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  1. #1
    rayr0683 rayr0683's Avatar
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    Schwinn generator light help????

    Hello All,
    Im riding a 1985 Schwinn Le Tour Luxe......in 1985, when I bought this bike, I also bought a Schwinn Approved Generator Light Set. It was installed at the Schwinn Dealer. I had to recently install new bulb in rear, front light was working fine. However, the Light had been flickering at night, instead of steady beam. Once I installed the new Raer Light Bulb, both lights have worked, but still flickered. I know the problem of the Flicker....my tires are original, and have become very Glazed and hardened, in fact, they are seperating where gumwall meets the black tire part of the rubber. There is also a groove in the gumwall from the generator eating into the gumwall. The Schwinn Generator on this bike has the rectangular front light, and same with rear red light. The Generator is a more rare brand, its a Voyager....and has the AG Logo on the Hardware....So, its the Model Brand that was made in China/Taiwann I think. Its not Miller/Dynamo. It operated the same way though. Its a 1 wire system. Not 2 Wires. Wire from Front Light, gets twisted with bare wire from Rear Light, and then you Slide the bare Wire through a Press Up Small Clamp on bottom of Generator. There is also a Phillips Screw that gets screwed through the Mounting Clamp of Generator, into the Rear Fork/Frame, I assume as a Ground Connection. Anyway, I bought Brand New Kenda Tires, which Im installing today. In meantime, I moved the generator Upwards about a 1/4 Inch, to rub against a new part of the tire, not the Groove. As I pedalled the Bike stationary, the Lights came on Steady, rubbing a better part of the Tire....then I tightened the Mounting Bolts, and the Lights arent Lighting Now. The generator is still Riding properly on the tire, but Lights stopped working. Is there any Troubleshooting/Advice anyone can give me to make this generator Lights Work again??? Bulbs are new! And Wire is Freshly Stripped and Twisted, making perfect contact on generator Clamp. I dont know what Tightening of the Bolt did, but now Lights dont come on. Any Help would be greatly appreciated. Thank You, Ray

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    Could be a break in the wire somewhere under the insulation after all these years. Try a new wire and see if it makes a difference.
    My other bike is a Huffy.

  3. #3
    rayr0683 rayr0683's Avatar
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    thanks for the suggestion. I appreciate it. One question though......I moved the generator up a little bit, from where the bike shop had it. Its still hitting the gumwall/tire, just a little higher up. The Shop had it rreally low, it wore a bad groove in my old tire. When I loosened it, the generator moved all over horizontally, does it matter how much tension is against the tire, when I tighten the brackets?? Visually it looks like same position horizontally, that they had it, but it may be tilted in more......and does it matter how high on tire the generator wheel rides?? Thank You, Ray





    Quote Originally Posted by Sprint75 View Post
    Could be a break in the wire somewhere under the insulation after all these years. Try a new wire and see if it makes a difference.

  4. #4
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Ray,

    As long as the generator wheel is touching the tire and spinning it should be putting out power. Make sure the small grounding screw is biting into the frame. Also check your wiring for breaks. It is easy to do if you know how to use a multi meter. If you don't, just replace the wires. You can use a piece of speaker wire to check and see if the lights are working.

    Also check the bulbs again, I have had bulbs burn out with no warning.

    Aaron
    Webshots is bailing out, if you find any of my posts with corrupt picture files and want to see them corrected please let me know. :(

    ISO: A late 1980's Giant Iguana MTB frameset (or complete bike) 23" Red with yellow graphics.

    "Cycling should be a way of life, not a hobby.
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  5. #5
    rayr0683 rayr0683's Avatar
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    Thanks Aaron,
    I do have a Multimeter, gotta find it. But otherwise, I can get a better peice of wire, the one with it is really thin stuff, one peice of wire. Also, do you guys have the same thing, where the generator eats a groove into your tire?? This generator has a metal wheel on it, not the plastic type. Is there any lubricating of the generator necessary?? Thank You, Ray



    Quote Originally Posted by wahoonc View Post
    Ray,

    As long as the generator wheel is touching the tire and spinning it should be putting out power. Make sure the small grounding screw is biting into the frame. Also check your wiring for breaks. It is easy to do if you know how to use a multi meter. If you don't, just replace the wires. You can use a piece of speaker wire to check and see if the lights are working.

    Also check the bulbs again, I have had bulbs burn out with no warning.

