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Reader: Hey guys, great coverage of Top Truck Challenge this year (Dec. '06). I also attended your Real Truck Club Challenge last summer, and it was really great to watch those contestants and rigs give it their best.
But one thing has been baffling me for years now, and after seeing so many guys have trouble, I'd really like to know what the reasoning is. I'm just now in the process of building up my own 'wheeling rig, a '92 Jeep YJ. I'm not to the "advanced level" of building yet, but I'd just like to know why these guys keep using carbureted engines? Just look at Gilpin and his Chevy K-3500. That thing is rolling on 56-inch agricultural tires. He should have scored First Place easily in the Mud Pit, and he should have performed very well in the Hill Climb and the Mini-Rubicon. But he didn't finish any of those events because he couldn't keep the engine running.
Let's face it: It doesn't matter how strong your axles are, how tall your tires are, how many lockers you have, or how much lift you've got, if you don't have an engine that will keep it all spinning. It seems to me that if you're going to sink money into a project rig to use specifically off-pavement, the first thing you should do is eliminate the carburetor, or at least install one specifically for trail use. It's not just the Chevy from Top Truck that's had trouble. I can't count how many rigs I've seen at off-road parks that die halfway up a hill, or halfway through an off-camber mud hole. Don't these guys get tired of this? Anyway, I thought I'd ask you guys: What's the reasoning behind running old-school carbureted engines in high-dollar rigs?
Editor: Good question. For what it's worth, you're preaching to the choir here-to us, fuel injection is better than any carb, particularly for the kind of off-camber 'wheeling you find at the Tank Trap, the Mini-'Con and the Hill Climb. On the other hand, carburetors are far less expensive and much easier to tune, troubleshoot, take apart, and rebuild compared to the cost and expertise required to perform and properly dial in an EFI conversion on an older engine. In the end, it all depends on the make and model of your engine and how much time and money you want to invest in your truck's induction system.
Reader: I am a longtime fan of Top Truck. I've bought all of the videos and have seen how they progress. I must say that after watching the TTC 2005 video, I and other members of the local 4x4 club were disappointed. Not by the event itself or its operation-hats off to that. Instead, we noticed how the tech inspection portion was basically deleted and replaced with lots of promotion and talking (OK, that's not too bad).
Then, during the events, there seemed to be much less coverage of each rig going through. My biggest complaint here is the sound. It seemed at multiple times-with the Willys truck, I think-that a revving sound was played on the soundtrack that didn't correspond at all to the driving at that instant. It seems that the track was played randomly throughout the video, and it really didn't fit.
Another thing was the massive amount of commercials. I understand that your sponsors need coverage, but I got the feeling that I was watching TV with the usual commercial breaks. It's a DVD! There shouldn't be commercial breaks!
Also, the commentary made it seem like the person watching has absolutely no clue what a lug nut is. I know some explanation is needed-and it was done well in the past-but now it's just too much, and more important things are being neglected so that we can all hear about things like "He's hooking his winch up so that he can draw himself out of the hole." I guess I'm just hoping things get better-otherwise, I'm just not going to buy any more videos.
Watch the 2003 and 2004 videos and then the 2005 TTC. You'll see what I mean.
Editor: Points well taken. The only thing we'd say in our defense is, we didn't simply "delete" the tech inspection from the video as you described-we deleted it from the entire event as we no longer require TTC rigs to be street-legal. Otherwise, we heard other readers express similar complaints about the '05 video, so we readjusted our production values accordingly for 2006-or at least, we tried.
Anyway, check out our newest TTC video-it's on sale now-and tell us if we haven't gotten back on track, at least a little.