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February 2007 Letters To The Editor - InBox

Posted in Features on February 1, 2007
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Contributors: Rick Péwé

4-Wheel & Off-Road welcomes letters to the editor. Letters must include an address or a telephone number so the sender can be verified. Once verified, your name may be withheld at your request. Letters published in this magazine reflect the opinions of the writers, and we reserve the right to edit letters for clarity, brevity, or other purposes. Due to the large volume of mail we receive, we regret that we cannot reply to unpublished letters or return photos. Digital photos must measure no less than 1600 x 1200 pixels (or two megapixels) and be saved as a TIFF, an EPS, or a maximum-quality JPEG file.

Write to:
4-Wheel & Off-Road
6420 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90048-5515
fax 323.782.2704

E-mail to:

Reader: Does the guy who owns the Suburban on the cover (Sept. '06) know he has his Michelin XCLs on backward? They are a directional tire, aren't they? Or is there a reason he has them on backward? Perhaps he likes to run trails in reverse.
Kevin Mokracek

Editor: Yes, they are a directional tire, and Michelin recommends running them opposite of what you see on the cover. However, many directional tires seem to work as well or better when mounted in opposition to the recommended direction. Take for example Clifton Slay of Poison Spyder Customs, who was on the Mar. '06 cover with his Suicide Sally rig. Those Mickey Ts are directional tires and are on backward, and Clifton swears by that mounting method.

Reader: I read "The Best 4x4s Ever" (Sept. '06) article, by Rick Pw. I was Intrigued with the Scorpion MKI vehicle on page 124 by Soni Honneger.

Do you know if there are any plans out there I could get my hands on? I would like to build one of these critters for myself. Maybe use a Mercedes Diesel and a few M-class chassis components.
Philip Jingozian
Northport, AL

Editor: Yes and no. There is only one MKI, but other options are available. You need to contact Dwaine Jungen at Preferred Chassis Fabrication Inc. in Arizona (520.975.6498, and tell 'em we sent ya!

Reader: Thank you for featuring an article on some 4x4s that don't get the opportunity to grace your pages as often as some of the "in crowd" trucks ("4x4 Orphans," Nov. '06). My Xterra has more than impressed me by its off-road capabilities, and I would love for people to know that there are some great trucks out there that don't wear an oval or a bow tie. I would like to mention two very informative Web sites for Xterra owners that were not listed in the article: and, along with an awesome event for non left-coast wheelers-the East Coast Xterra Challenge ( Thanks again for a great article and a great magazine!
Anthony DiMattia
Rochester, NY

Editor: Thanks for the update, as we know there are plenty of other Nissan wheelers who want to know what's going on.

Reader: A while back, one of the 4x4 magazines ran an article about a tapered reamer and bolt that is used to fix '70s Ford steering. I have moved and can't find the issue it was in. Could you provide me with the addresses of the companies that supplied the reamer and bolt?

Editor: As a rule, we aren't able to handle these types of requests. Since we don't have a master database for our own magazine-much less all of our competition-it's impossible to find such information. Lucky for you, however, our art director, Alan Huber, wrote that story and remembered when it was. "Ford Track Bar Repair" appeared in the July '05 issue of 4-Wheel & Off-Road. The information you are looking for is for the bolt and tapered reamer:

Track-bar bolt, PN 84979 from Ingall's Engineering (800.641.9795,

Tapered reamer, PN KDT-2044 from (702.871.7178,

You lucked out this time. If you wish to get a copy of the magazine, try going to the Web site under Back Issues, and see if they have any left.

Reader: I am a recent subscriber to your magazine although I have been buying them at the supermarket checkouts for more than 20 years. I have owned close to 20 vehicles over that time, most of them modified 4x4s. I feel that Petersen's 4-Wheel & Off-Road (and most of the other 4x4 magazines) have been lacking in a topic that is fast becoming the norm amongst us off-roaders: a lightweight tube-framed trail buggy. When I say lightweight, I mean 38-inch tires or less; no Dana 60s, V-6, or stock V-8; somewhere around a 3,000-pound finished weight; preferably four seats; and less than $17,000 invested. This would be a vehicle that fits between a built-up TJ and a full-on rock buggy with 60s, V-8, and more than $25,000 invested. I am building a lightweight trail buggy. I have less than $11,000 invested so far, and expect to have it running for somewhere close to $15,000. My last buildup was a '99 Jeep TJ. I paid $9,000 for it, and then dropped another $6,000 into it (RE long-arm kit, gears, wheels, tires, and lockers), and although it was a good vehicle, it is nowhere near the ability I will have with the buggy for the same amount of money.

