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Torque is Torque, is Torque?


slosteve
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I've recently become more interested in the Nailheads ability to produce the torque that it does and couldn't help but wonder if those numbers would equate to today's standards. I'm not a mechanical whiz but do have a basic understanding of the internal combustion engine. What my question leads to is are today's measurements/ratings taken the same way (engine dyno) as back then and are they rated as 'flywheel' vs. 'rear wheel'. I find it difficult to comprehend how a 325 hp rated engine can produce 445 ft lbs of torque.

 

I copied and pasted from a post from 'merrillcrosbie' back in April of 2014;

These are the engines that made a reputation the nail heads enjoy today with legions of fans. While the design of the heads didn’t make for great high rpm breathing, they worked superbly at doing what Buick engineers were aiming at, making torque. So proud of their cruising torque was the Buick team that they gave their engines decals that referred to their torque rating rather that their displacement . Thus to the confusion of many Buick initiates , you pop the hood on a Buick wildcat and see decals that proclaim the engine as a “465” ,yet that is lb-ft , not cubic inches! That engine is actually a four barreled 425-incher (1963-1966).

 

Steve
 

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In drag racing, horsepower usually equates to top speed, whereas torque equates to elapsed time.  Combustion chamber design, piston design, size of the valves, and length, design, and diameter of the intake and exhaust runners are all taken into consideration of whether you want an engine that produces torque or horsepower.  In the early 70's the 455 Buick (intermediate) GS could out perform a Chrysler Hemi (stock vs. stock) on the drag strip, but you never saw the GS on the high banked ovals of NASCAR.  Torque vs. horsepower. 

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I don't think there have been many years in my life that I did not own a 401 or 425 Buick. That goes back to the days when juice came in cans, big ones. And if you are used to driving cars with pistons the size of juice cans torque is what you expect, right at the tip of you toe with just a nudge.

 

Last year I went out shopping for a car for my wife. I thought a Cadillac STS would be nice... until I drove one. No torque compared to the old Buicks I am used to, or even my Chevy truck for work. It had a 4.6 engine. What the heck is that, around 270 cubic inches? To feel any power I had to put my foot deep into it and in normal driving it seemed to shift every time I took a breath. I had an Enclave a few years ago. That was a 3,6 and weighed 5,000 pounds. You don't need torque to maintain 70 MPH on a freeway, but coming home on a secondary road in New York with rolling hills from east to west made me livid with the gutless thing. Torque is pretty much a thing of the past. Horsepower at high RPM and 6 to 8 speed transmissions are what you find today.

I'll keep my 4" pistons for the same reason 4 door trucks are so popular today.

 

My wife's car? After trying out a lot of stuff and being real disappointed in the concessions made in the name of technology, she got this:

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There's 100 years worth of pretty good stuff out there and the most recent ain't necessarily the pride and joy.

 

4.6 liters, whoopee, I know it's 270 cubic inches, about the volume of  a good flush on a urinal.

Bernie

Edited by 60FlatTop (see edit history)
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Horsepower is a function of torque & time.  As we know from torquing lugnuts to headbolts, torque is just rotational force on a lever.  Set your torque wrench for 100 ft.lbs (1 pound of force on a 100 foot lever, or 100 pounds of force on a 1 foot lever - same difference), and it doesn't care much about the speed in which you turn the wrench. So, yes, torque is torque.

 

We add the time component on a rotating shaft in terms of revolutions per minute to get horsepower, but it's the way we've measured horsepower on automobiles that has varied over time.  Sometimes it's measured at the flywheel, sometimes where the rubber meets the road (but I'm going to avoid the bhp, shp, whp discussion for now).

 

Lets look at a Wildcat 465 for a moment.  The engine doesn't make peak torque and peak horsepower at the same time.  Peak HP of 340 is at 4400 RPM, while peak Tq of 465 ft.lbs is at 2800 RPM. Given Hp=(ft.lbs X RPM)/5252, we find that the engine is making 406 ft.lbs at 4400 RPM.  The Tq output steadily decreased after 2800 RPM, but the RPM increased at a rate faster than the Tq decreased so Hp continued to climb until 4400 RPM.  Also note that at 2800 RPM, the engine is "only" making 248 Hp.

 

The phenomenon that Bernie is discussing is that while these newer small-displacement motors can generate an impressive amount of horsepower, they are often fairly low on torque.  The high horsepower is a result of high riving engines derived through valve train design improvements  and lightweight rotating assemblies that allow the engine to spin faster.  Plug different numbers into the formula above and you'll find you can get big horsepower numbers with gobs of torque at low speed, or little torque at high speed.  In other words, just looking at peak Hp or Tq numbers doesn't tell you much unless you know at what speed those peak numbers were made.

