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October 2012 In Box Letters to the Editor

Posted in Features on October 1, 2012
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Lockers Don’t Work Like That
In Lunchbox Lockers (Aug. ’12) you make three statements that are not true, or are misleading. First, you state on page 24, “Both brands of locker are automatic, which means they automatically lock when power is applied.” Having owned two Lock Rights, two No Slips, and one short-lived Detroit EZ-Locker, and having put many thousands of miles on them and learning how they work and behave while fully experimenting with them, I know this is not true. Application of power doesn’t lock them. In fact, whether under power, coasting, or decelerating, the half of the locker connected to the outside wheel disconnects, which causes the outside wheel to spin faster than the ring gear (allowing differentiation), while the inside wheel turns the same speed as the ring gear. The only time this doesn’t happen is if the driver applies enough throttle to cause the inside wheel to spin as fast as the outside wheel. Even when this happens (both wheels spinning the same speed), it isn’t really because the locker is “locked” per se, it is because of a loss of traction of the inside wheel (or both wheels) while the vehicle is turning, allowing both to spin the same speed. There are a lot of misconceptions about how a locker works, and the wrong description you gave contributes to the misconceptions.

Second, on page 27 you say, “Drop-in lockers require the use of an open differential carrier.” Although this is true for the Lock Right, it is not always true for the No Slip. There are No Slips made for limited-slip carriers.

And third, on page 26 you say, “No matter how extreme the terrain or twisted your suspension gets, each tire will continue to pull, even if one or all become airborne.” This is not true, because no tires pull if all become airborne.
William K. Halford
Kirtland, NM

Thanks for the letter. You make some astute, if not entirely accurate, observations. First, the functioning of any automatic locker is for the outside wheel to overrun its clutches to disengage, which it will if it is going faster than the ring gear. But under power they both must turn at the same speed. As you wrote yourself, “if the driver applies enough throttle . . . ” hence under power. Not enough throttle is indeed not enough power to lock the locker, and when it does, that is what causes that slippery feeling on a slope or ice—both tires are spinning since the locker is locked.

A locked locker doesn’t necessarily equate to traction; it can be quite the opposite. Different rolling radiuses of the tires on the axle can also cause unequal locking characteristics. The locking mechanisms are simple, overriding dog clutch teeth—there is no magic inside, simply real mechanical physics.

Finally, nice catch! Yes, our sentence was poorly written in that respect, but what if the air was thick and the rig had monster fan-blade paddle tires? Oh well, thanks again for writing.

Thick-Ass Mat
In your new series called Tool Shed [“Mighty Fine Mat,” July ’12], I believe you meant to state that the mat comes in 0.75mm or stiffer 0.95mm thicknesses, not “75mm” or “95mm” (which would be 3 or almost 4 inches thick!) I’m sure I’m not the only person who caught this. Thank you anyway for a cool tech product update.
R.J. Greenwalt


The thicknesses were actually 75 and 95 mils (0.075 and 0.095 inch), but the term got changed to mm by mistake. It’s a great mat, but not as thick as a 2x4. Sorry for the typo, and thanks for pointing it out.

Forward Controls Rule
Great article on the FC concept [“Will We See It?” sidebar in “The Mighty FC,” Aug. ’12]. I agree that using the Iveco 4x4 as a starting point would be a great way to return the FC to the Jeep fold. No problem here with using the chassis—platform sharing is commonplace between makes. Only problem I see would be choosing to make the truck either a midsize or an HD. Midsize would appeal to casual use, HD would appeal to landscapers, utilities, etc. Snowplow companies would greatly benefit from the improved visibility from the FC setup. The diesel engine would be a must for this truck either way—looks and pedigree would only take you so far. Need a solid anchor to pull in the buyers who cannot make up their minds. BTW, great shot of Fred’s FC in the background! Especially cool how the colors match.
John Reitz

We love FCs and look for them everywhere we go. This is a pair found in the hills of Washington, patiently waiting to be brought back to life by their owner.

Orphan Truck
I am writing today to let you know of a little gem that I now have in my possession. Due to rather sad circumstances, I have inherited a very rare 4x4, from what I can tell. How rare is it, you ask? Well, I have been trying to source parts for some time and it is proving very difficult. The wheels look to have a very archaic six-bolt pattern and are rare enough that not too many folks offer them. I am having a tough time finding aftermarket bumpers. Again, rare. The thought of a real lift kit crossed my mind, but no one seems to have one readily available. I checked ads in magazines and online and my truck is never on any of the lists. I even tried the classifieds to no avail. The only thing I have no problem finding are the ball joints. It seems I can get my hands on these with very little effort. And that’s a good thing, let me tell you, because I need to replace them every year. Reluctantly I have decided to just keep the old truck in stock form and use it for trips to the hardware store. In time I may bring myself to sell this rare piece of 4x4 history. I am not sure what it’s worth, if anything.

Oh, I almost forgot to tell you what it is! It is a ’97 Dodge Dakota SLT. I’m sure I must have the only one! Great magazine. I have been a reader for some time and I value and enjoy the content.
Den Brennan
New Brunswick, Canada

Yeah, you had us going for a while! Good luck.

Reader Rant
What About Ethics?
I’ve written you before and actually got a response, and I guess I’m still on it. I still think your magazine as well as others in this sport are missing the big picture, and that is teaching or showing ethics in our sport. In your Aug. ’12 issue, in the section on cheap vehicle builds, you show how a 16-year-old on a budget can build an off-road vehicle. You have shown this before, but what you never seem to show or talk about is ethics or the responsibility involved in wheeling, or speak out for safety, drug and alcohol usage on the trail, and just some pride in our sport.

Mr. Péwé, I’m not opinionated and I’ve been into four-wheeling my whole life—my father, both uncles, and the whole family are too—but I’m tired of seeing or reading about high-dollar lifts for fullsize 1-ton trucks that are too big to take on trails or the dumb yahoos who tear up private or public land, use drugs or alcohol on the trail, dig holes and cause closures, and don’t respect you, me, or our sport for the sake of being cool, tough, or whatever is in fashion today. Even your company is now publishing a magazine that’s solely devoted to that bad behavior (Mud Life). I know you’re not their mommy, but you’re an icon and legend in your field. Hundreds of thousands of people read your magazine. Is it possible to actually use your expertise to teach ethics and pride in our sport? Sir, I’m no inspirational speaker or preacher, but one of the things we all have is tools, and your tool is your publication. With it you can show how the average wheeler on a budget is going to get screwed by those who don’t understand that there are ethics and responsibilities in our sport.
Spencer White

I agree with you, and thanks for writing in. Teaching ethics and morals starts at home; we can only hope to help after that. One of the ideals we should teach, though, is respecting private land ownership and landowners’ right to “tear it up” if they wish. If they plowed their land under for crops or bulldozed it down for a suburb, isn’t it still their right as a private property landowner? However, we always attempt to stay on the high side and show wheeling in its best light. And please accept our apologies for that magazine that does glorify poor behavior, although we have nothing to do with it.

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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