This is perfect feedback and an easy thing for me to do.  I'll send along a few photos / updates when I implement this fix.

Offline Everest123

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Re: My kiln is not cycling air as expected
« Reply #22 on: April 08, 2020, 05:10:40 PM »
Update - I added baffles to the kiln as well as simple vent covers as shown before.  NOTE, I actually had to add more baffling to get within 2" of the back wall to get any real airflow out of the bottom grates.  That REALLY surprised me.  Basically the fans and the top vents are almost totally boxed in.  As shows here there was zero airflow. Crazy!!  It was 72 outside when I took these photos so the kiln is getting quite hot, The black tarp was 141 degrees.  I did go back and paint everything black, and installed a thermostat.  The kiln will now only run if the temp is over 110 inside.

QUESTION - The wood has been in this kiln, operating with poor efficiency for about 8 weeks.  The top boards are around 10.5% and the lowest boards are about 12.5%.  The vents are open around 15% right now.  Temps are quite high in the full sun.  I've read in some other posts that I should close the vents completely.  There are enough leaks AND the vents don't perfectly seal, so there will some air exchange, even with the fans running.  I'd like to get this stack down to 6-8% from top to bottom and try to sterilize the wood to kill off any powerderpost beetles, which I'm afraid are VERY common around here.  They get into sapwood regularly.  

Advice on the vents?  I expect these temps will get much higher in the high heat of summer,  is it possible to get TOO hot?

-Jeff




 

 

 


Offline GeneWengert-WoodDoc

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Re: My kiln is not cycling air as expected
« Reply #23 on: April 08, 2020, 11:19:11 PM »
Are you running the fans only during daylight...9AM to 7PM?
Gene - Author of articles in Sawmill & Woodlot and books: Drying Hardwood Lumber; VA Tech Solar Kiln; Sawing Edging & Trimming Hardwood Lumber. And more

Offline Everest123

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Re: My kiln is not cycling air as expected
« Reply #24 on: April 12, 2020, 07:59:24 PM »
Are you running the fans only during daylight...9AM to 7PM?
I have a thermostat installed and only run the fans when the interior of the kiln is over 110.  It usually hits that on days with sun by 11:30 and runs until around 6:30-7:00.  On cloudy or rainy days the fans do not run at all.  I installed a temperature and humidity logger in there this last weekend and on Saturday it was running around 115 in the kiln at about 10% humidity.  That was with the vents completely closed. It does leak a fair amount of air out the front where the slatted clear roofing is attached to the front beam.  I put in the matching plastic pieces and the roofing is screwed down to those but it is not a perfect seal by any means. So there is some air still getting in and out of the kiln obviously.

Ambient air temperature was about 70 so I'm running about 35 or 40 degrees warmer than ambient. Although it was partly cloudy so it would get a lot hotter I think in a full sun situation.

The wood was down 2% from a week ago where I was running between 10.5 and 12.5 percent. The wood is uniformly 10% now.  I have about 1500 b/f of poplar and Ash in there.  They seem to be drying at exactly the same rate.

Offline GeneWengert-WoodDoc

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Re: My kiln is not cycling air as expected
« Reply #25 on: April 12, 2020, 08:42:48 PM »
Something does not add up.  If the kiln is 110 F and @10% RH (these conditions would be drying the wood to 2% MC), the wood has to be drying like crazy.  Yet, it is not.  If the wood was drying fast, it will be using the heat in the air and this will lower the temperature in the kiln.  So, your measurements of temperature and humidity tell us that the wood is not drying.  If it was drying, the humidity would be higher and the temperature lower.

So, is this hot, dry air you have being blown through the lumber stack?  Are the fans blowing toward the front?  Can you stand on the rear side of the pile and feel significant air flowing through?

How certain are you about the MC of the wood?

Gene - Author of articles in Sawmill & Woodlot and books: Drying Hardwood Lumber; VA Tech Solar Kiln; Sawing Edging & Trimming Hardwood Lumber. And more

Offline Everest123

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Re: My kiln is not cycling air as expected
« Reply #26 on: April 13, 2020, 11:32:57 AM »
Something does not add up.  If the kiln is 110 F and @10% RH (these conditions would be drying the wood to 2% MC), the wood has to be drying like crazy.  Yet, it is not.  If the wood was drying fast, it will be using the heat in the air and this will lower the temperature in the kiln.  So, your measurements of temperature and humidity tell us that the wood is not drying.  If it was drying, the humidity would be higher and the temperature lower.

