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March 2010 Letters to the Editor

Posted in Features on March 1, 2010
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Where To Write
Address your correspondence to: Four Wheeler, 831 S. Douglas St., El Segundo, CA 90245. All letters become the property of Four Wheeler, and we reserve the right to edit them for length, accuracy, and clarity. The editorial department can also be reached through the website at Due to the volume of mail, electronic and otherwise, we cannot respond to every reader, but we do read everything.

Top Truck Classes: The Readers Speak Out
In the December '09 "Letters" column, Douglas McColloch wanted to know what readers thought about his Top Truck Challenge idea of five trucks and five buggies split into two separate classes. I say five stars! Do it! Top Truck has turned into a rockcrawler-style vehicle challenge.
Tim Joyce
Brewster, NY

Just a brief note in response to your December '09 editorial and Top Truck Challenge: For me, TTC became uninteresting the moment the requirement of street-legality was dropped. At that time, TTC's pathway was clearly towards a monster truck show. Sure, those vehicles are extremely capable-in the confines of a closed off-road arena. But is there anything to learn (or parts to buy) for my own truck? Not anymore.
J. Michael Salbaum
via the Internet

On your question about separating the Top Truck buggies and the trucks into two groups, I think you should. Then hold a truck and buggy run-off to see which is best-sort of like a Super Bowl TTC. You have a great magazine I've been a reader since 1980.
Dan Puricelli
Midlothian, VA

Responding to your TTC suggestion: I think your truck and buggy separation would be good idea.
Ed Pedersen
Thornton, CO

You asked if Top Truck Challenge should be divided into separate truck and buggy classes. Then a few pages later, you listed the winners of last year's TTC. The top four places went to buggies, followed by six trucks. That should answer your question, shouldn't it?
Mikey Bishop
Kirksville, MO

Douglas McColloch replies: There's a smart-aleck in every crowd, isn't there? (For what it's worth, my dad was born in Kirksville, so heck, we're among family here, right?) So far, the reader mail has been nearly unanimous in wishing to see Top Truck broken up into separate Truck and Buggy classes. At the moment, we're inclined to do it, too, but it will all depend on the quantity of entries (both truck and buggy) that we receive for next month's balloting. We'll have a better idea about whether it's doable or not a month from now.

Bring Back Real Truck Challenge!
I noticed that there was a lot of talk about bringing back your Real Truck Challenge. I attended most of them at the Badlands Off-Road Park, and I really enjoyed watching Average Joes like myself compete. I'm not sure why they were stopped, but I do know that a lot of fans and readers of your magazine were saddened to see it go.

I am writing you to offer a new location for the event. Redbird State Riding Area would be a great place to bring this event back. I am a member of the Redbird Foundation-we originally were a group of volunteers who maintained and ran the park. The state of Indiana has now manned the gates and relies on us now as a "friends group," and looks to us for ideas and events. We have around 1,500 acres, mostly old mining grounds. The trail system offers something for everyone, from a cruise through the woods to tight extreme trails. We even added a large rock garden. One of our trails, Trail 4, was awarded an Outstanding Trails Award by BF Goodrich. This event would do a lot to bring more attention to the park and help motivate the state to open up more areas for riders. Please consider bringing back Real Truck Challenge and please consider having it back in Indiana.
Kevin Mathis
Reelsville, IN

We're quite familiar with Redbird. Staff members and freelance contributors have visited the place in the past, and we'll agree, it's a terrific wheeling spot that would work well as a venue for a Real Truck-type event. The reason we killed Real Truck in the first place was, well, financial-we simply couldn't make it a profitable venture. (Which is a polite way of saying, not enough people like you showed up to watch the event in person.) That's not to say we'll never hold RTC again, and we'll continue to keep it in mind in the future when the economic climate becomes more favorable again.

Meanwhile, About The H3 . . .
I have been searching everywhere for serious off-road suspension upgrades for my 2008 Hummer H3. The only thing I have found, really, is a suspension lift from Rancho. This is very frustrating. The vehicle has been out now for 5 years, and I can't find anything. Can you help me find a company that offers some serious off-road equipment for my H3?
Houston, TX

One of the ironies about owning an H3 is that it's so capable in stock trim, you don't need to modify it very much to go almost anywhere in it. We're guessing that's why there hasn't been a land rush of aftermarket goodies for it in the past.

Still, there are few options out there. Besides the Rancho kit you mentioned, Tuff Country makes a 4-inch suspension lift for the H3, and both companies offer torsion key kits-as do Daystar, Skyjacker, Ready Lift, Trail Master, and Superlift-that level the ride and give you some two to 2 1/2 inches of added height.

Other stuff? Light Racing offers Jounce Shocks, Magnaflow makes an after-cat exhaust system, K&N and Airaid have performance air intake kits, ARB makes a winch bumper and Safari snorkel, and Gobi USA has a way-cool roof rack for it. For even more ideas, check out our eight-part Project "Trailhugger" series, in which we built our own Hummer H3. You can find all the episodes online at

Needs Old Suburban Parts
I saw that articles in your magazine were about a 1972 Chevy Suburban. I have one, too, but I have been having problems locating parts for it-specifically, a cabin heater housing and controls with A/C. Do you know where I can get these parts for my Suburban?
Dan Dias
Weaverville, CA

Try LMC Truck Parts (800/562-8782, or Manes Truck Parts (816/633-4772, They both specialize in old Chevys like yours. And keep an eye on these pages for more installments of our "Superburb" project buildup.

Not Quite Dead, Just Smelling Funny
I was wondering when Four Wheeler first started. I found some magazines from 1968, and wondered how much before then they were printed.
Mike Couch
Via the Internet

We started publication in February 1962, which means we turned 48 last month. Those invitation letters from AARP will need to wait another couple of years.