 

Obviously, Bernie's butt-o-meter is calibrated for low end torque.  He wants a kick in the pants at relatively low engine speed and doesn't give a flip about Hp at 7000 RPM.  In other words, he should ignore Hp numbers, especially when attached to high RPM values and pay more attention to big torque at lower RPMs.

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I've recently become more interested in the Nailheads ability to produce the torque that it does and couldn't help but wonder if those numbers would equate to today's standards.

 

The reason for my increased interest in this subject is I think that I will have to decide on whether to rebuild the nailhead or swap to another type as mine has 119,000 on the clock. I'm wondering if an aftermarket EFI system and an automatic overdrive trans. can add up to some roadable mpg as opposed to a late model engine with enough torque to pull the rivi down the highway with normal traffic. I'm not looking for more horsepower or high rpms for high speeds.

If I were to try the EFI/ AOD on the original, un-rebuilt engine I would be to many $$ into it to change course at a later date.

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If you think of this with your wallet, you'll find out that you can purchase a lot of fuel for the cost of all of the modifications that you're considering.  In the lifetime of you driving the car, what are the chances that you'd ever recover your investment?  Plus when it's time to sell, you're going to have to find that one particular buyer who's willing to purchase a 'modified' car.  119.000 is a good place to start with an overhaul, especially if it's running okay now. 

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my NHRA teammates say "HP is the speed at which you hit the wall.... Torque is how much of it you knock down."  same as mentioned above.

a easy way to find out how close the old posted #'s are,  vs today, is to take your car to a chassis dyno, or talk someone into it. you don't hafta run the thing to death. a great tuning tool.

there are pretty close estimates of drivetrain parasitic loss out there .only real way to know is to dyno the engine, then put it in the car  & go for it.  

On NASCAR/ARCA restrictor plate cars(daytona, talladega), a TON of chassis dyno time is spent minimizing parasitic drivetrain loss. they call it coastdown, measured when you spin the car up to 200, shut it off in neutral then look at the #'s while it unwinds. I had fun participating, tons of work for low pay, but fun never the less.

of course dyno #'s can be cheated up or down to suit. I have heard that 70's LS6 Chevelles & Mopar Hemi's were grossly underrated to keep insurance peeps happy.

the weird thing about high compression race engines,is that they can have both, lotsa torque digging out of corners, high speed HP sailing into them. of course they are set on kill & don't last very long. I'm thinkin they made around 850hp @ 9000 & had 600 ft lbs tq around 3000. PM me if you wanna see photos of how huge the ports are in a SB2.2 head that was used on a 358...I got a pair in storage just waiting to bu put in a big inch small block . not real PC here.

 

hope this helps, it took me a while to wrap my head around it too

peace

ks

 

FWIW,

I have done quite a bit of research on your delima, one that many have.

It Boils down to the size of your project budget & goals.

modern FI is great. you could add a basis system to your nail, for like 2-3k in new parts/wiring, more if you hire out the install. ouch.

small up grades like a good balance job & electronic ignition help in reliability and usefulness  on a stock motor.

modern motor combo's make more mileage & power, while going amazing distances(think 2-300k) they should. 50 years of r&d & better materials & machining.

A carbed nailhead, that isn't worn out & properly tuned will provide years of trouble free service if they are taken care of. as long as you blueprint everything to factory, or better than factory specs that is.

I think my bro, Atomickneedrop, spent 5k ish on his '64 drivetrain? he did the R&R himself. ask him.

a 5.3 LS swap can be done for similar #'s if you are very lucky in the donor dept & a good wiring expert & gm service technician. if you are hiring the job out, 10-15k is the bottom end for a 100% quality turnkey job here in Charlotte .lots more than just dropping a motor in & wiring it up.

It could be put back stock, it's just metal after all, but then you'd have 7500-10k more in that if you hire it out.

it IS your car to do what you want with.

I have been trying to get a free/cheap easy EFI for years now, can't get any of the Greeks associates(my part time NHRA employer) to step up.Hot Rod's Roadkill kids did.

I had hoped that the price would get down to reasonable, say a grand. THEN we'd have something. still gotta do more than just bolt it on & go despite what they advertise

 

sorry for the long tirade, this forum has been a big help to me & I like to take the time to share what I know

Edited by slacker1965 (see edit history)
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I'd totally dig an injected nailhead! Yeah, you can drop a bow tie in there cheaper, and that's why everyone does it. Ultimately you should do what makes you happy, but if resale is even remotely considered, pulling a throttle body off of an otherwise original engine is probably more palpable to a purist than seeing a modern corporate powerplant under the hood.

