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December 2006 Letters To The Editor

Posted in Project Vehicles on December 1, 2006
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Address your correspondence to:
Four Wheeler
6420 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90048.

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 and otherwise, we cannot respond to every reader, but we do read everything.

Reader: Hmm, 4x2s playing with 4x4s ("Letter of the Month," Sept. '06)? I've been down this road in my mind many times. I even had a two-wheel-drive truck that I thought might be fun to fix up a bit. I never did, though, and here is the reason why:

There once was a place here in Utah where I loved to go 'wheeling my 4x4 Toyota. It was a road/trail that you could travel clear to the end and rarely spin a tire-in four-wheel drive. I noticed over time that this road was getting increasingly torn up between visits. It baffled me. What could be the cause? Then one day I was 'wheeling and came across a 4x2 beating the snot out of his truck-and tearing the road up to boot. Point? This road was gated and closed a short time later.

If you have four-wheel drive, use it! If you don't, you need to Tread Lightly!-or stay off the trail.
Bill Ward

Reader: In your last long-term report of the Toyota Tacoma (Sept. '06) you mentioned your desire for a hybrid Tacoma. According to what I've heard, Toyota will have a hybrid in each of their model lines by 2010. Whether this will include their trucks, we'll have to wait and see ... so it may be coming!
Paul Yelk

Editor: We, too, have heard the recent rumors floating about a Tacoma hybrid, possibly for model year 2010 as you mention. On the other hand, our last conversations with Toyota product planners left us with the impression that a hybrid pickup truck wasn't high on their priority list for the near future ... so as you say, we'll have to wait and see.

Reader: Great magazine! I own an '01 Ford F-250 diesel with a 12-inch lift and 40-inch tires. I'm trying to figure out what axle gears I should install. I will be towing a trailer.

Editor: Here's the simple formula: Divide your new tire diameter by your old tire diameter. Then take that number, and multiply it by your current gear ratio. The result is approximately the new ratio you'll need ... and what are you gonna tow with a 12-inch lift, anyway?

Reader: I wanted to know what upcoming issue of your magazine will feature the 2006 Real Truck Club Challenge, and when the video will be released?
Mary Colangelo

Editor: Coverage of Real Truck Club Challenge happens in the April '07 issue. The RTCC video should be available just about the time you read this.

Reader: I was just wondering if y'all had heard anything about Dodge putting the new Cummins 6.7 in the Power Wagon. I've read quite a bit about the P/W, and think it is one of the best trucks available. However, I would like to see one with the Cummins. Thanks for producing a great magazine.
Leon Griffin
Suffolk, VA

Editor: No news as yet from DaimlerChrysler on this ... but we'd guess it's a safe bet we'll see some kind of option in the next few years.

Reader: I would like to get some information about opening an off-road vehicle park. I'd appreciate it if you could put me in touch with someone who can help me out with all the details.
Adam Woods

Editor: If you can stand to wait for a few months, we will be covering this very subject in an upcoming article. If you want some answers right away, log onto United Four-Wheel Drive Associations' Web site (, check out their list of members-which includes a number of the bigger and better-known ORV parks-and start sending out some queries.

Reader: I enjoyed your Death Valley articles very much ("Three Days in the Valley," Aug. and Sept. '06). In all my years there, I've never made it to Lippencott Mine Road, always for one strange reason or another. But I've been to the Racetrack many times. In fact, one cold spring morning, my friends and I were lucky enough to get some video that I think is the only existing footage in the world. If you want to see how the rocks move, check it out-it's only about a minute long:
Brian Dunning

Editor: Death Valley trail leader Sean Holman replies: Trying to give me the creeps, boss?

Reader: How is it that narrowing a vehicle helps approach and departure angles ("Narrow Minded," Aug. '06)? It seems to me that only shortening the vehicle would have this effect, unless you always approach obstacles at an angle.
Charles McDowell

Editor: Ken Brubaker replies: One of the basic "rules" of 'wheeling is to always place one tire at a time on an obstacle. Thus, approaching obstacles at an angle is standard operating procedure. Ever try to climb a foot-high ledge straight-on? Difficult, huh? Now try it by approaching at an angle. You'll find the results much more pleasant and far less taxing on your rig. With this said, narrowing does indeed aid in approach and departure angles because it eliminates the mass which often ends up stuffed into obstacles on angled approaches and the resulting angled departure.

Reader: I was wondering if you guys would have access to old Four Wheeler magazines. My brother and I lead backpacking trips into the Inyo Mountains, and we recently saw a photocopy of an article from your September '76 issue regarding a trip report that included an old mining camp named Beveridge. The article was written by a man named Russ Leadabrand.My brother and I have been to Beveridge several times and are putting together a binder/book (not to be published, due to trying to keep the area off the tourist radar screen) for fellow enthusiasts of the Inyos. Would you please let me know if you have this issue archived, and how would I get a copy?
Brian Waag

Reader: I was going through my old Suzuki LJ stuff and found an old membership application for a Suzuki 4x4 Brute Club when I noticed it read that they held a meeting and that "an editor from the Four Wheeler magazine taking pictures for a future article." This was possibly back in the '70s, maybe the '80s. The club was located in Iowa.

