Review: TrustFire Z8 - XM-L Flood-to-Throw

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JohnnyMac
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Review: TrustFire Z8 - XM-L Flood-to-Throw

Review: TrustFire Z8 - XM-L Flood-to-Throw

Specifications (from manufacturer)

BrandTrustFire
ModelZ8
Emitter TypeCREE T6
Lumens1200 Lumens
Power10W
Bulb Quantity1
Light ColorWhite
Lightbulb / LED Lifespan100000 hours
Modes3
Mode ArrangementHi > Lo > SOS
Lighting Distance200 m
Battery Configuration1 x 14500 batteries (not included)
Input Voltage3.7 - 4.2V
Runtime1 hour
Switch TypeClicky / Clickie
Switch LocationTail - cap
LensConvex Lens
ReflectorAluminum Smooth / SMO Reflector
MaterialAerospace aluminum alloy
ColorSilver and Black
Dimensions4.06" x 0.98" x 0.79" / (10.3 x 2.5 x 2) cm (L x Head Dia.x Body Dia.)
Weight102g / 3.6oz
WaterproofYes
LandyardYes
FocusingYes

My Specs:

Purchased From:Tmart
Purchase Price:$17 USD
Make/Model:TrustFire/Z8
Type:Flood-To-Throw
Main Materials:Stainless Steel and Aluminum
Stainless Steel parts:Body and Bezel
Anodizing:TypeII
Tailcap:GITD
Emitter:Cree XM-L T6 CW
Driver Modes:3 - High/Low/Strobe
Mode Memory:Yes (must be off for @ 3 minutes)
Tailstands:Yes
O-rings:Yes-4 (bezel, lens, head & tail)
Waterproof:Yes
Included Accessories:Lanyard
Battery Type:1 x 14500
Total Length in Flood mode:100.19mm
Total Length in Zoom mode:110.55mm
Head/Bezel Diameter:26.00mm
Body Diameter:22.03mm
Tail Diameter:20.73
Switch Boot Diameter:14mm
Lens Diameter/Height18mm/8.42mm
Driver Diameter:17mm
LED PCB Diameter:16mm
Pill Diameter/Height19.85mm/13.49mm
OTF Lumens:490(high)/103(low) lumens
Lux @ 3m695 after 1 minute 
ANSI Throw (in meters)160 meters after 1 minute
Tailcap Draw High:1.83A
Tailcap Draw Low:0.368A
Waterproof: Yes
  

PROS:

  • Gorgeous (you have to admit it), a feast for the eyes.
  • Insane build quality.  Honestly right up there with the best torches I own.
  • Square threads...EVERYWHERE!! Everything fits and turns like butter.
  • Arrived in flawless condition.  No scratches, dings or blemishes.
  • Arrived with light lube on all body threads.
  • Compact size but very heavy and solid
  • All O-rings seal very well.  Bezel, lens and base of head sealed tight with proper sized O-rings.  Is it waterproof?  It sure is!
  • Head twists to zoom, not push/pull.  Nice resistance due to O-ring at base of head that grips the polished stainless steel body.  No water entry.
  • Thick, black, satin finished typeII ano on all external aluminum parts.
  • Design on all parts is insanely well done with one slight exception (see cons).
  • Throws very well in spite of the small lens diameter thanks to ingeniously simple design.
  • Firm switch boot and switching feel.  Not mushy like some lights.

CONS:

  • Deep bezel keeps flood area from being as large as possible.  In spite of this it still manages to be only 6" smaller in flood diameter at 7-8ft than my Romisen RC-29.
  • Satin finish on inside of the deep bezel creates a brighter center spot at full flood.  If you zoom out just a little it all smooths out nicely.
  • Slightly rough twist action when zooming in or out.  The threads in the aluminum head rub slightly if even pressure is not applied on the head when turning it.  Could be a matter of break-in or use of a different lubrication.  I cleaned and relubed the head with silicon gel and it didn't help as much as I hoped. Perhaps some light machine oil is in order later.  It's really not that big a deal but compared to the butter smooth action of all the other threads on the torch it is a tad annoying.
  • Thumb cut-outs on the tail cap for switch access means a level surface is needed for tail standing.  Tail standing is nowhere as stable as I'd prefer it to be but on a level surface it works.  Would have been better for Trustfire to leave the cap fully ringed since with it's small size, cutouts aren't necessary to work the switch.
  • As you would guess from it's design, the only place heat from the LED has nowhere to go but into the body.  Being a stainless steel body it heats up quick and causes quite a bit of loss in output after initial cold start.  

