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DIY: Do It Yourself
Post here to share or improve your wrench turning skills! All BMW E46 DIY tips, tales, and projects discussed inside. Learn to work on your car and know the right BMW parts you will need!

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Old 01-17-2014, 03:18 PM   #1
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Lightbulb Bright LED OEM Flashlight DIY!

400 Lumens BMW Flashlight!

Completely change your stock BMW flashlight to be significantly brighter (high power LED instead of incandescent) and last a lot longer (lithium ion batteries instead of NiCd or NiMH) while keeping the OEM look and operation.

Results to Expect:
The total power will be 5.7x greater (.72 watts to 4.1 watts). The battery capacity (not to be confused with runtime) will be over 5x greater (250 mAh to at least 1360 mAh). The light output will be 67x greater (around 6 lumens to 400 lumens).

Flashlight Part Numbers:
This is for BMW part number 63316962052 (black one, older part numbers 63318377861, 63318377862, 63316962051, 63318360066). It should also work for the older white style ones (82119413237 or 82119413147-10pk) with a few modifications. It works for the rechargeable glove box flashlight in various BMW models including the 3-series (e46, e90 (pre-2008)) and 5-series (e39, e60, e61), 6-series (e63, e64), 7-series (e38, e65, e66), x5 (e53), and others (e23, e24, e28, e30, e31, e32, e34, e36) with the white one. So, many years and models up through 2007, but some specific years and trims do not have it (older ones may have to be European). If you have a rectangular BMW flashlight in your car and the charging spot in your glove box, you can do this. Mine is a manual 2001 330i, e46.

Overview of the connections that will be made inside the flashlight:
12V plugs in flashlight > 12V to 5V step-down circuit > li-ion charging circuit > batteries > switch > LED driver > CREE LED

Required Materials (price includes shipping, sorry for when these links inevitably break):
• LED - $5 (CREE XM-L2 neutral white, 16mm diameter heat sink)
• LED driver circuit - $2 (3xAMC7135, 3 - 4.5V input, 1050ma output, 5 mode, 17mm diameter)
• 12V to 5V step-down circuit - $7 (Elago Nano USB car charger)
• Lithium ion battery charging circuit - $6 (TP4056 chip, 4.5 - 5.5V input, 1A output)
• 2 Lithium ion batteries - $10 (3.7V, Nikon EN-EL11 / Olympus LI-60B / Pentax D-LI78 or similar)
• Non-conductive thermal glue - $7 (Artic Alumina Thermal Adhesive)
• Tiny heat sinks - $9 (optional)
• Electronic grade silicone adhesive - $11 (optional)
• Solder (for electronics)
• BMW glove box flashlight - $priceless (well, actually $35 online)

Required Tools:
• Soldering iron and desoldering tool/braid
• Dremel or other rotary tool
• Multimeter
• Small knife, wire cutter and screw driver

Required Abilities:
• Patience
• General circuit knowledge
• Steady hands
• Able to solder/desolder SMDs. For example, you will have to solder this resistor:

• You will be working with electricity; do not get shocked.
• You will be working with very hot items; do not get burned.
• You will be using a rotary tool; use glasses and gloves and do not cut into yourself.
• You will be working with very bright lights; watch your eyes.

Step 1 - Reduce the size of all components.

After gathering all the materials, everything needs to be made smaller to fit into the BMW flashlight case. You will find that every half millimeter (metric because it is a BMW) that you remove makes a difference.

1A - Battery Charger

You need to cut your battery charger board smaller, but in order to make it small enough, you will need to move some SMDs (surface mount devices). In this picture, the SMDs that need moving have been removed:

Create new pads for the two capacitors and the two resistors near the edge, 4 total SMDs. The pads should be closer in toward the chip. To create new pads, scratch off the blue coating to get to copper, then add solder to the new pad. Use your multimeter to ensure you are creating the pads on the same copper traces. You can see the new pads next to the old ones:

Then, cut the board at the edges of your new pads and solder the SMDs onto their new pads on the board. Here the pads have been moved and the board has been cut. The 4 removed SMDs have not been replaced yet:

1B - 12V to 5V Step Down Circuit

Break open the step down circuit, it is glued shut.

Here it is broken open:

Cut off the USB connector and as much else as you can. Find out where you will connect before you cut so that you are sure it is connected to the correct location. The outer two pins of the USB carry the 5V positive and negative.

