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 Due to the large volume of mail we receive, we regret that we cannot reply to unpublished letters or return photos.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.
4-Wheel & Off-Road
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Reader: I just read Clutch Newman's request to resurrect the Big Red Sled in In Box (Feb. '07). Apparently he missed all the stories that covered IFS suspensions thoroughly last year. As much as I respect the complexity and engineering that goes into a factory-designed IFS suspension system, I think that they serve no purpose, other than getting the occasional pavement-pounder owner unstuck from the mud or snow. If finding a $500 Dana 60 or Dana 44 and making some brackets to weld onto a truck is too hard for Newman to deal with, then get a new truck to wheel. Factory IFS suspension systems just were not meant to be bashed or used hard on a trail, even if they have been lifted by an aftermarket company. By the time the average IFS system has been modified to be moderately adequate, the same cost could have gotten the owner one hell of a live axle mounted to the truck. Besides that, who wants to deal with all the easily broken, moving parts? With the simplicity and strength of a live axle, there is a reason so many SAS companies are popping up. Having said all that, I will watch with curiosity as Fred Williams keeps trying to make it work. But in the end, I think a nice, hefty Dana 60 will end up under the front to match the strength of that Corporate 14-bolt in the rear.
Editor: We only have a few more episodes of fixing that IFS Red Sled, and your letter is pretty close to summing it up. We still have a few tricks up our sleeves, but that shirt is getting pretty ragged.
Reader: You guys published an article called "The Great Scrambler Freezefest" by David Freiburger (June '03). I am very interested in getting a Scrambler just like that for myself. It would be awesome if you could tell me the year and all of the information about this vehicle: wheels, tires, suspension, motor, and anything else that would be helpful.
Editor: Once again a great idea comes from a reader. We've also been meaning to do a feature on it since then, and plan for it to be written and published in our next issue, so stay tuned!
Reader: What is up with these whiners? There's always someone complaining about too much this or too little that. Who cares!? We all read 4-Wheel & Off-Road for one reason, and that is wheelin' and furthering our selves in the wheelin' world. Honestly I don't care what's on the cover or in the mag. I read it all! I'm a hard-core Ford guy, from grandfather, father, to me. It doesn't matter if I read something about a Chevy or a Jeep. What matters is I'm furthering my knowledge on 4x4s. Plus I'm always finding myself pulling out those old issues and flipping through them because of a new project I picked up. My dad always told me that knowledge is power, and when someone is busted on the trail and in need of help, it feels good to be the smart one. So, no whiners! Be thankful for these guys. If not for the sandals, shorts, and down-to-earth attitude of you guys here, this would just be another suit-and-tie magazine.
Editor: Thanks, William. We seem to think a lot alike! Do you wear sandals too?
Reader: Being both an avid reader of your magazine and a mud lover, I wanted to add a bit of my own testing advice with running directional tires backwards. I read a response to a reader in In Box (Feb. '07) on page 12.
I personally own a grooved set of 44-inch Hawgs that I run the correct direction on the rear, and run backwards on the front axle. The main reason for this is that these tires really only work well in one direction, so if you lose your forward movement you are pretty much stuck. But if you have the fronts on backwards you won't dig as deep as quickly with the front end and you have the tires on the correct way to more efficiently propel you backwards and up out of the hole so you can try it again.
Editor: Good point, Rick. You aren't the only one letting our readers in on that dirty little secret. Just because something is supposed to be set up according to the manufacturer doesn't mean that that's the only way. Thanks for the info.
Reader: I think that Rick Pw's editorial, "Is the Rubicon Really Worth It? Judge for Yourself" (4xForward, Feb. '07), is an article worth the front page. It concentrates on an important point that should be addressed: trail conservation. If people want to continue to enjoy four-wheeling and off-road activities, they need to invest or consider the impact that they are having on their environment. Donations (time or money) to Friends of the Rubicon and/or your local off-road association in order to keep trails open are essential to the hobby of every enthusiast.
Fort Collins, CO
Editor: Thanks, Matthew. We wish all wheelers would feel this way. If every one of our readers sent just one dollar to a central "save our trails" type fund, that would be more than $2 million bucks to fight the tide of closure. Just think what we could accomplish!
