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April 2008 Letters To The Editor

Posted in Project Vehicles on April 1, 2008
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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 www. Due to the volume of mail, electronic and otherwise, we cannot respond to every reader, but we do read everything.

Reader: I just wanted to tell you how much I really appreciate you putting my Scout half-cab in "60 Readers' Rigs" (Jan. '08). It really means a lot to have you guys recognize my truck as one of the top 60 favorite rigs. I am a real big fan of your magazine, and I really enjoy reading it every month. Keep up the good work.
Andrew Davis
Asheboro, NC

Reader: I just wanted to thank you for putting my '94 S-10 Blazer in the "Readers' Rigs" section (Jan. '08). It came as quite a shock when I received my magazine yesterday. I do have an updated picture of my "rebuild and upgrades" but I don't see where I can send it. Thanks again. That was awesome!
Josh Adams
Adrian, MI

Reader: My dad's truck is better than any other truck on this site.

Editor: Well shucks, we don't doubt it, really- but you could always send us photos of your dad's truck to Four Wheeler Readers' Rigs, 6420 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles,CA 90048. Or send us some digital photos via e-mail to fourwheelereditor@ We're always on the lookout for cool 4x4s to showcase in these pages, so if you're sure you've got the best and baddest truck on your block, show us whatcha got, and we'll share it with our readers. And thanks to all for your Readers' Rigs submissions.

Reader: I just finished reading your January 2008 issue and was delightfully pleased to see some of my beloved 'Binders in the extra large "Readers Rigs" section. What I was not so pleased about was the fact that you once again have provided the public some misinformation regarding the IH brand.

Concerning the motors available in the Scout 800A, you were right on as to the displacements, just not the sources. The "Power-thrift Six" 232 was an AMC motor dropped right in with no modifications to speak of when compared to the 232 in any AMC vehicle. The IH SV304 shares the same displacement as its AMC counterpart, but rest assured, that is where the similarities end. The Sv (small V) series motors produced by IH were the 266, which when bored out became the 304, and the 345, which when bored out became the 392. Likewise, the four-cylinder motors were just the right bank of IH's V-8s: the 152 derived from the 304, and the 196 derived from the 392.

This confuses many people because of the cubic-inch similarities, but both Chevy and Ford had 400ci motors, and Studebaker and Ford had 289 motors. This is the same deal. As said before, the 232 was sourced from AMC, as was the 258 I-6, and in the '70s the 401 V-8 (which IH labeled as the IH 400), when 392 production was running short.

The easy way to tell if you have an Sv motor is to look at the valve cover; if it says "International" in big script, it's their own mill and nobody else's.
Wes Van Pelt
Old Dominion Binders Assn.
South East Binders Assn.
Mt. Crawford, VA

Editor: Tell you what-when you're dealing with the Scout Nation, you better come correct. We received some two dozen responses from IH owners from around the country correcting our mistake. This was one of the more polite ones-and one of the most informative as well. Thanks to all for writing in.

Reader: In "Mega Cab Longbed, Anyone?" (Dec. '07), you state that "Until now, those of us who need to haul large loads or pull a fifth-wheel trailer could not even consider a Dodge Ram Mega Cab because they only come with a 6-foot bed." What? I have hauled for the last two summers a 34-foot fifth-wheel camper weighing 13,000 pounds. Not only can this truck pull the trailer, but it makes my '03 Stupid Duty (in the shop once a week) feel like something from the '70s.

"Not being able to pull a fifth wheel with a Mega Cab" is as bad as the Ford myth that Ford owns Cummins. Not true!
Tyler Osiecki

Reader: I am 17 years old and have been a subscriber to your magazine for more than a year now. I have two questions: What does it mean to have an engine balanced and blueprinted? Also, what are the advantages and disadvantages of an independent suspension versus a solid axle? If you could help me clear this up, that would be great.
Jordan Felton
Ore, NE

Editor: These questions aren't easy to answer in a few sentences, so we'll tackle the easier question first.

Depending on your suspension, a solid front axle will provide better articulation on trails than an independent setup will. They're much easier to swap in and out of a vehicle if you're looking to upgrade, and (as a rule) there are more aftermarket parts available for them. Drawbacks? They're heavier, and they don't handle as smoothly on pavement as an IFS truck. Independent rigs, by contrast, will ride and handle better on-road and usually offer less rolling resistance. On the other hand, they don't articulate very well under most trail conditions, and they're not easy at all to modify. Bottom line? If your 4x4's a trail-only rig, solid axles are the only way to go. If your truck sees pavement most of the time and only occasionally 'wheels, IFS is likely just fine for you.

