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Jp readers' letters to the editor

Posted in Features on February 8, 2016
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Photographers: Jp ArchivesReaders

Good Point
In Dispatch (Feb. ’16) you have printed a reader quote without a story that says “Too bad all these turds now a days don’t go for function in and on their jeeps but add stupid flashy light bars, rims and those ridiculous headlights. If it looks tough rolling to the mall that’s all that matters now.”

I have a comment on the quote. I realize it is not from your magazine, but I wanted to address this as it seems to be a common thread in the country these days. I have seen exactly the same thing in motorcycle magazines.

People get mad at other people because they have more than the person who is mad. What I mean is, if I want to customize my Jeep or Harley and then just drive it to the mall, then that is my business and what bearing does it have on anyone else? I can only assume that they are jealous because they cannot afford to do the same to their vehicles.

I find it curious that you would print this in your magazine given that your income is mainly from advertisers who sell these products. These people need to understand that it is the people who spend all this money on parts whether needed or not that keeps the industry alive and progressing. Neither the off-road or motorcycle industry are going to progress by people fabricating all their own parts, not that there is anything wrong with that, but some people do not have the expertise, time, or tools to do it.

Instead of finding fault with those who drive to the mall or have "garage jewelry," just be happy with the fact that they are out there supporting the sport you love and then mind you own damn business.

If this guy wants to see a turd, then tell him to look in a mirror.
B. Porter
Prescott, AZ

Vintage Jeep Nutty
Thank you for the outstanding “Jeep Encyclopedia” (Feb. ’16) story about CJ-2A number 163. The photos and their captions, let alone the article itself, are priceless and perfect! Being an old Jeep nut about old CJs, I knew a fair amount about them before your super article, but I learned a lot from this issue, and I can’t thank you enough.

I had seen old ’40s black-and-white photos of the implements that CJs could run off a PTO. The “Willys on the Job” (Feb. ’16) article with current operating color photos was also outstanding and priceless. Thank you for that one too!
Phil Brown
Somersworth, NH

Club Benefits
I was reading the letter titled "Shadetree Mechanic Training" in the Your Jeep tech section (Jan. ’16). I liked the response, but you forgot to mention that being a member of a four-wheel-drive club really has lots of other benefits, one of which is that members have mechanical knowledge (or sometimes think they do). Not only do you have fun with some really cool like-minded people but you're going to learn from each and every experience. When I got out of the Navy in 1968, I was lucky enough to have a Navy buddy that had a cousin that had a ’65 CJ-5. While I was still in the service he would take us out camping, fishing, and wheeling.

Anyway, we all worked on his Jeep when necessary, and I had absolutely no experience as a mechanic. However, I bought a brand-new ’69 CJ-5, and my buddy bought a ’66 CJ-5. We wheeled and camped together for several years. Yes, for sure they all needed to be repaired, sometimes even on the trail. I joined a four-wheel-drive club shortly after I got my Jeep and acquired lots of experience on repairing, modifying, and driving. Actually, to this day I still belong to the same Jeep club, and yes, my ’69 is still here—well, still in the family. My son has it and really loves it. He has lots of memorable experiences from those days.

Sorry I got carried away with my point about joining a 4x4 club to help with learning Jeep mechanicals. As a club, we all help each other with our own experiences, either mechanical or wheeling. Each year we have an annual vehicle check, mostly to help newer members with their situations and, of course, take a close look at their vehicle and go through our vehicle checklist. There is always something to be learned. Thanks for listening!
Gardena, CA

Lightweight Frustration
I read “Slimmed Down Jeep” (Jan. ’16) with great anticipation. I was looking to see if this approach was worth the time and effort of coming up with something considerably lighter than the porky JK. However, I was sorely disappointed that there was absolutely no mention of the original weight, what a similarly built steel JK weighs, or even what this completed project with the aluminum tub weighs. Therefore, while moderately interesting, this story was of virtually no real value in deciding how to approach my next Jeep project.

As readers, we read Jp for far more than entertainment. I’m sure I’m not alone in looking to Jp to provide new thought, ideas, and approaches to new or old Jeep issues, but without any hard facts, it’s all just entertainment, not research.
Via email

I can understand your frustration, but you’re making it out to be much simpler than it really is. The MCE Fenders ( Jeep in question was essentially built from scratch. It’s a pretty stripped-down Jeep that has an interior resembling a UTV. Most people would not use it for a daily driver. The Jeep doesn’t have any of the safety or convenience features that a factory four-door JK would have like airbags, traction control, stability control, ABS brakes, stereo, heater, air conditioner, sound deadening material, carpet, hard top, and so on. If you are interested in these conveniences, you likely are not interested in a Jeep like this, so the weight is a moot point.

However, to answer your question, the curb weight of a typical stock four-door Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon is about 4,300 pounds. The actual weight of a Wrangler Unlimited can vary a few hundred pounds depending on model and options. Most built-up four-door JKs on 37-inch tires weigh in around 5,500 pounds, with some porky builds probably pushing more than 7,000 pounds. The MCE Jeep weighs in at 4,800 pounds geared up and ready for the trail. So if weight is your only deciding factor, you can rest assured that a one-off aluminum bodied four-door Wrangler weighs significantly less than a traditionally modified JK.

Old Vs. New
I appreciated the Jan. ’16 Trail Head on the division between old and new things, provided, as you noted, that the Jeeps are solid, well-built, and designed for function.

