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April 2011 In Box: Letters to the Editor

Posted in Features on April 1, 2011
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Fabrication: Pro?
One thing I see over and over again in magazines and forums is a blatant disregard for safety procedures in potentially dangerous metal fabricating activities. I do my best to give good advice when I see such instances on the forums, but have never taken the time to write in to a magazine until now.

You have a man welding or plasma cutting in cloth sneakers, shorts, and a sleeveless T-shirt, with no safety glasses, face protection, shaded eye protection, ear protection, or gloves. If this guy wants to burn his body until it scars, let hot sparks quench in his ear drums until his ears are infected and hearing is damaged, sunburn his body until it's red and peeling, and burn his retinas until he can't even open his eyes, let alone see while he's working in his own garage, that is his agenda. But why would you photograph and publish something like that? People (most specifically the younger crowd) see these pictures and figure if it's in a magazine, it must be the right way to do it.

The off-road community in general is so often garage-taught (as opposed to receiving proper education), and safety is often overlooked or taught wrong. We need to do our best to teach the right ways, not the wrong ways, so that people can enjoy their hobby rather than ending up in the emergency room or worse. Maybe as a rebuttal for this publishing, you could write an article about proper safety in metal fabricating to help teach people the correct way things are done.
Chris Knaffle
Jackson, MI

... Or con?
Note to my fellow readers: Let's vow to not write letters over every infraction you nitpicky safety Nazis identify in the photos. Péwé wants to weld in sandals and do the dingleberry dance? No problem. Someone's hand is grabbing the outside of a rollbar? Big deal. And while I'm at it, quit whining that your Ford/Scout/Trooper/Chevy/Whatever doesn't get enough coverage in the magazine.

One more thing. You're going to cancel your subscription because your panties are all wadded up over one of these matters or any other? Just shut up and do it. I love the magazine and will be a subscriber until ADT (that's "asumes dirt temperature"). I feel better now.
David Kling
Hemet, CA

Chris and David, you both make excellent points. Since most of us were garage-taught, that is the way we do it-and yes, I've had my share of ER visits to prove it. We'll be more safety-conscious as we age. See what you think of this month's story on trail welding, "Burning for You," page 50.

Save The Bantam!
This isn't your regular letter to the editor. I won't wax prophetic about too much of one brand versus another, or ask for advice from Péwé about how I can convince the missus to allow another project in my driveway, or ask about getting a picture of my rig in your mag. I am here to voice my concerns over a threatened piece of 4WD heritage, the Bantam factory, better known as the Birthplace of the jeep (and all things flat-fendered for Péwé). Regardless of brand locality, we can all agree that the Bantam design/jeep spurred on a new type of vehicle and brought off-road enthusiasm home after helping win World War II. Therefore, it is important to all ORV enthusiasts. The factory, located in Butler, Pennsylvania, is vacant, and both current owner AK Steel and a number of local volunteer and civic organizations are trying to preserve the site and building. My hopes are that you will publish this in your next issue and that other loyal readers and advertisers may read it and see how they can help. To learn more, visit the website Another good site is
Scott Marshall

Scott, we were there on our 2009 Ultimate Adventure and agree with you on the importance of saving the factory. Thanks for the link. It's up on our website as well.

Not A Jeep?
Correction! NADDAJEEP! In the Jan. '11 issue in "Lift Laws," page 78, upper right, the photo of the bottom of a "CJ" said to have North Dakota plates is wrong. I was surprised to see my old Land Cruiser FJ40 in your magazine again. Péwé took that picture during the Dakota Territory Challenge. Oh, it is a Texas plate, and it reads "4-ROCKS." I may have to subscribe to the mag again after seeing my old 40 in there for a second time. Good stuff!
Greg Kemper
Hudson, WI

Yep, how that one slipped by I'll never know. I can't think of many CJ-7s that run Land Cruiser axles, the only easily identifiable item in the photo! Thanks for reading and letting us know.

Safety First
First of all, I love your magazine and am a very happy subscriber!

Just a remark: In your reply to the "Safety First" letter in the Jan. '11 In Box, you state that the jackstands in the picture are rated well above what they are holding.

