Auto Gen start inconsistantly starts and doesnt starts

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Auto Gen start inconsistantly starts and doesnt starts

Postby otis on Tue Jan 05, 2010 10:05 am

Hi everyone, First of all, I know nothing! I'm a Gen contractor in Colo. and this is my first solar house. 2000 watts of panals (almost), 24 agm batts, brand spankin new Winco 12 k gen. Great sun and exposure. The system seems to work properly for a few days, the generator starts with the "load start" function, the soc% is set at 50% to 80%, the low voltage 2 min at 47.6, 2 hr. at 48 and 24 at 48.4. The auto start works properly with the load start. The low voltage start works if I have just "rebooted" the mate, however after a few days the low voltage start doesn't work. I'm aware of the poceedure that disables the auto start, when the gen is manually started and then stopped and then put back to auto function, but even with the gen not started man the timers are not activated when the voltage goes low. Anyone have this similar problem? I looked for a smiley face that would accurately describe me but found nothing. The head banger was close! Thanks, Otis
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Re: Auto Gen start inconsistantly starts and doesnt starts

Postby Kent Osterberg on Tue Jan 05, 2010 11:32 am

You are not alone with this type of problem.
Is your generator being controlled by the relay in the FNDC? I've resolved similar problems for customers by using a relay with the FX Aux port rather than the relay in the FNDC.

Is the system in a heated area or a cold area? The FNDC is only spec'd for operation down to 0°C. In Colorado you might be out of the FNDC operating range in an unheated area. My customers were in unheated areas but problems started before really cold weather hit.

Does the Mate shows com errors on the SetUp/Mate/Debug menu? That can cause strange things to happen too.
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Re: Auto Gen start inconsistantly starts and doesnt starts

Postby blackswan555 on Tue Jan 05, 2010 12:03 pm

Did you install the system inc the FNDC ? what settings have been changed from default ? were the batteries installed and commissioned including being fully charged to the book before the FNDC was connected ?

Have a good one
Tim
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Re: Auto Gen start inconsistantly starts and doesnt starts

Postby otis on Wed Jan 06, 2010 6:49 am

Thanks Tim and Kent for the quick responses! I don't believe I have a "fndc". The gen start control is from the fx's aux port. The system and batteries are in the crawl space which is around 55 - 60 degrees F, year around. I have the fx 3048, a 60amp controller and a mate, version 401 (I believe). I have a new mate to install, but won't be able to be there at the house for another 2 days to install it. My generator didn't come with a relay so I got the one from Radio Shack, that Outback recommended. Thanks, Otis
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Re: Auto Gen start inconsistantly starts and doesnt starts

Postby blackswan555 on Wed Jan 06, 2010 6:56 am

unless you have a FNDC battery/ system monitor , http://www.outbackpower.com/products/co ... lexnet_dc/ you do not use SOC % , It should be set to 00 / 00

Have a good one
Tim
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Re: Auto Gen start inconsistantly starts and doesnt starts

Postby otis on Wed Jan 06, 2010 8:12 am

OK, Thanks Tim, I will install the now mate and disable te SOC%. I'll let you all know what happens. Otis
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Re: Auto Gen start inconsistantly starts and doesnt starts

Postby otis on Sun Jan 10, 2010 7:03 am

Just an update for everyone, I have installed the new "mate" and have noticed that the 24 hour timer has been activated and started it's timer the last two mornings, as the low voltage set point of 48.8 had been crossed. So it appers to be on the right track. However it has been quite sunny the last few days. So today I'll be at the house and "tax" the system, turn on everything in the house and run the voltage low and see if the 2 min. timer will activate and start the generator. Thanks for everyones help. Otis
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Re: Auto Gen start inconsistantly starts and doesnt starts

