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Letters to Four Wheeler Editor

Posted in Features on November 30, 2017
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Coincidences

Too many coincidences! I just received my December 2017 issue of Four Wheeler magazine. I did a double take in the Contents section. The picture for your “T-Case Upgrades” article featured a Bronco similar to mine, on the same spot as one of my favorite pictures of my Bronco. Mine was taken on my 40th birthday, Labor Day weekend 2017, on the V-notch on Poison Spider Mesa trail in Moab, Utah. Furthermore, that is the same spot I met a young man with another fullsize Bronco, and he has the same birthday as me (September 2)!

I’ve subscribed for more than a decade and would love to get my Bronco in your magazine.

’94 Bronco
5.8L engine (stock) with rebuilt E4OD and stock BorgWarner 1356 T-case
Solo Motorsports cut and turned TTB Dana 44 front axle with 4.56 gears and a Detroit Truetrac limited-slip differential
Ford 8.8 rear axle with 4.56 gears and ARB Air Locker
35-inch BFG M-Ts on 15-inch steel wheels
4-inch lift front coil springs
Deaver rear leaf springs and Solo Motorsports shackles
Bilstein 5100 series shocks
13 inches travel up front, 14 inches travel rear
Onboard air via ARB compressor
2-inch receiver in the rear
Garage-built 2-inch receiver in the front (I have receiver mount winch set up for it)
LEDs in the stock front bumper holes
Rear LED lighting
“La Cucaracha” horn (best modification!)
I bought the Bronco on the cheap and it took me about a year to clean it up, fix it up, and set it up. The Bronco has proved to be an awesome truck for our family off-road adventures (wife and two sons, 5 and 7 years old). We’ve wheeled open desert, mountain rocks, sand dunes, snow, and Moab slickrock. The Bronco is built to go fast in the rough Nevada desert, but she did awesome crawling on Poison Spider and Hell’s Revenge in Moab.
Thanks and keep up the good work.

Nate Donald
Via email

How You Camp Part 2

My name is John Palmieri. I just read your column about “How Do You Camp?” (Nov. ’17). Attached are some recent photos of a camping trip from Aspen, Colorado. My wife and I started tent camping in Colorado and enjoyed annual adventures with our fellow veterans in a tent in Moab. However, being two disabled veterans it was time to move on. Now we truck camp and towed our Jeep TJ before we traded that in for the Rubicon 10A. I have plenty of cool pics of Colorado camping if you’re interested.

John Palmieri
Via email

I was reading your article and have to agree with you. I have camped in a tent, then went to a van, then motorhome, now back to a tent. My daughter bought a tent trailer and has commented about using it, but where I go it would never make it. I have been going off-roading for over 28 years, mostly in the Panamint Valley. Tent camping is the way to go. Every once in a while we stay in the BLM Adopt-A-Cabins like the Minnietta Cabin but mostly tent it. Don’t get me wrong, but being in my late 60s I enjoy comfort. I always bring my cot, pad, pillow and sleeping bag. Add a tent heater and I am toasty. Once we set up base camp we go exploring during the day. There are so many old mines and the old Manson commune to see out there it never gets boring. Sunday is our day to have a shootout throwing clay pigeons. I love it and don’t think I have ever had a bad time. My wife’s idea of camping is the local Marriot but that’s OK, it’s a guy and his Jeep thing...

Robert Berkaw
Via email

Again, thank you to everyone who wrote in with camping stories. It’s awesome to see the different ways wheelers camp in the backcountry. We received so many letters we’ll be publishing more in Inbox over the next couple months.

Beginnin’ Wheelin’

Just received my November 2017 issue where you reprinted several long stories of folks getting their start in the 4x4 hobby. It inspired me to tell you my story, which is probably a little different than most you've heard.

I have read Four Wheeler off and on since I was a teenager, often buying single issues at the drug store. I have always been a gearhead, but my interests were primarily limited to cars until 1991. That's the year the Navy transferred me to Japan.

We moved to Misawa, Japan, in the far northern reaches of the main island. Average snowfall: 150 inches per year. We bought two used cars when we arrived, a sporty Honda turbo for me and a Honda Civic Shuttle (i.e., the “Wagovan” in the U.S.) with “Real-Time” 4WD for my wife. What a great little off-road machine that turned out to be. If you are not familiar, in addition to the single-speed transfer case that could move power between axles based on slippage, it has a six-speed manual transmission. In addition to the normal five forward speeds it also had a granny First gear that almost made up for lack of a two-speed transfer case.

One of my friends on base bought a 4WD Datsun pickup. He ordered some mud-terrains and I went to the base garage and ordered the gnarliest set of snow tires I could find for my wife’s Honda Shuttle.

The way Japanese society works in rural northern Japan is that very few places are off-limits for wheeling. Even many private farmland trails are accessible as long as you stay out of the owner’s way and do not damage his property or crops. In addition, vast tracts of government land are full of maintenance trails and are mostly unsigned and open. Together with my friend and a couple of come-along hand winches, we explored hundreds of miles of dirt, mud, and snow trails all over northern Japan. I was very surprised how well the Honda kept up with the pickup. As long as I had enough clearance, I could go anywhere he could go. I remember once climbing a steep, leaf-covered mountain trail well beyond the point where the pickup had to give up. He was open on both ends and my traction-distributing transfer case made the difference.

We forded small rivers, climbed small mountains, and went until we couldn't go any farther. We often took non-four-wheeling friends along for the fun. In the wintertime it was sometimes all we could do to make it in to work during the heaviest snowfalls, but I never failed to arrive.

In 1994 I returned to the States for a new assignment in San Diego. I immediately began scanning the Truck Trader magazines (pre-Internet) and soon found a ’72 International 1210 Travelall. We wheeled all over SoCal and Mexico with the Tierra del Sol 4WD Club. In 1996 we moved back to Washington, D.C. for good, and although my wheeling opportunities are now rare, the Travelall still sits in my garage awaiting trailer towing duties or the rare snow day.

So there you have it. Although I had always had a passing interest in wheeling, it took a move to Japan to get me into the game.

Paul Schuh
Via email

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