So, is this hot, dry air you have being blown through the lumber stack?  Are the fans blowing toward the front?  Can you stand on the rear side of the pile and feel significant air flowing through?

How certain are you about the MC of the wood?
I'm using a pinless moisture meter that I calibrate before every use.  It is a Dr. Meter MD918 - This one to be exact.  https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B017D6U2DS/.  Yes there is *some* airflow between the boards, you can feel air moving, but I will admit it's not a lot.  I would in no way call it "significant".   I can detect it, but that's about it.  I did turn my fans to "low". I could turn them back up.  I've also considered parking a few box fans along the back / lower side of the kiln to encourage airflow. I would think putting them up against the wood stack would help.  I have struggled with airflow issues on this kiln for quite some time. 
Originally I placed the fan baffle too far away from the back wall.  That caused absolutely mayhem with airflow.  Everything was reversed.  Air was getting sucked in the bottom vents!  So I boxed them off significantly as show below.  



 


I was *very* surprised to find that that amount of baffling was insufficient.  I had to add foam pieces to FURTHER restrict airflow.  With that baffling I wasn't pulling air in the bottom anymore but it wasn't going out in a measurable way either.

So I added foam as shown in this "professional" drawing.  Sorry no picture.  Note there is no maybe a 1.5" gap between the back wall and the fan box!!!  Very little space!



 
THAT solved my airflow issue with the vents open.  Hot / moist air out the bottom and cool air in the top.  Not a lot, but you can definitely feel it moving.
With the vents closed and the baffling fully in place as above though, I think I'm not getting the right cyclical air movement. I need.  There is an extremely pronounced temperature gradient in the kiln. Down on the floor it is MUCH cooler than up by the top.  30+ degrees difference.  I'm guessing that's the issue here.  

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Re: My kiln is not cycling air as expected
« Reply #27 on: April 15, 2020, 09:31:37 AM »
@GeneWengert-WoodDoc what do you think about this?  I would really value your input. :)

Offline farmfromkansas

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Re: My kiln is not cycling air as expected
« Reply #28 on: April 15, 2020, 09:43:07 AM »
Can't see any fans, what do you have?  And did you block above the baffle between the rafters? or is there a gap between the baffle and the glazing? All gaps have to be closed around baffle for your fans to make air flow.

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Re: My kiln is not cycling air as expected
« Reply #29 on: April 15, 2020, 12:00:18 PM »
Can't see any fans, what do you have?  And did you block above the baffle between the rafters? or is there a gap between the baffle and the glazing? All gaps have to be closed around baffle for your fans to make air flow.
There are 4 60w metal fans inside that box, but of course, it's impossible to see them.  They are fully boxed against the clear roofing and there isn't much air leaking.  When the vents are open, air flows much more readily.  One issue I have observed is that there is quite a lot of air leaking *out* of the kiln across the front where the air flows down from the fans.  You can see that in the pictures below.  It was extremely hard to make an airtight seal with the plastic roofing.  Maybe I should use some expandable foam to do a better job sealing that?  Thoughts?
 

 

 

Offline farmfromkansas

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Re: My kiln is not cycling air as expected
« Reply #30 on: April 15, 2020, 07:25:59 PM »
Hard to tell from a picture, but if there are gaps between plastic and that foam, think I would take the plastic loose and put a bead of caulk on the foam and then put the plastic back down. Hope you used screws.

Offline GeneWengert-WoodDoc

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Re: My kiln is not cycling air as expected
« Reply #31 on: April 15, 2020, 11:13:21 PM »
The fans should be at the top of the roof, but about 12 to 18" away from the rear wall blowing to the south.  There would be a solid piece (of plywood?) around them as a baffle.  This fan baffle would reach from the roof to the top of lumber pule, be vertical, reach from end to end and have a hole cut in it for each fan.  So, the air cannot get to the front of the kiln without going through the fans.  The fans blow into the large space on the front between the lumber pile and the roof.  The lumber pile in the front is about 12" from the south wall, so the air then goes down and through the pile.
Gene - Author of articles in Sawmill & Woodlot and books: Drying Hardwood Lumber; VA Tech Solar Kiln; Sawing Edging & Trimming Hardwood Lumber. And more

