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October 2002 Letters To The Editor

Posted in Project Vehicles on October 1, 2002
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Where To Write
Address your correspondence to:
Four Wheeler
6420 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90048-5515.

All letters become the property of Four Wheeler, and we reserve the right to edit them for length, accuracy, and clarity. The editorial department also can be reached through the Web site at Due to the volume of mail, electronic or otherwise, we cannot respond to every reader, but we do read everything.

Shunning The 'ZU
Reader: I've been wondering for some time now why you continually shun the Isuzu. I thought I must have missed an article even though I've subscribed for several years. "Four Wheeler's 40 Favorite 4x4s" (June '02) confirmed my suspicion that you just don't cover this fine line of vehicles. My '98 Trooper, with just over 70,000 miles showing on its odometer, has hauled me and mine through dirt, sand, mud, some snow and ice and thousands of pounding interstate miles. One warranty repair fixed the rear-seat cup holder, and that's it, save for routine maintenance, tires and a battery. Fit and finish remain superb, and the Trooper delivers a solid 16 mpg around town and 19-20 mpg at 70-75 mph. I've had 4x4s since 1980 and this is the finest since my Scouts, one with a turbodiesel. In that time, I've regretted the purchases of a Jeep Cherokee, a Ford Explorer and a big GMC Jimmy. All were loaded with factory defects, all needed expensive repairs, and none made it past 40,000 miles before forcing me to ditch them. The Trooper has my vote for 4x4 of the year-any year.
Peter Wyckoff
Southport, North Carolina

Editor: Pete, we don't shun the Isuzu. In fact, we kinda have respect for 'em. It's just that none of the judges employed for our "Four Wheeler's 40 Favorite 4x4s" felt that any Isuzu's products, for all their quality, had exerted sufficient impact on four-wheeling to be named one of our 40 favorites.

Slippery Stuff
Reader: A while back you did a series on building small-block Chevy engines (Mar. '01). You mentioned using a preluber during assembly. I saved the article, but now that I'm looking for a preluber, I can't find one. Will you please advise me what type to use and where I can get it?
Ken McDowell
Elmer City, Washington

Editor: Sure thing. This is something we'd ordinarily send on to Willie Worthy, but as it happens, we can supply the answer, thanks to our pal Jeff Smith, editor of Chevy High Performance, who says this: "Crane, as in Crane Cams, should be able to provide you with what you need-check out for more information on this stuff. It's a little bottle of thick, red oil that sticks to the bearings very well, so that even if an engine sits for an extended period, the oil doesn't slide off of bearing surfaces. We think that Federal-Mogul may also sell a similar potion. It's not a moly paste-that nasty black stuff that comes in a tube. Don't use that anywhere except on a flat tappet lifter bottom and on cam lobes. Use the red stuff on bearings and regular engine oil on everything else." As to where to find it, it's tough for us to know who in your area might carry it. We'd shop the Web, and we'd check out the hot rod and performance shops, and places like NAPA Auto Parts stores.

Unsafe Cars, Unsafe Drivers
Reader: I just got the July issue of Four Wheeler and was reading Limited Articulation, and then Low Rage, and I noticed that Reese and Thompson were talking about a belief that trucks are unsafe. This really ticks me off because I think it's the other way around. I have been driving trucks for most of my life and I still have a clean license. I did have a little car for a little bit and I found that I was speeding and not paying attention to my driving because the car was too easy to drive and my mind didn't stay on driving. If the normal person can't drive these trucks properly, then they shouldn't get behind the wheel.
Jason Finstad
San Juan Bautista, California

Editor: Yep, we agree. It all comes down to driving skill, our willingness to be responsible drivers and the willingness of the authorities to be sure that the people they license to drive actually are fit to drive.

The Value Of Personal Responsibility
Reader: Jon Thompson and Ted Reese both hit the nail squarely with their comments in the July '02 Four Wheeler. Jon's friend Paul is typical of those who do not believe in personal responsibility. They want everybody to conform to their idea of what is right. Adding to Jon's comments, remember that NASCAR, Indy and Formula One cars will all roll over, given circumstances beyond the cars' limitations. The dangerous imbeciles are the Honda and BMW drivers who act as if their cars make them invulnerable to the laws of physics as they drive like the morons that they truly are. Equally stupid are the yuppie SUV drivers who drive as if they are in Porsches or Corvettes. Rollovers, and all other car accidents for that matter, are caused by drivers, not by the cars. Maybe next month I'll tell you what I really think.
Martin Goetsch
San Dimas, California

You Read What?
Reader: I recently read an article in Car and Driver about how companies in the automobile industry have been putting bigger, meaner engines in their high-dollar cars. Why hasn't anybody put these shiny new 500-plus-hp engines into the new trucks? I have become saddened to see that as time goes by, the only decent four-wheelers will be expensively modified new vehicles or the old trusted vehicles that are kept alive through constant work. I can't afford to buy a lift and larger axles for my '98 Dodge Ram, which I chose carefully for its solid axle and good stock tire clearance. I hope that you will do the best you can to steer the automakers into keeping some off-roadability in the vehicles, even if it's at the expense of on-road handling and comfort, and to adding power, even if it's at the expense of gas mileage. Call me old fashioned, but I think a 4x4 should be built to go four-wheeling.
Chris Kahl
Merced, California

Editor: "Quick, doctor, this man needs help! He's been reading one of those magazines that caters to drivers of BMWs, Hondas, Porsches, Corvettes and the like."

Fill In The Blank
Reader: OK, I'm sure you're going to be inundated with messages like this, so I'll give you what you expect: "Just read your '10 Best Classic 4x4s Revealed' in the July issue, and HOW could you [insert favorite dimwit reference here] leave out the [Name Your Favorite Vehicle here]?"

