In the Apr. '08 Issue, one vehicle caught my eye over all others. No, it wasn't the latest carlike truck out of Detroit. No, it wasn't the latest project the staff had been working on. It wasn't even one of the oftentimes very impressive rides of Readers' Rides. The one truck that stood out above all others was a mid-'90s Dodge Ram stepside stuck in a mudhole in the Whoops! section. I know that Dodge hasn't built a stepside pickup in over 20 years. I am curious as to what's the deal with this truck. Was it some kind of Dodge Ram prototype that never was? (I doubt that!) Or was it some very creative bodywork? Or do I need to have my eyes checked? Do you have any input on this?
Feature editor Ali Mansour (new guy, Dodge guy, and in-charge-of-Readers'-Rides guy) responds: I can't find anything to show that Dodge ever made a late-model stepside, but if I had to make an educated guess on what is going on here, I would say that if you look at the picture closely you will find that the trim lines don't appear to match the cab exactly and the flare looks as though it came directly off the same series, but a dualie. I would imagine that there could have been a limited version made, but I doubt it. I would say this is most likely some custom configuration. Though don't count the factory out as it made a handful of oddball limited models from '94-'02. Good catch!
I was just reading your article "1-Ton Diesel Tow Test," (May '08). I found it funny that you would compare a Ford King Ranch ($3,600 upgrade) to the other two, and not add the tow mirrors to the Chevy ($55 upgrade). Also in the downhill grade on the Chevy, is it that difficult to touch your brake long enough for it to shift down and hold gear in tow haul mode? I love the mag, it is a good read. I just think if you are giving out an opinion on "apples to apples, and maker's tow packages," shouldn't it be apples to apples?
Freelancer Drew Hardin replies: In an ideal world we could specify exactly what equipment we want whenever we borrow a vehicle from a manufacturer and get the truck delivered that way. But that never happens. So we've learned to pick our battles in terms of vehicle equipment. Our minimal parameters for this test were diesel-powered 4x4s with four-door cabs, dual rear wheels, and tow packages. Beyond that, we had to accept whatever trim level and optional equipment was on the vehicle (in the case of the spendy King Ranch package) or wasn't (in the case of the Chevy's tow mirrors). We were lucky to get the Chevy at all, actually. Chevrolet at first told us it had no diesel dualie 4x4, but then later found one in Texas. With a choice of no Chevy at all or a Chevy with tiny mirrors, we took the truck.
I really enjoy and subscribe to your fine publication. I sell Dodge trucks at Shelbyville Chrysler here in Shelbyville, Kentucky, and have been competing in truck pulls with my '95 Dodge Cummins truck for eight years now. That said, I was very interested in the "1-Ton Diesel Tow Test article. However, as careful as you were to be fair about all three trucks, I was truly dismayed when I read that the Ford you tested had more than 21,000 miles on the clock (and I have to assume that the others were either brand new or had relatively few miles on them). If the Dodge Cummins truck you had tested had 21,000 plus miles on it-i.e., was "broken in"-it would have had significantly higher fuel economy as well as horsepower and torque. This is a very basic and true fact relative to diesel engines that I feel greatly skewed your test results. I keep up with diesel trucks and speak with hundreds of diesel truck owners about fuel economy. The Ford 6.4 (all things being equal) tends to get much poorer (3-4 mpg) fuel economy than both the Duramax and the Cummins. What do you think?
Drew Hardin replies: Plain and simple: We're at the mercy of the OEs in terms of what we're given to test. All we can do is report the various factors along with our results. The second we start assuming things that we don't experience-better fuel economy for trucks with more miles on the clock, better dyno numbers if we had some sort of magic transmission tool, quicker acceleration if only the gear ratio were lower-we might as well write the test from our desks without ever driving the trucks. There are magazines out there that already do that. We don't.
I have been an avid reader/subscriber of 4-Wheel & Off-Road for the last 20 years and I look forward to reading the magazine every month. However, I must admit I was quite disappointed by Mr. Pw's editorial "A new beginning" (Mar. '08). I take no issue with the redesign-better reads, sharp photography, and more content all sounds great. But why are there now fewer pages available in the print medium?
Having just renewed my subscription, I feel a little cheated. I want to read a magazine to get my fix and I want it all without having to log on to a Web site to get the rest of the story. I am not averse to technology, but I want to keep my magazines old-school. I want the rolled-up copy in the back of my Jeep and the pile of past issues squirreled away under the bed that my wife keeps bugging me about. I want the portability and most importantly I want what I paid for. Please don't shrink the best magazine in the business. After all, the Coolest Reading Place won't be the same with pics of your readers sitting at a computer desk.
