Reader: I had a question about your magazine's coverage of the 2007 Jeep Compass (Nov. '06). A few years ago, when the Ford Escape was relatively new to the market, it seems I recall a discussion about the Ford Escape not having a two-speed transfer case. I also seem to recall that this was the reasoning behind the magazine's lack of coverage for this and other vehicles without a two-speed transfer case. As I looked at the November issue, I was surprised to see a two-page article titled "Jeep Builds Its First Car." My question for your magazine is: Where do you draw the line? If you are going to cover the Jeep Compass, why not cover the Ford Escape, Subaru station wagons, Honda CR-V, and so on?
Editor: As a rule, we don't provide coverage of vehicles that lack a two-speed transfer case. However, there are exceptions to the rule, and certainly Jeep-which, to our minds, is still the flagship brand for all of four-wheeling-would qualify. At Four Wheeler, we've always prided ourselves as being on the leading edge when it comes to covering the latest 4x4 design and engineering trends-and like it or not, the proliferation of crossover cute-utes such as the Compass are indicative of where the 4x4 consumer market seems to be gradually trending. More relevantly, perhaps, we'd also guess that you can expect to see some of the new Jeeps' engineering tricks-such as the Patriot's use of CVT transmission gearing in lieu of a transfer-case low range-to find their way onto other Jeep vehicles in the future, which to our minds would make them of interest to our readers.
Reader: Is it just me, or are the Baja Claws on Brad Pellett's Ram ("Top Truck Challengers," Nov. '06) mounted backwards? I looked at some Baja Claws on a vehicle in another magazine, and they are running the other way. Would you please tell us the secret of running directional tires in the right direction so that we can avoid making ourselves look stupid in a cool magazine?
Also, what is with the stacked lift blocks on Terry Gilpin's Crew Cab in the same issue? I guess that is just the way you build things when you are from Texas. They both look like something Ken Brubaker would do (just kidding). I can't wait to see the video, though. So much rubber! Tire manufacturers are not going to go out of business anytime soon. Thanks for the cool magazine.
Editor: Yep, the directional-tread Baja Claws you saw in November are indeed mounted "backwards." Based on our experience, this isn't as unusual as you might think. We've met a number of folks who think that these tires actually perform better-particularly on rocks-when mounted in this fashion, and run them on the trail that way. Your mileage may vary, as the saying goes, but there was a method to the madness here.
About Terry's big blue Chevy: Well, a lot of our readers wanted to see him compete-in fact, he was the leading vote-getter for last year's event.
Also, the "blocks" were welded to the axle not merely stacked-something we preach against.
Reader: I just subscribed to your magazine and I was hoping for a little help. I have inherited an '88 Ford Bronco II with everything bone-stock, and I was wondering what modifications, if any, that I should start with, e.g., weak links, and so on. Should I start throwing Dana 60s at it, ditch the IFS, and replace the transfer case? If I can upgrade some of the components, what donor vehicles should I look for? The vehicle would be used primarily for four-wheeling, but it must travel freeway to get there. My tech level is Master-certified but this will be my first four-wheel-drive buildup. Thanks for any help.
Editor: Fear not-we will be covering Bronco IIs and Rangers in an upcoming "Weak Links" article. Stay tuned.
Reader: I love watching your Top Truck videos. I've probably watched them at least 50 times, but I would like a favor. Would it be possible for you to put closed-captioning or subtitles on the DVDs? I miss out on a lot of the information and what the people are saying because I am deaf. I've got a couple of deaf friends who like to watch the DVDs with me-they would love to have closed captions, too, and I'm sure there are a lot of other deaf people who love to wheel and watch your DVDs.
By the way, I wheel a '94 Jeep YJ with a Dana 60 front, 14-bolt rear, stretched-out wheelbase to 102 inches, an LT1 V-8, and 42-inch IROKs.
Editor: This is a great idea, and we're forwarding your request to our video production team.