- Reader Emails: Bad Grommets, Telluride Wheelin’, Lifted Trailer Suspension, Stripped 4x4s, And More
Reader Emails: Bad Grommets, Telluride Wheelin’, Lifted Trailer Suspension, Stripped 4x4s, And More
Four Wheeler readers share their thoughts, memories, and opinions.
Pair Of Trailers
Here's my driveway-built overland trailer and my Carson Trailer car hauler that gets used frequently by my family and friends.
I recently read your "Firing Order" column on towing and trailers. I've been towing for 30-plus years. Utility trailers, enclosed snowmobile trailers, car trailers with cars or my Jeep (all over the country to wheel it), and multiple RVs. I still have the Jeep and trailer, and this is my current RV fifth wheel. It's towed by my Chevy Duramax. The truck has numerous performance enhancements, lifted, Dana 60 SAS with coilovers, locked front and rear, regeared, winch, and more.
In order to be able to tow my trailer with a lifted truck, I had to lift it, too. It has a modified suspension, and I went from cheapo China 28-inch, 2,800-pound-rated tires to American-made 33-inch 4,080-pound-rated tires. Yes, I believe in going beyond expected weight ratings! I carry two spares mounted on underbody winches. The wheels were powdercoated to match the truck. All the lettering and name decals were removed. I added an additional fresh water tank, solar panel, more batteries, vent fans, and so on.
We travel with it all over the country. When we get somewhere, we use the trailer as a base and explore the area using our DeLorme Atlas and GPS to find fire, logging, NFS, or other remote areas.
One of the pictures is of our stop at White Sands, New Mexico, on a five-week trip from our home in northern Illinois to the Oregon coast, down the Pacific Coast Highway to the Los Angeles area, then across the southern states back home. Fourteen states and almost 7,700 miles.
The other picture is an early-season trip with friends. The forecast was for 40 degree temps with possible sleet the day after we got home. Well, as usual they got it wrong. On our last day there it started snowing around 5 a.m. Before I could leave I had to shovel about 4 inches of snow off the roof of the RV. Several people were stuck in the campground, as they don't plow it. Once we all got out, there was over 6 inches on the ground, and the roads were not plowed, either, not to mention near-whiteout conditions. I've towed in bad weather, light snow, but this was a new experience. Needless to say there were grip marks on the dash grab bar from my wife, who was not too thrilled.
Just my two cents on modifying trailers and towing.
Thanks for bringing back some fond memories with your February editorial ("Firing Order," February '19). I too have participated in a Telluride Rotary 4x4 Tour, back in 1991. It was the summer before my senior year of high school when I saw an advertisement for the event. Since I lived in Montrose, which is not far from the event, I decided I wanted to go. I called up my buddy Todd, and he said he was in. With both of us being 18 years old, we barely met the age requirement! When the weekend finally came around, we loaded up my stock '77 FJ40 riding on big-for-the-time 32-inch BFG mudders and hit the road for a weekend of camping and wheeling with "adults." We were definitely the youngest ones attending the event. We ran Imogene, Black Bear, and Poughkeepsie Gulch that weekend. The bikini top barely kept us dry from the rain and mud on the trails. It was awesome!
I still explore the trails in the San Juans with that same Landcruiser, and it still has the dash plaque from that event so many years ago. Thanks for the memories.
Fan Of Simplicity
Just finished reading your column ("Firing Order," June '20).
Personal experience: I certainly don't mind manual hubs or smart hubs with a manual safety. (I think Ford uses something like that on Super Duty models, if I understood a technician friend correctly.) Manual hubs are only a bummer when you forget to lock them before hitting mud, but that is just an opportunity for your friends to drive around and laugh at you.
I have had to chase vacuum leaks on Jeep YJ-era front axle disconnect systems. I have had fun chasing electronic issues on the later GMT 400 trucks/SUVs with nothing but buttons and servos.
Also, in the way old days, a few buddies and I went from Phoenix up to the Flagstaff area to hit the snowy 4x4 trails. The brand-new Land Rover Discovery Series II decided it didn't want to work. (In his defense, the owner worked in sales at Land Rover, and it was a cheap lease deal.) All the traction systems and limited slips gave up, leaving it struggling in snowy fields. Meanwhile, the super-simple Jeep Cherokee XJ and slightly fancier yet still mechanical Grand Cherokee WJ with gerotor pumps and Quadra-Drive were flawless. (I miss that one.) Until I punched an ice chunk through a sidewall while breaking trail. But that is another story.
I intend to baby and maintain my '06 LJ Rubicon (with a RubiCrawler for even more levers) and my '11 Power Wagon crew cab—not quite the same as your third-gen '05 but still very basic with just a little more room for family on trips. I've had all six seats in use several times!
Auto Hub Shakin'
I had a Ford Ranger with automatic locking hubs. At one point it started shaking violently while highway cruising in two-wheel drive. I stopped and had my passenger move the steering wheel gently a little back and forth to check the tie-rod ends, drag link, pitman arm, and steering box free play—all were good. At one point I jacked up the front wheels and checked for bad front wheel bearings or loose lug nuts—no problem. Each time I would stop, the problem would go away until I hit a pot hole or bump, and then it would return. I was 50 miles away from the next town in either direction, and the time between episodes became shorter and shorter. After many stops, I finally arrived home and the next morning went to an excellent local suspension shop. A quick test drive and subsequent disassembly of the left front automatic locking hub showed a worn internal gear. The price of a replacement automatic locking hub was the same as a pair of manual locking hubs. I happily went with a pair of the manual hubs. Good decision! For those of you with Rangers with over 100,000 miles, I suggest new manual hubs before you get out to remote locations.
I have an '06 Dodge Power Wagon with a manual shift 271 case like yours, and the only thing that almost stopped me from using four-wheel drive on the truck was the grommets on the shifter rod that failed. I just climbed under the truck and put it in 4WD with channel locks and got new grommets/bushings, which I keep a spare pair of now. Locking hubs are next when I do the ball joints, and I saved the article from when you did the conversion on your Power Wagon.
Thanks from a loyal Four Wheeler reader for over 30 years
Entry-Level 4x4 Fan
I fully agree with you on so called "entry-level" or stripped vehicles ("Firing Order," June '20). I can't see the benefit of fully loaded options compared to the additional cost. In addition, the added complexity will bite you a few years down the road.
Also, I was very happy to see your '77 International Scout. I also have an '77, but a Traveler since the early '90s. My pride and joy.
Keep up the good work, and have a nice day.