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EZ Locker Install

The installation can be done in an afternoon, and I got mine for $150 used, so it's something I couldn't pass up. I didn't take pictures, but I will use as much detail as possible. I started with checking out how everything works in another axle I have. Essentially, the pinion input turns the ring gear. The ring gear is bolted to the carrier, or case. The case turns a huge pin which goes through the spider gears which turn the side gears. The side gears are splined onto the axles, and viola! It moves. Now, I'm not of any above average mechanical ability, but this was easy! If I can do it, I pretty much anybody else can.

To prepare for the installation, I went ahead and ordered a hardened cross shaft (the huge pin) from 4Wheel Drive Hardware. The one I bought was actually sold by Lock Right, but they're essentially the same locker. I was advised to do this by a few folks, and the new shaft was only $20. I think the one I had in there was hardened, but who knows. I didn't order new thrust washers, but I didn't need them anyway.

The first thing I did was jack up the Jeep by the gas tank. Yes, by the gas tank. I have the TrailQuest 23 gallon thing, and it hangs down so low, I had to lift the tank out of the way, and by using a jack and a piece of wood under the skidplate, it actually worked out quite well. I didn't remove the wheels until later...read on. I used one of those Torx drivers to get the bolts out for the diff cover. This was a real pain because they were plugged with mud. This wouldn't be a big deal because you can usually tap them in so you don't strip it, but tapping was harder with the gas tank in place. I didn't re-use these Torx bolts. I then took a rubber mallet and banged on the cover until it popped loose. Not a big deal, I had a pan ready to catch the oil.

Well, the first thing I did when I opened it was look around. I didn't see any broken teeth, and nothing looked out of the ordinary, as if I knew what I was looking for. In any event, the first thing you have to do for disassembly is get the pin out of the cross shaft. Easier said than done. I took a 5/32 punch and tried to knock it out, but it's too deep for the tapered punch. You have to knock it to the right, which means sticking something from the left side, through the case to hit the pin. I started by using a long thin screwdriver, and grinding down the blade so it was round. I got this stuck in the case, too, and in the process of pulling it out, I tore the handle off. Well, I figured I got this far, I ground down the little tabs that are supposed to hold the handle on. This worked fine. It was my father-in-law's screwdriver, and not a Craftsman, but he had another. Besides, now he has a new punch.

Getting the cross shaft out was not that hard, but didn't fall out, either. Because I had the tires off the ground and the tranny in N, I could rotate the carrier until I could see the other side of the cross shaft. I used a regular punch, and tapped it all the way in until it hit the case on the other side. Then I rotated the case back so I could see the 'pin' side of the shaft. The pin hole was far enough out of the carrier where I could stick that screwdriver turned(literally) punch into hole, and not hit the ring gear. At that point, I pulled on the punch and the cross shaft came out.

Now it came to getting the spider gears out. They're the ones that are centered parallel with the driveshaft. By rotating the tires, you can get these to fall out. These and some round things I couldn't figure out. I'm sure they had a purpose, but mine were destroyed. Getting the side gears out required pulling out an axle shaft a few inches. I picked the passenger side. All that requires is undoing the 4 bolts that hold on the backing plate, and giving a little tug. This may have been easier for me because I just had these open, but a rubber mallet should do the trick. You might get a little gear oil out the side, but just have a rag there to catch it. You have to take the tire off for this, but I didn't disassemble the brakes. You can get a 9/16" box end wrench in between the guts of the brakes to hold the nuts still while you ratchet the bolts out. These can be difficult to get back, but you can always tear down the brakes to really get a hold of it.

Now that the axle is out of the way, you can get the side gears out, and the spacer thing in the middle. Keep track of which side gear came from which side. On the back, you'll find a thrust washer. A thrust washer is a thin ring of metal which you need for the new side gears that come with the locker. I reused mine on the same side they came from. I've read they're both about the same size, but another axle could have a different size washer.

By this time, the carrier should be empty, so we begin re-assembly with the locker. The instructions included this, and only this, bit of useful information. Grease everything with a medium grease. I use that red grease, and put it in all the holes, between the side gears and the clutches. The grease actually held them together really well, especially with grease all over your hands!

I also put it on the thrust washers, and it held them in place really well. First, I put the pins in the 'open' holes in each clutch. I put a dab of grease over each pin at the surface just to hold it in place. Then I took the drivers side clutch/side gear assembly and stuck it on the axle. With the tire still on that axle, it was slightly high on the diff side, so it took a little work to get the thrust washer surfaces back together. Everything was fine, until I went across the garage to get a small 'pick', and the grease let go of the clutch. Well, it fell out, and rolled on the garage floor, and like a wet spoon in the sugar bowl, it picked up lots of dirt. I cleaned it off, and set it aside. I put the opposite side gear in place. I put the little spacers in with the wider opening out towards the side gears. It will sit on those little collars on the side gears. Then I put both clutches in at once. I lined up the holes where the pins go, and took what looks like a dentist's implement to move them into the opposite clutch. I did this for all 4 before proceeding. I suppose I could have done this outside of the vehicle, but whatever.

Then it came time for the springs. I got the first one in, with the little cap towards the pins. It was hard to get it in there, but I stuck the spring end in first, then worked the capped end into the hole. I tried to keep the clutches as far away as possibly to make it easier to install the springs, but I realized it didn't matter. I did all 4 springs, and everything looked great. Now all I had to do was rotate the tire side, so the big hole in the middle for the cross shaft was lined up with the hole in the case. The cross shaft went in by hand, no tapping required. Be sure to line up the pin hole in the shaft with the hole in the case. I tapped the pin in the first couple of times with just a hammer, but then used a punch to get it seated.

There! It's done. I took a rag and cleaned out the bottom of the differential, just to make sure there weren't any metal particles hanging around. I took the diff cover, and threw a bead of that copper silicone all around it. I have a gasket, but didn't have it with me. Whatever. I made sure to make a full circle around the bolt holes. While that was setting, I also put a bead around the end of the axle tube. That was kind of hard, but for the top, I just laid a bead on my finger, then scraped it off onto the top mating surface. After that, I figure the cover was OK to bolt up, so I lined it up and put a couple of bolts in it. I had a 1981 AMC 20 on hand, so I took those bolts and used them instead. They have a 1/2" head, so at least if I have to get in there again, I won't need a Torx bit. When that was done, I bolted the backing plate onto the axle tube again. Then I put the tire on, and tightened it down. You can actually turn one wheel with the locker installed, but I quit trying to expect what would happen. I set the Jeep down, and set out to find the filler plug. I found it, but it too was plugged with mud, so I had a hard time figuring out how to open it, It turned out to be a hex key, but I don't remember what size. I tapped that in there, and opened it right up. I took some Valvoline 80w90 and squirted it in there. The only problem was, I couldn't get the bottle angled up enough to get all the oil out because there was a muffler in the way. So, I jacked up the gas tank again, and had plenty of room. Judging by what I took out, the axle holds 2.5 pints(?). Actually, jacking it up again made some fuel spill onto the tailpipe and floor, but I couldn't figure out where it came from. That's it, the install is complete. I haven't tested it yet, but I can't wait.