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September 2010 Letters to the Editor

Posted in Features on September 1, 2010 Comment (0)
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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 www.fourwheeler.com. Due to the volume of mail, electronic and otherwise, we cannot respond to every reader, but we do read everything.

Reader Recipe for Rockwell Stew
I've been stewing a couple of weeks over your plea for help to improve the magazine. Stewing, I say, because after I read your July 2010 editorial, I read an article on Rockwell axles ("2 1/2-Ton Building Tips") that was more advertising fluff than substance. Mr. Stover showed us a sheetmetal housing that will save weight, but doesn't tell us how much weight. He mentions more expensive options from different companies, but doesn't say how much they cost. He did not mention any of the possible problems with running these wonder axles, like driveshaft clearance problems, oil pan clearance problems, etc. In short, a little (lot) more substance was needed. Just a few more numbers and words could have made a great story.
Mark Watrous
Via the Internet

Your points on pricing and weight savings are well taken-though we think that most readers who are interested in upgrading a Rockwell aren't too worried about weight savings, since these are extremely heavy axles to begin with. But some of the other issues you raise are almost impossible to discuss in a single general tech story-any driveshaft, oilpan or exhaust clearance problems, for instance, will vary from vehicle type to vehicle type, and will depend on how much lift you're running, or whether or not you've relocated your engine and transmission, or whether you've "dropped" your transfer case to reduce driveline angles, or what kind of oilpan and exhaust setups you've installed, etc. And if you're building your own trail rig from the ground up-which a lot of Rockwell guys do-these shouldn't be issues at all, since you can engineer these potential interference "problems" out of the equation when your rig is still in the drawing board stages.

Treading on a Case of Mistaken Identity?
On page 14 of my June 2010 issue, I read an article about BFGoodrich winning King of The Hammers yet again. In the same issue, starting on page 36, I read Robin Stover's article ("A Dream Realized") about his ride with Loren Healy, the winner of the race. As I read on, I noticed the sentence about Goodyear stepping in to provide tires? I glanced at the photos-yup, there's even a Goodyear badge on his rig. Throw the winged foot some props!
Scott Paquette
Littleton, CO

Read the article again. Robin rode shotgun with his buddy Derek Summers, not Loren Healy, and Derek indeed ran Goodyears in the race.

Editors: Not Stupid, Just Mathemetically Challenged

I just read your article "Fullsize Fun in Alaska" (May '10). Great story, though I did notice that you referred to Alaska as the 50th state when in fact it is the 49th state.
Andrew Carmichael
Kodiak, AK

Good Mileage = A Patriotic Duty

I enjoyed the reports on the Jeep Patriot (June '10). We bought one in 2008, and enjoy driving ours, but ours is a Sport model with a five-speed manual trans, four-wheel drive, and we are getting around 28 to 30 mpg highway. The only mod we've made is a K&N air filter and so far we've had no problems. I haven't gone off-road with it-that's what my 2005 Rubicon is for.
Ed Orth
York, PA

We didn't log any highway mileage figures with our tester that was quite as high as yours, but then again, our model was heavier, was used as a daily commuter in stop-and-go (i.e., bad-for-mileage) L.A. traffic, and yeah, we took ours off-road quite a bit, usually loaded with a couple of hundred pounds of gear. Your mileage may vary, as they say, and any data we pass along in our long-term tests should not be taken as gospel but simply as a baseline estimate of what a typical owner could expect. In a vehicle like the Patriot, however, our experiences will be somewhat unique since most owners won't spend as much time in the dirt with their rigs as we did. Thanks for writing in.

Reader Advice: Keep the Old Iron Coming
Of all the 4x4 magazines I've taken over 30-plus years, yours remains the best and my only paid subscription today (PV4 being long gone!). Your broad coverage of topics, and your long-term contributors such as Willie Worthy, Jim Allen, and Jimmy Nylund are key factors. You don't neglect "old iron," which is always interesting. Thanks especially for Jim Allen's fine in-depth story, "A Convoy Thru Time" (June '10), which was a great salute to the military vehicle restorers and the veterans of all conflicts that they've represented and honored. Thanks also for placing this moving story as your lead feature and keep up the good work!
Steve Owen
Grants, NM

Jim Allen's MVPA convoy story generated more positive reader mail than any other story we've published in the last year. We haven't lost sight of the significance of that, and we hope to shine the spotlight on some more "old iron" feature vehicles, including military rigs, in the coming months. We're also running a survey (of sorts) of some older rigs this month, albeit with a completely different slant; turn to page 66 and see for yourself.

