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Old 11-06-2018, 11:40 PM   #1
Phungki
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Whatís the most practical way to swap engines?

Ok so I finally found a project truck. 56 GMC stepside. Body is really good considering the age. Floors are unbelievably solid. Cab corners are shot but fixable. Front fenders need some love or just replaced. Interior is wasted but thatís just cosmetic stuff that can wait. For me the first order of business would be a drivetrain and brakes.
I was thinking about a 350 w/700r4 trans. Whatís the most practical way to go about it? Is there a certain year of engine/trans I should be looking for? Best mounts and/or crossmember to use? I do not want to change the front suspension. I will eventually put disk brakes on the front. Was thinking PS/PB as well eventually. Other than that i donít plan on veering too far from stock.
Thanks in advance
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Old 11-07-2018, 12:18 AM   #2
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Re: Whatís the most practical way to swap engines?

What engine is currently in the GMC? Ether way your doing a big swap going to auto and power steering.
Are you on a budget? I like to think we all are, if your wanting to go cheap you could buy a doner vehicle and swap all the engine and trans stuff. That could be an LS car or and older TBI or carbed vehical. If wanting all new, I would get with a supplier like CPP and get all the conversion items needed. Power steering box and pump, disk brakes, crossmember. Look at some of the build threads and get some ideas.

What rear end is in the truck? The stock gears if 3.90 or 4.11 should be OK with an OD trans but if 3.38 it may be a little doggish.

Hope this helps. I used a 93 GMC parts truck and swapped the tbi engine and transmission stuff into my 59. Nothing was bolt in as much as I would have liked it to be.
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Old 11-07-2018, 01:42 AM   #3
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Re: Whatís the most practical way to swap engines?

I went with EPAS electric power steering, clean and simple.
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Old 11-07-2018, 07:27 AM   #4
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Re: Whatís the most practical way to swap engines?

Quote:
Originally Posted by mikebte View Post
What engine is currently in the GMC? Ether way your doing a big swap going to auto and power steering.
Are you on a budget? I like to think we all are, if your wanting to go cheap you could buy a doner vehicle and swap all the engine and trans stuff. That could be an LS car or and older TBI or carbed vehical. If wanting all new, I would get with a supplier like CPP and get all the conversion items needed. Power steering box and pump, disk brakes, crossmember. Look at some of the build threads and get some ideas.

What rear end is in the truck? The stock gears if 3.90 or 4.11 should be OK with an OD trans but if 3.38 it may be a little doggish.

Hope this helps. I used a 93 GMC parts truck and swapped the tbi engine and transmission stuff into my 59. Nothing was bolt in as much as I would have liked it to be.
It currently has a 6 cylinder. Well...most of one 😄. Iím not sure what gears are in it. Iím on a budget but not a time line. I like the idea of a donor vehicle. What engine/tranny combo did you get out of your parts truck? Iíve noticed there are ďbolt onĒ motor mounts for a 350 in these trucks. Donít know how straight forward those are.
Thank you
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Old 11-07-2018, 07:48 AM   #5
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Re: Whatís the most practical way to swap engines?

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I went with EPAS electric power steering, clean and simple.
I will definitely look into this. I wondered if it was possible to utilize the power steering pump that came in whatever engine I put in it or if that would just be opening up a huge and possibly unnecessary project. Iím pretty much a newb when it comes to this. Iím sure I have bit off more than I can chew but Iím in no hurry.
Thank you for this idea
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Old 11-07-2018, 11:23 AM   #6
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Re: Whatís the most practical way to swap engines?

I started with similar notions about keeping it stock-ish in the front suspension.
My experience is that by the time you add disc brakes, power steering, new bushings, new steering joints, etc you have spent darn near what an IFS might have cost you.
I've got new shackles, rear spring bushings, new king pins, new tie rod, C10 power steering (avoid like plague), disc brakes, tapered roller bearings, 4* caster wedges and probably some other junk into my I-beam front end.

