May 2008 Letters To The Editor
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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 www.fourwheeler.com. Due to the volume of mail, electronic and otherwise, we cannot respond to every reader, but we do read everything.
Reader: Hey guys, I've been reading your magazine since before I bought my '77 Chevy K5 Blazer ... in 1977. And since we've enjoyed over 500,000 miles of set-it-on-fire-and-roll-it-down-a-hill love/hate adventure, I had just a few thoughts on the cover and some of the letters, articles, and Techline (Feb. '08).
First, while the Hummer H3 cuts a nice roostertail, it ain't the K5 the caption on the Table of Contents page says, and the cover truck article says it's supposed to be there. Maybe it's buried in the sand.
Next, staying with the Blazer article, at one time Avalanche Engineering made a twin-stick NP205 conversion. It's not cable-operated or Heim-jointed, but it works fine and was an easy install.
Also, in addition to the Blazer frame repair fixes you mentioned in Techline, Fabtech makes a bolt-in brace that ties the steering box to the front crossmember. Coupled with a frame doubler, it's the next best thing to bulletproof.
Finally, speculating on the exhaust fume problem with the '77 Jimmy, a lot of aftermarket exhaust systems route the tailpipes out under the rear bumper-which puts the exhaust in the low-pressure turbulent airflow that causes all that dust and other crud to cover up the rear window. Going back to the stock side-exit location behind the wheels might help the situation.
Anyway, keep up the good work, and I'll let you know how the next 30 years go.
Editor: Thanks for your support of the magazine. We wouldn't have managed to stay in business for 45 years if it wasn't for folks like you.
About the caption: We ran two separate covers in February-one for subscription copies, and another for the newsstand-and yep, we forgot to change the Table of Contents page to reflect that. Our bad.
We couldn't find the twin-stick kit you mentioned at Avalanche, but Off Road Design makes one of its cool doubler "hybrid" cases for either version (27- or 32-spline input) of the GM-model 205, and you can get it with either twin or triple sticks. Our bad again-but thanks for keeping us on our toes.
And those exhaust fumes in the Jimmy's cab? Read on.
Reader: I have a '92 Bronco with the 5.8L V-8 and four-speed automatic transmission with pushbutton four-wheel drive. My brother tells me that when in two-wheel-drive mode, the front driveshaft and subsequently the front axles will turn. I was wondering if this is true. I have manual hubs and was under the impression that no torque was transmitted to the front end when four-wheel drive was not engaged. I hate to have him prove me wrong, but I am not sure and would like your advice. By the way, I love your magazine.
Editor: We don't nail every single tech question we're ever asked, but we're pretty sure we can handle this one. Tell your brother he's buying dinner tonight.
Reader: My friend is looking for a 6-inch lift for a '99 Toyota 4Runner. Any ideas?
Editor: Nope. Readers?
Reader: I have been a reader of your mag for years and wanted to put my truck in Readers' Rigs, and don't see where I'm to e-mail photos and info. Can you help?
Reader: I have an '03 Chevy ZR/2 Blazer that is lifted with many mods. I would love to send it into the Readers' Rigs section of your magazine. I have read through your site and magazine, and haven't seen how I would go about sending my truck info in. Thank you.
Cave Springs, AR
Editor: There are a couple of ways to do it. You can send us old-fashioned color prints and printed info to Readers' Rigs, Four Wheeler, 6420 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90048. Or you can e-mail digital pics and info to email@example.com. If you wanna post your truck on our Web site, log onto rides.fourwheeler.com, follow the instructions on the screen, and you'll be famous in cyberspace in no time. Is this a great Web site, or what?
Reader: In regard to "Top Down, Windows Open, Fumes In" (Letters, Feb. '08), I think you may have missed the boat on this one. What you failed to mention is that if the reader has an exhaust that exits straight out, under the rear bumper, it will create this problem. As the vehicle travels down the road, there is a vortex that is swirling around at the rear of the vehicle. With the top off, or with the back window open, this will actually take exhaust at the rear of the vehicle and suck it into the passenger area.
The remedy is to change the exhaust to have it exit on either side, behind the rear tires.
Reader: I have a suggestion for the owner of the '77 Jimmy. The exhaust can't run straight out to the bumper, or the cab will fill with fumes with the back window down. It creates a negative pressure inside the cab which sucks in the gases. It should dump behind the rear wheels to the sides, as this is where the factory put it. If I'm not mistaken, Broncos and Ramchargers are the same way. Turndowns could also fill the cab. Anyway, hope this helps.