Looking for a Job in the 4x4 Industry
I am a recent graduate in mechanical engineering from the University of Wyoming, and I am also a past graduate from Wyoming Tech. I have a real passion for the aftermarket off-road industry. I am currently looking for a full-time engineering position. It seems through reading your articles that your staff has frequent interactions with a number of off-road companies. I was hoping that you would possibly know of any open engineering positions in some of these companies. If so, please contact me.
David Starbuck
Laramie, WY

What? You think we'd actually be asking other companies if they're hiring these days? Hey, we love our jobs around here so much, the thought of ever asking any aftermarket guys if they're looking for help-well heck, the thought never crosses our minds.

So no, we have to admit, we don't have any hot job tips for you at present. Our best suggestion for you is to spend some time online and take a gander at the websites of some of your favorite aftermarket companies. Most will have any available job openings posted on their sites. You might also check out the jobs board at sema.org, which lists job openings posted by its various members in the aftermarket, as well as the classifieds at some industry publications such as Automotive News (www.autonews.com; subscription required), which also has all sorts of job listings.

Sacrificing His Rig for a Noble Cause
I had an idea for a show similar to the Overhaulin' TV show. You could trick out four-by projects that were started and never finished. It's the story of many 4x4 owners' lives. The four-wheeler industry is growing, kids are buying R/C crawlers and trucks, and this would be a great way to open a new generation of four-by lovers with a little attitude. I have a great starter for the show-a '70 Chevy 4x4 Suburban 350 that's running, but needs some love.
"Big Bad" Jake Frederick
Montebello, CA

Thanks-that's mighty generous of you. Have you got a video crew, a crack staff of experienced fabricators, and a post-production facility that you can provide us with, too? As an alternative, can you at least loan us A.J., the female co-host, for a couple of nights?

Actually, we've kicked around this idea in the past, and what's held us back has primarily been a lack of overall resources. Things have changed quite a bit in our company over the past year, however, and while such a show is now more do-able in terms of logistics, the biggest sticking points would still probably be (a) finding enough sponsors to help us underwrite the costs of the show, and (b) finding the proper cable network to broadcast the show, and to negotiate a long-term deal with them. (Based on our own limited experiences, that's a lot easier said than done.) We're certainly not ruling it out, and if it ever comes to fruition, your rig will become the first guinea pig for our team of amateur fabricators to chop, hack, and torch to their wicked heart's content. Like the old saying goes, be careful what you ask for.

What Happened to All the Hummers?
How come there are hardly any articles or advertisements for anything related to Hummer? Even though GM has abandoned us, we are still around on the trails and will be for a long time!
Dan Larson
Watertown, MN

Dude, have you been living in a cave for the last few years? We've been all over Hummers from Day 1 like none of the other off-road mags. We named the H3 Alpha our Four Wheeler of the Year for 2008, and a year later, the H3T won our Pickup Truck of the Year test; both were prominently featured in the magazine over the course of a one-year period. The year after that, we built a way-cool H3 project, "Trailhugger," that turned heads and elicited positive comments wherever it went. There were also two cross-country staff tours-the legendary "Tents & Trails" and "H2our De Force" expeditions-that used Hummers and which were featured prominently throughout the magazine in '06 and '07. Luckily, you can find all of these awesomely Hummerific stories online at fourwheeler.com.

Why there haven't been any Hummer ads in the magazine for awhile? Have you read any newspapers lately? But we do know that the Hummer faithful are still out there wheeling across America, and we still hold out hope that somebody, somewhere, will decide to resurrect the brand one day.

