Click for Coverage
  • JP Magazine
  • Dirt Sports + Off-Road
  • 4-Wheel & Off-Road
  • Four Wheeler
Subscribe to the Free

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

Posted in Features on September 1, 2012
Share this

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.

Letter of the Month

Our Letter of the Month author is getting hooked up by G2 Gear. We made a couple calls and tailor-made Bill George a Letter-of-the-Month prize of a G2 4.56:1 ring-and-pinion set and install kit. It should be everything he needs (providing he has the correct hand tools) to do the gear swap and his house.

Smart Axle Swapper

My 18-year-old daughter recently wrecked her ‘97 Explorer, leaving me with some extra bills and the need for a ride for my daughter. After finding a cheap no-motor carcass on Craigslist for $500, I was able to swap over the engine and transmission and put together an even better Explorer than she had before. On top of that, I now have an extra Ford 8.8 axle with disc brakes, and I think it’d be the ultimate swap for my Jeep. In the end, I felt great because I recycled, reused, and was able to get my daughter an even better ride for the price that I’d pay for a bare disc brake Ford 8.8 (plus I still got the axle!).

I was recently on your website,, and I saw that you built one of these axles. How is it working out? I know you put a C-clip eliminator and chromoly shafts in yours, but I just want to start with a gear swap for now and learn to wheel a little better with the open differential before switching to a locker. Thanks for any info you can provide.

Bill George
St. George, Utah

Bill, we are impressed. Big props to you for being able to fix a big problem, while reusing and recycling, and at the same time getting yourself a clean Ford 8.8 axle for a decent price. And we really like the fact that you’re going to learn how to drive in the dirt better with an open diff before switching to a locker—that’s smart thinking. For those reasons, yours is our Letter of the Month and G2 Gear is hooking you up with a 4.56 gearset and install kit for your Ford 8.8.

As for our Ford 8.8, it’s doing great save for one big issue we’re having with the differential damaging the passenger-side axleshaft. We’ll likely change out to a different locking differential to keep this from happening anymore. Otherwise, the strength of the overall package has been excellent, and we love that disc brakes are already on the axle. We will tell you that we needed to change out the master cylinder/ABS setup in our Cherokee to push enough fluid to engage the rear disc brakes, as the stock setup was meant to power drum brakes.

The Tacoma is How Old?!

When was the first year of the Tacoma? My buddy says 1994 and I say 1995?

Drew Helios
Via email

Drew, Toyota first produced the Tacoma in 1994 as a ’95 model year. That is likely where your guys’ confusion comes in. The first generation of Tacoma was produced until the ’04 model year, when the second generation (and the current model) started being produced (’05 to current). It had minor changes like grill and headlight differences throughout the years, and added a Prerunner model in 1998 and a crew cab to the available line-up in 2001.

Tank Liability Only?

In the July 2012 issue we showed off Gene and Ken Neal’s new tank. Shortly after the brothers bought it, their insurance company contacted them, querying this:


I am trying to clarify the liability exposure on the tank with the company that is providing the liability and products coverage. They would like an explanation directly from you what will you be doing with the tank. You can reply to this email and I will forward to the underwriter.

Thanks in advance for your help.

This is the Neal brothers’ response:


Please consider the following:

We plan on using it as an answer to rush hour traffic jams.  We call it our “Traffic Superiority Commuter.”

We are going to use it to take over the world. We really wanted a submarine...but a tank was all we could find on eBay.

We are going to use it to stamp out Prii (multiple of Prius) wherever the scourge can be found!

It will mostly be used as a static display for advertising at our new building and for multimedia advertising.

We are entertaining the possibility of using it at events as a static display to promote our products along with the possibility of movie production prop rental.  Though we have no plans in action to do so at this time or before our policy renews next.

We Goofed

Well, technically, only our editor-in-chief goofed, so let’s place blame where it’s due.

In the June 2012 issue, there is a 14-Bolt disc brake story in which we used some brackets we bought online. The name of the shop who makes the disc brake brackets is Blackbirds Custom Trucks, not Blackbird Customs like he had written in the story.

If you need disc brake brackets for your rear axle, check BCT out at

Connect With Us

Newsletter Sign Up

Subscribe to the Magazine

Browse Articles By Vehicle

See Results