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I'd totally dig an injected nailhead! Yeah, you can drop a bow tie in there cheaper, and that's why everyone does it. Ultimately you should do what makes you happy, but if resale is even remotely considered, pulling a throttle body off of an otherwise original engine is probably more palpable to a purist than seeing a modern corporate powerplant under the hood.

I read this some time ago and to me it makes some sense if you just don't like a carburetor.  Whether you get improved performance,  better economy or both, this might be an inexpensive way to give FI a try. 

 

http://www.rowand.net/Shop/Tech/EFIBasics.htm

 

There is another page that goes into specific parts needed for a complete carb to FI swap. 

 

Ed

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Fitech has a $1000 efi setup, closer to $1400 if you opt to go with the command center which allows you to keep your mechanical pump. There have been a few good reviews on them so far. Holley is introducing a very similar setup this month i think called the sniper. Those are 2 options well under the 2500-3000 target you would have to hit with fast-ez efi or something along those lines. Supposedly the FItech system works well with single plane intakes.

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It's probably best to get out of the cerebral experience. Find someone with a good 401 or 425 and drive one. When you are feeling it on the seat of your pants it all becomes real.

 

I JUST came in the door from a 10 mile exercise of my LT1 Impala. Believe me, the thought of horsepower or torque never entered my mind. I've only seen horsepower and torque on paper in black and white, putting your foot into it is color.

 

Bernie

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If you think of this with your wallet, you'll find out that you can purchase a lot of fuel for the cost of all of the modifications that you're considering.  In the lifetime of you driving the car, what are the chances that you'd ever recover your investment?  Plus when it's time to sell, you're going to have to find that one particular buyer who's willing to purchase a 'modified' car.  119.000 is a good place to start with an overhaul, especially if it's running okay now. 

 

Always appreciate your input, Ed. For me it's not so much about the $$ as it is about a mechanical device. I've always been very 'light' on my equipment i.e., don't like over-revving, lugging, flooding, overheating, etc.,. I've always gone to extremes to make my vehicles fit MY description of excellence. My daily driver '71 C10 now uses a '94 LT1 with a 4L60E, my '56 Merc peekup a '90 Ford Mustang 5.0 with efi and AOD. They're great (for me) to drive, especially on the 'Big Road' The '54 Chev sedan delivery was a unique build for me in that I tried a 2006 Atlas 4.2 inline 6 cyl Vortec with the 4L60E. It runs great but all it's power comes at higher RPM's and I geared it accordingly. Didn't care for that in the end and no longer own it.

 

 

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I have been trying to get a free/cheap easy EFI for years now, can't get any of the Greeks associates(my part time NHRA employer) to step up.Hot Rod's Roadkill kids did.

I had hoped that the price would get down to reasonable, say a grand. THEN we'd have something. still gotta do more than just bolt it on & go despite what they advertise

 

sorry for the long tirade, this forum has been a big help to me & I like to take the time to share what I know

 

Great 'tirade', ks. Much appreciate your input on this. I insist on doing my own work if at all possible but won't hesitate using someone more knowledgeable when needed. I'm just another car nut (since childhood) with no other background other than researching and diving in. But the PASSION is definitely there.

 

I can't seem to get a grip on the 'Multi-quote' option.

 

Steve

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It's probably best to get out of the cerebral experience. Find someone with a good 401 or 425 and drive one. When you are feeling it on the seat of your pants it all becomes real.

 

I JUST came in the door from a 10 mile exercise of my LT1 Impala. Believe me, the thought of horsepower or torque never entered my mind. I've only seen horsepower and torque on paper in black and white, putting your foot into it is color.

 

Bernie

 

Bernie, my 401 runs very well and I love the torque it has. But I've read on this forum of two instances where guys with 105K on the odometer stated there engines were running great with no smoke or noise and suddenly lost #1 cyl, causing unacceptable damage to the assembly. With all of the years this engine has been in use, then set idle, then put back on the road with unknown maintenance, I don't feel comfortable taking it on the highway and running it at the rev's necessary to keep up with todays traffic. I did a compression check (cold) on it when I first got it and it has one cyl. that showed 50 lbs lower than the others.

 

Steve

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Slosteve,

I also became very irritated at the rpm's my 64 was running going down the highway.  I put at least 6000 miles on my car a year as I use it as my work car (40miles a day) plus kind of a beater/ratrod.   At 105,000 miles it runs and drives great although the oil press is a bit low at idle.

 

I installed sebring conv. (which match the interior pretty well) seats, a vintage air system, and a cheap craigslist Gear Vendors overdrive so it is a very comfortable car to drive.  It knocks down the stock 3.07 gear to a much nicer 2.39 gear.

