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April 2013 Nuts & Bolts - Tech Questions

Posted in How To on April 1, 2013
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Photographers: 4-Wheel & Off-Road archives

Question x Question x Question
Q I have an early Bronco with a tired 302 engine in it. I want more cubes, but I cannot decide if I should rebuild the 302 into a 347 stroker or just get a 351, since it would be cheaper. And if I do go 351, should I get a Windsor or a Cleveland motor? And will they bolt right in place of my 302?
Ford Fanatic

A You want cubes? Have you considered a Rubik’s? These colorful cubes allow you to customize them to your own design. They are not a 302 or 347, but more like a set of 54 colored squares forming one cube, but they also have larger cubes with 94 and 150 colored squares. I’m pretty sure none are made by the Queen in Windsor Castle or a factory in Cleveland.

Q I got me one of them new Jeep Wrangler Unlimiteds, and it is great! I put skidplates and bumpers on it, with a fullsize spare and a Hi-Lift on the back and a winch and driving lights on the front. I even fit 35-inch tires with the new 4-inch lift I bought. I only have one problem. This thing is a dog now! The mileage is horrible, and it cannot get out of its own way, even after I had the differentials regeared to 4.88. What can I do?
Pete the Jeep Dood

A I think you have one of them new Jeeps with that fancy hill descent control. I assume it thinks you are always going downhill and for some reason is applying the brakes to slow you down. My advice is larger front tires, say, 42s. This will make the Jeep think it is going uphill and the hill descent control will be shut off forever. Plus, since it thinks it’s climbing a hill it will rev up the engine and you’ll in turn go faster. It seems complicated, but it’s really not. Next question please!

4Runner Behind
Q I just purchased a ’94 Toyota 4Runner that I want to use off-road. No hardcore rock climbing, just exploring the backcountry. I like to travel and plan to flat-tow the 4Runner behind my Winnebago. It does not have manual hubs in the front, but it is a five-speed and I can put both the transmission and transfer case in neutral. Is that my best option for flat towing? I don’t really want to have to roll around on the ground and disconnect the driveshafts every time I tow it. Thanks in advance for the help.

A You are making this all very complicated. I can tell you from my personal experience that towing some pile of junk behind a sweet old Winnebago isn’t worth its weight in pie. And everyone knows I like pie. Have no fear, I have a solution to your silly question.

First you need to get a torch or plasma cutter and cut the transfer case off the back of your 4Runner’s transmission. Second, install this transfer case in your Winnebago. Next, weld in a bunch of big axles (two is good, but three would be better). Now order driveshafts from Big Richard Longshaft’s Driveline Services (I couldn’t find the phone number online, but gosh, a bunch of other weird stuff sure did pop up when I googled the name!), preferably those with University joints at either end. Before you know it your Winnebago will be a full-blown exploring off-road mud machine. But it definitely won’t do any hardcore rockcrawling, which for some reason you said you didn’t want to do in the first place. Bye bye.

Eighty-Two Seventy Forever
Q I just bought a Warn 8274 winch off of Craigslist. How do I rebuild it?
Winchless Wagner

A A Warn 8274 is the Chuck Norris of winches. It doesn’t need rebuilding. In fact, it will rebuild you, and you will like it. I bet that winch can grow a better beard than you as well. By the way, you didn’t buy that winch; that winch let you pay its previous servant to allow you to now transport it on your 4x4. Lucky you.

Yes to Big-Blocks!
Q You asked a few months back if we liked big-blocks, and I am here to say yes, I do! Big-blocks are great.
Big-Block Lover

A Wow, your mom and dad really named you Big-Block Lover? Then asking you if you liked big-blocks was a totally stupid thing for me to do, because by birthright you would be almost required to love them, eh? I’m sorry I did something so stupid. Thanks for your letter.

Q I have a ’94 two-door Cherokee that I have modified with a 5-inch long arm lift, 33-inch Super Swampers, and a rear Lock-Rite. Most of my friends have YJs and TJs with similar modifications, except for one major one. They can take the top off! Not only is this nice on those warm New Mexico summer days, but it also keeps them from getting body damage on some of the tight canyon trails that we run.

