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September 2009 Letters To The Editor - In Box

Posted in Features on September 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 Due to the large volume of mail we receive, we regret that we cannot reply to unpublished letters or return photos.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
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Los Angeles, CA 90048-5515
fax 323.782.2704.

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Reader Rant
First International Scout Ever on a 4WOR Cover
Reader: Regarding Chris Pearson's article on the IH Scout Traveler ("Last of the Scouts," May '09), what is the expected level of "attention to detail" from the typical IH owner? In fact, seeing as how I have never seen Mr. Pearson at any IH event and I have been to countless, what does the typical IH owner look and act like? If you folks were looking to make friends and influence people in the IH community you are going about it all wrong. I would suggest visiting an IH event and talking to the IH owners; we are anything but typical.
Bruce Shealy
Member, Southeastern Binder Association and

Editor: Yeah, I'm fully aware of what the typical IH owner looks and acts like. I'll make sure I clue Chris in on this. You're right: IH owners are anything but typical.

Ultimate Adventure Idea
Reader: I just had an epiphany! I have a great idea for this year's Ultimate Adventure. Since McNulty is resurrecting the Ultimate Taco, why not have everyone on the staff bring back one of the old UA vehicles (one per staff member) and then see whose revived rig can wheel the best in a friendly competition on the UA? I know that Pw still has the M38-A1, so that can be his. Why not let Mansour do the Super Duty, and Fred can try to salvage the yellow K10, if there's anything left of it after Pw's little Moab trip. As for the FJ Ninja Turtle, I know it's slated for the scrap heap. Maybe you could let me wheel the Ultimate Z71, since this was my idea. What do you say?
Andy Black
Warner Robbins, GA

Editor: Wow, are you psychic? We had the same idea, then realized there wouldn't be room for readers on the trip, just us. So we decided that Kevin McNulty would build up the Super Duty (the story starts on page 68). That way, more readers and more fun! Make sure to follow the buildup as well as the Ultimate Adventure coverage in the November and December issues.

Hospital Rate Hijinks
Reader: Your Hospital Rate editorial in the April issue (4xForward) seemed somehow as if the inmates at a leper colony were making healthy visitors jealous of their infections. With my `66 Deuce, `42 Flatty, and `94 Blazer scoring (barely) 100 percent, feelings of inadequacy wash over me. My backyard now seems unpresentable, as there are no piles of parts beckoning nor rusting time sponges to be resurrected. Perhaps a visit to Craigslist is in order.
Richard Venola
Editor, Guns & Ammo magazine
Tujunga, CA

Editor: Hmmm, 100 percent? You are one sick puppy. The idea is not to have that high a rate, even though we strive for it. Remember, it's the journey, not the destination. Go buy some rusty relic and we'll help you wheel it.

OBD-II Nightmares
Reader: Thanks for your great mag. Regarding "Junkyard Treasures," we put an '01 Cherokee 4L with OBD-II in our CJ-8. Absolutely, get the original wiring harness, and as much in one piece as possible. If you intend to pass smog, you will also need the instrument console. It holds a computer that reads engine computer messages and lights the MIL ("check-engine") light in the dash. You will have to mount this second computer, or hide it and snake out the light. Also, you will need all the sensors in the smog system, down to the fuel-level sensor in the gas tank. The engine computers for automatic and manual transmissions are different and will throw codes if they need and don't find the transmission computer. OBD-I systems (pre-1996 or so) may be a more friendly option for many readers.

The factory service manual for the donor vehicle was also a huge help.
Glenn Biasi
Reno, NV

Editor: Right you are. Don't miss the OBD-II story starting on page 62.

Reader: I really enjoyed Fred Williams' article on grinders ("Uncle Freddy's Fab Farm," July '09). I especially liked the safety references directed at where the sparks may be going. I recall a couple of years ago when I was cutting out the old rusty floorboards in my '76 CJ-5. The Jeep originally came with a six-cylinder but was converted by a previous owner to a 304 V-8. The six-banger fuel lines run along the right framerails and were not moved for the V-8 conversion. It was dark when I fired up the cut off tool. The sparks were really flying when suddenly I smelled gas. I stopped cutting and looked down at my feet. I was standing in a puddle of gas about 5 feet in diameter. I obviously had cut through the fuel line. I was very lucky that the gas didn't ignite. So, everyone, please be sure of your surroundings when using a grinder or torch.
Ray vanBuren
Shelby, NC

Editor: That's a good lesson to old and new fabbers. Simple mistakes like this can have disastrous consequences. Thanks!

Cover Comments
Reader: How do you select the cover picture for your magazines? Cover stories? Just an awesome picture of a reader's rig?
Alan Ellings
Heber City, UT

PhotosView Slideshow

Editor: You're right, Alan. We like to find awesome readers' rigs for stories and covers. We feel that is the core of real-world wheeling. However, there are a lot of cool custom creations from manufacturers and shop builds, so we don't ignore those either. Look for us out on the trail and maybe you may have that right combination of color, action, model, and pizzazz to land your rig on the cover.