 

I have a year on this combo now and I can tell you that at 70mph I still wish I had another gear because the engine doesn't work hard at all.  I think a 1.90 - 2.10 final drive would be perfect.  

 

Like everyone is saying, there is plenty of torque to work with.

 

 

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Bernie, my 401 runs very well and I love the torque it has. But I've read on this forum of two instances where guys with 105K on the odometer stated there engines were running great with no smoke or noise and suddenly lost #1 cyl, causing unacceptable damage to the assembly. With all of the years this engine has been in use, then set idle, then put back on the road with unknown maintenance, I don't feel comfortable taking it on the highway and running it at the rev's necessary to keep up with todays traffic. I did a compression check (cold) on it when I first got it and it has one cyl. that showed 50 lbs lower than the others.

 

Steve

 

The pistons in the nailheads break. I lost number 4 under extreme conditions and replaced the long block with a fresh rebuilt. A friend lost #7 in a similar instance. You may have the beginning of a crack in yours. Take the rocker arm assembly off that side first and see how much the valve stems rattle around in the guides as you could just one poorly seating valve. If it's not a valve dig deeper.

 

Here is my #4 from the bottom of the pan.

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I know my car had a roughness that I had not been able to pinpoint prior to the failure. Hindsight says it was a crack in the piston. If the untenable roughness came back I'd pull the pistons, visually check them , and probably Magnaflux all eight. It is certainly worth the preventive effort.

 

That said, it is a possible mechanical issue, not really a torque characteristic or modification issue. The Riviera is a pleasure for me to drive because it doesn't have overdrive so it is greatly more responsive in the 40-50 MPH range than my newer 4 speed automatic cars. With the newer ones, a lot of times I drop them out of overdrive for the 5 miles between the end of the expressway and the village just to bring up the R's and make it feel as good as the Riviera

 

Bernie

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Cheap is $800 found on craigslist using SearchTempest.  The extra cost is a speedometer gear if needed and a shortened drive shaft.

 

This is NOT an easy install.  I had to gusset the outside of the X frame,  Notch for the speedometer cable as seen in my last post.  I also notched and boxed the inside of the X- frame for clearance.

 

Since you have to raise the Trans tunnel 1 inch for clearance,  I cut out the trans tunnel and did all the notching and boxing and sizing through the the floor.  It was a lot easier.

 

Since the tunnel was raised an inch, (See pictures below) I had to lower the shifter mount an inch which was easy to do because there was enough meat on the shifter bracket.

 

Very little trimming was needed on the console since it already sits off the tunnel a bit.

 

I used the button on the shifter knob to engage the overdrive.  I mounted a momentary switch at the bottom of the shifter handle so that when the button is fully depressed the overdrive is engaged. 

 

It took me awhile to do the job because I wanted to do it right.  

What's nice is that it bolts right up to the tranny and the stock linkage still works.

 

There is a slight shudder under 5 mph when you hit the gas hard.  After a lot of research, I found that if the carrier bearing (new when shortening drive shaft)  was lowered, or the gear vendors unit is raised (not possible) it would go away.  This is a big problem with Toyota Tacoma owners and has never been fixed by the factory.  But there are owners that have lowered the carrier bearing and it has gone away.  Also you lose the parking brake doing this mod.

 

That would require major surgery to the X frame and it is unnoticeable when accelerating normally so I'm letting it go.

 

I got about 3000 miles on it now and it is working great.  Once you turn it on, it turns off automatically at 5 mph when coming to a stop and turns on automatically at 20 mph.  Or you can manually turn if off or on.  I just leave it on all the time.

 

I can tell you it is really worth it to me since I think it will extend what life my 105K mile engine has left.  I've always heard that RPM kills engines.  That being said, I have to say that these nailheads are the smoothest, quietest engines I've ever heard at high RPM which tells me that they are a well built engine. 

 

Below is a few pictures I took of the job.  Unfortunately they are not in order

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Edited by rapom (see edit history)
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Thank you Devildog93,

 

That would be the easier way to go and the way I would have went if my Riv was much nicer.  Plus the overdrive gearing in the 200-4R would be much better than mine.   I think the pricey part of the 200-4R swap is the transmission to engine block adapter.

Edited by rapom (see edit history)
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That would be the easier way to go and the way I would have went if my Riv was much nicer.  Plus the overdrive gearing in the 200-4R would be much better than mine.   I think the pricey part of the 200-4R swap is the transmission to engine block adapter.

