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Ford Bronco Parts - Classic Vintage Early Bronco Parts

OX Locker Install

Tech article by admin and filed under - Lockers, Axles

Tech article by Clay McGuill (eBronc)

You want traction? Get locked. Both wheels locked together on the same axle, all four wheels locked to the transfer case = maximum traction. No wheel slip, no spin. Just relentless, crawl-over-boulders-the-size-of-Volkswagens-even-when-one-or-two-tires-are-dangling-two-feet-in-the-air traction. “How”, you ask?

Well, take your pick – you can weld the side gears to the carrier to prevent any axle rotation independent of the entire carrier itself (simple, cheap, and easy..but kinda permanent), bolt in a “lunchbox” locker that simply replaces the side and spider gears in your open or limited-slip carrier (in my experience, “limited-slip” diffs are usually more “slip” than “limited”), you can replace the carrier itself with a “sometimes” locker that is locked most of the time, but allows a little bit of wheel speed differentiation when cornering by ratcheting (and clunking, and banging, and popping that makes it sound like you’ve got a ring gear tooth or two broken off and flying around in the axle housing)…or, you can step up the user-selectable lockers-either air, cable, or electrically actuated.

Which one is right for you? It depends on lots of things-your vehicle, your driving style, the terrain you drive on, your budget, and how much you like lying in the mud underneath your truck at night on the trail replacing U-joints or axleshafts-or waiting for somebody to show up with a winch to drag you off the obstacle you’re stuck on.

If your rig is a daily driver, your significant other drives it now and then, or you just like having complete manual control over your drivetrain, selectable lockers are a great way to go. They aren’t cheap, but they are the ultimate in control. Turned “off”, or unlocked, the axles behave just like open diffs-all four wheels are entirely independent of each other, making parking, sharp corners, and towing a breeze. Turned “on”, or locked, all four wheels turn at the same speed, all the time, no matter what-at the flip of a switch of pull of a lever.

OX Lockers are mechanical lockers that replace the entire carrier in the axlehousings and use a cable-actuated shifter fork located in the cover to slide a locking ring sideways, engaging both axles and connecting them solidly together. The entire construction of the system is aerospace-grade quality – billet steel covers that are stronger than most skidplates, teflon-lined stainless steel cables, and massive, precise, beautifully machined carriers that are industrial works of art.

In this write-up, I’ll document the installation of OX Lockers and 4:56 gears into both a Dana 30 and a Dana 44 axle. They’re very similiar-the main difference being this particular Dana 30 front axle used a crush sleeve to set pinion bearing preload (the amount of torque required to turn the pinion shaft with the pinion nut tourqed to spec), while the Dana 44 used shims behind the inner bearing race in the housing to achieve the same result.

Let me take a moment here and give you something to think about. This is NOT an easy, bolt-on-in -a-couple-hours little upgrade..UH-UH. It’s a major undertaking, and it involves some pretty specialized tools, a lot of patience, and a LOT of time. I’m not trying to talk you out of doing it yourself, but it took my brother and I 4 DAYS to get everything taken care of-and while we’re not professional mechanics, we both have many, many years of experience working on all types of vehicles- from air-cooled VW’s and Porsches to front drive imports, to ’60’s, ’70’s, and ’80’s Detroit iron-not to mention a pretty well-equipped garage (even better eqippped, now). Granted, we wasted quite a bit of time running around town to parts places, machine shops (that were closed), and tool supply houses (I LOVE HARBOR FREIGHT!), and some more trying remove the old bearings without the proper tool (hydraulic press) – but, still..even if everything had gone perfectly it would have taken at least the better part of two days. Think hard about doing it yourself, or paying a Pro to do it..and choose wisely.

Here’s a list of the special tools you’re going to need in order to accomplish the install-along with the usual hand tools, floor jacks, jack stands, air compressor, impact wrench, etc:

