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September 2013 Techline

Posted in How To on August 12, 2013
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Deuce Lockers?
I was wondering if the military M35A2 (aka the Deuce-and-a-Half) ever came with locking differentials like the Mercedes Unimog and G-series? If the Kaisers don’t have locking differentials, would you know why?
Dave Beverstock
Via email

m35a2 trucks

To the best of my knowledge and research, none of the military M35A2 trucks were fitted with selectable or automatic locking differentials from the factory. While some branches of the military have been known to install Detroit Lockers in the more specific-use Deuces, these were not a factory option so to speak. Given the wheelbase, additional rear axle, and amount of tires the M35A2 was equipped with, a locker (or lockers) was less critical for the military’s intended use with the trucks. An automatic locker would have also created additional handling and equipment strains.

A fair amount of Deuces were equipped with a winch, and in general were convoy rigs. So if one got stuck, there were usually a few there to extract any in need. Some of the newer heavyweight U.S. military rigs do have selectable lockers, but I wouldn’t expect to find any classic 2½-ton Rockwell axles fitted with locking differentials in a military surplus yard.

Burb Painting
I have subscribed to Four Wheeler for a very long time and have always enjoyed it. Your Rescued Wrangler project vehicle has been great, and my oldest son and I can’t wait for more! My son is graduating from high school here in Southern California this June. He has signed on to play football just outside of Chicago next year in college and he leaves for camp the first week of August. So, our time together is slipping by.

We have recently resurrected my ’88 Chevy Suburban 4X4 with a new fuel tank, fuel pump, and about 5 inches of lift. I am a heart attack survivor, so my son has handled much of the heavy lifting. We just took it out and had a blast—the whole family together off-road. My heart was overflowing. My wife and I, along with our four kids, buckled up, locked it in low, and had a blast in the desert.

My son really wants the Burb to be desert tan and we saw you rattle-canned the Wrangler. We want to know how you made it stick. We have very little to spend due to my heart issues, so a budget paintjob would be perfect. How did you prep? And where should we shop for the right color of flat Rust-Oleum (my favorite artistic outlet)?
Dusty Callow
Via email

chevy suburban

First off, your burb is looking good and congratulations to your son. I’m glad you like the Rescued Wrangler. I am in the middle of the build as we speak and hope to have it ready to drive in just a few months. Keeping in mind that I am no expert painter, my supply list was as follows:

• 220 grit sandpaper

• A bundle of Scotch-Brite pads

• A can of acetone

• Blue tape (extra wide)

• Mix of prep paper and cardboard

The thing to remember is to sand in big motions and use the Scotch-Brite pads in an X-pattern, so everything overlaps. I opted not to use a primer, and since your burb is white, you may be able to get away with doing the same. I found Wal-Mart to be the least expensive spot to get my paint. It was also one of the few places that carried the specific 1920 Army Green Rust-Oleum paint that I used.

If you know the exact color you want, you can also search around online from places like Amazon and buy it in bulk. I have roughly three coats on the Jeep, which required around eight cans. Ultra-flat paint like I used is pretty forgiving and easy to apply and touch up. Just don’t go too heavy with the first coat. Best of luck with your project and be sure to shoot me some photos after it is done.

Block It
In the June ’13 issue on page 49, you show a 1-inch rear block. I called Zone Offroad and they did not have one for my ’11 Ford F-250. I checked other places and couldn’t find anything smaller than two inches. Could you please tell me where I can find 1-inch blocks?
Scott Voge
Via email

The truck shown in the photo was a late-model Chevy 1500 4x4. If your truck was equipped with a rear block from the factory (most likely), then you may be able to swap it out for another block that can give you the lift you need. For example, if your truck was fitted with a 2-inch rear block from the factory, a 3-inch block would provide you with the lift you are looking for. A great source when looking at available lift options for your truck on-line is Rocky Mountain Suspension Products ( Another option would be to install an add-a-leaf, which would net closer to 1½ inches of lift.

Bed Swap
I just recently bought an ’80 Jeep J10 that runs and drives. It has Dana 44 front and rear axles, T-18 transmission, and a 360ci V-8. I love the truck, but it was hit by a Suburban really hard behind the right rear wheel and is completely rusted out due its previous life as a Kansas snowplow truck. I have a welder and can get extra steel, but a buddy has a Comanche longbed that he’s willing to give me for free. I’m wondering will it work, or could I use a Ford or Chevy bed with less modification? Of course, I could build a flatbed, but I have a lot of parts trucks that I can pull a bed from.
Geoff Irwin
Via email

utility bed

I have learned over the years, that just because you have something sitting around or a free part handy, it doesn’t mean that it’s worth spending the time, effort, and additional money to make it work on your project. Assuming your J10 is equipped with the 119-inch wheelbase, finding a replacement bed that will be a direct fit may be a challenging task. I’ve heard of a few guys modifying Ford pickup beds from the ’70s on their J-trucks, but the conversion required a decent amount of bodywork. If you have access to a few different beds, I would start pulling frame and wheelwell measurements.

The J-truck is closer to a midsized pickup, so I would start with those. As long as you are happy with the bed height and style, taking a truck bed from another model just might work for your needs. Another option would be an old military trailer or service bed. The flatbed would be my last resort as well. When done with thought and proper planning, a flatbed can be a great bed option.

