Best First Upgrades:
Making a List
I recently purchased and read the Sept. '10 issue and enjoyed it thoroughly, as I do with all the issues of yours I pick up. But I just wanted to make one suggestion in regards to your "First on the List" article. I do agree with all the upgrades performed, but the order had me scratching my head a bit. I think the traction aids should be higher than ninth-more like second or third, as big tires and traction aids almost go hand in hand. A lot can be accomplished by just adding these two one after another rather than doing all the other things first and adding lockers later. And shocks should be closer to the lift, if not combined with them. Why spend money on shocks, if down the road (and usually soon down the road) a lift goes on when you replace the shocks anyway? So the order I would have put it in goes:
- Better Tires
- Traction Aids
- Winch (My own add-in since lift and shocks should be done together)
- Programmer (if Inhale/Exhale don't give enough power to get places)
- Lights (Since you shouldn't night wheel till you're avid with your rig and know the area well)
- Protection (body armor)
That way, the article is angled more at the beginner wheeler (which seems who you are targeting), since wheelers who already wheel should know where to start for their tastes.
One last suggestion: Feature more home-built rigs of the normal guys. Not all of us have lots of money to spend on expensive gear, big axles, and nice paint jobs. I love home-built, on-a-budget, in-the-driveway builds of the average worker. They've got more personality touch to them!
When we listed our "12 Best Upgrades," we didn't intend to rank them by importance. Different guys operating on different-sized budgets will have different priorities when building their trucks. The numbers we used were more of a visual cue to connect photos to the appropriate text windows. If we were ranking these upgrades in order of "stuff we gotta do first," our list would look very much like yours. You'll also see more home-built projects over the coming year in our long-running SuperBurb and Long-Range Clunker builds.
Ranger Gearbox Correction
I was a little bit disappointed in your September issue. As a Ranger enthusiast, I just wanted to let you know that in the "The Beater Files," you stated the M50D manual transmission is especially the weak link of the Ranger. I want to let you know that the weakest transmission of the Rangers and Bronco IIs are the automatics, specifically the A4LD that came in Rangers and Bronco IIs from 1985 to 1994. I'm not only citing this from personal experience, but the forums at the most popular Ranger enthusiast site (therangerstation.com) will confirm this. That's kind of like saying that of all the stock Jeep rear axles, the Dana 35 is particularly the strongest. Don't get me wrong-I love your magazine, and I always learn something new when I read your magazine, so I just want to get that out there! Needless to say, I am going to start collecting parts for my M50D Swap as soon as my 5R55E goes out-it's starting to slip!
We've always thought that the A4LD is a fine transmission when an external oil cooler is attached, but there's always room for disagreement.