4 Wheel & Off Road - - CONTENTS -


QWhat’s a good com­pro­mise be­tween winch rat­ing and line speed? I’ve found that the line speed of the winch I’m us­ing is in­ad­e­quate for the trail rid­ing I do. In other words, when I’m help­ing my cur­rent winch with the truck in gear, I find that I have to stop fre­quently and let the winch catch up. It’s a 12,000-pound winch, and the ve­hi­cle is a Toy­ota truck on 37s. I’m think­ing of go­ing to a ligh­ter­duty winch in or­der to get more line speed.

ROBERT K. Via [email protected]

AThe an­swer de­pends a lot on the type of off-road­ing you do. Let’s tackle the winch rat­ing first. A 12,000-pound winch is overkill for a Toy­ota for trail use, but it’s on the heavy side for mud bog­ging. The rule of thumb is that you want a winch ca­pa­ble of pulling 11⁄2 times the weight of your ve­hi­cle. This is be­cause your winch needs to be able to pull your truck plus over­come what­ever re­sis­tance the truck has en­coun­tered. Pop­ping up and over a rock of­ten just takes a lit­tle tug, while get­ting stuck frame-deep in a 150-foot mud hole is very dif­fer­ent. For trail use, an 8,000-9,500-pound winch is just about right for your truck.

While heav­ier winches of­ten have a slower line speed than their lighter-duty equiv­a­lents, there’s no direct cor­re­la­tion be­tween winch rat­ing and line speed. We’ve found that line speed de­pends much more on the qual­ity of the winch it­self. One of the many dirty lit­tle se­crets about the cheap im­ported winches that have flooded the mar­ket in re­cent years is that they are painfully slow. Those man­u­fac­tur­ers have fig­ured out that peo­ple mostly pay attention to the weight rat­ing of the winch and ig­nore the other im­por­tant spec­i­fi­ca­tions like line speed and amp draw. If you are an over­seas man­u­fac­turer and you need your crappy Chi­nese mo­tor to pull 12,000 pounds so you don’t get nailed for false ad­ver­tis­ing, the cheap­est way to get it done is with more gear­ing. This in turn means slower oper­a­tion.

The bet­ter plan of at­tack with winch shop­ping is to com­pare all the spec­i­fi­ca­tions, but un­for­tu­nately the pub­lished specs can be mis­lead­ing. For ex­am­ple, Warn’s ( Zeon 8 winch has a rated line speed of 11.7 feet per minute while draw­ing 255 amps for a 4,000-pound pull. A Zeon 12 winch has a line speed of 9.3 fpm while draw­ing 209 amps. These specs jibe with our real-world ex­pe­ri­ence— the 12,000-pound winch is slower, but not sub­stan­tially slower. Mean­while a cer­tain im­port winch man­u­fac­turer pub­lishes sim­i­lar num­bers for one of its winches, but it has been our ex­pe­ri­ence that real-world per­for­mance by that same winch is very dif­fer­ent. As with many things, there’s of­ten a rea­son why a prod­uct is cheaper. At the end of the day, we have never felt like we had to wait on a Warn winch to do its job, which is why most of our rigs have a winch with a big red “W” on it.


QI am in the plan­ning stages for a smaller all-wheel drive XJ. I’m think­ing alu­minum LS, 6L80, and am stuck on us­ing a part-time versus full-time trans­fer case in a 2001 Chero­kee. I drive where there is the pos­si­bil­ity of bad weather and bad roads about half the year, and I am con­cerned about the road man­ners of a part-time trans­fer case on slip­pery pave­ment. A sec­ond con­sid­er­a­tion is the “sleeper” SRT8 pos­si­bil­i­ties in an XJ. I re­ally am lean­ing to­ward the full-time

box. Axles are stock low-pin­ion Dana 30 and Chrysler 8.25 with 3.55 gears. Both have re­cently been re­built with TrueTrac dif­fer­en­tials.

What Chevy trans­fer case should I look for if go­ing to full-time? Will these axles hold up to the ad­di­tional power? I am run­ning stock-sized tires and am not hard on parts. What are the han­dling and longevity ram­i­fi­ca­tions of a swap like this?

