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June 2009 Letters To The Editor - In Box

Posted in Features on June 1, 2009
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Submission Information
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 Due to the large volume of mail we receive, we regret that we cannot reply to unpublished letters or return photos.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.

Email to:

New Reader
Reader: I can't wait for my next issue already. This is one of many car/truck magazines I get, but one of the few I read cover to cover the day I get it. I do wish you would have more articles and tech info for the IH crowd though. One thing I have to know-where can I get a set of the retro white wheels on the cream retro Tacoma on page 18 of the Mar. '09 issue? I have to have some for my '00 Tacoma.
Patrick Ray
Starkville, MS

Editor: Thanks. We don't have the info you need on the wheels, but give Toyota a call and tell them how much you liked that solid-axle truck, and see what they say.

Hankook Tire Test
Reader: First off, I would just like to say that you guys have the best off-road magazine out there! I just got my Mar. '09 issue, and while going through and reading the articles something caught my eye. I don't mean to be picky, but on page 28 in the "All-Terrain Tire Shootout," the green Land Rover on the left has a Hankook sticker across the top of the windshield. Wouldn't it have made sense to put the Hankook tires on that vehicle? Besides that, I loved the test since I am considering the BFGs for my '01 ZR-2. Thanks for putting out such a great magazine and keep up the good work. I will be a subscriber for life!
Brandon Baldwin
Gate City, VA

Editor: Thanks for the kudos. It's nice to hear the good side as well. The windshield banner shouldn't have been on the vehicle at all, considering we were testing the three different tires. In the end, it doesn't make a difference and didn't influence our decision, but nice catch!

Happy Readers Rock!
Reader: Hey guys, just wanted to let you all know that I think you all do a great job putting out a first-rate magazine. I have read your magazine for years, and I now subscribe. It seems like every issue has someone bitching about the prices of your projects and the parts to build them. Well, from someone that never will be able to afford the kind of vehicles you all build, I still think they are awesome. The main reason I get your mag is to see what a properly built rig will do and how they look. I have done more splice jobs on vehicles than anyone could imagine and am proud of every one of them. There have been some real lookers too, but they all have been a lot of fun. Anyway I personally think you all do a great job. Keep up the good work.
Brady Alcorn
Eminence, MO

P.S. If L. Fox (previous In Box letter writer) thinks the subscription cost is too high, tell him to let me know and I will sell some old Jeep parts or something to make the 18 dollars so he can enjoy your all-premium mag for another two years.

Editor: Thanks for the compliments!

Tech Tip Of The Day
Reader: In the article "Getting Tanked" (Feb. '09, which I got in December, which still irks me), you say that "fuel pump replacement is challenging at best without a second pair of hands to insert the pushrod." Small-block Chevys have a bolt on the front of the block that can be removed and replaced with a longer one that will hold the pushrod in place. It makes fuel pump installation a breeze. Just remember to take the longer bolt out and replace it with the shorter one when finished. I once blew up an engine because I left the bolt out and blew all the oil out the bolt hole.

Also, you had asked for editorial errors. The appendix has "Gas Tank Swapping" and "Bombproof Ball Joints" in the wrong order, or maybe they are in the wrong order in the magazine.

One more thing, people often write in threatening to cancel their subscription because of one thing or another. Have you ever had time to follow up on those threats and see if they actually cancel? It would be great to help these readers out and cancel for them. Even better would be to ban them from future subscriptions.
Mark Myers-Russo
Temecula, CA

Editor: Thanks for the info. It's been a while since we replaced a mechanical pump on a small-block, what with the advent of fuel-injected engines. Yes, we had swapped story position at the last moment, which is why the Table of Contents is wrong. And as for following up on who subscribes and who cancels, that's one more thing we don't have time for. We'll concentrate on those we have, not those we don't.

Jeep J8 Insanity
Reader: I read with great enthusiasm and frustration in the Apr. '09 issue that the Jeep J8 production has begun. I was blown away with the fact that a vehicle many of us would buy is being manufactured in Egypt! I have owned a highly modified flatfender since 1968, and own an '80 Unimog. I just don't understand why this vehicle is not being made in the USA. They would sell fast for plowing snow, off-roading, and being just a great vehicle. Please don't give me a BS line about emissions and safety. I am a mechanical engineer; you and I know it's just not true. So can you tell us what's up with this continued insanity?
William Turner
Harrison, ME

Editor: Yeah, we would buy one too, but sorry, there is no way that the vehicle would be economically capable of passing safety and emissions requirements. Almost anything can be done if money were no object, but Chrysler still needs to make a profit, which is a little dicey right now...

