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Eaton Dana 60 E locker & Quality Gear R&P

Selectable lockers provide you with the best of both worlds, the best on-road drivability with the best off road traction. There are an array of brands on the market, air operated, cable operated, electrically operated but all offer the same thing, an “open” differential that allows the left and right wheels to turn freely at different speeds when going around corners and a fully locked position, which “locks” the left and right wheel on the same axle together to provide 100% traction to both tires. If you have ever spent time four wheeling with an open differential you will have experienced the one-tire-fire results from a single tire loosing traction and spinning away while the other just sits there and doesn’t help you out at all.  Click the picture for the full article...

Atlas 4-speed transfer case

How time flies, the Atlas transfer case has been around now for almost 20 years! I’ve used several Atlas t-cases over the years for projects, always looking for the perfect combination of strength and gearing for every off road situation. I’ve used 2, 2-speed units a 4.3 ratio in a CJ project and the last 3.8 unit in my current TJ trail rig, both with never a failure.

I expect a lot from my TJ. It needs to roll down the highway on a long trip, dig through 4 feet of snow in the winter and tackle whatever trail faces me at the time. There is a lot to like about the 2 speed Atlas transfer case, it shifts smooth even on-the-fly with a standard trans, runs quiet, you never know its there, offers the twin stick option for front wheel drive for digging around tight corners and the 2WD low-range rear wheel drive option which is a gear selection I use all the time. So how about the 4 speed version? How about all of the above X2!

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TMR 15 bolt - GM 14 bolt shave kit

After going through all the options for 1-ton axles I finally settled on axles for the CJK8. I wasn’t planning on using any type of GM 14-bolt but the practicality of them and the large support in the aftermarket drew me back. After finding a late 80s Ford high-pinion kingpin Dana 60 for $600.00, I fell into a GM AAM version 10.5in ring gear 14-bolt for $400.00 loaded with 4.10 gears. These axles were in early 2000 GM 2500 trucks – thins one is from a 2004. A standard early 14-bolt came with massive drum brakes; the AAM axle comes with factory rear disk brakes. Both the AAM and early 14-bolt are full float 30-spline axles with a 1.5in shaft diameter – same as what the front Dana 60 with 35-spline shafts will be – just a different spline pitch. The AAM axle comes with a beefier 10.5-inch gear rather than the 9.75in of early axles and big 3.5in tubes and was ¾ of an inch within width of the front axle – which by the way are only an inch wider than factory JK axles – yup the JK is the largest Wrangler ever made – width and length. There are also 11.5in AAM axles out there that were behind the diesel trucks if you feel you need the extra beef but for the average trail rig that’s a little overkill.

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Yukon Gear Spartan Locker for Toyota 8 inch

The group of locking differentials typically called “Lunch Box” lockers for their ease of install and can typically be installed by anyone with a little mechanical skill as the gears do not need to be set back up as the locker uses a typical “open” carrier case and the locker plates replace the stock spider gears and usually the cross shaft with a harder tougher version. Whether you buy a Lock Right, Aussie Locker, a Lokka, or the unit installed here the Spartan from Yukon Gear, they all work on relatively the same principle. The cross shaft sits in a “oval” slot in the center and as power is transferred to the axle the cross shaft rides up the angled sides of the slot and presses the 4 plates (two per side) together transferring full traction to both wheels. Let off the gas to say, coast around a corner and the cross shaft “loosens” into the wider portion of the pocket allowing the teeth on the plates to skip past each other to allow the tire on the outside of the turn to spin faster than the inside tire for smoother cornering. 

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Advance Adapters - SYE conversion for 231 T case

With close to 1 million Jeep TJs (actually 909,495 TJs and 55,970 TJ Unlimited) and over ½ million Jeep YJs still roaming the roads (plus countless Cherokees) all over the world and their 231 transfer case they are still ripe for the slip yoke conversion in the transfer case needed for taller lifted suspensions. And if you’re a numbers person – the millionth JK rolled off the production line a 4-door Rubicon in 2013 so a solid progression for Jeep sales since the 80s but I digress.

Advance Adapters has been at the forefront of transmission and transfer case conversion since the company started way back in 1971, the slip yoke eliminator kit is still a solid seller for them and the conversion is required for any lifts above 3-inches in height. Not only does the kit convert the rear of the transfer case from a slip yoke to a fixed yoke but it also adds length to the shaft as the pivot point for the double carden joint moves closer to the transfer case. Sold as just the conversion components for the transfer case to complete the driveline a new shaft needs to be made. Advance’s current price on their web site is $199.00, so for us in Canada about $260.00. Click the picture for the full article...