PERFORMANCE

When I first tested and calculated ANSI throw from a cold start it manged a surprising 306 meters.  After being on for a minute I found that number to drop almost by half to just 160 meters.  All this is due to thermal sag.  Is it a huge problem?  Could be depending on your intended use.  As I see it, it still throws better than most other 14500 sized lights.  For a light you can toss in your pocket as an EDC, throw is pretty decent and you get a huge die image making it not seem as "tunnel vision" like as the other FTT lights in it's size.  Compared to a Balder SE-1 or a Xeno E03 I think it would hold it's own or better them in throw.  If I owned one of those I would compare but unfortunately I don't at this time.

Flood is wonderful with this light.  My Integrated Sphere testing shows it pumps out around 490 lumen on high (quite a bit more than that when cold but it drops quickly) and 103 lumen on low.  Light output is in about 3 phases, each blending smoothly into the next and finally fading out nicely on the edges with zero rings or the annoying artifacts that all my other FTT lights exhibit.  Very bright center spot fading into a second zone and that into a third before quickly and smoothly fading into black at the edges of the spill.

It is a Trustfire, after all, so there is PWM in low mode.  However, it's not too slow and to me it appears pretty fast against the ceiling fan and I don't notice it at all in use.  The tint is a creamy white on my example.  While the driver does appear to have memory, I originally thought it didn't since it's the type where the light has to be off for @ 3 minutes otherwise it just goes to the next mode.

Is it waterproof?  Heck yeah.  I put it into a container of water for 20 minutes while on high mode.  It was completely unaffected by moisture and after opening it up and checking the internals I found it to be a dry as it was before putting it underwater.  I wouldn't try that with my SK68 at all and would hesitate to try it with the RC-29.  Take it in the rain, forget it in your pocket while swimming or falling out of a boat and never worry about it getting wet or not functioning afterwards.

CONSTRUCTION

I will let the light speak for itself through the pics I took.  Pictures really do say 1000 words.  Enjoy!  Click any photo to view it on it's own page.  My summary follows after the pics.

Ain't she purty?

Note the nice even printing on the logo and the heavy satin finished anodization on the head.

Nice machining on the head and fins.

Smooth, well machined ribbing on the body makes for easy gripping and many faceted edges to sparkle and catch the light.

Tail is well machined and heavily ano'd as well.  Note the unusual knurling...it's square cut and provides a nice amount of grip - more than it looks like it might. It's also a sign that this may not be your ordinary budget light...

A quick look at the business end.  Looks great but that deep bezel and small lens had me question when I first saw the Z8 listed on line how well it would flood.

Another look at the tail cap.  This time you can see the thumb cutouts and how much they reduce tail standing stability on uneven surfaces.  Once you remove the lanyard it's pretty stable on smooth surfaces.

Here is the beginning of what amazed me most about the Z8 - the threads!  Unscrew the tail cap and what do we find? Some amazing threading!

Clean, well cut square threads in the tailcap as well (of course).

Switch insert threads into the tailcap.  A nylon insert holds the spring into place.

How about another peak at those threads?  Mmmm...yummy

So the tail is pretty nice so far, what about the business end?  A few twists and we have the stainless steel bezel out for show.  Rather deep but it does work.  Very good machining plus a proper fitting O-ring at the top of the threads.

Yup, square cut threads here too.  Look how beautiful they are!

A look at what going on in the head.  Clean cut anodized threads here, too.  They work very well.

Here I've pulled the lens so we can get a better look at it.  Only 18mm across, what it lacks in diameter it makes up for in that it appears TrustFire took a larger lens and removed the less useful outer diameter, keeping only the center and more useful part.  This way we get nice throw from the XM-L while still keeping the light compact and pocketable.  The O-ring hugs the lens tight while the bezel and inside lens retaining ring sandwich the O-ring tightly, providing for the most waterproof FTT head design I've ever seen.

Here is a better look at just the lens and O-ring.  No scratches or visible imperfections with the lens.

Here we get our first look at the emitter and pill.  To get to them we must first remove the lens/head retaining ring.

Here is the retaining ring from the head.  Really?  Look at this thing...it's beautiful!

With the retaining ring removed from the inside of the head, the head slides off of the rear of the body.  The first thing you will notice is how well the O-ring at the base of the head grips the body of the light.  The second thing is the heavy, square cut threads for the zooming mechanism.

Here you can see the fully anodized inside of the head and the thick, perfectly sized O-ring seated in it's groove at the base of the head.  Note the missing anodization from the threads in the head.  This is a confirmation of the slight roughness that can be felt when twisting the head to zoom in or out.  I think I will put the stainless threads of the body to a buffing wheel to see if polishing them a little smoother makes the zooming smoother as well.

