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Thanks
Ken

Ken Barrett at Eastman Worlds of Work 2017
Oxford AL

I’m still here.

    I was just checking some posts on this page and realized it’s been awhile since I actually did an update. 

    For those that follow the Facebook and YouTube pages you’ll know I’ve still been posting updates of repairs and other items but the PodCast and Blog posts have some gaps.

[read more=”Click here to Read More” less=”Read Less”]     The last few months have been very busy. A few months ago I had to terminate an employee. I also had another employee that was going to leave to have a baby. That took me from 3 to one. My shifts at my attended store are 7:00 to 12:30 and 12:30 to 6:00, seven days a week. Two employees work 6 shifts each and the third employee works 2 shifts and an additional 3 hours doing inventory.

   When an employee leaves the 2 shift person has the opportunity to take a 6 shift position. This leaves me with 2 shifts per week to do myself. 

    Next was the hiring process. I ended up using a staffing company, two actually at one point, to fill the positions. After a number of turnovers that caused a lot of frustration I was finally able to get my staff back to where it needs to be.

    Part of the issues in this staffing process was to hire people early enough to get them trained and make sure they would stay around long enough and then provide them enough hours to keep them until the expectant employee was finished. This resulted in a few weeks of extra expenses and overlapping shifts.

    As this process was going on I was also working on a presentation for the Florida Coin Laundry Association meeting about re-tooling. Preparing the presentation took quite awhile to put together but gave me the opportunity to look back at the 7 years I have been in the business, how each of the stores have progressed and to look back at how the changes impacted the income and expenses. If your CLA Affiliate is interested in this presentation let me know and we can work something out.

    As many are aware the next big event is the Clean Show, June 5-8 in Las Vegas. I’m finishing the preparation for that trip and planning to record a few PodCasts and set up a number of others as well.

Make sure to Like , Subscribe and Follow the various pages to stay up to date. 

FaceBook
YouTube
Twitter

       You are probably wondering about the picture. I was volunteering at the Cheaha Challenge Bike Races and they wanted to know if somebody would dress as the devil and motivate the riders. 

Stay tuned and keep the comments and questions coming.

Ken

Ken Barrett at Eastman Worlds of Work 2017 Oxford AL

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Radio Advertising

Radio Advertising

     There are a few different methods to radio advertising. The main method is to purchase a set of ads that are `10, 30 or 60 seconds long and run them a set number of times per week.

        Recently I opened a new store and was tlking to a local station that I had not done any work with before about a live remote for the Grand Opening. The salesman mentioned they had a promotion comping up the following week and had some spots available.

They were giving away tickets to a concert in Atlanta and would spend an hour 2x per day, 3x per week at different locations.

The WVOK Box for the Wild Goose Chase Draw
The WVOK Box for the Wild Goose Chase Draw
The WVOK Box for the Wild Goose Chase Draw

     They had 3 spots left so I signed up one for each of the three stores.

      The first was at the new store so the main promotion was about this new location and some talk about the other 2 locations in the listening area.

       During the hour the Dj and myself would talk about the store and features and they would explain the ticket giveaway. There were four spots per hour that were about 3 minutes long. In many of the other stops it was only the DJ that did the talking but I jumped “On The Air” myself.

Ken Barrett and Jock Burgess 979WVOK Oxford AL

      Talking on the radio is not for everybody but you really just need to have a short story to tell to explain why someone would use your store, and then the DJ will usually back you up . Just talk to the  DJ and don’t worry about anything else.

     The cost was $200 per location for the hour.

     Did anyone stop by to fill out the draw ticket and see the store….No. but this particuar station is played in many offices and waiting rooms in the area and that’s the people I envisioned talking too when I was on the radio.

      The second stop was at my store that has a Drop Off. I requested the female half of the morning team as I felt her reinforcement of how convenient the Drop Off service was would seem more credible.

    I was not able to make the stop at the third store but by then they had a good handle on the message I was promoting.

979WVOK On Location

           It’s tough to determine the ROI for this type of promotion but trying different methods and determining who your target market is gets your information to them a different way.

Ken

 

Ken@LaundromatHowTo.com

Interested in opeing your own Laundromat or improve the one you have?