Make sure that it will fit by placing it on the top of the flashlight (with the cover and bulb removed) in this orientation:

1C - The LED and Driving Circuit

Use the bulb cover to determine how much you will need to remove from the LED base plate and LED driver.

LED Driver:

Your main cut will happen through the empty AMC7135 pad. I chose this LED driver because it had multiple modes and because it had the most number of AMC7135 chips (3) that would still allow me to cut it down to fit in the flashlight.

Make sure you know where the circuit traces run so that you know what you can and cannot cut (or repair it if you do). Note where the positive and negative output wires are connected; it will be easier to desolder them and then cut the circuit. You will end up cutting both sides of the ground (negative) ring so make the ground ring continuous with solder and wire.

Fit into bulb cover:

Cut the LED base plate. This is easier than the driver, but again make sure not to cut the two traces.

Here the base plate has been cut:

1D - The Case and Existing Parts

Open the case and carefully dremel out all the interior plastic. This will allow the larger batteries and extra circuits to fit.

The case is glued shut and can be opened by carefully prying at the joints :

Mark or note the location of the plug connected to the positive side of the battery and the plug connected to the negative side of the battery. You will need this information later when you are connecting the plugs to the new circuits.

Remove the green circuit attached to the two plugs at the bottom of flashlight. This will separate the plugs but the case will still hold and align them after it is assembled. The existing circuit was used to charge the old batteries, but this wasting valuable space and cannot be reused. Our new 12V step-down circuit will replace it.

Also, I removed about a millimeter of the flat top of the plugs to give myself more room in the case.

Halfway through removing the plugs from the old charging circuit:

The interior plastic and old charging circuit removed :

Recycle the old switch components so that it works with the same action as before.

Use some side cutters to remove the extra metal from the switch spring:

Flatten the other side of the switch (except for the tab that contacts the spring) and made the hole slightly bigger.

1E - The Batteries

Carefully, remove the white sticker off of the battery. Most lithium ion batteries will have a protection circuit inside a plastic casing that surrounds the cell. The metal case is the same as the positive (+) terminal of the battery, so remember to add insulation to the thin sticker later to protect other parts and circuits:

Then, you can remove the black plastic covering. You will then see the protection and temperature circuit. I considered removing this circuit, but in the end I decided to leave it on. The new smaller size can be seen on the right:

1F - See if it Fits!

You can now test to make sure that it all fits inside the case.

Starting now, you will need to be careful about the battery contacts touching the various circuits. The last thing you want to do it fry one. The battery charging circuit is the most likely to get fried and it does not have any reverse polarity protection. Cover the battery with electrical tape.

Now is a good time to show you the finished layout. If you lay the parts in loosely like below and close the lid, you should have a good idea if you can make it fit. If it does not fit, keep making things smaller until it does.

The LED and LED driver will go outside of the flashlight case, so just make sure they fit inside the bulb cover.

DIY continues in the next post...!

Last edited by wakup; 01-20-2014 at 08:39 PM.
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Old 01-19-2014, 05:36 AM   #2
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Awesome DIY!!!
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Old 01-19-2014, 06:41 AM   #3
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This is awesome! I will try this when I get time.
You should sell this to people who aren't good with electronics.

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Old 01-19-2014, 07:54 AM   #4
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I want one but I would end up ****ing it up

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Old 01-19-2014, 09:19 AM   #5
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DIY Continued

Step 2 - Connect the Circuits.

You now need to start connecting the different components and circuits. This shows the rough connection order of the circuits (excluding the switch). Some of the boards have not been made smaller yet in this picture:

2A - Connect the Batteries.

Connect the batteries in parallel. The parallel connection gives you the same voltage as a single battery with more possible current output and longer runtime for your flashlight.

A lithium ion battery that is as large as these two connected and with a subsequently higher mAh (miliamp-hour) rating would also work. I was not able to find one. Do not use anything except lithium ion type batteries unless you change all the other circuits accordingly.

The official Nikon NE-EL11 and Olympus LI-60B batteries have a rating of 680 mAh, so these cheaper, "high capacity" batteries in parallel should be at least 1360 mAh.

I used the thermal epoxy to glue the two batteries together. I offset my batteries slightly, but that may not be required depending on how well things are fitting in your case.

