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June 2008 4x4 Tech Questions - Nuts & Bolts

Fred Williams
| Brand Manager, Petersen’s 4Wheel & Off Road
Posted June 1, 2008

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Confused? E-mail your questions about trucks, 4x4s, and off-roading tech using "nuts, i'm confused" as the subject and include a picture (if it's applicable). Digital photos must measure no less than 1600 x 1200 pixels (or two megapixels) and be saved as a TIFF, an EPS, or a maximum-quality JPEG file. Also, I'll be checking the forums on our Web site (, and if i see a question that i think more of you might want to have answered, i'll print that as well. Otherwise drop it old-school style with the envelope addressed to the address below. Letters published in this magazine reflect the opinions of the writers, and we reserve the right to edit letters for clarity, brevity, or other purposes.

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Nuts & bolts
4-Wheel & Off-Road
6420 Wilshire blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90048-5515
fax 323.782.2704.


Question: The Dodge Power Wagon has AAM 9.25 and AAM 10.5 axles and i'm trying to find differential covers that can take a beating for these axles. i heard that a gM 14-bolt cover will fit the AAM 10.5 axle. is this true? The only diff covers i have been able to find are aluminum. Can you help me?
Jesse Bulter

Answer: We worked with Fab Fours (866.385.1905, when we built our ultimate Adventure Rubi Wagon Jeep that was fitted with Power Wagon axles, and they made a great set of differential covers. The covers we got were prototypes and made from 1/4-inch steel plate, but i'm sure if enough people called and asked for some tough Dodge diff covers, they might go into production. by the way, the rear cover is different from the one on a gM corporate 14-bolt.

Question: I have a '77 Ford bronco, and I would like to add a lift kit to clear 36-inch tires. What would be the benefit to running a coilover system up front as opposed to replacing the current coils with taller ones? Would the coilovers be a better setup for running trails? i don't plan on running anything too crazy, but would like the option occasionally. I would also like it to be driveable on the streets although i have a tow rig to get it to and from the trails.
Chris Baumann

Answer: Every day I see more coilover shocks on the trail and there is one major reason to swap from coils with external shocks to coilover shocks: performance. Most coilover shocks are extremely tunable to the weight, driving style, and trail conditions your truck sees by changing springs and shock valving. Since they are a single unit, mounting them is easier as they do not require a separate coil and shock mount that then would need to be coordinated so the shock and spring travel would be comparable. However, coilover shocks are much more expensive than a separate coil and shock, and i have seen many broken when the suspension travel wasn't controlled, mounting the shocks was done incorrectly, or when link joints broke and the axle twisted, thus destroying the coilover. if you like to fine-tune your ride for optimum performance and are willing to take the time to do so, then coilovers are for you. but if you just want a simple, rugged, affordable suspension that will work, and you don't have time or interest to dial in the suspension, then stick with the coils and shocks for now.

Question: I recently started to look for a set of bead-lock rims for my project truck. not to my surprise they want your first-born child on trade for a set. is there a cheaper alternative that i'm not aware of? Somebody recently told me to shoot self-tapping screws into the bead. Is there any truth in that method?
Matt l.

Answer: Drag racers have long been using wheel screws such at those offered by Moroso (203.458.0542, Pn 90100) in order to keep the wheel from spinning inside the tire during extreme acceleration. However, these are for a car that is going in a straight line, and the tires on your 4x4 receive most of their abuse from side loads. Wheel screws will not hold the bead of a tire nearly as well as a bead lock that clamps the bead, and i'd never recommend screwing a bunch of screws into your new off-road tires. i'd say run your tires on non-bead-locked rims at a slightly higher pressure and save up to get a proper set of bead locks rather than drill and tap a bunch of screws into your wheels.

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