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April 2009 Mail Bag

Posted in Project Vehicles on April 1, 2009
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More Michele
As a '95 YJ owner, I was very happy to see a beautiful YJ on the November '08 cover. I would love to see an in-depth article on the '94 Sahara Michele Blasi was driving, and if that is not possible, an in-depth interview with Ms. Blasi will suffice. Now get cracking.
Tom Knecht
Via e-mail

Out Back and Armed
I'm a long-time reader of your magazine, and also the owner of a nice '05 TJ. I enjoy the articles and tech advice, but mostly the trail info write-ups. I am lucky enough to live in an area that has thousands of miles of trails. They are far from any towns so vehicle maintenance is very important. I carry a chainsaw for fallen trees as well as a Marlin .450 trapper along in the likely event that I have to walk home. (We have lots of hungry Black Bears.) I haven't done any mods yet but have the RBS super-short slip yoke eliminator and other transfer case parts purchased already. I'm planning on Tom Wood's driveshafts and a 4-inch Skyjacker lift. I've got a 4.0L engine, 6-speed manual, and a Dana 44 rear axle. My beast came with 30-inch Wranglers and I'll do a mild upgrade to 33 inchers. The light-bar in the picture is my own custom made thing, and it doubles as a canoe rack. I do trail-riding not rock-crawling.

Keep the great articles coming!
Paul Kroeker
Buffalo Narrows, SK, Canada

More Jeep Chicks
I'm one of your female Jp magazine fans. I've been driving Jeeps for 9 years now. My current trail rig is the '81 CJ-8 Scrambler pictured. It's bobbed, has a Chevy 350 TBI, Dana 60s front and rear, fully locked, has 39-inch Boggers and so much more. She's my dream truck and when I saw it for sale, I jumped on it immediately.

I was so stoked to see Michele on the cover of the November '08 issue! That rocks! Once in a while it's nice to see other Jeep gals behind the wheel. Where I live (Northern Alberta, Canada - Tarsands, babe!) Jeep chicks are few and far between, but every one of them I've met has been cool and I hope you keep putting us gals on the cover!
Keep the shiny side muddy!
Via e-mail

Regear 101
How about a how-to series on regearing? Almost every four-wheeler needs to regear, but many don't because they don't know how to do the work themselves, and it's costly to have it done at a shop. Each month could feature a different Jeep axle, with step-by-step axle-specific instructions and helpful tips from the experts. I'd also like to see a sidebar reprinted every month covering contact pattern. After covering the factory Jeep axles, you could move on to commonly swapped-in axles like the Ford 8.8. I know you can get the same info on the internet but I think running a story would be more helpful to your readers, and a magazine is easier to take out to the garage than a laptop computer
Brian Hanser
Via e-mail

It may seem like a good idea, however, regearing an axle is a lot more involved than what we could physically fit in a few page story. You really need an entire book. Not to mention the fact that regardless of the service manual you read it's not a good job to tackle for the first time without an experienced eye watching. You can very quickly and easily destroy a $120 bearing kit if you don't know what you are doing. The other problem is that the tools required to set up a ring and pinion are generally more costly than having the job done by a professional. Ultimately, several of us here at Jp have the tools and experience to regear an axle, but it just doesn't make a good story, or series of stories. Of course many of the axles are similar, if not near identical as far as gear swaps go, but none are really a good job for the typical driveway mechanic.

But if you are still interested in regearing your own axles I recommend checking out and click on Technical Help: How To. There are also some tips and tricks along with the list of tools you'll need to complete the job.

Stop Cryin'
Thought I'd drop in to tell all the babies to stop getting their panties all wadded up about the staff at Jp magazine. For real, if you find it offensive, there are other people to annoy with negative comments; no one's got you chained down! The staff is the reason my friends and I have been reading Jp magazine for the last 5 years. Simply because of the humorous articles they write. I personally think they should make a new section where the staff all sit around and pick on each other, each other's vehicles, lifestyles, and so on. This is the only magazine I actually look forward to. If you seriously want to know more about products or how to do or fix something my suggestion is to get off your butt, call or visit whatever product company online, pick up a monkey wrench, sledge hammer or duct tape and go to town. My XJ's engine bay caught on fire and burned up last year, I didn't bitch. I simply dove in and fixed it. Yeah, took me a year with some things I was puzzled at, but I figured it out. That's what wheeling and Jeeps are about; built it, break it, repeat. I'm currently building a full cage around it. I find out more by physically wheeling and working on my junk then by reading about it. Thanks for the great mag every month guys. Keep up the humorous articles.Jimmy Moore Jr.Street, MD

I've had my fill of reading the negative commentary taking pot shots at Jp magazine and the staff. I've never met or spoken to John Cappa or anyone else that writes for the magazine so no bias here. What I do know is that I'm anxious to receive my subscription every month. The articles are written just the way I like them - to the point, based on years of experience, and include information from the manufacturers. I want and welcome the opinions of the writers as to durability, and performance. These true evaluations should in no way be taken as a slam to Jeep enthusiasts. I want to know the best and worst of my rig - which by the way is a '05 LJ Rubicon. Not everything and everybody should get a first place blue ribbon just for being there. I want the truth. I hope one day to see you guys on the trail and can thank you in person for all the hard work. There are many, many subscribers out here that appreciate a good thing when we actually read it.Robbi DoncostMission Viejo, CA