The engine adapter is rather expensive, but going through a 200-4R to make it handle just the stock hp and torque of a 401/425 is going to set you back some as well.  If you're doing this for economy reasons, it will never pay for itself.  If you're doing it to slow down the engine and hopefully preserve it, then it might be worth it. 

 

On the Team Buick website, there's a reprint of an August 2000 Hot Rod article that shows the installation of a 200-4R in a '67 Skylark 340 backed by an ST300.  The swap will not be applicable (no adapter needed behind a 340) but the information on the transmissions themselves as well as some of the aftermarket items needed to make it workable.  Well worth reading if you're considering this. 

 

The 200-4R has a .67 overdrive gear.  If you're running the normally found 3.07 rear in your car, you'll have a final drive of 2.05.  At 2,000 rpm's your speed with a 27.5" tire (225/75R15) will be about 80 mph.  60mph  @ 1500 rpms, and 40 mph @1,000 rpms.  Chances are you will not want to use o/d in city traffic; only on the highway.

 

http://www.teambuick.com/reference/library/articles/over-under-hr.php

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I have actually built a few 200-4r's, so i'll be grabbing a couple of cores and starting from scratch i think. Most likely i will get the hardened parts necessary from Art Carr's site. The other option is a built crate transmission from Monster or something similar, but they run around 1700 or so. Add in the adapter plate and we're back into the over 2000, so i may be rebuilding one myself. It seems like space is just a big issue. With the right parts they can stand up to 800hp motors and i doubt i will be anywhere near that, like ever. I had been thinking about the gear vendor overdrive seriously hard because the 400 i have is running relatively well and just needs a freshen up to be in good shape. It sounds like adding a gear vendor overdrive takes up a bit more space than i want. I think if i did that i would end up boxing the whole frame and that just seems like more work than i need to make a good driver.

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The adapters are for adding Chevrolet transmissions to the nailhead. Luckily the 200-4R has a dual bolt pattern on the bell housing so you can bolt the 200-4R to it using the Chevy holes on the bellhousing. Have you considered using a 480LE transmission from a Chevy truck? It's rated to handle 440 lb. ft. of torque. It would bolt to the same adapter. Or even a 460LE that's been built? That might have to do some sheet metal fabrication though. I know that you'd have to get into connecting it to a computer, but if you add the computer, you might as well go for fuel injection.

Ed

Edited by RivNut (see edit history)
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When I cut the frame I used heavy steel to box it up again plus with the gussets on the outside I'm sure the frame has the same strength as before.

 

One of the reasons I stuck with the GV was the low cost of the job.  It was just a lot of labor on my part which is no big deal when if you have the tools and time (Semi retired helps)

 

Here is the best pictures I have of the gussets which are on the outside of the frame rail.  And the metal I formed using a bench vise for inside the frame rails.

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 Have you considered using a 480LE transmission from a Chevy truck? It's rated to handle 440 lb. ft. of torque. It would bolt to the same adapter. Or even a 460LE that's been built? That might have to do some sheet metal fabrication though. I know that you'd have to get into connecting it to a computer, but if you add the computer, you might as well go for fuel injection.

Ed

 

The newer GM 4L60E trans has a removable bellhousing and Russ Martin has developed one that bolts it to a Nailhead.

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I'm going fuel injection at some point anyway, so adding a separate bauman transmission controller wouldn't be much of a hassle. Cutting the trans. tunnel doesn't  bother me in the least, it's more about avoiding getting into the frame. I think if i was going with something electronic the 4L80 would be the one i would choose, but it looks like the 4L60E can be built to hold 450 foot lbs.

 

I want the extra gear, but when you start talking about tearing into the frame or spending 4 grand it makes for a hard sell to the wife. I get questions like : What's wrong with the one you have? Can't you rebuild a different one? I thought you had done transmission swaps before, why would you buy a new one? She keeps me on the ground a bit. With the 200 i would just upgrade all the hard parts to bulletproof it and keep it durable up and beyond what i am going to do with the engine. It would give me room to grow. My gm transmission building ended on the 700 R4 and the 200, so anything electronic is going to be a bit new to me.  I am familiar with a couple of the aftermarket controllers though.

 

Rapom, i wasn't dogging what you had done or saying the frame integrity was messed with. Hell, these x-frames seem a bit cheesy anyway, so you probably improved it. I think what you are doing is great, i am just trying to shave off some fab time if i can.

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Rapom, i wasn't dogging what you had done or saying the frame integrity was messed with. Hell, these x-frames seem a bit cheesy anyway, so you probably improved it. I think what you are doing is great, i am just trying to shave off some fab time if i can

 

 

I never got that vibe from you.  I just wanted to make sure I found all the info I had on the frame work and posted it.

 

Good luck with whatever you do.

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