    Aaron

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    As far as I know there is no way to lube those old generators. But, they do seem to run for a very long time. If your tires were so old that the gum walls were breaking down, it's no surprise that the generator would cut into the tire over such a long time. That's pretty normal.
    My other bike is a Huffy.

  7. #7
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Ray,

    Couple of things you can try. I have taken the pulley off of an old Schwinn bottle generator and dribbled a bit of sewing machine oil down the shaft and it seemed to help a bit. Some tires like Schwalbe and some Kendas have a raised ridge on the side of the tire just below the tread, it is called a generator track and is intended as a place for the generator to run. They make little rubber covers for the generator wheels that will help keep wear down as well as reduce slipping in wet weather, however I cannot find a current source for them.

    I would use stranded wire rather than a single solid conductor. FWIW I cut up old cellphone chargers to get wires for my generator equipped bikes. It is the right size, and is usually color coded.

    Aaron
    Webshots is bailing out, if you find any of my posts with corrupt picture files and want to see them corrected please let me know. :(

    ISO: A late 1980's Giant Iguana MTB frameset (or complete bike) 23" Red with yellow graphics.

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    For intermittent lighting, there's either an intermittent break in the wiring or the generator is slipping intermittently from the tire. If the flickering is only on the front light, then that pretty much eliminates generator slippage as a problem.

    However, there's a bigger problem. At moderate and higher road speeds, suddenly "turning off" the front light will result in a voltage increase that will blow out the rear light. I'd suggest that you disconnect the rear light until you solve the flickering problem in front or attach a zener diode protection circuit. Otherwise you will blow a lot of rear bulbs in solving your problem.

    One often overlooked problem is how the bulb is connected to the circuit. If you have a screw type bulb in the front, the bulb may have vibrated loose. This will cause the bulb to bounce in its socket making intermittent contact and cause flickering. Also, the spring contact that connects to the bulb's center contact will age. If it does, then the bulb will make intermittent contact even when it is screwed in tightly. You can try to replace the spring but you will eventually have to replace the lamp with a new one.

  9. #9
    rayr0683 rayr0683's Avatar
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    Hi Aaron and SB,

    Thanks guys for all the suggestions, tips, and the tiime to look at my thread to help me. I need it, trust me. My Bulbs are both Screw in Type. And both Lights flicker, when that was happening, prior to going out on me the other night, when I adjusted the bracket. Something I touched stopped it from working, it was working just prior to me adjusting bracket. However, I do have to think, it is a broken wire, and possibly not touching tire properly......reason I say this is...the grooves of generator were caked up with rotted gumwall from the "Old Tire"..

    I now replaced the rear tire with a new Kendas Gumwall. I dont notice the ridge on this tire, but these were cheap tires, only about $16.00 each new. I rode last night to test things out with new tire, and same old wire. The light went on steady, and the front was bright at first, then got duller, though still visible. Was only really bright if I was doing at least 20 mph.....the rear was bright at pretty much all times. The rear has a brand new bulb in it though, I just bought it.......The Front bulb is original. The LBS looked at my bad bulb from rear, and sorted through their supply of bulbs, and found a whole box, but only the box was labled, the bulb itself has no markings on it. So, I can only look at my rear bad bulb, or front bulb to read the volt/amp values of the bulb. This new one works, but is just blank, plain bulb no markings. It does work properly though, as both, front and rear were lighting proper when I put new tire on, and tested them. The flickering so far as last night, has stopped temporarily.
    OOOPS! Spoke too soon. Just got in from riding......and the front light is the only one acting up. It flickers, then comes on strong and brite, then goes off completely, then back on again....etc......I really think your right. I think I need to open up front light, and check bulb for tightness, because when I tapped on it tonight riding, it would come back on, then off. So, its probably loose, and I should replace that bulb as well anyway, so both are new.
    I read a post somewhere that there are screw in LED Bulbs that work great on these generators, but cost about $14.00......but stated that the lights become as brite as the LED Lights that you buy new in stores today, that are battery operated. Anyone know about these??? Ever tried them?? Just another thought I wanted to run by you guys, cause I bought my little daughter a new LED battery Set, at Performance Bike, and its Super Bright, both front and rear, like a Police Siren Brite. Id love for my generator to be that brite. Anyway, I will check front bulb status, and wiring, and some lubrication with oil, then repost as to the results once Im finished. Thank You guys for all the help thus far! Ray

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    I read a post somewhere that there are screw in LED Bulbs that work great on these generators, but cost about $14.00......but stated that the lights become as brite as the LED Lights that you buy new in stores today, that are battery operated. Anyone know about these???
    The only LED replacement bulbs I know about are for battery lights. They require a positive polarity for the bulb's center connection. Generator output is AC. This means that the bulb will not be lit during the negative cycle.

    http://www.peterwhitecycles.com/ has an extensive selection of high quality battery and generator lights. I recently replaced my generator setup of 30+ years. I had a flickering problem similar to yours. It was due to the bulb bouncing in the lamp because the contact spring finally gave out. It was close to my birthday, so I treated myself to a new state of the art LED generator system. I'm sure it's as bright as the set you got for your daughter. It's got a stand light and achieves full brightness at 2 mph. It also set me back $200. That's the downside of the super bright LED systems.

