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Thread: 58 Conicals Rifle Build

  1. #1

    Default 58 Conicals Rifle Build

    Well gentlemen, the project is to build a 58 rifle specifically to shoot conicals.....and I could use your help and expertise in rendering decisions regarding components to choose. This will be a hunting rifle, not a dedicated target shooter.

    Today the mailman delivered the barrel I just had made through Oregon Gun Works. Over a year ago I ordered a 58 cal barrel, 1 to 32 twist rifling, .007 deep rifling, 1 inch octagon shape, 34 inches long. This barrel came to me in the white with no dovetails cut for front or rear sights, no under lug and no dovetail cut for the barrel wedge pin. Oregon Barrel Works did install a 3/4 by 16 tpi Breach plug for percussion fire. Suffice to say I have a fair amount of work to do here.

    At this early stage I still have a blank slate upon which to draw my portrait, so to speak.

    Some decisions have been made. Obviously the gutz of the barrel is built as described above. I am planning on using a TC Renegade stock with Musket Cap ignition. The stock will use a Davis Deer Slayer double trigger system and a basic TC lock.

    I have had built a set of mould blocks for a 585 grain Maxi-ball type of conical in 58 caliber. The barrrel was built specifically to spin these big conicals.

    I am asking for advise on a set of sights for this rifle. I'd like a three stage sight system like the Pedersoli or the Lyman, which fold down utilizing three leaves of varing heights. Not sure if I'll use a fiber optic front site, a brass bead or a globe sight, but am leaning toward the fiber optic front site.

    I'd like to use an oversized ram rod. I'm looking for a rod that will be stiff yet not brittle. The hardware on the ends of the ram rod should be threaded for the standard 10/24 thread that most muzzleloader accessories screw into but the opposite end of the ram rod I'll want to thread in (I think) 1/4 28 tpi which is what the shot gun bristle brushes screw into. The 58 cal swabs quite nicely using 20 gauge shot gun brushes.

    As for the barrel I'd like to have the first inch at the muzzle over-bored to ease loading of the conical. My 58 TC Big Bore has this feature and it is a real asset to not need to use the short starter to load up. Looks like I'll need to figure out some means of crowning the barrel as well. Right now it's just a square cut.

    I'll need to decide on bluing or browning finish. Open to suggestions here.

    Any ideas out there you'd care to share if building your own dream rifle

    I'd really like to build a custom stock out of fancy walnut for this rifle. My idea would be instead of using the bottom flat of the octagon barrel to locate one single underlug for the ram rod I'd like to use the two bottom 45 degree flats for two ram rods that could also be used as both ram rods & shooting sticks to aid in field accuracy. Of course this would require quite a wider wood stock. I am considering not using an underlug at all but rather mounting the brass hardware directly to the barrel. Since the barrel is 34 inches long I'd need to build an extra long underlug and frankly I don't see the need to merely add more weight to the muzzle end of the gun, (the barrel is pretty far "out there" already).

    Am I missing anything?
    Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for the shadow is mine and so is the valley. Thy Glock and thy M14 comfort me in days of civil unrest and terror

  2. #2

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    I'd look at English Sporting Rifles or Early Virginia style rifles for ideas on stock profiles to handle the recoil. Both can look really classy depending on your tastes, and are better in my experience than the Renegade in that realm. Looks interesting!

  3. #3
    Member aknewbie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BrownBear View Post
    I'd look at English Sporting Rifles or Early Virginia style rifles for ideas on stock profiles to handle the recoil. Both can look really classy depending on your tastes, and are better in my experience than the Renegade in that realm. Looks interesting!
    English sporting rifle gets my vote! You are building what I would consider my dream hunting rig! I would definately consider a solid brass ramrod to add a little weight to that gun, as that big conical has the potential to send you on an unscheduled visit to the dentist. Also a consideration would be a shotgun style butplate, and as wide as you are comfortable with. Good luck and keep us posted.

  4. #4

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    I've had the opportunity to "reconfirm" that recommendation. The 62 caliber Tennessee I recently acquired has a small, narrow hooked butt. When you pay attention and hold it in the right place on your shoulder, it's not uncomfortable to shoot. But mount it like a modern rifle and it will make you pay. A 342 grain ball on top of 120 grains of powder is not as stiff a load as a 58 conical by any means, but it's a darned good teacher about stock design!

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    Member aknewbie's Avatar
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    Kinda like shooting a long chaimbered sharps with a crescent butt- the first sharps I ever fired was a Gemmer with the deep hook in the buttstock and chambered in 45-100. It was an educating experience.

