When I was 15 years old, I purchased my first truck, a '61 Chevy 1/2-ton pickup, from my dad. It didn't run well and was pretty beat up from its former life as a work truck. The deal was that if I could get it working by the time I turned 16 and got a driver's license, I'd have something to drive to school and out into the backcountry. The carb on the straight-six needed to be rebuilt, and while I didn't know it yet, the radiator needed to be rodded out and the heater core replaced, too. Sundry bolts and body mounts needed to be replaced, as did the shocks and tires. Except for the tires (no money), I finished everything by the time my 16th birthday rolled around. My mom took me to the DMV, I passed my test, and I went home and installed the new seat cover I had received that day as a gift. That night, two friends and I took the truck out and went exploring up Day Canyon, a now-closed canyon north of Rancho Cucamonga, California.
The truck would quit at inopportune times, and the column shift lever would jam at embarrassing moments, like in the middle of a busy intersection. I'd have to get out, open the hood, pull up on the shift forks to align them, and get the shifter out of Neutral, where it always stuck. This happened on a first date, and when I asked the girl out again, she said she wouldn't go because of my "beat-up old truck" that got me covered with grease on our date. Well!
The very first addition I made to the old Chevy (beside that seat cover) was an eight-track tape deck and a speaker in each door. Yes, before dealing with a vibrating driveshaft, a whining third member in the rearend, or even better tires, I purchased a tape deck! This goes to show where I put my priorities before I knew what really mattered. Sometimes, reading past issues of Off-Road, I wonder if a few of our truck builders and owners know what matters, even now. Don't misunderstand me. A 10-disc DVD changer, LCD screens, and leather interior may be very important to you - and that's OK. It's just that we need to build our truck's driveline, too, before we venture beyond the pavement.
This issue is meant to help you do just that. Our Drivetrain Buyer's Guide will show you some of what's available for your vehicle and where to get it. We've included a couple of interesting tech features on transfer-case slip-yoke eliminators and driveshafts. The driveshaft feature falls into the everything-you-need-to-know-but-didn't-know-you-needed-it category. While it's pretty technical, wade through it, especially if you're experiencing driveline problems.
For those who already have their driveline issues addressed, we have the 2004 Baja 1000 covered in this issue. Also, join us on a trip to Nevada's backcountry with the Locos Mocos (Crazy Boogers). Enjoy this issue, and the best to you off-road.