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Readers Letters for August - 4x Forum

Posted in Features on August 1, 2007
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Send questions, comments, and suggestions to: 4 Wheel Drive & Sport Utility Magazine, Attn: Christian Lee, 2400 E. Katella Ave., Ste. 700, Anaheim, CA 92806, or

Propane Conversion

Q: First of all, I enjoy the magazine a lot, and I really enjoyed the coverage of the CAOS Fall for All. I was wondering, though, about the advantages to running on propane and how you convert a truck to run on it. If you could provide me with some information that would be great!Scottvia e-mail

A: Scott, I've been intrigued by propane conversions ever since meeting rockcrawling competitor Jeff Mello of Rage 4th Racing, who regularly competes and wins in his propane-powered Jeep CJ. It's a great concept and offers virtually no discernable differences (aside from positive) to that of gasoline power. With the price of gasoline rapidly climbing, it's also good to see that an alternative fuel such as propane can be used to produce such great results on the trail.

Although I could run at the mouth about the benefits of such a conversion, I saved it for the story in this issue (p. 54) wherein we detail the installation of a propane system from on the RocZuk Suzuki Samurai. Check out the article for more information.

Yellow Project TJ Update

Q: I was wondering if there is an issue with updates about the yellow Jeep that was built - and please tell me it wasn't turned into a truck Jeep. I've been building my Jeep just like that one. To me, that Jeep looks like the perfect TJ. If there is an issue or you have any pics or anything, please let me know. Thanks.Dustin Sheppardvia e-mail

A: Dustin, our yellow Project TJ not only looks like the perfect TJ, but it acts the part as well. And, once we complete the latest stage of its buildup - a Brute pickup conversion from AEV - it will be even better than ever. Though you may not approve of the conversion (per your plea in your letter), we're pretty stoked on it since we'll not only be gaining a lot of much-needed wheelbase (24 inches) but also a 6-foot pickup bed to carry more gear than we ever dreamed. Check out the second stage of the Brute conversion in this issue, and you can plan on seeing a complete overview of the yellow TJ's construction - including the final stages of the Brute build - soon. As for an overview of the yellow TJ in its pre-Brute form, you can check out The article, "Project TJ Buildup Review: 30,000 Miles and Still Jeeping," is posted under the "Technical" heading on the sidebar to the left. You'll find the story and pics on page 2. We've made a few changes to the TJ since that article originally appeared, and most will be noted in the final Brute build article in the September issue. Thanks for reading.

FJ Cruiser Rack

Q: In the Apr. '07 issue of 4 Wheel Drive & Sport Utility Magazine, there was an article on an '07 Toyota FJ Cruiser. It shows a roof rack on it that is not the stock one that you get from the dealer. It looks smaller than the stock rack. Can you tell me where to get the one that's in that article? I would really appreciate it. I just love my new FJ!Kathy Chavezvia e-mail

A: Kathy, the FJ Cruiser you mention belongs to Jon Bundrant, owner of All-Pro Off-Road in Hemet, California. The roof rack atop the FJ is in fact a stock component - Jon just removed the forward and upper sections of the factory rack and left the rear section in place.

Loved Club History

Comment: I just finished reading the Apr. '07 issue of 4WD&SU and just had to drop you a line. I've read almost every article twice and have only had the magazine in my hands for four hours. The article, "The Other Woman!" was great - what a sweet rig that is. Also, the story on the Chuckwalla Jeep Club was a blast. We need to remember our history of four-wheeling, and the article makes you wonder how they got along with such small tires and a lack of horsepower that we all think we need these days. I loved the history of our sport, and it was a great layout. Our club, the Napa Valley Jeepers, has been around since the mid '60s, and I always enjoy the stories of the good old days.

Also, your decision to let John Lee write the article "Built for Adventure" was a good one. To hear a vendor's thoughts and reasoning on building a rig was very insightful. I like his thinking on making a rig as reliable and trailworthy as possible. We all like big and flashy widgets on our rigs, but they need to work together and should be trail-repairable with minimal problems. I would like to see more articles from vendors in future issues. First-class magazine from front to back. Thanks for all you do for our sport.Jim MacLellanvia e-mail

A: Jim, thanks for your thoughts and praise. We thoroughly enjoyed going through the hundreds of images the Chuckwalla Jeep Club provided for the article, and we really think you got to see the best of the mix. The article by John Lee of Expedition Exchange also proved to be a hit among readers, and we hope to feature similar articles in future issues. Thanks for reading.

How Much Lift in a Spring-Over?

Q: If I did a spring-over-axle conversion on an '86 Jeep Cherokee with a 2.8-liter V-6 engine and a five-speed manual transmission, how much lift would I get from doing this?Vincevia e-mail

A: Vince, I'm a little bit confused by your question, but I will try to provide. The confusion arises because your '86 Jeep Cherokee should already offer a leaf-spring-over-axle (SOA) suspension configuration from the factory, paired with a four-link coil front suspension. While a spring-over lift setup works well on vehicles such as Jeep YJs and Suzuki Samurais, which are both leaf-spring-under-axle (SUA) in stock form, the Cherokee is mostly left with off-the-shelf kits from a variety of manufacturers. This is a good thing, however, since suspension manufacturers have spent countless hours refining systems for these vehicles to meet the needs of many consumers, and they accommodate a wide range of tire sizes.

To answer your question regarding how much lift is gained in completing an SOA suspension conversion (on a vehicle that could receive one), the figure will vary depending on the diameter of the rear axletubes, height spring used, and the thickness of the spring perches. On a Jeep YJ, you can expect about 5-1/2 to 6 inches from an SOA conversion. You can gain more height using a taller-lift spring. You will, of course, still need to install necessary items to accommodate the increased lift and also address steering issues. Thanks for reading.

XJ vs. bronco vs. blazer

Q: I'm looking to get my first vehicle and build it up for off-roading. What are the advantages/disadvantages of the Jeep Cherokee, Ford Bronco, and Chevy Blazer, and which would be the best starter vehicle? Thanks.Justinvia e-mail

A: Justin, congratulations on your decision to buy a 4x4. We wish you luck with your search. Concerning your question, all three of the 4x4s you have in mind are good buys, and each would prove to be a solid off-road contender. I myself have owned one of each ('71 Bronco, '75 Blazer, '97 Cherokee) over the years and never had a (really) bad day in any of them. Being that it was my first 4x4, the Bronco was, of course, my favorite, but it didn't completely blow away either of the others in any category. Power proved to be most impressive in the Blazer with its 350 V-8 engine, but axle strength was at its best with the Bronco and its 9-inch rear axle. Though more downsized than the others, the Cherokee also offers a great deal of pluses, including a more comfortable interior, newer options and accessories, and price. Availability of aftermarket parts for this vehicle is also more plentiful than it is for the Bronco and Blazer. So, to answer your question, I believe the Cherokee is one of the better starter 4x4s available these days. This isn't to discount the abilities of the Bronco or Blazer in the least, but is rather a decision based on price, availability, and ease of upgrading. Hope this helps. Thanks for reading.

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