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November 2005 4x4 Truck & Automotive News - Drivelines

Posted in Features on November 1, 2005
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6:1 & Four-Speed Atlas Cases Coming Soon
Advance Adapters has just released two new Atlas transfer cases. A 6:1 for those who are seeking the outer limits of low gearing (shown), and the new Atlas 4SP, a four-speed transfer case. Yes, a transfer case for street, dunes, mud, and rock! Each unit still comes with a heavy-duty, 32-spline front output shaft and will be custom-built for individual applications. The price depends on your rig, but expect a drop in price for the two-speed cases, and the four-speed case priced competively to any other aftermarket transfer case. The full story will be coming soon. For more information: Advance Adapters, 800.350.2223,

Proform Helps The Troops
This may sound familiar to some of you: A guy trying to keep his old Chevy truck running is in need of an HEI distributor. He contacts an aftermarket company looking for help.

Now here's the rest of the story: The "guy" is First Sergeant James Hamm of I Company, 4-159th Aviation Regiment, the largest aviation maintenance unit in Iraq. The Chevy is used to maintain a flight line of Chinook helicopters, and he's taken up a collection to buy a new distributor since the truck, which they inherited from the Air Force, isn't in the Army's supply system. (Sgt. Hamm says his guys prefer the flatbed to the standard-issue Humvees since it has more room to carry tools and test equipment.)

Proform stepped up and sent the soldiers the distributor they were looking for, along with a company banner. In return Proform got some photos of the guys and a Certificate of Appreciation. "Your company is a shining example of why we are here liberating this country and establishing a democracy in a land that has never known what it means to be free," wrote Sgt. Hamm. "Because of people like the employees of Specialty Auto Parts/Proform, I am proud to be an American, a Soldier, and to be in your service."

More Large Wheeled Objects
Last month we showed you a Hemi powered Big Wheel trike that was created for a contest sponsored by Chrysler. This month gets weirder: How about a huge, mud-bogging shopping cart? Credit goes to the students of the West Point Career & Technology Center in West Point, Mississippi. The Metal Trades class designed and built the cart, which was put on a drivetrain assembled by the Industrial Technology class.

We thought this photo, with the mud-flinging Chevy nearby, would give you an idea of how big this contraption is. Just visible between the 44-inch Ground Hawgs is a Chevy 4.3 V-6, which sends power through an NP231 transfer case to a Dana 44 in front and a 60 in back. According to Rob Smith, the technology applications instructor who sent us the pictures, "It feels a little tippy from the driver seat 10 feet in the air." But judging by the mud-slinging video that Smith sent us of the cart in action, he got the hang of it pretty quickly.

Faux Wheeling
Here's the perfect gift for your favorite Four Wheeler reader: Spray on Mud. Certain to give any poseur 'wheeler the look of real off-road action, each bottle of Spray on Mud contains actual mucky water gathered from the England/Wales border, "plus some secret ingredients to improve stickability so that it dries before it runs off the paintwork," says Colin Dowse, who sells the stuff in the U.K. Simply mist it on, and any faux wheeler can spin his own ripping yarns of ultimate adventure.

Yes, this is an actual product that you can buy by visiting the company's Web site: Apparently it's quite controversial in England. Law enforcement agencies are worried that people will use the stuff to obscure their license plates and then flaunt the country's speed limits, as police cameras will not be able to record their plate numbers.

The $2 Jeep
No, this isn't some mythical flatfender in a crate covered in cosmoline. The California Association of 4 Wheel Drive Club's annual Jeep Raffle is coming up, and you could be the lucky winner of this built TJ, all for the cost of a $2 raffle ticket. Cal 4Wheel's dream Jeep rolls on a Rubicon Express lift and 35-inch BFGoodrich tires and sports ARB lockers, a Warn winch, Hanson bumpers, Kilby onboard air, Tuffy boxes, Currie Anti-Rock, Superior Axles, and an Atlas II transfer case. The raffle takes place in February, and you needn't be present to win. For all the scoop, call 800.4x4.FUNN (494.3866) or log on to

17-Inch 'Stones
Firestone has announced the availability of three new sizes in its Destination M/T tire line, including a fitment that will accommodate 17-inch wheels. The new sizes are LT265/75R16, LT305/70R16, and LT265/70R17, all in load range E. The additions expand the tire line to a total of 14 sizes, for 15-,16-, and 17-inch wheel diameters and in load ranges C, D, and E. The tires are available with black sidewalls or raised white letters, and all are pinned for studs for severe winter weather.