Reader: In 4xForward (Oct. '06), Rick Pw wrote about "Our new crawlability test," saying, "We've decided to eliminate any 4x4 that can't be crawled under." He then says that even with traction control or full lockers it's a simple fact that many of these rigs can't even get over the minor obstacles at the start of the trail, and that is where I disagree with him. I own a '94 Jeep Cherokee (completely stock) and I have taken it over the whole Naches Trail. Just because they don't have the clearance just means they have to use more smarts on the approach and what not.
I have gone where Jeeps and trucks running taller than 35-inch tires could not go just because of experience and knowing what and where to drive and go. (By the way I am only 15 years old.)
Alex Smith, Issaquah, WA
Editor: Actually Alex, you answered your own question/statement. I'll bet you can easily crawl under a stock XJ, as I know I can. We've been on the Naches Trail ourselves and agree that it can be very tough. However, our statement was that many (not all) vehicles can't even get to the trail because of ground clearance, such as air dams and the like. Lockers are not the savior of the wheeling world, and if you can't even reach the dirt, no locker is going to make up for that. Keep on wheeling open, we're proud of you learning to wheel the right way!
Reader: I just wanted to give kudos and thanks for your suspension shootout ("Chevy Runaround," Jan. '07). As a 55-year-old owner of a landscaping company and a '93 heavy-duty-suspension F-250 4x4, I subscribe to and read virtually every top automotive and "truckomotive" publication there is. I also own an '84 500SEC rocketship, a Cadillac SDV DeElegance with NorthStar, and a '68 GTO convertible. I won the 1983 (or was it '84? Guess I'll have to check the jacket I won) Super Chevy Sunday Nationals in my '80 'Vette that I drove to Indy from Chicago and beat more than 1,000 trailer queens in the street-tire class and drove home. Not braggin', but I wanted to establish some creds as someone who knows vehicularnacular. Your article on suspension/lift kits was the most comprehensive, useful, and informative (not to mention interesting and enjoyable) article I may have ever read in an automotive/truck (scratch that: any) magazine. Thank you so very much for actually providing an article that must have taken you and your team an awful lot of work and expense to put together. An article like that helps me to remember to renew my subscription.
Editor: Thanks. We appreciate that. We plan to do more of these types of shootouts, so stay tuned and see what we come up with.
Reader: I just want to let you guys know that my 10 dollar a year subscription money needs to go to Jerrod Jones. He had a great idea for the Suspension Supertest in the January issue ("Chevy Runaround") and I'm sure this isn't the only letter you will receive about it. Now you need to continue on with other trucks, like the '99-'03 Super Duty (I own one of course), and other popular trucks. There are so many choices it's hard to know which one to buy. I have looked at Donahoe Racing kits and wondered if they are worth the extra money. I'm sure they would participate just to prove how good they are. I own a '73 CJ-5 but it seems like my truck gets just as much wheeling because of the heater, leather seats, full cab, and six-disc CD player; the turbodiesel also comes in handy at times. I look forward to seeing "Super Duty Suspension Shootout" on the cover of a future issue.
Editor: Just wait, we'd like to see that as well!
Reader: In Drivelines (Dec. '06) you guys say that you don't buy the fact that hydrogen motors are more efficient than a normal gasoline engine. You guys are totally out to lunch. Thermal efficiency has nothing to do with a motor's displacement. The efficiency of a motor is the energy output divided by the energy input. It's that simple. Gasoline motors have an efficiency of about 20 percent, and diesel motors are about 38 to 43 percent. Now since diesel has a higher energy content than gasoline and hydrogen has a higher energy content than any other substance, it should be fairly evident that a hydrogen motor is more efficient. So, just to clarify: Comparing two motors that use different fuels based on the motors' individual displacements is fundamentally flawed, and totally moronic.
James Henson EIT
Calgary, AB, Canada
Editor: Freelancer (and former 4WOR editor) Drew Hardin responds:
Gee, I love starting my day by being called a moron. It gets the creative juices flowing. I will stand corrected on one point: Hydrogen does inherently have a higher energy content than gasoline. However, its ultra-lean burn, which is good for emissions, has a corresponding negative effect on the power that the engine ultimately produces. This is why Ford requires a hydrogen-powered engine with 415 cubic inches, plus forced induction, to equal the horsepower output of a 281-inch gasoline engine. For the same reason, BMW had to dial down the output of its hydrogen-powered 7-series V-12 engine from in excess of 400 hp in the gas version to 260 hp in the gas/hydrogen model. Now, I'm obviously no engineer, but having to pull back power or go up in engine size to achieve similar power levels doesn't sound "efficient" to me.