February Is For Valentines, Unless It Isn't
It's interesting how you left out the Nissan Titan from the "Half-Ton Haul-Off" (Feb. '10) after you praised its towing abilities in your long-term tester. More interesting is the fact that you praise Toyota for its bed step, given that Nissan has made the bed step available on its Titan for two years already, starting with the 2008 model year. Nissan also beat the competition with its damped tailgate and active head restraints. How about giving the Titan credit when credit is due?
I can't tell you how pleased I was with the articles in your Feb. '10 issue. Your "Kalahari Burning" piece was wonderfully written, interesting, and descriptive of an adventure most of us will never have the opportunity to enjoy. I hope that you will continue to publish the follow-up pieces. "Huey" contributed to the diversity of the magazine and gave a great history of the origin of Land Rover. Your "Half-Ton Haul-Off" was informative and impartial and well appreciated. Please keep up the good work. Your magazine is great and reminds me again that our sport has something for everyone.
Long Beach, CA
I am writing to express my utter contempt and disdain with your "Half-Ton Haul-Off" comparison test. How is it a fair comparison test when the vehicles are not similarly equipped? Specifically, I am speaking about the Tundra and the strange choice to include the 4.6L V-8 in a Tow test and not the 5.7L-equipped Tundra. The 4.6L has 71 fewer horsepower and 74 fewer lb.-ft of torque, and when both are equipped with the tow package, the 4.6L has a 4.10:1 gear ratio while the 5.7L has a 4.30:1 gear ratio. The 5.7L-equipped Tundra can also tow 1,400 more pounds than the 4.6L, which would put all four trucks tested within 1,000 pounds max towing capacity. All in all, I am disappointed with this Detroit-biased review. Next time, let's compare apples to apples and get similarly equipped trucks, please.
Fort Bragg, NC
I have a little bit of a gripe with the content that has been put in the magazine. I have been a long time reader and subscriber. I just got my February issue the other day and it is pitiful. I didn't know this magazine was turning into Motor Trend. There is one instance of wheeling in the whole magazine (unless you count the Kalahari trip). Your publication is called Four Wheeler, so why have two pickup-truck comparisons, five pages of a trip across the Kalahari, five pages on filters, two-plus pages on a tuner, four pages on a truck race, and only three measly pages about the Jeepers Jamboree? I wasn't there and have no affiliation with them, but that article is the only real resemblance to wheeling in the whole magazine.
The Land Rover you have as the feature off-road vehicle is a classic show truck, not a wheeler. Why not stick most of this crap you are putting in here about new trucks and comparisons, and other non-wheeling items, on the website? I am getting tired of going to the throne, sitting down to read my magazine and just getting ill about all the useless things put into the magazine called Four Wheeler, not Motor Trend or Car and Driver. Help us real-life wheelers who want to see rigs, not street trucks and show trucks. Show things like full hydro steering and how to build cages and onboard air. These are the things wheelers like-not this other comparison-shopping magazine that yours has become.
Black Mountain, NC
Hmmm. We're looking at the February issue, too, and besides the articles you mention, we're reading a how-to story about a new suspension kit for Grand Cherokees, a short article about power-steering upgrades for Dodge HD trucks, and another article about rebuilding a Turbo 400 transmission for severe use. Are those things of no interest to anyone, too?
Okay, we know that there's no pleasing everyone with every issue. And given cyclical developments in the 4x4 marketplace (not to mention the time of year we're producing any given issue), some issues of FW are bound to be a bit heavy on tests, or travel, or features, or racing. As a rule, however, we've always tried to offer a little "something for everyone" in each issue of the magazine. It's been a bit more difficult recently since current economic conditions have dictated running smaller editorial packages, and if you're looking for more dedicated coverage of only Jeeps, or only trail rides-well, there are magazines that cater to those particular niches, too. But we do appreciate this kind of feedback, whether it's appreciative or critical, because it keeps us from becoming too convinced of our own genius. Even though we are.