  6. #6

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    Yeah, my Sharpes is one of early "Officer Models" with a shotgun style butt. Good thing, because it's a 50-140.

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    Member aknewbie's Avatar
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    UGH! How is the recoil on that? If my memory serves the officer models are pretty light. Mine is a Long range 34" bbl in 45-70, and the FFFG, 535gr boomer loads are plenty in a rifle that weighs 14+lbs. I can only imagine double the powder, even if it is FG......

  8. #8

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    Since you've started chatting regarding this thread, I'll give an update on progress of the build.

    I have collected and am presently assembling all the components. I am taking my time, proceeding slowly and only rarely gain access to a friend's lathe and milling machine.

    I'm using a Thompson Center Renegade stock with an original TC rubber butt pad. I've choosen to use TC Fiber optic front and rear sights and the addition of a Perdersoli Tang mounted Creedmore sight with a Hadley eye piece for longer than 100 yards shooting.

    The barrel has been made to 34 inches, 1 to 32 twist with the first 1 inch coned out to aid loading. Grooves/lands are .005 deep.

    I had to open up my conicals mold, as I wasn't getting the tight fitting lockup I wanted in the rifling. Carefully using my Dremel too I opened up the grove portion of the mold block to 59 caliber and I am now right at 605 grains. The conical then runs through my bullet sizer at .587 and I have good rifling contact with the finished product.

    I installed three thimbles to capture the ram rod (fiberglass). R.E. Davis Deer Slaying trigger system.

    Weight comes in at just under 10 lbs., which is about what I expected. Still deciding on blue or plum brown, although leaning toward plum brown finish. Progressing just fine so far. Will make a nice winter project.
    Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for the shadow is mine and so is the valley. Thy Glock and thy M14 comfort me in days of civil unrest and terror

  9. #9

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    It's comparatively light with an octagon-to-round barrel tapered small at the muzzle. I'm not home to measure right now, but I'm guessing it's 32-34". Curiosly enough, it's not a Shiloh Sharpes. Back in the very early 70's a Sharpes company started up in Yreka, California, and this is one of theirs. Trouble was, they didn't realize that someone else still held the Sharpes patents, so they had to fold. I've always been curious just how many were made, especially the Officers. It's fully as well made as a Shiloh and the wood is out of this world.

    And recoil? Holy cow. With a 650 grain paperpatch on top of 140 grains of 2f, you really have to lean into it to keep your front foot on the ground. I've never shot it sitting from the bench. I always use a standup bench or shoot offhand. It doesn't really hurt so long as your whole body can heave with the recoil, but there are "shoves" and then there are shoves. I'd put it real close to the 600 Nitro I used to get to shoot now and then. I did shoot that from the bench once, but never again!

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    Member aknewbie's Avatar
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    Ex1811, the brown would have my vote! I just think it looks cool. I am really surprised someone went ahead with the fast twist 58 barrel. I am EXTREMELY interested in how this turns out. What mold are you using?

    BB, all i can say is WOW! I try to explain the difference in recoil to some as a shove vs smack when comparing between high power rifles and shooting the black and they dont get it.......

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by aknewbie View Post
    I try to explain the difference in recoil to some as a shove vs smack when comparing between high power rifles and shooting the black and they dont get it.......
    It's easy when you have the opportunity to put them behind the butts. Talking to someone is about as hard as making ourselves understood online sometimes! A friend who shot my 62 Tennessee and didn't mount it right complained for 4 days about ache in his shoulder joint. A friend who shot my 50-140 lost his balance and literally landed on his hiney. I had told both of them how to do it right, and they blew me off. They don't any more!!!

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    If you look at English Sporters or Jaegers, they have wide butt plates, 2+"s wide.
    Drop of the heel is 2 1/2- 2 3/4 from line of sights.
    A straight stock wide a wide butt plate is your friend.
    An ES is my first choice on any gun that KICKS.
    If you like look of thick wood, check out a Jaeger.

  13. #13

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    Good reco. Among the "American" styles of muzzleloaders, the Virginia style probably comes closest to the same criteria.

  14. #14

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    Well, here's the final update to this project build that I started over one year ago....to refresh the folks this is a purpose built 58 caliber 1 to 32 twist barrel, 32 inches long with a percussion musket cap ignition system. The barrel is a 1 inch Octogonal barrel and the rifling is cut at .006 deep. I built this rifle to hunt elk in the Rockies with Conical shaped bullets. I had a bullet mould built which is similar to the Thompson Center Maxi-ball shaped bullet, except rather than the TC conical weighs in at 555 grains, mine comes in at an even 600 grains. The finished conical bullet comes out of the mould a bit oversized for the barrel diameter but I run the conicals through a Lyman sizer die press and I'm able to lube them up at the same time. It's a very consistent sized bullet to load without the need of any patch.

