If you're anything
like me, you only want to put the strongest and most functional aftermarket
modifications on your truck, but when you can't afford the strongest and
most functional modification, compromises have to be made. No longer are
you looking for simply the strongest and most functional... now you are
looking for the modification that provides the most bang-per-buck.
Well, it came time
to finally put a locker in my good old Jeep TJ. First, I decided I wanted
to shoot for ARB lockers, front and rear. The ARB air-locker is one of
the most popular heavy-duty lockers because of its ability to engage and
disengage at the press of a button. You can't beat that! Who was I kidding?
ARB lockers front and rear, and the necessary air-compressor can cost
up to a couple thousand dollars, installed. Needless to say, that didn't
fit in my budget. :)
My next decision was
to put a Detroit C-Locker in the rear differential. I had experience running
Detroit lockers before in other vehicles, and their performance was very
pleasing. Although one is unable to completely disengage the Detroit locker,
its strength and off-road performance is exceptional, and street manners
are tolerable. Once again, the locker is expensive and labor-intensive
to install. To put one in would cost just less than a thousand dollars
(parts and labor), and once again, this was too expensive.
I considered a Lock
Right, which we'll be discussing throughout this article, but I've never
been satisfied with the manners or durability of the unit. The Lock Right
is an inexpensive spider-gear replacement that easily installs in your
existing carrier. The unit usually proves very effective, but putting
33,000 miles on my Jeep in less than a year made me hesitate installing
the unit. For approximately $275 (price dependent on kind of rear) and
simple installation, many weekend 'wheelers can't go wrong with it.
was waiting for a miracle locker. One that would smoothly allow my
Jeep to scale walls out on the trail, and yet one that would magically
disappear as soon as I pulled out onto the pavement. This seemed particularly
naive, but I dreamt it, nonetheless. I had high hopes during the introduction
of the relatively inexpensive Detroit Gearless locker, but these hopes
were quickly squelched due to horror stories of a weak unit that had
a high failure rate.
long after the rise and fall of the Detroit Gearless locker, the Powertrax
No-Slip entered the scene. Was this the miracle locker I was looking
for? Powertrax, the company that manufactures the Lock-Right, started
production of the Powertrax No-Slip which is also a spider gear replacement
locker. It seemed funny that one company would produce two very similar
lockers of two entirely different names. I did a little research and
decided to give this new locker a try.
Powertrax Lock-Right, as I mentioned before, cost approximately $275
for my vehicle, while the Powertrax No-Slip cost approximately $375
for the same application. Either locker fit my budget. All I had to
do was figure out what made the Powertrax No-Slip better than the
Powertrax Lock Right. In the picture to the left, you can see the
packaging, instructions, and dissassembled lockers side-by-side. Both
lockers pictured are for Dana 35c axles.
you can see, they are very similar, and nearly indistinguishable to
the untrained eye. What I established from the advertising and talking
to Powertrax was that both lockers performed similarly on the trail,
however the Powertrax No-Slip is minimally stronger and smoother operating
than the Lock Right. Lock Right units typically make a ratcheting
sounds (series of clicking) when turning corners on the pavement,
and this characteristic was supposedly eliminated in the No-Slip unit.
replacement lockers are only as strong as the carrier they are in.
The carrier, as you can see in the picture, houses the spider gears
which allow speed to vary from one wheel to another around bends
and so on. When you're four-wheeling, traction goes from the wheels
that grip, to the wheels that slip, so if your suspension is flexed
out and one wheel on each axle lift from the ground, you will usually
stop dead in your tracks. The "locker" locks up both wheels
on one axle so there is no loss of traction, and you can proceed
unhindered. Vehicles equipped with lockers are usually significantly
more capable than those without in most conditions.
Taking off the
differential cover and disposing or containing the gear oil are
your first steps to putting a new locker in. If the inside of your
differential is dirty, it probably wouldn't hurt spray the inside
with brake cleaner, and stick an old rag in there to soak it up.
Here, you can
see Jeremy at OK
Auto, 4WD & Tire unscrewing the fastener that holds in the
center-pin, which in turn, holds in the spider gears.
If you're running
a Dana 35c (disposable) axle, pull off your c-clips, slide the axle
out a little bit and the spider side-gears inside the carrier should
fall right out. When that is all done, you're pretty much ready
to put the new locker in!
This was done
in a 4x4 shop for the sake of documenting the installation, but
this can easily be done in your driveway or on the trail with simple
tools. Just make sure you have gear oil and containers.