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Mailbag - Jp reader letters to the editor

Posted in Features on May 29, 2016
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4x4 Trailering
I enjoyed “Off-Road Camping Trailer Guide” in the May ’16 issue. I learned a lot about what is available these days. I would like to express the opinion of a 70-year-old budget-minded Jeep enthusiast, yours truly.

A few years ago, I was interested in finding a camping trailer to pull behind my Jeep. I decided the lighter I could keep it, the better off I would be. For moderate off-road use, my son and I built a 4x6 utility trailer that has yet to give me a problem. It has a rectangular steel frame, 2,500-pound-rated axle, and a canvas tarp stretched over a 3/4-inch tubular detachable frame that keeps the rain out. The trailer carries enough camping gear to outfit us for a week. It also keeps me warm during the night on a 2-inch foam pad that rolls up and stores out of the way along with the rest of the gear while trailing.

For lightweight use, rough country fire roads, truck trails, and so on, I purchased a Lil' Joe teardrop trailer that came less any amenities, not even a galley. It can double as a utility trailer. We raised it 4 inches, added a utility box, and installed larger wheels and tires.

At the time, my observance was that there were too few camping trailers suitable for off-road use. The trailers that were available were just too expensive and too heavy once loaded with all you think you might need. I thought that they would probably be bogged down before even starting. Also, most don't really need, nor would they ever use, much of the slide and swing out add-ons. Keep it simple, keep it light, and you'll be in a much better position off-road, in my own opinion.
Ed Sierras
Aguanga, CA

Vintage Vault
I have an idea for Jp. I would love a history segment of famous suppliers and people of the four-wheeling and Jeep world. This would include people like Vic Hickey, Mickey Thompson, Ivan Stewart, and Dick Cepek. I’d love to read about companies that have faded away over the years such as Desert Rat and old tires like the Armstrong Tru-Trac and Dick Cepek Quiet Giants. Speaking of Tru-Trac, I would love to see an article on the Detroit Truetrac differential. I would really love seeing more stock Jeeps with open diffs going off-road. Hey, back in the day that's all we had.
Pastor Scott Kraniak
Centereach, NY

In the past, Jp has dabbled quite a bit with Jeep and 4x4 history stories. This included the Vintage Vault series where we dug old images out of the archives and many features on old Jeep iron of days gone by. Since 2016 is the 75th anniversary of Jeep, you’ll find Jeep history in every issue for the rest of the year. Interestingly enough, Desert Rat ( isn’t gone. The company still exists today and has seven stores spread throughout Arizona and New Mexico.

Rubicon Sport Model?
In the May ’16 issue there is a white Jeep JK Unlimited in the General Tire ad and again in the “Atlas Rear Bumper/Tire Carrier” story. It has both Rubicon and Sport decals. I have never seen a Rubicon Sport.
Via email

You’ve likely never seen a Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Sport model because it doesn’t exist. Well, except for this one. It may look like someone slapped Rubicon stickers on the hood of a Sport model, but that’s not the case. The Jeep was bought brand new from the dealer lot as a Rubicon model. It just so happened to have both stickers. We suspect it may have come down the assembly line originally slated to be a Sport model, but then was changed to a Rubicon model before the drivetrain and other bits were installed. No one at the plant or dealer lot ever noticed it had both stickers.

Interestingly enough, the location in the General Tire ( ad doesn’t really exist either. It seems to have been shot on a dry lakebed in the desert. The beach scene, ocean, and the shark off in the distance were surely added via Photoshop for effect. It’s not at all uncommon for advertisements to be doctored up. Anyway, rest assured that there is no Wrangler Rubicon Sport model available.

Bumper Tips
I just finished reading the May ’16 issue and have a few comments. The Atlas bumper article (“Atlas Rear Bumper/Tire Carrier”) was excellent. I just completed installing this bumper on my ‘14 JK two weeks ago. My only comment to others is before you start, do an inventory of your tools. I had to take a break in the job to run out for 16 and 18 millimeter sockets and wrenches, even though the directions state SAE sizes. Every piece of hardware was metric. I do love the setup. Fortunately, I still have a few old military fuel cans from long, long ago. Finding new cans to fit is nearly impossible. The one I did find was of very poor construction and quality. The best part is I can use a shaker siphon tube on the driver side can so I don’t even have to unstrap the can.