CHECK OUT THIS SITE  << CLICK HERE>

 

 

Sealing Around Laundromat Dryers

Sealing Around Laundromat Dryers

        The dryers in a Coin Laundry become a part of the wall when they are installed. Just like any wall they need to be sealled and insulated to reduce air leakage around the dryers. The better the seal you can make the less air will trsnafer between the conditioned and unconditioned areas (between your store and the dryer maintenance area).

       One method I have found is to use a backer rod. This can be bought at most building supply stores in the concrete section.

Contractors Choice Backer Rod available at Home Depot in various sizes

Normally used to fill large gaps in concrete projects but works great for this application.

“Normal” use of backer rod 

       It ‘s round, closed cell foam and is 1/2″ or 5/8″ diameter and about 20 fet long. It can be cut to length and pushed into smaller cracks.

Backer Rod used in concrete finishing can be used to seal gaps in other locations

        And don’t forget the gap below the dryers. The dryers are leveled on each of the coners with a bolt, type level. Depending on the slope of the floor you could have up to an inch of gap below the dryer.

Thi si the space between the floor and the dryer bottom.

If you have a new store or an older one take some time to find the air leaks and get them sealed. Check to make sure the edges of your dryers do not get hot enough to melt the foam or cause a fire.

Any other tips on sealing cracks? Please comment below.

 

Ken

IMONEX Coin Drop Installation in an ADC Dryer

IMONEX Coin Drop Installation in an ADC Dryer

       Imonex Coin Drops are a great way to make the switch from a quarter only store to a combination store. One of the benefits of using the Imonex drops is it allows you to purchase tokens that can be used for refunds and promotions in an un-attended store.

          The video below shows some of the steps involved in the installation in an ADC dryer. This is a 333 model. The 444 is very similar.

 

          Installation is very easy and requires no special tools, soldering, or wire cutting. All of the connectors are included and installing the Imonex coin drop is just plug and play. Changes to the dryer programing may be required.

            There is an issue I found in this installation is that cut out in the top of the coin box cover needs to be larger due to the 2 drop locations at the back of the Imonex drops.

The job was completed using a Dremel tool with a thin metal cutting wheel.

Mark the opening to be cut.
Using a Dremel Tool to expand the coin opening in the coin box guard
Remove the cut metal with pliers to avoid injury.

Now here’s the disclaimers. Use caution, wear safety glasses, follow all of the tool recommendations. This post is a suggestion not a set of instructions. If you don’t feel comfortable hire a trained professional.

Ken

Episode 45 – The Science of Colors in Marketing

The Science of Colors in Marketing
 

          Why is Facebook blue? According to The New Yorker, the reason is simple. It’s because Mark Zuckerberg is red-green colorblind. This means that blue is the color Mark can see the best. In his own words Zuck says:

“Blue is the richest color for me; I can see all of blue.”

Not highly scientific right? Well, although in the case of Facebook, that isn’t the case, there are some amazing examples of how colors actually affect our purchasing decisions.

After all, the visual sense is the strongest developed one in most human beings. It’s only natural that 90% of an assessment for trying out a product is made by color alone.

So how do colors really affect us and what is the science of colors in marketing really? As we are also trying to make lots of improvements to our product at Buffer, this was a key part to learn more about. Let’s dig into some of the latest, most interesting research on it.

First:

Can you recognize the online brands just based on color?

Before we dive into the research, here are some awesome experiments that show you how powerful color alone really is. Based on just the colors of the buttons, can you guess which company belongs to each of them:

Example 1 (easy):

Example 2 (easy):

 

Example 3 (medium):

 

Example 4 (hard):

 

These awesome examples from Youtube designer Marc Hemeon, I think show the real power of colors more than any study could.

How many were you able to guess? (All the answers are at the bottom of this post!)

 

Which colors trigger which feeling for us?

Being completely conscious about what color triggers us to think in which way isn’t always obvious. The Logo Company has come up with an amazing breakdown which colors are best for which companies and why. Here are 4 great examples:

 

Especially if we also take a look at what the major brands out there are using, a lot of their color choices become a lot more obvious. Clearly, everyone of these companies is seeking to trigger a very specific emotion:

 

On top of that, especially when we want to buy something, the colors can play a major role. Analytics company KISSmetrics created an amazing infographic on the science of how colors affect our purchases.