It handles and steers like a boat, parks like a garbage truck and buzzes like a summ***** going down the freeway. With a Chevy 350 & 7004R you will have the power and gearing to go a lot faster than your front end will really keep up with. It still needs a ton of work to be "right" - partially because the C10 steering kit is such an engineering junk-show to begin with, partly because you are still gilding and spending money on 1957's worn-out parts that were designed well before interstate travel was hitting 80 mph.
Possible caveat there is that if you have really tight kingpin and spindle bores or go with a new drop axle, your junk will probably not buzz like mine does.
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Old 11-07-2018, 12:38 PM   #7
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Re: Whatís the most practical way to swap engines?

do you mean cheapest or literally the most practical? I dont want to assume one or the other but a lot of people use "practical" when they mean "cheapest"

the most practical way would be to buy a complete donor like mikebte suggests and take out every single part you need to swap over. I have a theory that a wiring harness/drivetrain doesnt inherently KNOW what chassis it is installed in, it just looks for certain inputs, and if you can make sure it has those inputs you will have a working system even with it laying on the ground. in aerospace they call it an "iron bird".

then look at what you cant reuse but need to. for example your donor may be a column shift auto but you cant add that to your stock column. your donor may be EFI but needs the harness pared down and a different gas tank with the same pump. lines may not switch over.

the easy part is mounting, buy or more likely build the mounts.
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Old 11-07-2018, 01:03 PM   #8
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Re: Whatís the most practical way to swap engines?

Quote:
Originally Posted by yossarian19 View Post
I started with similar notions about keeping it stock-ish in the front suspension.
My experience is that by the time you add disc brakes, power steering, new bushings, new steering joints, etc you have spent darn near what an IFS might have cost you.
I've got new shackles, rear spring bushings, new king pins, new tie rod, C10 power steering (avoid like plague), disc brakes, tapered roller bearings, 4* caster wedges and probably some other junk into my I-beam front end.

It handles and steers like a boat, parks like a garbage truck and buzzes like a summ***** going down the freeway. With a Chevy 350 & 7004R you will have the power and gearing to go a lot faster than your front end will really keep up with. It still needs a ton of work to be "right" - partially because the C10 steering kit is such an engineering junk-show to begin with, partly because you are still gilding and spending money on 1957's worn-out parts that were designed well before interstate travel was hitting 80 mph.
Possible caveat there is that if you have really tight kingpin and spindle bores or go with a new drop axle, your junk will probably not buzz like mine does.
Iím sure you are right on IFS handling infinitely better then these old things. Maybe one day Iíll go that route but initially Iíll keep the front axel as is. It wonít ever be a daily driver. I will drive it in town, 10 miles to the next town or 25 miles to my parents. Nothing over 55 mph.
Thank you
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Old 11-07-2018, 01:14 PM   #9
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Re: Whatís the most practical way to swap engines?

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Originally Posted by joedoh View Post
do you mean cheapest or literally the most practical? I dont want to assume one or the other but a lot of people use "practical" when they mean "cheapest"

the most practical way would be to buy a complete donor like mikebte suggests and take out every single part you need to swap over. I have a theory that a wiring harness/drivetrain doesnt inherently KNOW what chassis it is installed in, it just looks for certain inputs, and if you can make sure it has those inputs you will have a working system even with it laying on the ground. in aerospace they call it an "iron bird".

then look at what you cant reuse but need to. for example your donor may be a column shift auto but you cant add that to your stock column. your donor may be EFI but needs the harness pared down and a different gas tank with the same pump. lines may not switch over.

the easy part is mounting, buy or more likely build the mounts.
I looked this morning on cl and found many possible donor vehicles with the engine/trans combo I think I want. Even auto with shifter on the floor which I want. What Iím wondering is about the wiring. They sell new harnesses for these truck. The newer the donor truck the more dependent on computer crap. Is there a range of year I should be looking for in a donor? What I want is minimal issues with a new harness and a donor drivetrain. I know Iíll have some.
By practical I mean what makes the most sense. Whatís going to be the easiest. Iím in no hurry to have my finished project. This is just something to put my head into and take it off of the normal issues with life. I guess I would call it a hobby.
Thank you
Jason
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Old 11-07-2018, 01:36 PM   #10
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Re: Whatís the most practical way to swap engines?

its pretty simple these days to use a modernish (98-2010) donor and just buy a stand alone harness, you will need someone to flash the pcm for standalone but literally 8 wires to hook up. getting the right fuel system is the next hurdle, usuing the donor pump is the best way if you can pull it off. then cooling system, then gauges.
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Old 11-07-2018, 02:53 PM   #11
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Re: Whatís the most practical way to swap engines?

