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September 2008 Letters to the Editor

Posted in Project Vehicles on September 1, 2008 Comment (0)
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We were reading your "101 Places to Wheel Before You Die" (June '08) and were shocked that your list did not include Clayton, Oklahoma. We've wheeled all over the country-Moab, Katemcy, Hot Springs, Tellico-and we absolutely love Clayton! Love your magazine, and hate to be a critic. (We hate when people criticize y'all.) Just a thought to investigate Clayton-most wheelers in Texas and Oklahoma love to wheel there.

Eddie & Michelle Stephens
Little Elm, TX

It seems there is one glaring trail system missing from your list. That trail system is the area known as Reiter Trail outside of Gold Bar, Washington. If you haven't heard of it, or have not driven with folks who know, I'd like to extend an invitation. We like to wheel there and have been doing so for more than 16 years. Our group is a mixed bag of S&N Fab buggies, my well-used CJ-8, and whoever else dares follow. Feel free to contact me. We'd love to show you around.

Mark Rogalski
Snohomish, WA

I thought that your "101 Places to Wheel" was a great article and very informative. We believe that you left off a very important wheeling ranch in Texas: Trees Off Road Adventure Park, which is the largest privately owned wheeling park in Texas at this time. We have 5,500 acres and 45+ trails that range from mild to very extreme. We even have one trail called Lucifer that we will pay a $500 bounty for anyone crazy enough to get to the top unassisted. Trees Ranch was one of the Ultimate Adventure stopovers in 2007. We have primitive camping sites and bunkhouses, as well as RV sites. Please include us in your next issue of Best Wheeling Sites.

Kenneth Wright
Trees Ranch Off Road
San Angelo, TX

Done! We hoped our "101 Places to Wheel" coverage would elicit these types of responses, (1) to remind us of places we might've overlooked, such as Clayton (it's been a few years since we visited, obviously), and (2) to clue us in on wheeling spots we'd never heard of before, like Reiter Trail. Thanks to all who wrote in to set us straight-and if there's a great four-wheeling destination you'd like us to know about, drop us a line anytime.

I loved the cover of the June issue; old-school rig in the foreground, cool scenery in the back. Kinda got me to thinking, how about if you guys resurrect some of the old covers from the '60s once in a while? Or do a couple of retro-style issues cover-to-cover, maybe for the next anniversary? Just a thought.

Shane Packard
Broken Arrow, OK

The cover of the June issue shows several vehicles on a trail. The description on the table of contents says "Cover photo from the Four Wheeler archives." Does anyone happen to know where the photo was taken? This place looks like my kind of four-wheeling.

Jim Harshman
Brea, CA

You're in luck-that trail is right in your backyard. The photo was taken a few years back in the Truckhaven Hills, near Anza-Borrego State Park, California.

On your '92 Ford F-150 project "Fiery Redhead," what resources did you use for interior parts? I have two '91 F-150s and I cannot find interior parts for them, like armrests and knobs. Any info would be helpful.

Jerry
Coats, NC

Look up the folks at LMC Truck (800/LMC-TRUCK, www.lmctruck.com); they'll have everything you're looking for.

I also have a '92 F-150 4x4 and I have been wanting to put on a Warn Classic bumper. I've visited the Warn Web site, but I can't seem to find the bumper on the Web site, so I was wondering if I could get some help finding a Classic bumper. I've also checked with 4Wheel Parts, and I've had no luck whatsoever. My truck does spend a lot of time in the mud because of my job in the oil field, so I would appreciate your help.

Stephan Cole
Cypress, TX

Unfortunately, Warn discontinued the Classic winch-mount bumper a while ago. To find some new-old stock, your best bet would be to check out some online retailers. A Google search turned up a match at Auto Styles (888/407-9456, www.autostyles.com), which advertises the bumper you're looking for on its site. Otherwise, keep an eye on eBay-there are a number of jobbers who sell discontinued/overstock parts there regularly, and who knows, maybe one day a Warn bumper to match your truck might show up.

I just read the June '08 letter from a guy looking for a soft top for his Blazer. I've been looking for tops for my '79 and '90 Broncos. I was aware of STC a few years ago, but could not purchase one then and was surprised to find them out of business. I contacted Bestop, and they said they've never made one for fullsize Broncos. Are there any other brands of tops for these vehicles that may have been made? This may broaden a used-top search. I think I may just have to make my own.

Ryan (the letter writer) should be made aware also that early ('77-'90 something-I'm a Ford guy) Blazers were available with a factory soft top, although these may be very difficult to find.

Geoff Pranger
Covington, KY

I've been looking for a top that doesn't require drilling into the body, too. The top that you suggested from ORD's discontinued stock is the Tiger Top, which requires drilling into the body. The companies that make all the tops that don't need body snaps (i.e., STC, CanBack) have gone out of business from what I can tell. This leaves only the Tiger Top, a fast-back style and not usable with a cage, made by www.soft-tops.com; and a tonneau-style top, also not usable with a cage and made by Skylar-which, by the way, is also out of business. So our choice is to settle for the Tiger Top or try to find a decent used top for which no replacement panels are available. If you or any of the readers find something different, please let us know.

Brandon
Mesa, AZ

We're posting both of your letters in case any of our readers know where you should look. We also didn't have much luck in our search-but either way, it sure seems to us that there's a demand for these tops for you entrepreneurs out there who are looking to fill a niche in the 4x4 aftermarket that doesn't seem to be very well-served at present. (Hint, hint.)