Seriously, it is rather incredible that, other than Mr. Aneiros (2nd), and Mr. Currie (7th), your panel of "experts" chose to totally deny the existence of the Jeep Cherokee XJ, an inexpensive vehicle that kept a basic design for 18 years, which freshly minted off the assembly line with no special enhancements, could actually hang a quick right and crawl over a mountain to "get to the other side," like one of those Jeep ads of the '90s.
Mike Giannone
Alexandria, New Jersey

Editor: Well, we've denied the existence of lots of things over the years-traffic tickets, when talking to our insurance agents; new parts, when talking to our wives; excess speed, when talking to traffic cops. So why should this be any different?

Thanks To Ted
Reader: Thank you, Ted Reese, for writing "Give Us Our Trucks Back," (July '02). I have loved my trucks for years because they are...well, trucks. I am also the person people come to asking what vehicles to buy, and I quit recommending trucks after one of my best friends bought his wife a new 4x4 Suburban. It made me sick to hear her talk about how it drove "just like a car." Yeah, if a car is 20 feet long and weighs 6,000 pounds. Put them back in station wagons.
Rich DeFrancisco
Wurtsboro, New York

Editor: Actually, they'd probably be much safer in station wagons, given the general level of driving skill out there means that folks seem to be willing to expect driving dynamics from pickups and SUVs that pickups and SUVs don't possess.

No Excuse For Ted
Reader: I really enjoyed your 40th anniversary issue, except for one section. Ted Reese's column had no business being in the magazine. He should be considered an embarrassment to an otherwise fine publication. My dad always said, "Ignorance is bliss." If this is true, then Mr. Reese should be the happiest man alive. Thank you for your time.

Editor: Ted is indeed a very happy man-never happier, in fact, than when he knows he's annoyed someone who disagrees with him. So you've made Ted's day.

Missing In Action
Reader: On the cover of the June '02 Four Wheeler, there's a Yukon wearing a lightbar that is said to be a Trailblazer piece. I have been looking for one of those for a few years but have been unable to find one. Do you have any info as to where those lightbars are sold and about how much they might cost?
R. Smith

Editor: We received several queries about this, so we looked high and low for Trailblazer. All we've been able to learn is that Trailblazer apparently no longer is in business. If indeed that's correct, we are unable to suggest another source for this lightbar.

Froggy Finds Friends
Reader: I just got the July '02 Four Wheeler. I am especially interested in homebuilt rigs like Mark Claus' Texas Frog. I would like to see more on this rig, as people with the creativity and engineering ability such as Mr. Claus are very rare. Anyone can take a stock vehicle and change it, but to start from scratch and build something out of odds and ends and make it work is a true talent. How rare is this kind of talent? How many true homebuilt rigs do you usually get to see? The pictures were small but it appears that Mr. Claus is also interested in more than function as the rig is finished quite well on the outside.
S.K. Hogg

Editor: We're happy that you liked the Texas Frog. Interestingly, there is a growing number of such vehicles appearing. One of them, in fact, is expected to compete in this year's Top Truck Challenge. To see it, and to see how it does, be sure to check our coverage starting this issue.

Reader: I noticed an error in the July '02 Four Wheeler, specifically the "Two-Second News" section. The article indicates that "the new version of the Power Stroke will be the only diesel engine to boast four valves per cylinder." To my knowledge the Cummins 5.9 offered in the Dodge Ram has been equipped with four valve heads since 1998.
John McHenry
Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Editor: And right you are. That was our mistake.

Happy Days!
Reader: The happiest day of the month for me is when I open my mailbox and find my shiny new issue of Four Wheeler staring me in the face. I can't wait to read what you have cooked up for my reading pleasure.

OK, that's over with, now time to complain-not about the staff or what they do or how they do it. I wish to complain about the folks who write to tell you how to do your jobs. I say three cheers for the staff at Four Wheeler. Great job with the magazine, guys. I will keep my subscription for another 10 years, at least.
Dave Hausauer

Four Wheeler's "Letter of the Month" is the most interesting or informative letter we receive each month. The letter's author will be sent one of Four Wheeler's highly prized Four Wheeler license plates. So be sure to include your full name and address when you write Four Wheeler.

Letter Of The Month
Parent Problems
Reader: I've been a regular reader of Four Wheeler for about two years, and I eagerly await each month's issue. So you may be surprised to learn that I'm very young compared to most of you. I just turned 16. Yet I'm obsessed with trucks, Jeeps and four-wheeling. Unfortunately, my parents are not. They're not against it. They're just not as hard-core as I am. This love of 'wheeling also is shared by some of my friends, and we find it increasingly hard to get our parents to let us go four-wheeling, and to let us buy stuff like tires, bumpers, winches and lifts. Can you suggest a possible cure for the parent problem?
Kirt Hine
Brentwood, Tennessee

Editor: Well, we'll try. First, those of us here with offspring are tickled to death when one of them wants to be engaged in what has to be one of the most wholesome activities around-especially when they earn the money they spend on it, and when they practice that activity in a safe, responsible, Tread Lightly! kind of way. With those elements in place, we think that what we'd do is plan a run. Nothing too risky or tough, just a good fun run to a beautiful spot, where you can stop and maybe enjoy a picnic lunch. Invite your parents to come with you. Keep after them until they can fit it into their schedules. While you're on the trail, keep the music turned down, make sure they stay buckled up, and make sure they follow, as you do, all the usual rules of the trail-you know, pick up trash you see, and at break time, men on the left, women on the right, and so on. When you approach obstacles, talk to them about what you're doing, and why. Let them see how much fun four-wheeling is, and how dedicated you are to doing it properly. Teach them about the activity. Get 'em to spot for you, and to help out when you get stuck. In other words, get them involved. We think that might help. At least we hope it will.

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