With three Willys Wagons, a ’48 and a ’51 Power Wagon, an FJ45, and some other projects in the yard, I lean toward the side of character and simplicity. I can trick a carburetor, but I can’t trick fuel injection. It’s horses for courses, and the job that the ’09 diesel pickup does is quite different. Perhaps a nice middle ground is my ’90 Suburban 4x4.

There’s another split worth mentioning, and that’s between stock and modified. When the ’03 Jeep TJ Rubicon came out, I bought one with the intention of keeping it basically stock. Why? Well, it’s pretty much always ready to go. That night before thrash doesn’t need to happen, and I can be exploring instead of fixing. Having chased the weakest link in building a ’83 Toyota, there’s a benefit to factory engineering, not to mention the improvements in metallurgy in recent years. Plus, the further you go from stock, the harder it’s going to be to source parts when something breaks. The trails I see in Jp are more difficult than I might undertake, but there are often other vehicles along, and the trail is within a reasonable distance of a parts store. When you’re the only vehicle and 400 miles from the nearest parts source, it’s a lot simpler to explain over a satellite phone that it’s a part for a stock ’03 Jeep than to try to detail the custom work that you’ve done. Of course, then you’ve got to find a friend to deliver that part.

When you’re the only vehicle far from help, you should modify your driving accordingly in any case, making some mods unnecessary. Is it really worth it to break your Jeep just to get 401 miles from civilization?

Good editorial, and thanks for the magazine. People think the Yukon is tundra and forget about the northern end of the Rockies or the Coast Mountains. If you bring enough dogs, maybe you could just tow your Jeep home?
Charlie McLaren
Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada

Slow Roll
Regarding the Jan. ’16 Trail Head, I'll take old any day. I have a ’46 CJ-2A I call Smokey. This thing was pulled out of a brush pile. All we did was add a Pertonix ignition and replace the head gasket and she ran! Try that with a new Jeep. The coolness and simplicity of old Jeeps is so awesome, and the isn’t anyone that has one that isn't crazy about them. Not so in the new JK LED bolt-on world we live in today. Smokey is driven almost every day. My son has her in the boonies as I type. We get together with a group of MBs, M38s, and CJ-2As and explore the national forests. We took a 140-mile round trip a few months ago to an Arkansas MVPA swap meet. We took twice as long as everyone else would take, but the rest of the world has no idea what they are missing. Running 45 mph with the windshield down lets you see what everyone else doesn't.
Brian Landers
Via email

Jeep Timeline
I've been following Jp for a little while now because I'm very interested in learning and knowing more about Jeeps. My son will be driving in a few years, and I would love to get something that we can use together as a family in the great outdoors. I was curious to know if you could guide me towards a resource that I'm not sure even exists. Is there a coffee table–type of book regarding the Jeep and it's evolution? I realize there are many books on the subject, but I can't seem to find what I'm looking for. There's wonderful books on how the Jeep came to be and the early information is great. What I am looking for is the Jeep equivalent to something like those great Corvette posters that show the actual evolution from the CJ to the YJ to the XJ and any other J. I did find one poster equal to what I'm asking about except it was for wagons. Thanks for your guidance!
Chris Mazzanti
Windsor, CA

Funny you should mention Jeep history at this particular moment. The 75th anniversary of the Jeep brand is during 2016, and if you’re a subscriber or you hit the newsstand every month and pick up Jp, you will find the first chapter of our series of articles on the history and evolution of the world’s most famous 4x4 in the Apr. 2016 issue.

In addition, the vehicle manufacturer itself has a pretty cool web page dedicated to the history of the Jeep and each model. You can find it here:

Unfortunately, most Jeep info books are paperbacks and not really what I would consider the same quality as a coffee table book. However, Jeep: The History of America's Greatest Vehicle by Patrick R. Foster is a hardback book that covers the early history of the Jeep, as well the year-by-year model information up to the current modern-day Jeeps.

Weakest Link
First of all, I love the magazine. However, I do have a beef to pick with you. In the Oct. ’15 issue, Ali Mansour states in the "Ratio Right" article that “shifting the weak link to the 1310 CV as opposed to the ring-and-pinion was a safer option overall". In the same issue, in the Your Jeep section, John Cappa tells Curt McKay, who says he wants to make the U-joint the weak link, that "engineering a weak link into anything is a foolish move in most, but not all, cases," mainly citing collateral damage. The Jeeps are similar, with 37-inch tires and 5.13 gears, but one is a lighter two-door model. Shouldn't you guys be roughly on the same sheet of music when writing about the same thing? So which one is the real deal: weak link or not?
Axel Virzi
Roanoke, TX

Opinions are like, well, you know. So, of course everyone has a different opinion on how to build a Jeep. I’m not saying Ali is wrong, but my 4x4 experience has been different than his. I’ve seen a lot of driveshafts fail over the years, and most of them are unusable after the “inexpensive” U-joint or CV-joint breaks. The collateral damage from the driveshaft flinging wildly under your Jeep can cause even more problems that can completely immobilize your Jeep. A broken ring gear can be just as immobilizing. Interestingly enough, I’ve actually been on a trail when Ali broke a smallish front driveshaft in his 4x4. The CV joint yoke busted, not the U-joint, so we couldn’t simply replace the U-joint. We had to turn around and head back down the mountain because he didn’t carry a spare front driveshaft. The front axle was a Dana 60 and was nowhere near close to receiving enough abuse to bust a gearset.

Ultimately, I wouldn’t recommend purposely engineering your driveshaft to be the weak link. You should match up components and make everything about the same strength. Drive within the vehicle’s limits, avoiding drivetrain issues altogether, rather than planning for failure.

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