  11. #11
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    I have seen LED lights, you can use the plug in replacements, however they go dark on the alternating cycle, at low speeds you get a definite strobe effect at higher speeds it becomes a slight flicker. It is possible to build a rectifier bridge that will fit in the original housing to stop the flickering of the LED's.

    One source I know of for the LED's is from the ABCE Tour parts store.

    Aaron
    Webshots is bailing out, if you find any of my posts with corrupt picture files and want to see them corrected please let me know. :(

    ISO: A late 1980's Giant Iguana MTB frameset (or complete bike) 23" Red with yellow graphics.

    "Cycling should be a way of life, not a hobby.
    RIDE, YOU FOOL, RIDE!"
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    "Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
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    Which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?"
    _krazygluon

  12. #12
    rayr0683 rayr0683's Avatar
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    Hi Guys,
    I read a post, maybe it was in the Schwinn Bike Forum, not sure.....But a well known poster there, Posted a Thread about his old Bike Generator Light Set. He said that he was considering building a LED Circuit, but instead saw these Bulbs listed on a website, or maybe having to do with generators, not sure....But He goes on to say that he Ordered the Bulb called the "TerraLux-TLE-1" and went on to say, it costed him about $20.00 per Bulb shipped from Amazon. He says that when it arrived in a day or so, he just screwed it into his Generator Front and back Lights, he said he used the Screw in Base Version, there is also the other type/push in flange....But when he screwed in both of these TerraLux Bulbs, he went out for a ride at night, and says that the Light Ouitput was just like the New LED Lights that are available at Bike Stores for Far more Money. I guess he means Lights like I got my daughter, which is very very bright, both front and rear, but Battery Operated. He went on to recommend these Bulbs to people that wanted a Brighter generator Light. He said that is was Way Brighter than the Halogen Bulbs that he had put in his Generator to replace the Originals. He only commented that they are Pricey, but Fully Satisfied with the Output.

    It sounded like he was referring to Vintage Generator Sets made by Schwinn. Not the Newer Generators. Would that theory be wrong, because the Generators are AC and not DC. ?? It sounded like it was an Easy LED Replacement Bulb, and he Raved about its Output. It made me want to Order 2 of them. But I didn't, because I was unsure. I just read this Post recently, and there was a lengthy thread about it, in whatever Forum I saw it. Wish I could fin the Forum Thread Now, to Post it for you guys......But I did Find the Bulbs...here is Link:
    http://www.flashlightreviews.com/rev...alux_bulbs.htm

    Thanks, Ray

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    With these one-wire circuit, especially old crusty ones, you can improve conductivity by running jumpers to ground.

    Running a wire from the nut that secures the light to the bracket down to the closest nut on the bike - or even better, back to a nut on the bracket that secures the generator. Basically, you are making a two-wire system instead of depending on the frame to act as a wire. Since you are replacing the one wire anyway, it's simple to replace it with a two conductor wire and be done with it.

    Finding contacts on both ends of the circuit as close to the light socket and generator will eliminate any flickering caused by faulty connections.

    You could also clean off the contacts on the light sockets - a pencil eraser works wonders. Contact cleaner works even better. All these conductive electrical contact surfaces build up a type of invisible rust that interferes with the circuit, expecially one as haphazard and low amperage as a bicycle light. Use the eraser on the threads of the bulb, too.
    Last edited by sciencemonster; 11-20-10 at 09:40 AM.

  14. #14
    rayr0683 rayr0683's Avatar
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    Wow.....that sounds like a great idea. Because the screw that goes through bracket to press into the frame, as a ground, stripped on me. So I found a fatter thread screw, and screwed that in. But I dont like that system of depending on bike frame, it must pierce the paint and all, in order to ground. Your way sounds better.