Minden, Ontario, Canada
So here's the deal. We agree with you, the magazine comes first. However, the Web has its place and can be complementary. In fact, you can now read the entire magazine at Zinio (www.zinio.com/gncoffer?issn=0162-3214), but of course you need to pay for it separately. I wonder how many laptops will be taken into the restroom for a magazine perusal? Don't worry though; we'll be trying to get as many pages on the paper as possible.
So I just got my June '08 issue and flipped right to the part about winter wheelin' in Conifer, Colorado, and was pretty thrilled to see you guys wheelin' in my backyard. I just have to ask how come you guys never use chains anytime you feature wheelin' in the winter? I have done a good deal of winter wheelin' with my chains on. Every truck I have owned has had open diffs and lacked a winch, and I can honestly say I have only had to be winched out once. The traction is awesome, and if you've got the power, an open field with grille-deep snow feels like driving a boat; it's smooth and you just float across the top of everything. From a safety standpoint, a good set of chains is about as likely to break as a good winch cable. If you're going to do it, don't buy the puny on-road set, get the off-road set with either the V-bar or straight bar reinforcement/traction aid. Just thought a real Colorado local should tell you how we really do it. Love the mag.
Andrew p. Trudeau
The biggest problem with chains is that you have to take them off and put them on. Other than that, yes, they can act like mini paddles, as well as grab like heck on an ice shelf. Thanks for the reminder!
I will probably never build a rig, but your mag is a good read cover to cover. In the May '08 issue, the front cover "How to Weld, Paint & Polish" is printed. What page is the article about welding on? Also what is up with the last two pages and inside back cover printed upside down?
Green Bay, WI
Good catch! We ran out of room inside the mag after the cover was sent to the printer, so the welding story is in the June '08 issue on page 86 ("Budget Bodywork"). The upside-down pages at the back of the May issue were done on purpose by the advertiser, Kawasaki. We've never seen it done before, but at least it caught your eye.
I am a longtime subscriber and I just finished reading your May '08 and found several informative and interesting articles. Usually I would never think to write in, and I'm sure you are not medical professionals (me neither), but this bothered me and has for years. In Ali's "Rust" article, the last sentence in section 4, which makes reference to tetanus or getting tetanus presumably from rust. Tetanus has nothing to do with rust. It is a huge misconception. The only connection between the two is metal found outdoors in the soil will most likely be rusty. The old "stepping on a rusty nail" scenario has more to do with the dirt and its contents on the rusty nail (which may contain the tetani bacteria) than the rusty nail itself. Tetanus or the bacteria clostridum tetani is found in soil and in some instances in the digestive tracts of animals. You can contract this through deep wounds and it will affect your central nervous system. So, as long as we wash our rusty vehicles, we should be free from contracting tetanus and feel free to keep working them. Mine would look sweet with a Petersen's plate!
That explains why I never got tetanus in 40 years of rusty metal bashing against my body. Thanks!
I read your article on fire extinguishers (June '08 ) and am glad that someone else realizes the importance of them. I am a firefighter/paramedic and carry one in my truck. I thought I might add a bit though. First off, dry-chemical extinguishers can be deadly to newer-model vehicles. The powder is able to get into electronics and computers and insulate them or just destroy them. I know in a fire that's the least of your worries though.
One option that I have used in the past is just a simple water-can fire extinguisher. They are simple to recharge, as you can do it in your garage. All you have to do is add between 1 and 5 gallons of water, screw on the top, and pressurize it with an air hose to normally 30 psi. You can even recharge them on the trail if you need to. They will not work too well on flammable liquids fire though with just water. As an option, you can easily convert it to a foam extinguisher. All this will require is adding foam concentrate to the water, or even dishwashing soap will help. You may be able to get your hands on a small amount of foam, like Class A, Class B, or AFFF (aqueous film forming foam) at your local fire station or airport fire station. The catch will be instead of hitting the fire directly at the base of the fire, you need to bank the water off the ground, hood, or any other available surface to get the water to foam more, especially with dishwashing liquid like Dawn. Well, that's my 2 cents on making everyone safer. And be sure to carry a stocked first aid kit just in case of the worst.
Good point. Everyone should have some type of fire extinguisher in their rig and know how to use it.
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