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Re: My kiln is not cycling air as expected
« Reply #32 on: April 17, 2020, 09:16:29 AM »
The fans should be at the top of the roof, but about 12 to 18" away from the rear wall blowing to the south.  There would be a solid piece (of plywood?) around them as a baffle.  This fan baffle would reach from the roof to the top of lumber pule, be vertical, reach from end to end and have a hole cut in it for each fan.  So, the air cannot get to the front of the kiln without going through the fans.  The fans blow into the large space on the front between the lumber pile and the roof.  The lumber pile in the front is about 12" from the south wall, so the air then goes down and through the pile.
I'll post some better pictures tomorrow.  I know all that for sure.  I use a large tarp vs. plywood to go down on the lumber pile, but the fans are fully baffled.  The challenge was that with 18" of space between the bottom of that baffle and the back wall, there was still a circular airflow in the kiln vs. air coming in the top and out the bottom.  This weekend I will check the status of the lumber again and post a comprehensive set of photos.  I realize you all are trying to help but flying a little blind.  Thank you so much!

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Re: My kiln is not cycling air as expected
« Reply #33 on: April 17, 2020, 09:16:56 AM »
Hard to tell from a picture, but if there are gaps between plastic and that foam, think I would take the plastic loose and put a bead of caulk on the foam and then put the plastic back down. Hope you used screws.
I did.  Caulking will be trivial to apply.  

Offline GeneWengert-WoodDoc

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Re: My kiln is not cycling air as expected
« Reply #34 on: April 17, 2020, 11:34:33 PM »
The fan baffle is vertical, not angled.
Gene - Author of articles in Sawmill & Woodlot and books: Drying Hardwood Lumber; VA Tech Solar Kiln; Sawing Edging & Trimming Hardwood Lumber. And more

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Re: My kiln is not cycling air as expected
« Reply #35 on: April 18, 2020, 09:25:51 PM »
So today with the kiln at 115F inside at 10% humidity, the lumber is measuring a little under 10%.  8% and 9.5-10% for the ash and poplar respectively. Below is a detailed walkthrough of this kiln so hopefully we can figure out why I'm not getting good drying efficiency.

I did a detailed photos shoot with various measurements today.  One thing to point out - this is a LARGE kiln.  Larger than I actually planned for initially.  As it came together there were quite a few "on the fly" design changes that expanded the total size.  Overall the building is 18' x 8'.  The solar collector is a single layer of poly clear roofing.  The interior is all painted flat black.   Circulation is provided by four 12' metal fans with louvers running at full speed.  You can just see them in this picture.  NOTE they are way too far forward in the structure.  More to follow on that.



 

Here's a show of the kiln running in the solar collection area.  Note that I have a large black tarp on top of the lumber piles to force airflow down the front.



 

(Hypothesis #1 -  this is a big building and that's not enough fan power??).

I pretty quickly figured out that the fan being so far forward screwed up the air circulation.  So to rectify that I boxed in the back side with plywood to effective "seal the fans" closer to the top vents on the back of the kiln.  See below for how I accomplished that.  UPDATE - I actually note in this photo that there is a clear "leak" above the fans that needs to be sealed off.  Easily done tomorrow with a 1x1.  That might actually be contributing to my airflow problems.

   

 

The thing you'll immediately notice - I almost *completely* boxed in those fans.  Why did I do that?  My original job left about a foot gap between that box and the back wall.  This was to in effect "move the fans back" closer to the original 18" called for in the VT plans.  With a 1' gap the air circulation was very poor in terms of air flowing OUT the bottom vents (they are closed along the bottom in this photo) and IN the top vents which you can't see but they are up high in the fan box.  Only when I closed it off almost completely as you see here did I get noticeable hot / moist air flowing out the bottom vents.

I bought both a bunch of meters to help me figure all this out.  An IR thermostat, a pinless moisture meter, a pin moisture meter, an airflow meter, and a magnet mount thermostat / temperature monitor.  Today the air temperature was around 55 degrees, but sunny conditions.  Conditions in the kiln around 3pm were 115 degrees and 10% humidity.  Here's the monitor.



 

For good measure I took some measurements around the kiln with my IR thermometer.  I'm measuring surfaces which I suppose are warming from sun hitting the interior of the kiln.  So the measurements ranged from 119 (lumber on the bottom of the pile) to 146 degrees (the black tarp).    Here's a shot from the back of the kiln measuring the tarp temperature and the top board in my lumber pile.



 

 

Based upon everything I've learned, at this kiln temperature and humidity, that lumber should be drying like CRAZY.  So I went ahead and measured it.  My pinless moisture meter was acclimated in the kiln, operating with fresh batteries, and I calibrated it just before I took these measurements.



