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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 Due to the large volume of mail we receive, we regret that we cannot reply to unpublished letters or return photos.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.
4-Wheel & Off-Road
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Special Tire Tread
Reader: I enjoy your mag but I have a question. In the May '09 issue on page 80 is a story about a jack ("Hydra-Jacking"). There is a really good photo of a good-looking tire on the Jeep. I have never seen this thread design before. Can you tell me the brand?
Editor: Roger, that's one of our new favorites, the 31x10.50-15 Pit Bull directional Growler. And yes, there's no "R" in that designation because it's a bias-ply-wonder for wheeling. I've flat-towed it on Pete's Jeep for thousand of miles and have about 1,000 miles off road and a few on. They grab like glue while delivering a nice ride. I sure don't worry about the mild thump-thump when they start out cold, since they quickly round out and work great. They are related to the Pit Bull Rockers we tested in a 44-inch size in "Rock-Banger's Ball," Mar. '09. Try www.pitbulltires.com for more information.
Disappointing Tire Test
Reader: Before I start I just wanted to say that I am huge fan of this magazine but am very disappointed with the Pit Bull Rocker review ("Rock-Banger's Ball," Mar. '09). What was the point of this review, as you didn't test these tyres properly, without beadlocks? I feel this was very unprofessional. Testing at 5 psi is too high for most bias tyres unless you have a heavy rig, and you stated that your test Jeep was middleweight. Since these tyres weren't tested properly the first time, could you get some beadlock rims and retest them and give another review? It's not fair to us readers or to Pit Bull, as all other bias tyres reviewed had beadlocks.
Sim Van Gelder
Editor: Thanks for reading down under, Sim. We understand your point. We wanted to go lower than 5 psi for the test; however, the tires were only available in a 16.5 rim size at the time and we don't have beadlocks for that size. Also, our idea of middleweight may surprise you. We figured the Scrambler to be around 8,000 pounds with those tires and wheels, which makes the Scrambler well under a heavy 10K truck, but certainly no lightweight. Regardless, we really like the tires! (Or should we say "lyke the tyres"?)
Reader: Regarding your Apr. '09 4xForward, "Hospital Game," I am sicker than you! Out of 20 loose cars-some drivers, some projects, some parts, some piles-only 4 run! One of those has absolutely no brakes, and in another the transmission is going out. I only own one running, licensed, insured vehicle out of the lot! With the nearest hospital I wouldn't bother dragging myself into being 45 miles away, my chances are not very good for survival
Oh, and none of the runners are 4x4s! Trying to remedy that with the complete rebuild of my '79 Chevrolet, which for the last 30 years has been two-wheel drive but which will soon be placed properly atop a 3/4-ton 4x4 frame. It's awaiting some warmer weather for paint and full undercoating with Armorthane bedliner. I'm currently working on whether a 700R4 can be placed in front of a 205 with a 350 turbo adapter. Keep up the great mag!
Editor: This is the kind of response we got from the majority of you guys, although most have a hospital a few miles closer. Check out Advance Adapters and Novak Adapters for your conversion, Caleb.
Really Freaked out
Reader: I hyperventilated the whole way on my first 4WD experience. Does that mean it's not the sport for me? Is this usual? I found it sheer terror.
Editor: Sorry to hear that, Adele. It is not usual. Some trepidation and fear is normal, but not terror. I'd recommend that you find a different instructor or take up knitting. That stuff terrorizes me.
Auto Locker Issue
On page 44 of the Apr. '09 issue ("Forward Progress"), item 12 states that the tiny pizza-cutter tire looks funny but will help you get off the trail. This will not work if there is an automatic locker in the axle. As you know, tires must be the same size with an automatic locker (or an engaged selectable). Just thought to point that out, as some may not know.
Twenty-Nine Palms, CA
Editor: Good point, Rob, but not entirely true. With an engaged selectable locker, both tires will indeed be powered, but the smaller-diameter one will travel a shorter distance than the other, causing tire scrubbage and strange directional control. While trail use problems should be negligible, on-street driving should be kept to a minimum and driven with great awareness. On an automatic locker, the smaller-diameter tire could cause the locker to overrun and disengage that tire if the difference in diameter was too great. However, when full power is applied then the automatic locker will engage, and the result is the same as with an engaged selectable locker.