    Today I got to fire off the first shot on this new rifle. Woowser! This is a "Robust' beast to shoot. Now I'm a fair sized ol' boy, 6'2" 250 lbs. The first shot I took off hand with this gun lifted my front foot off the ground as it rocked my butt backward! I can't say the recoil hurt, not like a large bore magnum rifle is particularly a sharp smack but it pushed me more than expected. A lot more.... I had been leaning into the shot and still it had it's way with me. The load was 120 grains of 2F Goex BP and a 600 grain pure lead Conical MaxiBall. I put a round spot of leather between the charge and bullet for wadding. The next round I fired was with the assistance of a Cadwell leadsled. That round cracked the stock. Dang it! So I'm now scrambling to locate another Thompson Center Renegade stock and transfer the loose parts (including that nice soft rubber Pacmeyier Decellerator recoil pad) to the new stock. I continued to shoot another 25 shots with the cracked stock, figuring that it was already broken so what could it hurt.

    As for performance on paper I am quite satisfied for the first day. I set up a 45 yard target and a 90 yard target. The targets I used have a 1" red dot bulls eye over a 9 inch diameter black circle. I figure anything inside the black circle is a kill for an elk sized animal. Off the Caldwell Leadsled I can hold 6 round strings inside the black at the 90 yard mark. I'm not getting cloverleafs yet but I am overlapping some rounds. The barrel is new and it will take some time to settle. But most assuredly this barrel is printing much better than my other 58 cal barrels, (a 28" 1 to 48 twist TC Hawken Barrel and a 32" Green Mountain 1 to 60 twist barrel).
    At 50 yards I'm about four inches high for my zeroed sights at 90 yards. I'd like to see the trajectory spread tighten up some...I may have to experiment with a stiffer powder charge to increase velocity. Also I am quite fond of the manner in which the breach plug has been drilled. There seams to be a better access canal for the percussin charge to follow than that of the TC breach plugs I am used to. This fire canal is diagonally bored whereas the TC fire canal seams to be bored at right angles to the powder charge. The gun has been very responsive to sight adjustments made. I'd have to say that shooting these conicals seams quite a bit easier than shooting Patched Round Balls as the issue of a dirty barrel doesn't seam to be a problem like it can be with PRB's. Off course I need to experiment with a Chronograph to see what I can do with the velocity.

    Overall summary, I think this barrel is going to be a winner.
    Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for the shadow is mine and so is the valley. Thy Glock and thy M14 comfort me in days of civil unrest and terror

  15. #15

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    Excellent report! I can sure relate to the recoil based on my own experience shooting maxis and others over similar charges. It's darned near a religious experience from the bench. Sorry to hear about the stock break, but I'm wondering if it would be a good idea to cut down on the weight in the lead sled to prevent it happening again even with a new stock. I've seen waaaay too many broken stocks in modern guns when guys keep adding weight to cut down on movement.

    I'm really pleased to hear about your strategy for sizing and lubing. Makes perfect sense and should be an aid to accuracy. How much under bore diameter is the sized bullet? I'm betting a tight fit requires you to be real careful about alignment on seating for the best accuracy. An important variable I've IDed in conical accuracy is seating pressure of the conical on the powder. It seems like the more consistent I can be, the better the results.

    I'm currently working the kinks out of an older Investarms 58 cal I picked up. It has a 28" barrel only 15/16" in diameter rather than today's standard of 1". Between the smaller and shorter barrel with a bigger hole, the rifle is close to a pound lighter than a 54 cal Lyman GPR and lighter even than my TC Big Boars. I can say for sure it will never be fed a conical, and after a bunch of shooting with 100 grains, I doubt it's going to see 120 grains even with round balls. But it's a treat to carry and accurate as a snakebite. My first three shots dropped into 2" at 50 yards, and I've since seen better.

    But you have my attention between the faster twist and sized conicals. I've seen startling accuracy from guys shooting rifles built around 45 cal conicals, so I think you have great things to look forward to.

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by BrownBear View Post
    Excellent report! I can sure relate to the recoil based on my own experience shooting maxis and others over similar charges. It's darned near a religious experience from the bench. Sorry to hear about the stock break, but I'm wondering if it would be a good idea to cut down on the weight in the lead sled to prevent it happening again even with a new stock. I've seen waaaay too many broken stocks in modern guns when guys keep adding weight to cut down on movement.