I want to cut the top off of my Cherokee, but I have a couple of concerns. The biggest is what sort of reinforcements I need to do to the unibody so it doesn’t fold up like a taco shell. Also, do you know of a way I could keep the top but just make it removable? Or maybe a soft top? The Cherokee is not my daily driver, but I don’t have a tow rig so I still drive it to and from the trails.
Roger H.

A No, I have no idea how to do what you are asking. But you mentioned tacos and those sound good. I’ll take three, with a side of rice and beans.

Wet Explained
Q I have heard that wet tires are easier to slice on the trail, but I have never heard a good explanation of why this is. Is this true of both radial and bias-ply tires? And why?
Soggy Pants

A When it is wet outside, people drive like total idiots. I see them spinning around and doing donuts on the highway all the time in the rain. Eventually they crash into guardrails or ditches. And when you drive like an idiot you are bound to slash your tires. Don’t be an idiot while driving in the rain. It’s not safe.

40 for Ford?
Q I have a fullsize Ford on 40-inch tires with a healthy 460 engine. I am twisting splines on my current 35-spline axleshafts in my Dana 60 and want to step up to 40-spline. What are my options for differentials? Can I use components from my current ARB Air Locker to save some money? Who makes 40-spline axleshafts for a full-floating Dana 60? It is important to me that the axle shafts are made in the USA.
FoMoCo Loco

A I cannot agree with you more. I also like stuff made in America, like Twinkies and Tastykakes. Actually, I like Tastykakes more than Twinkies. And since Twinkies have gone out of business and Tastykakes are still going strong, I guess that there is no question that I am right. I assume that answered whatever it was you were wondering. You’re welcome.

Brake Mistakes
Q I have a ’69 GMC short bed with a Dana 44 in front and a 12-bolt in the rear. Currently it has drum brakes at all four corners, and I have to toss an anchor out the window in order to get it to stop the 35-inch mudders. I want to add disc brakes to at least the front, but I am not sure of the best way to go about it. Should I add them to my current closed-knuckle axle or swap out the whole axle for a later-model Dana 44? What else will I need? I get overwhelmed with residual valves and proportioning valves, brake boosters and master cylinders. Do I need buy all of these additional parts?
Marc Shaw

A You get overwhelmed?! Try being me sometime. I get overwhelmed by people asking me questions about stuff I have no answer for! I get letters every month from someone like you asking for something about their something or other, and sometimes I just have to say, “Whaatevah! Just do something! Even if it’s wrong.”

Tube Car Answers
Q It seems like a lot of the tube cars in your magazine use coilover or air shocks instead of a traditional leaf spring or coil spring. What is the advantage to using a coilover instead of a coil spring and separate shock, like I have on my Range Rover? What about air springs? Are they better yet?

A Well, tube cars are not required to follow the laws of physics. Tube cars answer to a higher law, where they can do things that non-tube cars could never do. The same way tube cars can climb waterfalls, traverse boulder fields, and bounce across mud holes, they can also run different shocks and coils.

Nuts, I’m Confused
Q I left Reno for Moab at 8 a.m. traveling east at 65 mph. My friend left Albuquerque at 10 a.m. traveling east at 80 mph. Who will arrive in Moab first?
Silent Brian
P.S. Extra credit: Where will they meet on the road?

A You will arrive first because your friend lives east of Moab so if he travels east he will have to encircle the globe in order to catch up to you before arriving at Moab. Since you only have 700 miles to go at 65 mph it will take you about 11 hours. This will require him increasing his speed significantly. I think the world is about 7,926 miles around at the equator, but since he has no reason to go to the equator he’ll probably take a shorter route, so we’ll say maybe about 6000 miles, and that may require him to go almost 550 mph to get to Moab before you. Of course, there are certain states that don’t allow towing at that speed, so he may need to drive even faster to average that speed in the long run.

I think your question is very helpful to all the great readers of this magazine, so I’m going to split this month’s Nuts, I’m Confused prize between you and all the other people who wrote in. Lucky for you this month’s prize is $1 million of my own money that I’m giving to you!!! Lucky for me this is the April issue. April Fools!

Submission Information
Confused? Email 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 website (, 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. Write to: Nuts & Bolts, 4-Wheel & Off-Road, 831 S. Douglas St., El Segundo, CA 90245 fax to: 310.531.9368 Email to:

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