In 1948, Arthur Warn Figured Out A way to put needle bearings in front wheel hubs so Jeep owners could use them in two-wheel drive on the pavement. Eleven years later, Warn would adapt a logger's tool used in the Pacific Northwest forests-the electric winch-for use in vehicle recovery. Arthur Warn didn't invent off-roading, but those two developments were essential in the evolution of four-wheeling as a recreational activity.
Warn Industries recently celebrated its 60th anniversary with some very special events. First came a picnic and carnival for Warn's employees and their families. Then, Warn hosted some two dozen off-road journalists for a day of new-product introductions, demonstrations, plant tours, and other fun stuff.
You'll be hearing more about these products as we get our hands on them, but here's a brief look at what Warn showed us.
Endurance 12.0 Winch: Warn continues to incorporate air into its latest innovations. In this case, the company figured out a way to cool a winch's motor with air from an underhood fan, increasing the motor's duty cycle and allowing higher line speeds. The motor's performance improvements forced the company to upgrade the winch in other areas, too; and in the end Warn considers this 12,000-pound puller "the ultimate performance winch." It's on sale now, priced just below the PowerPlant Dual Force winch/compressor combo.
PullzAll Davit Kit: This bed-mounted hoist was just in the prototype phase when we got our sneak peek, but it looks like its uses will be limited only by one's imagination. The 1,000-pound cordless PullzAll lifting tool, attached to the rotating davit arm, made easy work of the ATV used in demonstrations. We can imagine this device being used to load anything from lumber to big game.
New hydraulic winches: The 20,000- and 30,000-pound behemoths were designed for tow-truck companies and others in the professional recovery business, but they elicited looks of unbridled lust on just about every off-road writer in the room.
Air-Power compressors: When we first saw the PowerPlant Dual Force winch/compressor, we asked about a stand-alone air source. Warn listened and developed single-cylinder and V-twin 12-volt compressors that'll move as much as 8 cfm at 90 psi (if you choose the two-cylinder model).
Powersports accessories: New winches and body armor were developed for ATVs and UTV/side-by-sides. The new XT40 UTV winch has a wireless controller.
GM Performance Online
Looking for a Chevy crate engine for your project truck? GM Performance Parts has a new website (www.gmperformanceparts.com) that will let you shop and buy engines and speed parts online. The site offers access to nearly 40 GM crate engines (not just V-8s, either) and more than 300 different part numbers for engines, transmissions, blocks, heads, cams, intake manifolds, and more. As you go through the purchase process, you can choose to have the parts shipped to your door or save the freight costs and be referred to the nearest dealer stocking the part. The site even accepts PayPal!
'09 Ram Prices Announced
Base prices for '09 Ram pickups will start as low as $22,170 (which includes a $900 destination charge) for an ST 4x2 regular-cab/shortbed V-6 model. The cheapest 4x4 we can find on Dodge's price announcement is a 4WD version of that ST for $26,625. The 4x4 crew cab, the Ram's newest body style (shown in the picture), will have a base MSRP of $35,750 in SLT trim. The most expensive Ram 4x4 listed, a Laramie crew cab, will have a $44,140 base price.
Want to know a secret? The Dodge press release announcing these prices made a big deal of the fact that they were lower than the base prices of '08 models. We, however, just happened to have kept an '08 model-year price sheet from Chrysler and found that the '09 trucks are, in fact, pricier than the '08s. Not by much, but enough to knock the knees out from under Dodge's claim. But hey, we'll chalk it up to a little overenthusiasm in the midst of a horrible business year. After all, no one else has told a little white lie to sell a car, have they?
Great minds must think alike in the world of speed parts, as supercharger makers Vortech and Paxton are offering $250 cash-back deals with the purchase of a complete blower kit. We don't know who stole whose idea, but we like it either way. To find out more about Vortech's "Bonus Bucks" program (which runs through December), log on to www.vortechsuperchargers.com. For info on the "Paxton Payoff" program, which also conveniently runs through the holidays, visit www.paxtonauto.com.
Hummer Sets H3T price
Hummer's new H3T, which GM is calling a "midsize pickup," will carry a base MSRP of $31,495 (including $745 destination) when it hits the street this fall. The T features a four-door crew cab and a separate, 5-foot-long cargo box with a standard integrated bedliner. Because it shares architecture with the H3 SUV, the H3T shares many of the H3's features, like fulltime 4WD, 32-inch tires, and locking diffs front and rear.
Operation gratitude jeep delivered
Earlier this year we told you about how Army Specialist Michael Gallagher from Fort Lewis, Washington, was surprised with the keys to a new Jeep Liberty when he opened what turned out to be the 300,000th package from Operation Gratitude (a non-profit organization that sends care packages and letters of support to troops deployed overseas). We're glad to report that Spc. Gallagher returned safely from Iraq and was presented with his Jeep in July.
When he realized he had won the Jeep, he said he wanted to use it to somehow create a way to remember fallen soldiers from his unit, Company A, 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team. A custom-painted mural on the Jeep's hood will reflect the names of those soldiers.
