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December 2011 Inbox - Letters To The Editor

Posted in Features on December 1, 2011
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More About Me!
I was advised to pick up the Aug. ’11 issue of Four Wheeler. I haven’t bought an issue in about 8 years. There have been a couple other 4x4 mags that have covered my interests better. Once in a while I might pick up a copy of your sister mag 4-Wheel & Off-Road if the issue had Toyota articles or something about Michigan four-wheeling. I have always been into four-wheeling but just not the radical rockcrawlers or wannabe monster trucks. I’m into simple vehicles built more for adventure and camping than anything else. It’s what I do. After I got a chance to look through the issue I was quite surprised to see featured vehicles I really liked. Then to top it off there was equipment featured that I would use. In my eyes, you guys hit a homerun with that issue. Keep it up and you may have a subscriber.
Brett Ratell
Bay City, MI

Bolted Wrong?
Perhaps I was in aviation too long, but when I saw the picture in “Zero To Hero” (Sept. ’11) showing the ReadyLift installation, I was surprised. Standard hardware practices dictate that you never put the threads of a bolt in a shear load. The shank of the bolt should protrude through the last shear point and then be secured. I would think this would be especially important in a suspension installation.
Randy Buitendorp
Otsego, MI

Of course you are correct, however in this case (and in most cases on lift kits for 4x4s) the Grade 8 (and sometimes Grade 5) fasteners used are far stronger than what is required, regardless of whether or not the threads are mounted in shear.

He Gets It
Alright, it’s rant time, but I’m with the magazine on this one. I am tired of hearing readers complain about how Four Wheeler only shows Jeeps or why there aren’t more (insert ranter’s ride here). I am also tired of people saying that TTC has become only for the super rich and not relatable to the average reader. To both of those rants I have one answer: You are reading the magazine all wrong. I happen to own four Dodges and have a very limited budget. Do I want to read a magazine all about Dodges or see TTC limited to daily drivers? Nope. I read all the articles, even the ones that don’t apply to me to see if maybe there is some cool trick or new gadget that I could learn and make work for me. Maybe there is some article about an awesome Jeep, but it has a sweet shock setup or maybe some cool rock sliders that I could adapt to my truck. As far as TTC goes, let these guys build these super expensive rigs and go tear them up. That is fine, maybe I can’t do that, but I can look at these rigs and see if the trick suspension setup is actually not that good, or maybe I’ll find out that engine I wanted for my future rig idea wasn’t my best choice. I can actually see how these high-dollar setups work, before I go out and blow my hard-earned dollars on that one modification I have been dreaming about. I might even find one that I want to do more. My suggestion to people who want information that pertains only to them is to go and out take some pictures of your rig, write up an article about it, and mail it to yourself every month.
Justin Magill
Poplar Bluff, MO

Top Truck Hopeful
First of all, I have to say that your live internet coverage of TTC 2011 was awesome! The pictures and videos that were posted on really helped people like me who had friends in the competition, friends judging the competition, and of course friends announcing the competition. Excellent job. I know how phone reception is sketchy in the Hollister area, and I am sure it is a logistical nightmare to get live updates on the net. Still, A-plus coverage.

My next set of questions is directed at Top Truck Challenge. I am in the process of building the T-REX 2 in hopes of getting voted into next year’s TTC 2012. The real thing that I am wondering about is the technical difference between the buggy class and the truck class. I am building my ’97 Ram 1500, (“Rock Ram,” Mar. ’08) into the T-REX 2, and I am wondering about how much of the framerails I can change, if any. I need to try to reshape the front horns and the rear rails for additional clearance for the 6x6 drivetrain. I will still have the majority of the stock framerails, but the front and rear will need to be changed around a good bit, not only for the clearance of the Rockwell axles, but also for the custom cantilever suspension I am adding, and the associated frame strengthening required, and a winch mount.

What tells the difference between the truck and buggy class now? Is it the frame, or the body, or lack thereof, how does it work? I mean if it was the frame, there should not be a single rig out there that would qualify for the truck class. Right?

Anyhow, I am at that point of the build where I really need to find out the basis of a Truck Class build. I want to make sure that I won’t have to worry about the rigs in the Buggy Class, even though I am fairly sure that I would be able to hold my own in either class, I would really like to show again this year that someone who builds their own rig at home, can come out and enter TTC in the truck class, and ultimately have enough points to win both classes!

Finally, I am wondering if there is a possibility of changing the trophy system in TTC. I really like and agree with the Truck Class and the Buggy Class system. Please don’t get me wrong here; getting voted into TTC will be the absolute highlight of my life. I have been dreaming about it for the last 20 years. And now I am finally in a place financially to build the truck I have always dreamed about. My question here is if there is a chance that you will take the highest score out of both classes and give out a trophy to the team that has the highest score, kind of like a Top Truck Challenge - Grand Champion. That would really be an unbelievable accomplishment, and I am sure it has been the dream of many people like me for a very long time. To be declared as the Champion of TTC, to me, means that I was good enough to beat all of the other teams be they truck or buggy.

