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Clipboard - Off-Road News - March 2014

The latest news & long term updates

M37 Prerunner?!
I’ve been the proud owner of a 1953 Dodge M37 for three years now. Everything is in great shape, and it’s a blast to drive through the fields and creek beds we have here in Nebraska. The concern is, I have a “going-fast” problem, and I want the M37 to keep up with my right foot over fire roads and farm pastures (I’m sure you can relate). This means (way) more power than the stock 78hp engine can offer, and also more off-road capability than the stiff leaf springs and skinny stock tires are currently providing. I’m thinking of something diesel-powered, with a mid-travel linked suspension. However, because everything is in such great shape, I’ll have a bunch of purists with pitchforks in my driveway if I modify this (already working!) fine piece of American iron. To avoid this, I’ve decided the best thing to do is to sell the frame and drivetrain combo whole to someone, while I keep the cab and bed and put it on a more modern frame and drivetrain. My question is, what pickup frame-and-drivetrain combos are best fit for this? Finding a diesel engine in a truck with 112-inch wheelbase to match my M37s is proving to be tough. I can weld and fabricate, but I want this swap to be as smooth as possible.
Josh DeBoer,
Fort Calhoun, Nebraska

Josh, first, we love that you’re not afraid to get a little crazy with your M37. While the purists may come after you, we’re guessing they’ll be more impressed that they won’t be able to catch you.

It seems like you’re thinking more logically than a lot of us would, who would try to put motor mounts and suspension mounts in to connect all that stuff to the stock frame. It will be much easier and more effective to start with a new frame and powertrain and add your M37 body to the top. If it were us, we’d not use anything but a Ram 2500 or 3500, just to stay Dodge (there’s our purist roots talking).

A rolled-over and totaled single cab 4x4 Cummins truck would be a great starting point. And we wouldn’t worry about the wheelbase length too much; if you’re capable enough to do a body swap and make custom mounts, then we have faith you’d be able to cut down the frame to the correct length for your M37.

Track Bar Install?
I’ve got a ’08 Ram, and I am in the middle of a 3-inch lift kit, but I made a mistake. I started doing this in my driveway, which has a small incline on it. I undid the track bar bolt, and the axle is now too far over to one side to get the new track bar in. I started this as a weekend project last week by myself, and now I’m driving my wife’s Honda to work until I fix this. Any hints to make this easier?
Hector Levonn

First, Hector, we’re guessing you know better than to jack up a truck on an incline and that you should always be working on flat (flat as possible) ground. But we understand that pickle. Your track bar issue is easily solved with two people. Have your wife get in the truck and slowly turn the steering wheel (while the key has to be turned to unlock the steering wheel, the engine does not have to be on). The whole truck will shift sideways on the front axle as the drag link pushes/pulls it. Simply yell out to your significant other the correct direction to turn the wheel, and line up the new track bar. And be careful not to pinch your fingers.

Long-Term Updates
Sure, it works great for the first week, but what about after?

Bulletproof FICM
Back in 2012, we put a Bulletproof Diesel FICM into our 2003 Ford 6.0L Power Stroke diesel Super Duty. Prior to new FICM (fuel injection control module) installation, our truck was cycling very slowly through the injectors upon start up, and it sounded like we were sometimes running on seven cylinders. And we had already replaced the FICM with a stock one a couple years before. The new Bulletproof FICM got our truck running better than ever, with a fuel economy improvement between 1 or 2 miles per gallon. (We never wrote down exact figures, we just noticed about 40 more miles out of each tank.) When turning on the ignition before engaging the starter, we can hear the truck cycle through the injectors much faster as it checks them prior to firing over.

Hella HID
The classic red ring of the Hella 4000 HID (high intensity discharge) light is unmistakable. This made that light become one of the most sought-after in the last decade. For good reason, too. The Hella 4000 HID had the light power to back up any claims it has made as top dog.

We’ve never had a single problem with ours to this day, and they’ve been turned on in extreme hot and cold environments. The light performance is still excellent, but HID technology is last week’s superstar. Although HIDs are much brighter than their halogen counterparts—and until recently, were still brighter than LEDs—HID lights take a few seconds to rise to full power and use more amperage than LEDs (but less than halogen). And HIDs are more fragile than LEDs, with shorter lifespans.

Unfortunately for HIDs, LEDs are getting brighter, and the cost is dropping (slowly). While we love that red-ringed light, we might be trying Hella’s blue-ringed LED 4000s soon.

News Blips
What’s going on in the off-road world

Yamaha Volunteers Complete Three-Year Project to Restore Popular Staging and Riding Areas
Yamaha Motor Corp. volunteers completed a three-year project at one of the nation’s most popular multi-use off-highway vehicle (OHV) staging areas located in the San Bernardino National Forest (SBNF).

As part of the Yamaha OHV Access Initiative, with support of the Southern California Mountains Foundation’s (SCMF) OHV program, volunteers gathered recently for a final round of planting, cleaning, and maintaining the popular Cactus Flats staging area and surrounding trails.

For specific questions about the OHV Access Initiative, call Yamaha’s dedicated OHV Access Initiative Hotline at (877) OHV-TRAIL (877-648-8724), or email OHVAccess@yamaha-motor.com.

BFG Picks Up Two Titles at Traxxas TORQ Series
Team BFG driver Bryce Menzies won his third straight Pro 2 title, while his team member Luke Johnson took home first place in the Pro Buggy class.

Chrysler Group Takes 15 of 24 Awards at TX Truck Rodeo
The TAWA (Texas Auto Writers Association) awarded Chrysler 15 out of 24 possible awards for the 21st Texas Truck Rodeo.

Truck of Texas: 2014 Ram 1500
SUV of Texas: 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee
Full-size Truck of Texas: 2014 Ram 1500
Heavy Duty Truck of Texas: 2014 Ram 2500
Luxury Truck of Texas: 2014 Ram 1500
Commercial Vehicle of Texas: 2014 Ram ProMaster
Truck Line of Texas: Ram Trucks
Compact SUV of Texas: 2014 Jeep Cherokee
Full-size SUV of Texas: 2014 Dodge Durango
Mid-Size SUV of Texas: 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee
Luxury Mid-size SUV of Texas: 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit
Off-Road Utility Vehicle of Texas: 2014 Jeep Wrangler
Best Powertrain: Jeep/Ram 3.0L EcoDiesel
Best Connectivity: Chrysler Group UConnect
Best Technology: Ram 2500 five-link coil rear suspension

Superlift Sold
Quantum Automotive has recently acquired Superlift Suspensions, a company formed in Louisiana in 1975 to build suspension lifts for 4x4 vehicles.