Questionable Photos
Reader: I'm new to off-roading and love your magazine. Your articles are well written and the photos are excellent, but I have a small gripe. I'm no tree hugger but I noticed a few photos (Jan. '09) that I'm sure the Sierra Club would love to use to shut down more trails. The first photo is of the S-10 axle swap on page 64. That's an awesome truck (really!) posing on crushed grasses and wildflowers covering the beautiful hillside. I thought responsible wheelers stuck to the trail. The next photo is the super-cool Commando on page 74 with its front tire planted squarely on a desert plant. I expected the caption to say "Got it!" Surely the spotter/dude holding the camera could have guided the yellow 4x4 around this. Finally (had I not seen the first two photos, I wouldn't have paid attention to this one), Fred Williams' "Alternate Adventure" shows a photo of him power-washing "the inch-thick coating of grease, oil, and dirt" off the tranny he plucked out of the old Chevy. I can't see little blue dolphin prints around it, so maybe the drain he has the transmission sitting on captures all the grease and oil and doesn't lead to a local spring, creek, or river. But I have my doubts.

I've seen enough nimrods on the trails doing plenty to give our passion a black eye. I hope that 4-Wheel & Off-Road will continue to lead by example in keeping trails open and our environment safe.
Rob Bukacek
Riverside, CA

Editor: Good point. The fact of the matter is that both photos are OK, as they were taken on private land and had as much potential for damage as mowing the lawn. But you make a good point for us all to think about how we act, drive, and care for our environment.

As for the blue dolphin prints around the drain, those are a California program that identifies drains that lead to the ocean. Williams was pressure-washing the gunk off in South Dakota, into an approved grease and oil trap for later recovery.

Final 4x4 Of The Year Rant
Reader: Boy oh boy, where do I start? Your 4x4 of the Year test would be first, I guess. I have driven almost all of your trucks in the 4x4 of Year test. The H3 has no use for me, so I didn't drive it, but I did drive the rest of them. I'm shocked how far down the F150 scored, but what really blew me away was how the Ram was beat by a rebadged Nissan. I did not think it was even close. The Nissan (Suzuki) was not a bad truck but felt like a rebadged small truck. The Ram to me was so much more comfortable with power, steering, and mostly the ride. Not to mention the interiors, though Ford's was top-notch. After reading your review it just made me feel better that I had canceled my subscription to your magazine. Good luck when future 4x4 contributions come from China, or maybe Mars? I'm sure you'll have no problem explaining that too.
Brad Wright

Editor: Well, where do I start? You said you had driven all of the vehicles except the H3, so you did drive the H3T? What did you think of that? Just wait until we have the Mahindra diesel pickup from India. You'll think we've lost our minds when we receive that one. Oh wait, you won't be able to read about it because you canceled your subscription. Sorry, Brad, we can't please everyone.

How To Start A Club
Reader: Greetings! I am the recently "new" owner of an '84 Chevy K30 four-door 1-ton. The reason for the email is actually not for the truck. I need some tips and advice on starting a 4x4 club in my area. The closest one to where I live is two hours away. I advertised last summer for taking people on off-road excursions, and with over 1,200 views the good majority of responses that I received went something like, "Where do you go wheeling?" or "Can you tell me where the trails are?" I can't really tell them where the trails are without actually showing them. That's where the idea for the club comes from. We've already had an "arterial" trail closed last summer, and I want to help stop that from happening again, organize the wheelers here, and do what you guys are doing down there. Any help will definitely be appreciated.
Rick Jeffries
Kingston and area 4x4 club (hopefully)

P.S. If this club flies, you guys are the first to get an invite to our first event. Imagine, Canadian Shield rocks!

Editor: We forwarded this letter to our associate in wheeling Del Albright for a response: Hi Rick, and thanks for writing 4-Wheel & Off-Road about starting a club. I'll be happy to help. First off, it's always a good idea to double-check local listings and any regional listings on the Internet to make sure there are no other clubs in your area. Then we begin the fairly simple process of starting a new club.

Start by collecting the emails of your friends and local wheelers. Compile a simple email list of potential club members.

Next, hold some simple runs organized by email that include a meet-and-greet breakfast gathering. Meet someplace you can have coffee and exchange quick howdies, and then go on a good run. Tell everyone to bring a friend. Don't worry about formalities or club names and stuff like that yet. Just get something going. All that stuff can come later.

Make some simple business cards with a contact email and phone. Have all your "current members" pass them out, put them on 4x4 windshields found in the local area, and build your list of potential members that way.

Build a simple website so folks can find you (have a good contact page) and, of course, link to good 4x4 sites like

I have an entire section of my website devoted to this. Check it out and get back to me with your questions:
Del Albright

Question Of The Month
Which do you like better: rockcrawling, trailriding, or MUD wheeling?

Responses to our last Question: Is an automatic or manual transmission better for four-wheeling and why?

Reader: I have owned more 4x4s with automatics. Besides, as you get older and your joints start protesting the constant movement, you find that you tend to start picking automatics.
John Moore, Buffalo, MO

Editor: This was the first response we received to our last question about which is better, auto or stick trannys. We had so many responses that we have to give the letters their own section next month, after we get done organizing them! We'll tally the votes as well as go into the reasoning behind your votes, which, as this response shows, can be quite enlightening!

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