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March 2010 Off-Road Unloaded - Letters to the Editor

Posted in Features on March 1, 2010
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Realistic Wheeler
First off, I love the "new" OFF-ROAD magazine. I just received my November '09 copy today and read your Rant column. I agree totally. My younger brother has an '06 Chevy 1500 crew cab with a BDS suspension lift and body lift, 4.11 gears, a Superchips programmer, fancy wheels and 35-inch tires to name a few things. It's an awesome rig...but he's also in his 20s, lives at home, and puts every dime into his rig (and then some). I have a daily driven '97 4Runner, which I bought wrecked. It has a 3-inch All Pro lift, 285 Duratrac tires, a swapped- in junkyard factory "E-locked" rear axle, custom fabbed prerunner bumpers and a wilderness rack. Mine is paid for, and here in Wisconsin it wheels great! I also have a family to worry about and my 4Runner is a safe, reliable family adventuremobile. Isn't that what off-roading is all about? He and I wheel together with friends and family, and we're all able to go out have a great weekend, get home safely, and have great stories and pictures for work on Monday morning. I have not fallen victim to the Magazine Syndrome (yet), and instead spend the cash on the places we travel and great times we have and will have in our Toy! Thanks for letting me rant and keep up the great work!
Justin Kolbus
Rosholt, WI

Realistic Racer
'Been a long time fan of your magazine! I just wanted to say that I agree with you 110 percent about Magazine Syndrome. Most of us just want to put our trucks together and get out on the trails. Yeah, it's nice to read about a custom one-off four-link set up, but the reality is most of us will never have the disposable income to spend like that! Anyways, my friend and I just finished our '03 Toyota Tacoma Class 1450 truck. We built the entire truck in his mother-in-law's garage up in Alta Loma, California. I'm glad to say we finally made it into your fine OFF-ROAD magazine (October '09's Race Results). We placed fifth at the MDR Bilek 400, #1452, Juan Sanchez. My name is on the passenger door (co-driver). Anyways, I love your magazine and keep up the good work!
Ryan Venegas
Ontario, CA

What It Takes To Race
I just wanted to say that I love reading your magazine. I get something from just about every article. Right now I'm in Afghanistan, but I have a project Ranger at home and big plans in my head-a V-8 swap, full rollcage, 37s, and a four-link. I want to race the truck at least once when it's done and I was wondering if you could point me in the right direction to find information on what I can and cannot do to my truck to have it in a certain class. Also, do you know how much registration fees and similar expenses may cost?

Thanks for any help.
CPL. Andrew Custer
USMC "R" 5/11

Andrew, I just got this letter, but I'm hoping you've already received a copy of the January 2010 issue of OFF-ROAD that has multiple stories on what it takes to go racing. I realize that sometimes mail can be sketchy, coming all the way from the USA to the Middle East, so just in case you didn't get a copy, I'm sending you one to the address you gave me.

Regarding fees and expenses: it is very hard to put a price on these. Teams spend anywhere from half a million dollars on one race to just a few thousand dollars at a grass-roots level. Generally, the bigger the race circuit the more you'll have to spend. You need to incur the costs of fuel, lodging, and food for you and your support (chase) team. And don't forget about entry fees, the cost of broken parts, and any extra equipment you'll have to buy (helmets, race suits, etc).

Manual Ranger Hubs?
Going back a year or so, you had the Project 4X4 Link based on a '99 Ranger. In a photo in the December 2008 issue I can see what seems to be manual locking hubs on the Ranger. Is this possible on A-arm 4WD Rangers? If so, what brand of hubs are they? I'd like to have manual hubs instead of shift-on-the-fly 4WD, just in case it fails in the middle of a silt bed on any race course or secondary road while chasing or prerunning. I've considered trading my '00 Ranger for a '97 model with TTB where more wheel travel can be achieved and manual hubs installed, but it's not easy getting one of that year in good condition.