for x-members the most practical way i have found is to fabricate your own
most inexpensive x-members are universal fit and need to be cut, fit and welded
why cut, fit and weld someone else's metal?

power steering is a slippery slope. you'll need a new column as the old column is integrated into the steering box
if you decide to go ifs all your work/money comes out into the junk pile
yossarian has some good info in his post, reread his reply ten times
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Old 11-07-2018, 03:30 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by _Ogre View Post
for x-members the most practical way i have found is to fabricate your own
most inexpensive x-members are universal fit and need to be cut, fit and welded
why cut, fit and weld someone else's metal?

power steering is a slippery slope. you'll need a new column as the old column is integrated into the steering box
if you decide to go ifs all your work/money comes out into the junk pile
yossarian has some good info in his post, reread his reply ten times
Ok so if I went IFS, what are my best options?
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Old 11-07-2018, 04:40 PM   #13
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Re: Whatís the most practical way to swap engines?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Phungki View Post
I looked this morning on cl and found many possible donor vehicles with the engine/trans combo I think I want. Even auto with shifter on the floor which I want. What Iím wondering is about the wiring. They sell new harnesses for these truck. The newer the donor truck the more dependent on computer crap. Is there a range of year I should be looking for in a donor? What I want is minimal issues with a new harness and a donor drivetrain. I know Iíll have some.
By practical I mean what makes the most sense. Whatís going to be the easiest. Iím in no hurry to have my finished project. This is just something to put my head into and take it off of the normal issues with life. I guess I would call it a hobby.
Thank you
Jason
honestly, look for a V8 truck or car, shifter location can be moved no matter the platform. Get a used car or truck and move over everything you want. In my case with the 93 GMC I used the entire cab harness from the 93. I now have courtesy lights, newer wiring, fuel injection and the fuel pump wiring was already in the harness and it was very simple. It will be a little time consuming if you are using the old harness as you have to figure out the locations for wires when doing a custom gauge install.

As for newer engines, the electronics are not bad. Many of them will last a long time and you get the ease of fuel injected start ups and an electronic shift transmission.

If you get a truck as a doner, the cross member may only need shortened and bolted in, the engine mount will be the biggest custom part you have and that is very easy.

You can also use this kit, easy enough.
https://www.summitracing.com/parts/c...etxk/overview/

Also check out other builds. I have taken so many ideas from the folks on here that its crazy. I found that OrrieG used a foot brake pedal out of a 70-80s blazer in his truck. So i adapted the same idea and it was super easy.

Mainly, its your build. Have fun and keep it unique.
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Old 11-07-2018, 06:45 PM   #14
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Re: Whatís the most practical way to swap engines?

Quote:
Originally Posted by mikebte View Post
honestly, look for a V8 truck or car, shifter location can be moved no matter the platform. Get a used car or truck and move over everything you want. In my case with the 93 GMC I used the entire cab harness from the 93. I now have courtesy lights, newer wiring, fuel injection and the fuel pump wiring was already in the harness and it was very simple. It will be a little time consuming if you are using the old harness as you have to figure out the locations for wires when doing a custom gauge install.

As for newer engines, the electronics are not bad. Many of them will last a long time and you get the ease of fuel injected start ups and an electronic shift transmission.

If you get a truck as a doner, the cross member may only need shortened and bolted in, the engine mount will be the biggest custom part you have and that is very easy.

You can also use this kit, easy enough.
https://www.summitracing.com/parts/c...etxk/overview/

Also check out other builds. I have taken so many ideas from the folks on here that its crazy. I found that OrrieG used a foot brake pedal out of a 70-80s blazer in his truck. So i adapted the same idea and it was super easy.

Mainly, its your build. Have fun and keep it unique.
Thank you
I have been poking around this forum for awhile trying to decide the best course of action. Trying to decide which way I want to go. Iím still not sure. I know EFI is nice, not sold on it. Kinda like the old school carb. Is figuring out the wiring going to be more difficult using a newer donor compared to an older one? Iíve never done auto wiring. I rewired my whole house tho 😁. Yes I know that itís completely different lol. I was hoping I could just buy a new harness and plug everything in, ripping out the old as I go. Nothing is that easy. If I was keeping the original motor that would be more if a possibility Iím guessing
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Old 11-07-2018, 09:50 PM   #15
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Re: Whatís the most practical way to swap engines?

