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October 2008 Letters to the Editor

Posted in Project Vehicles on October 1, 2008
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I am writing to find out how I would go about entering the Top Truck Challenge? Can you please let me know what I need to do to go about entering or submitting my request with pictures of my rig. I will let you know I have a '94 Jeep Grand Cherokee with a 5.7L Hemi in it and an exocage with 21/2-ton four-wheel-steer Rockwell axles sitting on 44-inch Boggers.

Anthony Hilbers
Grand Blanc, MI

I own the past TTC Challenge DVDs, but I don't have the 2007 one. I really want to see all the action and how much more grueling the Tank Trap was that year. If there is anyway I can get my hands on the footage, let me know.

Kyle Nielsen
Johnston, IA

Want to be considered for Top Truck? Pick up next month's issue. Inside you'll find an official entry form. Fill it out, then mail it back to us, along with some photos of your Jeep. What could be simpler?

For TTC '07 videos, check out the online store at They should be able to take care of you.

I was wondering if you could tell me if there is a company that makes a heavy-duty adapter for the SM465-to-NP205 transfer case. I broke the one that I had.

Wheeling, EV

This is kind of a tricky question since we don't know which version of the 205 transfer case you have (hint: when asking tech questions, tell us everything), but try Advance Adapters (; chances are they have what you're looking for.

I recently read that torsion-bar keys were a great idea for a minor amount of lift, usually leveling. I was wondering about the long-term effect it has on the vehicle. I currently have and wheel an '03 Ford Ranger FX4 level II. It's been deemed impossible to find an easy low-budget lift. The lowest cost that I've found so far in about three years of hard-core searching was still more than $2,000. Torsion-bar keys are my alternative. It's only 3 inches of lift versus 5 to 6 inches through the others.

Corpus Christi, TX

So-called torsion-bar lifts can provide a small amount of increased height and/or leveling, usually no more than 3 inches, which essentially translates into a no-dollar lift. Essentially, all you are doing is changing the truck's ride height relative to suspension to travel. The downside to this approach is that overtorquing the torsion-bar adjuster bolt inhibits the bar's ability to twist laterally, which can result in (a) excess shock-absorber wear, (b) bottoming out the suspension prematurely, and (c) a rougher ride overall. We don't recommend torsion-bar lifts in general, but if you're dead-set on one, we wouldn't suggest you go much higher than maybe an inch and a half of lift.

I have a '91 Mazda B2600 4x4 and have been looking for aftermarket parts and can't seem to find anyone that offers suspension lifts, winch/bumper combos, or differential lockers for the vehicle. I'm wondering if you can supply me with Web sites or any info on products for this vehicle.

Jeff Wasson
Bonney Lake, WA

We spent a few minutes poking around the Internet and found a 4-inch suspension lift from Trail Master, a 2- to 3-inch body lift from Performance Accessories, and TJM sells a Lock-Right differential and winch bumpers. Do a little Googling in your spare time, and you'll likely find even more parts for your truck than we did.

I am disappointed in your article "101 Places to Wheel Before You Die" (June '08) since Black Mountain Park was not included. This is especially disappointing since there were few entries for the East Coast area to which this could be applied. I have been to many of the parks you included from this part of the country and Black Mountain Park is destined to become the premier East Coast park. It is obvious your staff has not yet been there. You have discredited your magazine by not including it in the Top 101. The park did get mentioned in your linked article, "This Land is Your Land," at, but it's incorrectly listed as "Blue Mountain."

Lynda Joyce
Alvaton, KY

In your recent "101 Places to Wheel Before You Die" (June '08), you missed one of the greatest places in southwest Missouri: The Southern Missouri Off Road Ranch. It's located 5 miles south of Seymour on Highway K. It's a little more than 900 acres of excellent wheeling for everyone from stock rigs to the wildest rigs. Trail rides to 8-foot waterfalls. They have RV sites in the making, campgrounds, brand-new very modern showers and restrooms, and a pavilion by the campgrounds. You need to bring some rigs here if you think you're up for the challenge. Trust me, you are missing out on one of the best parks in the nation.

Phillip Beisiegel
Marshfield, MO

In your "101 Places to Wheel Before You Die" article (June '08), you have Byrd's Adventure Center listed in Missouri. It is actually located in Arkansas, just outside of Cass on the beautiful Mulberry River. I would also like to thank you for getting the information correct on your Web site. You all are doing a great job, and I'd be more than happy to overlook this incident if a license plate or something of that nature showed up on my doorstep.

Andy Tharp
Conway, AR

Sounds like a fair trade to us. We were hoping that this story would generate plenty of reader mail to let us know of places around the country that we might've missed, and also for you to share wheeling spots with your fellow readers. Thanks to all who've written in thus far, and keep letting us know about any awesome new wheeling spots in your area.

I have finally gotten the chance to sit and read your "Don't Shoot That Horse" (June '08). I personally own a '71 Bronco. The body is almost completely rusted out-you literally can't go 12 inches from any spot on the body without running your finger through a rust hole. Maybe that's why I love it. I have two questions: Will a Bronco II body fit on the frame of my early Bronco (the frame, engine, and complete drivetrain are in perfect condition, minus oil leaks)? I know about the Chevy Dana axle disc-brake conversion, but what about Dodge? Believe it or not, I can't find any of the Chevys at our local junkyards. I see a lot of Dodges, though. I would think that a Dana 44 is a Dana 44. Is it?

