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June 1998 Letters To The Editor

Posted in Features on June 1, 1998
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Early Bronco V-8s Dear Four Wheeler, In the April '98 "Letters," you stated that the 302 V-8 was offered in early-model Ford Broncos from the beginning, but the 302 wasn't offered for at least two years after its introduction. As I understand it, the 289 V-8 was offered sometime in mid-'66, with the 302 first offered in March '68.
Lenton Deats
Florissant, MO

Pink On The Cover
Dear Four Wheeler, Stop using pink for the color of the title on your magazines! Pink is a girlish color. Trucks are manly. "Pink'' and "Truck'' are not compatible. Anyway, I'm 15 and coming to the age of driving. I want to buy a 4x4 truck. What should I start out with? This vehicle will be my main transportation on-road, but I also plan to take it on the trails. I want something cheap as well. Also, what suspension kit did you put on Project Teal J?
Steve Kettler
via the Internet

Thanks for the cover tips; however, the idea behind using pink is to catch your eye, and it sounds like we did.

As to an inexpensive 4x4 for four wheeling, your best buys would probably be an older (15- to 20-year-old) 1/2-ton pickup. They tend to be reasonably priced, and boast workable platforms for experience, education and experimentation.

Our beloved project Teal J uses a 3-inch suspension kit from Teraflex (Dept. FW, 7241 S. 700 W., Midvale, UT 84047, 888/837-2359,, along with a set of coil-spring spacers, and a set of Tera's grease-fitted twisty arms.

What's A "Goofy Leaf''?
Dear Sirs, I just read the "Top Truck Suspensions" story (March '98), and one of the trucks uses what's called a "goofy leaf." What is that? How roadworthy is it? If I set one up, do I need a track bar? Does anyone make a kit I can order for my '95 Toyota?
Jason Johnson
Millfield, OH

Bill Shea's custom-extended rock buggy uses a rear leaf/multi-link setup. Where conventional Jeep leaf springs run a rear shackle connecting the spring pack to the frame, Bill's "flatfender'' runs a rear shackle connected to a top and bottom leaf-one that extends to and attaches to the frame, the other a conventional spring pack attached to the axle. Because there's more room for flex, there needs to be some other means of locating or holding the rearend. Billy uses two linking rods attached to the top of the Dana 60 to two forward points on the frame-a four-link/leaf spring combination, if you will. As you might expect from a purpose-built Arizona wash runner, pavement stability is not its main design priority. For a daily-driven 4x4, this would be an extreme treatment.

As far as your Toyota goes . . . we wouldn't recommend it, unless you're an ace fabricator who doesn't mind swapping out his entire IFS frontend for a live axle.

Wide World Of Wheels
Dear Editor, I'm about to install 33x12.50R15 tires on 8-inch rims on my Jeep Wrangler. My question is about the wheels, because they have only two inches of backspacing. Will I have steering problems? My truck has a 2-inch body lift and add-a-leaves.
via the Internet

You sure picked the right month to write us. The short answer is that your new wheel and tire combination, with only two inches of backspacing, will most likely not interfere with the steering linkage. However, the much heavier wheels and tires will give your steering wheel a different feel, as well as significantly stressing your steering pump (assuming you're using the stock part).

From what you describe, you'll have about four inches of tread inside the mounting surface of the axle, leaving over eight inches of tread outside, with at least a couple of inches sticking outside the fenderwell. As a consequence, you'll be most vulnerable to tire rub during maximum articulation. A better choice might be to move to a narrower tire, choose a rim with a 3.5- or 4-inch backspacing (similar to your stock backspacing), or both. Several manufacturers make 33x10.50 (even 33x9.50) tires.

Last year, we listed a few manufacturers and wheel types that offered multiple backspacing choices ("Offsets for your 4x4," May '97).

