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June 2011 Drivelines Off-Road News

Posted in Features on June 1, 2011
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Big Haulers Make News
While we were out testing the trucks for our 3/4-ton diesel pickup shootout (page 54), Ford and Ram were upgrading their bigger brothers in the quest for best-in-class towing.

First out of the gate was Ford, which beefed up the frames and hitches in the 4x2 and 4x4 F-350 and F-450 dualies to bring those trucks’ conventional tow capacities to 17,500 pounds when equipped with the 6.7L Power Stroke diesel. The revisionstronger steel in one of the frame’s crossmembersalso boosted the F-350 4x2 dualie’s max payload to 7,070 pounds and its fifth-wheel tow capacity to 22,600 pounds.

Just two days later at the Chicago Auto Show, Ram announced a new tow rating of 22,700 pounds for the Ram 3500 Heavy Duty. The new number is the result of engine management recalibration that raises the 6.7L Cummins diesel’s peak torque to 800 lb-ft at 1,600 rpm (and increases torque output between 1,200 and 2,800 rpm). Trucks with the upgrade will receive a special High Output Cummins badge on their tailgates.

The 1-ton Rams can now be fitted with a Max Tow Package that features 4.10 gears, a new rear-axle pinion, upgraded bearings, and a finned aluminum differential cover. The Ram 3500 also gets a new engine-mounted, oil-to-coolant transmission cooler.

Cummins engines in the 3/4-ton trucks will also receive the new engine calibration and torque boost, provided they’re fitted with an automatic transmission. The manual-trans versions still get the Cummins with just 610 lb-ft of torque. Because they’re single-rear-wheel vehicles, the 34-ton trucks will not receive the Max Tow Package.

Win an Arcstation
Miller Electric has announced a contest in which six lucky contestants will win a new 30FX F-Series ArcStation, what Miller describes as the first- ever portable workbench for welding and metalworking. Better still, one grand prize winner will receive a stationary 60SX S-Series ArcStation (shown here) with accessories including X-clamps, a tool chest, a weld curtain, a vise, and an assortment of shelving options.

To enter, visit and answer two questions: What would you build with a new Miller ArcStation workbench, and what would you add to the Miller ArcStation to make it the ultimate workbench? Entries will be accepted through April 15.

New Toyo for Haulers
One more tow-related item: Toyo has announced the availability of its Open Country M/T tire in LT285/70R18 and LT275/70R18 sizes for heavy-duty pickups including the Ford Super Duty and the GM HD trucks. These 10-ply tires are designed to fit OE wheels and have an E load rating.

This Just In
More news from Chicago: Jeep CEO Michael Manley said the upcoming Wagoneer will be an upmarket offering to compete with luxury SUVS like the Cadillac Escalade and Mercedes-Benz GL, according to Automotive News. The new Jeep will share a platform with the Grand Cherokee, but the wheelbase and the rear overhang will be lengthened to improve comfort in the second and third rows of seats. With Grand Wagoneer we can continue to build on Grand Cherokee’s momentum with a proper three-row, seven-seater. That is where the real opportunity lies, he said. Unfortunately rumors from Jeep Design say there will be no woodgrain paneling.

SEMA has been keeping an eye on several bills that could affect the car (and truck) hobby. Among them: SEMA is opposing Arkansas legislation that would allow cities to remove inoperable vehicles from private property if the vehicle is deemed a nuisance under a local ordinance. The bill provides no reasonable safeguards for legitimate automotive hobbyists who choose to work on inoperable collector vehicles on private property and establishes no provisions that would enable vehicles kept out of public view to avoid being classified as abandoned.

Also, a bill has been introduced in the North Dakota State Legislature to prohibit the modification of any motor vehicle that alters the manufacturer’s original suspension, steering, or brake system unless the state highway patrol issues an inspection certificate.

Now some good news: A SEMA-supported bill has been introduced in Arizona to exempt all vehicles more than 25 years old, without condition, from the state’s mandatory biennial emissions inspection and maintenance program. Existing law in Arizona only exempts pre-’67 vehicles and vehicles designated as collectible.

Want to watch last year’s Baja 1000? SCORE and Aura360 have released a 60-minute DVD of the race including footage unseen in the TV broadcast plus five additional bonus chapters. The DVD is available at

You can get a $75 rebate on a DynoMax cat-back exhaust system now through August 31 through the exhaust company’s Sound Off promotion. Rebate forms are available at

Seven-time Supercross champion and off-road racer Jeremy McGrath has returned to Team Toyo Off-Road to compete in the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series. McGrath will race a 900hp Pro 2 Ford truck on, what else, Toyo tires, in his case 17-inch Toyo Open Country M/T-Rs.