Here the batteries are connected in parallel using small sections of wire. The positive is connected to the positive and the negative is connected to the negative. Later, two wires are added to both terminals to make connections:

2B - Attach the Switch Components to the Case

The leaf spring part of the switch will be attached to the negative side of the battery. When the slide moves the spring to touch the contact of the second half of the switch, it will complete the circuit from the battery to the LED driver (and therefore turn on the light). It is important to note that the metal of the battery under the stick is positive and the switch is negative. Make sure that you insulate the two from each other and consider if your insulation is tough enough to withstand the movement of the switch parts after 1,000 clicks (because you will love your flashlight and use it every day for the next few years).

Use the thermal epoxy (or other epoxy) to connect the base of the switch spring to the bottom half of the case (the side with the larger notch for the switch):

Cut a vertical slit in the case so that the switch tab on the second half of the switch will fit through the case. You can bend the spring later to make it work, but try to line up the hole of the case the hole of the second half of the switch.

I placed half of it on the outside so that the action of the spring would not work the second half loose or change the position of the contact. This also helps insulate it from the battery.

Here the second half of the switch has been fit in the slit:

Place the batteries and circuits into the case and make sure that it all fits. You can make crude adjustments to the switch parts to make sure it is will work. You will likely need to make some fine adjustments later once everything is permanently in place.

Use thermal epoxy between the second half of the switch and the bottom half of the case (epoxy can be added to the top half of the case when you are closing the flashlight case for good). This will hold it in place while you assemble and test the rest of the circuit.

2C - Connect the Plugs to the 12V Step Down Circuit to the Battery Charging Circuit to the Batteries.

Use 26 AWG wire to connect the various components. You can go bigger if it fits, but I would not go smaller than 28 AWG. I used red or yellow wire for the positive connections and black or blue for the negative connections.

As you solder the wires onto the boards, you will need to continue to use the case to make sure the lengths and angles of your wires work. Connect the battery last to avoid a stray wire from connecting to the wrong terminal and frying your circuit.

The negative plug will have two wire connections. One connection goes to the ground (negative) of the 12V step down circuit and one goes to the ground (negative) of the battery charging circuit. The positive plug will have one connection to the positive input of the 12V step down circuit (where the coil spring was connected).

Solder the side of the top collar of the plugs so that they will still slide into the notch of the flashlight case and also so that they will not take up more room than needed.

Soldering the negative plug:

After the positive and negative plug connections have been made, connect the positive output (5V) from the 12V step down to the positive input (5V USB) of the charging circuit.

Here both circuits and plugs are connected in their approximate location.

The last connection in this section is to the batteries. Connect the positive output of the charging circuit to the positive side of the batteries and the negative output to the negative side of the batteries. The negative wire can be slid below and between the battery protection circuits and then pop up to make the connection to the negative jumper connecting the batteries.

This is my final configuration shown out of the case:

If you have a 12V DC (1A or greater) power supply or AC adapter, you can use it to test the charging part of the circuit now. Be very careful that you do not short any connections since everything will be loose. The chips GET HOT, so be careful!

Once you are finished, add electrically insulating thermal epoxy to the tops of the plugs and the bottom of the 12V step down so that there are no shorts between them. These will be right next to each other, so apply liberally. Make sure it works before doing this because it will be a pain to remove.

This is optional: I added a heat sink to keep the switching regulator chip on the step down circuit from getting too hot. It took some very careful grinding of an already tiny heat sink. Then, attach the heat sink with thermal epoxy to the top of the chip:

2D - Connect the LED to the LED Driver

The LED driver comes with wires attached. If you disconnected them while cutting the circuit board, then solder them back on. The LED base board should be well marked with the positive and negative connection points. Solder the wires so that the boards can be as close as possible. Add thermal epoxy (that is electrically insulating) to any location where the LED base board could short a connection on the driver circuit.

Side view of the two circuits connected:

Top view:

2E - Final Connections - Connect the Batteries to the Switch and to the LED Driver Circuit

Add a wire between the negative terminal of the batteries and the leaf spring part of the switch. Try to solder it as close as possible to the part of the spring that is stationary so that the wire and solder are not stressed as the spring moves. Also, route the wire so that it does not get in the way of the movement of the spring.

This is the negative wire loosely in place before soldering to the switch:

Add a short piece of wire between the negative terminal of the batteries and the negative ground ring of the LED driver circuit. Then, add a short piece of wire between the positive terminal of the batteries and the positive input of the LED driver circuit.

