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February 2011 Inbox - Letters to the Editor

Posted in Features on February 1, 2011
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Likes UA
I just got my November issue in the mail and was looking through "The UA Crew." I just wanted to say for the record that it was a nice cross-section of vehicles you chose to use on this. Yes, there are lots of Jeeps, but from your readers' standpoint, only five vehicles were newer than 10 years old. This relates so much to me as a reader, as I've owned two of the vehicles that people have modified to run this year and have been wheeling with friends in most of the others.

Good job, guys. Keep up the great magazine and I'll be a reader for life.
Carl R. Oliver
Presque Isle, ME

Thanks, Carl. We wanted to show that real people with real vehicles can do the Ultimate Adventure as good as or better than a wallet job. Our mag is dedicated to the regular wheeler, so you'll be seeing plenty more rigs like this as we go forward.

U-Joint Fix
In your U-joint quick fix story ("Universal How-To," Nov. '10) you show the caps being driven out by using two sockets and a hammer. That's fine as long as the caps will come out easily and you don't get carried away putting the new ones in. When you "tap" on the socket, you are beating on the ends of the needle bearings inside the cap.

If you line the sockets up the same way, with the larger socket on the top of a jack pad, and you jack the smaller socket up against some part of the bottom of the vehicle, you can press the caps in or out with no damage. I've done this for close to 40 years with no problem. Thanks for a great magazine.
Glenn Trombly
Harrington, DE

Good tip, Glenn! I've dropped more than my share of needle bearings in the dirt fixing U-joints. The bottle jack technique is more involved and slower but does make for a more reliable fix.

No Seatbelt?
Mr. Péwé, I doubt you'll publish this letter, but I felt compelled to write anyway. Not only did you offer a totally irresponsible reply to Shala Jeffers in regard to welding in sandals in the December issue (In Box, "Welding Wrongs"), but you have three photos of yourself in the same issue (pages 19, 24, and 50) enjoying our sport, but without a seatbelt shoulder harness on. You speak of personal responsibility. Shame on you. You're a role model to many. Your actions are the same as someone placing an unloaded gun to himself. We all know that no firearm is unloaded, and we all know seatbelts and shoulder harnesses save lives. When in the public eye, lots of things change. Please, for every off-roader's sake, change your evil ways.
Dennis Boyer
Naples, FL

Dennis, thanks for noticing the supposed infraction, and yes, I agree that wheeling (or driving on the road) without a seatbelt is wrong and totally irresponsible. It is as simple as that. But the fact is the CJ-17 ( or the CJ-7 it was derived from) never had factory shoulder harnesses, just seatbelts. We fitted it with the improved Mastercraft lap belt/racing harness combo.

For regular street and trail use I always wear the lap belt. I use the racing harness only in dicey situations. My first rollover in 1972 convinced me to keep wearing seatbelts-even in a dirt lot-as anything could happen. It's the only reason I'm alive right now.

Thanks for writing! And I'm still trying to figure out how telling the truth in regard to welding was irresponsible. Should I have lied?

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You Deserve Stickers
I've been an avid reader since I was little. I'm a diesel mechanic in the U.S. Army currently in Iraq serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn. I've owned three Jeeps in my life and will own my long-awaited Jeep CJ-7 when I return.

I can't express how much I enjoy learning and reading articles that teach me so much. I even have one of your Ultimate Adventures DVDs that a buddy gave me. It was so awesome! I think I watched it 100 times. Being in the army has its good sides, especially being a mechanic-the army throws away so much cool stuff. I have acquired two big toolboxes. If you have any cool off-road stickers lying around that you want to get rid of, you can send them my way and I'll happily rock 'em out on my acquired toolboxes.

Thanks for all your support and great articles that help me pass the time here.
U.S. Army 3 I.D.

Thanks, Clint. Some license plates and stickers are coming your way. Thanks for keeping America safe at home.