Postby otis on Wed Jan 20, 2010 11:07 am

Well hopefully this is a final update on this issue! It appears that after changing out the "old" mate with the newest version mate (I forget which version that is), the "low voltage start" 24 hr, 2 hr, and 2 min., have all been working properly. So, WOW... I am exicted!!!!! I wont update unless I find that it fails. Thanks to all of you that replied. Otis
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Re: Auto Gen start inconsistantly starts and doesnt starts

Postby Kearhart on Wed Jan 20, 2010 12:59 pm

Current firmware version revision for the Mate is: 4.1.6 *This came out Jan of 2009. You can evalute your Mate's revision by either unplugging the device and plugging it back in, or going to ...... Main menu (hit the two left bottum buttons),then go to SETUP/MATE/PAGE1
If you would like to upgrade your firmware call or email us to get a return the manufacture authorization number, and we will help you out.
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Re: Auto Gen start inconsistantly starts and doesnt starts

Postby Dave P on Sat Jan 23, 2010 9:17 pm

Hello

I too am experiencing a problem with the auto start. I configured mine two days ago. On the testing of the start up it did not start up as the test would have it to. The shut down worked fine. It ran for the 6 minute time frame and then the generator shut down. The testing parameters were then put back to the proper voltages to start up and to shut down. I figured I would just wait and see what would happen once the voltage reached the desired level. It should have started 2 minutes after it reached the desired level, in this case 47.2 volts. ( 48 volt system ) I went into the Mate, the genstart parameter was "AUTO-OFF", I changed it to "ON", the generator started right up. I had the shut down value at 57.2 volts. After a couple hours of the generator running and charging, the voltage reached 55.2 volts. I decided to now change the value from "AUTO-ON" to "OFF". This did shutdown the generator. At this point I felt that the shutdown voltage probably was to high. I changed it to 54.8. I have wired the AUX from the inverter to a 12 volt relay, (Crydom D1D40). The system is now a little over two years old, the Mate Rev is 3.5.0. I know the last post from Keira, Tech Support from Outback, indicated the current Rev is 4.1.6. Is my Rev simply not compatable to make this work? Any help will be greatly appreciated.
Thanks in Advance
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Re: Auto Gen start inconsistantly starts and doesnt starts

Postby blackswan555 on Sun Jan 24, 2010 5:03 am

You are using AGS ? have you assigned it to the correct port number (your inverter) ? What are your charge parameters you have set 2min/2hr/24hr voltage and how long for absorb ?

Have a good one
Tim

Edited to add, You may also want to do a re-poll after starting gen manually, either through the mate buttons or by un-plugging it, there is a bug that may get you otherwise, viewtopic.php?f=17&t=3963
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Re: Auto Gen start inconsistantly starts and doesnt starts

Postby Dave P on Mon Jan 25, 2010 1:58 pm

Sunday morning to my suprise at 6.00am I looked down stairs and saw a light on. I thought I had left a light on in the basement. It was the light that I have for a visual to tell me if the generator is running. The generator was running and it started up automaticly. I have been changing the 2 min set point to different values to see what happens. It was at 48.0 volts when the generator started up. The genstop voltage set at 52.8. I went back down to the basement a while later and the generator had stopped. I would have to say that the genstop voltage was what stopped the generator. WOW it worked like Otis had said. Mine is inconsistant like his was. I have started the generator through the mate since because the generator did not start as it should have, when I started it the mate said "MAN-ON" I would change the MAN to "auto" and see what would happen. I would have to turn the generator off using the Mate. It would read "auto-on" and i would select "off". Now would say "Man-Off". Once the generator was off I would go back to the mate and change from Man-Off to "Auto-Off" With all of this said, I went to the basement a minute ago, and sure enough, Generator was running. This is the second time it has started up on it's own. It sounds exactly what was happening to Otis until he got the 4.1.6 firmware. As I am writing this, I just heard the generator stop. The voltage would indicate that the genstop value of 52.8 had been reached. If it would only do this all of the time!!
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Re: Auto Gen start inconsistantly starts and doesnt starts

Postby blackswan555 on Mon Jan 25, 2010 2:18 pm

Be careful of my above mentiond bug turning gen on & off using man on & off, all-ways re-poll or disconnect / re-connect it afterwards then check it is in AUTO OFF, (which shows it is in auto, parameters not met, so aux is off, AUTO ON = parameters met, aux on)

What worries me is your mention of genstop and it being at 52.8v , please explain, what charge voltage are you using and what absorb time have you set ? What make and size are your batteries ?

