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March 2007 Letters To The Editor - InBox

Posted in Features on March 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 Due to the large volume of mail we receive, we regret that we cannot reply to unpublished letters or return photos.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: I finally got around to reading my Nov. '06 Petersen's 4-Wheel & Off-Road. When I got to the article "Hitting' the Skids" on page 118, I couldn't believe what I was looking at. A man was lying on his back using a drill without safety glasses. I work in a private post secondary automotive school with about 1,100 students. Your magazine is very popular with these impressionable people who already believe that safety glasses are uncool. Please let them know how important it is to protect their eyes.
Chuck Burns

Editor: Right you are. It never hurts to remind our readers. In our defense, however, it was a staged shot without actually using the drill, and the face was supposed to be cropped out of the photo. We'll be more diligent next time we use a photo such as this.

Reader: I am a beginning photography major in Ohio. I was wondering how someone might begin a career working for a magazine such as yours. I want to know what kind of degree I might need as well as what kind of experience would be required before I might be able to obtain a career with your company. I would greatly appreciate a response, and I wish to thank you for your time.
Aaron Shirk

Editor: We still haven't filled a Feature Editor position we have open, because we are fairly strict with our standards. Our ideal candidate would have a dual degree in journalism and photography, and a minor in business. He/she should be articulate, possess mechanical ability, and have some experience driving in the 4x4 world. You'd also have to work weekends, late nights, travel a lot, and be satisfied with a salary, instead of expecting to be paid overtime. It isn't easy, but it is considered the best job in the world. Since you (and most other people) won't be qualified like that, we'll certainly interview anyone who has the passion and a modicum of intelligence. Give us a resume on with the subject line "I want a job" and we'll take a look at it.

Reader: I have a 153 Mercruiser Chevy engine in my '42 Jeep and I was hoping you would know where to find any performance parts for it, like headers. I was also hoping you would be reviewing the new Hankook mud tires. I'd like to hear more information on them. I have a set of 33x12.5 15s and they made it over the Rubicon in September with no problems.
Mike LaFaunce
Eureka, CA

Editor: For those of you who aren't aware, Chevy produced a 153 four-cylinder engine back for use in Chevy II from '62 to '69, and DJ-5 postal Jeeps from '67 to '69. Powerful, fuel-efficient, small, light, and torquey made it a great Jeep engine, and it was a common conversion. The Mercruiser design was the same engine, and many were placed in boats and, yes, even airplanes. The later 151 Iron Duke used in Jeeps is nothing like the 153 and shouldn't be confused with it. However, we haven't seen any headers available for a 153 Merc in a '42 Jeep, so you're on your own for that one. As for the Hankooks, we are testing them now. Expect a review in a future issue.

Reader: The accusations of editorial prostitution in your December '06 In Box are only slightly less annoying than the ignorant yapping about "a Japanese company trying to wedge its way into the American market," and puffed-up pride in "my American truck." That tirade is outdated and over-simplified. Are you sure all the parts in your truck were actually manufactured by Americans? Are you certain all the parts in those Japanese trucks were made in Japan? Follow the chain of command up your American truck company. Where does it go? Get over it and go wheel your truck. I could yap on and on about the global economy and manufacturing, but that's annoying too. I'd rather read about the huge variety of rides, rigs, events, and tech that 4-Wheel & Off-Road is trying to present. Thanks for staying on task and true, guys.
Ryan Hayes

Editor: Thanks. We'll just stop that entire diatribe right now. After I ask if anyone is watching their DVDs on an American-made machine, or an American-made computer for that matter. Pretty slim chances for sure!

