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November 2012 In Box Letters to the Editor

Posted in Features on November 1, 2012
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Cheap Truck Challenge Is Back
I know you magazine writers will get a boatload of responses due to bringing back the Cheap Truck Challenge (CTC). It’s cute that y’all are using the imaginary high school kid and his budget, but you must realize by now that there are many of us in the non-kid age group who are just as budget build oriented. Most any normal Joe that has a teenager or two can attest to the lack of funds and time to buy or build a linked tube buggy on 42s. For me, the off-road ride of choice is the beater. It’s the $500 Toyota pickup, the infamous Jeep Cherokee XJ, tires for $500, that sorta thing. Your list of the top 10 used 4x4s (“Trail Rig Buyer’s Guide”) is top 10 in my book and my 13-year-old son’s book (I think he’s gonna be a Taco owner someday).

And we all know why Rick went to Marlin for help with his CTC Toyota build. It was because he refuses to learn the metric system.

Fred/Ali, thanks for the CTC and the top 10 used 4x4s articles. I’m a longtime subscriber to a great magazine. Rick et al., keep up the good work, and save all the old iron you can.

Welding in sandals is manly.

What more can we say? Nothing like a beater-mobile of any class or style. We hope to do more CTC stuff. Let us know what you readers want to see!

More CTC
This is a response to an article written by a Mr. Rick Péwé. First off, let me say that this is not a mean-spirited or rude response. I love the magazine and read it every chance that I get. While reading the article “Cheap Truck Challenge Build 1” (Aug. ’12), I noticed you mention you could build up a trail-capable and daily driver Jeep for about $250. Being new to off-roading and having just bought my first Jeep (an ’84 Jeep J10 with AMC 360 Dana 44 front AMC 20 rear), I’m looking for advice on how to cheaply build it up. I’m 17 and currently working in a restaurant, so anything that will help me save money on this project would help. I’ve done nothing to the Jeep much yet: new air cleaner assembly, tune up, good tires, that’s it. It runs great. No problems there. So, any tips?
Justin Richardson
Spearfish, SD

First of all, I quoted $278.43 using stuff in my backyard. You haven’t seen my backyard. But seriously, your truck is an excellent base to start with. About the only thing it probably needs is better suspension, tires, and traction devices, because almost any vehicle does. Start with the basics and go slowly, and you’ll have one great Cheap Truck project.

Still More CTC
I am a teenager living in San Luis Obispo, California, a town right near where you did your Cheap Truck Challenge [Sept. ’12]. I am an avid off-roader, and spend much of my free time hitting the same dunes you did and exploring the surrounding countryside. I don’t feel the off-roaders you guys put together were that cheap. The kids I know who have $4,000 cars got them from their parents. No kid working a job for two summers is going to be able to afford a $4,000 car. Kids are just too lazy, and also spend their money on other things like food, movies, gas, and girls.

I liked reading about the cars you guys put together. However, next year I’d like to see you guys working on a bit of a cheaper budget. Say, $2,500 for everything? I know you guys are experts on everything 4WD and off-road, but I like to think I know a bit about how much your average kid can afford. I have a cheap truck, and I have maybe $1,000 in it, total. My friend has a cheap SUV, and he has about $2,300 in it, total. Another friend has an expensive truck, and he only has $3,500 in it. I know $4,000 is cheap to the guys who put a Viper engine in a Tahoe (that was you guys, right?), but to me and the rest of America’s teens, $4,000 is a lot of money. Still love the magazine though.
San Luis Obispo, CA

We got mail from both sides of this one, those who agreed with you and those who said we should do a $5,000 CTC. Because our magazine spans the nation as well as all socioeconomic strata, we try to do everything from the bargain basement budget beater for $500 to the Viper engine in a Durango (not a Tahoe, but you were close; the Heavy Metal Mudder Project, Phase II, started in Sept. ’09). Check out the next Beater Binder below.

Final CTC
I’ve been enjoying the CTC series as well as appreciating the budget analogy. As a retiree with a disability, my “disposable” income is right up there with the 17-year-old burger flipper. I took exception, however, to David Freiburger’s comment about Scout parts availability (“Hot Rod Bronco,” Sept. ’12). I’ve had one or more Scout IIs since 1978, and like any other rig, it’s a matter of learning where to look. They use Dana 44 rear, and 30 or 44 front diffs, as well as Dana transfer cases, usually 20s, BorgWarner three- or four-speed standard transmissions, or 727 Torqueflite automatics (with an I.H. bolt pattern main case). All of which are rather easy to come by.

Our current Cheap Truck is a ’79 Scout Traveller with a 345 I.H. V-8 (never opened up), 44s front and rear, 727 trans, and a 20 case. Mods include: Bullhide treated floorboards and cargo area and a 2-inch body lift (both raffle prizes), a suspension lift made from two used sets of springs, 33x12.50s on 15x10 chrome steel rims from a “Jeeper” who upgraded, and Rancho RS 5000 shocks (had to buy them. Bummer!). Total outlay to date, including purchase price four years ago, approximately $3,500. Hope prospective Cheap Truck shoppers won’t turn away just because the rig is a Scout.

Enjoy the mag. Hey Fred, didn’t know ’Burbans could soar like eagles. Cool.
Ralph Caputo (aka Binder Nut)
Twisp, WA

Old or new, young or old, we love a deal! Thanks for the note.

Contact Patch
First off, thanks for a great magazine. I am looking for specific information on tire contact patch and how it relates to weight distribution to the ground. I have been wheeling for 15 years. I have been driving a ’95 Jeep YJ for the last six years. I currently run 33x10.5 BFG ATs. It will be time to change tires soon. I would like to run the KM2s or MTRs. I would like to run 32x11.5, 33x10.5, or 33x12.5. I can’t seem to find specific information on how much the difference in tire size relates to the contact patch, which directly relates to psi on the ground. I can’t wade through any more off-road forums filled with rambling knowitalls. Any information would be greatly appreciated. Keep up the good work!
Luke Bagley
Granite Falls, WA

Here’s the skinny on tire width and diameter as they relate to contact patch size. A taller tire will have a longer patch, and a wider tread will have a wider patch. Simple math, but true. However, the tire sizes you list have nearly indiscernible differences in contact patch area as far as performance/flotation gains or losses are concerned. In your case you can alter the size of the patch more by adjusting tire pressure than by picking the biggest or smallest tire.

Reader Rant
Where’s My Clock, Dude?
I have been subscribing to your magazine and also Four Wheeler magazine for years. My mom has paid for both of them all this time. This year money got tight and she told me to pick which magazine I wanted and I picked yours. I just received a renewal notice, and I checked my subscription on your website and it showed that on June 20 my subscription was renewed till 2013. My mom looked over the notice and saw that you are offering new customers that pay for three years a free clock. I have been with you for quite a long time. I think that I should get a clock for my continued loyalty. My mom was very mad and said I should have picked Four Wheeler instead.
Cody Thompson
Via email

We are sorry you have tough times and need to pick one mag, but we’re happy that you made the right decision. We feel you deserve a clock too, but our subscription department only goes for new readers. We can’t even get the swag unless we subscribe to ourselves! Send us your address and we’ll send you a 4WOR plate for your continued loyalty. Oh, and Four Wheeler is our sister magazine, so we both have the same subscription department. They wouldn’t send you a clock either.

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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