Any time you write about engine tech, you could fill a shop manual with all the information you'd need, but broadly speaking, "balancing" an engine refers to the process of exactly matching the weights of all of an engine's reciprocating masses, e.g., pistons, rings, rods and rod bearings, crankshaft, and so on. A bunch of different gizmos are used to measure and compare the relative weights of all these components, and machining and/or welding is typically done afterward to subtract or add component weight wherever needed. Compression ratios and valve timing are also measured per cylinder, then readjusted as needed to "balance" or match as closely as possible. Benefits of engine balancing include improved performance and more horsepower, and most importantly, reduced friction on internal parts, which translates into smoother operation, cooler operating temps, and longer engine life. It's a fairly straightforward process, and not terribly expensive.

"Blueprinting" refers to the process of rematching (i.e., replacing) engine components with parts that are manufactured to much stronger and more precise tolerances than those found with typical stock engine internals. The goal is to reach an "ideal" balance by reducing internal weights and frictions, and improving component strength, to their maximum levels. Blueprinting typically involves a lot of precision machining and costly replacement parts, and likely isn't worth the expense to your everyday 'wheeler unless you're building a motor for racing applications. How was that for starters?

Reader: I want to first say what a great magazine you guys have! I am new to four-wheeling and just bought a '91 Isuzu Amigo 4x4 2.6L with the 31-inch factory tires. I was wondering if you could help me with a couple questions. First, I would like to do about 6-8 inches of lift, and was wondering if there is a kit out for that or any ideas? Second, can I run 37-inch tires on my Amigo if I achieve 6-8 inches of lift? Any help would be greatly appreciated, and hopefully I can get to the trails soon.
Chris Elstrom
Spencer, NC

Editor: Well, your choices are limited, but you're not out of luck. The best you can do for lifting, though, would be to combine a 3-inch suspension lift (available via Calmini) with a 3-inch Performance Accessories body lift. Even then, however, the largest tire that'll clear the 'wells without any rubbing will be 33x12.50s-unless you're prepared to start chopping off big hunks of body sheetmetal, that is. If it were us, we'd stick with the 33s, add a pair of ARB Air Lockers, a TJM winch bumper, and an 8,000-pound winch of your choice, and hit the trail with confidence.

Reader: I have a '65 International Scout. It originally came with the 152ci I-4, T-90 transmission, Spicer 18 transfer case, and Dana 27 axles. I am replacing most of these with bigger, heartier parts such as a Bow Tie 350, a Ford NP435, and high-pinion Dana 60s. I am strongly considering keeping the Spicer 18 transfer case. I have not been told anything that would be considered a "word to the wise" about this transfer case with the combination I have listed above. So is this combination really as good as I am hoping it is, or can you shed some information on things to be aware of?
Alex Stephens
Bloomington, MN

Editor: The Spicer 18 is a terrific little 'case; it's still fairly abundant, it's relatively cheap to maintain, and easy to rebuild. It was also designed to work behind low-powered four-cylinder engines. Your Scout's original motor was rated at 93 hp (boy, we'd better be right on the money about this, or we'll never hear the end of it), and your new Chevy V-8 is rated to produce ... a lot more than that, we'd reckon. It's not that the 18 couldn't hold up to the added power-particularly if your Chevy engine is a Gen 1 model and you don't plan on modifying it- but if your V-8 is a newer model and/or you intend to treat it to a lot of aftermarket hop-ups, you'd likely be better served by swapping in a somewhat stouter box like a Dana 300 or a Dana 20.

Reader: I noticed in my January issue that the Four Wheeler of the Year test is coming next month. Let me be this first to say "You all should be ashamed of yourselves!!" While I have not yet read the test results, or know who wins, I am sure it was biased and you were probably paid by the manufacturer to place their 4x4 number one. How could you have possibly picked the [insert winner name here] as the best 4x4? Come on, the [insert inferior 4x4 here] was so much better.It's faulty testing like this that is ruining the economy, driving up gas prices, and causing global warming. That's right-it's all your fault because you were too lazy to do a real test, and opted to take money from Big Government. I have to read this while you and your fat wallets destroy the world. I would cancel my subscription, but then my dog wouldn't have anywhere to crap.

And another thing: Why hasn't my truck ever been featured in your magazine? It shouldn't matter that I've never sent you a picture-you should have heard how cool it was and rushed someone out here to do a full spread on it. And where's my tag, stickers, and t-shirt? You have lost me as a reader, and the only way I would ever renew my subscription is if you would give me Project Teal Brute. But I'm sure that won't happen since you don't care about the working man. Well, I guess you should keep it after all since you're going to need something to give Hitler rides around Hell in.
Nathan Harrison
Michie, TN

Editor: OK, OK, we confess-we caused the subprime lending crisis and global warming, and that was only last week. Anyway, we couldn't have written a better letter for an April issue than this, and to show our gratitude, a box of exclusive FW swag is coming your way. Thanks for writing in.

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