  • A hydraulic press -or at least have easy access to one. If you don’t, don’t bother even starting -you aren’t going to get very far. No, don’t be thinking a big gear puller or a vise and a BFH is going to work- ’cause it ain’t. Trust me.
  • Make sure you have a BFH anyway-you might need it. (If you don’t know what it is, you don’t work on trucks much.)
  • A bearing separator -the kind that wedges behind the bearing and allows you to apply force to the entire backside.
  • A breaker bar -to torque the pinion nut while setting the pinion bearing preload.
  • A die grinder – to open up the old bearing races so they can be used as setup bearings-or you can buy setup bearings and races when you purchase the lockers and gears. (Spend the money-you’ll be glad you did. Really.)
  • A big (I mean BIG) prybar -(useful for removing the old carrier from the axlehousing, holding the driveshafts while you remove and torque the yoke nuts, and getting stuck under the creeper wheels constantly while you’re rolling around under your truck.)
  • A dial indicator with a magnetic base -to measure the backlash of the gearsets.
  • A precision caliper -to measure the bearing shims.
  • A 250 ft-lb torque wrench.
  • An inch-pound torque wrench -to measure the pinion preload.
  • A couple spray cans of brake cleaner -to clean the axle housings (and brakes).
  • 3 or 4 quarts of quality gear oil, a tube of Locktite, and some gear marking compound.
  • Lots of rags, paper shop towels, and hand cleaner.
  • A 3-day weekend -(if you think you’re going get all this done in just a few hours, you’re either an optimist, an idiot, or a mechanic on Walker Evan’s race truck.)

Take my advice here and plan for your rig to be out of service for at LEAST a few days and have other transportation arrangements set up. You’re probably going to need to run to the parts and/or hardware store at least once during the course of this project, and not having to rush things back together so you can get to work the next day really cuts down on the stress level, and keeps you from making mistakes and bad decisions at 2:30 in the morning. I know.

OK, you ready? Got everything lined up? Kiss the kids and wife goodbye for a while, take a deep breath, and jump right in. Park the truck on a clean, level surface. A garage floor is excellent-a sloping dirt driveway is bad. Of course, if you’ve got a hydraulic vehicle lift and a fully-equipped shop, that would be OK, too.

  • Jack it up and place stout jackstands under the frame where they won’t be in your way as you’re crawling around underneath the truck for the next few days. (They will, of course-but you can try.)
  • Remove wheels and tires and move them out of the way so you won’t be stumbling over them all the time.
  • Place a drain pan under the diff housing and remove the cover-give the lube a while to drain, it’s pretty thick. Inspect it for contamination-if it’s foamy, milky, or has grit and dirt in it, it’d be a good idea to replace the axle tube seals during the course of the project. (See? I told you you’d be going to the parts store.) Also, think about lengthening the axle vent hoses.
  • On a Dana front axle, remove the hub/rotor assemblies (or drums and backing plates, if so equipped) from the outer knuckles so you can pull the axleshafts out of the housing. On a Dana rear, remove the drum (these can be stubborn), and using the hole in the axle flange for access, unbolt the 4 nuts retaining the axle to the housing. If you’re lucky, it’ll slide right out after a good tug-if not, either bolt the wheel back on the axle and use it for leverage, or use a slide hammer to persuade the axle out of the housing.
  • Check the carrier caps for markings so you can bolt them back the same way you take them out-if not marked already, use a punch to mark them clearly.

  • Unbolt the caps, and using a large prybar and most of your impolite vocabulary, “gently” remove the carrier from the housing-watch it, it’s heavy. Don’t give yourself a hernia. Also, don’t drop the carrier on your toe.
  • Unbolt the driveshaft from the pinion yoke and secure it up out of the way with a coat hanger or something. Now, grab a long piece of angle iron and drill two holes near one end that match two of the yoke bolt holes. Use two of the u-bolt strap bolts to secure the angle iron to the yoke and still leave room to get at the pinion nut-this will hold the yoke while you zap the nut off with an impact wrench. Alternatively, you can use a LARGE wrench to try hold the yoke-but it’s not easy.
  • Tap the pinion shaft out of the housing, making sure to keep track of bearings, shims, seals, slingers, crush sleeves, etc so you can put it back together in the same order. If this is your first time in a differential, I can’t stress this enough!!
  • Remove the old bearing races from the housings.
  • Clean the housing thoroughly.

Now, you’re about halfway there. Stop and take five. Have a beer. Eat something. Feel better? OK, back to work.

If you bought “cheater” or “setup” bearings when you bought your new gears, good for you-you can skip this step. If not, read on. Use the bearing separator and press to remove the old bearings from the carrier and pinon shaft (those bearings are ON there-after breaking a 5-ton 3-jaw gear puller AND an A/C clutch puller, we gave in and bought a hydraulic press from Harbor Freight-good thing they were open on Sunday morning) . Carefully record the shim pack thickness for each bearing, and DON’T MIX THEM UP. Use a die grinder to remove just enough from the inner diameter of the bearings so they’ll just slip over the journals of the Locker carrier and new pinion shaft -and from the OUTER diameter of the old bearing races so they’ll just slip into the housings. You’ll appreciate this when you’re constantly installing them and removing them as you adjust shim thickness to get the correct backlash and gear pattern setup. Clean the old bearings well after you’re sure they’re a slip fit.

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