November 2009 Letters To The Editor - In BoxPosted in Features on November 1, 2009 Comment (0)
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4-Wheel & Off-Road
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Los Angeles, CA 90048-5515
The Hot Tire Scoop!
Reader: I know this will come as a bit of a surprise since manufacturers usually go right to you guys with upcoming products, but I get to let you in on these two. BFGoodrich Tire has long been fond of naming tires with Trail somewhere in the moniker: Long Trail (a great all-season tire), Open Trail, Rugged Trail, and so on. The company has a new one coming out soon aimed at the hunting group, and it's going to be called EnTrail. Seriously. It will have a meandering gut-pile tread design that goes partially down the sidewall back and forth in a zig-zag pattern. Unfortunately BFG hasn't been able to master the self-cleaning part of the tire design, but a finished product should be ready for testing soon.
Not to be left behind, Hoosier Tire is ready to release a very aggressive off-road tire called Daddy. "Hoosier Daddy" will be emblazoned on the sidewall in raiser white letters or offered with a paintable stencil. The idea is also part of a promo geared at the local short tracks where, in the Winners Circle along with feature-winning drivers holding checkered flags, they'll spray-paint the stencil on the race car's right front wheel, giving the driver a little more to be proud of. Soon every gearhead with a lifted 1-ton will be running around with "Hoosier Daddy"on his sidewalls.
Now, just because you received this newsflash during the first week in April is no reason to be suspicious. Just go ahead and print this as fact, and I'm sure everything will be fine.
Editor: It took us a while to get this out of the email pile, so we're no longer anywhere close to April. But it got us chuckling so hard that we had to print it anyway, especially after seeing so many EnTrails on our most recent highway trek!
We Do It Right!
Reader: First off, good work lately. I was a little worried when I looked in my mailbox and started to get excited about my second-favorite magazine, who will remain unmentioned (initials: FW), instead of my number-one pick, but lately you guys have been wheels down and moving forward. Note to Fred Williams: Seeing an M-37 as a project was so right it nearly made me cry like a little girl, nearly.
Anyway, I think that building a semibudget expedition rig out of a Safari/Astro van or a Dodge M43/Kaiser M715 ambulance would be a superlative idea. Let me do a preliminary strike for those who think it would be an quality idea and get the sniveling out of the way.
"It's not a red Jeep TJ. You guys have totally lost your touch. So lame." If you need more red TJs you may be able to find an article on them somewhere. Maybe even two.
"C'mon, guys, why are you building something so ridiculous when there is a whole community of us out here with propane-injected, 396-powered, portal-axled, amphibious AMC Pacers? We deserve the coverage!" Uh, I like weird rigs but the field of expedition vehicles can apply to more than just one specific buildup. And coverage is a privilege, not a right.
* Expedition buildup: good
* War veteran vehicles: good
* Serious four-bys that are old enough to drink: good
* Whining and entitlement: bad
* Long emails: um...
Thanks for reading, and keep up the good work.
Editor: I couldn't have said it better myself. Thanks for the letter! We'll keep you up to date on Fred's Dumpster M37 project (Dumpster is capitalized because it's a trade name, like Kleenex) as soon as we recover from the Ultimate Adventure featured in this issue. Oh, and um... I should have a Pacer somewhere if you need a project...
The End Of Freedom?
Reader: Before I had even read 4xForward by Rick Pw in Aug. '09, the picture brought back memories of a recent outing of mine in Canada. During a long weekend, several others and I experienced the growing force of peace officers trying to enforce numerous violations.
It started on the drive to the off-road park. About two miles away from the area, I was stopped at a checkstop. I was driving my stock '08 F-150. I was informed that my Texas license plate on the front was illegal as it was a real plate. Being born in Texas, I enjoy showing my pride of the great state and have had this plate on most of my vehicles for over five years. This was the first that I had ever had problems with it. I was told that it needed to come off or I would face a ticket. Knowing that my plate was not illegal, but not wanting to start an argument, I obliged and removed the plate and proceeded on my way.
After pulling in to the area, I was greeted with another checkstop at the gate, and reached my camping spot. This is when I had learned the horror stories from my friends of their encounters with the peace officers. One of my friends drives an '08 Jeep Unlimited JK with a 4-inch lift and 35s. This is how he bought it at the dealer. His tires stick past the fenders maybe an inch. At every checkstop the peace officers tried to give him a ticket for his tires sticking past the fenders. I was there to witness at least nine attempts at this ticket later in my journey with him.
Another friend had his vehicle looked over countless times for anything they could try and find a ticket for, but was never ticketed. Every day we left our camping spot to go wheeling we were stopped at least twice on the way out and dozens of times while wheeling. It wasn't until the local news station reported how bad the peace officers' presence was that I really knew how bad the situation was. One man had received four tickets for his tires sticking out past his fenders-in one day. Another man was towing a broken rig out of the trails with a tow rope back to the main road so he could trailer it home. He knew that this was not the safest or proper way to do it, but he had been stopped by RCMP and he explained the situation. They allowed him to do it and he was on his way-for about 100 feet. Then he was stopped by peace officers and was ticketed for it. He was also ticketed for the tires sticking past the fenders on both rigs.