In Praise Of The Old School
I've subscribed to Four Wheeler and others like your magazine since the early '80s. My first Four Wheeler was a Monster Truck edition With Bigfoot chasing down a guy on a three-wheeler on the cover. Bill Auda was the editor. That magazine really nurtured my love of lifted custom trucks. I gotta say there have been a lot of changes in styles, fads and companies over the years. I'm more of a fan of the '80s style. (The graphics of the '90s, I think, we all would like to forget.) I don't care what the RTI is-give me an '87 K20 Silverado or an '85 F-350 on 36-inch Fun Countrys, lit up with KC Daylighters, and a set of shocks across the rearend that look like a chrome picket fence any day (along with a set of Flexsteel seats to help smooth out the ride). Those are the trucks that would be in my dream collection-back before the designers took a belt sander to the corners.

What happened to some of the companies from back then, like Rugged Trail, Dick Cepek, and Trail Master? Is Ramsey Winch still in business? Now that I can actually afford Weld Wheels and (real old-school) Fun Countrys, they're gone. Man, if I could get my hands on a set of Super Off-Road C-1000s (one million candlepower). Back then, you had a bad-a$$ truck if you were runnin' 44-inch Ground Hawgs, Monster Mudders, or Mickey Thompson Baja Belteds. Those were the good old days. Well, keep up the good work. I'll keep taking a look back at my first Four Wheeler and remember how it used to be.

Have you ever thought of doing a "Where Are They Now?" of some of the old feature trucks?
Rob Merchant
Fairfield, CT

Heck, we remember when you had a bad-ass rig if you were running a set of Formula Desert Dogs.

Where are all those old companies? Thankfully, most of them are still in business. Ramsey, Trail Master, Dick Cepek, and KC Lights are all still alive and kickin'. Some of those companies, like Weld Racing, were acquired by other corporations over the years, and a few have gone out of business altogether. But thanks largely to folks like yourself, the 4x4 aftermarket has remained a relatively thriving business for decades.

We've considered a "Where Are They Now?" column, and the only things holding us back have been the lack of time and resources. So we'll turn the tables on you, our loyal readers. If your rig ever graced the cover of Four Wheeler, or appeared as a feature in our magazine, we'd love to hear from you. Send us a photo of your truck as it appeared then, and as it appears now, along with a note detailing what's happened to you-and your ride-since we made the both of you rich and famous. (Okay, famous.) Send your submissions to Four Wheeler, "Where Are They Now?", 831 S. Douglas St., El Segundo, CA 90245, or via e-mail to We look forward to hearing from you.

More Hits & Fits
I'm writing to add to what Mike Compton said in his letter in the December '09 issue. He says that he fits a 33x12.50 on an '89 Bronco and can go lock-to-lock on the steering without any rub. I know there are many factors such as tire type, wheel type, and so on. I just wanted to add that I am running 32x11.50 Maxxis Bighorns on 15-inch stock wheels without a lift on my '88 fullsize Bronco, and my tires will rub on the radius arms at full lock. I have adjusted the stops to help reduce this, and so far it hasn't caused any problem. But nonetheless, it's another difference on identical vehicles. Just thought I would add my 3 1/2 cents' worth.

Keep up the good work. I will be a subscriber as long as I can read and have any sort of income.
Douglas A. Barnett
Eugene, OR

Thanks for the info, and for the kind words. And we'll keep sending you a new magazine each month as long as we have any sort of income, too.

Solid-Axle Xterra Questions
I was wondering about the gear ratio you put into your Nissan Xterra ("Xterra Solid Axle Swap," Oct. '09). Also, about the shocks-what truck or vehicle are they from, and how much travel do they give you?
Dennis Ruff
Oceanside, CA

Contributor Jay Kopycinski replies: The 2002-'04 Xterras came factory with 4.90:1 rear gears, so 4.88:1s were used to match in front. Earlier 2000-'01 models have 4.636:1 gears and can be roughly matched with 4.56:1 gears in the D44, upgraded to a 2002-and-later third member for a 4.90:1/4.8:18 combo, or go with 5.14:1/5.13:1 Nismo aftermarket gears (like my pickup has).

The front shocks I'm running now are Rancho 5116s, but if I were to do it again, I'd have made the shock towers a little taller and used 5112s. The 5116s have about 10 inches of travel. The rear shocks are Rancho 5112s. On another note, I have a set of Rancho 2.5-inch lift springs for a '73-87 Chevy application in front now with the fourth leaf removed. I think I finally have the ride tuned to where I like it.

More Ways To Light Up Afghanistan
In regards to SPC Powell's letter regarding the 24-volt lights for MRAPs ("Letters," Nov. '09), Ibistek ( already makes and sells an HID/IR lighting system for the MRAPs that the Marine Corps is using. Another source possibly is Magnalight ( Having just returned from Iraq, where I was driving MRAPs, I am empathetic to SPC Powell's situation. Hopefully, this helps him and all my fellow service members in Afghanistan.
Sgt Ryan Mallon USMC
Temecula, CA

And On A Related Note . . .
In your November '09 issue, SPC Powell wrote in, asking for help with lighting for their vehicles while stationed in Afghanistan. You may wish to direct them to 4 Wheel Parts (, which has a program called "Operation Light Saber," where you and I can contribute any amount toward providing high-quality off-road lights to military personnel. This was started to provide lights in Iraq but has now been extended to cover our troops in Afghanistan as well. I don't know about the 24-volt DC issue, but I'm sure the motor pool can hook up 12-volt DC quite easily. This program has been well received, and has provided numerous sets of lights to our military personnel, and it has made their jobs safer, too.
Ron Hill
Via the Internet

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