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All letters become the property of Four Wheeler, and we reserve the right to edit them for length, accuracy, and clarity. The editorial department also can be reached through the Web site at www.fourwheeler.com. Due to the volume of mail, electronic and otherwise, we cannot respond to every reader, but we do read everything.
Reader: I just received my April 2006 issue in the mail. All I have to say is, this is the Four Wheeler magazine that I originally fell in love with. Where have you been for the past few months? Lately I have skimmed through them once or twice, and then donated them to the library in town. This one I will definitely keep and reread. I loved the pictures of the Top Truck hopefuls and the Real Truck action. And then the tech articles with the exploded ARB parts diagrams and Jim Allen's "Gear Swaps" article. I think I would have the confidence to tackle a gear swap after reading this article and being able to refer back to it. Even Sean Holman's little blurb about "Choosing the Right Gears" hit the nail on the head.
Reader: Today I received the April issue of your magazine with the 50 Top Truck Challenge entries. I sent you details and photos of my Jeep to enter it in TTC, but it was not among the 50 entries you published. Why didn't you put it in the magazine? Was I not TTC-worthy? My Jeep is a '74 CJ-5 with a 4.2L six, an SM420, a Dana 300, and 37-inch Boggers.
Edwin van der Maas
Editor: This is a question we often get from readers whose rigs weren't selected, so here's the deal: In a typical year, we receive mountains of entries for Top Truck Challenge-far more than we could ever publish in the magazine-so we sift through all of them and winnow them down to a final cut of 50 to 60 vehicles using the following criteria: (1) What's the most representative sampling of TTC worthy rigs that we've received this year? (2) Which rigs stand the best chance of surviving an event such as the Tank Trap without disintegrating into thousands of pieces? And (3) which entrants can realistically be expected to show up if they're invited? No offense is meant here, but your 110hp motor and 37-inch tires are pretty marginal stuff by TTC standards, and the fact that you're on the other side of The Pond doesn't make it any easier for you to crash the party with a rig like that. But it sounds like your Jeep might be right at home at our Real Truck Club Challenge-heck, it's 2,000 miles closer to you, too-so we'd welcome you to consider entering for next year's event.
Reader: Please-details for this year's 2006 Real Truck Club Challenge. Where? Date? My family is very interested in attending this summer, and we're anxious to make travel plans.
Editor: Where? Badlands Off Road Park in Attica, Indiana, about 80 miles northwest of Indianapolis. Dates? Saturday and Sunday, August 12-13, 2006. You can find out more about RTCC by logging onto www.fourwheeler.com, and check out www.badlandsoffroad.com for complete info on the Badlands. If you're in the Upper Midwest, it's a great place to go four-wheeling.
Reader: How do we apply for Top Truck Challenge? Or Real Club Truck Challenge?
Editor: Entry forms for Top Truck appear in the November and December issues each year; for Real Truck, every March and April. Then just fill 'em out and mail 'em in by the specified deadlines.
Reader: I have to disagree with something I read in Jimmy Nylund's story about his trip to the Gulf Coast ("Long Haul in Short Supply," Feb. '05). I've been reading Four Wheeler since the late '70s when my uncle Randy got my brother and I hooked on four-wheeling when we lived with his family in Washington for a year when we were kids. Like so many of the readers do, we got a kick out of the stories and (mis)adventures in your pages, identifying with the writers like Mr. Nylund, and looking forward to the day we would be able to put together a trail rig of our own. My brother and I put in our time on the junk, doing a little here and there, breaking down before reaching the trail, and yes, having to stay out a night sometimes or walking out. Now we run TJs and like them a lot.
The part I disagree with is when Mr. Nylund says he would never make it as an owner/operator. I've been an owner/operator for 13 years, and from what I gather about Nylund's ability to patch 'em up and drive on, I think he would do fine. Being an owner/operator is more a mindset than being able to drive until you're exhausted, and I would run with Mr. Nylund anytime. I run mostly in the Southwest and I see a lot of four wheelers on their way to here or there, and I'm not as envious anymore because now we go 'wheeling ourselves.
Editor: Jimmy Nylund replies: Well, where I would flunk miserably (and it was mentioned in the story) is with time-to make deliveries on time while keeping the logbook straight. I don't understand how truckers do it and still make a living. I'd probably make more money sitting by the side of a highway and fixing trucks as they broke down in front of me.
Reader: In the 2005 Dodge Power Wagon review (March '05), Sean P. Holman states, "The [Dodge's] braking system, which worked well in emergency braking, has enough braking reserve to tow 7,000 pounds without trailer brakes." He implies that trailer brakes are not needed.
Some time ago I was driving north on the Highway 101 Petaluma grade. A small single-axle trailer that had jumped its ball hitch was ejected from the southbound traffic; it disintegrated while colliding with the car in front of my Dodge W250. I braked to avoid a collision. At the time I was hauling an empty horse trailer, without brakes, which weighed about half the weight of my vehicle. The trailer tried to overtake the Dodge, causing me to jackknife with clouds of tire smoke towards a head-on collision with oncoming traffic. While applying full power to overcome the trailer's force, I drifted across the dirt meridian and onto the dirt shoulder of the oncoming traffic at 75 mph before I regained control.
After my stupidity, I have never hauled another trailer without brakes on all axles. I also only use electric brakes, which allow for adjustment and independent control of the trailer brakes.
I think Sean is being irresponsible, and readers need to know they need trailer brakes to safely stop.
via the Internet
Editor: Power Wagoneer Sean P. Holman replies: When we test long-term vehicles, we do not add any aftermarket equipment and test the vehicles as delivered, which means no aftermarket trailer-brake controllers, and so on. We try to test each vehicle in a variety of situations, from hauling to wheeling to towing, and report to the readers our experience and findings on the bone-stock vehicle. I believe you are reading deeper into my sentence than was intended, as at no time do I say that you should tow without trailer brakes. I simply meant to imply that if you should ever find yourself in that situation, you will be able to stop safely in the Power Wagon. However, I do appreciate you bringing to our attention that some people might interpret the sentence that way. It sounds like you had quite an experience, and we're glad you're around to share it with those who need to be educated. Thanks again for your response.