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March 1999 Letters to the Editor

Posted in Features on March 1, 1999
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Prerunner Again
I was very interested in the project build-up on the '97 Ford F-150. I own the same truck and have been waiting for information on the very same lift. Everything was very informative, but you neglected to give the size of the wheels used with the BFGoodrich tires. I assume they were 17x8 since that's the largest rim I've seen offered so far. If anything else was used, please let me know.
Mike Riordan
Dearborn Heights, MI

We did use 17x8 wheels for that truck. The vehicle has now been driven about 3,000 miles, and the suspension has settled enough to let the tires hit the fenders when driving over bumps on the road. You might want to consider a shorter tire to avoid this.

Overdrive Search
I've heard that there are overdrive units for Jeeps that bolt onto a manual transmission to give twice the gears. I was wondering if anyone makes a unit for Chevy and Ford manual four-speeds with the granny-low gear.
Evan Krause
via e-mail

Advance Adapters (Dept. 4WOR, 1645 Commerce Way, P.O. Box 247, Paso Robles, CA 93447, 800/776-0072) offers two overdrive and underdrive units that bolt between the engine and the transmission. Gear Vendors (Dept. 4WOR, 1717 N. Magnolia Ave., El Cajon, CA 92020, 800/999-9555, 800/999-9555) offers a gear splitter (either an overdrive or an underdrive) that bolts to the output shaft of the transfer case (so it only works in two-wheel drive).

I'm currently looking for a used 4x4. What are the advantages and disadvantages of full-time four-wheel drive as opposed to part-time with manual locking hubs?
Ryan Cousins
via e-mail

Really, the biggest problem with full-time four-wheel drive is the driving characteristics on road. Because the front tires are transmitting power and trying to go different directions than the rears when you steer, you can feel a little bit of bind. Also, if you break something in the frontend, you may be driving home in low-range (which locks the transfer case) just to be sure power is sent to the rearend. Some full-time transfer cases, such as the 203 and Quadratrac, allow the transfer case to be locked in high-range. Almost all full-time systems can be converted to part-time, but this can cost as much as $1,000.

Part-time systems give you more options regarding when you really want the front axle engaged, and you can even unlock one hub to relieve steering problems off road. The drawback is that you cannot drive in 4-hi on paved surfaces.

Mine's Uglier
Give me a break. Regarding "The Ugliest Jeep You've Ever Seen" (Dec. '98), Rick Péwé has to rationalize cramming a 455 into his flatfender with the fact that Jeep offered a General Motors V-8 as optional equipment? I'm not sure I should even ask about the SM420 since, as you wrote, "Rick will allow only Jeep-origin parts on the flattie." I don't care if you want to have Nissan drivetrain and running gear with a Chevy four-speed-whatever turns your crank. Just be sure to have door openings that are hard to get out of, a flat hood and fenders, and that ever-so-sweet Willys grille.
Chad Taylor
Mt. Pleasant, UT

Rick says about the SM420: "It's a four-speed, and Jeep used four-speeds and GM transmissions (TH400 and Powerglides)-close enough. After a few Coronas, the logic works."

CJ-4 Mail
You are correct: the picture in Drivelines (Nov. '98) is indeed a Bobcat, or BC, from 1953. In that year, Willys attempted to build a lightweight vehicle from existing parts. It weighed only 1,475 pounds and had a top speed of 63 mph. It didn't go into production. I just happened to read about it in Jeep the Unstoppable Legend by Arch Brown.
Rod Olney
Norco, CA

Concerning the Bobcat (CJ-4), a book called U.S. Military Wheeled Vehicles by Fred W. Crimson says that it was an experimental vehicle built for the military in 1953. Willys called it the Aero Jeep or the Bobcat. It was based on the M38A1 but used the M38 L124 engine to save weight. It weighed 1,540 pounds (compared to 2,665 pounds for an M38A1) and had a 70-inch wheelbase. In addition to the windshield, other weight-savers were magnesium wheels and an aluminum body.
Bill Lagler
via e-mail

We're finding more obscure early Jeeps all the time. We just saw photos of a '46 CJ-2A with a tow-truck package. It had a tow boom attached to the mid section of the floor, a unique windshield frame with swing-out glass, a column-shift three-speed, and recessed marker lights but CJ-type headlights.

Repower Ugliness
I'm writing to respond to "Classic Repower" (Nov. '98). First, I agree with the part about nothing turning heads or making truck freaks go weak in the knees like a classic from the '40s or '50s-something you can't go to your local car dealer and buy. I also think the swap was fine; there was no driveline, so why not run modern drivetrain? However, I looked on page 154, and there's a photo of a giant B&M shifter! What the heck is that? Then I see your butchery of the dash and addition of custom gauges-more foo-foo hot rod stuff. This doesn't fit the scheme of old iron. It looks out of place, not fitting with the military history of the truck at all.
Kevin Wiesnoski
Petoskey, MI

Personally we're with you, and you'll notice that we pulled a later-model steering wheel out of a '46 vehicle this month and replaced it with the Greyhound-bus original. However not everyone enjoys the old stuff, and it takes a lot more effort to make cool, old gadgets work compared to just buying new ones, so we show both sides.

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