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June 2012 Mailbag Letters to the Editor

Posted in Features on June 1, 2012
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Old Farts
Just read your Trail Head, (Mar. ’12). Fabulous analogy. I’ve been playing guitar for 45 years and wheeling for 32. My current junk is an ’80 CJ-5.
Mike Howland
Thermopolis, WY

Jeep Application
In response to Trail Head, (Mar. ’12), you hit the proverbial nail (or shall I say trail) on the head regarding misapplication and incomplete skill sets. It’s comical to watch stock XJs crawl around modded rigs because the operator can’t drive or has the wrong setup. Appalachian Jeep trails are narrow, off-camber, heavily underbrushed, and plagued by grease-like clay. The misapplication of parts can render an otherwise potent off-road vehicle too tall or unstable to fit such trails. This is magnified by an inability to pick lines, carry momentum, or simply air down. Many of us drive Jeeps because the terrain and climate necessitate driving a real 4x4 with real lockers and lots of ground clearance to deal with the heaps of snow, black ice, and steep hills. This is exactly why I own a JK Rubicon; however, the greatest accessory I ever bought for this rig came in the form of a retired government XJ. The Rubicon handles the wife, kid, and snow duty, while the XJ embarrasses ATVs and high-rollers on the trail. How’s that for application? Keep up the great work!
Thomas G. Smith
Elkview, WV

Patina’d Late-Model: Gotta Do It!
Editor Hazel, congratulations on taking the helm at Jp magazine. I’ve been a subscriber since 1999 (Yeah, I’m an old guy, probably out of your preferred demographics).

1. Have you heard of problems with the exhaust valve seals in the H.O. 4.7L V-8 of 2002 vintage? My WJ has been diagnosed with a cracked exhaust seal in the number-8 cylinder. It has a poor idle and an off-idle stumble when cold. It runs great once warmed up.) With 93,000 on it, I’m wondering if it’s worth the $2,000 to fix it or should I go Jeep shopping.

2. I read your Nov. ’11 Trail Head this morning. It sounds really good. I would suggest more of Trasborg’s “side issues.” I find his articles on air conditioning, lighting, CB’s, and so on very interesting. They are often “quick” projects (or fixes) you can do in a weekend or just plain interesting.

3. No articles (even for the April issue) on how to use an angle grinder to give your ’04 Wrangler a patina’d look, please.

4. The “How To Survive!” series is great!

I have also subscribed to Four Wheeler for about 30 years (I still have my original-owner ’76 Blazer; yes, it does sport a patina’d finish). What I noticed since the editorial changes at your company is that I have piles of Jp magazines because they have something interesting in them that I want to keep. I used to do that with Four Wheeler magazines as well, but not in the last 10 years or so. They get a quick read-through and it’s into the trash can. From your Trail Head article, it sounds like you understand us out here. Please do not rock the Jp magazine boat too much. You guys have done a great job with it so far.
Mike Wells
Via email

Hmm, patina on a new Wrangler, huh? Where’s that angle grinder?

Punk Kids
The March ’12 Trail Head editorial made me laugh. I am a few months away from social security and have been driving Vettes and Jeeps for decades. I guarantee that you have never passed me from behind in any of my Vettes. My Rubicon has big tires, but will not be crawling rocks. I live where weather conditions make roads impassable for anything less than a Jeep several times each year. That and a motor home are why I purchased the Jeep. Different from your needs and interests? Yes. Inferior to your needs and interests? Only the most arrogant and self-absorbed would think as much. I have been your age and had younger-man interests; when you reach my age you will have experienced an evolution in yours, as well. Our interests are different—not better or worse. Maybe you are hoping to stir up controversy and readership, maybe you are just full of yourself and lacking in maturity. Time will tell.

My point? Just because others use their vehicles differently, it doesn’t make them wrong. Equally important, it doesn’t make you right. If diatribes are important to you, maybe you could rail against arrogance.

Got the balls to print this? I doubt it.
JB Lewis
Via email

You say you guarantee I’ve never passed you from behind in one of your Vettes. Apparently I’m not talking about you, then. I’m talking about the two guys in my neighborhood I see all the time driving their 600-plus horsepower Vettes like a little old lady heading to bingo. I’m telling you that I’ve been stuck behind each of them more than once and they literally drive 20 mph in a 50 mph zone. To me it’s a misapplication of hardware. And I used that as a simile for all the folks who buy a hardcore Jeep and then cry about the trade-offs in on-road civility that the off-road parts bring.

As for the big tire thing, I have no issues with big tires. Rather, my issue lies with the guys who throw down a lot of money building a monster Jeep for hardcore trail use when they have no experience off-roading. They go straight to the big-tire-wheeling without first learning the basic fundamentals of the sport. I can’t count on all my fingers and toes (my preferred method of counting, by the way) how many bad rollovers, flops, breaks, and trail blockages I’ve seen from first-time guys hitting a trail and getting completely over their heads in an $80K-plus Wrangler. It’s not only annoying, a lot of times it’s unsafe.

