Death Wobble, Project Dirt Clod, Readers Rant, and More!
Project Dirt Clod
I just had to check if that was Four Wheeler’s project Dirt Clod peeking its nose into the Ultimate Revival picture of the yellow truck getting loaded on the flatbed (“Ultimate Revival,” part 1, May ’11). Sure looks like it wants to be seen again. I would love a revival of it. Hopefully with a better paintjob this time.
Sharp eye, Brian. I started helping on old Dirt Clod before I even got a job in this industry 16 years ago. Over the years we have been trying to revive it. In fact, now it actually runs and stops again. We’ll keep you updated on the progress and maybe better paint.
Death Wobble Fix
I own 10 4x4 vehicles. I am the original cut-to-fit, paint-to-match expert, and I love to read your magazine. There is always something in it to make me grin.
I have read your death wobble stories and your suggestions of ways fix them. You left out the most important steps in diagnosis (“Death Wobble,” Dec. ’09). These steps are important: Have your buddy rock the steering wheel back and forth like a kid would play driving a car: moving all the slop in the steering wheel, hitting the end of each left then right cycle with force, but not enough to turn the tire more than an inch or so back and forth. Then, and only then, can you get under your rig and see where the bushings are moving.
Movement in the leaf spring bushing? Tie-rod ends moving with the arm they are attached to simultaneously? Draglink or pitman arm test the same way simultaneously? Steering box mounting bolts and broken framework under the steering box are the cause 70 percent of the time. Look at the biscuit or coupler to the steering wheel shaft. Look for loose frame rivets on GM and Fords especially. Strut rod bushings and bracketry and crossmember mounts under the engine holding the frame halves together get loose. How about the Panhard bar bushings and mounts?
You need to jack it up, taking the load off of the ball joints, and then check for play. Hands on top and bottom, then push and pull for sloppy joints or trunnions, then put a 3-foot prybar under the tire from the side and pry up against the tire. Release a couple times and look for sloppy ball joints or trunnion bushings. You had most of it. I just had to add a little more.
Good points, Loren. All these items need to be checked, but swapping tires can show how bad your own set really is. Thanks for the advice.
I thought I had seen it all. Then I read your article “Van Hack” (May ’11). Leave it to Petersen’s to take a rare piece of automotive history (not just a 4WD van, but one with the exceptionally rare twin I-beam front axle) and destroy it for the sake of selling magazines. To make matters worse, the article seems to make a mockery of safety. People cutting sharp metal without the proper hand and eye protection, blasting through running water, and not a seatbelt or helmet in sight (that metal pie pan on the passenger’s head does not constitute a helmet!). The only thing missing was someone welding in sandals with a Corona in his hand. Is this really the example that you want to set?
Darn, we couldn’t find a photo of us welding with Corona in hand, so we missed the trifecta. The fact of the matter is that you didn’t buy the derelict van while it was for sale for nearly a year, and no one else did either. Not only that, but this country is founded on the principle of freedom, which means that a person has the freedom to purchase a rusted-to-the-bone, unserviceable van (rare or not) and do what he wants with it. Why didn’t you save this van? And maybe we will take all the running gear and put it in another rust-free van and turn it into a museum piece. Of course, you will be funding the project, correct?
Do we agree with destroying a piece of history? No, but we detest those who try and strip away our freedoms and dictate what we can and can’t do. What’s next? Every Ford Fairmont made in that rare sea-foam green color with gold interior has to be protected? In the words commonly attributed to Voltaire, “I may not agree with what you write, but I will defend to the death your right to do so.”
And don’t even get us started on the so-called safety aspect. Simply because you don’t see your approved safety measures in place doesn’t mean they aren’t there. Next time we’ll add the tagline “Professional alien on closed planet. Do not attempt on Earth.”