In this picture, I have split the positive wire between the batteries and the LED driver so that I can test the current going to the LED driver.

Test to make sure it all works. The LED gets quite hot when it is turned on high. It did not burn me instantly when I touched it but I think any prolonged contact would have.

After I finished testing, I made the connections shorter to make it all fit better. Also, add some electrically insulating thermal epoxy to the batteries and to the backside of the LED driver to prevent accidental shorting.

You may be able to see on the LED driver that I soldered the middle star to the negative ground ring. Grounding this star eliminates the strobe and SOS modes from the 5 mode driver. I only wanted to use the high (1.1A), medium (0.55A), and low (0.17A) modes in my flashlight.

Step 3 - Secure, Finish, and Other Notes.

3A - Secure Everything

First, insulate any areas that could short out over time. The leaf spring of the switch wore through the plastic sticker on the batteries pretty quickly on mine so I used thermal epoxy to attach a scrap piece of plastic to mine.

Then, make sure everything inside the case is secure because you do not want movement to fatigue the connections over time. I used electronic grade silicone adhesive to secure the components. If I were to do it again, I would choose a silicone with less elasticity.

While the glue securing the components is drying, close the flashlight case and move the switch to the on position (you can disconnect the positive side of the driver if you do not want it to stay lit the whole time it is drying). This will make sure that everything dries with room for the case to be closed and for the switch movement.

This is halfway through securing everything:

Once it dries, open it back up. Make final adjustments to the switch so that it engages properly. If it is too tight, it will be tough to operate and will cause stress as it engages. If it is too loose, it will not make a good connection or the switch will easily pop back to the off position. I made mine slightly harder than it was originally because mine was too easy to accidently turn off.

3B - Close the Case

Next, carefully glue around the edges of the case and seal it up. I used the same silicone again because I wanted to be able to easily open it. You can chose a harder silicone or any glue that works on plastic. Black or clear color adhesive will give the best results aesthetically.

After it dries, connect it to your glove box and make sure it doesn't get too hot while charging. Mine was slightly warm after an hour and then cold again a few hours after that (finished charging). Then, you are finished!

3C - Light up the Night

It is now time to show everyone how amazing your new flashlight is. It is especially important to point out how inferior other BMW flashlights are. Someone shaming you with their turbo? Compare flashlights and put them in their place.

I was lucky enough to compare with a friend (2004 325i) who did not know their car came with a flashlight. This is the first time their flashlight had ever been turned on (mine is on the left):

That is amazing!

Flashlight pictures never really show how bright the flashlight really is. First, your camera will automatically compensate for the bright light. You could lock the exposure, aperture, and speed and then show other lights at the same settings but it still does not capture how bright it is in person. That, and I dropped my nice camera and my iPhone definitely doesn't capture it. It is very bright and you will have to come see it.

4 - Other Comments

4A - Flashlight Modes
The flashlight modes are switched by turning in on and off and are built into the LED driver. Every time you turn it on, it starts on high. If you turn it off, wait less than 5 seconds, and turn it back on, it will change modes. For my setup (grounding the second star), the next mode is medium and then low and then back to high. If you turn it off and wait more than 5 seconds, it will start again at high.

4B - Compared to a BMW LED Flashlight
I first bought BMW LED flashlight 63310432670 (LED and NiMH) to fit in my cigarette lighter socket, but it did not fit. The door will not close with it installed.

Height difference compared to the cigarette lighter:

It has a bluer/cooler white light than what I used. When using them, I greatly prefer the natural white in my flashlight. Also, my flashlight is brighter when it is in high mode. They are about the same when I switch mine to medium mode. Here is a picture of the two of them side by side:

4C - Run Time and Light Output
On high, it should work for 1.5 hours before it needs charging (verified). On low, it should work for 10 hours (not verified).

According to the CREE specifications, the light output is 390 to 420 minimum lumens (luminous flux) on high (1.1A). It is 208 lumens on medium (0.55A) and it is 65 lumens on low (0.17A). As a comparison to something many people have seen, incandescent Mini Maglites are 14 lumens ( but their new LED ones are much brighter).

I chose a neutral white that looks really good in the dark (4200-4500K). The LED is available in a wide range of white color and so just change it based on your preference.