4x4 Vans
Did Chevy ever offer a four-wheel drive version of the P30 van? I have a Stepvan that’s able to haul 9,500 pounds that I would like to convert, but want to do the job correctly.
Harry Yeomans
Via email

While I think it’s a great idea, unfortunately, I haven’t found any record of a factory 4x4 P30. The conversion is not impossible, as I stumbled across a few online, but it won’t be cheap or extremely easy. If you are dead set on a 4x4 van, but willing to bend a little on what type, Quigley Motor Company ( offers turn-key 4x4 conversion vans and is worth checking out.

Keep the Carpet?
I have wheeled my ’90 Ford F-150 for a few years now and really enjoy how it works off-road. Last summer, I built a set of tube doors, which were awesome on the trail! The problem that I am having is that my carpet is in terrible shape. I have pulled it out once to pressure wash it, but it didn’t really help. I don’t care for the spray-in liners, but I am not sure what my other options are. Any advice is appreciated.
Via email

If you have a pick-and-pull yard near you, I would search out a vinyl floor from a work truck. It will still have insulation under the mat and you can hose it out from time to time. If you can’t find one in good shape, you can always look for new ones online. Companies such as LMC Truck ( actually offer replacement interiors for your truck and should have everything you need.

Four More
I just acquired a ’93 Jeep Wrangler YJ that has the stock 2.5L four-cylinder engine and AX-5 manual transmission. It already has 33s, but I want to go to 35s. I am pretty sure it has stock gearing because it is very slow. The Jeep isn’t going to be a daily driver, but I will drive it on most of my off-road adventures (no tow rig, only a Honda at the house!). Can you suggest what I can do to make the Jeep have more power on the highway? I know that regearing will help, and once I get the rear axle swapped out (still has the Dana 35), I will step up to a 4.88 gearset. It may be a lost cause, but I don’t have the money for an engine swap, so the four-popper needs to work for now!
Brian May
Via email

As someone who has owned a few four-cylinder Wranglers, I understand your gripe. I have had good luck with 4.88 gears and 33s, and depending on how mountainous a region you live in, you may be fine with 35s and the same. If you are swapping axles and can opt for 5.13 gears, I would. As far as pulling more power out of your engine—there isn’t much you can do. A few guys swear by swapping out your stock throttle body for one from a 4.0L TJ, but I wouldn’t hold my breath for huge power gains. Ditching the mechanical fan for an electric one will help, but again, don’t expect to be blown away.

The best performance advice I can offer for a four-cylinder Jeep is to keep it light. Don’t overdo it with heavy bumpers and accessories. Watch the weight everywhere—this includes your wheels and tires. A lightweight aluminum wheel is much easier for your Jeep to spin than a heavier steel wheel. If you don’t need your backseat, pull it out. Depending on how far you are traveling, and how savvy you are with a plug kit, ditching the spare tire for an on-board air compressor and tire repair kit will net you a better power to weight ratio as well. Fabric doors and swapping to a soft top (if you don’t already have one) are also great weight savers.

If you are more into rockcrawling and low speed trail riding I strongly recommend installing lower transfer-case gears. This upgrade is a bit pricey, but a 4:1 conversion such as the one offered from TeraFlex ( will improve the control and off-road performance tremendously. The 2.5L has a bad rap for being underpowered, which it is, but that shouldn’t keep you from wheeling and road trips.

Tension Shackle
I have been looking at numerous suspension set-ups, and I was hoping you could clarify something for me. What is the actual name of the suspension design found in the rear of most domestic ½-ton and larger trucks? I’m referring to where the spring is mounted above the shackle, and the shackle is inverted (when compared to what is normally found on most Jeeps).

What are the advantages of using this configuration, and what are the disadvantages? Has it, or could it, be applied to the front axle of a leaf-sprung vehicle (in the case of a vehicle with the shackle mounted at the rear of the leaf spring)? I’ve seen it on numerous vehicles, and though I am aware that there are conversion kits to flip the shackle over (to gain additional lift), I was curious as to its intended advantages in stock form.
Jason Rowley

leaf spring tension mount

(Editor John Cappa responds:) I call it a tension-mounted shackle. The main reason it exists is for stability. Not because the design is more stable, but because mounting the springs on the outside of the frame is more stable than mounting them closer together and under the frame. In any given situation, wider leaf-spring spacing will cause the vehicle to be more stable, but allows less articulation. This is especially important on load-carrying vehicles like pickups, where this design is common.

It also allows a longer, more arched leaf spring in a given area, which (when combined) helps improve vertical wheeltravel, ride comfort, and load capacity. A longer spring will generally ride and flex better than a shorter spring. A more arched spring will generally ride harsher than a flat spring, yet it will maintain shape and have a higher load capacity than the flat spring. So it’s a balance of these two.

It doesn’t really make sense to put this suspension design on a front axle for several reasons. The main reason is because of steering clearance (no room to mount the springs on the outside of the frame on most 4x4s) and because of ground clearance issues.

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Address your correspondence to: Four Wheeler, 831 S. Douglas St., El Segundo, CA 90245. All letters become the property of Four Wheeler, and we reserve the right to edit them for length, accuracy, and clarity. The editorial department can also be reached through the website at Due to the volume of mail, electronic and otherwise, we cannot respond to every reader, but we do read everything.

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