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February 2009 Letters To The Editor

Posted in Project Vehicles on February 1, 2009
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Where To Write
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.

If It's February, It's Time For Top Truck Gripes & Grouses
Reader: I just read the Top Truck story (Dec. '08) and was not shocked to see that the top four finishers all had rigs worth more than $60,000! I appreciate the work and quality that goes into these rigs, but it seems like unless you have bottomless pockets or own a fab shop, you might as well stay home. Yes, I know the guy with the Willys only had $7,000 in his, but overall, the trucks are high-dollar. It seems like in four-wheeling, like most other motorsports, all that matters is how much money you have. Bring back the Real Truck Challenge!
Evan Pearson
Queen Anne, MD

Reader: I just got the issue with all the TTC finals and was a little disappointed when most of the so-called "trucks" were mostly home-built tube-chassis trucks-they can't even be considered "trucks." How about next TTC, we have a factory-frame truck that is built tough so we actually have a Top Truck Challenge?
Josh Johnson
Idaho Falls, ID

Reader: Are you ever going to bring back the Real Truck Challenge? If you do, I want to be the first to sign up. I have an '00 Jeep Wrangler with a 4-inch lift, 33-inch TSLs, Ford 8.8 rear with e-locker, a front Dana 30 with a Truetrac, a $2.50 Warn winch (I won it in a raffle), and other various mods and weight reductions in the form of sheetmetal that fell off. I really hope you bring back RTC 'cuz I can't afford a Top Truck rig, and I'm not the only one.
Kevin Sanders
Allendale, IL

Editor: For the record, all of those "high-dollar" rigs were voted into TTC by our readers, not us. And you'll have the chance to do it all over again in the April '09 issue when we'll have our final cut of Top Truck aspirants for TTC XVII.

We stopped holding our Real Truck Club Challenge two years ago because, frankly, while the response from readers was encouraging, we couldn't seem to find enough spectators to attend the event, or enough sponsors to help underwrite the costs. We still talk about bringing the event back, and we'll revisit the idea when economic conditions make it more feasible for us to do so. Thanks to all who wrote in about Top Trucks, Real Trucks, or anything else.

Responsibility Begins At Home
Reader: This letter is in response to "No Helmet on a UTV" ("Letters," Dec. '08). I find it ridiculous that someone would write in complaining about the helmetless man on a UTV (Rhino). It has a full rollcage and has proven to be safe in wrecks. I'm sorry to hear about the local kids he mentioned, but I would point the finger at bad parenting, not bad pictures. I'm just getting tired of all these do-gooders writing in and complaining about photos and comments doing bad things to our kids. I never wore a helmet until the sheltered kids started running into people at the Oregon Dunes, and it is worse than ever now. I don't like to see the injuries either, but parents need to quit passing the buck, and be responsible for you and your kids' actions.
Kevin McMillan
Monmouth, OR

A 'Wheeling "Trend" We Could Do Without ?
Reader: Where do I start? First, I don't share Mr. Holman's sadness over the banning of "trucksticles" ("Top Wheeling Trends of 2008," Dec. '08). I have two daughters, ages 10 and 14, and I have to explain to my youngest when she asks, "what are things hanging off the back of that truck?" Now for all you studs out there who think you're cool for hanging a set of balls off the back of your truck, I know you won't understand my anger. I don't care what you think of my comments. I'm accountable to my kids, and their innocence is already under attack by a bunch of other crap out there. If your truck had "balls" to begin with, you wouldn't need to put a set on your back bumper. Where does it all stop? Secondly, do you really think it's a conflict of our "freedom of speech"? Have you read the Constitution? Grow up and respect the fact that people do not want to see, or should have to see, that junk out there. Do us all a favor-take 'em off and put them in the closet along with your "Big Johnson" T-shirts. Your magazine is awesome, and I will continue to read it cover to cover. Mr. Holman is entitled to his opinion. I just wanted to voice mine.
Tom Schaefer Jr.
Otisville, MI

Editor: Sean P. Holman replies: Great to hear from you, and thanks for voicing your thoughts. We love to get passionate letters from our readers because it means they are reading, and thinking about what we have to say.

Unfortunately, I think you completely missed my point about "Trucksticles." I encourage you to reread that snippet because there is no place that I expressed "sadness" about their banning. Having a daughter myself, I can understand your frustration, but there are a lot worse things in the world that I spend my time protecting her from than an anatomically correct model of something she can see on a horse in the Fourth of July Parade or on the family Great Dane.

Just to be clear, I am not a supporter of "Trucksticles" (but I am not bothered by them one way or another), only editorializing on the sad fact that we have legislators spending time on ridiculous laws such as these, rather than putting the effort and time into laws that matter to further this great country.

Dept. Of Corrections
Reader: This is in regards to your long-term update on the TRD FJ Cruiser (Nov. '08). You listed that it had a 3.5L V-6. I work for Toyota and I have never seen a 3.5L in a new truck/SUV. They all have the 4.0L V-6. The 3.5 is in the cars.
Kevin Rietman
Merrillville, IN

Editor: Right you are. The guilty party has been assigned to write "Oh What a Feeling!" a hundred times on the blackboard while reciting, "I will never drive the wife's Camry again" until he's done. Thanks for the correction.

A mild lift (and an intelligent driver) would have prevented this.

