When this issue of 4 Wheel Drive & Sport Utility Magazine hits the newsstand, half of the readership will be gearing up to explore the western regions of this continent too hot to travel most of the year; the other half will still be in the frosty clutches of Old Man Winter. We are almost halfway through this season, yet some of you won't be digging out from under the freeze for another couple of months, and a great majority of you are starting to think about the sweltering summer heat just a short time away.
This is downtime for a great number of four-wheel-drive enthusiasts, so we make the best of it. 'Tis the season to repair, redesign, and finally complete that tedious vehicle maintenance. To the dedicated, hunkering down in the garage and taking care of business is almost spiritual, while some hate it. Some of the four-wheel enthusiasts I speak with yearn for this time of year. They lock themselves in their 4x4 laboratories toiling away like mad Leonardo Da Vincis designing, bending, cutting, and welding.
Always keep in mind that a little quality time in the garage will go a long way out on the trail. This is a great time to fix those annoying leaks and worn bearings, install new U-joints, change the oil, flush the cooling system, and replace those cracked and chafing hoses. Fix it now so you don't have to out on the trail.
If you are lucky enough to have a trail-only rig, this is the time to undertake that major repair you've been putting off - the repair that will take a few days to perform. I have always hated these because every single time I got something ripped apart a buddy would call and say, "Hey, let's go explore this new canyon I found."
Taking your time lends quality and a job well done to any repair. There's always the frustration factor, and limited amounts of time heighten its levels. You know this feeling of angst well when you bust a couple of knuckles open, strip the spark plug hole threads, order the wrong part from the Internet, or take something apart that you don't know how to put back together. Take a deep breath, don't throw your wrench, shut the garage door, and take a break. Your vehicle can sit until you feel the mechanical gods have blessed you with the patience to start again.
For the new fabricators among you, we have included in this issue metal theory and welding tips. There is also a how-to with a fancy new welder (and perfect trailmate), a Premier Power Welder. You will also find information on particular parts commonly broken out on the trail and the tools you should carry with you to repair them.