 

Encouraging!!  That is a 3/4 poplar plank.  I was measuring this at 10% last weekend. So this was positive.  I have absolutely no idea why the pin meter wouldn't give me a measurement, but I've found once lumber gets under around 12% it get flaky.  Maybe a bad meter?

Next the Ash.



 

Discouraging.  This literally hasn't changed moisture content at all in the last week.  Not one bit.  I move the meter around a bit and did find a more dry reading.



 

So 9% isn't bad.  And I was able to coax a reading out of my pin meter, but REALLY pushing it into the good (with the grain).  FYI, that wood is HARD.  I couldn't get those pins into that wood any deeper than what you see here.

So with all that data I started to take airflow measurements.  Note that all 4 fans were running full blast during these measurements.  First I measured the airflow UP through the gap between the back wall and the fan box.  As expected air was circulating up, meaning air IS going through the stack.



 

I'm getting 2.4 meters per second of airflow, so air is moving up.  Not a lot, but it is moving.

Next I measured in various parts of the stack.  Note that I can sense air moving through the whole stack, but it's not a lot.  The ends in particular were not able to spin up my meter.  But there was a tiny bit of air moving.  



  

I got anything from .7 to .9 meters per second of airflow through the stack.  Again the very ends were nearly still.  

So there you go.  That's all the data I can think to gather.  

My conclusions after thinking about this a lot is that there is absolutely no reason this lumber shouldn't be drying FAST in these conditions.  One of two things may be happening:

1) This lumber is already crazy dry and my method of measuring it is poor.  My pinless meter is not to be trusted and the pin meter is probably right that this stuff is DRY.

2) The pinless meter is right and the wood is hovering around 9-10%, which can only be explained by a lack of brisk airflow.  Air this hot and dry circulating more aggressively through this stack SHOULD be drying it, which means that there is not enough airflow!

Short of some wisdom from ppl like @GeneWengert-WoodDoc that give me a better idea, I'm going to drop some box fans on he back of the stack to pull air through the stack towards the back.   I'm also going to seal that gap above the fan baffle that's visible in the photo.  That might let me open up the fan box a little bit from the back wall by creating a more significant airflow. That's literally the only thing that I can think to do at this point. Otherwise I'm stumped.  

Any ideas guys?  Am I on the right track here?

-Jeff

Offline GeneWengert-WoodDoc

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Re: My kiln is not cycling air as expected
« Reply #36 on: April 18, 2020, 11:07:42 PM »
Air flow speed does not affect the speed of drying under 20% MC.  Obviously, you need some flow, but not much.

The vents are almost always closed most of the way.  We want to recirculate the air in the dryer.

The fans should be vertical.
Are all the fans blowing southward?
Is there about 18 space between the edge of the pile and the south wall?

Sealing the space where the air would be going upward toward the roof and the through the fans is incorrect.  We want maybe 90% of the air, even more, to be recirculated with only a little vent air out and in.

Efficiency will be improved with a second layer of clear material, but that is not the issue right now.

At 10% RH, the wood will dry to about 2% MC.  So, 1) the RH measurement is incorrect, which seems unlikely due to the
heat, you MC measurement is incorrect, or 2) you are running the fans too long during the day with the vents open so that much of the time the humidity is higher.  Notethat 10% MC is equivalent to about 55% RH, so that is the humidity of the air in the pile when the fans are on if the wood is no longer drying. 3) the MC measurement is off.
Gene - Author of articles in Sawmill & Woodlot and books: Drying Hardwood Lumber; VA Tech Solar Kiln; Sawing Edging & Trimming Hardwood Lumber. And more

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Re: My kiln is not cycling air as expected
« Reply #37 on: April 19, 2020, 07:40:16 AM »
Air flow speed does not affect the speed of drying under 20% MC.  Obviously, you need some flow, but not much.

The vents are almost always closed most of the way.  We want to recirculate the air in the dryer.

The fans should be vertical.
Are all the fans blowing southward?
Is there about 18 space between the edge of the pile and the south wall?
Okay, that is good to know re: airflow.  I'm glad I asked!  The vents are fully closed at this point.
The fans do not hang perfectly vertically, the fans are perpendicular to the solar collector roof line.  If they were vertical they would effectively be blowing air directly into the clear roofing.  Right now they move air down along the inside of the roof.  The photo in my previous post shows their position and relative angle.  That said, the baffle is entirely hinged, so I can remove the boxing and let it hang perfectly vertically if that's the best way to do it.  It just doesn't seem right to me, particularly with all the framing for the roof, it's going to blow right into the roof support and bats. Seems messy.  But hey Gene say the word and I'll redo it :)
The fans flow straight south with airflow moving parallel to the roof line towards the front of the stack as I mentioned above.

