Archives for posts with tag: review

How good is the most expensive Lexus? The YouTube channel Ignition aims to find out.

Andrew St Pierre White, the South African dean of overlanding, stalked around the German overlanding expo, Abenteuer Allrad, this year asking, “What tires are overlanders using?” His aim was to get a sense of which tires the overlanding community is adopting. He also weighs in with his own experience with various brands.

He didn’t have confidence in my previous tire, the Yokohama Geolandar A/T-S, though I liked them. He had good things to say about the tire I’m currently running though, the Cooper Discoverer S/T. I’m happy with that one too. It’s a tough tire with plenty of grip.

See which tires he pans and which ones he gives a nod of approval.

Chris Harris, one of my favorite YouTube presenters, gives a quick overview of the Mercedes-Benz G350 G-Wagen for the UK car magazine Evo.

The Rubicon Trail is one of the toughest in the country. Though some of the most truck-destroying obstacles have reportedly been made less trecherous in recent years, the trail is still a grueling, 12-mile challenge. If you’re interested in tackling it, check out this video review from Terraflex. It’s one of the first I’ve seen that gives a good overview.

This is a 10-out-of-10 difficulty trail. Stock trucks can make it with difficulty but should expect damage. According to the video, 35″ tires, lockers, and 3″ of lift could be considered baseline for making through without undue stress.

If you do go, do your research, and don’t go alone. I’ve included some links below to get you started.

Thanks to Greg from gadmachine for suggesting this video.

Links:
Rubicon Trail Foundation (vehicle and general prep.
)
County of Eldorado (trail conditions)

WCXC: Rookies on the Rubicon (a 7-part series on this site of man’s first time on the trail)

A guy in the auto mechanics class I’m taking recently told me about a smart phone-based scan tool app called Torque. Scan tools are the devices you plug into your car or truck’s OBD or OBD2 diagnostic port to display engine trouble codes, a handy thing to have if you’re working on your own truck. (Trouble codes are generated by the vehicle’s computer when the check engine light goes on.)

Besides reading trouble codes, the app can display all kinds of vehicle information on your phone or tablet in real time: mass air flow, boost (on turbocharged cars), coolant temp, fuel flow, the list goes on. And, because it’s running on a smart phone, it can also display things like pitch, roll, GPS position, and compass heading. The app even has a function that will record video of the road ahead, through the phone or tablet’s camera, while overlaying vehicle data into the frame. Pretty cool.

The video gives a good overview. Things start getting interesting around 4:06.

All you need to make it work is the app, which is $5, and a Bluetooth scan tool, which plugs into your OBD2 port. These can be found on Amazon for about $23. (The OBD2 port has been required on vehicles since 1996, though cars a year or two earlier may be equipped with it. Older cars have the OBD port, which unfortunately won’t work with this system.)

Self contained scan tools can cost hundreds of dollars and don’t have as much functionality, one of the many reasons that the Torque app and a Bluetooth scan tool make such a compelling package.

Check the links for a CNET review, the app, and the bluetooth scan tool.

Links:
CNET: Monitor your car’s performance with the Torque app for Android

Google Play: Torque Pro Scan Tool app

Amazon: BAFX Bluetooth OBD2 Scan Tool
(this one is compatible with Android only)

Ultra Fire Flashlight Review • WCXC

I got this UltraFire XML-T6 LED flashlight as a Christmas gift last year. At first I wasn’t sure where to place it in the product pantheon. The branding looked Chinese and a bit knock-offy. The aluminum body, while not top quality, felt rugged and substantial. The flashlight’s lens could be pulled in and out to focus from a wide beam to a tight, bright square pattern.

A little more research revealed that they are basically knock-offs of the SureFire brand of flashlights that run in the $100 to $400 range. The branding is a bit fluid. There’s UltraFire, SuperFire, and others. That said, it doesn’t seem like a cheap knock off. It performs well. It has a high-quality Cree bulb and throws a REALLY bright beam. And here’s the kicker. It comes with two batteries and a charger, and it’s only $14.