Fwoty Quarter-Mile Times
Dear Editor, I just decided to upgrade my '96 5.2-liter Grand Cherokee and found your 1998 Four Wheeler of the Year article (Feb. '98) interesting. Acceleration and handling are the most important features to me, followed by styling, inside and out. I drove the new Durango, Explorer, and Blazer, but the 5.9 Grand Cherokee Limited made the choice an easy one.

My question centers around the 7.9-second 0-60mph time you reported. Jeep claims 7.3 seconds on page 40 of The Jeep Book. I even read another report where the 5.9 Grand Cherokee made 0-60mph in 6.8 seconds. I understand that every unit is unique, but I find it hard to believe acceleration can differ 1.1 seconds. I also own two Dodge Vipers-a '96 RT10 and a '97 GTS-and their reported accelerations differed only by 0.3 second, depending on which magazine did the report. Understanding driver, traction, and temperature variables, what gives?
Fred Kinder
via the Internet

You've considered all the variables except altitude. Our test facility is 2,640 feet above sea level in the California high desert. The altitude, warm air, and gusty winds (particularly in the winter months, when we do most of our new-vehicle tests) combined with very new, not-yet-broken-in powerplants, ensures that our published times will be some of the slowest around. The NHRA correction factor for this altitude is .9675, which would make our GC acceleration time about three-tenths of a second faster at sea level, absent other factors.

Need 12-Volt Gas Power
Dear Sir, Help! I've been trying to locate the article, through libraries and friends who've subscribed for years, about combining a GM alternator with a small gas-powered engine. I need the poor man's 12-volt power supply.
Jim Nelson
Bloomington, MN

The name of the story was "Happy Camping," which appeared in the January 1994 issue. To obtain a copy, send your request, $3 per story (check or money order), and an S.A.S.E. to Four Wheeler Reprints, 3330 Ocean Park Blvd., Suite 115, Santa Monica, CA 90405.

More Fitment Requests
Dear Four Wheeler, I recently purchased a '97 Ford F-150. In your June '97 Tire Fitment Chart ("What Hits, What Fits"), you state that 34-inch tires will fit if I have 17-inch wheels. I have 16-inch rims and was wondering if I can put a 305/70R16 Goodyear Wrangler A/T on my truck without rubbing? Do I need to buy an 8-inch-wide rim to replace my stock 7-inch rims? Simply put, what is the largest possible tire I can put on my F-150?
Craig Hawkins
Overland Park, KS

Brian Koster of Mickey Thompson Performance Tires says the 305 tire you describe is about one size too large. He says they've put a set of 285/75R16 tires on a new F-150 with good results. Brian also recommends moving to a wider-than-stock-7-inch wheel for any tread over 10 inches in width, but it all depends on how much sidewall bulge you want and need. Rock crawlers like to keep wheel flanges as protected as possible with a tread wider than the rim. Mud runners typically don't have that concern. Other considerations center around backspacing and wheel offset. For more on that, turn to page 112.

Better Drivetrain Tricks
Dear Editor, After reading the February '98 "Cheap Tricks," I became concerned. Patrick Sydlik has a good idea using blocks to remove a transmission or transfer case, but I'm a mason by trade. Concrete blocks are not structurally sound, and someone could get seriously hurt. I would suggest using wooden blocks or jackstands. If concrete blocks must be used, always place them open-side down, with a weight-distributing medium (like heavy-duty plywood) between them. Elwin Stewart
Aurora, CO

Proper Behavior
Dear Editor, Land closures have finally affected me and many other enthusiasts in my area. As you may know, over 90 percent of the land in Texas is privately owned. However, there was an oil company that was willing to allow access to a dune area, great for buggies, motorcycles, and 4x4s. Now this land is closed-not because of some governmental law or advocacy group, but because some stupid individuals destroyed some of the oil company's high-dollar equipment. Because of the behavior of a few, the rest of us can no longer enjoy the area. Also, this has blackened the name of all the four wheelers in the area.