Liberty Letdown
I just finished my October '08 issue of Jp magazine and read at least two jabs at the Jeep Liberty. News flash: they are not making any more Cherokees. Since lots of Liberties have been produced and are the most off-road capable of the cute-ute class, I would like to propose a challenge. Let's see one of these custom shops fit a Liberty with the new crate Dana 44 axles front and back. If they can fit coils on leaf sprung vehicles, this should be possible with a little subframe welding. There will be a lot of lightly-used Liberties around at reasonable prices for a while. Here are a couple reasons it's a good idea:

1 Liberty is shorter than the Grand Cherokee.

2. Unitbody construction is coming on vehicles to save weight for better gas mileage. This will have to be addressed.

3. would have a unique vehicle that shows Jeep what they could produce.Jens JensenWindsor, VT

Sure. But for the price of a used Liberty you could have a used WJ or ZJ Grand Cherokee with a V-8 and solid axles already in it. Sooo, why bother with a Liberty?

The Liberty has a lot of other issues too. Originally, when it was built it was never intended to be an off-road enthusiast vehicle. The plan was to use it as a lure to bring typically non-Jeep customers to the Jeep brand. So, someone that was looking at a RAV4 might consider a Liberty instead.

Stock-for-stock a ZJ or WJ Grand will trounce a Liberty off-road, longer or not. Both the Liberty and Grands have a Unitbody. It's not a plus. Over time the chassis will come apart with off-road use. Doors won't close properly, seams crack, that kind of stuff.

But perhaps the biggest hurdle is the size of the Liberty wheelwells. They're really small and you can't just cut them out for larger tires. You'll eat into the main unit-body structure, again weakening it. Sure, anything can be done, but the time and expense required doesn't justify the results. Every solid-axle converted Liberty I have seen has been too tall, unstable and ultimately not very capable.

Don't get me wrong, we have entertained the idea of building a Liberty rally car. Problem is it still has a pathetic motor. So again, the all-wheel-drive Grand Cherokee makes a better platform for this as well.

Jp Digital
I just caught wind that Jp is offering an online magazine subscription. Oh come on you guys, how the hell am I supposed to carry my desktop to the library with the porcelain chair and read this thing? Then when I'm done reading, what am I supposed to use to wipe my butt with?

The day I can't get a touchy feely copy of your great mag is the day I cancel my subscription

Go hug a tree if you want green!Rick Jandrt

I'm from my mother, but I divide my time between Georgia and Texas

No worries Rick, the digital subscription is only an option. But at half the price of a regular subscription it might be a viable one for some people. Go to for more info.

I could not find an e-mail address for Dr. Vern so if you could please pass this along or just delete it, either way.

In response to your November '08 rant, I never bought a $50 Jeep either, but in the summer of 1961 while in the Air Force I bought a nice M38 with 18,000 miles from the Ramstein Air Base Germany salvage yard for $125. I have the pictures and paperwork to back that one up. I sold it when the weather in Germany got very cold. Dumb! In the summer of 1962 I went to a US Army surplus sale in Kaiserslautern, also in Germany for the geo-impaired. They had very nice m38's. There were rows of complete running Jeeps with tops and doors to pick from for $350 each. I didn't buy one; I thought they were too expensive. Did I mention dumb?Bill DunkelmannWest Palm Beach, FL

Rob Pete!
Where can I get Jp magazine items such as T-shirts, bumper stickers and so on.Dennis SkeesLouisville, KY

Well, we used to sell it online. But apparently the stuff was about as popular as a turd in a punchbowl. So if you want it, you'll have to find Pete Trasborg on the trail and steal his company duds. Hazel or Cappa are likely to shoot you if you try mugging them so you're better off going for the weak target.

Which V-8?
I was flipping through the November '08 issue of Jp magazine and I saw an article about a junkyard in Toledo that had several older Jeeps left for dead ("Rust Holy Toledo Part II"). In the story there was a pic of a '66 J2000 and it said that they had the Vigilante V-8 made by AMC for '65-'66 and the '67-'71 trucks had the Buick Dauntless 350 motor. My question to anyone who can help is I have a J2000 with a 327 Vigilante in it. The title says it's a '68 but if they stopped using the Vigilante in 1967 then how could it be a '68? Is the title wrong or were there some '68's made with the AMC motor?Name withheldVia

The 327 Vigilante V-8 was actually phased out in 1968. So the early 1968 trucks would have the 327, and the late 1968 trucks would have the 350 Buick. It is not at all uncommon for Jeep to make changes like this. In fact, it still happens to this day.

Write Us!
Got a question or comment about Jp magazine or the village idiots at the helm? Drop us a line. Don't forget to include your full name and where you're from or we'll make fun of you. Actually, we may make fun of you anyway. Keep it short and to the point or we'll hack and chop your letter as we please. We get a lot of mail, but we read every letter. Unfortunately, we can't print or personally answer every request. We're too busy surfing the Internet on the company dime. Digital images should be no less than 1,600x1,200 pixels (or 2 megapixels) and should be saved as a .tiff, an .eps, or the maximum-quality .jpeg file. Write to: Jp Magazine Editor 6420 Wilshire Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90048 E-mail to:

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