No Flaws In Toyota Electronics
A team of Transportation Department investigators, assisted by NASA engineers, found no electronic causes of the unintended acceleration events that had been reported for Toyota and Lexus vehicles. The 10-month investigation included a rigorous examination of nine Toyota vehicles driven by consumers who complained of unintended acceleration, said Transportation Department Secretary Ray LaHood. The investigation included the review of 280,000 lines of software code, tests of the mechanical components, and even the use of electromagnetic radiation on the vehicle electronics to try and replicate the acceleration events.

We feel that Toyota vehicles are safe to drive, said LaHood, as quoted by the Associated Press.

Ram Tradesman
Chrysler used the Chicago Auto Show to introduce a new trim level for the Ram 1500, the Tradesman. Aimed at, well, tradesmen (and -women), these trucks have the equipment you’d expect from a work truck: painted steel wheels, cloth or vinyl upholstery, and rollup windows.

But this is far from a stripper. Underhood is a 5.7L Hemi V-8. Out back is a standard Class IV trailer hitch with lighted, above-bumper four- and seven-pin trailer wire connectors. In the cab you’ll find air conditioning, a CD/MP3 player, and automatic headlights. Options include a limited-slip differential, chrome bumpers, power door locks and windows, folding trailer mirrors, and more.

The Tradesman will be built in 4x2 and 4x4 versions with regular-cab bodies mated to short or long beds and should be available as you’re reading this. Retail prices start at $22,780.

Earth Watch
More from the SEMA Washington, D.C. watchdogs: The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) unveiled a regulatory initiative to identify unspoiled backcountry, which can be designated as wild lands. This could be dangerous as it usurps the exclusive authority of Congress to designate wilderness. The BLM action overturns a 2003 Bush Administration policy barring the agency from identifying wild lands, also known as wilderness study areas (WSAs). The BLM’s legal authority to establish WSAs expired in 1991, but the BLM continued to pursue the initiative until 2003. The new BLM program will likely be challenged in court and reviewed by Congress.

Our friends at Backcountry 4x4
brought to our attention the Forest Service 2020 Plan, under which 70 percent of all Forest Service roads must comply with the Level 3 designation that allows a low-ground-clearance 2WD vehicle to drive on the road. Their concern: Because there’s no funding to modify the roads, the Forest Service could decide to close the roads they can’t bring into compliance. For example, in the Big Bear area there are more than 600 miles of Forest Service roads. About 75 miles of those roads fit the Level 3 requirement or could very easily, and another 50 miles would be fairly easy to bring up to that standard. If the Forest Service closed 420 miles of those roads it couldn’t afford to bring into compliance, then the 125 miles that are easily brought up to Level 3 standards would be just over 70 percent of the total road mileage. That would leave us with just 55 miles of high-ground-clearance 4x4 roads in the Big Bear area, say the Backcountry 4x4 guys. Inevitably, some great wheeling roads would disappear. Since the Forest Service has been closing trails for the last year in this area, this just makes too much sense. We better take this threat seriously. Visit the Land Use Issues page at for more info.

Rough Riders Flashback
Here’s when we sound really, really old. Two guys we wrote about (and drove with) years ago when Ford fielded its Rough Riders off-road racing teamJohn Swift and Steve Olligesare back in the desert racing game, teaming up for the Best in the Desert series and select SCORE International and SNORE races in their new BFGoodrich/MasterCraft Safety Trick Truck. They’re even using Swift’s old Rough Rider number, 28, on the truck.

Now, these guys haven’t been couch potatoes since the ’90s. Swift and Olliges’ last win was in 2008 at the Silver State 300. They made their ’11 season debut at the Parker 425, the same venue where they last raced togetherand finished Second in the Trick Truck classin 2009. This year they came in Sixth in Class, 12th overall, not a bad start for a new team and a new truck.

Reel Wars Are On
Royal Purple has launched Reel Wars, a contest that invites customers to make short films showing Royal Purple products being used in unique and creative ways, says the company. Video entries can be posted to the Royal Purple Incorporated fan page, and everyone who submits a video gets a free case of Royal Purple motor oil (or a certificate for merchandise from the online company store).

Entries can be submitted until June 3; between then and June 10 you can visit the site and vote for your favorite video. The top five vote-getters will then be evaluated by a panel of judges, and the eventual winner will receive $5,000. More contest information is available at >

Two F-150s. Confused?
Of course not. But the Blue Oval folks got their knickers all in a twist when Ferrari dared to call its latest F1 racer the F150 in honor of Italy’s 150 years of unity. Ford took the matter all the way to the U.S. District Court in Detroit.