All-Terrains vs. Mud-Terrains: Better for Mileage?
I have an '03 Wrangler, manual-shift, with a K&N air filter system. I ride on Mickey Thompson 33 M/T's. I don't do much off-roading, but like the look of the tires. If I change to all-terrains instead of mud-terrain tires, how much gas mileage would I save? I'm averaging 12.2 mpg, and am looking for any ways to save gas but keep the looks.
Ron Rivenburgh
Bartlett, TN

All other things being equal, we can't imagine that you'd see any noticeable difference in fuel economy, assuming the tires are the same exact size. The difference in weight between the two types of tires will typically be minimal (and in this particular case, a Baja ATZ actually weighs more than a Baja MTZ), and while the less knobby all-terrain will deliver more adhesion and a smoother ride (and less vibration and rolling resistance) than a mud-terrain, we doubt you'd even see a savings of 1/2 a mile per gallon.

We Love a Man in a Uniform, and Two Are Even Better
I am a reader of your magazine currently deployed to Afghanistan out of Camp Pendleton. I have recently started a project rig that I would like to add to your "project rigs" section. It's a military M1114 gun truck that has been beat down and put away wet, but it is quickly becoming a bad-ass off-road vehicle I call the "FOB Hopper," and I think people would be interested to read about it. Is there a way I can do his without a subscription?
Brian in Afghanistan

I'm a shift supervisor in the powerplants shop at VFA-151, U.S. Navy, stationed in Lemoore, Califonia. We are currently constructing parts bins for our upcoming deployment to store aircraft parts. I'm inquiring to see if you would be willing to send us some sticker packages or anything we could use to dress the bins up a little bit! Thank you in advance for your reply!
Tyler Stolz
Fresno, CA

Sure, you can show off your truck without subscribing to our magazine (though we hope you do, one day). Send photos and information to Four Wheeler Readers' Rigs, 831 S. Douglas St., El Segundo, CA 90245, or via email to fourwheelereditor@sorc.com. Or you can log onto fourwheeler.com, create your own account (don't worry, it's free), and you can post pics of the FOB Hopper online. Either way, we look forward to seeing some pics of it. And thank you both for your service to America.

The Joys of Importing a 4x4 From Overseas
I have been looking for a unique off-road rig for a long time, something to drive on and off the pavement. I went home to the Philippines recently and have found three great potentials: an older Toyota FJ- 40 (very rare here in Florida), an FJ-45 pickup, or an early-90s HiLux double-cab with solid front axle and diesel engine (all factory options that were not offered in the U.S.). My question is what hurdles and hoops do I have to go through to be able to register it and drive it here in the U.S. once I own the vehicle and have imported it?
Ron Capahi
Crystal River, Fl

There are plenty of hurdles and hoops awaiting you, though it will be much, much easier to import one of the older FJs you mentioned than the HiLux. That's because vehicles that are less than 25 years old (like the HiLux) must conform to all federal motor vehicle safety standards before they can be admitted into the U.S. legally. There are dozens of these standards, ranging from mirror placement and transmission shift patterns to bumper safety and side impact protection, and we can't really tell you which ones you'd need to satisfy since the standards are typically assigned by NHTSA on a case-by-case, per-vehicle basis. And best of all, you'll also need to post a hefty bond that can't be refunded until you've made all of the modifications the feds deem necessary.

However, if you're importing a rig that's older than 25 years, you don't need to conform to the federal standards. You'll still need to prove that it is sufficiently old to qualify for exemption, and if it's a right-hand drive, that's another can of worms that'll require a letter from the manufacturer stating that the vehicle is as safe to operate on the road as a left-hand drive version. And of course, you can't just show up at the dock and claim your rig once it has arrived-all importations have to be conducted by a registered importer, who will also need to co-sign your customs declaration form. You can find a list of importers at NHTSA's website (www.nhtsa.dot.gov), and we'd advise you to spend a little time reading some of the useful information there to get a better idea of what you'll need to make this happen.

Then, assuming you've gotten this far, you'll need to comply with whatever safety and emissions regulations your state may require. Check with your local motor vehicles department for those answers.

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