Building a AAM 14 bolt for the CJK8

When I started to work on the axle package for the CJK8 I knew I wanted a King Pin 60 in the front but I also was trying to get a Dana 70 for the rear as Eaton had a new Dana 70 E-locker for the 70 HD housing. I learned a lot about the Dana 70 axle and none of it was very good. From the Dodge Dana 70U axles that have no gear choices and small bearings to a Van version that had a huge center section, others were strange widths – I decided a good old trusty 14 bolt was the way to go.  Well a modern take on one anyway.  Wrecking yards are chock full of 2000 year GM trucks and finding a AAM 14 bolt all nicely loaded with disk brakes already was a breeze and I laid down $400.00 for a complete axle and headed for home. Nice thing about the AAM axle the rear axle is within an inch of width to the Ford Dana 60 I have up front.

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Yukon Gear ZIP Air Locker for the Dana 60

Selectable lockers are a pretty common sight these days in factory production vehicles, Jeep, Toyota, Ford and even now GM in the new Colorado ZR2. The benefits of being able to have a full “open” differential for turning and general daily drivability is a pretty obvious. Reduced tire wear, easier cornering, and even off road when the corners get tight but you don’t need the locker on can make maneuvering a lot easier.

I’ve used an array of lockers in my personal projects over the years however the ZIP Locker from Randy’s World Wide has not been one of them. Randy’s world wide is the new name for the well known Randy’s ring and pinion and the Yukon Gear brand and the ZIP air locker from Yukon Gear is one of their staple products. Like other air lockers on the market – pressure is used to slide the engagement gear inside the differential case grabbing onto the side gear and stopping it from rotating. This gives you a spool like effect but once unlocked the spider gears can spin freely making for east turning. Typically I have run a selectable type locker in the front of almost every thing I’ve built over the past 10+ years and going with a mechanical type locker in the rear. Click the picture for the full article...

Currie Enterprises - JK axle brackets for 1 ton swap.

When doing an axle swap into any rig the most difficult part is getting all the brackets and suspension in the right place. TJs and JKs are ripe with 1-ton axle swaps all both of those rigs are coil sprung with lots of complicated brackets. Thankfully there are a few companies that make swap kits for various axles and axle tube dimensions. For the CJK8 build I was using a Teraflex long arm suspension and while the lift came with all the frame brackets – they presume you are using JK axles with factory positioned brackets in place. As I mentioned there are several companies making bracket kits all for around the 400.00 mark for one end. I went with Currie as their brackets checked the most boxes for me. I wanted multiple bolt holes for control arms, nice thick brackets, adjustable positions for the rear shocks and they featured their Johnny Joints for the upper front brackets. A coupe trips to the local Jeep dealer to take some picture of factory brackets and as Teraflex uses a rubber bushing on the frame end the links just naturally hung in the right places so I lifted the bottoms up as much as I could and swung the plumb bob off the frame to square the axles up, and let the links decide where the brackets should be with no binding. A few mods still took place, but going this route enabled me to forgo the track bar repositioning brackets that came with the Teraflex kit as well. Besides Currie there are a few choices that may better suit you. Here are a few I found.

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Ultimate King Pin Dana 60 - featuring Reid Racing

If you start to get into harder wheeling inevitably the word “tons” will come up when it comes to axles. There are companies like Dynatrac, Currie, Spidertrax, and Teraflex that all make custom 1-ton axles for direct placement into Jeeps, but even some of those could stand the odd upgrade. For the CJK8 I decided to build a pair of take-out axles from a 1-ton truck this time rather than go the easy “order and install” route. I wanted a front King Pin style axle – and few aftermarket companies go his route due to the age of those axles – rather they tend to use ball joint front ends with easy access to Ford factory knuckles, ball joints and brakes from modern trucks. I didn’t expect to save a “ton” of money over aftermarket axle assemblies but this way I could add some parts I really have liked in the past.

First up. Weak knuckles. The axle knuckles are what turns your rig, steers your rig, holds your tires on, holds your brakes and contains your axle shafts – pretty important pieces. When it comes to heavy duty – near indestructible steering knuckles from Reid Racing are the kings.  Click the picture for the full article...

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Axle filing for C clips

Cheap tricks that beef your rig are always cool and this one should be done any time you need to change an axle U-joint and costs time and about 8 bucks – not including U-joints. Most aftermarket axles come with a machined surface on the inside of the U-joint yoke larger than typical stock axles. The reason for this flat surface is to allow the use of full circle clips rather than the stock ? round clips that the factory use and come in many U-joint boxes. With enough strain on your axles or a poorly set U-joint its pretty common to have the ? round clips come out leaving the U-joint cap loose and the possibility of the cap walking out. Even a slight movement on the cap can allow water and dirt into the U-joint and allow the grease to work away leaving a dry U-joint which will inevitably fail. Click the picture for the full article...

Trail Gear Rock Assault axle housings

Trying to find straight, rust free axle housings for your Toyota project can be quite challenging – whether it’s a front or rear axle. Time just has a way of catching up with older parts and when you consider the last solid axle equipped Toyota was 1985… That means every axle you look at is at least 32 years old!!!

Not to despair for the IFS swapping Toyota mad men Trail-Gear has options for you – and way better than any stock axle anyway.

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