He likes US
Reader: You're doing a great job. Sorry that the job includes knuckleheaded readers. I particularly wrote to thank you for your policy of not giving much ink to bikini-babes. We started a CJ-8 as a father-son project when my son was 15. Some things he doesn't need. I subscribed (in his name) in part because of your clear focus on the truck and wheeling business at hand. I'm also with you on giving space to both the extreme builds and the budget-minded end of things. One for our dreams, one for our weekends.
In all, good job, Sir!
Editor: Thanks. We do our best to give everyone a bit of something they want without overdoing it. Thanks for reading!
Hydro Steering Issues
Reader: I really enjoyed Ali Mansour's article on full hydraulic steering ("Going Full Hydro," June '09). Here's my question: If the pump or ram fails on a trail somewhere, is it still possible to steer the vehicle back to camp? I love the prospect of converting my rig to full hydro, but I also like the insurance of a steering box. Thoughts?
Feature Editor Ali Mansour replies: Given the specific application, size, and weight of the rig, breaking a sector shaft would almost be more likely than destroying a double-ended cylinder. If either were to die it would be a real challenge to drive it back to camp. If the pump were going out I think it would give you some type of indication (noise, slower steering, and so on), so I think the real question is what to do if the cylinder gets damaged.
I'm thinking that as long as the seals are not completely gone and the ram isn't broken in half, you could likely devise some sort of catch-pan for the leaking fluid and continue to add it as you make your way slowly back to camp. In the end, mechanical linkage is probably better insurance, as long as it's tough enough for your rig.
Super 60 Front Axle
Reader: I just read your article about the Dana Super 60 (June '09) used in the Ford F-450 and the F-550 trucks. Very interesting. Last fall I bought an '08 F-250 FX4 with the snow plow package and a front axle GAWR of 5,600 pounds. I also bought the Ford service manuals for it. Upon reading your magazine article about the Dana Super 60, I went out and measured the front axle tube diameter, and it is 3.75 inches. The Ford shop manual for the '08 model year (F-250 to F-550) shows only a Super 60 front axle across the lineup. I'm curious at this point if there are variations of the Super 60. I know the F-450 and F-550 have a wider front track.
Editor of Diesel Power, David Kennedy, replies: You've got a great front axle, even though it's not the Super 60. All '05-and newer Ford front axles use 3.75-inch diameter axletubes. Only the F-450 and F-550 feature the Super 60 axle with 1/2-inch wall thickness tubes (yours are 3/8-inch wall thickness.
If your truck has 4.30:1 axle gears it actually features the 10-inch ring and pinion though.
The '11 Jeep Grand Cherokee
Reader: What was Jeep thinking about when it built the new WL soccer mom minivan Jeep? How can they kill the Grand Cherokee name with a fully independent suspension and expensive toys that help you off road? What's the fun in that? The Grand Cherokee WK was a great platform; why didn't they just improve on it instead of making a true soccer mom Jeep Grand Cherokee? I love your magazine so please tell Jeep that this WL isn't a Jeep and if they need help I'm a Grand Cherokee owner. I have a WJ with a 4.5-inch lift, and it has 32-inch BFGs with the un-killable 4.0L I6 and rides great and gets 17 mpg city and 24.5 mpg highway.
Thanks for the mag and thanks for letting me vent and keep up the great work.
Crystal Lake. IL
Editor: We know exactly what you mean. Jeep touts the new Grand as "based on the Mercedes platform," like that's a good thing. Lots of engineers and designers were wringing their hands over this ride, and some of them even left the company. But even though we know the suspension will hamper its off-road ability and they have deleted the front locker in the Quadra-Drive II system (shouldn't it be called Dual-Drive II now?), we'll give the poor thing a chance in our 4x4 of the Year test when the rig is eligible. Yes, now it is all Land Rovered up and has some new techno-geek items on it, but that doesn't make it a Jeep, just a gussied-up Mercedes.