Coolest Reading Places
In The Jungle
Richard Reese is doing missionary work in Sarawat, Thailand, and asked us to send him some issues to read in his spare time. His friend Robert Schwarz sent us this photo of Richard enjoying the mags while driving supplies to his village. Note the snow chains on the Toyota's tires. Now that's some serious mudding.

In Uniform
Sergeant Jay Ehmann sent us this photo of a World War II-era Sherman tank he and his buddies stumbled across while motoring around the Iraqi desert. "Where it came from and what it's doing here is a mystery," Sgt. Ehmann wrote.

This Just In
* Sales of fullsize trucks and SUVs may be in a tailspin thanks to pricey gas, but compact truck sales are rising, according to a report from Ward's Auto World via Sema. Leading the way are GM's midsize Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon, which were showing sales gains of 40 and 65 percent, respectively, even before GM began its "you pay what we pay" discount. The new incentives boosted the truck's sales even further.

* Speaking of the General's employee-discount promotion, it worked. According to Automotive News, GM posted nearly a 47 percent sales gain in June, compared with the same month a year ago. Dealerships sold more than half a million units during the month, more than double Ford's sales. Trucks were the biggest movers, as pickup and SUV sales grew nearly 76 percent over the same period in 2004.

* Ford is recalling some 180,000 trucks and SUVs powered by the 6.0L Power Stroke diesel to solve an electrical problem that is causing those engines to stall. Vehicles subject to the recall include '04-'05 Excursions and F-250 through F-550 Super Dutys.

* SUVs are getting safer, according to the government. The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration isn't completely satisfied with the rollover resistance offered by today's trucks. Yet it did point out that after its 2005 rollover tests, 24 SUVs achieved four-star rollover resistance ratings. Four years ago, when the NHTSA first rated trucks for rollover resistance, only one got four stars, and that was a Pontiac Aztek-not exactly a truck in our eyes.

Environmental & Political Watch
* Look for new CAFE mileage standards from the federal government that will classify trucks by size, not by weight. According to Automotive News, this may mean small trucks will have to meet tougher fuel economy standards than big ones. A source from Toyota, quoted in the trade paper, said the classifications will be based on "a calculation that involves wheelbase and track width to determine the area bounded by a vehicle's four wheels."

* The U.S. Senate is pushing a bill that would require aftermarket tires to be as fuel efficient as those offered as original equipment on cars and trucks. Our friends at SEMA, however, got a provision into the bill that would exempt limited production tires (15,000 or fewer annually), deep-tread snow tires, and tires manufactured for use on off-road vehicles from the scope of the law and subsequent regulation.

* Other news from SEMA: Following in the footsteps of the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service, the National Park Service (NPS) has begun a nationwide review of off-highway vehicle (OHV) use and regulations within the National Park System. Operating under an executive order from the 1970s, NPS regulates OHV use on a specific park-by-park basis factoring in environmental impacts and public input. NPS officials have indicated that it will be a couple of years before new regulations and policies are established. Officials have stated that the current review is at the most basic level including defining what a road is and what qualifies as an OHV.

* Also from SEMA: The Forests Subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives held a hearing on a bill (H.R. 233) to declare 300,000 acres in five Northern California counties as wilderness. However, despite assurances from the bill's sponsor that there was broad local support to designate wilderness in Del Norte, Humboldt, Lake, Mendocino, and Napa counties, a number of witnesses testified against the bill, including Don Amador, western representative for BlueRibbon Coalition; Sam Aanestad, California State Senator; and Chuck Blackburn, supervisor, Del Norte County Board of Supervisors. Amador stressed the fact that the U.S. Forest Service is still in the process of inventorying roads and trails in the area and no assurances could be given that the bill would not close existing OHV routes, since many legal roads and trails may not yet be published on Forest Service maps. Sen. Aanestad and Supervisor Blackburn opposed the legislation because it could further deplete the economy of the region, which used to be largely based on timber harvesting. Under guidelines established by Rep. Richard Pombo (R-CA), chairman of the House Resources Committee, any legislation to create federal wilderness areas must have broad local support before it will be considered. That does not seem to be the case following the hearing.

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