I'm going to come clean - there is absolutely NOT 18" of space between the pile and the south wall.  Not even close.  It's more like 4-6".

My vents are closed completely at this point, although the kiln is by no means perfectly sealed.  So there is some nominal amount of air exchanging.  I did apply caulking to the "front" edge of the roofing, so all that leaking air is now stopped.  I'm sure air is coming in the rear "high" roof line though.

So based upon Gene's posting, I see a few issues:

1) The fans aren't vertical.  I'm obviously not an expert (in the LEAST!!) but I can't fathom why this would matter.  If the objective is moving air down the roof line and towards the front of the stack, being parallel to the roof line in terms of airflow seems optimal to me. . . .but. . .obviously I realize that could be completely wrong!  

2) The spacing of my pile is too close to the south side of the kiln. Much too close, it's not even close to 18".

I'm heading up to the farm now and will have most of the day to reconfigure things, so let me know.  Thanks so much for all the wisdom you share in this forum!!

-Jeff

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Re: My kiln is not cycling air as expected
« Reply #38 on: April 25, 2020, 10:10:04 AM »
I'm concerned y'all have given up on me!  I so hope not.  And I am very sorry for tagging people in my previous posts. I did not realize that was rude and I thank the person who kindly pointed that out to me.

Here's an update.

I spent several hours sealing up around my fan baffle which dramatically improved my air flow by about double.  As a result I now no longer have any noticeable thermocline in the kiln when it is running hot.  Maybe a few degrees based upon the sun but it is not noticeable like it was before.

I did have to leave the very tight seal on the fan box to maintain circular air flow but it is moving very nicely now.

unfortunately my meter is showing me exactly the same moisture content in my lumber even though the kiln has been hovering between 10% humidity when it's hot at about 120.  My temperature and humidity sensor in the kiln show that it has never gone above 55% humidity in there and usually hovers around 40 when the kiln is in hot but drops rapidly to 10 as soon as it warms up.  

My pin meter continues to tell me that that lumber is extremely dry. I can barely get a reading on it and most places. 

So my theory now is that I have a bad moisture meter.  As an experiment I took readings with both my pinless and my pin meter on some Maple that has been drying outside under a roof but no walls for about a year.  It's 3/4 boards.  The pin meter says 14.5 to 15. Which is about what I would expect.  The pinless meter says 11%.  Which I absolutely do not believe.

Sooooooo.....I I'm going to order another pinless meter just to see what's going on here but I suspect I may have a massively over dried load of wood now in my kiln.

If that Ash and Poplar really is under 5% is it ruined?  The meter pics below show the air dried maple maple readings.  That pinless meter can't be right....?  Right? 



 

 

-Jeff

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Re: My kiln is not cycling air as expected
« Reply #39 on: April 25, 2020, 10:42:01 AM »
did you set the pinless for maple?  I think airdry for a year under a roof, should be about 11 or 12 %.  I have a Wagner pinless.  do you have any friends/contacts near you with a meter so they could check it against your meter.  do you plan to sell the wood in the kiln, or use it personally?  I would not be afraid to use it, at least try to machine it. for sure do not burn it.   bon_fire  
timberking B 2000, 277c track loader, PJ 32 foot gooseneck, 1976 F700 state dump truck, JD 850 tractor.  2007 Chevy 3500HD dually, home built log splitter 18 horse 28 gpm with 5 inch cylinder and 32 inch split range with conveyor 12 volt tarp motor


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Shrubs benificial in nutrient cycling

Started by SwampDonkey on Forest Education

22 Replies
4391 Views
Last post September 03, 2004, 07:08:23 PM
by sprucebunny
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Not expected.

Started by Jeff on General Board

74 Replies
4240 Views
Last post November 28, 2018, 12:49:52 PM
by Jeff
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Expected Timber Value?

Started by jeremyc on Forestry and Logging

4 Replies
539 Views
Last post August 21, 2020, 07:35:40 AM
by SwampDonkey
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Danger when least expected?

Started by jph on Health and Safety

3 Replies
1317 Views
Last post February 15, 2008, 04:50:26 PM
by Ianab
 


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