When I first got it, I only charged one battery because that’s all that slid out of the tube. The light stayed lit for maybe an hour before it started to blink and signal that it was dying. Once I figure out that it runs on two batteries, and charged both, it’s been running fine.

The button on the back will cycle through the following modes with each half-press of the button: high beam, medium beam, low beam, strobe, SOS.

I haven’t don’t any waterproof testing. The rear cap is fitted with an o-ring but the front lens housing unscrews to reveal no o-ring. At that price I don’t care though. I don’t expect it to perform as well as a $400 flashlight. And I don’t know that I believe the 1600 lumen rating. That said, the beam is very bright and the flashlight certainly performs many times better than it’s $14 dollar price tag suggests it should.

So, yes, a Chinese knock-off, but one that so far delivers quite a bit of light-up-the-night bang for your buck.

Update 4/7/2014:
The specs for the Cree XM-L T6 LED is 280–300 lumens at 700mA, according to FlahlightWiki.com.

Links:
Amazon: UltraFire XML-T6 Flashlight

Ultra Fire, company site

Flashlight Wiki: UltraFire

Flashlight Wiki: Cree XM-L LED Bulb Specs

In this episode of Dirt Every Day, Fred Williams and crew compare two small 4x4s, each with about an 80″ wheelbase and about 60 hp: a 1946 Willy Jeep and a John Deere Gator. The video is kind of goofy, kind of funny, but also pretty informative and entertaining.

Link:
YouTube: Dirt Every Day

wild

Natalie and I like to read books together, aloud. Our last one was a book by Cheryl Strayed. In her 20s, after losing her mother to cancer, hiked the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert to the Washington State border. Though she read and researched the trip, her lack of practical knowledge (or experience) left her sometimes dangerously, sometimes comically, unprepared. And Strayed writing brings you along. You feel as if you’re with her as she faces the reality of what she’s set out to do.

Her writing is good, at times sad, at times funny, but descriptive and enjoyable. It’s a great story. We highly recommend it.

Link:
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

benjamin-marauder-pcp-air-rifle-22-cal-repeater-1000-fps-24

If you’re looking for a well-made, accurate rifle for target shooting or small game hunting, I recommend the Benjamin Marauder .22 caliber air rifle. The Marauder is a PCP air gun, meaning it gets its power from an on-board tank of air compressed to between 2,000 and 3,000 psi. It features a 10-shot clip, a reversible bolt for left-handed shooters, and 2-stage, adjustable trigger. It will shoot a .22-caliber pellet at 1,000 feet per second. You can get through about 20 shots before the internal tank needs to be refilled, which can be done via an external tank or a pump.

Shooting a quality air rifle is satisfying experience. It’s quiet and it’s inexpensive, as ammo is only about $0.02/round. If you want to go green and shoot lead-free pellets, you’re looking at $0.10/round.

To mine, I added an illuminated UTG 4-16×44 rifle scope, which makes it quite accurate to about 50 yards.

The rifle retails for a little over $500; a Hill MK3 pump runs about $290; the scope is about $140.

Links:
Crossman Airguns: Benjamin Maurader

Benjamin Marauder for sale at Pyramyd Air

UTG 4-16×44 rifle scope

Hill MK3 pump

BP2563

 

 

I’ve always enjoyed Chris Harris’s “Drive” channel reviews on the YouTube. I’ve also always like the Audi RS4 Avant, in fact I drove a B5 S4 Avant a few years ago and was rather fond of it. I was less fond of the maintenance costs, but that’s another story.

In this video, Chris compares the 2.7-liter, twin-turbo V6 RS4 (the B5 version), to the 4.2-liter, normally-aspirated V8 variants (the B7 and B8). For good measure, he throws in a Mercedes C63 wagon as well.

Sadly, Audi’s high-powered, all-wheel-drive, überwagons were never available in the US. Still, I enjoy seeing footage of them in the wild.

Links:
Wikipedia: Audi RS4
YouTube: Drive