Now we are down to the pill.  Pretty basic so far...nylon space/insulator keeping the emitter well centered.  Lets unthread it to see what is below the surface...

Is it out yet?  Nope, still a couple more threads to go.  Speaking of threads, you guessed it...square cut even here, too.  I've never seen a light with square threads everywhere.

Finally it's out.  Over 1/2" deep (13.49mm) and nicely machined.

No clue what driver is in here.  I haven't done any DMM testing on it yet but that is coming in the next day or two.  Lack of anode spring means that button topped cells are a must.  Speaking of cells, this takes either protected or unprotected cells just fine.

A little prying with a pick has the insulator removed.  The emitter is held in place with thermal epoxy and not too much or too little.  Whomever assembled this light knew what they were doing.  You can see it peeking out from just under the edges but not gooped on and spilling out all over from under the star.  Pill is solid under the star and soldering is fine.  The pill itself is very light.  The extra depth of the pill and the square threads certainly are an appreciated addition when you see how well it transfers heat to the rest of the light.

Only 6.3 grams.  Pretty light.

With this next shot you can see how nicely machined the inside body threads are.  The pill seats firmly on the inner lip at the base of the clean threads.

The body alone weighs 51.8 grams, more than half of the Z8's 95.2 total grams of weight.

The only thing we haven't torn into yet is the switch assembly.  Well, here you go.  Would you look at that? I'm not even going to say it this time.  Everything is pretty much self contained inside the switch pill as just one component compared to most budget lights where it comes apart in 5 or 6 pieces all held together by pressure.

A look at the pretty red button on the switch.  The shiny, candy-like button...

Here I tried to see what was going on inside the switch assembly.  While trying to pop off the nylon retaining cap, the spring worked it's way out from under it's lip.  Since it was out I figured I'd try to get under the ring with a pick, a screw driver...no go.  That sucker is tight!  After chewing up the edges of the nylon I gave up and, with much difficulty, managed to get the spring back into it's place.

Here is an exploded view of all the individual components as far as I was willing to go in the tear down.

Now for the measurements.  I'm not going to bother with descriptions for these shots.  They are pretty much self-explanatory.

Surprisingly enough, the light is very free from annoying artifacts that plague most FTT lights.  The white nylon insert works very well.  Beamshots are forth-coming, so please be patient as I update this review.

A shot to show the relative small size of the Z8

Because I simply can't resist, here are a few glamour shots of the threaded components of the Z8.  A little flashlight porn, if you will.  Click a pic to see the full sized pic.

Waterproof?  You betcha!  I left it submerged for @ 20 minutes while running on high and it stayed dry and unaffected.  Try that with your Sipik SK68 or other FTT light.  There aren't many that can claim waterproofing and back it up.

BEAMSHOTS

Here are the promised beamshots compared with the Sipik SK68 and Romisen RC-29, all running on fresh 14500 cells.  Distance to ceiling is about 6ft.

First up is the Z8 and the SK68 on high flood.  Note that not only is the throw on the Z8 wider, but also the complete lack of artifact rings or color tint shift at the edges.  The light is clean and pure white.
 

Next up is the Z8 against the RC-29.  This time the Romisen appears to cast a wider flood...or does it?  While the RC-29 has a defined edge where the light abruptly stops, the Z8 fades nicely without the harsh cutoff of light.  Also note the color tint shift on the edges of the RC-29's beam along with the artifact rings orbiting it's flood.  None of that on the Z8.
 

Here I give you a shot of all three lights together in throw mode.  Take note of the complete lack of artifact rings on the Z8 compared to the other lights.  Also note the smooth fading of spill.  It means that there is not the complete tunnel vision effect when using the Z8 in throw mode.  Combined with the larger die image it has, this makes, IMO, the throw of the Z8 more useful and pleasant in real life usage.  
 

SUMMARY

As you can gather, I think this light is fantastic and it gets a solid "Johnny Mac Approved" label.  For $17 you won't find a light with this kind of machining and build quality.  Could heat management be better?  Sure, but it's stainless steel so what would you expect?  Output is great, it's waterproof, it's solidly constructed and well machined with every thread on it a square thread.  Not the sudo square threading you see on some lights, folks, the real deal found only on lights costing a LOT more.  It's a great all around light I highly doubt you would regret purchasing and, more likely than not, you will find yourself just looking at it and admiring it more than you might actually use it.  When you do get around to using it you will appreciate it even more.