          Especially the role of “Green” stands out to me as the most relaxing color we can use to make buying easier. We didn’t intentionally choose this as the main color for Buffer actually, it seems to have worked very well so far though.

          At second look, I also realized how frequently black is used for luxury products. It’s of course always obvious in hindsight. Here is the full infographic:

 

How to improve your marketing with better use of colors:

This all might be fairly entertaining, but what are some actual things we can apply today to our website or app? The answer comes yet again from some great research done by the good folks over at KISSmetrics.

If you are building an app that mainly targets Women, here is KISSmetrics best advice for you:

  • Women love: Blue, Purple and Green
  • Women hate: Orange, Brown and Gray

 

In case your app is strictly targeting men, the rules of the game are slightly different. Here it goes:

  • Men love: Blue, Green and Black
  • Men hate: Brown, Orange and Purple


In another amazing experiment Performable (now HubSpot) wanted to find out whether simply changing the color of a button would make a difference to conversion rates.

They started out with the simple hypothesis of choosing between 2 colors (green and red) and trying guess what would happen.

For green, their intuition was this:

“Green connotes ideas like “natural” and “environment,” and given its wide use in traffic lights, suggests the idea of “Go” or forward movement.”

For red, their thinking went like this:

“The color red, on the other hand, is often thought to communicate excitement, passion, blood, and warning. It is also used as the color for stopping at traffic lights. Red is also known to be eye-catching.”

So, clearly an A/B test between green and red would result in green, the more friendly color to win. At least that was their guess. Here is how their experiment looked like:

So how did that experiment turn out? The answer was more surprising than I had expected:

The red button outperformed the green button by 21%

What’s most important to consider is that nothing else was changed at all:

21% more people clicked on the red button than on the green button. Everything else on the pages was the same, so it was only the button color that made this difference.

This definitely made me wonder. If we were to read all the research before this experiment and ask every researcher which version they would guess would perform better, I’m sure green would be the answer in nearly all cases. Not so much.

I’ve also conducted dozens of experiments to improve my conversion rates through changes of colors. Whilst the results weren’t as clear, I still saw a huge change. One hypothesis is that for a social media sharing tool, there is less of a barrier to signup, which makes the differences less significant.

Despite all the studies, generalizations are extremely hard to make. Whatever change you make, treat it first as a hypothesis, and see an the actual experiment what works for you. Personally, I’m always very prone to go with opinion based on what I read or research I’ve come across. Yet, data always beats opinion, no matter what.

Quick last fact: Why are hyperlinks blue?

This is something that always interested me and is actually a fun story. It’s to give the best contrast between blue and the original grey of websites:

Here is the full explanation:

“Tim Berners-Lee, the main inventor of the web, is believed to be the man who first made hyperlinks blue. Mosaic, a very early web browser, displayed webpages with a (ugly) gray background and black text. The darkest color available at the time that was not the same as the black text was that blue color. Therefore, to make links stand apart from plain text, but still be readable, the color blue was selected.”

I think it is extremely fascinating that simply changing something as small as the color, can completely chance the outcome of something. What have been your findings in terms of colors and marketing? I’d love your ideas on this.

Solution to the riddle: Example 1: Facebook, Example 2: Google, Example 3: Flickr, Example 4: LinkedIn

If you have any comments please post them below.

 
 
Ken

Episode 27 – Stolen Clothes and Social Media

Stolen Clothes and The Power Of Social Media

 

      A couple of nights ago I received a call from the Police Department of the town where one of my stores is located. A customer had completed her wash and moved the clothes to two of the dryers. She then had to go and pick up her kids from school so she left the store. One the way back she had a flat tire and changed it about a block from the store.

      When she returned her clothes were gone. She checked with two other women in the store and was told that another lady had just taken them.

      Her husband left in the direction the women had indicated.

      As the lady called the police the other women left the store.

      I was called to see if I could come up and look at the cameras and see if we could determine who took the clothes. After reviewing the video we found out it was the two women that were in the store and the clothes were actually in their truck when they were asked about it.

      I told her it would take me a little while to get the video reviewed and pull out the parts that may show who they were and I would post it on the Laundromats Facebook Page.

      I returned home with the saved video and found out I had saved the information for the wrong date.

      I posted on Facebook that the issue had happened and pictures and video would follow. The customer that had lost the clothes had already made some posts on her Facebook page about the issue.