Have a good one
Tim
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Re: Auto Gen start inconsistantly starts and doesnt starts

Postby Dave P on Mon Jan 25, 2010 10:31 pm

Thank You Tim for your reply:

The genstop of 52.8 is merely a voltage I set it to so I could see quicker if it was going to shut down. My Batteries are 10 years old, Surrette 12v. at 250 a/h Two strings of 4 (series) equal 48 volts and then parall the second set. As you can probably tell I am new to this type system. I have had solar for 30 years now but only two years at the current technology. This is what I have done earlier this evening. I set the 24hr, 2hr, and 2min timer to a voltage of 47.6. These three timers were not the same, does this matter? Next I took the genstart setting and changed it to the 47.6 volts. I then changed the genstop to a value of 54.0 volts. I purposely put extra draw on the system to get the voltage down to the genstart setting of 47.6, the generator started up. When the genstop value of 54.0 volts was reached, for about the 15 minute time frame the generator shut down. Just like it is supposed to. I cycled the system 3 times and it seemed to work fine. Is it a coincidence, or does matching the 3 timers have anything at all to do with what appears to be working like it is supposed to.
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Re: Auto Gen start inconsistantly starts and doesnt starts

Postby blackswan555 on Tue Jan 26, 2010 4:53 am

Sounds as if you are getting closer :smile: < I am presuming you are using AGS ?
By setting the V`s all the same the 2 min setting is going to take control (it`s counter hits "0" first, 2 mins after v has been reached)
The way I do them (on AGS) is to keep the 0.2v differences, 2 min 47.8v, 2 hr 48 v, 24hr 48.2v, (As a start point, check SG`s and verify regularly for the first weeks)
As far as I can tell, on most occasions if the property is occupied, The 2 min does the start, house empty/no load, 2 hr catches it, but try and check it close to it`s start and verify with SG reading that it is correct for your bats,
Absorb Time, I find the best way to "guesstimate" (it will never be 100% correct 2 days running, Hence the need for EQ) Is set a long ab time (8 hr`s) Start a gen charge cycle, Once you hit AB check SG`s every 30 > 60 mins until you see a satisfactory SG, The time taken is your Ab time,

Absorb V, refer to rolls, But the use of a RTS ( remote temp sensor) is very strongly recommended,

How to run a system test to check AGS is working,
Set absorb time to 0.2 (the lowest it will go AFAIR, It is 0.2 of a min so = 6 mins) Set absorb V to just above battery voltage ( + 0.4 or as close as you can get) last set 2 min V start to just above bat V (+0.2v) Keep an eye on the mate "AUTO OFF" screen, 2 mins later it should change to AUTO ON, The gen start, System should then climb to absorb v, Hold it for 6 mins and shut down,
Enter the correct number`s , unplug it/plug it back in, check AUTO OFF is showing and it`s time for a beer :grin:

Have a good one
Tim
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Re: Auto Gen start inconsistantly starts and doesnt starts

Postby Dave P on Tue Jan 26, 2010 8:31 pm

Hi Tim:

I had everything all written out and I went to preview it, now it is all gone. Damn!! Oh well. Here we go again. You are correct, I am using AGS. In a prior post, i think it was Otis that had mentioned about rebooting the mate. Could you tell me how to do this. I don't think I need to do this, but it would be nice to know if I need to in the future. I am new to this mate stuff, but now everything seems to be working quite well. What does SG mean, AB, means absorb?? I think. It seems that since I changed the timers, 24hr, 2hr, 2min, to the same voltage of 47.6, the same as the genstart voltage (47.6) everything is working. I see what you do when you set these up, should I do the same? Or does it matter if they are the same?
I have a pamphlet on how to do the test of the auto start, exactly the way you described it. Upon the test, it did not start until I forced it. It said Auto off at first, I had set all the testing parameters but nothing happened. I then pushed ON, the generator started up, the mate said MAN ON, I then selected Auto. So now it is running and the mate says AUTO ON. I think it should have said this before. The 6 minutes was reached and the mate turned the generator off. It now said AUTO OFF. For some reason it would not auto start when the genstart voltage was reached. The bottom line is, it is working quite well, the timers are at 47.6 volts and the genstart is the same, 47.6 V. Should I change these parameters to what you have mentioned? or does it matter? I do have a temp sensor attached to one of the batteries, as your recommendation. I do have some questions for you, if you don't mind regarding my Kohler generator, or any generator, not necessarily kohler. I can't thank You enough for all of your help. Dave P in the USA, Vermont.
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Re: Auto Gen start inconsistantly starts and doesnt starts

Postby tallgirl on Tue Jan 26, 2010 9:59 pm

To reboot the Mate, the easiest way is to disconnect the Cat5 cable input, count to ten, plug it back in.

"SG" means "Specific Gravity". You measure that with a hydrometer, which is available from better auto parts stores, as well as on-line through distributors such as Maverick Solar. You want a hydrometer with temperature correction so you don't have to calculate it yourself.

"AB" is "Absorb". That's the constant-voltage charging stage where the last 10 to 15 percent or so of the charge is put back in the batteries.

"EQ" is "Equalization". That's a higher constant-voltage charging stage designed to equalize the state of charge and specific gravity within a bank of batteries. During an equalization charge, batteries will convert more water to hydrogen and oxygen gas as each cell within the bank reaches a full state of charge.

"RTS" is, as Tim mentioned, the Remote Temperature Sensor. It goes BETWEEN batteries, about 1/3rd to 1/2 down the battery itself, as close to the center of the battery bank as possible. A "RTS" is also sometimes called a "BTS", for Battery Temperature Sensor. For example, if you have a 2 string by four batteries per string bank, you'd place the BTS near the center of the two strings, and between the center of the batteries in the string. The goal is to measure the temperature of the batteries, without having the air around the batteries measured instead.
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Re: Auto Gen start inconsistantly starts and doesnt starts

Postby blackswan555 on Wed Jan 27, 2010 4:02 am

JH is correct on all said apart from the battery absorb % it is more like the last 20%,

Ask away on gen`s :smile:

Have a good one
Tim
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Re: Auto Gen start inconsistantly starts and doesnt starts

Postby blackswan555 on Wed Jan 27, 2010 5:31 am

A few more thought`s
i think it was Otis that had mentioned about rebooting the mate. Could you tell me how to do this. I don't think I need to do this,

You DO need to do it, After EVERY time you start the gen manually (either on gen or through mate) It is a known fault fixed on latest firmware but not a problem as long as you do a re-set, I think your gen will then do as it`s told :smile:

the bottom line is, it is working quite well, the timers are at 47.6 volts and the genstart is the same, 47.6 V.

Not sure why you mention genstart ? AGS over-rides it ?

Should I change these parameters to what you have mentioned? or does it matter?


You will have to check against your SG`s (specific gravity of battery electrolyte, Test with a hydrometer) for your battery start of charge voltages and fine tune to get your desired SOC (state of charge) start and stop,
But as a start point, I would go 48v,48.2v,48.4v which is conservative, check your batt`s SG`s as close to when the gen starts as poss to see what SOC actually is, keep an eye on it for a few cycles, then when you are happy it is stable (it will probably be 60 + ish % SOC) back your voltages down to get the 50% SOC you are looking for.