I like using all the EFI and harness too, but it can get kind of crowded under hood.

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Old 11-08-2018, 02:14 AM   #16
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Re: Whatís the most practical way to swap engines?

Quote:
Originally Posted by yossarian19 View Post
I started with similar notions about keeping it stock-ish in the front suspension.

It handles and steers like a boat, parks like a garbage truck and buzzes like a summ***** going down the freeway. With a Chevy 350 & 7004R you will have the power and gearing to go a lot faster than your front end will really keep up with. It still needs a ton of work to be "right" - partly because you are still gilding and spending money on 1957's worn-out parts that were designed well before interstate travel was hitting 80 mph.
Shocking. I've had three I-beam axle trucks and all rode and handled great, both on winding rural roads and at freeway speeds. I can't imagine why you've had those problems but that certainly hasn't been my experience at all.
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Old 11-08-2018, 07:42 AM   #17
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Re: Whatís the most practical way to swap engines?

Quote:
I know EFI is nice, not sold on it. Kinda like the old school carb.
Both have advantages. My '57 has had EFI since the early '90s. It was more complicated to set up but I have had to do very little maintenance to the engine to keep it running since that time. My '36 Plymouth is still stock retaining points and a carb. It is very easy to service. Good thing because every year I have to clean and adjust the points, clean the sediment bowl, and clean the carb before the summer driving season begins.

Quote:
Is figuring out the wiring going to be more difficult using a newer donor compared to an older one?
Possibly. There are many more circuits in the newer vehicles and if you use a harness from a donor vehicle you will need to make decisions about which ones to keep and which ones to junk. But the popularity of the LS swap means there are many sources of help if you decide to use an LS engine.

Quote:
I was hoping I could just buy a new harness and plug everything in, ripping out the old as I go.
You can buy pre-made harnesses for nearly any engine /computer combination you might want to run. Many folks find that easier than ripping apart an OEM vehicle harness. Although quality plays a big role in harness pricing, it's also true that the cost of the harness will be proportional to the amount of work you are willing to invest on your end. A harness tailored to your truck, with length and circuits you specify, to connect to the engine and computer (and possibly transmission) you installed, will require a hand-built harness at greater cost. A generic harness which you adapt to your vehicle is likely to be less expensive.

Quote:
If I was keeping the original motor that would be more if a possibility I’m guessing
I would say it might be tougher. The original motor was never designed for computerized engine controls so you would be integrating sensors, injectors, and an electronic distributor which would add time and complication to your project. Retrofitting an old engine to modern electronics such as distributorless ignition and port fuel injection could be considered an advanced level project compared to removing the old engine and dropping in a complete donor vehicle engine.

Hmmm... considering IFS because it's better? LMK when you start the IFS swap in your Jeep.

Last edited by 1project2many; 11-08-2018 at 07:50 AM.
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Old 11-08-2018, 09:33 AM   #18
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Re: Whatís the most practical way to swap engines?

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Both have advantages. My '57 has had EFI since the early '90s. It was more complicated to set up but I have had to do very little maintenance to the engine to keep it running since that time. My '36 Plymouth is still stock retaining points and a carb. It is very easy to service. Good thing because every year I have to clean and adjust the points, clean the sediment bowl, and clean the carb before the summer driving season begins.


Possibly. There are many more circuits in the newer vehicles and if you use a harness from a donor vehicle you will need to make decisions about which ones to keep and which ones to junk. But the popularity of the LS swap means there are many sources of help if you decide to use an LS engine.


You can buy pre-made harnesses for nearly any engine /computer combination you might want to run. Many folks find that easier than ripping apart an OEM vehicle harness. Although quality plays a big role in harness pricing, it's also true that the cost of the harness will be proportional to the amount of work you are willing to invest on your end. A harness tailored to your truck, with length and circuits you specify, to connect to the engine and computer (and possibly transmission) you installed, will require a hand-built harness at greater cost. A generic harness which you adapt to your vehicle is likely to be less expensive.