      The next morning I went back to the store to collect and edit the video. I captured some still pictures and posted them on the page and then uploaded 3 videos.

      The page views for one of the videos was over 100 within the hour. I saved all of the video and pictures and created a “How To” page for the video player and dropped off the file to the Police station. We did a quick review to make sure the files were OK and I left it up to them.

      During the day I checked on the Facebook Analytics.

 

      The reach, page likes and shares just kept increasing.  The City had a population of just over 5,000 people but the posts had a total reach of over 8,600 by late in the day.

      Around 7pm I was looking at some comments and someone had asked about the post that the suspects had been found.

      I looked at the original customers status and saw

      “The police caught the girls who stole our clothes and recovered all our property!!!!!!! Girls are both in custody and warrants being sworn out by the sheriff tomorrow to send them to jail for term!! GOD IS SOOOOO STINKING AMAZING!!!!! Thanks to all who prayed and shared our status!!!!”

      It seems the vehicle had been spotted and was followed. The suspects dumped the clothes into a dumpster. The bags were then retrieved.

      Once they were arrested it turned out they lied about that and the clothes were still at their house.

      All of this happened in about 24 hours.

 

      At the time of writing this post they are still sorting things out and I’m sure there will be some charges against the suspects but fortunately the customer got most of her items back.      

      There are a few things that come up in this story we can learn from for our businesses.      
– Have cameras that work and know how to get the information out. In this particular store I had some problems with squirrels getting in the attic and eating the camera wires. I made sure I had at least a couple working until I could get things fixed.      
– Make sure you camera angles cover your important areas (the change machine is number one) but also consider what will support the police in an investigation. (parking lots)      
– Have a Facebook and or other Social Media page. Be ready to use it and be able to post the information.      – Work with your customers quickly if they have an issue. Some have the thoughts that they don’t want to post bad information about their stores on their pages. You can always take it down later but in this case the page was seen by more than the population of the city and my page Likes increased by over 10%.      
– Make it easy for the Police. I provided them a copy of all the raw video including the required Player file, still pictures of the suspects and vehicle, “ready to play” mp4 files of the best angle and the actual crime of them leaving the store and a “How To” page to explain the file names of the video files.     
      Check back soon and I will post a video showing how I made the information for the Facebook posts and what I provided to the Police.
Please Comment, Like and share if you got some value from this.If you have any comments, please post them below.
Ken

Back From Vacation- Whatever That Means

Back From Vacation- Whatever That Means

For the past 12 days I have been on a National Lampoon family vacation around parts of Canada and the Eastern US.

We left home in Alabama and spent the night at the in-laws in Indiana and then off to Alliston, Ontario to visit my parents and celebrate my dad’s 80th birthday.

 

    After a few days there we headed to Toronto for the July 1st Canada Day holiday. Toronto is a great city and even through  I parked in the wrong spot when we went to check out Allen Gardens and walked past a homeless shelter I felt some concern but no fear. They seemed more concerned about the guy with a light then the tourist family walking by.

        It was a good lesson for my daughters about keeping your eyes open and looking way up the street when you walk. We did take a different route back to the car.

 

         We tried to hit a variety of the tourist spots downtown including China Town, Eaton Center, Kensington Market, Distillery District and the Harbour Front.

 

           The family pass for the TTC (Toronto Transit Commission) is a great value on weekends and holidays. For $11.50 we had unlimited access for the entire day for all four of us so we made sure we hit the subway, street cars and buses.

 

              A cool expedition was  a boat tour of Toronto Harbour. I had taken the ferry to the islands before and been on a couple of tours with the larger boats but the small boat and tour guide gave a different perspective. Use the Groupon for a discount on tickets

 

            Next stop was the Butterfly Park, Niagara Falls and an awesome room overlooking the falls.

 

          It was only an overnight stop but always neat to see and something the kids will remember.

 

             Hershey Pennsylvania was the next stop for some rides at the park (go after 5pm for the Sunset Price). We toured the Hershey Museum the next day and headed for Chocolate World but due to a light rain it was the attraction of the day so we bought some souvenirs and headed to DC.