Have a good one
Tim
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Re: Auto Gen start inconsistantly starts and doesnt starts

Postby tallgirl on Wed Jan 27, 2010 6:36 am

blackswan555 wrote:JH is correct on all said apart from the battery absorb % it is more like the last 20%,

Ask away on gen`s :smile:

Have a good one
Tim


The actual percentage of capacity left to be charged (depth of discharge percentage) is dependent on the charging current at the time the batteries reach the absorb voltage. It isn't a fixed value.

Higher charging rates, such as would result in 20% remaining when Absorbed is reached, are harmful to batteries, as are lower charging rates that might never actually complete an absorption cycle. As with many things in life, the middle road is the best.
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Re: Auto Gen start inconsistantly starts and doesnt starts

Postby blackswan555 on Wed Jan 27, 2010 7:18 am

JH, From page 7 of the Rolls battery instruction manual.

Absorption Charge,
Arguable the most important of the charge cycle is the absorption charge, Since the bulk charge only recharges the batter bank to an 80% level,

bit lower down the page
As Stated previously, the bulk charge brings the bank to an 80% charging level, The remaining 20% of capacity is a function of time and current,


Both the above give me 20% for Absorb ? Rolls wrong ?

Tim
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Re: Auto Gen start inconsistantly starts and doesnt starts

Postby tallgirl on Wed Jan 27, 2010 7:40 pm

blackswan555 wrote:JH, From page 7 of the Rolls battery instruction manual.

Absorption Charge,
Arguable the most important of the charge cycle is the absorption charge, Since the bulk charge only recharges the batter bank to an 80% level,

bit lower down the page
As Stated previously, the bulk charge brings the bank to an 80% charging level, The remaining 20% of capacity is a function of time and current,


Both the above give me 20% for Absorb ? Rolls wrong ?

Tim


They aren't mutually exclusive. Battery voltage during charging is determined by rate of charge (current) and the state of charge. At a lower rate of charge, and the same state of charge, the battery voltage will be lower.

What is agreed by all vendors is that higher rates of charge result in increased heat being generated, and heat is one of the enemies of batteries. Higher charging currents also result in increased gassing, which can be harmful to battery plates and increase water consumption. High quality batteries, such as Rolls, can be charged at higher rates, but other vendors produce batteries that cannot accept the same rate of charge and live a long and prosperous life. Since the OP didn't mention having Rolls batteries, I'm not giving advice based on Rolls batteries. There's also been the discussion of measuring specific gravity, so the higher permissible rates of charge for AGM and Gel batteries don't apply.
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Re: Auto Gen start inconsistantly starts and doesnt starts

Postby Dave P on Fri Jan 29, 2010 12:31 am

Here we go on the generator question. Not that this matters but the generator I have is a Kohler, 8.5KW LP. I have had two failures on what Kohler calls the "Control Board" What appears to be happening to the board is, I can't start the generator by the remote switch option. To solve this problem I had a few options, the first was to put in another conduit and run the start wires separately. (Not going to happen, at least not now anyway) The second option was to install a relay at the generator that would remove the control board from the circuit when the generator was running. ( something else to go wrong ) I asked if I could put a "shielded two wire" 22 ga. instead of the existing two wires that I was using? They said that would work also. So I did. With everything back up and running, keep in mind this was before I configured the Mate to do the Auto Start. What I am seeing with the third Control Board is, a voltage spike. I have a light wired in the system before going into the Outback. I use this simply as a "visual" so I know when the generator is running. The first two boards that were in the generator definately DID NOT make this light go extremely bright when I turned the generator off. Now that I can see the light getting very bright, I looked at the voltage during shutting down the generator, to my surprise the voltage was anywhere from 190 VAC to as high as 196 VAC. As mentioned before, I am positive this was not the case in the first two control boards. The generator company told me that this was normal, every generator will have a voltage spike during start-up and shut- down. They said I just did not notice it before. The very first morning after the third board was installed my wife was outside and the motion light was on. I turned the generator off inside at the very same time. She turned back because she heard a snap, you guessed it, one of the lights blew. That no doubt was the snap. All of this info was mentioned to the Kohler folks too, they say it is a coincidence. They told me that all of this would "go away" once the relay was installed and the generator was start automaticly. That may be true to some extent. The voltage on the Outback indicates max of 150vac. I have put my meter on the input of the breaker box and I am consistantly seeing 140 to 148 vac. I did see as much as 165, this is at the exact moment the mates shuts down the generator. I have talked to a few electricians, they don't think there should be a spike of voltage. keep in mind the generator is wired for 120vac only. The kohler does come through with both 120 and 240 but, you can, as an option make the Kohler put out only120vac. You have to move a jumper internally and program it for the "120 only option. This way you are using both sides of the stator in the generator. I know this is lengthy, I have tried to provide all who read this with as much and accurate info as possible. All I know is I did not have this extremely bright light before, (voltage spike) with the first two boards. My concern is obvious, the inverter, and all electronics in the house. Thanks to all in advance who take the time to read this. Dave P.
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Re: Auto Gen start inconsistantly starts and doesnt starts

