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Baertrax Buttface Diff Cover

By Shawn Pagan & Bob Fleming

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Baertrax Buttface
Baertrax Buttface
Since when is a front differential cover really unique enough to write about it? How about when it’s so initially ugly to look at that even the guy who invented it calls it a Buttface? How about when its design is so carefully thought out that the re-enforcement gussets are not only designed to protect the differential, cover and all, but also incorporates a protective plate for the tie-rod as well ? That is exactly what makes the Baertrax Buttface differential cover worth talking or writing about.

Baertrax has come with a truly unique answer to the problem of protecting the front differential from the dangers of rockcrawling and trail riding. We’ve all seen the multitude of bolt-on diff guards and the plethora of designs - many of which work quite well, from what we have observed over the years. However, the Baertrax Buttface is the first design I’ve seen where the protective gussets or bars have been incorporated directly into the design of the diff cover itself.

Baertrax has added three tapered gusset plates, running vertically from the lower edge of the diff cover upwards to approximately the center of the cover. The gussets are thick and wide, with a curved facing edge to deflect the rocks or other obstacles and allow the diff to slide up and over the obstacle.

At the height of the gussets, a horizontal plate, running the full width of the diff cover, has been added. This is the unique aspect of this cover. This plate protrudes outward a full five inches to the front. This plate extends two full inches beyond the tie rod, providing substantial protection here, as well. Take it from us, protection for the front diff and tie rod is a VERY good thing!!

The installation of the Baertrax Buttface was simple enough. Simply remove the old differential cover and replaces it with the one from Baertrax. The only thing you need to salvage from the old cover is the drain plug and bolts.

Baertrax Buttface
Note the visible dents in the stock cover
Baertrax Buttface
This is a good time to check everything.

Another nice feature about replacing the diff cover was that it should provide you with an opportunity to change the fluid and inspect everything in your diff. You know it's time to do that anyway! On this project rig, it stopped an overdue excuse and we pulled the old cover off and did a preventative inspection of the front locker and axles for excessive wear and tear. Luckily, there was absolutely no indication of wear or pending failure, but it is always good to check.


The Buttface installed.

Notice the thickness of the gussets.

Now that the Baertrax Buttface is installed, It’s time to refill the diff with gear oil. If you’ve ever tried to do this without a pump, you know what a hassle it can be. However, having a handy tool like a fill hose makes the task quite easy and clean.

Baertrax Buttface
A good long hose helps with the refill...

Testing the Buttface
Now to put it to the test. The owner of this Jeep really enjoys rockcrawling, as can be evidenced by the severe “dings” on the old differential cover (see above) from past excursions. It will be interesting to see just how well the Baertrax Buttface actually performs in the trail protection category

Over the next few months we headed out to a number of the toughest trails around us and spent time trying to see what damage we could do to the Buttface. All along the way we kept hearing "What's that thing on your Diff?" or "Does it really work?"

We tried to answer those questions for most people on the trails. If you notice below in various pictures taken from Barnwell Mtn Recreational Area, Las Cruces and Katemcy Rocks the Baertrax Buttface was put through and driven into as many rocks as we could find.


Following the rock in Las Cruces

Putting the Baertrax Buttface to the test

The cover sliding up a rock.


Note the protection of the tie rod


So yes we did find that the cover protects and can take abuse. The protection of the tie rod is an added bonus. What we didn't count on and one concern we had was the strength of the ribs. In the two following pictures you can see both how well the tie rod is protected and in the following close-up you can see that the Baertrax Buttface is actually breaking chunks out of the rock instead of being bent or dented.

Baertrax Buttface
Perspective of the connection with the rock.
Baertrax Buttface
Strong! It broke the rock!

I know that in some of these pictures it doesn't appear that the tie rod has enough clearance - I will assure you that it does. If you think about it, the tie rod doesn't actually move that much at all so the clearance issue is not one you should run into. In fact, the tie rod on this test vehicle is a thick aftermarket unit. Baertrax also sells extremely thick 1-1/4" tie rods that have no clearance issues with the Buttface, so your application should have plenty of room.

The Baertrax Buttface is available for a number of different differential models with new ones being added all the time - mostly as demand requires. We also ran into several people that have adapted their Buttface's for other uses including, but not limited to, the mounting of hydraulic assist rams and steering stabilizers. The flat plate makes for unlimited possibilities - maybe even some beyond Baertrax's original thoughts.

In our opinion, this is a great design that accomplishes what it set out to do and gives much more in the way of tie rod protection. If you are in the market for a good, strong, high-quality differential cover that can take whatever abuse you throw at it, then the Baertrax Buttface is a no-brainer.

Resources

Baertrax
2241 Crown Road, #105
Dallas, TX 75229
(972) 406-9363
www.baertrax.com

 

Shawn Pagan

Shawn Pagan is a staff writer for ROCKCRAWLER.com as well as Our Land Use Editor. Shawn resides north of Houston, TX.

Contact Shawn at thepagan@rockcrawler.com