I would say it might be tougher. The original motor was never designed for computerized engine controls so you would be integrating sensors, injectors, and an electronic distributor which would add time and complication to your project. Retrofitting an old engine to modern electronics such as distributorless ignition and port fuel injection could be considered an advanced level project compared to removing the old engine and dropping in a complete donor vehicle engine.

Hmmm... considering IFS because it's better? LMK when you start the IFS swap in your Jeep.
lol wont be doing anything more to my Jeep. Love it just how it is. I imagine the 56 will get about the same amount of use as it does. No highway(well twice in the 3 yrs ive owned it, that includes driving it home lol). maybe 5k miles a year driven
I love the look and nostalgia of these old trucks which is why i dont want to have to veer real far from stock. i know I will have to in some degree and might decide to as the years go on but for now ill change only what is necessary. will it ride rough? probably more so than my grand cherokee but thats what i want. If i could have found a survivor that had drivetrain in it than that would have been awesome. Instead i looked for the best cab and frame i could find and went with that. Got pretty lucky in that department. a couple cab corners to weld in and thats it.
thank you for your response
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Old 11-08-2018, 09:44 AM   #19
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Re: Whatís the most practical way to swap engines?

tell me if this is way off base pls. find a donor from 87 to 92 that has the 350/700r4 that im looking for and use as much of the donors wiring harness that i can. I can find a crossmember that conforms to this frame and matches up to the 700r4. Ive found engine mounts that do the same as well. Im new to this extensive automotive work so ple tell me if im heading into a complete nightmare that isnt likely to work.
My Dad has rebuilt a few cars in his day and has every tool one could want except a lift. He will be a big help i have no doubt but he is also a mopar/jeep guy(as i have always been, but this series of truck is too sexy to pass up lol). I already got the raised eyebrow when i told him about it.

any and all comments and info is appreciated. Im just trying to learn and not make too many costly mistakes. This is going to be my pasttime for the next few years so in getting it road worthy anyway.

thank you again to everyone who has commented on this thread
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Old 11-08-2018, 10:18 AM   #20
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Re: Whatís the most practical way to swap engines?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Phungki View Post
tell me if this is way off base pls. find a donor from 87 to 92 that has the 350/700r4 that im looking for and use as much of the donors wiring harness that i can. I can find a crossmember that conforms to this frame and matches up to the 700r4. Ive found engine mounts that do the same as well. Im new to this extensive automotive work so ple tell me if im heading into a complete nightmare that isnt likely to work.
My Dad has rebuilt a few cars in his day and has every tool one could want except a lift. He will be a big help i have no doubt but he is also a mopar/jeep guy(as i have always been, but this series of truck is too sexy to pass up lol). I already got the raised eyebrow when i told him about it.

any and all comments and info is appreciated. Im just trying to learn and not make too many costly mistakes. This is going to be my pasttime for the next few years so in getting it road worthy anyway.

thank you again to everyone who has commented on this thread
Sounds completely logical. 87-92 you have a good choice on 350 (TPI/ TBI/ Carb) and the 700R4 is not a computer controlled transmission, so if you opt to run the carb it will work just fine.

If you run into any issues on wiring, you know were to find all of us.
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Old 11-09-2018, 03:29 AM   #21
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Re: Whatís the most practical way to swap engines?

I've always been a fan of buying a running driving donor for a project as long as it has the correct engine and trans you want for your project. That might be reasonably easy where you live as you can hunt down the good running V8 "winter rig" They may not be as cheap now as they would be in the spring though. That good running mid 80's two wheel drive pickup or maybe ex cop car caprice that runs great but is all rusted out might be a good cheap donor that you can sort out the engine and trans before you pull them.
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Old 11-09-2018, 09:51 AM   #22
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I've always been a fan of buying a running driving donor for a project as long as it has the correct engine and trans you want for your project. That might be reasonably easy where you live as you can hunt down the good running V8 "winter rig" They may not be as cheap now as they would be in the spring though. That good running mid 80's two wheel drive pickup or maybe ex cop car caprice that runs great but is all rusted out might be a good cheap donor that you can sort out the engine and trans before you pull them.
Yeah I think thatís what Iím going to do. They are all over cl right now and Iím sure they will be in the spring as well. I wonít be doing much this winter other than acquiring things that I need for it.
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