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March 2010 4xForums - Letters to the Editor

Posted in Features on March 1, 2010
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Send questions, comments, and suggestions to: 4 Wheel Drive & Sport Utility MAGAZINE, Attn: Christian Lee, 2400 E. Katella Ave., Ste. 1100, Anaheim, CA 92806, or

4Runner Soft Tops
Q: I'm looking for a soft top for my 1988 Toyota 4Runner, like one I saw in the "Toyota Builder's Guide" in the March 2008 issue. Please let me know where to find one.
Vincent Gutierrez
Salt Lake City, UT

A: Vincent, the 4Runner soft top you saw is a canvas camper shell offered by Can-Back. Can-Back also manufactures canvas shells for many small-to-full-size trucks, and soft tops for '66-to-'96 Ford Broncos and '69-to-'91 Chevy Blazers (the early Bronco tops look especially cool), as well as the '84-to-'89 Toyota 4Runner. The Can-Back shells and tops use stainless steel side rails, hoops, and spreader bars to create a sturdy frame capable of supporting up to 150 pounds using the optional cargo cross bars. The frame is covered with Sunbrella fabric across the top with either more fabric or smoke-tinted windows at the sides and rear. Additionally, the sides and rear of the shell can be rolled up and secured to create a safari-type top. For more information about Can-Back canvas shells and soft tops, contact: Can-Back, (877) 763-8867, 'Wheel on.

TJ Really Transformed
Comment: As a subscriber to 4WD&SU, I look forward to your magazine every month. I often read it from cover to cover in one or two sittings. I was especially interested in the article "TJ Transformed" on Page 64 in the December 2009 issue, because I too have a TJ. I read through the article until the end and thought something didn't look quite right with the pictures. Then I realized what was wrong. In the pics during the build it looks like a typical driver-side drop TJ front Dana 30. In the finished photos, the TJ appears to have had a major transformation after the installation of the lift kit and now sports a Dana 44 passenger-side drop front axle. No mention was made of changing axles, and certainly not a passenger-side drop, which would require a new transfer case and lots of other modifications. The pictures don't appear to be flipped as I can read the writing on the Jeep. I'm not trying to be a nit-picker, but what's up with that front axle, and what other mods were done that weren't mentioned in the article? Keep up the good work. Thanks!
Steve Davis
Tyler, TX

Reply: Steve, great catch. You weren't the only one to note the axle change-up in "TJ Transformed." Sgt. Duane M. Anderson - a 63B mechanic with the 1st Battalion, 128th Infantry and 32nd Military Police Co., currently stationed in Baghdad - also caught on to the extra transformation. The magic behind the pictures showing different axles isn't really magic at all, but simply photos being used out of order. The freelance photographer who snapped the pictures provided the before and after installation shots, and the after shots weren't taken until quite a few more parts were installed. Basically, the project continued after the Skyjacker lift system was installed but not enough of it was photographed to fully explain what had occurred. I do have some of the specifics of the build and will work on obtaining additional images that I'll post on What you saw in the finish photos was in fact a Dana 44 front axle with a passenger-side drop. The TJ was equipped with front and rear Dana 44s from an International Scout that connect to a Toyota gear-driven transfer case mated to a Toyota G54 five-speed manual transmission. A Jeep AX-5 five-speed input shaft was used to mate the G54 transmission to the 4.0L engine. Off-Road Innovations [(866) 397-9099,] in West Monroe, Louisiana, completed the conversion. Thanks for writing.

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