Johnny

Edited by: sb56637 on 08/26/2014 - 17:06
JonnyC
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Must….resist…buying, especially with a 10% off coupon. Excellent, excellent review as always. Must take a long time to compile those pictures!

ILIKEFLASHLIGHTS
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I like it. Man you take some nice pictures. Thanks for all you do buddy!

BetweenRides
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What a beaut! Thanks for all the great pics, can't wait to see the rest of the review....

 

.... oh, and alredy ordered! Silly

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Dang it, I just noticed that it ships from the US Warehouse. Now I have to buy it.

scaru
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Wow that looks like a great light, to order or not to order that is the question. 

fishinfool
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Another awesome review with beautiful pictures!

               

 

 

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Wow Johnny!  I get the impression that you like the build quality of this light!  It does seem really really nice for $17 and shipping from a US warehouse is definitely a plus!  I find it interesting that it doesn't run on a AA (at least not stated in specs).  That could make for a nice non-flashaholic gift light.  Can you confirm it won't run on a AA? Awaiting those beamshots!  (Now get back to work!)

-Garry

My Bike Lights Thread, Optics (TIR) Comparison Beamshots, Diffusion Techniques

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jacktheclipper
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What a great review !

What I do

 

JohnnyMac
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garrybunk wrote:

Wow Johnny!  I get the impression that you like the build quality of this light!  It does seem really really nice for $17 and shipping from a US warehouse is definitely a plus!  I find it interesting that it doesn’t run on a AA (at least not stated in specs).  That could make for a nice non-flashaholic gift light.  Can you confirm it won’t run on a AA? Awaiting those beamshots!  (Now get back to work!)

-Garry

I will confirm regarding regular AA usage but I’m doubting it. Only one way to find out. Wink
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Thanks for the compliments at the early stage of the review. I have a new lux meter and a completed Integrated Sphere in addition to my old bag of tricks. Should have lots more useful information to offer in this review and future ones than I have in the past.

Once this review is completed I have another one already in the works for a different debut light (also pretty nice).

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I have a Tmart coupon if anyone wants an additional 10% off ($1.70). Good until 7/25/12 for the next 9 users:

545571967b

Ledsmoke
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Thank you for the lovely pictures and the sweet review. But please stop here. You dont like this light and you need to put it down so I dont buy it. I love 14500 batts and zoomies. Gawd darn dang man! STOP IT RIGHT HERE!

I just lost it a few days ago and ordered for well over 100 usd. I should not order more lights or batteries right now. But I want to now. This light + proper 3 mode driver + imr 14500 * 2 so I have one to change around with. Ohh my my my. You Sir are gonna get my heinie in trouble.

~ Ledsmoke ~

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[quote=djozz]

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Don’t you hate it when reviewers sit on the fence, and don’t tell you whether they like the light or not? Wink

Nice review.

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Woody wrote:
Don’t you hate it when reviewers sit on the fence, and don’t tell you whether they like the light or not? Wink

Nice review.

LOL! True that! Honestly, true FTT flood junkies probably won’t like this light based on pure performance alone. It doesn’t have a superwide flood mode and throw junkies may or may not appreciate the larger die image the XM-L casts. Anyway, beamshot pics will be uploaded soon so people can make up their own minds. I’m just in love with the build quality for just $17. I think that alone is reason to own this light. That and the fact that it’s just sexy!
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BetweenRides wrote:

I have a Tmart coupon if anyone wants an additional 10% off ($1.70). Good until 7/25/12 for the next 9 users:

545571967b

Thanks very much – nice little birthday present to myself; great looking light! Smile

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Thank you for the great review of seemingly great light!

Square threads everywhere(!!) I wouldn't care even if it wouldn't have emitter at all. Smile

Ordered. (With BRs coupon - Thanks!!)

=the=

 

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JohnnyMac wrote:
Thanks for the compliments at the early stage of the review. I have a new lux meter and a completed Integrated Sphere in addition to my old bag of tricks. Should have lots more useful information to offer in this review and future ones than I have in the past.

Once this review is completed I have another one already in the works for a different debut light (also pretty nice). !http://i246.photobucket.com/albums/gg106/CigarJohnny/emoticons/grin-wink...!

John, That was an awesome review!!! You couldn’t of shown that light any better, it’s as gorgeous as the pictures he posted. I also have this light and it’s as good as it looks a must have. If I didn’t have this light already after reading this review I would have to own one…….Great Job!!!!

