Who says too much flex is dangerous? Not Bill Galle, whose Flexi Monster Safari Van wowed
Reader: Is there a videotape or DVD for the 1994 Top Truck Challenge?
Steve K. Owens
Editor: We hate to say it, but we weren't so farsighted back then. We didn't start videotaping TTC until the late '90s, so those early Challenges are a distant memory now. However, we are discussing the possibility of publishing a special 15th anniversary "History of Top Truck Challenge" later this year. Basically, it would include all the old articles going back to '93, along with a bunch of new bonus material, stories from past participants and the like. It would probably run 200 pages in length (maybe more), and it would cost a little more than your average issue of Four Wheeler.
Readers, what do you think? If you saw this magazine on your newsstand, would you buy it? Or at least pick it up? Let us know what you think-we'd love to produce it if there's sufficient demand.
Reader: I was thinking of purchasing an '07 Dodge Power Wagon partly because of the good reviews you guys gave in your 2005 Pickup Truck of the Year competition. I thought you'd worked out a deal to keep the truck. I live in Orange County, California, and I swore I saw someone driving it on Interstate 5 down here some time ago.
My question is this: How is it holding up? Any major issues or problems so far? How many miles do you have on it? I plan on keeping my truck for a while, and I've being seeing some problems on various Dodge Truck forums about rack-and-pinion steering unit failures on 1/2-ton models, and wheel-bearing and front disconnecting stabilizer-bar failures at relatively low miles (under 50,000). Have you heard of, or experienced, any of these? Thanks in advance.
Ladera Ranch, CA
Editor: Your eyes did not deceive you-we do indeed still have the Power Wagon in our possession. Unfortunately, for the last few months it's been sitting in mothballs-more accurately, in our parking lot-waiting for a new title while we worked out a purchase agreement with the folks at DaimlerChrysler. But we now have our pink slip and a new registration, and in the months to come, we will be using our Power Wagon as a project rig and rolling test bed for a variety of new aftermarket products. Keep an eye on these pages for future stories.
To answer your other questions, we've heard of those issues, but in our own experience, our P/W has held up remarkably well, given how hard we've worked it. We racked up more than 23,000 miles on it in a little over a year, and the only problems we had were a short in the wiring harness (for the clearance lights) and some premature wear of A-pillar weatherstripping; both were repaired under warranty. Some knucklehead (no longer on our staff) jammed up the CD player by accident, but other than that, we've had no worries with the Wagon.
Reader: I'm pulling axles off a '76 Chevy truck. It has what looks like a 14-bolt rear and a Dana 44 front. I'm trying to find out what size ring gear is in my 14-bolt. The VIN on the door reads as follows: CKL247F336911. Please respond as soon as possible.
Editor: Up until 1981, when VINs were standardized by federal law, different automakers used different alphanumeric designations for their vehicles. General Motors used a 13-digit VIN for its '73-'80 trucks, which, from left to right, denote: Vehicle division, chassis type, engine type, series (1/2-ton, 3/4-ton, and so on), body style, model year, assembly plant, and a sequential serial number.
Long story short: You hit the jackpot with that axle. Your 14-bolt rear is a full-floating model with the 10 1/2-inch ring gear. It was used in 3/4- and 1-ton GM trucks from '73 to '81 and is far and away the stoutest axle the General ever used in a light-duty pickup truck application. Other things we know from your VIN: Your truck was a four-wheel drive from the factory, came with a 350 V-8 and four-barrel carb, and was built at GM's old Flint, Michigan, assembly plant. Oh, one other thing: According to your VIN, your truck is actually a '77, not a '76.