Well, I guess no one doubts that. The danger is not that they break, but that they fall over (to the sides or the front) if anyone stumbles against the truck or something falls against it or hits it. The letter writer referred to this by mentioning the small footprint the stands have.

I have seen a car fall down that was propped up by two jackstands similar to that. It was quite shocking, but fortunately no one was hurt.

It might not be very likely that something like that happens, but it is possible.
Andreas Hoffman
Via email

You are correct, but hopefully there isn't going to be a bull in the china shop. Regardless, it is good advice for everyone to heed all safety precautions, and please don't use bricks or cinder blocks as jackstands!

Last Letter On The Subject
I'm responding to Vince Taylor's Dec. '10 contribution, where he argues that Fred Schafer drove Bigfoot, not Barefoot ("Monster Mis-ID," In Box).

As a longtime monster truck fan, I used to watch monster trucks race on TV every week. In the '90s, Schafer drove the blue Chevy Barefoot. Around 1994 he switched allegiance and Barefoot became a red Dodge. Taylor may have gotten Jim Cramer-one of the original Bigfoot drivers-confused with Schafer. Trust me on this.
Mark Harsh
Huntingdon, PA

We trust you, Mark. Thanks for the clarification.

Different Takes On Land Use
Thanks For The Help
Kudos to the Source Interlink editors for the focus on land use issues in Dec. '10. As an active participant in the land use battles, I am happy to see the growth of exposure about issues and organizations fighting to keep lands open for recreation. My website ( is focused on environmental issues. As a resources consultant for the California Association of 4 Wheel Drive Clubs, I am in frequent meetings with BLM and the Forest Service fighting to keep access. As a member of the board of directors of the BlueRibbon Coalition, we are constantly working to keep lands open for recreation. Your feature on land use issues helps educate all recreation enthusiasts about the battles and those fighting them. Those who are not members, I encourage you to join a local, state, and national organization fighting for your recreation opportunity.
John Stewart
Managing Editor,

More Thanks
Thank you for the total company support of land use and access with your awesome "Stop Trail Closings!" cover and your coverage of land use with our great partners at SEMA (Dec. '10). You are having a huge impact on helping groups like BlueRibbon Coalition, in conjunction with the SEMA Action Network (SAN), "kick some access!" I can't thank you enough for your continued support of us regular users who love your magazine and ride the trails.
Del Albright
BlueRibbon Coalition Ambassador

One Mag Or Two?
I have been noticing a few things over the past few years. I have been a longtime wheeler, on and off, since I can remember. I have also been subscribing to a few magazines over the years. Within the past few years the two that I have subscriptions to have been doing some funny stuff. You see, I pay for two different magazines but feel I am getting cheated. I am really only getting one and a half. As you can see from the covers, they are the same. So I ask you, why should I keep paying for two when I only get one and a half? I doesn't quite seem right to me. How about you? I suggest you give each other a call and figure some things out.
Brian Sanders
San Tan Valley, AZ

Your "Stop Trail Closings!" cover and related article should be a wakeup call to 4x4 users. The first time I went over the Rubicon was in the early '60s, and there were only three other Jeeps that I ran into along the "road." Last year there were more trailers at both ends than I could count, and many of the rigs that came off those trailers were there to do a lot more than drive on the road and enjoy the outdoors. Along the way you would run into groups climbing obstacles not on the roadway.

4x4 magazines and the vendors that pay for the ads need to take some of the blame for the public's view of "jeepers gone wild" tearing up public land. Certainly you can't be responsible for the carelessness and disregard of others, but the photos of vehicles hanging off a large chunk of granite or hood-deep in mud are the instigators for many to try out those 36-inch tires and the Dana 60s. Thousands of miles of plain old gravel backroads where we all used to go to get away and enjoy a little nature in our Jeeps are disappearing because of the misguided notion that closure is the only way to protect it from "crazed" 4x4 drivers and motorcyclists.

So yes, we are losing ground. Voting is only part of the picture. Education on the responsible use of the outdoors is the other part, and 4x4 publications need to do more.
Walt Mikolajcik
Fairfield, CA

Well put, Walt. We all need to do our part.

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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