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July 2006 4x4 News - RPM

Posted in Project Vehicles on July 1, 2006
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With Ford having undergone a major restructuring, we have learned that old programs are constantly being re-evaluated and that there is an outside chance of the Bronco concept, first shown in 2004, actually seeing the light of day. Any version of the concept to make production would most likely be built off an existing platform, and feature an SLA front suspension with a solid rear axle. A hose-it-out interior, lever actuated transfer case, and a removable top would stay true to the Bronco's roots. A revived Bronco, like the original, would focus on four-wheelability and affordability, while eschewing the luxury appointments for back-to-basics, rugged transportation, and function. It is time again to let Ford know how important it is to return to this market. Start sending those e-mails ...

Last month we teased you with the upcoming 6.7L Cummins ISB, which will debut in the '07 Dodge Ram. This month, we have solid new information about the new 6.4L Power Stroke V-8, which will bow in the freshened '07 Ford Super Duty trucks. The 6.4L V-8 Power Stroke has a new dual turbocharger setup, similar to the 4.5L V-6 Power Stroke, with a smaller low-pressure turbo, feeding a larger high-pressure one. The new engine also switches over to a high-pressure common-rail fuel-injection system, which allows for quicker response and better acceleration. At its peak, sound levels are reduced about 10 to 12 percent for a quieter ride and idle. Part of this is due to the injectors being located inside the valve covers, and thanks to technologies such as the particulate filter, exhaust emissions are reduced about 90 percent and the engine will meet the emissions requirements for all 50 states. Our sources tell us that the Power Stroke will make somewhere around 350 hp and 650 lb-ft of torque.

Xplorer Motor Homes, a small independent manufacturer of the nationally known four-wheel-drive Xplorer Xcursion and Xplorer Xtreme, has been in continuous production for 35 years. The upgraded version of the '06 Xcursion consists of a seamless "yacht mold" fiberglass shell fitted perfectly to various chassis as selected by the customer. The traditional Ford F-550 will be a traditional choice, while other chassis options will include the Ford F-750, Dodge 3500 Dualie, Chevy C5500, International CXT, and other larger configurations. The new Xplorers are powered by diesel fuel, which also can operate the cook top, water heater, and furnace, eliminating the need for propane. For those consumers who still want to use propane, it will be an option. Standard lengths will be 22 1/2, 26 1/2, and 27 1/2 feet. Check them out at

Those who read the April issues of our sister pubs 4-Wheel & Off-Road or Off Road may be a bit confused about how a snatch block can be used. Well, be confused no more. You can count on Four Wheeler to sort out your winch cable facts after our stepsister magazines left you wondering.

A pulley is one of the six "simple machines" that have been around since shortly after dirt, a subject on which geology-savvy 4WOR editor Rick Pw is very well educated. A snatch block is a variation on the simple pulley, allowing easier handling of the cable, but still just a one dimensional simple machine.

Ignoring frictional losses, using a snatch block does indeed double the power of your winch, if the cable is hooked back to the winching vehicle. Actually, you don't even need a winch to use the force enhancing qualities of a snatch block. If your buddy is stuck, attach a cable to a stationary object (a tree, rock, or vehicle), run it through a snatch block attached to your stuck friend's vehicle, and then double it back to your vehicle, keeping the two sections of cable as parallel as possible. When you drive off, you'll pull on the stuck vehicle with twice as much force as if you'd pulled with a single line hooked directly between the two vehicles.

In both of these examples, it's simply ultra-basic physics at work, but perhaps the easiest way to grasp the concept is to look at the speed of the process. When using a pulley to double the pulling power, you'll have to reel in twice as much cable as with a direct pull, so it'll take twice as long to pull an object a given distance. Since the winch, or vehicle, is still pulling at the same speed and with the same force, the result is a doubling of the pulling power. It's much like shifting into low range, trading speed for power.

By the way, the other five simple machines are the wheel and axle, wedge, screw, lever, and inclined plane. Pretty basic stuff, all of which were in use centuries before DaVinci tried to decode his bank statements.

Four-Wheelers Gear Up For U.S. Senate Debate On ESA
As Congress reconvenes in 2006, the OHV community, land developers, and environmental groups are gearing up for the much-anticipated debate over the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The SAN has made passage of a reform bill a legislative priority. Since it was enacted in 1973, the ESA has eliminated access to millions of acres of land, including many roads and trails responsibly enjoyed by off-highway (OHV) enthusiasts, while providing little benefit for species. One example of how the ESA impacts four-wheelers is that a recreation area can be closed to all motorized users while it is determined if an animal or plant is endangered or threatened. With respect to private land, control of the property is limited once the animal or plant is officially listed. While triggering land closures, however, the law has failed to achieve the goal of preserving species. Only 1 percent of the 1,300 species listed have ever been removed from the list. The SAN supports common-sense reforms to protect species without unnecessarily depriving the OHV community of recreational opportunities.

A great deal of progress was achieved in 2005. The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bipartisan bill (HR 3824) introduced by House Resources Committee Chairman Richard Pombo (R-CA). The bill would overhaul the existing process for designating endangered species. A key piece of the proposal would replace existing critical habitat requirements-one of the more contentious areas of the existing law and a frequent source of lawsuits-with recovery habitats. These recovery habitats would have fewer legal restrictions and be linked to the species recovery planning process. The bill also calls for compensating private property owners for land-use restrictions due to an endangered species. Other features of the bill include the use of the best available scientific data in determining species status, expanding the role of state and local governments in the decision-making process, and increasing the openness and accountability of the agencies involved in the designation process.

The Senate is now poised to act in 2006. Legislation (S 2110) has been introduced to lengthen the period of time federal authorities have to consider listing a species for protection and to give tax credits (rather than direct compensation) to land owners who enter into agreements to conserve listed species. More reform legislation is expected later this winter and there will be a push for lawmakers to hold hearings and pass the bills. SEMA/SAN is also working with the Off-Road Business Association (ORBA) and the BlueRibbon Coalition in this effort.

'Wheelers lose round in fight to restore access to California dunes
In a blow to Southern California four-wheelers, a federal judge struck down a plan by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to allow four wheeling on large sections of the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area that were originally closed in 2000. The court ruled that the BLM violated the Endangered Species Act and other federal laws in proposing to reopen approximately 49,000 acres in four areas of the desert dunes to dune buggies and other all-terrain vehicles. In its ruling, the court stated that BLM relied on a flawed report from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service which concurred that the dunes could be reopened without "jeopardizing" the existence of the Peirson's milk-vetch, an abundant desert plant which was placed on the endangered species list in 1998. The court ordered all parties to file briefs by March 28 outlining potential uses for the closed portions of the dunes. While SEMA supports a balanced approach between land access and conservation, it is disappointed that the court did not accord more deference to the federal agencies that are best suited to determine which areas of the dunes should be open for public access.

* Ford has resurrected the Hemi-fighting 6.2L Hurricane engine program.
* The Government is said to be testing the new International MXT as a possible Hummer replacement.

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