The light has a very wide beam. If I were to have room to add something to this flashlight, it would be a lens to focus the beam. It is super bright and great for lighting up a large area. I have thought about cutting off the lens that was integrated into the bulb and using that to focus the beam. This may work if I removed the protection circuit from the batteries and put the LED driver inside the case to free up room in front of the LED.

4D - Good vs. Bad Charge Circuit
While testing, my hand slipped and one of my multimeter probes caused a short that fried the battery charging circuit. A few of the pictures above show the old one and a few of the pictures show the new one. After frying the chip, I found out that the bottom of the chip was not connected/grounded to the negative plane. This is important to help dissipate heat. The first one I bought was off of Amazon and the second was from eBay (link at the top). There are tons of sellers on eBay so some may be correct and some may not. You can see the difference below:

4E - Inspiration
Many other people have tackled trying to upgrade their flashlight. Here are some easier (less powerful) alternatives to mine that inspired me: (old style flashlight, LED/lithium upgrade) (old style flashlight, NiMH battery upgrade) (old style flashlight, LED/NiMH battery upgrade) (LED/NiMH upgrade that used the last link in the newer case. Also, upgraded to Russian (I can't read it)) (LED/NiMH upgrade) (old style flashlight, LED/NiMH battery upgrade)

I also have to give credit to the many e46Fanatics who have unknowingly helped me tons as I work on my car and especially delmarco, since I have followed more of his DIYs than anyone else's.

4F - Time is Money
Researching the parts that I was going to use took more time than the actual assembly. Research was about 30 hours and assembly was 20 or so spread over a few weeks. It took a lot of time just to find the right battery let alone decide the circuit specifications and then find ones that would work and could be made to fit inside the uniquely shaped flashlight case. That means, at minimum wage ($7.25) and including parts, this flashlight is now worth $427.50.

The most common responses in all BMW flashlight threads is "Why don't you just buy a $2 LED from Walmart?" or "I have a flashlight in my BMW??" or "Did you know you can buy a power outlet adapter (82110004073)". I am excited for predictability here.

This guide was written so that you will know what parts to use, where to get them, and how to put the pieces together inside the case. This is not meant to give an explanation as to why certain parts were chosen or how they work. A lot of thought went into each part and I would be glad to talk about that any piece if you have specific questions.

Difficulty: About the same as replacing your subframe and differential bushings. This took me a little longer.

Have fun!

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Old 01-19-2014, 09:49 AM   #6
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Sick very nice I want one .

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Old 01-19-2014, 10:01 AM   #7
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Bad ass idea but I don't think I have the patience to do it.

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Old 01-19-2014, 10:23 AM   #8
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I agree ill **** up something . Should start selling them

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Old 01-19-2014, 03:07 PM   #9
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Great job!
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Old 01-19-2014, 03:21 PM   #10
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Nicely done!
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Old 01-19-2014, 08:16 PM   #11
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Great project. I applaud your patience, knowledge, and dexterity!
John in VA
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Old 01-19-2014, 10:54 PM   #12
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great diy..

i hate to say this but it seems too much work, and quite expensive for something like this.. but once again congrats for your ingenuity..
Contact me if you need to unlock your phone.

Also can code your car
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Old 02-07-2014, 05:32 PM   #13
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can we send our lights to you and you can do it? lol
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Old 02-07-2014, 06:05 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Eurohb View Post
can we send our lights to you and you can do it? lol
That's what I'm saying. I'll pay you parts + labor

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Old 02-08-2014, 12:50 PM   #15
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Very cool mod!

Aren't you worried about killing that XML by pumping 1.1 amps into it with no heat sinking?
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Old 02-21-2014, 09:41 AM   #16
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I'll 2nd the motion of sending you my "core" + check for a rebuild!

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Old 02-24-2014, 02:34 AM   #17
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That is seriously bad ass! If you do decide to start making them, I'm in!
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Old 02-26-2014, 12:59 AM   #18
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Want one
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Old 02-26-2014, 03:55 AM   #19
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I would do this but, I'm happy with my Fenix Tk35 sitting in my glovebox. High powered led flashlights are something I love, so, the 820-860 lumen fenix will suffice along with my led lenser. Props to you regardless

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Old 03-05-2014, 08:00 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by 03-M3-Vert View Post
I'll 2nd the motion of sending you my "core" + check for a rebuild!

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i hope he really considers doing this...

i 3rd the motion of sending in core and money for rebuild
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flashlight, glovebox, led, lithium, torch

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