Those of us who really love the trails and other areas we use-be it for 4x4s, fishing, hunting, or whatever-need to band together and take care of what little we have left by being responsible users. Anytime we see someone else abusing privileges, especially if they're destroying property, we need to take action-maybe we can speak to them about responsible driving. Of course, maybe a simple report to the proper authorities, giving all pertinent information, could be the way to go as well.
Bruce Schwartz
Levelland, TX

The question that comes up is exactly how to report abusers. The general rule is it's best to get a license number first, which you can always supply to the proper authorities. On minor transgressions that are a product of simple ignorance, if you can handle the situation by approaching in a friendly way, sometimes that can work just as well.

What A Surprise!
Dear Four Wheeler, Wow! What a surprise. While channel surfing, looking for something on The Learning Channel or Discovery that had 4x4s in it (I own an '85 Toyota Land Cruiser, so shows like Animal Planet that are filmed in Australia have lots of them), I stumbled across ESPN2 and found this cool show: Four Wheeler TV. I recorded it and I'm showing it to all my buddies. I look forward to seeing your show time and time again.
David Leveille, Jr.
via the Internet

Ford's Lust For Fords
Dear Editor, I am very dissatisfied with my husband. I'm contemplating buying the new Mr. Ford's F-550 4x4 dually with all the trimmings. Included will be his improved 7.3 Powerstroke turbo diesel with 500 lb.-ft. of torque. I'm flushed! However, I desperately need a limited-slip differential of some sort. Mr. Ford has been boasting, or leaking, of his truck that can do much more than in the past.

Upon inquiring at the nearest Mr. Ford's dealer about a limited-slip option, he said, "Ha, ha, he, he, ho, ho-No limited slip. Not if your first, middle and last name is Ford." "Oh, really?" I replied.

What gives? Only 50 percent of my six wheels will be driving? Single rear-wheeled 4x4s with a limited-slip, theoretically, have the same "pulling" power. I want a limited-slip in my F-550 4x4 dually!
Mrs. Fordie F. Ford
Middletown, NJ

At this stage, there are no plans to offer the heavy-duty Dana 80 or Dana 135 with limited-slip differentials; however, it's our guess it won't be too long before there's a Detroit Locker for both. Many of the bigger commercial-duty Rockwell axles, for example, come equipped with Detroits from the factory.

The Rest Of The Story
Dear Editor, I saw the inaugural show on February 23, and saw some of our group's rigs. Too cool-we're stars. Will tapes of the show or extra footage go on sale? Our friend, Jay Peetz (in the old tractor-tire Ford with smokestacks out the hood,) is the guy who buried the military 8x8. It took several pickups, tying off at the same time, to get the old Ford out. Then they even tried to return the favor, all hooking up to the Army rig. No such luck. Last we heard when we left at about 9:00 p.m., the Army called in a huge D-9 Cat to retrieve them. Ahhh, our tax dollars at work.

Anyway, awesome show. I've printed your show lineup to pass around, and look forward to viewing more small-town friends who love four wheeling.
Shelly Beyel
via the Internet

We will be-and have been-traveling all over the country, covering different events, trying to show the best of four wheeling as it takes place around the U.S. The show runs monthly; look for programming information in every issue. For those who don't get ESPN2 but do have access to the Internet, Four Wheeler TV show times can be found on our Website, along with info on ordering a tape of any particular show. If you happen to be Internet-challenged, tapes can be ordered conveniently by calling 888/FOURWHEELER.

Better Late Than Never
Dear Editor, I was reading your article about "Rudd's Blazer'' in the June '97 issue. What's up with the front axle setup? That's definitely not a Blazer frontend. Just wanted to bust your chops.
Tim Gallagher
Alexandria, VA

You're right. While sorting through some great photos culled from a Midwest truck show, we plugged a 6-inch-lifted Ranger frontend into the K-5 Blazer feature. Now that's creative engineering.

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