It's for off-road use only, it's sorta small-about a foot shorter overall than a regular-cab Tacoma-and its top speed is governed to 25 mph. But the Champ 4x4 from Tiger Truck LLC will haul, thanks to a payload capacity of more than 3,300 pounds. It's available in a choice of engines, including a 1.0L four-cylinder gas motor (estimated to reach 43 mpg) and a 1.1L three-cylinder Cat diesel (37 estimated mpg). Though the truck's design is Chinese, the Champ and other Tiger truck models are assembled in Oklahoma. Log on to www.tigertruck.com for more info.
Recreation Rescue Works It
Hummer's Recreation Rescue, a new program from Tread Lightly! and Hummer, drew forest service employees and more than 35 volunteers from central-California 4x4 clubs to a day of trail maintenance on the Bald Mountain OHV route in the Sierra National Forest east of Fresno. This was the second trail maintenance event made possible by funding from Hummer, project grants from Tread Lightly!, and elbow grease provided by local off-roaders. The volunteer team worked to improve and stabilize a section of the Bald Mountain trail that is subject to erosion during the spring snow thaw and summer storms. The group also closed and restored unauthorized routes that had developed over time.
Editor's note: What's your 4x4 club up to? This is the place to share news about trail cleanups, charity runs, raffles, trail rides, and other special events going on in your neck of the woods. Email some info and high-resolution photos to 4wheel firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can mail them to Club Spotlight, c/o 4Wheel & Off-Road Magazine, 6420 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90048. Sorry, but we can't return photos.
Snake River Offroaders
The Snake River Offroaders do several cleanups a year, trying to keep the trails open and enjoyable. In May 2008 we cleaned up an area south of Idaho Falls, Idaho, called Hell's Half Acre. We filled a 30-yard dumpster with non-recyclable garbage and hauled several trailer-loads of metal scraps to the local recyclers, including several old cars. Our club president, Chad Cannon, spent a lot of time organizing this event, the BLM got involved by paying for the dumping fees, helping in the cleanup, and taking a free ride on a junk car. PSI Waste Systems donated the Dumpster and its transport. We would like to thank everyone who got involved and made this a big success.
One of the FJ Bruisers' favorite local wheeling spots is Green Ridge State Forest in Maryland. Wanting to give back to a place that has given them so much fun, they teamed up this spring with the park rangers to rid the trails of trash. More than 20 club members showed up with rigs, winches, and trailers ready to lend a hand, hauling everything from discarded cans and tires to refrigerators and sofas. The day turned into such a success that they returned a few weeks later to plant a grove of trees, and they've already planned a follow-up trip in the fall. -Vaughn Ripley
This Just In
* Suppliers working on Ford's 6.2L big-block V-8, which has been called both Hurricane and Boss, have been told to stop working on the engine, according to Automotive News. A Ford exec was quoted as saying the program is still a go, but in smaller volumes than originally planned.
* "Phoenix" is the code name Chrysler has given the next-generation Grand Cherokee, according to Automotive News. The new Grand, due as a '10 model, will be built at a Detroit-area plant in which the company is investing some $1.8 billion to produce the Grand and "other undisclosed products." The trade journal describes the new Jeep as having "a unibody construction and a fuel efficient V-6." Hmm. No more Hemi?
* This year's gas pains knocked the Ford F-Series pickup off its long-held perch as the best-selling vehicle in America. But not for long. After giving up the title for a couple months to the Honda Civic, the F-Series was back on top again by summer. Guess there aren't many contractors who can put a pipe rack on a Civic.
* Edge products has Received certification from the California Air Resources Board (CARB) that makes its Evolution gas-powered programmer line 50-state emissions legal.
* Will we call it a Rattan? Automotive News confirmed in a recent story that Nissan is giving up the development and assembly of its Titan fullsize pickup and will turn it over to Chrysler, which will build the truck as a Ram-based offshoot at its Saltillo, Mexico, plant. For the '12 model year, the Titan will be a Ram mechanically, though it will have unique sheetmetal and a Nissan-only interior. The Armada fullsize SUV, based on the Titan's F-Alpha platform, is not expected to survive the shift.
* On a Saturday in July, more than 40 Jeep Cherokees registered for a fund-raising event for Friends of Johnson Valley (FOJV), which is trying to keep the popular Hammers trails in Johnson Valley open. The military would like to occupy the land in Johnson Valley for testing purposes, which would put an end to running trails such as Sledgehammer, Clawhammer, and Wrecking Ball. Most of the vehicles at the run were from the Jeep Cherokee club NAXJA. While this was not an official NAXJA event, the support Johnson Valley received from this club was awe-inspiring. For more information on the preservation of Johnson Valley for off-road enthusiasts, please visit www.fojv.org.
* There is a new way for enthusiasts to support the BlueRibbon Coalition's (BRC) efforts to protect recreational access. Vehicle owners can now turn their unwanted but usable vehicles into valuable contributions. Vehicles can be donated at any time, and the proceeds of each donation benefit the BRC, which is devoted to "Preserving our natural resources for the public instead of from the public." Vehicles for Charity, a division of the Metropolitan Association for Retarded Citizens, acts as the agent for the contribution. You can visit www.sharetrails.org/vehicle-donation-program to get the process started online.