There are more stories but they all end the same. The peace officers had handed out an approximate 1,400 tickets in three days. Is this the end of our freedom? I don't believe so. Is this the beginning of misinformed or overenforcing officers playing the jock in high school? I'm starting to wonder. Nevertheless, I would suggest that everyone makes sure their rig is legal for the road. You should be able to enjoy a weekend out without bringing home a driving award or two.
On another note, it was a great article written in a great magazine. Keep up the good work.
Editor: Thanks for the info. I also wanted to point out that it isn't a law enforcement problem per se. The problem is that too often too many know too little. I have encountered far more helpful, reasonable, honorable, and responsible law enforcement individuals in my life than the other kind. Perception is always a problem, and sometimes we need to work on that ourselves.
We Missed The Point
Reader: I was just looking at the Sept. '09 Nuts & Bolts, and I saw the bit about the fellow who got the "free" parts with his Cherokee lift ("Nuts, I'm Confused"). His first question should not be, "Should I use these parts?" The parts should have immediately been sent back! There's a serious lack of integrity in our country, and if we want to keep our trails and maintain a positive image, our integrity should be beyond reproach. It's unfortunate that keeping the parts was his first response. What's more unfortunate is that you did not tell him to send them back. Those parts weren't free; they were sent by mistake and should be returned. Instead, you tell him it would cost too much to use the parts and gave him a reward for stealing from the vendor.
Editor: No doubt about it, Kris, you're right. It's like getting an extra $20 out of the ATM. It's not yours and it should be returned. That's honesty and integrity, and we missed the mark on that answer, which was more important to the world than how many inches one needs to lift his rig. Thanks for pointing that out.
Two Offended Readers
Reader: I 'm offended that you did not include the Nissan Xterra in that list of top four-wheel-drive stockers in "Wheeling Stock" (Aug. '09). It has same engine, suspension, ground clearance, etc., as the Frontier; however, it has more weight in the back, which is an asset, and has approximately a 1-foot-shorter wheelbase, which is a big difference. My Xterra, stock as it may be, takes me places I never would have thought it could go. A lot of times I don't even have to put it in four-wheel drive. Stock, it's as good as or better than a fourth of those you listed.
Reader: Wow! Kevin McNulty has missed the number-one vehicle in his list of wheeling stock trail runners ("Wheeling Stock" (Aug. '09). How could he possibly miss the newer Dodge Power Wagon? Stock from the factor: 4.56 gearing, 12,000-pound front-mounted Warn winch, selectable locking front and rear differentials, 33-inch tires with plenty of room for 35s or bigger, beefed-up 3/4-ton axleshafts, Bilstein shocks, skidplate protection, and plenty of Hemi power to boot.
Editor: Thanks for pointing out the Xterra, Tracy, but we offended ourselves when we got Brian's letter about missing the Dodge Power Wagon. How could we? It blows away many stock vehicles just standing still!
Trick Tech Tip
Reader: "Don't Die, Dummy: Off-Road Survival Gear" (July '09) was very informative. I want to share an alternative for a signal mirror: a music CD. To use it, hold the label side next to your face and the silver side away from you (duh!). Hold the CD in your right hand, hold your left hand out in front of you, then look through the hole and move the CD to put the sun's reflection onto your left hand. Then move your left hand and the mirror together to try to aim the reflection in the direction of the rescue aircraft or vehicle, using your left hand as a front sight and the hole in the CD as the rear sight.
Great magazine! Keep them coming.
Editor: I've carried a steel mirror with me for over 40 years and never had to use it, thankfully. But your idea is a lot easier. When someone breaks down in a car it's likely that one of those shiny discs is lying around. Would an iPod do the same thing? Drill a hole in the center maybe, and paint it silver? I wonder.
I Want More Mud!
Reader: I have been wheeling since 1991 when I built my first truck, a '79 Chevy 1/2-ton shortbed with a stock drivetrain, a 4-inch Rough Country spring lift, and 35-inch BFG AT tires. Over the years I've wheeled a number of vehicles, everything from a CJ-5 with 33-inch tires to a '73 Chevy with 44-inch Swampers to an M1114 in Iraq. Being from Southern New Jersey my terrain of choice is mud! Yes, the slimy, dirty, gooey stuff fills my dreams and fenderwells.
Since I started wheeling I've been reading every 4WD mag out there and found yours to be my favorite. I only have one request of your magazine: Can you please have more articles on mud trucks? Real homebuilt mud trucks, not just mud racers. How about some articles on how to set up and/or drive a truck in mud compared to a crawler? Yes, trail riding and rockcrawling are fun, but that is what the majority of your mag is about. I understand that this is the craze now, but some of us old wheelers out there dream, breathe, live, and wheel mud!
Thank you for such a great mag. I will continue to read every issue from cover to cover even if there are no articles on mud!
Joseph B. LaClaire
Carneys Point, NJ
Editor: Consider it done, Joseph. Check out the mud on our Ultimate Adventure coverage in this issue!