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December 1998 Letters to the Editor

Posted in Features on December 1, 1998
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Is This A Misprint?
Dear Editor, Come on, fellas. I just received my September '98 Four Wheeler, and you wrote that a two-wheel drive Powerstroke ran mid-10s in the quarter-mile. Is this a misprint? If it isn't, we're going to be seeing a lot of trucks at the dragstrip.
via the Internet

Thanks go to you, whoever you are, along with the nine zillion other readers who chimed in to point out our misprint. In fact, our two-wheel drive ran a 10.67-second zero-to-60 time, and an 18.75 quarter-mile. Still pretty quick for a diesel.

Ultimate Seat Source
Dear Four Wheeler, My letter is in regards to your reference to Flofit seats in "Project Built 2 Budget" (Sept. '98). Flofit has fallen by the wayside, but The Seat Source has acquired the product line and will continue the distribution of the seats, as well as Recaro and Corbeau. We'll also continue to help customers with any and all of their warranty issues.

Also, the photo of the seat in the article is outdated. That model has gone through several material upgrades since that picture was taken. If there are any questions, feel free to contact us at The Seat Source, Dept. FW, 2995 Van Buren #A13427, Riverside, CA 92503, 909/343-9430. Timothy J. Hansen, Owner
The Seat Source
Riverside, CA

Missed It By That Much
Dear Sirs, Many compliments for your Four Wheeler, which helps me (in Switzerland) to stay in touch with the latest evolutions in four wheeling. I own an '86 Range Rover and an '84 Jeep CJ-7, and I'm happy with them. I liked the article about Rimmer Engineering's supercharging of the Range Rover engine (July '98). However, I wanted you to know that their correct Website address is ",'' not "'' Stefan Moser
via the Internet

Erred Philosophy?
Dear Four Wheeler, Your magazine has great pictures of four-wheel drives traveling up, down, and through rivers, lakes, and streams. Your magazine also promotes the Tread Lightly! philosophy. Have you erred here, or are you not aware that traveling in a watercourse causes siltation? Siltation destroys fish spawning areas, kills aquatic plant life, and kills fish. Don't get me wrong here, fellas-I'd love to do it myself, but I got my 4x4 to take me fishing.
Clarke O'Donnell
via the Internet

We're very sensitive to this issue. In truth, we're very careful to avoid driving needlessly-as you put it-up, down or through rivers, lakes or streams. There are situations where we will show vehicles in water, such as rain puddles in a quarry, or at designated stream crossings on, say, a 4x4 trail. You'll notice that when we're crossing a body of water, vehicle speeds are kept extremely low to minimize siltation. That's because we fish, too. About the only exceptions will come in cases of event coverage, in which actual competition is taking place on an approved course.

An Ugly Request
Dear Editor, Somewhere around 1985, you did a feature issue about Ugly Trucks. I still have the issue and dig it out every once in a while to re-read. Other magazines have done the same thing, but most have fallen short. Your coverage was great, and forever changed the way I think about trucks. Most of these "Uglies'' were heavy-duty trucks, many had Detroit Lockers, ex-AC compressors, Tigged pigs, ex-AC condenser trans coolers, low gears, and/or one thing or another. The one thing they all had in common was home-grown ingenuity instead of big bucks. The bucks that were spent were spent in the right places.

I also remember a related article about buying, resurrecting, and driving home a bucks-down 4x4. Man, that was cool. I, unfortunately, don't have that issue anymore, but am always looking for prime stuff like that. If you ever decide to do another "Ugly Truck" issue, let me know. I have a '75 Jeep Cherokee with Dana 60s, a four-barrel AMC 360, a rebuilt TH 400, swapped-in Dana 20, York ex-AC air compressor, etc. I've also done a Thrash-'N'-Drive on a $400 M38A1. See what kind of effect you guys have had on me?
Tracy Underwood
Huntsville, AL

You're probably referring to our "Dirt Cheap and Barely Running'' series (May 1991, April '92), in which we actually purchased a "dead'' 4x4 in a tall-grass field and resurrected it on the spot, driving it away. That kind of thinking lead to the concept of the Ugly Truck, a 4x4 detailed in the purely functional, engineering sense alone. From there, the focus has progressed to extreme trails and Top Truck Challenge. In fact, several of the challengers that were selected for our inaugural Top Truck Challenge (March '94) came from previous Ugly Truck and Readers' Rigs entries.

For photocopies of any particular story from the past, send the name of the story, $3 per reprint, and a self-addressed stamped envelope to Four Wheeler Reprints, 3330 Ocean Park Blvd., Suite 115, Santa Monica, CA 90405.

Blazing Straight Ahead
Dear Four Wheeler, What the hell happened? I've been following the best diesel project you guys have ever done-your 6.2-liter K-5 Blazer diesel-and was appalled to read that you almost swapped the engine out. I've swapped out those ratty, fuel-slurping stinky 454-equipped trucks for 6.2s. I have two of them-one is a '91 Jimmy (my wife's), the other an '87 Blazer, both with Silverado interior.

Anyway, I've been diligently following each article in the "Project Blazer'' series, thinking of all the possibilities but very much looking forward to your engine mods. Maybe a Banks or HTS turbo install? J. Mascaro
via the Internet

Our "Project Blazer's'' diesel engine buildup commences in next month's issue.