    As for the Caldwell Lead sled, I didn't load er up with any weight. Just the weight of the sled itself agaist my shoulder was enough to crack the stock. I'm thinking for the next stock I plan on reinforcing the area behind the tang with two wooden dowels epoxied in place at a 90 degree angle in relation to the barrel sitting in the stock. It would be along the lines of how large bore magnum centerfire rifles get pinned in the stock fore and aft of the barrel pillar. The manner in which the tang sets in place necessitates running the dowels vertical though.

    I'm really pleased to hear about your strategy for sizing and lubing. Makes perfect sense and should be an aid to accuracy. How much under bore diameter is the sized bullet? I'm betting a tight fit requires you to be real careful about alignment on seating for the best accuracy. An important variable I've IDed in conical accuracy is seating pressure of the conical on the powder. It seems like the more consistent I can be, the better the results.
    As for sizing the conicals, my sizer die is .002 larger than the lands diameter so I'm cutting rifling into the lead on the load process down the barrel. Perhaps similar to a Lee R.E.A.L. slug.

    Thanks for the tip on the seating pressure. I'll be sure to give that some consideration at the range.

    One issue I noticed is that as the barrel got dirty, say 6 or more shots, there was a consistent section of barrel, about 10 inches long and situated about 3 inches in front of the seated conical that became quite rough to pass the conical through during loading. The loading at muzzle for the first 18 inches or so was a consistent smooth push but then some roughness was encountered. Almost like during the ignition process the inside of the barrel scored in some manner or perhaps it is melted lead to the barrel sidewall. I doubt the melted lead issue since I was using a 5/8 diameter leather wad, that I punch out of sheet leather between the charge and the bullet. I know that wad insulates the base of the conical.


    I'm currently working the kinks out of an older Investarms 58 cal I picked up. It has a 28" barrel only 15/16" in diameter rather than today's standard of 1". Between the smaller and shorter barrel with a bigger hole, the rifle is close to a pound lighter than a 54 cal Lyman GPR and lighter even than my TC Big Boars. I can say for sure it will never be fed a conical, and after a bunch of shooting with 100 grains, I doubt it's going to see 120 grains even with round balls. But it's a treat to carry and accurate as a snakebite. My first three shots dropped into 2" at 50 yards, and I've since seen better.
    Sounds like a Blunderbus!

    But you have my attention between the faster twist and sized conicals. I've seen startling accuracy from guys shooting rifles built around 45 cal conicals, so I think you have great things to look forward to.
    See response to your comments in red above. As always, your comments are both insightful and helpful.
    Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for the shadow is mine and so is the valley. Thy Glock and thy M14 comfort me in days of civil unrest and terror

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ex1811 View Post
    See response to your comments in red above. As always, your comments are both insightful and helpful.
    I'm pulling a couple of yours out for further elaboration:

    I'm thinking for the next stock I plan on reinforcing the area behind the tang
    I want to be clear about where the crack originated. If it started back behind the tang visible on the top of the stock, the problem might have been because it was contacting the stock there. You actually need at least a "hairline" gap behind the tang or cracking is a likelihood no matter what caliber and even moderate recoil.

    If your talking about the "face" of the tang down inside the stock, whether on a hooked breech or fixed breech plug with incorporated tang, I'd be inclined to try relieving and glass bedding back there simply to be sure that you're getting really even recoil against the mating surface of the stock. I've seen even 50 cal rifles firing moderate loads split a stock in this region simply because the inletting was uneven and the tang bolts weren't tight. I'm not sure if your idea of using the dowels would accomplish the same thing.

    The loading at muzzle for the first 18 inches or so was a consistent smooth push but then some roughness was encountered.
    I suspect the issue is the particular lube you're using. I've run into the same thing (it sounds like anyway) when the lube I was using wasn't quite a happy mix with the rest of the load. In fact, I've run into that with the Investarms 58 I'm dekinking right now. I was getting what amounted to an elongate "crud ring" from the location of a seated ball forward down the bore for about 10", just like I often get with Pyrodex even though this was Goex 2f. I dinked around with several lubes, and viola. When I hit on the right one the resistance simply went away. I can now shoot dozens of shots without swabbing, while I was having to swab after only three shots with the old lube.

    In that regard, one thing you might try is to pick up some lubed felt "buttons" to go between the powder and the conical. Here is where I got mine. They come lubed and plain so you can add your own lube if you prefer, but I don't bother. I find them mandatory for best accuracy with LEE REAL conicals, and they sometimes help with others. They're cheap, and they just might solve your issues with no other measures while also improving accuracy. If you're getting leading rather than fouling buildup, either a change in lubes or adding the wads might be the solution there, too.