Scout Guy
I noticed a small error in the August Nuts & Bolts, the tech info provided for the Scout bumpsteer cure. You might want to pass it on to the author. Scouts don't have a short draglink as described. They have a full-length draglink that connects to the knuckle on the opposite (i.e., passenger) side. So the DL angle problem isn't as bad as it was made to sound.

However, that was good advice you offered for looking into the caster, which is a common problem with Scouts. A cut-and-turn of the yokes is the right way to fix this, as you said. But if the problem is not too bad (which depends on the lift), then steel shims are a much easier and cheaper fix. They can help anyway if caster is causing a squirrely front end.

I found that replacing my worn tie-rod ends and entire draglink with new heavy-duty pieces, and replacing the steering coupling with a Borgesen setup, made a huge improvement in how my lifted '78 Scout handles. The results were much more of an improvement than I expected to see. You might suggest this simple upgrade if the question comes up again.

Obviously, tighter steering linkage isn't a cure for bumpsteer, but it may eliminate problems that an owner is mistakenly blaming on bumpsteer.
San Diego, CA

Good point, Patrick! Thanks for sharing your Scout expertise.

DED Engine
I thought somebody would have commented by now. I believe the engine in that abandoned '43 GPW on page 32 of your great "Supersonic DED" article (Oct. '10) is the rarely seen F-head Jeep six from the mid to late '50s. I last saw one in an FC longbed pickup about 20 years ago, if memory hasn't failed. I started working on rigs in 1958 and only retired this year. I remember those being a real bugger to adjust the exhaust valves. I still collect white elephants, like an AMC Eagle wagon and my "booney basher" '71 IHC 1200 TravelAll, well equipped for the desert but a work in progress. I'll send pics when I get a digital camera. Keep up the good work!
Gene Williams
Meadview, AZ

We figure you are right, especially after scouring many a book looking for that engine. If we ever get back and make it a DED Jeep, we'll let you come adjust the valves!

Reader Rant
No Elitist Attitude
During a time when we now, more than ever, need to attract renewed interest in off-roading, the '11 Grand Cherokee represents a step in that direction. We all know that this rig or any other stock rig is not the best choice for the swamps of Florida, the desert rocks of the west, or the gulches of the Carolinas. However, many potential new off-roaders are probably intimidated by the extreme rigs they see rolling down the highway or on the backs of lowboy trailers being hauled to the nearest off-road park. A way to get people interested in our sport is by getting them into the sport to start with. The way to do that is to put them into a vehicle that drives like a well-mannered street machine, then let them play in the dirt and figure out, "Oh, that's what that lever/button does. Cool!" A vehicle they don't feel like they need a step ladder to climb into. A vehicle that doesn't porpoise down the pavement.

I recently spoke to the owner of Gulches ORV Park in nearby Laurens, South Carolina. He said that over 60 percent of the park is accessible in a stock rig. Any given Saturday you can find a RAV 4, a Chevy tracker, or a Grand Cherokee (all stock) wheeling right along with the extreme buggies that frequent the park. Guess what? Once the line on the trail forms, no one cares what the other guy or girl is wheeling, and if someone gets stuck there is plenty of help available.

Maintaining an elitist attitude is a sure way of keeping people out of our sport. Making it more accessible, like with 4x4s with good street manners that people enjoy driving, is a sure way to get more people into the sport. Involving more people in our sport helps keep off-road access available, critical at this time according to the Dec. '10 issue. Chances are when those with the stock rigs see what the larger rigs are capable of, they will be visiting the aftermarket. Or they may decide that their rig is capable enough for them, leave it stock and, most importantly, keep wheeling.
James W. Smith
Chapin, SC

You are right, James. We need more people starting out in the sport. The question is how we can get more people involved. We know the question. Now let's all work on the answer.

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: Editor, 4-Wheel & Off-Road, 831 S. Douglas St., El Segundo, CA 90245; fax 310.531.9368 Email to:

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