    So, should I do this with a wire to both Light Brackets, front and Rear, then run the wire to the Bracket Nut on the generator Itself??? Is that what you mean??
    I just wanna be sure I understand properly. Especially with the Front Bulb flickering as it is. Thank You, Ray

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    Replace all one strand wire in the circuit with two-strand. Ground the extra wire as near the light sockets and generator body as possible. The nuts that holds them to their respective brackets sounds perfect.

    Do not use the nut that holds the other wire to each of the fixtures - that one will be isolated somehow from the body of the fixture. Usually with a small piece of cardboard or asbestos.

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    As far as the dynamo rotor digging into the side of the tire is concerned proper dynamo alignment is necessary to minimize this but it sounds like your tires are overdue for replcement too. You want the dynamo position adjusted so that the dynamo rotor shaft lies perfectly centered on a line drawn from the wheel axle to the dynamo rotor center line. This is covered in the documentation for the Dymotec 6 dynamo which is downloadable from the Busch & Muller web site IIRC.

    The Dymotec 6 dynamo, available from Peter White Cycles, is reputedly the best bottle dynamo currently available and includes a rubber rotor wheel that contacts the tire and reduces tire sidewall wear. It also includes electrical contacts for two wire hookup to modern LED lights.
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  17. #17
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    ground ground ground, this is the most common problem with these lights. the better the ground the better the light. if you use the screw you must remove the paint so the screw is contacting bear metal. It must also be cone shaped to really get some bite into unpainted metal. a separate ground wire will work but again you need it to be in contact with unpainted metal. My advice, retap the ground screw hole a little larger, get the right screw for the new size, grind the tip to a cone shape, lightly drill with a smaller drill through the paint. install the new screw and then you are good to go. once you have proper ground you can work on other wires and bulbs.

    good luck

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    Quote Originally Posted by mplotkin View Post
    ground ground ground, this is the most common problem with these lights. the better the ground the better the light. if you use the screw you must remove the paint so the screw is contacting bear metal. It must also be cone shaped to really get some bite into unpainted metal. a separate ground wire will work but again you need it to be in contact with unpainted metal. My advice, retap the ground screw hole a little larger, get the right screw for the new size, grind the tip to a cone shape, lightly drill with a smaller drill through the paint. install the new screw and then you are good to go. once you have proper ground you can work on other wires and bulbs.

    good luck
    This is not needed if you run the secondary wire - the circuit becomes independent of the bicycle frame if you run the wire to all three components.

    With the secondary wire, you don't need to screw up the paint job with the ground screw. You can remove it and throw it away. I always do this to preserve the paint job. Once you put a hole in the paint job, rust sets in. In fact, I also use little rubber pads for all the brackets so they don't scratch the paint job. The down side to this is that the brackets can't grip as firmly - it is possible they will rotate on the axis of the fork or seat stay. Check them once in a while and retighten as needed.

    Quote Originally Posted by mplotkin View Post
    A separate ground wire will work but again you need it to be in contact with unpainted metal.
    The unpainted metal of the brackets will complete the circuit - again, with the secondary wire, the bicycle frame is out of the circuit.

    In any case, you should not chip thru the paint job ever if you value the paint job. Using a seat bolt or brake mounting bolt or some other bolt that penetrates the frame as an anchor for a ground wire is sufficient. You shouldn't screw with the paint job on a collectible bike. That said, a lot of old bikes have an existing rust spot where a generator used to be, and where various brakets for lights and racks and kickstands used to be.
    Last edited by sciencemonster; 11-20-10 at 01:00 PM.

  19. #19
    rayr0683 rayr0683's Avatar
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    Hello,
    All od this at least has a common link, which is grounding the Circuit. I see a problem with the 2nd wire method though. If I run a 2nd wire, from the bracket of my Front Headlight, that is no problem, as its mounted to the Stem, below Handlebars. The Problem I see with the 2nd wire is, in the back of the bike. The Generator Body, and the Rear Light/TailLight are both connected to the Bracket that Holds BOTH, The Rear Light and Generator Body to one of the Rear DownTubes, Not the Seat Tube of the Frame, but the Thinner Tube that runs down to the Rear Wheel Mount. With Both, the Generator Body and Rear Light Body are mounted to the Bracket that secures the Generator to the Bike Rear Tubing. The Bracket has several bolts running through it, to secure it to the bike, and also to secure the Rear TailLight in its proper place, so they are all connected to the Bracket....(Generator Body, Rear TailLight, and that Ground Screw Runs through a Tapped Hole in Center of this Main Mounting Bracket).......so I dont see where I could connect the 2nd Wire for Ground to either the Generator Body Mount, or the Rear TailLight Mount, since thet are all Mounted together on the Main Generator Bracket..... Thanks, Ray

