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Reader: I have been a subscriber for a very long time, and I currently subscribe to six mags that fall under the Primedia family. I love them all, look forward to each mag with anticipation, and read every one of them from cover to cover. I even purchase every DVD you guys send me! Addiction only begins to describe my love of four-wheeling.
So, here is my question: How do I get on your radar? What I mean is, I've spent the last 12 months building an '87 YJ for Top Truck Challenge. I don't want to be just another application fed into the machine. I moved from New Jersey to Arizona just for better four-wheeling, and to introduce more wheelin' time into the quality of my life. I feel that the modifications to my truck would be considered good ones, and would like to be challenged. I am not asking for anything more then any other loyal subscriber, but there has to be an inside route to get invited into the fold. Please help!
via the Internet
Editor: We hate to break the news to you, but there's only one way to get to Hollister-by the votes of your fellow readers. Unfortunately, the deadline for entering for Top Truck 2006 has already passed, so you'll need to wait until later this year, when we publish our entry form in the magazine. 'Til then, wait for our April '06 issue, when we'll have our 2006 Top Truck entrants ready for your approval.
Reader: Now that gas prices are going up and SUV sales are heading down (building an SUV may no longer be the closest thing to being able to print your own money), perhaps it is time to rethink your (Jeep's) marketing and design strategies to better address your core market. I have owned three Jeeps over the years, the latest being '94 and '00 Grand Cherokees.
The latest redesign of the GC (in 2005, I believe) sports a wider and longer body than my '00, and the ground clearance numbers have suffered as a result. The '06 GC has breakover, approach, and departure angles that are each about 2 degrees less than my '00. Likewise, ground clearance is a little over ?? inch less. Regardless of Jeep calling the new Grand "Trail Rated," these numbers are not going in the right direction for trail driving. As gas prices go up, people who buy SUVs for driving only around town and on the highway are more likely to choose another type of vehicle when they buy their next car. I myself (and I suspect other four-wheelers as well) will still be looking for another trail machine even in the face of stiffer fill-up costs. Unless Jeep reverses course in time, when it comes time for me to replace my GC, I'll be looking at Hummer H3s, Land Rovers, and Toyota 4Runners.
Editor: Don't sell the new Grand Cherokee short based on specs alone. Granted, it's more pavement-biased than previous versions, but it's still fairly trailable in stock trim-our sister pub 4-Wheel & Off-Road liked it so much last year, they named it 4x4 of the Year for 2005. And trust us, Editor Rick Pewe and his boys subject their test vehicles to some severe-duty 'wheeling before they hand out the hardware.
But if you're in the market for another 4x4 and you want some expert opinions, you've come to the right place. Wanna see how the newest offerings from Hummer, Land Rover, and Toyota fare this year? Check out our 2006 Four Wheeler of the Year test on page 32.
Reader: I recently read your article about Project Nismo Frontier. I have been seriously considering getting a Nismo myself and was greatly pleased when I saw this project. I went to Stillen's Web site to find out more info about the leveling blocks you used and to see what other accessories they have. I was surprised to see that, in the info for the leveling blocks, it stated not to use them with the Nismo. I was wondering why that was? Also, if they aren't recommended, why did you go ahead and install them?
Milton, PA (currently in Iraq)
Editor: Project Nismo Frontier guru Robin Stover replies: According to the folks in Stillen R&D, the leveling kits will work with the Nismo vehicles. The confusion arose from variations that existed between a pre-production vehicle we were working with and subsequent production vehicles. We thought it was Nismo-specific, but according to Stillen, the leveling kits will work on all Frontiers.
On a related note: We did hear some complaints about the 2-inch kits, with the suspension hitting hard on the A-arms during heavy use. The new kits have been reduced in height to accommodate this, while still maintaining the leveling effect of the product.
Reader: I'm writing in regard to your project Teal-J II (Part XII, Oct. '05). Now that you've bulletproofed the axles and have put together a pretty capable rockcrawler, I can't help but think someone made a poor choice of wheels and tires that were just installed. It seems like an oxymoron to install all-terrains and 18-inch wheels on something built for extreme wheeling. I feel 18-inch wheels increase your chances for sidewall and rim damage. All-terrains greatly reduce traction on the type of rocks, snow, and mud we have in California. If you have to tow the Jeep, I suggest you get yourself a trailer and mount some Iroks or Mud Grapplers on the Jeep.
Also, I couldn't help but wonder what that axle job would cost if one were to have that work done by a shop. I sure wish you could give an idea of the hours of labor and retail cost of the parts when you do these types of articles. Other than that, thanks for the great mag and keep up the good work!
Editor: Ah, the old "18s versus the world" argument again. In general, we've always felt that as long as your tire diameter is (at least) twice the diameter of your rim, you've still got enough usable sidewall for all but the most radically-aired-down trail use. In our case, we mounted 37x13.50s on our 18s with bead locks, so we considered ourselves safe. And to date, we've had no tire problems 'wheeling the Teal over all manner of rocky trails throughout the Southwest.
As far as tire type goes, well, one of the great things about our projects is that they give us ability to swap new setups in and out as the years pass, be they suspension kits, engine mods, or wheels and tires. Rest assured, we'll be testing different treads on the Teal in the future.
We don't list prices as a rule in our project stories due to the variables involved, which would include things like the amount of custom work needed to complete the installation and/or the level of shop mechanic expertise.
