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 Due to the large volume of mail we receive, we regret that we cannot reply to unpublished letters or return photos.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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Los Angeles, CA 90048-5515
Reader: I am curious about the latest status of Project Fun Buggy. This build really has me intrigued as it is something I have always wanted to do. Right now I am a third-year mechanical engineering student but started as a machinist in high school. I will be building a buggy as soon as I have a garage. I have been looking for books about how to figure out the geometry of a four-link suspension. Do you know of any? How did you figure it out for Fun Buggy? I was also wondering if you could send me your solid works file.
Editor: The Fun Buggy seems to be continuing at a seemingly slow pace, but in actuality it is moving along nicely. The coverage over the last three years has given all the info on the build, but unfortunately we do not have an index. Keep reading and we'll plan to put together a synopsis at the end of the build with all of the info you need. Plus check out our Web site for the complete story.
Reader: I was reading the latest issue showing the off-road rigs in Australia. In one of the captions it described some of the tires they were using called Simex. The writer stated he would like to get a hold of some of these extreme tires to try in the states. Have no fear, they are already here. I googled Simex tires, and lo and behold, it had photos of a Land Rover in Colorado showing off the tires. There were also links to tire stores here in the U.S. where you could purchase them. Simex is mostly an American company and most of what they sell are big construction rig and airport vehicle tires. But, they are now making those off-road tires as well. Check it out and let us readers know. See ya.
Editor: Thanks. We hope to do that for you as soon as we can.
Reader: I don't usually write in but I felt compelled to say a few things. I just wanted to say that in my opinion the UAJK is a large, overbearing, overly complicated, over-the-top, utterly unnecessary, complex, overbudget, and unattainable rig...and I also wanted to say that I love it! The fact that you looked at that JK and said "I wonder if I could..." embodies the heart and soul of the jackstand build-it-next-to-mom's-old-furniture garage wheeler. The average garage wheeler looks at that rig and says the same thing, only you were able to use the wonders of media resources to do it. So props to the guy who finds a junked XJ body and sees a unibody tube buggy, or sees a bedless two-wheel-drive 'Yota in someone's backyard and scrounges the money to tow it home. Thanks for keeping it real. Let me know when you send the Ultimate Adventure my way. I'd be glad to come out and share a day in the dirt with ya'.
Editor: Thanks. That's the attitude we hoped would be garnered by the UAJK. Keep reading!
Reader: I'm a Canadian off-road addict. I fell off my chair in spasms when you published the article "Cheap Little Boxes" (July '07), because I had just acquired an '89 S-10 4x4 Blazer two-door with a 4.3L V-6. It's great that you've thrown a bone out to us guys who buy pre-'90s boxes and build them for stout trail performance; not everyone can build up the newer crap on the market. You mentioned in the article that you could "probably fit 33s." Well, I want to tell all the S-10 guys that it's not quite true. Even with liberal zip-cut action and offset wheels, the most to hope for is 32/11.5s. I tried on 33s but the cab corners stop you from turning with anything bigger than 31-inchers (stock height torsion cranked). If you're not afraid of a sledgehammer, after you zip off a couple pounds of excess fender you can "persuade" the extra 3 inches of clearance. Be careful if you have a stick because afterwards the floor is a lot closer to the clutch end stroke. I just wanted to share my experiences, as I know it will help because my "Blaze" is an epic success.
Wheelin' north of sixty in Yukon.
Editor: Thanks. We enjoy making other wheelers aware of what's available. Send us a photo of your Blazer to email@example.com.
Reader: Every month I look forward to getting your magazine. It always has something that applies to me. Whether it is my Chevy truck and towing related or my homebuilt Cherokee, at least some part interests me. I was reading my most recent copy and noticed how many people complain. One guy complained that all you cover are Jeeps and Hummers. I want some of the crack that guy's smokin'! I decided to try to see things his way and looked for oddball wheelers. I found a straight-axle S-10, a fullsize truck, 'Yotas, Isuzus, Nissans, Fords, Jeeps, Chevys, Dodges, and my personal favorite, Jeepspeed Cherokee catching mad air. Do some folks have nothing better to do than write you guys and tell you how to do your job the way they want? Well I just want to say you're doing a hell of a job. Keep up the good work. Please continue building crazy high-dollar crap I'll never see. I like crazy stuff. The amount of engineering you go through inspires me to build myself a big-block 'Zuki. Please continue to cover brand-new trucks and crossovers I'll never care to afford. The only, and I mean only, thing I would like to see in your mag is the XRRA. That's neat! So, keep putting out a great mag and I'll keep forking out my 10 bucks every year without complaining.