The owner of the FC-150 in the Your Jeep column brought back some real memories. I had a Warn overdrive in a ’64 Scout. I got a lot of strange looks when people saw four shifters sticking up, especially the driver’s license examiner who asked “do you know how to drive this?” So I shifted the overdrive while backing up during the test. Keep up the great work! Now if the next issue would just show up soon.
Jim McCullough
Ocala, FL

Looking Back
Sometime in the ’50s when as a kid I learned what a Jeep was. My dad managed the garage portion of a local Buick dealership. They had a Jeep pickup and a Harley Davidson trike for service calls. In fact, many, if not most dealerships had either a Jeep CJ or pickup to at least plow snow during the winter months and sometimes to help extricate a stuck vehicle. My dad and his contemporaries were also largely WWII vets, so the war stories we kids heard the most often involved the machinery of war, not the brutal and gory side so common on the evening news today. I'm sure many of them experienced it, they just chose not to talk about it.

Many years later, my foster dad, who was also a WWII vet, would tell me how he served in the motor pool in the CBI Theater and how the vehicles were too wide to fit in the cargo planes of the day to be flown over the Hump. So they did the logical thing and cut them in half lengthwise, then upon reaching the destination they would be welded back together. This is fine in theory but it seemed they also had no trouble in obtaining alcohol, or even making their own. As a result, some vehicles weren't quite true when put back together. Some pulled to the left, some to the right. They also went through an inordinate number of fire extinguishers—used to cool off beer—and their own unit vehicles got terrible mileage because the gas tanks were often also stuffed with beer cans. The gas stayed cooler than the ambient air temperature. He further claimed that his squad was actually drunk most of the war. When they stopped drinking on VJ Day, they all came down with malaria. Apparently, they'd had it for some time but their blood alcohol levels had suppressed the protozoa.

The WWII Jeep earned its place as a vehicle that could get the job done. My foster dad also maintained that the Ford-built Jeeps weighed 100 pounds more than those built by Willys, but as they compared parts they could never find where that weight was hidden. Each year as the new models would come out in the fall, we kids would keep our eyes peeled to identify the new Hudson, Packard, Chevy, Ford, Studebaker, and so on. However, we never had a problem with Jeeps because they always resembled the WWII Jeep from which they sprang.

If you can find a WWII vet, first thank him/her for their service and then ask if they remember how the Jeeps drove. Were they comfy? No. Did they ride well? No. Were they warm in winter and cool in hotter climates? No. They were a purpose-built vehicle, and that purpose was to help win a war. Then they were adapted to civilian use as a way for Willys to survive in the post-war economy. So rule number one, it has to look like a Jeep. Frankly, I don't care if it has round or rectangular headlights. I prefer round, but either gets light to the road. I also prefer manual gearboxes and that drivers have as much control as possible. I also realize there are some who want a Jeep, but can't or won't learn to drive a manual transmission. I don’t want to freeze in the winter nor boil in the summer, and seats with good support make driving a much more pleasurable experience. An exhausted driver is a dangerous driver.

I'm also all for fuel injection in this day and age. Although, if I’m far from civilization, I'd be more mentally comfortable with a good old carburetor. I can do without most of the other electronic junk that technology has wrought. My 6-foot, 2-inch tall son has his ’09 JK Rubicon lifted so high I have to jump to get in or use the steering wheel to pull myself up, but he does go off-roading. I'd be happy with a stock Jeep with aggressive off-road tires and probably an automatic transmission to please the wife. A diesel would be nice. As long as it looks like a Jeep, but it does not have to be a spittin’ image. Let's face it, the underpinnings are where it counts. The Jeeps of today are far better than those from the WWII era, and they can be modified even better if desired.

Thanks for letting me get all that out. Also, thank you for doing a fine job at Jp, at least until the next shuffle in editorship. Now a few words about Keeping Up (with Katie) and Nena Knows Jeeps. First, I was never offended by the photography that accompanied Katie's columns. As far as flesh, more can be seen on TV ads for ladies undergarments. I think Katie is an attractive mom who could almost live next door. She just happens to have some Jeep experience and a husband who likes photography. They'll never have to hide any of those photos from their girls in years to come. Nena's column has yet to develop and find direction I think. Is this going to be an opinion column, a help column, or an experience column? Only time will tell.
Frank Capristo Jr.
Upstate NY

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