Kansas City, KS
Reader: It sounds like the Jimmy's stock exhaust system has more modifications than just headers and mufflers. If the tailpipes come out the rear, under the back bumper, than the exhaust will get sucked in the back window when open, or into the rear of the vehicle with the top off. That is why the stock tailpipes were "engineered" to have the exhaust exit to the side-into the "slipstream" between the rear wheels and the rear of the vehicle. Maybe not so "cool" looking, but a heck of lot more agreeable in the functionality department.
Reader: To the fellow who wrote in needing "Power Ram 50 Suspension Parts" (Feb. '08): As the owner of a Ram 50 with dual side-draft Mukuni carbs, lightweight flywheel, Dual Force clutch, headers, and a 2.5-inch lift with 31-inch Goodyear M/Ts, I can sympathize with the young man's plight. There used to be a builder out in California by the name of John Baker Performance, who sold a lot of parts for this vehicle. We both raced them in stadium competitions. This was the first truck my wife learned to (off-road) in and was the first truck I ever exceeded 160 mph in.
Have the young man look at Rancho-they make both a replacement torsion bar and add-a-leaf kit. Also, do not go over 2.5 inches of lift as it will cause multiple issues with the drivetrain and axles. Any taller than that, and a custom suspension will have to be fabricated, along with upgrading the axles.
Remember that the D-50 was a clone of the Mitsubishi Mighty Max, so parts can be found under either title, on your Web searches.
When he gets older, have him contact me and I will give him the skinny on putting a Starion Turbo 2.6 in the truck to really make it fly.
Charles B. Loraine Sr.
Palm Bay, FL
Editor: We did a little more research, and while we couldn't find the Rancho kit you mentioned, we did find an add-a-leaf kit from Rough Country, as well as helper springs from Hellwig, both listed in the J.C. Whitney catalog. John Baker Performance was located in Wisconsin, not California, and to the best of our knowledge they went out of business several years ago.
Reader: I just received the February issue and read the letter about your November Top Truck cover image ("No Helmet or Goggles?"). This letter is an excellent example of the Nanny State Mentality that has become so prevalent lately. The participants in these events are all adults who are capable of making their own choices, and they don't need Big Brother making choices for them. Sponsors of events, and especially the government, need to limit themselves to giving advice and making recommendations, not issuing mandates. Thank you for listening to my rant.
I just purchased the new Top Truck Challenge DVD and must say I am very disappointed. This event should be called "No-Skill Driver Challenge" or "Monster Truck Challenge." These drivers are way too dependent on making their vehicles bigger than their neighbors', and not building for practicality or usefulness. Whatever happened to the days of all the vehicles having to be street-legal? When passing the inspection by the Highway Patrol was one of the events? Bigger is better, but only to a point. When you're running a fullsize truck on tires that are only 12 inches smaller than what monster trucks use, you are very limited on what you can actually do.
Reader: I like the magazine, and I used to like the events. Bring back the days when TTC was about practical off-road vehicles and superior driver skill as opposed to how much money you can spend.
Reader: Wow! Just read your Top Truck coverage (Dec. '07), and the picture of the red TJ laying on its side in the Tank Trap was one of the best photos I've ever seen. Can that face describe the event any better?
Also, there was a letter in Techline with questions about the Quadra-Trac four-wheel-drive system in fullsize Jeeps. The best source I have found for FSJ info is The International Full Size Jeep Association at www.ifsja.org. If they don't have the information, it isn't available.
Editor: We eliminated the street-legality requirement at Top Truck three years ago pretty much out of necessity. We simply don't receive many TTC submissions that are even remotely street-legal anymore-nearly all of them are trail-only rigs-so we figured there was no point in continuing what had become a purely academic exercise. Plus, it wasn't exactly the most riveting thing to watch on video. ("No mud flaps? That's a ticket, young man" ... zzzzzzzzz.)
As for the photo of the submerged red TJ on its side, our intrepid Robin Stover gets credit for wandering deep into the Tank Trap to snap the pic. He's still applying calamine lotion all over his poison-oak scratches to this day. Thanks to all who wrote in about last year's TTC coverage.
Reader: Where can I find the past DVDs for the Top Truck Challenge competitions?
Editor: Top Truck DVDs are sold via mail order by our friends at 4-Wheel Parts Wholesalers. Whatever they've got in stock, you'll find it at www.4wheelparts.com.