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June 2008 Letters To The Editor - In Box

Posted in Features on June 1, 2008
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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 Due to the large volume of mail we receive, we regret that we cannot reply to unpublished letters or return photos.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.

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Reader: In the "This Just In" column (Jan. '08), you questioned USA Today's proclamation that the '91 Explorer "started the SUV craze." You said "Jeep and Chevy might disagree." I wasn't going to comment, but the recent unibody Ford Explorer America concept (apparently lacking any 4WD controls) made me rethink my resignation on the matter.

True, the '91 Explorer was not the first SUV, but it did start the SUV "craze" among car folk. The craze is why you get all-terrain tires that look like all-season tires. The craze is why you get better ingress/egress instead of ground clearance. The craze is why you get heated/cooled leather seats, and plush carpets instead of hose-out interiors. The craze is why you get chin spoilers instead of skidplates. The craze is why you get IFS/IRS instead of solid axles. The craze is why you get limited suspension travel and stiff rollbars (to improve cornering scores in car magazine tests) instead of generous articulation. The craze is why many SUVs became expensive technical marvels with automatic electronic doodads like air suspension, traction control, and active diffs to maintain capability instead of reliable user-operated mechanicals that are easy to repair and service in the field. The craze is why auto manufacturers listen to these car bozos and not off-road guys when designing their next SUV. It's all because, since the '91 Explorer, there are more of them than there are of you! If you ask the off-road guys at Jeep and Chevy about the USA Today proclamation, I'm sure they are happy to see Explorer get all the blame.
Chuck Shafer
Kensington, CA

Editor: Right you are. However, even we get some of the blame by choosing IFS-laden rigs as our 4x4 of the Year winners. Read on!

Reader: That's it. I am done with your magazine. Toyota Land Cruiser is 4x4 of the Year? Come on, my grandma drives one of these! If you can look me in the face and tell me that the '08 Land Cruiser will outwheel a Jeep Wrangler Rubicon in Moab then I'll give it to you. I didn't know that your wife got to choose who won it. If these are such great 4x4s then why don't you build one for the Ultimate Adventure? Or don't you want to be seen on the trails with a Lexus or a Volkswagen!
Matt Nielsen
Idaho Falls, ID

Editor: The Rubicon didn't win because the Land Cruiser did better in our test. And your grandma must be cool, just like my wife, who doesn't drive our Land Cruiser. Keep reading for more comments.

Reader: What kind of ship are you running down there? I mean, I know that you are Jeep-crazy but come on! In the 4x4 of the Year (Feb. '08) you have your precious Rubicon Unlimited tearing up the ground on page 67 (looks cool), but then in the summary page you have the same Rubicon getting towed out of the hole by the H3? Listen, it didn't look high-centered or like it had bad tires-maybe the staffer couldn't figure out the locking diff button. Could Jeep have a black eye, and are you able to cope with this? Either Jeep has to either upgrade its "Locking Diffs" or you have to put the smack down on a rogue staffer slipping this in.
Josh Barnett

Editor: Hmm. That was me driving, and the soft stuff certainly did high-center, high-rear, and high-front. Buttons aren't everything, as my not paying attention shows!

Reader: I just finished reading the Feb. '08 issue. While reading the "Readers' Rides Tips," I noticed what I think was a misprint in the "Fit to Print" article. In that article, you stated Ryan Pecot sent you an image of his '96 TJ. In all my Jeep dealings I have yet to come across a '96 TJ and was wondering about this. As I am sure you are aware, they did not make a Jeep Wrangler in 1996, and the TJ did not come out till 1997.

Keep up the good rag.
Mike Wren

Rick, I've been enjoying your articles since way back in the day when I was just learning to drive (legally) and you were a 4WOR staffer. Today I'm writing to stand up for your Ultimate Adventure. In Letters (Feb. '08), some goof wrote in saying how the UA guys were having such a hard time on obstacles that he makes look easy. I don't think that you spent enough time blasting him. Tellico, Morris Mountain, and Gray Rock are all in my backyard and there have been many times where my old '79 K10 simply walked the dog over some guy's fancy rock buggy on a particular obstacle. Now take into consideration that I built specifically for that type of wheeling and that I tried that same obstacle dozens of times to his one time. The playing field was not level. Maybe the weather conditions weren't the same. Maybe the trail had changed. Bottom line is that this person should spend a little more time on the trail and a little less time getting all upset and complaining. If they had been out riding that day, they could have shown the entire UA group how it's done. Also, I would suggest that this person read the story in that very same issue about how to get their picture published.
Name withheld

Editor: Thanks, that is what makes the difference.