Power Wagon Tips And Tech
Reader: Love your magazine, and I want to say thanks for posting that article about fuel-saver add-ons (Nov. '08). I currently own an '05 Dodge Ram 2500 Power Wagon (really, is there any other truck?), which is perfect for Alaska, and I wanted to make one observation about the fastest, easiest, and-without question-the cheapest fuel-savings modification that was completely overlooked during the test of all your aftermarket products. When driving a truck, drop the tailgate, because less wind resistance equals better fuel economy. It's an old-school trick that works every time, is super-fast to apply, and is as cheap as it gets (that is, unless all your stuff goes flying out the back). Having mentioned that, has anyone actually tested the claims that tonneau covers increase fuel economy? That would have been a nice test in your article as well, as they also seem to create less drag. Anyway, just thought I'd mention it. You guys keep up the good articles and great pictures of trucks, and remember to Tread Lightly!
Roy Eckert
Ketchikan, AK

Reader: Where is the aftermarket for us Power Wagon owners? Snorkels, bolt-on bumpers (that don't require winch relocation), and so forth. We know these trucks don't need much, but come on, show us some love!
Mike Cherry
Western NY

Editor: Your ship-er, pickup truck-has just come in. Our long-delayed Power Wagon project buildup will commence within the next couple of months. We don't plan anything radical for this already capable platform-a mild suspension lift, a slightly bigger tire, and some aftermarket bolt-ons to increase form and function. And thanks for the tailgate tip-sometimes, the easiest mods are also the easiest ones to forget about.

Guidelines? We Don't Need No Stinkin' Guidelines
Reader: I was writing to see if I could get some submission requirements for writers. I'm writing a query letter for my English class and chose your magazine because I love four-wheeling and lifted vehicles, and figured it would be easiest for me to write about something in a field where I am knowledgeable. Your help on this would be greatly appreciated.
Matt Eisel
State College, PA

Editor: Our guidelines are fairly loose, but if you want to submit an article to us, send us a query letter first, explaining the story you're proposing and its intended purpose and audience. If we like the idea, we'll let you know, and we'll send you a writer's agreement that you'll need to fill out and return to us. Text and captions should be composed as unformatted Microsoft Word documents, and photos should be large, high-resolution (i.e., RAW) JPEGs. We prefer submissions to be sent on CD-ROM rather than as e-mail attachments since our Inbox clogs up frequently. You can reach us at 6420 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90048.

Hydro Bumpstops: Worth The Investment?
Reader: I am in the middle of a JeepSpeed build on an '04 Wrangler Unlimited, and I'm considering using a set of ACOS Pro hydro bumpstops from JKS Manufacturing. I know Robin Stover used them in his Teal Brute buildup. I would like to get your long-term opinion on your use of them. Have you had any problems with the cap bolts or threads on the main body? Any other thoughts you have would be greatly appreciated.
Norfolk, VA

Editor: Robin Stover replies: The ACOS Pros are the best thing going as far as easy-install hydraulic bumps go. That being said, I would not recommend them for a JeepSpeed Racing application. While the threaded cans are quite stout and leave little to be desired for the average Jeep enthusiast, they simply were not intended for desert racing. I have first-hand experience racing in the JeepSpeed series and can say that a better arrangement for you might be a set of Light Racing Jounce shocks.

Light Racing offers several custom mounting solutions for do-it-yourselfers. Not to mention they allow compression and rebound tunability, unlike the Radflo bumps included with the JKS setup. Don't get us wrong, JKS builds one heck of a good product, and the ACOS setup can stand up to some pretty severe use, but flat-out racing has a way of killing equipment.

For the record, I have not had any problems whatsoever with the ACOS Pro kit on the rear of Teal Brute. I recommend them to folks all the time. But racing is racing, so get parts that were designed for it. Hope this helps.

Wants Midsize SUV Tech StoriesReader: Some suggestions for your consideration: More articles about Jeep Libertys, Nissan Xterras, and first- or second-gen Ford Explorers. It would seem they have the basis to be good off-road rigs but are seldom mentioned. How about a buildup of a Liberty?

Some other suggestions:

How about a story about trucks and SUVs that are capable of plowing? Very few are these days, and it would be nice to see which ones can do it without a lot of modifications needed (replacing hubs, airbags, cutting bodywork to clear the plow frame, and so on). Maybe even discuss the differences in blade trip mechanisms.

How about tire tech for winter driving?

And how about some garage shots of real people's garages-messy or not?
Nick Sampone
Amsterdam, NY

Editor: For starters, you can read all about the latest version of the Xterra in this month's Four Wheeler of the Year test starting on page 26.

In the past we have actually discussed a Winter Driving issue with snowplow tech included as part of the package. Thanks for reminding us, and we'll be reviewing the subject later in the year.

As far as "Garage Shots" go, by all means send 'em to us. If we receive enough entries each month, we'll run a monthly column a'la Readers' Rigs.

Seatbelts: An Ounce Of Prevention...
Reader: I was in a really bad off-roading accident in Azusa Canyon, California, a few months ago. I really wanted to tell my story to the readers and really emphasize safety and the importance of having a full rollcage, wearing helmets, and having the best-quality seatbelts with harnesses. I almost lost my life, and I'm alive today to tell my story, so I would like to share it. Please advise me how can I do this for the readers.
Issa Lee
Whittier, CA

You just did. We're glad you survived, and thanks for writing in!

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