Most of us that get into this sport start with our daily drivers, and continuously modify them until we realize that we have exceeded the design intension/integrity of the vehicle. At that point they become purpose-built vehicles, and typically the body damage has started to take its toll. I have reached this point so many times that I have decided to build a lightweight tube-framed buggy as a dedicated trail rig. Would you be interested in publishing articles (whole or in part) as I start the buildup of my buggy?
John Rabenius

Editor: You make a good point about building a buggy for trail as opposed to rock racing or other competition. However, Tech Editor Fred Williams is doing just this and we've covered the buildup over the last year or so, as Project Fun Buggy. The idea is to have a capable rig for fun that is still street-legal, and so far he's making good progress. Thanks for offering your buggy build for an article, but we better stick to what we have in house for now.

Reader: I just got my Oct. '06 issue, and on page 54 there is an ad for a '89 Jeep Grand Wagoneer near Columbus, Ohio. Do you know anybody from northern Ohio? I want to know because you are an international magazine, yet you picked the Canton, Ohio, Craigslist and picked that Jeep. Was it a random pick or were you looking? I was just looking to buy parts off that Jeep two weeks ago, and when I saw that article my jaw dropped. I told the owner of that Grand that you had it in there. Thanks. You have a great magazine and I look forward to it every month.
Ian Adams

Editor: Freelancer Drew Hardin responds: I wrote the article about Internet shopping that you refer to in your e-mail. The reference from Craigslist was, in fact, totally random. I work in the Los Angeles area, and I wanted to give an example of what could be found on CL from an area of the country that wasn't L.A. I stumbled across that one, and it was indeed a total coincidence. Good luck with your parts hunting.

Reader: Rick Pw (with all the accent marks) was correct in saying that the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon is probably the best stock wheeler ever ("Best 4x4s Ever," Sept. '06). The only problem is that a Rubicon is not pictured! The picture in the article is actually a Wrangler Sahara as far as I can see. I'm sure I'm not the first person to mention this to you guys, but it can't hurt, right?
Mason Copeland

Editor: Sharp eye, but no, you were the only one to notice that. The truth is, that is the very first Rubicon before the Rubicon ever was-code named "Elvis." Former Editor David Freiburger and I built up that Sahara pictured with a then revolutionary 4:1 transfer case, lift, lockers, and so on before the TJ first came out. You'll even notice I had dark hair then, a dozen years ago!

Reader: I was just wondering what happened to all the past UA vehicles such as the Super Duty, Avalanche (aka the red pile), and the Tacoma. Does Rick still have the Jeep from the first UA? I have been a subscriber for a very long time and have never really heard of where these vehicles ended up. The magazine is awesome. Keep up the good work!

Editor: As a matter of fact, I do still have the A1 Jeep, and even drive it every chance I can. The other piles also share towing and trail duty, even though some are more thrashed out than others. We plan to do a project rig roundup and other cool stories for our 30th anniversary, so keep checking every month for new stuff coming your way.

Reader: The Sterling plant, which builds the 8.8-inch, 9.75-inch, and 10.5-inch axles, which was part of Ford then spun off to Visteon, is now a Ford plant again. The change occurred January 1, 2006. Keep up the great work.
Brian Line
Ford Motor Company
Transmission & Driveline
Engineering CAD

Editor: Thanks for the update. We appreciate industry insiders keeping in touch and keeping us up to date!

Reader: What happened to project Big Red Sled? So much for getting some info on building up an IFS truck. Too much work for you guys, or what? I guess project solid-axle-swap is next. More of the same old Dana 60/14-bolt garbage I read everywhere else. What about the average guy who can't afford all that? Not everyone works for an off-road magazine and scores this and that for the simple fact that the manufacturer wants its products promoted. C'mon, guys. Let's see something a little different for a change.
Clutch Newman

Editor: Tech Editor Fred Williams replies in his defense: The whole idea of Project Red Sled was to test IFS; unfortunately I started with a truck that needed a new engine. I put one in and then the transmission went out, I had it rebuilt and was working on some body armor (sliders, bumpers, and so on) so I could go drag it through some rough trails to test the IFS when the tranny went out again. So now I need to pull it out again, go through it again, figure out why it stopped working, and hopefully fix that problem. Yes, there is a 60 front that could go in it, but I would rather keep the IFS and have every intention of doing so until it either doesn't break or makes me broke trying to fix it. Truthfully I think building IFS to be as strong or stronger than a solid axle will also be more expensive than a solid-axle swap, but I have every intention of trying.

Thanks for reading and I will get it back in the book just as soon as I can.

Reader: I read your Dec. '06 issue and the one thing that gets me every time I open it is this letter of the month from the "American" truck owner. First, I am an American Soldier in the U.S. Army. I am as American as you can get and believe firmly in buying American (world's largest Ford and Jeep fan) and supporting this country in any way that I can. However, your last sentence in your response sums it up completely. Every car company in the world is sharing parts and services these days. If it's built in America, by American workers, it's as American as any other vehicle. By the way, his "American" truck is running Mazda gear from front to rear. I'm American all the way, but I also know that Toyota (Built in America) makes one tough truck. Let's stop trying to force our opinions on everyone else and try having fun in the dirt.
Sgt. Patrick Knowlton

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