About the 1/2-ton truck comparo, we were interested in trying out the newest versions of each of the four trucks, hence the roster of vehicles we selected. We've reviewed the Titan at length in recent months, and as it hasn't seen any significant revisions for the last couple of model years, we didn't include it in our test.
Wheeling at an Undisclosed Location
I just wanted to write to mention a couple of annual fourwheeling rides we have around my community every year. One is called the Tark Hill Memorial Ride. It consists of rocky creek trails, steep off-camber hillclimbs, and tons of mud. It's a memorial ride for three kids who were murdered on that trail. The other event is the "Turkey Run," as we call it. It is the day after Thanksgiving and consists of unbelievable long, very steep hillclimbs and many different canyon-like trails. Both rides have every kind of off-road vehicle you can think of: Trucks, buggies, rails, ATVs, side-by-sides, you name it. I don't see much coverage in your magazine from this side of the country. Maybe some of you desert runners can come over to Kentucky. Keep up the great work-this magazine keeps me motivated on my own projects when I feel all hope is lost.
Olive Hill, KY
Well, we can't guarantee that we'll be able to attend your events, but we can share them with our readers. It always helps, though, to tell us where the event is happening (Kentucky's a big state, after all) and if there are any local 4x4 clubs or organizations that folks can contact for more information. And don't hesitate to send us notices for our monthly "Calendar" section. You can send them via regular mail to 831 S. Douglas St., El Segundo, CA 90245, or via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Building a Blazer For a Brother in Iraq
I have put a website together for my brother Jesse, who is currently serving his third tour of duty in Iraq with the U.S. Army. My plan is to overhaul his 1988 Chevy Blazer before he gets home from Iraq this summer. I plan to run the site until May or so in order to maximize the donations that we receive so that we can make sure that we make this Blazer the ultimate gift ever. Jesse is my best friend and my hunting buddy since we were old enough to hold BB guns. He is a great guy who is will to put his life on the line so that people like us can have a place to call home. So my goal is to make this homecoming the best one anyone has ever had.
The site is www.trickoutjessesblazer.com. Please help were you can with discounts on parts, donations, and services as well. Every little bit helps, regardless of size or quantity. I really want to make this one of the best presents for my brother. Please pass this website around to your friends, family and people who may be able to help out to get this project off the ground.
Coos Bay, OR
Consider it done. Hopefully, some of our readers or advertisers will make some contributions to your brother's truck. And send us a photo or two when your buildup is complete-we'll be happy to share it with our readers.
The Mailman Ate My TTC Application
I mailed my photo(s) and entry form for Top Truck Challenge 2010 to the address listed on the application in mid-November 2009. I am extremely disappointed to find it recently returned in the mail stamped as "nobody at the address." I checked the envelope, and my written address matches yours on the application. Did you relocate or was there a misprint. What are my options now?
Portage La Prairie, Manitoba
Sorry to say, not many. When we published the application last April, we were still located at our former offices in Los Angeles. When you mailed in your application, seven months later, we were in the process of relocating to our new digs, a few miles to the south in El Segundo. And yes, we had some difficulty getting a lot of our mail forwarded to us during the months of November and December. Why? We're not exactly sure, but basically, you (and quite a few other folks who tried to contact us during that period) were simply the victim of bad timing. There's not much we can do about it except to apologize for the inconvenience, and invite you to send in your application for TTC 2011. Our new address is 831 S. Douglas St., El Segundo, CA 90245.
Explorer V-8 Swaps: Crunch the Numbers
In your Feb. '10 "Letters," Rellion Clark asked about a V-8 swap for his Ford Explorer. You suggested a 4.6L V-8, but Ford did not offer the 4.6 until later models. The V-8 for the '98-01 Explorers was the 5.0L. It was the GT40P engine offered in the H.O. Mustangs that was downsized with a smaller cam and injectors. It runs a roller cam, flat-top pistons, and comes straight out of the box with 9.0:1 compression. These were very easy to find and a well-kept secret out of Ford. If Mr. Clark can find a donor vehicle with a mass airflow sensor, the engine can be made a monster with a larger cam swap (E303) and bigger injectors, and with a little work he can add a Mustang supercharger kit that will make for one mean Explorer. I did the E303 cam and a high-rise aluminum intake with a 650cfm Holley in a '66 Bronco. It pushed 350 horsepower. Crunch the numbers.
