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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 www.fourwheeler.com. Due to the volume of mail, electronic and otherwise, we cannot respond to every reader, but we do read everything.
Reader: Regarding Ken Brubaker's column on the Dodge Ram ("Battering Ram," June '05): He may be a nerd, but he's no math nerd. A stock independent suspension ramping an 882? With the back wheel, like, 5 feet from the ramp? The Power Wagon only ramps, like, 550 or something like that. Then the 1500 almost ramps a thousand with the back wheels nowhere near the ramp. Weird! I just scratched my head and turned the page.
However, I digress. The only reason that I spot this kind of thing is because I read your magazine from cover to cover. So you should be proud to have someone like me who hangs on your every page but isn't afraid to offer a little criticism. Keep churning out the pages, but do us all a favor and buy Ken a calculator.
Editor: A calculator is on its way to the Midwest Bureau. Those RTI numbers should've been, er, 427 and 462, respectively. As a reminder, Ramp Travel Index is calculated by measuring the distance driven up the ramp in inches, divided by the vehicle's wheelbase, then multiplied by 1,000. It's kind of like a batting average of suspension travel.
And yes, we appreciate readers like you, Justin, so don't be afraid to keep us honest. We'll always savor the taste of shoe leather when we've got it coming.
Reader: I'm serving in the Air Force, stationed in Alaska. I own a '99 Dodge Durango with the 5.8L V-8 under the hood. There are only so many places here you can take a stock 4x4. I'm looking for a 4- to 6-inch quality lift. Can you point me in the right direction?
Editor: There's not a whole lot to choose from, but basically, anything that's made for Dakotas of the same vintage will work for your Durango. We know that Superlift and Tuff Country both make lift kits for your vehicle; there may be others out there, too. Check out the suspension advertisements in the magazine, do a little Web surfing (we Googled "Durango lift kit" for a start), and spend some time talking to the tech support people at the respective manufacturers to find out what kit will work best for your kind of 'wheeling.
Reader: Your magazine is one of the most informational magazines on shelves today. I read your magazine everywhere, and most of the time I can't get enough. The one thing I have found of interest is the constant bashing of IFS. As an owner of trucks with both IFS and solid-axle frontends, I have found advantages in both. There is no doubt that when it comes to rockcrawling, a solid axle has the advantage, but in most other applications, I find my IFS does a much better job. Although it doesn't have the articulation you find with a solid front, I can get better traction in deep trail ruts and when managing steep inclines. Aside from the advantage that IFS also rides nicer and behaves a lot better on pavement, hands down-which I think is where most of us tend to put the most miles.
In your Hummer Alpha review (July '05), it is noted that both front and rear suspensions are independent. If it is so bad on the trail, why is the H1 one of the most capable vehicles in the world? I would love to be involved with a project that would pit IFS and solid front axles head to head, and settle any confusion as is to which is better.
Editor: We think you may have us confused with another 4x4 magazine. You certainly won't get any argument from us over the benefits of IFS for certain types of wheeling-not to mention daily driving, which is where we, like you, suspect the majority of four-bys log most of their miles. Comparing solid axles versus IFS, though, would be kind of an apples/oranges debate, as they each excel in different milieus. And while it's generally true that solid-axle setups have been traditionally easier to modify, a plethora of new IFS suspension kits from the aftermarket-not to mention growing acceptance of IFS among 'wheelers-is gradually changing the way folks look at IFS four-bys.
Still, the Hummer H1 is something of an anomaly among IFS rigs, inasmuch as it's designed for improved ground clearance and lower gearing (via outboard hub reduction gears) rather than for smooth on-road ride and handling. Also remember that the H1 comes with a few tricks-such as on-the-fly tire-inflation system and front and rear lockers-that most other IFS trucks don't get from the factory.
And if you still don't think that we support IFS, watch for "Project Range Runner," which will be getting a long-travel suspension.
Reader: Here is some information for Ned Bacon's "Project TraiLex" that you may find useful. Here in Ireland, there is a Land Cruiser 120-series that looks like the Lexus 470. It has a 3.0L diesel engine, and it has a 4.30:1 differential as standard for the clam-type-housing front diff. I do not know the size of the ring gear, but here are some Toyota part numbers to check out.
Gearset 3.91:1...PN 41201-80195
Gearset 4.10:1...PN 41201-80196
Gearset 4.30:1...PN 41201-80197
There is an 8-inch 4.88:1 reverse-cut gearset available from Toyota, and it was in the front axle of the Land Cruiser LJ70 series:
Gearset 4.88:1...PN 41214-60011
There is also an ARB Locker for this diff.
I have one of these high-pinion, reverse-cut gear diffs in my garage, so they do exist, but I don't know if the gears are a fit for the clam-type housing of the Lexus 470. Good luck with the project.
Reader: I was looking at that Tacoma lift kit in "What's New" (June '05). When I tried to call the company that makes it, though ... well, I think you guys listed a wrong number. Or am I just a klutz with a touch-tone phone?
Editor: You're right, we goofed. The correct number for All Pro Off Road is 951/658-7077. Apologies to all for any inconveniences.