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Off-Road Unloaded - Letters to the Editor - January 2013

Posted in Features on January 1, 2013
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Editor’s Note: If you want to say or ask something, email Unloaded at or write:

Unloaded, OFF-ROAD Magazine, 1733 Alton Parkway, Ste. 100, Irvine, CA 92606

Remember, we’re giving away swag every month to the author of our favorite letter. Be sure to include your address, so we know where to send your goods.

Our letter writers are getting multiple copies of The Bourne Legacy- the newest of the Jason Bourne series. You get a Blu-Ray copy, and a digital copy of the movie for your perusing pleasure. Thought it doesn't feature Jason Bourne, it continues on with the saga. The Bourne Legacy hits stores in December 2012.

Grab Handles

I noticed the Grab Handles in the ’70 K20 in your August 2012 issue. I probably studied the truck a little too hard because I have one! I just got my ’70 K20 two months ago with a Skyjacker 4-inch lift, an NP205, an Eaton rear end, a wood bed, and some other cool stuff.

Anyhow, I like the grab handles. Let me know if you recognize them. I’m in the market for A-Pillar grab bars.

Love your magazine. Thanks.


Our ’67-’72 GMC/Chevy guy, Agustin Jimenez, weighs in:

Those grab handles actually look like those similar to ones I saw at a home center. I bet some handles from the plumbing department at Home Depot could be made to work, but I don’t really want to suggest that. …

Trans-Dapt has some handles that look almost identical to the handles in the K20. They’re made by Performance Products. I’m not sure about the mounting hardware, though. I’d be willing to bet you could make a great one with a Home Depot handle, nut-serts, and Grade 8 hardware.

Saab Off-Roader

Here’s an eye-catching and rare specimen for your collection: a 1960s Saab racing off-road. I took this during the re-birth of NORRA in 2010. I never saw this old Saab again at the 2011 or 2012 events.

Timo Kallen

Hydraulic Ram Placement

I could use a good answer on installing hydraulic-assist steering on my ’74 Bronco. I think the way the Herman Brothers did it on their Broncos in the May 2012 issue is the best, but nobody else does it this way. Why not? Thanks for your help.

Stormin Norman
Belleville, Michigan

Well, “best” is a relative term, as I’m sure you know, Norman. Sometimes, placing a hydraulic-assist steering ram is simply a matter of trying to find a spot you can mount it.

The Herman Brothers’ Broncos both had hydraulic-assist rams attached from the frame to the pitman arm. This keeps the rams high and out of harm’s way and it alleviates force on the steering box and its sector shaft. But, it does not alleviate stress in the steering system below the pitman arm and is still pushing against the frame to turn the tires.

With a hydraulic-assist ram between the axlehousing and tie rod, the assisting steering force is put directly onto the tie rod (pushing off the axle). This takes pressure off the draglink, pitman arm, sector shaft, steering box, suspension, and frame.

PSC Motorsports always recommends isolating the steering from the suspension, and placing the ram on the draglink or pitman arm is introducing even more steering input into the suspension.

While both ways help improve the ability to turn the tires more easily, placing the ram on the axle will probably be your best bet unless you’re making other modifications that prohibit it.

Ford 5.8L Power Improvements

I have a ’93 F-350 crew cab 4x4 with a 5.8L engine and C6 trans. I want some power upgrades and to possibly eliminate the smog pump, as well. I also want to put on headers and dual exhaust. What would you recommend or suggest to get more power from my 5.8L? I’m running 4.10 gears and 37-inch tires. Thanks.

John Ferguson

We’d recommend not removing the smog pump since it’s against the law to tamper with emissions control, and there really isn’t much power to gain from removing it. Bolt on a set of underdrive pulleys from BBK ( to slow down the accessories, which will result in less overall parasitic loss (improves throttle response).

We’d also steer away from running dual exhaust since the stock exhaust design is more efficient and doesn’t interfere with the front driveshaft. Instead, try running some 1 5/8-inch BBK shorty smog-legal headers ( These headers will outflow the factory cast-iron exhaust manifolds. They just look plain cool under the hood, and the fact that they’re smog-legal makes it a no-brainer.

A good flowing throttle body will also help get the power to the ground. Luckily, BBK has a high-flow twin 56mm throttle body for your truck, too (

As for the getting those 37-inch tires to spin easier, try swapping to a set of 4.88 gears to bring the 5.8L back into its powerband.

Hells Yeah!

Bravo! I have been sick of all the cookie-cutter poseur four-wheelers who go out and buy new Wranglers and call themselves Jeepers!

They are everywhere! They are like a virus; it just keeps growing. I’m especially tired of “TRAIL RATED.” My CJ never had to say trail rated ...Grrr.

I drive a ’79 CJ7 that I have been working on for about five years, and it’s just about done (although I’ve been saying that for about five years).

If you don’t know how to fix it, how it works off-road, or any other spec about your vehicle, just go home.

Great October 2012 editorial, and thumbs way up!

Master Sgt. Michael Mulvey,
Retired United States Air Force

Not All Raptors!

Thanks for the article on the Texas Raptor Roundup. I noticed your caption stating that “all Raptors with stock bumpers caved in the skidplate.” I have a small correction for you. I convoyed in with several other guys. Most of us (five out of six) had stock bumpers/skidplates while only one of us caved in the skidplate. There were several others who left with theirs intact, too. Thanks again for covering our event!

Will Decker

Will, we must have missed your trucks. Sorry about that. We didn’t see any stock Raptors’ bumpers that hadn’t been touched by the ground in some way. It is no surprise—no other factory truck bumper (on a stock-height truck) would even have been able to survive that course with the steep approach and departure angles there were. The fact that the Raptors’ stock bumpers weren’t ripped off the frame and still looked as good as they did is a testament to how purpose-built Ford made them.

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