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Mud Trucks, Archive Stories & Vechile Safety - Limited Articulation

Posted in Features on June 1, 2009
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When you've been in this business as long as Four Wheeler has--46 years and counting now--it's easy sometimes to get stuck in a rut. Particularly if you've been successful at something for a long time, the natural impulse is to keep repeating (and washing, and rinsing) the same things over and over again. Unfortunately, over time this approach usually results in a product that you might call "stale bread," so before any mold starts growing, the local loafs on our staff (pun intended) thought we'd shake things up a little bit by introducing some new themes and columns to this month's issue--to keep our readers (and ourselves, of course) on their toes.

So, what's "new" about this issue? As our cover indicates, the theme of this month's issue isn't the usual focus on suspension, or axles, or tires--but actually, when you say the word "mud," you'll eventually be discussing all of those components, and quite a few more. It's sometimes easy for those of us Out West--where desert racing and rock crawling reign supreme--to forget that for folks in most parts of the country, mud is the terrain of choice for weekend wheeling. But as with every other specialized form of off-road recreation, building a truck for serious mud running requires some planning and thought--as well as some parts that'll make your day in the mud (and after) a more enjoyable experience. We canvassed the experts and came away with some suggestions for Building the Ultimate Mud Truck--as well as the best ways to clean it up afterward--and you can see them for yourself starting on page 30.

Of course, playing in the mud is only a theoretical exercise if you don't know where to find some. Many OHV areas don't have designated bog areas and hence only have "mud" to play in right after it rains. Fortunately though, there are a few parks around the country--both public and private--where mud is a near-constant presence, and we have a list of them for you on page 36. Hopefully, we'll have included some mud parks in your area. And for those of you who hate mud (and we know you're out there) rest assured--in the coming months, we'll be devoting future issues of Four Wheeler to rocks, sand, and snow.

What's "old" this month? We get a lot of letters, virtually every week, asking about reprints of old stories, or acquiring copies of 30-year-old issues of Four Wheeler. While we can't do anything about those requests (sorry, extra copies are long gone), we have been slowly archiving some of the choicest--and cheesiest--stories we've found from the '60s through the '80s at, and this month, we're bringing them into the magazines with "Old as Dirt." Every month, we'll showcase some sliver of Four Wheeler's history in this column, and invite you to check out more of the same at our Website. We hope you find it as fun to read as it is for us to sift through.

Also new this month, a new column on "Safety Parts" from our feature editor Robin Stover. Vehicle safety is one of those subjects we don't cover nearly often enough, but there are plenty of products out there that can make your ride (and you) a lot a lot safer. Beyond the usual harnesses, belts, and helmets, we're talking about things like fuel-system and electrical components (stuff that can start a fire); mirrors and reflectors (for improved vision), tie-downs and ratchet straps (for your cargo); and of, course, rollbars and 'cages. Each month, Robin will highlight a new product or two he's found on the market that serves a specific safety purpose, and you can see what he's picked out this month on page 88.

--Douglas McColloch

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