What's The Difference?
Dear Experts, What's the difference between all-wheel drive and four-wheel drive? We're looking to buy an all-wheel-drive GMC Safari and want to be able to take it on sand. One person told me they're the same, except all-wheel drive is computer controlled, whereas four-wheel drive is manual. Someone else told me they're very different but couldn't explain. We haven't been able to get a straight answer from anyone.
Spelly Furello
via the Internet

The difference, in a word, is gearing. We define an all-wheel drive system as one that allows engine torque to be sent to both front and rear driveshafts, without the benefits of a dedicated low-range gear. Some all-wheel drive systems, under dry-weather conditions, are front-wheel-biased (e.g., the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Subaru Forester) while others are rear-wheel-biased (GMC Safari, 5.0-liter Ford Explorer, Olds Bravada). We think of these alternatives as the less rugged, "all-weather" choice.

We define a four-wheel drive system as those offering a low-range gear reduction (i.e., a transfer case), which offers improved performance in slow-speed outback conditions, not to mention providing a big assist for boat towers. Most four-wheel drive systems are "part-time'' setups; in normal circumstances, they can run in two-wheel drive.

A third category is necessary here. Full-time four-wheel drive takes the best of both worlds, running power to both axles when needed, with a dedicated low-range gear for heavy towing or steep hill climbing; some examples include the Toyota Land Cruiser, Range Rover, Fords Expedition, and Chevy Tahoes. Computers do most of the wheelspin/speed-sensing work. The advantage is increased all-weather readiness; one of the trade-offs is reduced fuel economy.

The GMC Safari you refer to uses a Borg-Warner transfer case with a computer to control a wet clutchpack to distribute power to the front driveshaft. We're told that as much as 35 to 40 percent of engine torque can be sent to the front wheels within milliseconds of detected rear wheelslip. We think you could drive it on sand, with skill and the proper tire pressures, fairly extensively-just keep an eye on the transmission temperature.

Engines In Half-Tons
Dear Four Wheeler, I've heard the Big Three are doing something different with the 1/2-ton truck engines for 1999. Is Chevy bringing back the 327 and 383 strokers? Will Ford be supercharging? Will Dodge be bringing back the 429 Hemi? What have you heard about these engines? If this is so, will the engines be available for purchasing and swapping into older trucks?
via the Internet

Chevy is bringing out three new V-8 engines that are born from the new Corvette 350 motor: the Vortec 4800, Vortec 5300, and the Vortec 6000. The latter will only be offered in the 3/4-ton Chevy/GMC pickup.

We know that Ford is playing with a sport-truck-type 5.4-liter V-8; it's rumored to include a supercharger option, but we've heard nothing definite. We do know the next year's Lincoln Navigator, with the 5.4-liter Triton V-8 standard, will get a four-valve aluminum head and give the motor more than 300 horsepower. We assume it will eventually make its way into Expeditions and F-150s.

We've heard nothing about the 429 coming back to Dodge, and we'd be surprised to see it, considering Dodge's current powertrain lineup and especially with CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) numbers slated for revision.

Ram Tank Options
Dear Four Wheeler, Do you know if there is a larger tank available for a '98 Dodge Ram 1500 Quad Cab shortbed? I thought the same configuration in the 3/4-ton allows for a 34-gallon tank, which leads me to believe it would fit underneath my 1/2-ton. Bottom line, I need more gas. Is there a tank I can swap in? Is it safe to add an auxiliary tank?
Jim Kay
via the Internet

According to our sources, the shortbed will only allow the 26-gallon tank, with the 34-gallon tank available in all other configurations. Space constraints due to the exhaust and transfer case make venting a larger tank difficult.

It's harder to get auxiliary fuel tanks these days, since the EPA and other government agencies have imposed extensive regulation in the name of safety and emissions law. Transfer Flow (Dept. FW, 1444 Fortress St., Chico, CA 95973, 800/442-0056) has several in-bed, replacement, and auxiliary tank options to choose from. All of their tanks are safety-rated.

Military Vehicle Phones
Greetings, In the September '98 issue, there was an advertisement for Military Vehicles Magazine. Do you have the phone number? Are there any other M-37 sources you know about? Finally, can you give me a source for places to ride my ATV?
Michael Myers
Greensboro, NC

Military Vehicles Magazine has been a long-time advertiser in Four Wheeler and, from what Editor Dave Ahl tells us, it's growing from month to month. You can call him at 973/285-0716. As to where to ride in your area, you can contact the National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council; they can give you information about where to ride. The Council's Website also has a Trail Info page that eventually will have state-by-state listings on OHV areas. Contact them at 800/348-6487 or find them on the Web at

Finding The Right Index
Dear Editor, Was hoping to find an online list of available back issues. I own an '85 Bronco, and need info about lifts, frames, alignments, and all things Bronco. Is there any help available to locate specific back issues by subject? My wife says I need a hobby. This could be a good name for this old Bronco: "Hobby Horse."
Jack Page
via the Internet

We've made it a habit, the last several years, to include our Road Test Index in every March issue (see March '98 for the most recent); the Index lists nearly all of the road tests, comparos, and project vehicle stories that have appeared in the magazine over the past 36 years. We featured a Bronco suspension lift article in last month's issue, and another suspension kit is featured this month on page 96. We've also run steering, exhaust, and fuel tank swap stories (Feb., Oct., Dec. '94, respectively). We even have a listing of our most requested past articles.

A Special Thanks
Dear Editor, I just finished reading "Backcountry Ballet" (Aug. '98) and would like to note that I actually broke my locker on top of Black Bear Pass, not before Ingram Falls. I would also like to thank Fred Perry (Clemson 4 Wheel Center of Clemson, South Carolina) and his brother Steve for helping me check out the damaged rear locker, then leading us down the mountain to Ouray. In case you were wondering, simply hoping the locker would work didn't seem to help, so we dropped the rear driveshaft and drove it back to Telluride. I'd also like to thank the group of Hummers that followed me back to Telluride.
Dewayne Catchings
via the Internet

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