How Old Are We, Anyway?
Reader: When was the first issue of Four Wheeler published? I think I was in high school at the time of the first publication.
Editor: We've been in business since February 1962. And how old are you, gramps?
Disgusting & Shameful Ads?
Reader: I am a subscriber of 25-plus years and love this magazine, reading it from cover to cover. Lately I have seen some disturbing advertising for "Male Enhancement Pills" and "Size Does Matter." This is disgusting and shameful. I'm a Vietnam-era Marine and have seen it all, but never expected you folks to stoop this low--a magazine of great "integrity" since 1962. I read where another subscriber complained a few months ago, but you are not getting it! I want your magazine to survive this recession, but this is wrong and we deserve better. If these ads continue, then I will never support your great magazine again. I am sure others feel the same way and will end their support. Wake up, please!
Eagle Creek, OR
Editor: For what it's worth, we're not big on these ads, either, but strictly a business decision. We do appreciate your input on this subject, and your concerns have been communicated to the folks on our sales staff. Our apologies for any offense, and thanks for writing in.
Public Land Sales: Pro Or Con?
Reader: Recently I ran across an online article about 110,000 acres the government was going to auction off for oil and gas exploration in or near The Canyonlands of Utah. I did a search on the Internet and could not find any information about this, and the online article I read was a bit one-sided, making it sound as though former President Bush was handing the land straight over to his oil and gas buddies. I know from reading you and your sister publications that these land auctions can be a double-edged sword for four-wheeling enthusiasts, as evidenced by what happened with the Golden Spike. When that land went to auction, it was divided into parcels and a fellow 'wheeler purchased a section, leaving it open to the public, and a couple who planned to build a house bought the adjoining parcel, which (the last I heard) resulted in part of the trail being closed since it is now on private property. I have a two-part question regarding these auctions.
First, as avid four-wheeling fans and readers of your magazine, should we as a group be opposed to these auctions, or in favor of them? Is there somewhere we can visit to stay informed about future auctions or ways to get involved?
P.S. I would just like to add that to many people, it seems that one cannot simultaneously be an avid wheeler and want to protect these lands. If you enjoy four-wheeling, you need to be actively involved in preserving the land you use, and respectful of it! Too many trails are being shut down because of people going off trail or polluting. Every time I go wheeling--every time--I find more garbage than I can carry out. There are a lot of people these days who feel we are ruining the land we enjoy, and leaving trash is just giving them the ammunition they need to shut us down. I also believe a little education is in order for these people (those who would shut us down) since most of the time, the trails we wheel on are former mining or logging trails. If we stay on the trails, we are not disturbing nature anymore than it already has been.
Editor: As a general matter of principle, we favor keeping public lands open to the public. That includes 'wheelers, ATV riders, mountain bikers, horseback riders, hikers and rock climbers, geologists and fossil-diggers, hunters and fishermen, and yes, even the 'huggers who'd like to shut out most of us. We do understand the need to balance the public's desire for open spaces on which to recreate with the need to intelligently manage--and carefully exploit, when necessary--our country's natural resources, but by and large, we take a "hands off" approach when it comes to existing BLM and Forest Service lands. It's not that we're opposed to oil extraction, timber harvesting, or any other commercial use. And we're not opposed in principle to designating parcels of land for wildlife habitat, either--we just think that closing off huge chunks of public lands in one fell swoop, for any single reason, sets a bad precedent for future land-use restrictions. At the very least, we should always insist that all existing roads and trail systems that are currently designated as such by the BLM or USFS (which includes most of our favorite public wheeling spots out West) be kept open as public rights-of-way, regardless of how the adjoining lands are to be used. Given the increasing demands--both commercial and environmental--that are being placed on our public lands nowadays, this seems like a fair compromise to us.
In the case of the Canyonlands, the proposed auctions you mentioned became a moot point when the incoming Obama administration withdrew the leases on the parcels in question. However, it's always a good idea to stay "plugged in" to land-use issues, and the Blue Ribbon Coalition is one of the best and most active online resources; SEMA is another good source of information, as are CORVA and United Four-Wheel Drive Associations. And your advice about staying on the trail and Treading Lightly is always good to follow. Thanks for expressing your concerns.
Wants To Make Old Toyota More Wheelable
Reader: I have an '82 Toyota pickup and I'm trying to find any info on more off-roadability than it already has. I'm running 33x12.50 tires right now, but I am on an extreme budget due to the economy. Any info on more flex, or anything that will help me turn it into a rock buggy would be helpful.
Editor: In general, the words "budget" and "rock buggy" don't usually go hand in hand. However, your truck is a great platform for a budget buildup. Since you say you're running 33-inch tires, we'll assume you've installed some sort of lift kit, so we'll ignore suspension for now. If we were building your truck--particularly with rocks in mind--we'd start with a locker for the rear axle, and (possibly) some sort of limited-slip for the front. Then we'd look to swap out your front-axle Birfield joints (a perennial weak link for Toyotas of this vintage) for some stouter Longfield pieces. Then we'd look at "gearing down," perhaps with a lower gear set for the transfer case or (if you have more money) a dual-case conversion setup such as those made by Marlin Crawler or Advance Adapters. Bottom line? For a rear mechanically-actuated locker, Longfield front axles, and a 4.7:1 gear seat for your t-case, plan on spending somewhere around $1,500 for parts. Did we come in under your budget?