 

 

 New Collection / Old Collection

 
scaru
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JohnnyMac wrote:
garrybunk wrote:

Wow Johnny!  I get the impression that you like the build quality of this light!  It does seem really really nice for $17 and shipping from a US warehouse is definitely a plus!  I find it interesting that it doesn't run on a AA (at least not stated in specs).  That could make for a nice non-flashaholic gift light.  Can you confirm it won't run on a AA? Awaiting those beamshots!  (Now get back to work!)

-Garry

I will confirm regarding regular AA usage but I'm doubting it. Only one way to find out. ;)

Does it work with normal AAs?

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scaru wrote:

JohnnyMac wrote:
garrybunk wrote:

Wow Johnny!  I get the impression that you like the build quality of this light!  It does seem really really nice for $17 and shipping from a US warehouse is definitely a plus!  I find it interesting that it doesn’t run on a AA (at least not stated in specs).  That could make for a nice non-flashaholic gift light.  Can you confirm it won’t run on a AA? Awaiting those beamshots!  (Now get back to work!)

-Garry

I will confirm regarding regular AA usage but I’m doubting it. Only one way to find out. Wink

Does it work with normal AAs?


Just tested. It does not. 14500 cells only.
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Can’t wait on beamshots and other comments.

I have been wanting THIS one from Manafont for a while, and they bear more than a passing resemblence – minus the pocket clip.

That tail cap would HAVE to go, however.

Looks like this one is better put together to judge from the pics.

Thanks as always.

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Updated the tailcap draw info. 1.83A on high and .368 on low using an IMR 14500 cell. It’s too late to continue with the other data so hopefully I will have the chance tomorrow for more testing.

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Took a bit of extra time to calculate ANSI throw. At 15ft I measure 1120 lux which calculates to 306 meters ANSI throw. Not too bad for a AA sized light if you ask me. If you consider the driver is only pushing 1.83A at the tail there is room for even more improvement if you wanted to change out the driver to 2.8A.

EDIT: The number earlier was with a fresh start at room temp. After leaving it run for 1 minute to allow for sag the lux reading dropped dramatically. At 10ft (3m) I just measured only 695 lux. After running ANSI calculations throw dropped to 160 meters. Conservative, yes, but this is the one I will use.

BetweenRides
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JMac, you have any other zoomies? How does it compare?

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BetweenRides wrote:

JMac, you have any other zoomies? How does it compare?

I do. Tomorrow I’ll compare it to the Romisen RC-29 and the Sipik SK68. I don’t have any other XM-L zoomies to compare it with but since they are all 14500 lights I will use them. I will also compare with the Small Sun C10 zoomer for poops & chuckles.
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Very nice review of a good-looking light, and nice homage to John K. :

JohnnyMac wrote:
A look at the pretty red button on the switch. The shiny, candy-like button…

http://wardogsmakingithome.org/index.html

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I still dont see you putting this light down… Sad
I’ll have to buy it soon.
Those pictures makes it look like a top $ light. Which is rare for the price. And it is a zoomie that is really well made. Which is even more rare.
Oh woe oh agony. The wait is killing me. :cry:

~ Ledsmoke ~

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[quote=djozz]

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JohnnyMac
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Ledsmoke wrote:
I still dont see you putting this light down… Sad
I’ll have to buy it soon.
Those pictures makes it look like a top $ light. Which is rare for the price. And it is a zoomie that is really well made. Which is even more rare.
Oh woe oh agony. The wait is killing me. :cry:

Sorry, man, I have my kids this week and have been very busy. It does have a few flaws but none related to build quality. The driver could be stronger and I’d rather it didn’t have a split tail. Thermal sag kicks in quick due to it being SS as you can tell by my earlier updates. Hope that helps. LOL!

Johnny

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Thats alright JohnnyMac – I am just teasing you along mate. Have fun with you family. Give them a hug from your internet friends who also love all the work you put in.

Hope that doesnt come over too tacky?? LOL

~ Ledsmoke ~

Dutch humor:

[quote=djozz]

 I do not think that the BLF-community ben

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Joined: 01/16/2011 - 02:28
Posts: 3300
Location: NSW AUSTRALIA

Nice!

 

http://i1193.photobucket.com/albums

JohnnyMac
JohnnyMac's picture
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Last seen: 2 months 2 days ago
Joined: 04/12/2011 - 16:03
Posts: 8858
Location: Eastern PA

Ledsmoke wrote:
Thats alright JohnnyMac – I am just teasing you along mate. Have fun with you family. Give them a hug from your internet friends who also love all the work you put in.

Hope that doesnt come over too tacky?? LOL

Thanks, brother! Not tacky at all. Much appreciated in fact.

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