STEVEN M. Via [email protected]

AYour build is an in­ter­est­ing propo­si­tion:

V-8 power in a light­weight all-wheeldrive Chero­kee would be a lot of fun! Shoe­horn­ing a V-8 un­der the hood of an XJ is dif­fi­cult, but it’s doable, and with a low-pro­file in­take man­i­fold from a Ca­maro, GTO, or Corvette the LS en­gine would ac­tu­ally be an eas­ier fit than a Gen I small-block Chevy.

As for your trans­fer case op­tions, you have sev­eral po­ten­tial av­enues to achieve what you want. While the NP231 trans­fer case is the best known and most com­mon in Chero­kees, XJs also came with the NP242 trans­fer case. It of­fers a full-time four-wheeldrive mode in ad­di­tion to tra­di­tional 2-Hi,

4-Hi, and 4-Lo. These are very pop­u­lar in snow coun­try and are gen­er­ally re­garded as be­ing as strong as an NP231 in stock form. They are plen­ti­ful in wreck­ing yards and easy to re­build, and there’s even a slip-yoke elim­i­na­tor kit avail­able from Tom Wood’s Drive Shafts ( Both No­vak (no­ and Ad­vance Adapters (ad­ of­fer adapters that fa­cil­i­tate mat­ing an NP242 to a 6L80 (the round six-bolt pat­tern is the same, but in­put di­am­e­ter and spline counts are dif­fer­ent). With a stock LS, you are in the up­per range of what a Jeep NP242 can han­dle, but it should sur­vive as long as it’s not sub­jected to much abuse.

Adapt­ing a Jeep case is easy enough, but a cou­ple of other op­tions are avail­able that hap­pen to be stronger. A ver­sion of the NP242 was also used in Hum­mer H1s and H2s. Though sim­i­lar in many ways to the Jeep NP242, there are some sig­nif­i­cant strength and dura­bil­ity dif­fer­ences, in­clud­ing a stronger six-pin­ion plan­e­tary set, a thicker chain, and an in­te­grated cool­ing sys­tem. Rated for sig­nif­i­cantly more torque in­put, these dif­fer­ences also make many of the in­ter­nal com­po­nents dif­fer­ent. The GM ver­sions also don’t have a 2-Hi op­tion, and to our knowl­edge the H2 ver­sions were all elec­tric shift rather than a tra­di­tional lever. In­for­ma­tion is a lit­tle vague on what in­ter­changes be­tween the GM and Jeep ver­sions and what doesn’t, so it’s un­clear if a Hum­mer NP242 could be con­verted to run in 2-Hi and man­ual shift (we would be will­ing to bet it’s pos­si­ble). Most Hum­mer NP242s were used

be­hind 4L80s, but there were also H2s with 6L80s right at the tail end of Hum­mer pro­duc­tion in 2008-2009. It might take some dig­ging, but you could find a stock

6L80/NP242 combo with no af­ter­mar­ket stuff re­quired (other than a trans­mis­sion con­troller). Heck, you could nab the en­tire driv­e­train out of an H2 and have a com­plete

6.0L LS pack­age. Pluck­ing the en­tire driv­e­train from an H2 donor would also elim­i­nate a lot of com­mon swap problems, in­clud­ing spline count dif­fer­ences, speed sen­sor in­puts and lo­ca­tions, and much more. A com­plete H2 LS com­bi­na­tion with a 4L80E is much more com­mon, but if man­ual trans­fer case shift­ing is a re­quire­ment, you’ll want to limit your hunt to H1 trans­fer cases and adapt as you see fit.

As for your axles, you’re go­ing to find it dif­fi­cult to have 300-plus horse­power on tap and not use it. The Chrysler 8.25 would be a tick­ing time bomb with that much power even with stock tires, and why would you go through all the trou­ble of a driv­e­train swap only to baby it due to weak axles? At min­i­mum we’d swap in a Ford 8.8 from an Ex­plorer. Any­thing more than stock-height tires would put the front axle in dan­ger as well, and the TrueTrac in the front is go­ing to make the Jeep drive funny in full-time mode.