Thanks a lot for your advice and your magazine.
Jorge Ishikawa
Mexicali, Baja, Mexico

Jorge, our web producer, Jason Gonderman, owns that Ranger and he tells me that the hubs are from AVM and work on trucks with the Pulse Vacuum Hub from '98-to-mid '00.

Also, on a side note, I'd suggest keeping your A-arm Ranger. I know it is easy to get lots of travel out of the TTB front end, but a TTB Ranger will never handle as well as your A-arm Ranger will.

Where Do You Find GMC Fiberglass?!
First off, I want to say I'm addicted to OFF-ROAD magazine! I am building an '06 GMC SIERRA crew cab and I'm having a very hard time finding front fiberglass for it. All the fiberglass manufacturers like Hannamann, Glassworks, FiberwerX, Perry's, and Trailer Products make fenders for '03-to-'06 Chevy Silverado. I've looked at the difference between the Chevy headlight assembly and the GMC headlight assembly and they look as different as a cow and a pig! I emailed Hannamann Fiberglass because they claim to make a fender that will fit a GMC, but by judging the contour of where the headlight assembly fits, it looks like it was made for the Silverado. They also told me in the email that I would have to do some cutting to make the fender fit. What is your take on this subject, should I listen to the pros and hack up a perfect fender to make it fit or is there another manufacturer that makes a fender that will work with no major cutting involved? Thanks.
Dan Furlong
Oceanside, CA

Dan, I guess this has never come up before, because I had no idea there weren't GMC fiberglass fenders available after GM split the front end designs of the Chevys and GMCs. Honestly, I couldn't do any better with a search engine than you did and I was unable to come up with any GMC fiberglass at all. Since we have some pretty knowledgeable readers, I'd like to pass this question onto anyone that might know where to find some '06 GMC Sierra fiberglass. If you know of a good source, please email and I will pass any information onto Dan. Thanks, everyone.

Letter Of the Month This issue the Letter of the Month winner is getting sent a pair of Daystar "Four Wheeling is Not a Crime" mudlfaps. Yes, they are awesome. Get yourself a set at your local 4x4 shop or check out

Realistic Blazer Builder
Thank you so much for your Rant in the November '09 issue. I get so tired of the response that you have to have a '60 or coilovers, etc. I know most people don't have that deep of pockets. I've always felt part of wheeling is to make whatever you have last and still get through the trail. I run a '77 Blazer that is mostly off-road only. It has 35s, a Dana 44 front with an OX locker, a 12 Bolt rear axle with a Lockright locker, and 4.88 gears. I also swapped in a 383 V-8 TPI from a Camaro and a 700R4 tranny and NP241 T-case from a Suburban. I wheel hard in Moab, on the Rubicon, in the Northwest, and it holds together just fine. I miss the days when every rig was unique. I guess the cookie cutter Jeeps have done a lot of good to get people into our sport, but we are losing the learning curve that most of us (that are old enough) went through years ago as we slowly created our rigs. Thanks for a great mag.
Jay DeAngelis
Mulino, OR

Sounds like you have a cool Blazer, Jay. I'm a big K5 fan myself-I've had a '74, a '75, a '73, and right now I own two "new" '74s.

I definitely understand what you are saying about the cookie cutter Jeeps and the lack of uniqueness in vehicle building nowadays. In fact, that sounds like another good Rant! Since you're a Blazer nut too, maybe I'll see you at Blazer Bash sometime and you can show me off the Daystar mudflaps you're receiving since you wrote our Letter of the Month -Jerrod

From the Sands of Dubai...
Balanced on top of a Dubai sand dune. I'll just give it a little shove to get it moving!
Paul Wade

Editor's Note: If you want to say or ask something, email Unloaded at or write: Unloaded, OFF-ROAD Magazine, 2400 E. Katella Ave., Ste. 1100, Anaheim, CA 92806.

Remember, we're giving away swag every month to the author of our favorite letter. Be sure to include your address, so we know where to send your goods. And because we lost our copyeditor, please know that we are not going to be copyediting your letter if you are going to be hating on us, so you better check it over well before sending it our way! Thanks!

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