Reader: I just finished reading your article "Bugout-Mobiles" (July '09), and I think it's a great idea to build one! If I remember correctly, one of your editors had an old Dodge Power Wagon ambulance that would be a fine platform to start with. If that is gone, I'd like to see what you can do on the Astro or Safari platform. Please just don't do another pickup with a cap. Those are not true expedition vehicles. And if you could, put in a list what it cost you to build the thing. I know that prices vary from place to place, but it gives a general idea of what it'll cost to build this beast.
Gene Yagley III
Port Charlotte, FL

Editor: Thanks, Gene. We'd love to build our own BOM, but we're a bit stretched in the project vehicle department. Check out Fred Williams' new expedition truck project, page 46 and in future issues. Parts and pieces are quickly and furiously being assembled into a new type of project that you might enjoy.

Crushing The FJ Cruiser
Reader: I agree with your decision to allow your "Turtle" ( FJ Cruiser) to go out in a blaze of glory by using it as it was intended in Four Wheeler magazine's Top Truck Challenge (congratulations on the selection, by the way). I will be watching very closely and cheering you guys on every step of the way.

Editor: My question to you is, while I do understand the need for the vehicle to go to the crusher upon returning it to Toyota so it won't become a liability, what exactly needs to go to the crusher? Given the fact that you have added a four-speed Atlas, Pro Rock 60s, coilovers, air bumps, 40-inch Crawlers, a winch, and front and rear bumpers, these are nonfactory options and please please please tell me the only thing the manufacturer is going to receive is a green scratched, dented, and otherwise disfigured shell of an FJ with a VIN number on it to destroy. Times are tough, and it would make complete sense to me to scavenge all nonfactory options for use in future projects or to donate to some lucky reader whose Scout buggy needs them more than Toyota does (I'm raising my hand as this is being typed).

Thanks for all your hard work and dedication in making the greatest 4x4 mag out there; and when you are ready, give me the go ahead and I will make a road trip with plasma cutter and Sawzall in hand to keep these jewels from going to scrap. Also, if needed, I would gladly cover shipping to New Mexico.
SSgt Luis Otero
Albuquerque, NM

Editor: Right you are. Toyota will receive a carcass, and the rest of the parts are already slated for other projects. Sorry you weren't on the list of recipients. A Scout buggy might be interesting, and wouldn't be typical.

Which Size Winch?
Reader: Hey guys, talk about your mixed signals! "Spool School," Apr. '09, page 37: "We like the rule of 1 1/2, which means the winch rating should be at least 1 1/2 time the curb weight of your vehicle."

"Forward Progress," Apr. '09, page. 43: "Be sure to match up your winch since to your vehicle's weight. A good rule of thumb is to purchase a winch that is double the weigh of your rig."

Which is really the better general rule? (That's a rhetorical question.)

I think that you guys should do some testing of winches in different terrain and see how much weight rating over the weight of the vehicle is advisable for a specific terrain. For example, go out and really bog down a truck in some Alabama mud, then pull it out using different rating winches (1x, 1.5x, and 2x vehicle weight). Try pulling a truck up a California rockcrawling waterfall trail (in dry season) with the different winches. Bury it to the axles in Baja sand and extract it with each winch. Even better, find a club that has three members with Toyotas that are all close in weight, and give each guinea pig; I mean, give each mini-truck a different winch, then take them out three weekends to the three different kinds of terrain (mud, rock, sand--desert or beach) and see how they do. I feel sorry for the guy with the 4,000-pound-rated winch, but I'll enjoy reading about it.

Keep up the good work. Your mag keeps me dreaming about what I'm going to do after this recession is over.
El Generz

Editor: Been there, done that. Not exactly as you have described, but close enough. The facts simply are no less than 1.5 times the vehicle weight, and 2 times the weight is even better. Don't skimp: The tow truck bill for extracting your rig will be far more than the extra money you should have spent on a suitable-size winch of good quality.

Too Many Broncos?
Reader: I got my June '09 issue today, and I thought the cover looked really familiar. Then I realized that it was the third early Ford Bronco on the cover in less than a year. I guess the staff really likes those old Broncos! I think they are cool too, but you should try to get a few different brands or even models on the front cover. I just want to thank you for feature of the International Scout last month ("Last of the Scouts," May '09). Internationals have always been thought of as underdogs, and I'm glad to see some in your magazine. Thanks.
William Frels

Editor: Right you are! We love classic Broncos, but also all other 4x4s. You have a good memory too; most people simply say we have too many Jeeps on the cover. Goes to show you...

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