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by BrownBear View Post
    I'm pulling a couple of yours out for further elaboration:



    I want to be clear about where the crack originated. If it started back behind the tang visible on the top of the stock, the problem might have been because it was contacting the stock there. You actually need at least a "hairline" gap behind the tang or cracking is a likelihood no matter what caliber and even moderate recoil.

    Let's see if I can insert a Photo of the broken stock here:
    Broken Stock.jpg

    Not sure if you can see it large enough but the split originates about half way through the radius at 10 O'clock in relation to the lock screw, the split continues just on top of hte lock screw washer and continues into the handgrip. My idea was to drill into the walnut from the bottom up to the vicinity right of the lock screw, on both left and right sides of the stock. I plan on making the drilled hole a "blind hole" i.e. not punching through to the top wood in the stock. Then the only reference to the dowels would be visible from the bottom up, (flanking the triggers). I thought I'd epoxy a small section of 3/8 fiberglass dowel I had extra from the ramrod I recently made.


    If your talking about the "face" of the tang down inside the stock, whether on a hooked breech or fixed breech plug with incorporated tang, I'd be inclined to try relieving and glass bedding back there simply to be sure that you're getting really even recoil against the mating surface of the stock. I've seen even 50 cal rifles firing moderate loads split a stock in this region simply because the inletting was uneven and the tang bolts weren't tight. I'm not sure if your idea of using the dowels would accomplish the same thing.



    I suspect the issue is the particular lube you're using. I've run into the same thing (it sounds like anyway) when the lube I was using wasn't quite a happy mix with the rest of the load. In fact, I've run into that with the Investarms 58 I'm dekinking right now. I was getting what amounted to an elongate "crud ring" from the location of a seated ball forward down the bore for about 10", just like I often get with Pyrodex even though this was Goex 2f. I dinked around with several lubes, and viola. When I hit on the right one the resistance simply went away. I can now shoot dozens of shots without swabbing, while I was having to swab after only three shots with the old lube.

    You have a good point re: the type of lube used. Generally I used Thompson Center Bore Butter as I have many tubes from a proir Ebay purchase. The Lyman sizer press I have also lubes the grooves of the bullet. I beleive that was a moly lube from Midway.

    Tomorrow I plan to shoot again, broken stock and all. I've got some Cabela's brand lube I'll give a try with. I also hear that Mink oil, (like the leather conditioner) works for some folks.


    In that regard, one thing you might try is to pick up some lubed felt "buttons" to go between the powder and the conical. Here is where I got mine. They come lubed and plain so you can add your own lube if you prefer, but I don't bother. I find them mandatory for best accuracy with LEE REAL conicals, and they sometimes help with others. They're cheap, and they just might solve your issues with no other measures while also improving accuracy. If you're getting leading rather than fouling buildup, either a change in lubes or adding the wads might be the solution there, too.
    I've got a bag of natural fiber wads that are dry. I guess I could try melting the lube and saturating those wads. Yet another good idea from the Alaska Brown Bear. Thanks for your insights.....again.

    Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for the shadow is mine and so is the valley. Thy Glock and thy M14 comfort me in days of civil unrest and terror

  19. #19

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    Never would have thought to use the dowels that way, but it sounds feasible for a repair. Looking at that crack, I'd almost bet that it happened because the inletting for the back of the tang is uneven. You might glass bed back there to help reduce the chance of a recurrence.

    I haven't tried the fiber wads in anything but shot loads from smoothbores, but they're good. All I do with my dry ones is drop a handful in a ziploc, then add enough olive oil to cover them, squeeze out the air and seal, then allow to stand overnight. Pull the wads from the olive oil and let them sit a few hours to soak up the surface oil, and your done. So far they've been excellent just like that for keeping fouling soft in shotgun loads. The commercial lubed ones must be boiled in some kind of oil with a little wax added (maybe beeswax and olive oil?), because they're dry to the touch but slightly waxy. I know guys who simply fold a lubed ticking round ball patch in quarters and push that down between the powder and conical or patched ball. Pretty simple experiment if you already have some on hand.

  20. #20
    Member aknewbie's Avatar
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    Another bit of info for what its worth. I have used the felt wads quite a bit in the past, and they help a lot with stiff charges of BP and conicals, but if I backed the charge down a bit my accuracy came right back. So I ditched the wads for hunting purposes as I didnt want to add another step in loading if a follow up shot was needed. Besides my 50 shooting a 495gr conical will flatten anything that walks up here at 1050fps- the critter isnt going to notice another 100fps.

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