QAfter read­ing your ar­ti­cle in the Sept.

2018 is­sue “Dol-Drums: Swap­ping Disc Brakes Onto a GM 14-Bolt Axle” (bit.

ly/2pWGsQx) I am won­der­ing if the parts needed are the same for a 14-bolt semifloat GM axle.

MATT S. Via [email protected]

AIn short, no, the parts are not the same. The semi­float­ing 14-bolt and its big brother the full-floater have lit­tle in com­mon other than the name. Like most of the other com­po­nents on the two axles, the brake brack­ets with a full-floater and a semi­floater are go­ing to be very dif­fer­ent. Although the parts we used in that ar­ti­cle aren’t com­pat­i­ble with a semifloat 9.5-inch 14-bolt, com­pa­nies do of­fer disc brake con­ver­sion kits specif­i­cally for your axle. Both Lugnut 4x4 ( and TSM Man­u­fac­tur­ing ( of­fer disc brake con­ver­sion kits for six-lug 14-bolts. Both kits can be or­dered with or with­out calipers brake hoses and sev­eral other op­tions, should you choose to source some of that stuff on your own. Both kits are also avail­able with or with­out calipers with a park­ing brake func­tion as well. They will fit some 15-inch wheels, but 16-inch wheels are a safer bet. TSM Man­u­fac­tur­ing also has a vari­ant that works with eight-lug axles.

There is a year split with the semi­float­ing 14-bolts, so it’s handy to know about what year truck your axle came from if it’s not stock and was swapped in. Keep in mind you’re go­ing to spend about the same money on a disc brake con­ver­sion as you would swap­ping in an en­tire late-model full-float­ing 14-bolt that has disc brakes from the fac­tory.

I-6 TO AMC V-8

Q Would all the brack­ets (al­ter­na­tor, power steer­ing pump, and so on) from an in­line six-cylin­der 258ci en­gine will work on an AMC 304?

BOBBY G. Via [email protected]

A The ac­ces­sory drive brack­ets are go­ing to be very dif­fer­ent be­tween the AMC

258s and AMC V-8s. Among other things, the en­gines have dif­fer­ent mount­ing pro­files. If you’re con­sid­er­ing a V-8 swap in your CJ, then you’re go­ing to want to source all the ac­ces­sory drive brack­ets with the donor en­gine. Just as with Chevy V-8s, there was a va­ri­ety of ac­ces­sory po­si­tions and con­fig­u­ra­tions on AMC ve­hi­cles among all the dif­fer­ent car and truck mod­els, so if pos­si­ble get all of the brack­etry from the same en­gine.

It’s worth not­ing that while AMC I-6 and V-8 ac­ces­sory drive sys­tems are not in­ter­change­able, the ac­ces­sories within the I-6 and AMC

2.5L en­gines are largely in­ter­change­able. This means you can use things like the power steer­ing brack­ets from a four-cylin­der 2.5L on a 4.2L in a CJ, and you could the­o­ret­i­cally put a 4.0L ser­pen­tine sys­tem on and ear­lier

I-6 or I-4 en­gine (though there would be some is­sues with the in­take man­i­fold to sort out). This ap­plies to the AMC 2.5L en­gine only; the GM Iron Duke 2.5L is a dif­fer­ent an­i­mal.


T his H3 had sev­eral years of hard­core use un­der its splines, in­clud­ing UA

2017 and a cou­ple trails of UA 2018. No won­der that re­turn­ing reader Chris Paul started feel­ing a vi­bra­tion and hear­ing strange noises com­ing from the Ea­ton

HO72 rear axle. When the Ul­ti­mate Ad­ven­ture group pulled into the park­ing lot of the At­ti­tash Moun­tain Re­sort, in­stead of rid­ing the Alpine slide Chris busted out the tools. It turns out the fac­tory coars­es­pline axle­shaft had a re­ally neat corkscrew and some twisted splines—prob­a­bly from Chris’ new “ham­mer down” East Coast driv­ing style he adopted dur­ing Day

1 of UA 2018. Like all good off-road­ers, Chris had a spare ’shaft and was re­paired and ready to go be­fore the last rider was down off the moun­tain.

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