My question is: Did you do this article? If so, what issue was it in? And do you still have a copy I could buy? If not, do you still have the pics? I would like to buy them if possible.
Chris Johnson

Editor: Alas, guys, these old magazines are no longer available. We do have copies (i.e., one) of every Four Wheeler ever published, which we guard like the Crown Jewels of England-and sorry, they're not available for loans. As this magazine has gone through several ownership changes and relocations in its lifetime, a lot of original artwork has been lost or misplaced, and any original layouts that were composed (with glue and rollers) before we became fully computerized-in 1990-are long gone by now.

However, with Primedia's recent acquisition of (and its human resources), we may soon have the opportunity-and the manpower-to start archiving some of these old articles on the Internet. They might only be scans of old, cruddy-looking magazine pages, but they would certainly be legible, and no doubt entertaining. We've already started to archive articles going back over the last five to ten years. Obviously, that in itself is going to take time, but once we're done with that assignment, we may be able to start working on older materials. Log onto from time to time to see how we're progressing.

Reader: I am looking for a unique and fun way to support my family. I am willing to sell advertising space on the sides of my shaved head, in the form of a permanent or temporary tattoo. I would be willing to attend any functions that we agree upon. I know Golden Palace has paid for head advertisements, but that was for a short period of time and then the person let their hair grow back. I have been shaving my head for 6 years, and do not plan to let it grow back. I am also willing to travel and attend events of your choosing. I have pictures of the tattoos that are currently on my head (one is a checkered flag going into flames). I have just welcomed my fourth child (and one stepchild), and I am looking for a better way to give them all a better future, and thought this would be something fun, interesting, and definitely different to do to support them all.
Joseph Neupert
Liverpool, NY

Editor: Our local sales vermin are salivating over your offer, but for now we're mulling it over. As a show of appreciation, though, we'll send you a box of Four Wheeler swag-which likely won't include a baseball cap. Thanks for writing.

Reader: I have been a faithful reader since the '80s. I just wanted to say thanks for the great magazine, and to tell you about a new privately owned ORV park in South Carolina.

The Gulches of Indian Mound (864/449-5698, is an 85-acre park on the Saluda River in Laurens County. Skip, the owner, has done a good job and runs a clean family-oriented place. I have been twice and will return with my 2- and 5-year-old daughters and wife. Can you let others know about this park and pass on the news? As far as I know, this is the only ORV park in South Carolina. There are trails for all types of experience and all types of rigs. I own an '00 TJ and have done very little modifying to it and still had a great time!

Please help spread the word for the East Coast crowd. Thanks for the help, and send some free stuff!
Steve Hudson, Firefighter/NREMT-B
Hickory Tavern, SC

Editor: Consider it done on both counts, firefighter. Thanks for the tip.

Reader: First off, congrats! I thoroughly enjoy reading your magazine. However, I feel that the 4x4 marketplace and the truck market in general are slipping through the cracks. Although I'm only 17, I have noticed a steady downfall in the practicality of the so-called 4x4 industry. It seems as if every year, the market takes two steps forward into suburbia.

This is especially noticeable with the new Lincoln pickup, and the '07 Chevy Avalanche. This suburbia fad is mostly due to those city slickers who opt for the 4x4 or diesel packages, which they proudly boast around as status symbols. The effects of this are seen with upcoming models. If this weren't true, there wouldn't be so many people buying new 4x4 trucks with factory 20s and chrome accent packages (now also available with H2s). All in all, I currently feel very disappointed in the 4x4 marketplace, and I'm looking for someone to share my exuberance for trail trucks. Thus I will never be able to satisfy my hankering for stock 'wheelability unless there are some major changes made.

Now that there have been changes made to the Duramax, Cummins, and Power Stroke diesels, y'all should have a Four Wheeler Diesel of the Year contest.
Chris Field

Editor: We were hoping to have the newest Big Three diesels included in our 2007 Pickup Truck of the Year test, which will appear in the March '07 issue. Unfortunately, none of the manufacturers were able to deliver the vehicles in time to meet our deadlines. However, as soon as we can round 'em all up, we plan to test them side-by-side in an epic Three-Way Tow-Off; watch for it in mid-year 2007.

You want a 'wheelable 4x4 straight outta the factory? Well, the Hummer H2 and H3, the Jeep Wrangler JK, the Land Rover LR3, the Dodge Power Wagon, the Nissan Xterra and Frontier Nismo, and the Toyota Tacoma TRD are all extremely capable trailmobiles in stock trim. We do understand your concerns-and yes, many so-called 4x4s are becoming more suburb-friendly and less trail-engineered, but there are still plenty of OE options out there if you want to buy a brand-new 4x4 today and take it 'wheeling tomorrow.

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