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.
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.
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!!
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.
Note the visible dents in the stock cover
This is a good time to check everything.
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.
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
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.
Perspective of the connection with the rock.
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
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.