These are just some sticky points of TTC that I have been thinking about as I purchased all of the parts for my new T-REX 2. I greatly appreciate your time and assistance.
Matt Klouzek
Via email

It’s really something that gets looked at on a case-by-case basis because of the numerous modifications many of the Top Truck Challenge trucks have. If the 4x4 in question has most of the factory framerails and a factory cab, it will more than likely be considered a truck. So in your case it sounds as though you will be fine. The frame can be modified as you have mentioned. However, there is a bit of a curve ball being thrown for the 20-year anniversary of TTC. It’s called the Champions Challenge. You can read all about it at the end of the 2011 TTC coverage in this issue.

Budget Minded
Every month you guys print a couple of reader complaints about too many wallet jobs, or not enough Studebakers or whatever. Here are my contributions to the whiny reader department. No, I’m not gonna cancel my subscription or anything, but a couple of things stand out lately.

In “10 Best Buys in Aftermarket Parts” (Sept. ’11) you highlighted KC Lights as a best value pick for lighting. Guys, these are $130 a set. Check out Harbor Freight, you can get 100-watt off-road lights (with a dual axis mount) for less than $20. How are KC’s 6½-times as good? I happen to have a set of Daylighters, they are indeed very nice but compared to a set for $20 they are far from an excellent value, especially when you figure that the rock or tree you are gonna smack ’em into won’t care what you paid.

In the Oct. ’11 issue you guys went to a shop to get the flares mounted on your Project ’Con Artist. What?! You had to get a shop to put on a set of fender flares? I don’t expect you all to stoke up the campfire and cast your own gears, but really? If you can’t handle a drill and a couple of nutserts, what are you going to do if you break on the trail? Farming even the simplest tech stuff out to a shop really damages your credibility.

Featuring high-dollar parts as good values and farming out even easy tech stuff reinforces the notion that you guys have way more money that your typical reader, are just bitches for your advertisers, and are seriously out of touch with the regular guys (and gals) who read your magazine.

Lastly, a suggestion, when you feature a part, the actual street price is almost never given. Sometimes an MSRP is mentioned, but those are typically not indicative of what things actually cost. How about this, the next time you feature something why not partner up with an advertiser to offer a deal. For example, if a reader purchases a featured set of curb feelers or whatever from a specific advertiser within a month of publication they get a discount. Perhaps include a code or something in the article for folks to plug into a specific vendors website. You could rotate through your advertisers or feature whichever one offers the best deal to your readers. The readers get to at least know an actual price for the product and get a deal as well if they buy in time. The advertisers get visibility as well as the ability to track the effectiveness of all those free dinners they buy you guys for featuring products through tracking the code given in the article. And me, I get one of each featured item free for a year for coming up with this fine idea.
Jay Isennock
Jarrettsville, MD

I have a question about the off-roading community’s use of the term D-ring. It seems people use the term D-ring when referring to what is actually a shackle. It’s not a D-ring shackle, but just a standard shackle. A D-ring is actually exactly what it sounds like, a welded or non-welded piece of steel or formed plastic in the shape of a “D”. Some D-rings are made for actually bearing weight but they are welded or forged and you have to use a shackle to attach to them. I have done stage and industrial rigging for about 14 years now and have never heard anyone in the rigging industry call a shackle a D-ring.

I first heard the term used the wrong way when a co-worker of mine mentioned he wanted to pick up a “D-ring” for his tow strap. I immediately said, “What the hell do you want a D-ring for? That can’t hold any weight whatsoever.” He explained what he was talking about and I told him that it was actually a shackle. So I wrote it off as him simply not knowing. I recently picked up a copy of your magazine because I wanted to see what I could do to my Jeep since it could soon be making the transition from daily driver to weekend toy. I was almost upset at seeing the term D-ring printed so many times in a magazine and only ever saw the word shackle twice.

Where did this mix up first come from?
Via email

Funny, I get irritated when people call their wheels “rims.” Rims are on a bike or motorcycle. Others get upset when an engine is called a motor. Ultimately it’s really not all that important when you look at the big picture. The confusion stems from the fact that you are a specialist. That title typically comes with a specific vocabulary. The funny part is that to me a “shackle” is a component that can be found on a leaf spring suspension, and I would never attach a tow strap to it.

Where To Write
Address your correspondence to: Four Wheeler, 831 S. Douglas St., El Segundo, CA 90245 or send your email to 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.

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