Are you deliberately trying to keep Jeeps out of your Ultimate Adventure? I have an '06 TJ Rubicon with a 4.5-inch lift and many extras including custom bumpers, skids, and lights. I meet all of your requirements on a daily basis-minus the ridiculous 35-inch-tire requirement. I have 33-inch Pro Comp MTRs that have taken me over everything I've thrown at my Jeep. I'm aware that the fullsize pickups your magazine seems geared towards run with larger tires as stock, and 35s are small for an off-road-modified pickup. However, Wranglers that run that size tire need to be lifted to a point that compromises reasonable CG, and most Wranglers that have monster tires and the extreme lift needed for such have been modified to the point where they are no longer street-legal, making them ineligible for your Adventure.

If your intent is to have the Ultimate Adventure open only to fullsize pickups, please state so in your magazine. If your intent is to include all serious off-roaders that are capable of multiple terrain types, then please consider altering your tire requirements to include a better variety of vehicles that are capable of handling this challenge. Thank you.
Staff SGt. Eric E. Rexilius
Attack Helicopter Inspector/Instructor

Editor: Um, I'm still trying to figure this out. While I'm sure your 33-inch-shod Jeep is very capable, I think that if you look at the number of Jeeps on our past eight Ultimate Adventures that have 35-inch or larger tires, they are very stable and street-legal. Since the difference between the tire sizes is only 1 inch in height, I can hardly agree that the 35s are less safe and stable or require massive modifications to fit. I have a feeling that you could easily squeeze a set of 35s on your ride and you wouldn't know the difference, except in performance.

Reader: I have an image of a vehicle you may once have had on your cover. I am looking to verify if it was indeed your mag that had this particular vehicle. There is a JPEG image that I have from that would aid you in helping me with this task. I have every issue of your mag from 1982 as well as every issue of one other mag from 1982. I really don't want to have to go through 624 issues of wheeling mags to find what I am looking for. Any help you could provide no matter how small would be appreciated.
Name withheld

Editor: Whether it's a Bronco or any other vehicle, story, or photo, we really can't look through 624 issues for something that may have been in a certain year. While we love to help, we don't have the database or the resources for this type of search. I remember when I first started 13 years ago and got a similar question and looked for a week to help the guy. It turned out that the information he had was the wrong year and the wrong magazine, but I did find it. Even if we do find it, it's in a bound collection that can't be Xeroxed or scanned so that's a dead end too. Sorry, we wish we could help but it's just not possible in this situation.

Reader: Do you happen to know anything about the new line of inexpensive winches? I have some positives as well as a negative or two. They seem like decent winches for someone who is on a budget (they retail for $299). But I'd like your opinion if you don't mind. As much as I would love a Warn PowerPlant, it won't be in my budget (at least not till the kids finish college).

Next one in line is a bit more of a brand name, which retails for about $388. Although there are always those who need help on the trail, I would primarily use it to pull myself out. Don't really think I need one capable of more than the 8,000 pounds. Any input would be great. Thanks.

Editor: As a rule we don't recommend or comment on products that we haven't tested. However, I can say that cheap is cheap. It's like those cheap hand and power tools; you use them once and they pay for themselves, unless they break and you bust a knuckle and have to go to the emergency room. My last trip to the ER was $150-even with insurance. I was just saving some money by fixing an $80 floor jack, and risked my fingers which I make a living with. I'm not saying anything about any particular product, but when I'm hanging off a cliff or stuck in a mud bog with wild elephants charging towards me, I'd rather have a winch that I can depend on...and that is faster than the elephant.

Reader: First off, you guys consistently put out a great magazine. I look forward to receiving my issue every month. I was reading "Dual-fuel Propane Install" (Mar. '08) and, being a firefighter, had some thoughts I wanted to share. Under most conditions, propane is no more dangerous than gasoline. One condition that differs is in the event of a fire involving direct flame impingement on the tank. A gasoline tank will usually fail in the event of a fire. The failing of the tank will not usually cause an explosion, but somewhat of a flamethrower effect. With propane tanks, the tank itself usually does not fail. As the liquid propane is heated it begins to boil and the vapors expand. Most of the time the relief valve is activated, relieving the pressure inside the tank long enough for the fire to be extinguished. However, if the fire is not controlled quickly, the tank could spontaneously fail, resulting in a Boiling Liquid Expanding Vapor Explosion (BLEVE). Look it up on YouTube; awesome.

The blast from a 25-pound tank could easily level your home. Please stress the importance of not only having a functioning fire extinguisher on board, but also how to use it. It is rather simple: Pull (the pin), Aim (at the base of the fire), Squeeze (the handle), and Sweep (side to side) [PASS]. Fire Departments all over the country will be more than happy to provide training or training materials to anyone who asks for them.
Clay Yarbrough

Editor: Thanks. Safety should always be at the forefront.

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