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Off-Road Unloaded - Letters to the Editor - January 2012

Posted in Features on January 1, 2012
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Editor’s Note: If you want to say or ask something, email Unloaded at or write:

Unloaded, OFF-ROAD Magazine, 1733 Alton Parkway, Ste. 100, Irvine, CA 92606

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.

This month, everyone who had his or her letter published is getting a copy of Rusty Pickups, American Workhorses Put to Pasture by Mike Harrington. We have a copy, and we can tell you firsthand that this is such a cool book that you’ll not want to put it down until you’re done. The book checks in on a number of old pickups in their final resting places, and offers some original auto manufacturers’ advertisements in the pages as well. You can find a copy for yourself at your local bookstore or by going onto and finding a store.

International Help from Strangers

I have a story I would like to share. I’d like to reward the people involved, but I’m not sure how. I hope you might be able to offer a suggestion or two.

Today I received my wallet. It was returned to me fully intact. The real story though, is how my wallet made its way back to me.

On the last day of our journey home from the 2011 Rip to the Tip, I managed to lose my wallet with all my cash and credit cards in El Rosario. El Rosario is located about 250 miles south of the U.S.-Mexican border in Baja. Worse than losing my wallet was that I didn’t even realize it was gone until we were staging for the border crossing at Tijuana...stupid, stupid, stupid!

At that point, I didn’t have the cash or time to make it back to where I last had it. I placed a panicked phone call to the Baja Cactus Hotel in El Rosario where we had last stayed the night, and talked with Antonio Murillo, the hotel owner. He told me they had found my wallet! (Insert deep sigh of relief here.) Of course, I had written its contents off as lost at this point. I had over $1,000 in it and access to thousands more via my credit cards. This wallet was given to me 25 years ago by my grandfather before he died. It’s been in my possession every day since until now. It contains irreplaceable items and memories. I value it far more than any money it may contain.

After talking with Antonio at the hotel, I told him to take whatever cash from the wallet he felt was needed and to please mail it to the address on my driver’s license—also in my wallet. He said he would, though I had doubts that I would ever see my wallet again. The other chase guys (my traveling companions) told me Antonio was solid and that the Desert Assassins has an awesome relationship with both him and the Baja Cactus Hotel. I was sure Antonio was solid, but what about everyone else who would or had handled my wallet? Customs? Mexican or American postal employees? I still had my doubts.

A few days later I received a phone call from Celia at saying she was in contact with Antonio and he had my wallet in his possession. He had found my Binational membership card in my wallet and had called them to aid in the safe return of my wallet. Celia worked with Antonio to have my wallet hand delivered by Antonio to her office in Chula Vista, California, and from there shipped UPS to me in Arizona.

The selfless effort of perfect strangers to rectify my careless act has renewed my faith that most people are good and honest, and that displays of great character are possible anywhere. Thank you Antonio and the Baja Cactus Hotel of El Rosario, Baja California. Thank you Celia. Thank you

Ken Neal
Mesa, Arizona

Fullsize Supporter

Great Rant (about fullsize trucks in the September 2011 issue)! Here is a picture of my fullsize ‘06 Power Wagon. It’s still under construction, but modifications as of now consist of a Rancho suspension system, 40-inch Goodyear MTRs , Dynatrac Pro Steer ball joints, a Dyntrac free spin kit, a K&N high performance air intake kit, a Superchips flashpaq, a Magnaflow custom exhaust, a Kenwood/Infinity 1200 watt sound system, Katzkin leather interior, and a vinyl floor. My future modifications are to upgrade steering with a Pure Performance system or a Thuren system with PSC ram assist, Flex-a-lite fan, custom rock rails, and interior cage.

John Doughtie
Bailey, NC

Fullsize Fun

I was reading the editorial in OFF-ROAD magazine and was interested in a fullsize run in Moab. I am not sure if this is something you serious about or not but I wouldn’t want to miss out. I am, and always will be, addicted to fullsize vehicles. My daily driver right now is an F-350 crew cab diesel dually. My wheeler is a ‘87 K5 Blazer on 37s. I have had many lifted Suburbans, Blazers, and solid-axle pickup trucks. I enclosed a few pictures of the K5. Keep me posted and keep up the good work.


Nick, we’re definitely serious about the Moab fullsize run. Email for details.

Need Some Steering Linkage!

I was wondering if you guys could help me out. I am looking to upgrade my tie rod and other steering components and I don’t know where to start. I have a ’98 Dodge Ram that is similar to your project truck, Jinxy, and I have just started adding some new things to it. I want to try and get my steering problems fixed piece by piece if possible, because I don’t have a lot of money to spend on a full kit. I looked at some places online but just get overwhelmed at how many parts and pieces there are, and not really knowing what I need or should get first. I can weld so I’m not afraid of getting a do-it-yourself type kit as long as I can get a couple pieces at a time. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

Anthony French

Anthony, unfortunately, there is not a lot of support for the ’94-to-’01 Rams, but there is a possible solution for you. In the last year or two of that body style, Dodge did make some trucks with a solid tie rod (between the knuckles) and a draglink that comes into the tie rod. They are rare, but they are out there. Your best bet would be to look for the Moog factory replacement steering linkage for that setup if you want the strongest steering while not having to go fully custom. You mentioned that you could weld and have no problem doing something custom to save money, but in my experience there is a lot to be said for a bolt-on system. Also, factory-style tie rod ends typically last longer and are better protected from the elements than a custom Heim joint steering set up.

Good Shops Deserve Recognition

Dear OFF-ROAD magazine, I am 21-year, active-duty U.S. Air Force master sergeant stationed in Tampa, Florida. I have served on more than seven tours to Iraq/Mid-East Operations and have just return. While I was there (every time I was there) I enjoyed reading your magazine. It’s one of the few things that keeps me sane from everything going on outside “the wire.” Thanks for a great read and tech advice. A lot of the problems/upgrades I had with my truck were highlighted/tech advice in your magazine.

The reason for my email is in reference to a local off-road shop in Tampa, Florida. The shop is Twisted Metal Off Road, owned by Steven Auza and Will Martinez. At one time you had an ad for them in your magazine. With my love of off-roading and my constant deployments, it’s hard to find a great shop that knows its stuff on repairs and upgrades. So when I saw their advertisement I contacted Steve to see what he could do about my needs/repairs. My truck is an ’05 GMC 2500HD Duramax that I was happy to drop off at Twisted Metal. Steve and the guys know their stuff! They were able to fix all of my problems concerning the front end, high EGTs, fuel loss, engine surge and were able to increase my truck’s horsepower! Best of all, they are 100-percent fully committed to servicing the country’s military!

Believe it or not, you rarely find shops (locally or on the Internet) that are willing to support us military guys/girls so heavily. So I just wanted to say thanks to you guys and to Steve and Will at Twisted Metal Offroad for all that they do there!

Master Sgt. Chad Maxwell

Chad, we appreciate feedback on good shops like Twisted Metal Off Road. It’s important for every off-roader to have a trustworthy shop that can solve an owner’s problems when they arise. Good on you for the shout-out. And thanks for serving our country, Master Sergeant!

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