Willie Suter
Thornhust, PA

Jp Magazine tech guru Christian Hazel replies: Oh God, please don't put that body on an early Bronco! That's just wrong. You'd be better off in the long run looking for a better early Bronco body. Check Craigslist for California, Arizona, or other states in the Southwest. Or buy yourself a small MIG welder and learn to install replacement panels.

As for the Dodge brakes, yes you can put them on the Bronco Dana 44 front, but you've got to swap to the Dodge knuckles, caliper brackets, rotors, calipers, and stub shafts since the Dodge spindle is different than the Chevy/Ford spindle. It's nice because the Dodge shares the same 5-on-51/2 bolt pattern as your Bronco. Just grab everything from the knuckles out on a '81-'93 Dodge 1/2-ton and you'll be all set.

I'm a local high school student who just recently got interested in four-wheeling. Before this I was mainly all about quad racing. I was curious to know how someone could possibly apply for a photography position? I'm an amateur photographer and I'm always trying to go wheeling and shoot photos of my friends. I wanted to know if you guys would be interested in having another photographer who knows Hollister. As I live 30 minutes from it, I am always out there, either on my quad at the Lower Ranch or in my truck at the upper range. If you could let me know, I'd be most grateful.

Grady Crawford
Pacific Grove, CA

Well, we don't have any "staff photographer" positions-around here, you also need to write, edit, turn wrenches, the works. But there's nothing stopping you from logging onto and uploading some of your best wheeling photos to our forums. It's a great way to share experiences with your fellow wheelers, and who knows, it might just get you a little notice.

I am trying to restore and build an '80 4x4 Chevrolet LUV truck. I am having a hard time finding a suspension lift kit. If I had the knowledge, I could build it myself. However, this is one area that I do not know about. Everyone who I have spoken with has told me that the truck was a waste of time and money, which has only pushed me to build it even more. I've been a subscriber to your magazine for about 10 years now, and I know that you try to help people with problems such as this. Is there any way that you could steer me in the right direction?

Steven W.
Homer, GA

No problem. Check out, an online community dedicated to-yep, you guessed it-trucks like yours. It's full of message boards and links to places where you can find parts, so we'd guess that's a great place to start.

I was just wondering if you knew of any good Web sites for classified ads for big trucks for sale? I've already checked out eBay and Craigslist, but are there any other good sites to look for mud trucks?

Nina Moll
Zeeland, MI

None in particular that we know of. However, we will be launching a "Classified" section at our own site,, in the very near future, where folks can buy and sell four-wheel-drives of all types, so check back at our site from time to time-you just might find what you're looking for.

In August of this year, Volkswagen will be offering a 50-states legal TDI engine getting 50 mpg and 246 lb-ft of torque. Is it realistic to think I could buy one of these engines and drop it in my '98 TJ?

Jason Tripp
Pacifica, CA

It all depends on how much time, money, and fabrication skill you have. Besides the engine-and a complete set of motor mounts, which will need to be custom made-you'll need the VW transmission and a complete wiring harness along with the factory ECU. A custom adapter/output shaft to the transfer case will have to be fabbed up, and the transfer case will likely need to be relocated. This may require modification and/or fabrication of additional frame crossmembers, and of course, you'll need some new driveshafts made. Then you'll need to address any potential clearance issues involving (but not limited to) the oil pan and tranny pan, the exhaust system, and steering linkage. And don't forget about replacing your entire fuel-delivery and cooling systems too.

See where we're going here? By our calculation, you could easily sink $15 grand into a project like this, and by the time you're finished, you'd probably be time and money ahead simply buying a new Jetta and using it as your daily driver instead of your Jeep.

All is not lost, however-if you've gotta have a diesel Jeep, Mopar Performance has been working on a Wrangler conversion kit for the 2.8L VM diesel. We testdrove a running prototype at Moab last spring, and it was awesome. As this kit gets closer to coming to market, we'll let you know in these pages.

Regarding your idea about doing a "Crossover of the Year" test, I think that would be awesome! It's a growing segment of the automotive world. If the other magazines saw that this type of testing was going on and did similar tests, auto manufacturers might be more likely to build crossovers that are more off-road-capable. It would also be a great opportunity to show that the "Trail Rated" badge is being thrown around too loosely on Jeep vehicles. I've been confident for years that the redesigned Ford Escape, or the redesigned Subaru Forester can outwheel a Patriot.

For testing, I'm thinking something along the lines of Four Wheeler of the Year, only a bit scaled down. A mild hillclimb and rugged dirt trails (rather than rocks) as well as the usual on-road sections would make for a very complete test, as well as an interesting read. And as for the idea of seeing a Subaru on the cover-I like that idea! My family is made up of hard-core Subaru people. You'd be amazed at how many people actually buy or make lift kits for their Legacys, Outbacks, and Bajas and take them wheeling. Take a look at to see some dedicated Subaru people.

Jo Geddes
Everson, WA

Hey, we've got a pretty lively Subaru enthusiast board at our own Web site, so we know you guys are out there. We haven't driven an Escape lately, but we've wheeled both a Patriot and a Forester in recent months, and we gotta tell ya-all things being equal, we'll take the Jeep. And thanks for the kind words-we can't guarantee you'll see a Subaru on the cover, but if you come across one that's rollin' on 44s, we'll give it a good look, 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 Due to the volume of mail, electronic and otherwise, we cannot respond to every reader, but we do read everything.

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