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In the search for better offroad
performance I am doing just about everything I can think of to
make my truck unstoppable: everything short of Caterpiller tracks
that is. I put in a more flexible suspension, bigger tires with
aggressive tread and a locking differential in the rear axle.
Finally, since it was cheap, and advertised as easy to install, I
could not resist trying out a front locker as well. In the
following article I will walk you though the installation of the
Powertrax Lock-Right in the Dana 35. The main drawback of the
differential is the crummy instruction booklet they include with
it. Because it has dark, poorly photocopied black and white photos
in it, if you intend to install one of these lockers you may want
to print a copy of this article out to help guide you through it.
First, put the truck up on stands.
The passenger side should be supported under the axle beam and the
driverís side under the frame to allow the driverís side axle
beam to hang down well below the passenger beam. This will assist
in getting the differential out.
With the truck securely supported,
remove the wheels, lock-outs, retaining ring, axle spacer, outer
wheel-bearing lock-nut, lock washer and wheel bearing adjuster
nut. Now slide the hub and disk assembly off of the spindle being
careful to catch the outer wheel bearing. Set the bearings and
hubs aside to be cleaned and packed if they havenít been
Now you will be
looking at five nuts per side that hold the spindle onto the
knuckle. Remove these nuts and then bump the spindles off. One
side of mine always comes off easily but the other I have to work
off with a heavy, soft hammer.
After the spindles are out of the
way, look behind the passenger side axle beam and find the rubber
boot that protects the slip joint. With a pair of diagonal
cutters, remove the inner Keystone clamp and discard it. You can
now separate the axle shaft at the slip joint and pull the outer
half out and set it aside. Moving around to the driverís side,
pull the left axle out and set it aside too.
Now, if you have stock radius arms
on your truck you are going to have some trouble getting the
differential out of the left axle beam. There is a long, vertical
bolt on the left side of the differential that has to come out in
order to remove the differential. The stock radius arm covers that
bolt so it must be loosened and swung out of the way. My Duff
radius arms are made with a big clearance around the bolt so it is
To loosen the radius arm, you have
to remove the coil in order to get at the top radius arm bolt.
That bolt is actually a stud that is too long for a deep socket so
you will need a box-end wrench and a big extension in order to
loosen it. Then loosen the bottom radius arm bolt with a long
breaker bar and a huge cheater pipe. My Ĺ" drive impact has
proven way too weak to break this loose, so expect to work here.
Lotís of heat works too, if you have it available. Next, put a
floor jack under the left axle beam and remove the nut at the end
of the radius arm, then remove the nut and bolt that hinge the
axle beam through the axle pivot bracket. You are going to be
removing the axle beam from the truck because I have been unable
to pull the radius arm out of the bracket in the past without
pulling the axle beam free of the pivot bracket. After you get the
beam on the floor, you can swing the radius arm out of the way and
get the vertical bolt and nut out of the differential. I did not
put mine back on; you donít need it.
Working from the front of the
truck, remove the circle of bolts holding the differential to the
axle beam. After the bolts are out get a big pan ready to catch
the oil from the differential. There is no drain hole so you have
to be ready to cover a fairly wide area with your pan. Now grab a
solid bar, maybe 18" long and carefully pry the differential
to pop it free of the beam. It is glued on there with silicon so
it wonít come free all at once. Once you have a side loose,
catch the oil and let it drain.
At this point it pays to have the
differential beam hanging down past the right axle beam bracket.
To get the differential out, pull it straight back until the
housing is free of the pinch bolt bracket on the left, and then
bring it out stub shaft side first. It is tight, but it does come.
If you have trouble getting the differential out, try unhooking
the sway control bar if the right beam is supported on a stand.
You might also try disconnecting the left shock absorber or even
loosening the coil spring nut from the bottom center of the
spring. It might also be necessary to loosen the nut on the rear
end of the left radius arm if it is binding the beam.
Now, with the differential out of
the truck, clamp it vertically by the yoke in a big vise and
remove the E-clip that holds the stub axle to its respective side
gear. The E-clip wonít be going back in.
Remove the bolts that hold the
bearing caps into the housing and remove the caps. Gently, and
evenly, lift the carrier out of the differential housing. Be
careful to keep the cast iron spacers and the bearing races from
falling when you lift it out. Also, make sure these parts get back
where they came from. Thoroughly clean the inside of the housing
while you are looking at it.
Set the carrier on a clean surface
with the ring gear end down. Locate the spring pin that holds the
cross shaft (that big chrome shaft running through the carrier)
and find a punch a wee bit smaller than that spring pin. Now turn
the carrier over and drive the spring pin clear out of the
carrier. You might need a long Philips screwdriver to finish
pushing it out if your punch isnít long enough. When the spring
pin is free, flip the carrier so the ring gear is down again.