           On the way we made a stop at Gettysburg and walked around for awhile trying to grasp what had happened there. I had been there years ago when they had the old tower by the cemetery so I was trying to remember the places I saw before.  The rain and sore feet made this a quick stop and we continued to DC to catch the July 4th Fireworks. We had a spot on the Memorial Bridge that had a good view and easy access to the Metro for the return trip.

 

            The first subway on the way home was jammed and we couldn’t get on but the second, although full got a few more people on when I spoke up and said ” We all want to get home surely there is a little more room, please keep moving”. I stopped short of the Japanese style of physically pushing people in although I think the kids were secretly hopping I would.

 

   It must have been a good party on the Mall as this is what we found the next day. But actually they are installing irrigation, rain water collection and some new grass. Completion time? Early 2017.

 

   A walk past the White House… 

 

One more day in DC included the Natural History Museum, American History Museum, lunch at the cafe and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

     Although it was hot, a long walk and we were tired with sore feet it was still worth it to witness firsthand the dedication, commitment and discipline of the Guards. Once at the tomb even the kids realized it was a time to be quiet. There was one little peep out of  a baby and the required kicking over of an empty water bottle, twice, but still a moving moment to see the lone guard and then the changing of the guard.

 

             Back on the road the next morning for one of the few long drive days to Pigeon Forge TN and a night at the Inn at Christmas Place. Yes it seems a little hokey at first but once you are there it’s hard not too smile. And don’t forget to take an “elfie” with Santa.

 

            It was Popcorn and Movie Night at the pool so after some trips down the water slide and some coaching of the young kids on how to go fast (keep your suit material off the slide, lay down and slide on your heels and shoulders) we dried off and gathered around the inflatable screen for a viewing of the Polar Express. I had only seen this movie for the first time last Christmas and was surprised at how much of a fun movie it is. The breeze blowing when the  train was headed down the hills was a nice effect as well.

              Breakfast and a quick tour through Gatlinburg and it was time to head home. Well there was a quick stop at Unclaimed Baggage to check on some school clothes for the girls.

    This is why I own Laundromats. Stay tuned for information on how I was able to put my business on Auto-Pilot and be gone for 12 days.

 

Ken

Plugged Drain

     I recently returned from the Clean Show in Atlanta and stopped by one of my stores to see how things went while I was gone.
           I checked a few things and talked to a few customers and my attendant.
Everything was looking good and I was just about to leave when a customer came over and said one of the washers was leaking badly.
         I went to check as sometimes a string from a hoodie will get caught in the door seal but instead I found a decent amount of water coming from under some of the small front loaders.
This particular bulkhead of washers contained seven 20# Speed Queen washers, a 40# Speed Queen and a 60# Dexter and they were all full and running.

           I climbed on top of the washers to move the cover off the bulkhead and found the 4″ drain pipe that the 20# pump into overflowing.

           As they were all running there was not much I could do but get the attendant to grab a mop and I went to get the Wet/Dry Vac.

      As the machines stopped we had it somewhat contained and I was able to move one of the 20# washers and get closer to the drain.

       This 4″ drain pipe is straight up from the P-Trap located below the floor. The other washers are connected to a  4″ drain that T’s in just above the floor.

         My tool trailer was out behind the store so I was able to get a simple drain snake and, once the washers stopped running, and I had used the vacuum to transfer all of the water from the drain pipe, including all of the water that was still in the 40# and 60# washers I tried to clean out the drain.

        No luck with this method.

        I headed for the phone and started calling plumbers to see if I could get the pipe cleaned out. Of course this did not happen on a Tuesday about 9am but instead it was Sunday around 12:30. The first four plumbers said it would be at least a few hours with no guarantee they could make it or they just weren’t able to come until Monday. The next one answered the phone with the statement that all Sunday calls were $100 plus the normal charge  and How can I help you?.

         At least they had someone available, right after he finished Sunday lunch with his family, went home and changed and then got his truck. But at least he was committed to come.

         Once he arrived I explained the situation and the general layout of the drain piping . As much as I have determined over the last few years.
The first step was to use a power auger. The difficulty in this is that the cable had to be raised up about three feet to go over the top and down the drain pipe. Doing this makes it difficult to control the cable and get it to feed around any corners.

         After a few attempts he was not able to get past the P-Trap below the floor.

             Next was a diaphragm that is connected to a garden hose and inserted into the pipe. The diaphragm expands and  plugs the pipe and the water continues through to flush the pipe.