Reader: I just picked up the November '05 issue in the PX. I'm a medic with a cavalry unit based in Baghdad, and we've been over here for about 8 months now. Reading about 'wheeling and wrenching on trucks helps us cope with our projects (mine's a '70 K-5), being halfway across the planet. I've been reading Four Wheeler for years and have learned a lot from your tech articles and been inspired by many of your features, so it pains me a bit to have to offer a bit of criticism regarding the story "Number 1 ... With a Bullet" by Jerry Garrett.
While I appreciated the coverage of what we're doing over here in Iraq, I do feel the need to point out a few major inaccuracies in Mr. Garrett's story. The first and most glaring one, while a bit of a technicality, is inexcusable. Humvees do not have a 2-Hi position. Any Humvee driving around in two-wheel drive is broken. The transfer case in Humvees is full-time, with a Hi-Lock and Low-Lock position in addition to the normal, unlocked 4-Hi. The M1114 is slow, yes, but compared to the older 6.2 non-turbocharged versions, it's a total hot rod.
Soldiers in Iraq carry the weapons they are issued. It's not a matter of "liking" to carry a 9mm pistol-if you are issued an M9, you carry it. TC stands for "Tank Commander"-if you're in a tank. Artillery units do not have tanks. They have self-propelled guns. TC also stands for "Track Commander" if you're commanding a non-tank tracked armored vehicle, or "Truck Commander" if you're in the right front seat of a truck, be it a HMMWV, LMTV, HEMTT, or even the old 211/42-ton and 5-ton trucks.
We have not retreated behind anything. Our FOBs are just the secured areas where we go when it's time to re-arm, refuel, or get some sleep. Maybe the soldiers to whom Mr. Garrett spoke only leave the wire to go on convoys, but we're out there every day pulling all manner of missions.
We had an embedded reporter at one point as well, and he got a lot of things wrong. I'm not sure how they do it, but in the quest for the great Pulitzer-prize-winning article, they lose sight of the basic truths and details of the reality over here, and many bring a lot of preconceptions with them. Mr. Garrett seemed to be more interested in pushing a certain political or philosophical agenda than telling the story of the soldiers with whom he spent his time or discussing the equipment they were using. Despite learning little about the M1114, I did learn that Mr. Garrett doesn't think much of the war in Iraq, nor does he seem to have an especially high opinion of the private security contractors (his "soldiers of fortune") that spend most of their time protecting Iraqi officials and international diplomats.
All of us in Iraq are grateful for your support, and we appreciate the attention given us by publications such as Four Wheeler, but I speak for more than one soldier when I say that we would prefer the attention be a little less biased and a little more accurate. Please take this criticism as it is intended-to point out some errors and inaccuracies that are only glaring in comparison to the rest of your fine magazine. I know that I am not the only soldier who will continue to enjoy Four Wheeler as often as I can find a copy in the PX. Thank you for keeping us in mind.
SPC Adam Smith
FOB Falcon, Iraq
Reader: I read the "Number 1 ... With a Bullet" article today. Good article, and I'm glad that you guys took the opportunity to go "over there" and see what life was really like and how the vehicles protect our troops. Considering that I am about to head over for my second tour, it makes me feel more comfortable that we have the best equipment that money can buy, finally.
What I am concerned about is the last few paragraphs of the article. I believe that the truth about what's happening should get out. I believe that there should be few secrets about what goes on, except ...
In the article, when you mentioned about how "she had third degree burns over 100 percent of her body. She was just laying there in the road burning. We got out a body bag ..." What happens if her parents, husband, or other loved ones read this? Come on, there has got to be some common sense used here. How would you feel if you knew that your daughter was burning on the ground and no one was able to help her? How would you feel knowing that your daughter's last few hours on this earth were spent in the worst possible agony that one could face? What were you thinking when you printed this? Do you have any idea how much it hurts to have a 3rd-degree burn?
I am a registered nurse. My first tour was spent in the 47th Combat Support Hospital at Camp Wolf, Kuwait. I have cared for our sick and wounded. I had about two weeks of post-licensure nursing experience under my belt when I was called. I have had horribly wounded soldiers asking me if they would walk again. I had a young soldier asking me whether or not he would be able to see again, when it was obvious to anyone who saw him that he would not. What would you have told him?
Please, please use some care when printing stories about Iraq. Yes, that aid worker's death was, and still is, public knowledge. What she went through in the moments before her death does not have to be revealed for the sake of her family. Should something like this happen to me, I would just want my family to know that I had died honorably and in the line of duty. Any more than that and it would be too much. Thank you for this consideration of our live, dead, and wounded service members and their families.
1LT(P) Michael Saulibio
Editor: Douglas McColloch replies: I gave a lot of thought to the passage you mention-and please accept my apologies for any offense it may have caused to our readers-but after much reflection, I decided to let it appear in the magazine as Jerry Garrett wrote it. I knew I was running the risk of being labeled "insensitive"-which wouldn't be the first time, and it certainly won't be the last-but in the end, I thought it better to be considered insensitive and let Jerry report what he saw and heard, than be criticized in hindsight for sanitizing or sugarcoating what is, at its core, an inescapably bloody and gruesome subject.
Regarding the claim of a "political agenda" on Jerry's part, I'd respectfully have to disagree. We have a healthy diversity of political views amongst our staff-ranging from liberal-libertarian to Bush-hugging conservative-and none of us could detect any discernible political bias in his reporting. It's one of the things that most impressed us about the story, and it's another reason why I decided to run it verbatim as delivered.
And as far as the obvious goofs you point out-such as the 2-Hi transfer case and the correct military nomenclatures-we're properly chastised, and happy to stand corrected. Thanks to all for writing.
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