Thanks for the great mag-I enjoy reading it every month. Although Toyota runs in my veins (I currently own four Toyota 4x4s), I want something more unusual for the trails-something you don't see wheeling every day. I have the chance to get a '96 Range Rover (literally for free) from a friend who owns a local repair shop. A lady brought it there for repairs, and just gave up and left it. It needs a used engine swapped in (my friend would do the work cheap), but is in otherwise decent shape (140,000 miles). Could I take this vehicle and turn it into a good budget beater? I figured that the solid-axle/V-8 combo is attractive, but there seems to be poor aftermarket support for this rig. I don't know too much about these trucks, but I know that the airbag suspension sucks. Does this model have it? Can you swap it out? Any info on how I could turn this truck into a good low-budget wheeler for medium-difficulty trails would be appreciated.

Jason Treadaway
Marietta, GA

We gotta admit we don't hear the words "budget" and "Range Rover" used in the same sentence too often. But to answer your question, yes, your vehicle has the air suspension, and yes, you can swap it out. Matter of fact, there is an Old Man Emu coil conversion kit available from British Pacific (661/257-9765, landroverparts.us); Atlantic British (800/533-2210, www.roverparts.com) also has a coil conversion kit for your '96, but whichever kit you choose, this change-over is not a simple job and should probably only be attempted by someone who has experience in this kind of conversion. It's also likely not going to be super-cheap. One of the best online resources for all things Rangy that we've found is www.rangerovers.net, where you can find all sorts of historical info, tech specs, and aftermarket parts sources for your Rover. Check it out, and you'll find there's actually a lot more out there in the way of aftermarket support for your rig than you might think. Happy Rovering.

I have read your magazine for years now...and well, here it goes: I've been a Toyota owner since before I could drive. The "visibility" complaints about the FJ Cruiser, I think, are just a bit overrated. If you consider driving any other SUV (e.g., Hummer, Cherokee, Liberty, Bronco, or even a fullsize truck), the visibility while wheeling or driving on road is just as bad, if not worse than the FJ. I think that a lot of people are drawn away from the possible purchase of an FJ because of all the hoopla about visibility.

I own an FJ. I wheel it, I drive it, and I mud it. I have no problem with the visibility. Granted, it did take a little getting used to, but nothing out of the ordinary. In my opinion, I think you need to do a visibility comparison with some of the more popular SUVs in order to be fair. Just my humble opinion.

Robert Johnson
Rawlins, WY

Hey, we like the FJ. Any vehicle that gives us a rear locker straight from the factory is OK by us. And for an IFS rig that relies a lot on traction control to provide traction in the dirt, the Cruiser is an eminently wheelable rig in stock trim. That's why we asked Toyota for a tester for a year, and we're having a ball with it. We just get paid to be picky, so don't take our criticisms too harshly. And besides, we're seeing more and more FJs at trail events around the country these days, so we know you're not alone.

Let me start by saying: I've lost faith in our magazine. I've read Four Wheeler for many years and been a subscriber for quite a few, though lately, it doesn't take me long to get through an issue. Most people I know aren't going to buy a $40,000-plus vehicle, including myself. So when 40 to 60 percent of the magazine is new vehicle tests and tech, that is not really what excites me or my group of buddies.

Second: Not to point fingers, but your Technical Editor, Mr. Sean P. Holman, needs to spend more time in the shop and on the trail, and less time at dealerships. In my eyes, it's pretty bad when my wife notices vehicle specifications that are inaccurate. For example, in "McKrill's Thrillz" (May '08), while it is a more reasonable build than some of your features, you state the rear axle as a "14-bolt." While, yes, it has 14 bolts on the cover, it is not what I would say most people know as a "14-bolt." The 9.5-inch 14-bolt axle under the McKrill truck is more desirable than an early 10-bolt; it is by no way a 10.5-inch 14-bolt. So I ask, if you're going to quote specs, please be more forthcoming with information. Also in this article you list the transfer case as an NP205. Now come on! Any wheeler worth their weight in broken axles can tell the difference between an aluminum-cased, chaindriven NP208 and a cast-iron geardriven NP205. Now, I point this out for those who aren't exactly sure what this stuff looks like-they rely on your editing staff for that. Who has dropped the ball? Not just in this issue, but on numerous occasions in the past. More than could be forgiven for professionals such as yourself, in my eyes.

Third, I know they wheel all over the world, but I would much rather read about places I could go if I were so inclined, let alone the ones I would. I'll use the May 2008 issue again, where we went to Venezuela. Well, at least I don't have to take a plane or a boat to get there, but it is still a place I would never go. Call me an uncultured redneck, but I would much rather see local, small-town events and rigs from across the U.S. I did enjoy your Baja 1000 article, but like Indy or Daytona, you just can't help but love Baja and its history. Your article about Black Rock in Nevada was interesting as previously stated: "A place I could go," and one I would. It's not all bad. It's just when I notice over time that less and less of the magazine applies to me and mine, I lose interest.

I did enjoy your flatfender coverage. It's a great series, but lo and behold, there it is in the back part of the magazine-a $47,000 2007 Chevy Avalanche. Let alone the vaguely interesting $90,000 "Sky Rocket" Toyota. So in closing, I say yes, there are problems in the May issue, but this has been going on for a while. If this is your plan for Four Wheeler, then I am saying good-bye. However, if this is something you're looking to change, try calling Freiburger, Kinnan and/or Glad from Hot Rod and Car Craft. Ask them how they changed a lot of minds about those magazines. Especially Hot Rod. I hope in some way what I have said here has been helpful.

Brian Churchwell
Noble, OK

Thanks for the advice. Next time we'll be perfect, we promise.

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.fourwheeler.com. Due to the volume of mail, electronic and otherwise, we cannot respond to every reader, but we do read everything.

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