With your fingers push the cross
shaft out of the carrier. If your cross shaft has flat sides you
will need a new one. A new one may be included in your kit.
Now go through your kit and see
what you have. The Dana 35 Lock-Right comes with the following
parts: 2 drivers (the biggest pieces in the box), 2 couplers (they
have splines cut inside of them), 2 spacers (the larger of the
remaining parts) and 2 washers (they almost look like washers).
There is also a small bag with 8 springs (4 larger and 4 smaller)
and 4 little pins. Hopefully, you will find a cross shaft if yours
has flats on it. Call the 800 number in the booklet and order one
($25) if you need it.
Grab a can of wheel bearing grease
and put a thin but substantial coat of grease on every part in the
kit. You need it all to stick together when you are assembling it.
With everything greased, put the washers and spacers together to
form one piece and then stick them inside of the drivers with the
washerís lip facing toward the teeth.
Next, put the little springs inside
of the big springs and set them all off to the side.
Turning back to the differential
carrier, reach your fingers in through the sides and rotate the
pinion gears 90 degrees until they are accessible through the big
openings. Pull them out of the carrier and set them aside. They
wonít be going back in.
Next, pull the side gears (they
have splines in them) out one at a time. As you pull a side gear
out make sure you find the thin thrust washer and remove it.
Stick it onto the back of a coupler
(they also have splines in them and in fact replace the side
gears) and put it into the carrier exactly how the side gear came
out. When one side is done, do the other.
Now, look at the drivers. On the
face of each driver (opposite of the splined surface) there are 4
holes. Two of the holes are oval shaped. Take a pin and push them
into the oval holes until they are at least flush. Two pins go
into each driver.
Now, holding one driver with its
washer and spacer held with grease in its bore, press the teeth of
the driver into the teeth of the bottom-most coupler.
Now press the other driver assembly
into the top-most coupler. The grease will hold it in place.
Turn the drivers so that a round
window on one of them is paired up with an oval window on the
other. All of the oval windows should still have pins showing in
them. With a small screwdriver push each pin from its oval window
into the round window in the opposite coupler. This will leave the
oval windows open for the springs to be installed. Once all four
pins are pushed into the round windows, insert the assembled
springs into the oval windows. Use a screwdriver to gently
compress the springs and then snap them into the windows. Double
check them all to make sure they are solidly in there.
Now, turn the drivers so that the
cross-shaft hole is lined up with the corresponding holes in the
carrier and push the cross-shaft through making sure the
spring-pin hole in the carrier lines up with the hole in the
cross-shaft. Drive the spring-pin into the hole until it is just
below flush. Take a small chisel and gently peen the carrier so a
small amount of the iron protrudes over the hole and keeps the pin
from coming out.
Now carefully set the carrier back
into the differential housing making sure the washers go back in
exactly as they came out. Letters marked on the housing and on the
bearing caps show which cap goes on which side. Torque the caps to
47-67 ft# and you are ready to pop the differential back into the
Putting the diff back in is a lot
easier because the right inner axle shaft is not sticking out
there and banging on the axle beam. Put a quarter-inch wide by
eighth-inch high bead of gasket maker around the diff making sure
to circle the holes and then push it up in there. The bracket on
the left side of the housing will hold it while you get the bolts
started. Run the bolts in snug and then torque them to 35-53 ft#.
Putting the right front axle back
together is going to be different then taking it apart because we
left out the E-clip and we need to put a spring inside of the
slip-joint to hold the axle splines into the differential coupler.
Head down to the hardware store and
paw through their spring assortment. You need a spring that is
around an inch in diameter. You will end up cutting the spring
downto approximately one inch in length. I say approximately
because if your axle beams are not level you may need it to be
slightly longer. The goal is to have about a quarter-inch gap in
which to compress the spring between the spindle and the knuckle
when the axles are assembled. This is enough pressure to keep the
splines engaged in the coupler at any attitude the front
suspension might encounter.
There is no design feature in the
axle set-up that helps it deal with side loads so I do not
recommend a heavier spring in the slip-joint. Nonetheless, it may
make you feel better to weld the cap in a couple of spots to keep
it from popping out into the yoke. I welded mine in two spots
without taking out the U-joint.
Now, push the inner shaft into the
differential, pop the spring into the yoke and assemble the rest
of the front end in the usual manner. Donít forget to orient the
yoke ears on the right axle-shaft so they are in line with one
Once you have the truck back
together, go and try it out. You can expect a little herky-jerky
on tight turns as the axles take turns unlocking but the turning
radius isnít screwed up as it is with a welded front. Off-road
the difference is quite noticeable, especially if you wheel in
places that put your suspension to its limits or swim through mud
holes. I have left my hubs locked in by accident before and I
really couldnít tell the locker was in there in 2wd on the
street. Overall, this is a simple modification, fairly inexpensive
and the results are pretty remarkable if you are a serious