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    If the rear light is on the same assembly as the generator then disassemble the parts, clean the contact surfaces, and reassemble. You can also install a jumper wire from the bolt that attached the light fixture to the bolt that attaches the generator - although this would be overkill. If that light is flickering at speed, then your problem is likely the socket in the lamp housing, the rivets that attach the socket to the lamp housing, or the bulb. In any case, the contact between this assembly and the bike has nothing to do with it. The complete circuit is made and contained on that assembly. The bike is not a ground to earth - the bike has rubber tires, after all - the ground goes from the light bulb to the generator body which acts as earth in the circuit. The bike acts as a ground wire from the generator to whatever lights are attached to it via the single wire.

  21. #21
    rayr0683 rayr0683's Avatar
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    Thanks for the wealth of Electronic Knowledge, seriously, I appreciate it alot. Its helping me out very much. I opened up both Front and rear Light Compartments today. I told you I did install a new Rear light Bulb, just recently, cause it was out. The new Bulb works great, no problems. But while I had everything Opened today, I noticed that my Front Bulb...(The One With All The FLICKERING.....was Loose) So, I took it out, cleaned the contact/socket and then Sprayed CAIG DeOxit on all Contacts, and Sockets, as well as Bulb Screw In Threads.....Hopefully this will Help too. I then Tightened everything Up, Bulbs Included. I noticed One Thing Though...I never Saw My Front Bulb before. Its Nothing like the Rear Bulb that I removed, and then Replaced. The Front Bulb, Is Round, and Looks Like a Crystal SnowFlake Material.....whereas the Rear Bulb, looked like a Typical Screw in FlashLight Bulb. I wonder if this Kind of Front Bulb is Hard to Come By...its so Different from any Ive seen before. But anyway, I will tyest it out again tonight. Thanks, Ray

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    No problem - I run old 50s toy trains, so that knowledge comes in handy for bike lighting.

    The bulbs have a different specific purpose. The front like is a narrow beam meant to light your way. The rear is a wide, spread out beam meant to light up the red lens so people coming up on your can see it, hence the different shapes. I've seen old front lights with little tiny lens built into them. Very cool. I don't think those kind are available any more.

    While you are cleaning up inside you can very carefully take a small screwdriver or awl and slightly bend up the sprung steel contact at the center of the socket. They lose their springiness after 40 years with a bulb in there. It is supposed to put a little push-back pressure on the bulb so the threads make some good solid contact with the socket threads. If that pressure is not there, there is a slight chance that the bulb will be jostled by vibrations and the contact with ground will be unsteady. I also rebuilt old lamps and light fixtures for my house and find those need a little bending up on the center contct, especially with these new fangled lightbulbs you get these days.

  23. #23
    rayr0683 rayr0683's Avatar
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    Mark,
    Thanks alot. I didnt check those center contacts today. But In will, especially if the Light is still Flickering in the Front Tonight when I test out my cleaning/retightening job. I will report back after my findings. Are average replacement lamps, as were in there, the best ones to put back?? Or are there newer Halogen Bulbs that may give off better, brighter light? Thanks, Ray

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    That I have never done the research on, because, frankly, I'd never use incandescent. I modify all my light housings with LEDs. 10X brighter.

    It's destructive - I tear out the insides and replace everything - but it lights up the street like you wouldn't believe, and with the same little generators.

  25. #25
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rayr0683 View Post
    Mark,
    Thanks alot. I didnt check those center contacts today. But In will, especially if the Light is still Flickering in the Front Tonight when I test out my cleaning/retightening job. I will report back after my findings. Are average replacement lamps, as were in there, the best ones to put back?? Or are there newer Halogen Bulbs that may give off better, brighter light? Thanks, Ray
    Ray,

    They do make halogens that will fit the old incandescent bulb holders. Try this site and wander around a bit. IIRC your front light is 6v 2.4watt the rear should be 6v 0.6watt. I still have an old Raleigh that uses that type of bulb. Interestingly enough the Raleigh has a generator hub and requires a two wire system for grounding rather than relying on the bike frame for one side of the circuit.

    Aaron
    Webshots is bailing out, if you find any of my posts with corrupt picture files and want to see them corrected please let me know. :(

    ISO: A late 1980's Giant Iguana MTB frameset (or complete bike) 23" Red with yellow graphics.

    "Cycling should be a way of life, not a hobby.
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