A Quest for a Quadratrac Chain

Minute One.
Easy. Go to http://www.milemarker.com, find the damn chain (part # 8007), check local dealers. Four Wheel Parts Wholesalers comes first.
Minute Two. 
Call 4WPW. A knowledgeable sales rep called Adam searches for the chain, says there's none in stock, ten in back order, offers a clone made by Genuine Gear for $104.95. ETA uknown, need to call the supplier, warehouse is in Taiwan (hmmmm), will call you back.
Minute Thirty.
No calls from 4WPW. Call them back, ask for Adam. He says he haven't had a chance to call them yet, would call me back.
Hour Three.
No calls from 4WPW. Call them back, ask for Adam. He says he haven't had a word from supplier yet.
Call Mile Marker's toll free line. Once I got a hold of a sales rep, he asks me of my location. San Diego? hold on - and here I am, back on the line to 4WPW. Hang up.
Another call to Mile Marker. After some careful talk around being switched back to 4WPW, sales rep tells me that AutoZone stocks their products, including QT chains.
Hour Five.
I happen to drive in the neighborhood of one local AutoZone. Stop by. There's a lady warmly greeting me at the doorstep.
- Anything I can help you with today?
- Sure. I need a transfer case chain for a 1979 Jeep Cherokee.
- You need WHAT?
- A transfer case chain. A chain for the transfer case.
- What is it?
- A chain for the transfer case. A transfer case chain. 
- We don't carry such items.
- Well, let's check the computer by the year and vehicle!
- See, in our system, to check the computer, we need to enter a part name first. I don't know what you need. Never heard of it. Is it in the transmission? 
- No.
- Is it in the rear axle?
- No.
- So where is it?
- In the transfer case. I can give the part number if you wish!
- Sure, what is it?
- 8007.
- That's it? No more numbers or anything?
- None that I know of.
- Let's see.... Hoses, belts... no, nothing here.
- It must be here.
- Here, I'll call you my supervisor.
- Hey John, come over here. Here's this guy thinkin I'm a black lady and don't understand nothing.
- Come on, I know you've been in that store for ages - I didn't say that!
- Talk to John.
Cometh John, in a whitest shirt I've seen in ages, black tie, and a little hint of a black eye. Very friendly.
- How can I help you?
- I have a 1979 Jeep Cherokee - that one ouside - and I need a transfer case chain.
- You need WHAT?
- A transfer case chain. A chain for the transfer case.
- What is it? 
- A chain for the transfer case. A transfer case chain. 
- Let's see. Here's your engine, and there's transfer case behind the engine, right?
- Nope. There's transmission behind the engine, and transfer case behind it. And there's a chain inside it that I need to replace.
- Huh... Chain...
- Come to think of it, out of modern SUVs maybe only Land Rover does not have chains in transfer cases. All others do.
- What do they have then?
- Gears.
- Wow... Huh... I've never heard of anyone replacing chains in transfer cases, I thought they replaced them as a whole unit.
- Maybe. But I only need the chain. I called MileMarker, the manufacturer of the chain, and they said AutoZone's one of their distributors.
- See, I don't even know where to start...
- Do you have a MileMarker catalog?
- Where would it be? In performance parts section?
- Good to start with.
We sift through a foot of catalogs, and here it is. Flip to the 4x2 conversions page, find the chain. Part number - you guessed it, 8007.
- You said your jeep is a Cherokee? It lists a different part number.
- Yes. Let's use the one that has a CJ7 and a Wagoneer with Quadratrac in it.
- Let's check the computer. 8007... scroll down.... Here it is! AMC Jeep Quadratrac Chain! $156.99! Man, you're good. We don't have it in stock, but I can have it here in two days. Wanna order it?
The price is the MileMarker's MSRP, and everyone sells it for fifty bucks less.
- Not yet; let me write down your part number, price and phone number - if I don't find it anywhere cheaper and faster, I'll give you a call.
Of course, the part number is 8007. A couple of hours later, I decided I'm not going to save much by wasting my time looking elsewhere, and order it from AutoZone. Hope it comes in tomorrow...

A day later. 
Upon suggestion of Al Metzel, I called Borders Parts in El Cajon, Ca. Here's the dialogue -
- Hi, here's John. Which part do you need?
- A transfer case chain for a '79 Jeep Cherokee.
- Which transfer case?
- Quadratrac Borg Warner 1339.
- With part time kit on it or stock?
- Stock.
- I've got you covered. $100 brand new in a box.
The delay between any Q and A was less than two seconds!!!

Peter Matusov, May 2, 2001