Story and Photos Al Vandervelde
Its only in recent model years that vehicle manufacturers have included true selectable lockers in vehicles like the TJ & JK Rubicon, the Ram Power Wagon, Toyota trucks and FJ Cruiser, but if you have been wheeling any length of time you know full well what the benefits of lockers are for your off-road traction and what many of the manufacturers have to offer for lockers in the after market. The advent of selectable lockers for most of us came in the form of the ARB air locking differential. The ARB is a very good product but does require an air source and air lines to operate.
When I say selectable I refer to a differential devise that has more than one traction mode. A non locked setting in what we would call an “open” differential. This means each wheel on the same axle can turn at its own rate of speed without any binding when going around a corner but, lift one wheel in the air and all of the engine torque will go to the lifted (spinning) wheel and forward progress will stop. Some carriers “open” setting actually uses a limited slip type of carrier which transfers some traction to the wheel when one wheel is lightly unloaded but still on the ground but not all so cornering again can take place with little binding, so the vehicles are still very streetable. Lift that wheel completely off the ground and it will spin like a regular open differential most of the time. When in the “locked” mode all selectable lockers “lock” the gears together so traction is split evenly between both tires in one axle. This makes cornering on the street tough on tires, but for off-road its indispensable.
Many new vehicles have less and less space under the hood for more equipment and lockers, like the Eaton E-locker, are a perfect choice in keeping normal road manners for daily street use in a fully open mode. when engaged the E-locker has true 100% locking differential traction for off-road with a flick of a switch without having to add a compressor and air lines to the mix or having to bend and route copper tubing inside the axle housing.
The E-locker installs much easier than other air operated differentials, but we still recommend a professional for the gear set up and bearing installation. While the E-locker still needs a hole drilled in the housing, the wire fits into the hole with a grommet (rather than threaded fittings for air lines) and bends easily to route it through the hole and away from the moving parts inside the axle housing and requires only a dash switch and a 12 volt electric source to operate.
The E-locker is currently available for the:
Dana 30, Dana 35 and Dana 44 and Dana 60 axles.
GM 9.25, 9.5 and 8.5
Canadian retail supplier for Eaton lockers and Yukon Gear products:
IWE Rear Ends only – Burnaby BC
For the full install and photos see 4WDrive Volume 14 Issue 2