Editor: Enough said. Thanks! Oh, and check out the coverage of XRRA racing next month!
Reader: I received my stuff a while ago, and I thank you for the decals and keychain from the paint contest you had for your Toyota. They were most appreciated. I was wondering, however, about the license plate I never received. If you ran out, what happens to our addressed envelopes with postage? Do they just get chucked away and then we have to resubmit them if you ever have that deal again? This is a waste of money and effort on the people who didn't get one. It is kind of upsetting to follow the instructions of my favorite magazine and then not get a plate that I can proudly display. I realize it was a first come, first serve thing, but what about all of us whose mail takes longer to get to California? We get the shaft, since it will be less likely that ours will be part of the first come, first serve thing. I guess I was just really looking forward to getting a plate and am disappointed that I haven't got one.
Editor: Brian, believe it or not, we sent a plate out to everyone who followed the directions, and even some that couldn't. The limited offer instructed readers to enclose a certain size self-addressed stamped envelope with the proper postage on it. Some people sent dollar bills and no envelope to us, some forgot to write their address on the inner envelope, and some even enclosed a couple of quarters! Add the fact that the post office doesn't always deliver the mail you send and that some people couldn't even get enough postage on the first letter, and you see what we had to deal with. We're sorry you didn't get a plate, but if you send us a great photo of you and the magazine in an awesome place for Coolest Reading Places, we'll try and get you a plate.
Reader: This is in regards to "Seatbelt Etiquette" from Bob Greene (In Box, Dec. '07). I have a '48 Jeep Willys, completely stock sans a new Solex carb. I just wanted to note that perhaps seatbelts can be a dangerous thing. I fold my windscreen down when I wheel, so if I flip over (hasn't happened yet), it won't shatter and impale me. But without a rollcage, the top of the Jeep only comes up to the bottom of my ribs. So if I have a belt on and I'm stuck in it and it goes bottom-up, I'm getting broken in half. So I take it off when I wheel, so hopefully I'll get flung free if something were to happen. Which I think would agree with Texas law if the cops stopped me at the lake. For a pre-'60s vehicle to pass state inspection, seatbelts aren't required unless they came from the factory with stock attachment points for belts. Which leads me to my question: Did the Jeep Willys come with seatbelts originally? It kind of looks like the guy just drilled holes and bolted them on, but that could be original. I can't find blueprints or answers online anywhere. Any help would be appreciated! I'll send pix when I get back to the States.
Editor: The photo in question seems to show a Scout II with factory seatbelts. However, on a flatfender it's easy enough to drill a hole for a seatbelt mount, since they weren't factory. Mine's kept me inside for over 30 different rolls and flops. However, almost any law enforcement officer, coroner, or experienced off-roader knows that the lack of a belt won't save you except in the far-freakish circumstance. The odds are that the vehicle will roll over you after you've been flung out, and kill you in the process. I've personally had a belt mount break during a violent roll, and I wasn't flung out. In fact, if I didn't have the cage to protect me and a bit of common sense, I wouldn't be here right now. My first roll was off a 30-foot cliff, in a flatty, without a cage, but with seatbelts and the windshield up. If not for that windshield, I would've been splattered right there and then as I laid upside down in the dirt. Conversely, yes, I have taken my belt off when I was on a barren, windswept goat trail high in the mountains (don't ask where), but I was also on the uphill side, idling dead slow and praying at the same time, since the angle was about 45 degrees with a 1,280-foot sure drop to death if I even flinched. Looking back, I'm not sure there was anything to grab onto if I had made it out of the Jeep! My advice? Install a rollbar and cage, and be safe.