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April 2012 InBox - Letters to the Editor

Posted in Features on April 1, 2012
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To Door or Not to Door
While reading the Nuts & Bolts section of the Feb. ’12 issue I came across a question regarding doorless driving in Pennsylvania. I have a Pennsylvania State Safety Inspection License and reference both the safety and vehicle code regularly. The excerpt you posted, although confusing, was stating that it is illegal to modify or remove anything from your vehicle that was present during the time of manufacture unless it was designed to do so, as with a CJ, Wrangler, or FJ. Now this holds true unless your vehicle is retitled as something other than a regular passenger vehicle, for example a street rod title.

As far as the safety side of it goes, an inspection sticker cannot be issued if any of the original equipment has been removed or modified. This includes tailgates on trucks.

If a vehicle is retitled, then it follows a different set of rules and regulations specifically for each different title designation. Both the vehicle code and safety code are available on the Pennsylvania DOT website. There is nothing stating you can’t remove the doors once you reach your wheeling spot or while on private property, but my interpretation (a lot of it is left up to interpretation, unfortunately) is you can’t remove the doors and still be legal to drive on the roads unless it was designed to do so, as in the case of a CJ/Wrangler, or it has been titled to allow that type of modification.

Hope this helps. Keep bringing us a great magazine.
1978 Dodge Ramcharger
Via email

How to Start an Off-Road Park
I currently live in southern Louisiana, but I originally hail from the Great Pacific Northwest. My family owns a significant amount of land that would make awesome ORV parks. This would open up some more places for enthusiasts to go and blow off some steam (hypothetically speaking). I am wondering how to go about getting the proper permits, licenses, and other legal red tape out of the way in Clallam and Jefferson counties. Any help would be appreciated.
Charles Brown
Via email

We forwarded your letter to our favorite land use guy, Del Albright, who replies:

Here are some of the best places to get help on starting an OHV park. And note that grant money is available in some areas to help start the park (if you have public access and jump thru some hoops). This is the best book to guide you thru the process: And here is an article about a park built with grant money (in Kansas):
Del Albright

Jimmy Buffet?
While I was reading my Dec. ’11 copy of 4-Wheel & Off-Road something caught my eye. Page 30 shows Mr. Péwé being filmed by Ol’ Sweaty Pants Harrington. The thing that caught my eye was that Mr. Péwé was wearing only one sock. The first thing that came to my mind was the Jimmy Buffet song. Did he step on a Corona top? Thanks for a great magazine, and keep up the hard work.
Derek Hope
Via email

Sharp eye, Derek! And it was better than a sharp stick in the eye, because it was a sharp stick in my foot. Much like the Punji sticks from the Vietnam War, I was punctured and then took steps to prevent infection, hence the sock. And I was humming “Margaritaville” all night long.

While I am always glad to be pictured in your magazine, I have an issue with the caption accompanying my picture on page 68 of Jan. ’11 showing Tom Wombles helping to right my buggy [“The New K-2”]. Yes, I did have a belt failure, but no, I was not ejected. After I had shut the buggy down, told everyone I was OK, and prepared to exit by releasing the buckle while supporting myself with the other hand, the belt failed. I dropped 6 inches and did get a knot on the head and a raspberry. I agree that equipment should be checked before a ride, and having safe belts is a must. But I feel that the use of the word ejected is misleading.

I purchased this buggy almost a year and a half ago as a rolling basket case and have been finding little things here and there that needed attention. The manner in which the belts were wrapped through the anchors was obviously one of them. The roll was hard enough to break both motor mounts and the exhaust, but the belts held during the roll. It wasn’t until I was exiting the vehicle that the belt pulled through the anchor. The buggy now sports a full set of G Force harnesses properly secured.

It has been over a year since we sold our off-road business, but we are still in the community and feel it is important for people to know that safety has always been a priority to us. By the way, I put the passenger belt on the driver side and wheeled the remainder of the day with no incident. I had an enjoyable time meeting Craig-Ellis Sasser at Katemcy last summer. I hope we entertained him. He’s a nice guy. Send him again.
Russel Baer
Via email

Good to hear from you, Russel. As always, events are open to interpretation, and we appreciate the correct information and your commitment to safety. I have been ejected from a ride during a roll; it wasn’t due to belt failure but because the attaching hardware was poorly welded at the wrong angle. For those of you who might need some info, check out our seatbelt and rollcage safety articles in this issue for the right way to do it.

Axle ID: Contest!
It seems like there are no new ideas in axles after all. CRD 60s and dropouts with an inspection cover were all the rage back in 1934. I guess we all forgot about it for a while. This axle is about 14 inches in overall diameter. The owner doesn’t know what the ring gear size is, but I bet it would rival a 1-ton. The separate pinion drops out like the 14-bolt, and the carrier drops out the bottom/front, and it has a fullsize inspection cover rotated up on the back/top. Not sure what the big nuts by the bearing on the rear cover were. I’m guessing those hi/low drain plugs on the front are where they were going to plumb the cooler for the ’34 Trophy Truck project that never got off the ground.
Jeff Mello
Via email

Jeff, as a regular contributor you come up with some weird and wonderful stuff. It sure looks like a CRD design, and all the important stuff for our use, from a car in the ’30s! I think the bolts on top of the cover may be carrier cap bolt retainers—it prevents the carrier cap or bolts from moving during high torque loads. Let’s see if any of our readers can identify what they are and what the axle is from to win a 4WOR license plate. Readers?

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Reader Rant
What D Heck?
Since when have word definitions been allowed to be randomly changed? Is it just to suit a new generation? The question in February’s In Box about tow hooks and shackles (“Ultimate Hook”) seems to have been answered by either a high school student or a politician. A hook (not sure why this needs explaining) is a metal object bent at least 180 degrees, used to grab. A shackle is the object that connects a leaf spring to the frame but still allows movement. A clevis is the U-shaped connector with either a pin or a bolt slid thru the end, which closes the U and retains a rope, cable, or strap. A D-ring is a metal protrusion in the shape of a D, with the flat side usually welded to a bumper and a hole in the center that allows a clevis or a bolt to be attached. With objects being randomly renamed it’s no wonder today’s kids are so confused. I’m glad he didn’t ask what a snatch block was!
Denny Patterson
Via email

Yes, Denny, we were truly simplifying our terminology for high school students and politicians in that answer. Your explanation of the D-ring is far better indeed. However, does a hook really need to be bent a full 180 degrees to hook, or to grab, as you say?

Next, yes, a shackle is a part of a leaf spring suspension, commonly appearing as two plates and two bolts or even an “H” design with two bolts. But before this design a shackle was made as a U-shaped link, and sometimes with a plate connecting the ends that made it look like a D and is indeed a shackle. Before that, a shackle was a U-shaped device with a pin connecting the ends and was used as a hand or leg cuff retaining device, which—guess what—is the same design as a clevis. And they all looked like the letter D. Hmm.

Now then: Warn, Superwinch, Rugged Ridge, and others call this device a “D shackle,” as it is in the shape of a D. But is it? Yes, but not a D-ring, which is where we were unclear. A D-ring is best described as a captive loop that cannot be removed under normal circumstances, while a shackle or a clevis can be removed via the pin or bolt.

Regardless, the gist of the discussion was that a D-ring cannot be quickly accessed by a strap when seconds count, because of its closed nature. A hook is fastest, and a clevis/shackle is better than a D-ring. Thanks for pointing this out! Next time, the snatch block, sheave, and so forth, discussion.

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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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