Ferrari has misappropriated the F-150 trademark in naming its new racing vehicle the F150’ in order to capitalize on and profit from the substantial goodwill that Ford has developed in the F-150 trademark, said Ford in the complaint, as quoted by Reuters. Ford is seeking unspecified damages, said the news agency, including $100,000 under the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act.

Ferrari replied that it could not believe anyone would confuse an F1 contender with any sort of commercially available vehicle. But to act in good faith, it would from then on refer to the car by its full name: Ferrari F150th Italia.

Vintage Ford Photos Available
Anyone interested in historic Ford vehicles should drop by The automaker has made available some 5,000 archival photos, advertisements, and other printed material, and hundreds more are going up every week.

Image prices vary considerably, depending on what you’re buying and its size. For example, the least expensive photo of this ’53 F-100 was an 18x24-inch print on archival paper for $59.99. If you really love this truck, you could up that order to a 44x60-inch image on stretched canvas for $469.99. Framing for the prints is available too.

Even if you don’t buy anything, browsing the old pictures is a lot of fun. Trucks are just a small part of the archive available; there are also images of Ford and Lincoln cars, Fordson tractors, hot rods, racing cars, and even military and aviation photos.

Apr. 29May 1: Bilek Racing Silver State 300 desert race, near Las Vegas, NV, by Best in the Desert. Information: 702.457.5775,
Apr. 29May 1: Ultra4 Tour, in conjunction with Silver State 300, near Las Vegas, NV. Information: 702.457.5775,
Apr. 30May 1: Big Dog Offroad Ice Breaker Trail Ride, The Cove, Gore, VA. Information: 410.440.3670
May 5-7: Tread Lightly! Tread Trainer and Master Tread Trainer Courses, Livermore/Tracey area, California. Information: 800.966.9900,
May 5-7: Arch Canyon Jeep Jamboree, San Juan County, UT. Information:
May 5-7: Land Between the Lakes Jeep Jamboree, Marshall County, KY.
May 6-8: Lone Star Jeep Club’s Spring Run, Superlift ORV Park, Hot Springs, AR. Information: 501.625.3600,
May 7: Spring Crawl Competition, Kansas Rocks Recreation Park, Mapleton, KS. Information:
May 7: Trail Master Challenge, Twisted Trails Off Road Park, Copemish, MI. Information: 231.651.9548,
May 7-8: JeepSkool, NE Ohio. Information:
May 12-14: Big Bear Jeep Jamboree, Big Bear Lake, CA. Information:
May 12-14: Illini 4x4 Safari, Pittsfield, IL, by the Two Rivers Jeep Club. Information:
May 14: Getting Started Off-Road 4x4 Skills Clinic, Hungry Valley SVRA, Gorman, CA, by Badlands Off-Road Adventures. Information: 310.374.8047,
May 14-15: Iron Range Offroad driving school, Iron Range OHV Park north of Minneapolis and St. Paul, MN. Information:
May 14-15: SNORE 250 Race, location TBD. Information:
May 15: Advanced Beginner Off-Road Driving Clinic, El Paso Mountains, Mojave, CA, by Badlands Off-Road Adventures. Information: 310.374.8047,
May 19-21: Palo Duro Jeep Jamboree, Amarillo, TX. Information:
May 19-21: Top of the Ozarks Jeep Jamboree, Seymour, MO. Information:
May 21: Rock competition, Gravelrama site, Cleves, OH. Information:
May 21: Off-road 101 Course, Kansas Rocks Recreation Park, Mapleton, KS. Information:
May 21: Night Run, Kansas Rocks Recreation Park, Mapleton, KS. Information:
May 21: Beginning and Advanced Winching Clinic, El Paso Mountains, Mojave, CA, by Badlands Off-Road Adventures. Information: 310.374.8047,
May 26-28: Cullman Jeep Jamboree, Cullman, AL. Information:
May 26-30: Superlift 4xAdventure Series, Superlift ORV Park, Hot Springs, AR. Information: 501.625.3600,
May 27-30: Hi Desert Roundup, Stoddard Valley south of Barstow California, by the California Association of 4 Wheel Drive Clubs. Information:
May 28-29: Rockstock, Flat Nasty Off Road Park, Jadwin, MO, hosted by MRJT. Information:
Note: If you have a 4WD event you want us to publicize, please send the date, location, a description of the event, and contact infophone numbers and/or email/website addressto Calendar, 4-Wheel & Off-Road magazine, 831 S. Douglas St., El Segundo, CA 90245; fax 310.531.9368; email Please submit your info at least four months in advance of the event due to our press lead times.

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