Postby blackswan555 on Fri Jan 29, 2010 3:41 am

The generator company told me that this was normal, every generator will have a voltage spike during start-up and shut- down.
A voltage ripple maybe, but you have a BIG spike there !
More info on the gen please , link to manual and as full of a description of "The Conversion to 120v " as possible and could you point out which boards you are describing, Does the gen have a built in cool down timer ? (runs on after aux is switched off) Who installed the replacement boards ?

Have a good one
Tim
My comments are based on my experience and research, They are not endorsed or checked by Outback.I am an independent British electrician living in Spain, So please take this into account when reading /acting on my post`s.
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blackswan555
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Re: Auto Gen start inconsistantly starts and doesnt starts

Postby Dave P on Fri Jan 29, 2010 10:12 pm

Hi Tim:

Here is a link to the Kohler Generator.

http://www.kohlerpower.com/residential/ ... dnum=54361

Tim: The above link will take you to the actual generator that I have You are looking for 8.5RES 8.5KW LP, 60 HZ. I opened everything I could open, no document that I saw told me about the 120V option. I did not see a "owners manual" download there. The company that I purchased the generator from knew that I was "off grid" They said that being I was off grid, would I ever use the 240 side of the generator. I told them I really did not see any reason that I would use the 240volt. They suggested that the generator be configured to the 120 volt option. What they do is move a couple of jumpers, or add one or two, and then option the software for the 120 V Only. This uses both sides of the "stator" in the generator. I guess one half is 240 and the other have of the stator is 120. Being that I would only be using the 120 v, I would only be using the stator that produced this voltage. The 240 side would not be used. Once it was configured to 120 then both stators would share the load, making the generator work easier. This had to be physically done with either removing a jumper wire or two, or adding, I am not sure. Then the "control board" had to be optioned for the 120 v only option, which it was. The "control board" as the company calls it is about 6"x6" approx. printed circuit board. It plugs in the back of the front panel. The front panel is where the"codes" are. These codes get set if there is a problem.

The company I purchased the generator from came to put the control board in. I have a two year warranty, total, parts and labor. If there is a problem, they come and fix it.

As for the cool down timer, No. Once the mate and the aux contacts shut down, the generator is turned off immediately. I will look in my "owners manual" tomorrow and see what is in there about the 120 only option. I don't recall seeing anything when I read through it before, I will double check and get back to the forum. I do remember this though, they have had customers purchase units, customers had other electricians install the unit. A few years down the road this company will get called because of a trouble and find out they they were only using 1/2 of the unit (stator) and the unit burned out the active half. It was never option for the 120 option. Back tomorrow Thank You
Last edited by Dave P on Sat Jan 30, 2010 8:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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