Reader: I have one for the "Be Aware" archive. Great rollover articles this month (Apr. '09), but I spotted something on page 32, the Power Tank. I doubt the little handle/rollbar on the tank is designed to protect the valve from the weight of the truck. So "be aware" when mounting them to keep the valve in the rollcage-protected area of the vehicle, just like the passengers. While rapidly venting all the C02 will always be inconvenient, if the tank gets loose it can also cause bodily injury.
And one more thing. I thought that in the event of a serious rollover it was a bad idea for the driver to hold onto the steering wheel. That's a good way to break your fingers, as the steering wheel can whip around violently from the tires contacting the ground. Better for the driver to have his or her own set of grab handles where the fingers will stay safe.
Keep up the good work!
Editor: Good point. Many items we carry in our rigs don't survive a turn upside-down. Also, everything in a vehicle should be lashed down or secured, including yourself, in case of a roll.
The Hospital Rate
Reader: In your Apr. '09 4xForward, "Hospital Game," Editor Rick Pw mentions that reader Jeff Mello had a 75-percent running Hospital Rate. It has been a few years since my shoes have felt the grinding dust and my nose has smelled the welding flux burning in Jeff's workshop, but I just can't imagine Jeff being up to 75 percent. I don't know where he learned to count (California school system?) but last time I was at his place I'm sure there was more iron that couldn't possibly sputter to life. He must not have been counting the other two frames out back or the other body under the tarp...or the one with the 'Mog axles, and no motor or tranny, or the other at his dad's place that he didn't have room for. You get the picture.
Maybe it's the VIN requirement that he's counting on to get him up to 75 percent. Does it have to pass smog testing? Rick shouldn't feel that bad; 67 percent is respectable. Especially with the quantities listed. Heck, I'm at 100 percent right now, but it wasn't more than five months ago when I was at 67 percent and things were looking bad. My 67 percent was caused by a wheel bearing that got a bit of metal in it when flat towing for 2,000 miles. (I'm pretty sure I'm not the only person who has pulled a hub off and heard the ping ping ping of little bearings falling out onto the concrete.)
Editor: We got lots of responses to my Hospital Rate column, most of them good. But there was this other guy who thought it was a terrible idea to justify ownership of junk and ruining property values. Hey, in today's economy a derelict car on blocks in the front yard can probably improve property values!
Question of the Month--Answered!
Responses to last Month's Question:
Is an automatic or manual transmission better for four-wheeling and why?
I feel that manual is better because it offers better gear ratios and is more durable than an automatic. It also keeps all its fluids inside itself and does not require an external cooler. Lastly, all of the components are locked together mechanically (not hydraulically)--that gives the driver a better feel for what's going on. The automatic's only advantage is that it's easier to use in crawling situations because there is no clutch.
I am a diehard manual transmission fan and believe that most people don't like them because, frankly, they don't know how to drive them. With a manual I feel more in control of my vehicle. I also have the option of a push-start, and when in the right gear I rarely have to touch the brakes. Long live the stick shift.
For me and the rest of the 'wheelers I have ever met, it's automatic all the way! They offer a faster, smoother, more reliable shift to allow maximum momentum, and we all know how important that is when in the middle of some serious slop! Some manuals have long-throw shifters and can be very sluggish. Not to mention you can drop your auto into First or Second and control it as if it were a manual tranny. For me, this is a no-brainer.
Tough question. If I'm wheeling rocks or trails, I want a manual. If I'm wheeling mud or sand, I want an auto. The manual is less likely to overheat under harsh conditions, but if the clutch is not a heavy-duty model it can slip and cook both the flywheel and itself. For towing, manual is the best choice. Automatics are expensive to rebuild and keep cool, and they don't come strong enough from the factory. I like rowing through the gears of my manual, but I also like the no-brainer driving of my auto. So "undecided" is my final answer.
Troy "Kid" Chapel
Big Timber, MT
Editor: Twice as many readers who responded prefer manuals, but even more can go either way depending on the situation.
Auto: 39 percent
On the fence: 41 percent
It all boils down to what you drive, how you drive, and where you go--and apparently how much of a control freak you are.
For next month's question we will be using the forums at www.4wor.com, but as always you can contact us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.