         This did not seem to be making any headway so I pulled a test cap out of an unused drain in the center of the floor and was welcomed by some sludge that was pushed out of the drain by the pressure of the garden hose.

         At this point the plumber said he would need to get a water jet and that there would be an extra charge. As we were in this deep and half of the store was down I told him to go and get it while I cleaned up the mess we had so far.

           He returned with the water jet trailer and parked it behind the store near my tool trailer.

               Next door to the Laundromat is another unit that I use for storage and as an office. This unit used to be part of the Laundromat and has a drain pipe in the floor as well. The plumber flushed out this drain with the water jet first, mainly to make sure it would make it around the P-Trap before he pulled it in to the store.

 

             Everything seemed to be working so he pulled the hose into the store and flushed out the original drain pipe and the one in the center of the floor.

 

            After about 8 hours and $640 in plumber charges the drains were cleaned out, all the washers had been run and the store was cleaned up.

           The plumber on the other hand got his truck stuck behind the building and had to pull it out the next day.

 

            On Tuesday I received a call that the 40# washer was counting down to about 16 minutes and then dropping to zero and stopping. I was tied up on another project so I sent a text to a local service tech to see if he would be in the area. He said he would be there the next day so I left it with him.

       My attendants said that he pulled out a lot of trash from the drain valve and it was working again.

             When I stopped by on Friday there was still an occasional issue with the 40# washer dropping to zero so I checked with the Tech and he said it may stall have some drain valve problems.

              There was also a note from the night before complaining about how the washers by the front of the store left the clothes with a soiled smell and it took a long time to dry. I called the number on the note but the lady was not in. I left my name a number for her to call back.

              After a couple of hours I had not heard back so I drove over to the business where the number was to and asked to speak to her.

            She explained which washers she had used and the problems. Also that it was almost midnight the night before and she was very frustrated that it was going to turn into “one of those Laundromats” that are not maintained and take people’s money.

            I assured her that was not the case and we had had some drain problems and I was concerned we may still have some issues.
She accepted my offer of $40 in Drop Off Gift Cards so she could take the items back to the store and my attendants  could clean them and provide the finished product she was looking for.

          After this I headed back to the store and found a customer had loaded the 60#,40# and three 20# machines and was ready to start them. I asked if he could wait for about 10 minutes so I could check the drain pipe.

             He had no problem and said “Maybe I’ll get a free wash out of it”. This customer happened to be the first customer to ever use one of my Laundromats  so some free washes were not going to be a problem.

           I pulled the rubber connector from the back of the 40# washer and found there was some water in the pipe. I lifted the pipe as much as I could to see if it would go down the drain but it didn’t empty the pipe.

            I put it back together and started the washers for my #1 customer or customer #1 however you want to look at it.

            Next stop was to the big box store for some parts. I picked up a hand snake, 4″ Y connection and a test plug.

          When I returned to the store the washers were all done so I blocked them off and started into the drain pipe. Once I made the first cut I fund what the problem was. The pipe had about 1 1/2″ of coins, chains and sludge built up. The problem with the coins is that they corrode together and start to hold back other pieces of sand and debris.

2015-04-24 16.45.08

            I continued to cut out enough of the drain pipe to be able to install the Y connection. I used the wet/dry vac to clean out the 6 foot length of drain pipe. By pushing the hose in and out the spiral edges of the hose do a pretty good job loosening the debris from the pipe.

          Once it was cleaned out I glued in the Y connector on a 45degree angle. I considered installing it pointed down so it would catch the future debris but it would have been difficult to run a power auger into if if needed.

 

           The test plug is easily installed by putting it in the pipe and tightening up a wing nut by hand.

           The 60# washer was then run on a hot cycle to flush out the pipe and after some mopping and cleanup the store was operating again.

 So in summary here are a few takeaways:

– You will only have big issues show up on Sunday when the store is busy.

– This drain line is connected to two large washers that get used 5+ times per day so I will have to shorten the drain cleaning intervals to keep the pipes clean.

– On a Speed Queen 40# washer if the time suddenly drops from around 15 minutes to zero it’s could be a drain valve problem.

– And lastly always go out of your way to find the cause of a customer’s concern as it may be a bigger problem that only shows up with the right combination of equipment being used.

 

Ken

 

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