Reader: I just read the Chevy IFS lift kit test article ("Chevy Runaround," Jan. '07). Although I think a test like this is a great idea, not everyone wants a SAS. I do, however, disagree with some of the points Mr. Jones made. One in particular was the preference for knuckle-type kits and kits that required a new front driveshaft. Knuckle kits usually do not require a new front driveshaft because they don't drop the front differential a full 6 inches. The lower control arms get a 6-inch drop, but the diff only goes 4.5 inches or so and the difference is compensated for with CV spacers and a widened track up front. This can create some nasty CV angles. This problem is compounded when the owner tries to crank the torsion bars a little, or the front end lifts under power going up a hill, and usually results in broken parts. The kits that use the factory knuckles drop the diff a full 6 inches and retain the factory track width. Aside from more wearing parts in the steering and the occasional creak and groan from the front suspension, I feel the front full drop kits hold up a lot better. I am surprised there were no broken CVs or tie rods during the test. Otherwise it was a great test. Keep up the good work.
Anthony Garza
San Benito, TX

Editor: Regardless of lift style or design, installing larger tires and wheels on all of the vehicles stress the axles and steering components. Tech Editor Fred Williams has been investigating weak links of IFS systems, and writes about them in the ongoing series of the Red Sled. Stay tuned for more information.

Reader: This question is for Jerrod Jones: In your "Chevy Runaround" story (Jan. '07) I noticed the picture with the silver Chevy and the black Ford having a tug-o-war on page 50. Who won this contest? It looks like the Ford but nothing was mentioned about the picture in the story.
Shylock Martinez

Editor: Jerrod Jones responds: Ha ha, funny guy. You must be a Ford fan. This Super Duty was running 22-inch wheels and full tire pressure. We took some time out of our test to pull this guy out after he buried his truck.

Reader: First, I love the magazine (the same words that every good subscriber utters). Everything about your magazine keeps my salivary glands well lubricated from month to month. Your dedication and continued coverage from old to new is much appreciated. I was reminded just recently after reading In Box (Jan. '07), about the Ultimate FJ Cruiser Coloring Contest ("Ultimate FJ," July '06). Needless to say, I had not been that excited since coloring Santa Claus as a kid to win the big stocking! That very day I broke out the Crayolas and paint markers and got to work. But I have seen in previous issues that your FJ Cruiser project vehicle had a different paint job other than stock. Is the bacteria/algae-green with orange UFO markings the winner? Who did win? Who chose the winning entry and how did you decide? The consumers have a right to know! By the way, if you need a place to park that FJ, my garage is always open! Also, if I can't get the plate through your contest...can I at least get it via Letter of the Month?
Christopher J. Ellefson

Editor: Yes, the slime-green paint job is what won our contest, and we are now in the process of fulfilling our obligations. It's amazing how difficult it is to buck the corporate structure to offer cool premiums like this. As for the license-plate offer, we ran out of plates due to the overwhelming response we had. We've sent out hundreds of plates already, and have more on order. We try our best, but we sure could use another staffer if you're looking for a job. Of course, your first assignment would to be stuffing license plates in envelopes!

Reader: I just received my Jan. '07 issue and I am missing pages 35 to 42 and 83 to 90. I read in the In Box that to get the free stickers or booklets you have to buy the magazine from the newsstand. Do I have to buy off the newsstand to get a complete magazine too? What gives?
Dennis Cline
Havre, MT

Editor: Our printer sometimes screws up and misses a few pages so send us your subscription information and we'll take care of it immediately. You can drop us an e-mail from our Web site,

Reader: In response to "Why do you buy the Magazine?" in a recent editorial, I can give only one response: to see what others are doing. I am an owner of a well modified Nissan Xterra, a vehicle which is well ignored in the aftermarket arena yet is born from one of the oldest off-roading bloodlines, younger brother to the Nissan Patrol. I would like to see your publication give more attention to the small non-corporate level shops who continue to bring a high level of unique and innovative designs to our sport. Search the Web, your Readers' Rides, and the trailhead. Hit the dirt. Discover who made that new custom part which is kicking the butt of the big name, mass-produced components. Two such shops I would like to plug are Spencer Low Racing ( and Shrockworks ( Both make great products for both the rock and desert trails.
David Cheli

Editor: Thanks for the input. We think that's one reason why many of our readers buy the mag. We appreciate the Xterra as well, but getting a real Patrol with a solid front axle (not available in the U.S.) would be exceedingly cool, and we'd be wheeling it instead of writing this column. As for hitting the dirt and checking out the small manufacturers, we actually do that all the time, and even have a wrapup of products this month that we saw at the SEMA Show and only a few are from the big manufacturers.

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