Print your letter? Sure. I’m glad for reader input, no matter from which side of the fence it comes. Even if you still take issue with my editorial, I appreciate your taking the time to write in.

New-guy Verne, I am calling bullsh!% that you were a part-time gator wrassler. I think photographic evidence is in order!
David LeClair
Via email

Where Da Buick?
Several months ago I began reading an article on a budget rebuild of a 225 odd-fire Buick V-6 (“Budget Rebuild,” Aug. ’11). I am now in the midst of building one for my ’55 CJ-5 project and would like to see Part 2 of the article. Did I miss Part 2, or is it still coming?

Also, do you know if a SM465 transmission will bolt up to the original Jeep/Buick bellhousing?
Josh Colsch
Via email

You didn’t miss it. Trasborg just ran out of money. He’s saving for the machine shop labor on the heads. As soon as he finds a buyer for that spare kidney, he’ll get right back into wrapping up the driveway 225 rebuild.

For the bellhousing, Jeep did a couple of things. First, they used a factory Buick bellhousing with a cast-iron adapter to mate the Jeep three-speed transmission to the GM bellhousing. Later in ’70-’71, they went to an all-aluminum, one-piece bellhousing for the T-14.

If you’ve got the one-piece aluminum bellhousing, you can’t use it. If you have the two-piece cast-iron bellhousing, you’ll need to do a little work. The Buick bellhousing has the standard 4.68-inch GM index retainer bore, but the SM465 uses a larger 5.125-inch input bearing retainer and won’t bolt up to your 225 bellhousing. What you have to do is machine the SM465 retainer down to 4.995-inch and then open up the Buick bellhousing bore to 5.00-inch. That will let you bolt the SM465 directly to the cast-iron Buick bellhousing.

Any competent machine shop should be able to do these steps for you for much less than the cost of an aftermarket bellhousing or adapter.

Love the magazine, but do we really need another wheel and tire section taking up the whole magazine? You guys just did one last April. I hope to see better in 2012. I can read through the whole thing in fifteen minutes. Is there nothing else to write about?
Tracy Estes
Via email

Tires are a hot-button topic. We don’t include our compilation tire review story every year, but it just so happens we had a lot of new additions to add to our story “The Hot Sheet,” (Mar. ’12). So, yeah, we really did need another big tire section. Where else can you get an informative, first-hand synopsis of almost every tire manufactured? I’d wager that the Jp staff has tested more tires, more in-depth than any other off-road title out there. Why do you think Four Wheeler magazine picked up and ran that story for its April ’12 wheel and tire issue?

No Weld
I love Jp magazine, but anytime I see the word “drilling” or “welding,” I’m instantly turned off. I’m more interested in seeing straight bolt-on parts to fix problems, as I’m staying as close to stock on my ’12 Rubicon as I can. I am putting some homemade 1¼-inch spacers on the front and have added GenRight aluminum fenders. I am sticking with 33s, but can easily run 35s if I choose. However, I don’t really see the need as they only add an inch of clearance.
Jim McCain
Via email

I remember being a novice wrench with no garage back in the day. As soon as a magazine mentioned welding, fabrication, or a high-dollar shop install, I instantly felt excluded. However, a person’s skill set grows and the off-road hobby in general has evolved. Welding and other labor-intensive installs are not only more common, they’re prevalent. Sorry, but Jp would be an incredibly boring magazine if we omitted many of the modifications that require fabrication, welding, and drilling to focus on more mundane, bolt-on installations. However, I could probably recommend some other magazines that focus only on that stuff. Oh, wait, that’s right … they went out of business. You can’t please everybody all of the time, but we do have many all bolt-on projects in the works, like our “3-Day TJ,” (April ’12), “3-Day JK,” (May ’12), and “Penny Pincher, Parts 1-3,” (Nov. ’11, Jan. ’12, Mar. ’12), and more. So just keep reading, and before you know it you’ll probably be right in the thick of it with the majority of us.

Write Us!
Got a question or comment about Jp magazine or the village idiots at the helm? Drop us a line. Don’t forget to include your full name and where you’re from or we’ll make fun of you. Actually, we may make fun of you anyway. Keep it short and to the point or we’ll hack and chop your letter as we please. We get a lot of mail, but we read every letter. Unfortunately, we can’t print or personally answer every request. We’re too busy surfing the Internet on the company dime. Digital images should be no less than 1,600x1,200 pixels (or 2 megapixels) and should be saved as a TIFF, an EPS, or a maximum-quality JPEG file.

Write to:
Jp Magazine, Editor
831 S. Douglas St.
El Segundo, CA 90245

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