Well, shucks. That 5.0L engine must have been a "well-kept secret" because we forgot all about it. Thanks for the correction.
Looking For Saginaw Rebuild Kit
Jay Kopycinski posted a tech article awhile ago titled "Smooth Steering" (Jan. '08). He mentioned that he purchased the rebuild kit from West Texas Off Road. Is there any contact information? I have tried looking for them and thought I found them, but there was no mention of rebuild kits on the websites I visited and no replies or people to talk to on the phones.
You can contact West Texas Off Road at 877/833-7464, westtexasoffroad.homestead.com. We can't say for certain whether they still offer this upgrade in kit form, but as it's largely made up of OE replacement parts, they should be able to point you in the right direction.
Earth Roamer: Who's Scooping Who?
You've got to be kidding me! Four Wheeler, the oldest off-road magazine around (correct me if I am wrong), and you get scooped on the Earth Roamer 2.0 built on the Wrangler Rubicon (Jan. '10)? I read about the same build in Car and Driver last month! This is not the first time, either. Just off the top of my head, I seem to remember the Dodge Power Wagon and the Ford Raptor both being covered there first. What gives?
Our bad. We actually had that Earth Roamer story in hand late last summer, but postponed publication until January due to reasons of space. (Car and Driver is a bigger magazine than we are, after all.) We're not sure about the Power Wagon, but we know for a fact that you're mistaken on the Raptor-our very own Sean P. Holman was the first journalist on the planet to learn about the then-secret SVT program in intimate detail, and he scooped the world on the development of the Raptor a couple of years ago at fourwheeler.com. So bottom line, when it comes to scoops, ya win some and ya lose some.
Letter Of The Month
So What Do You Really Think of Us?
Please don't send me any more copies of your mag. What a waste of paper, I have been subscribing to this magazine for 20 years, and if you choose to, you can check on it. I almost stopped the subscription four years ago, but hoped the new owner would let go of you new guys-McColloch, Brubaker, Collard, Kopycinski and so on. In my thoughts, Four Wheeler should let people like Mr. and Mrs. Wescott (who have more four-wheeling background in one month than any of you guys above do in 10 years), Ned Bacon, Jim Allen, Jimmy Nylund, and Willie Worthy run the magazine. They're all good wheelers with a lot of experience. You choose to write about boats, trailers, and how to wire for the last 10 years. How's about letting the guys who know something about four wheelers write your magazine, and not wannabes? (As you can see, I didn`t include my phone number or e-mail address. I don't want you turning it over to the people who call at all times of the night.)
I will still look for your magazine in the news rack and see if it changes any. And yes, I know it will cost more but I won`t be getting something in the mail that should be called junk mail most of the time instead of Four Wheeler. This is why I won`t be signing up again until I see some improvement in your magazine. I hope you take time and check out my years of buying Four Wheeler-it's no lie, and I should have canceled the magazine years ago and saved myself some change.
Colorado Springs, CO
Dude! We've got a Valium with your name written on it. We've also got a box of Four Wheeler swag with your name on it, and we're sending it out to you today. (You did include your mailing address in your email.) Just so you know, there are no hard feelings. We always look forward to reader mail, no matter how brutal. And in case you hadn't noticed, all of your favorite wheelin' writers are still contributing to this magazine on a semi-regular basis. Thanks for your past support, and we hope you come back again in the future.
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 www.fourwheeler.com. Due to the volume of mail, electronic and otherwise, we cannot respond to every reader, but we do read everything.