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Can I Do That?

Posted in How To on July 1, 2001
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The first step is to remove your rig’s axles. The first step is to remove your rig’s axles.
With the axles pulled and all the gear oil cleaned from the housing, the differential can come out. With the axles pulled and all the gear oil cleaned from the housing, the differential can come out.
After removing the yoke on the driveshaft-side of the axle housing, the pinion gear can be removed. After removing the yoke on the driveshaft-side of the axle housing, the pinion gear can be removed.
This pinion gear uses two sets of shims. One set controls bearing preload. This pinion gear uses two sets of shims. One set controls bearing preload.
Once the ring gear is attached to the new differential (in this case a Detroit Locker), it’s time to add shims. Once the ring gear is attached to the new differential (in this case a Detroit Locker), it’s time to add shims.
The major pain on Danas is that the shims used to adjust gearlash sit under bearings that need to be pressed on. The major pain on Danas is that the shims used to adjust gearlash sit under bearings that need to be pressed on.
With the cheater bearings and pinion gear in place, the whole assembly can be put into the axle housing. With the cheater bearings and pinion gear in place, the whole assembly can be put into the axle housing.
Now that the assembly is temporarily in place, the pattern (which is to say, the way the ring-and-pinion gears mesh) can be checked. Now that the assembly is temporarily in place, the pattern (which is to say, the way the ring-and-pinion gears mesh) can be checked.
The pattern will also tell you if the gearlash is off but a dial indicator is a very good tool to get the lash 100 percent correct. The pattern will also tell you if the gearlash is off but a dial indicator is a very good tool to get the lash 100 percent correct.
With a good pattern now showing, the assembly is taken out of the axle housing and the real bearings are pressed on. With a good pattern now showing, the assembly is taken out of the axle housing and the real bearings are pressed on.
The diff now can be reinstalled for the final time and the pattern rechecked. The diff now can be reinstalled for the final time and the pattern rechecked.

Off-roaders are a crafty bunch. Whatever it is, we want to know if we can do it ourselves. A good example of this? Figuring out whether we can install ring-and-pinion gears and lockers on our own. Whether trying to compensate for bigger tires or simply increase trail performance, swapping out gears and installing lockers is all part of a vehicle buildup. But is this really something you can do yourself? To find out, we went to the pros at Drivetrain Direct and followed along as they installed a set of Superior 4.88 gears and a Detroit Locker and ARB Air Locker in a Dana 44 and Dana 60 to see if it was possible for the do-it-yourselfer.

So what was the verdict? Installing ring-and-pinion gears is like building an engine: Experience is a big plus. However, there is only one way to learn and that is to dive in and do it. But we can’t recommend trying it for the first time on your sole daily driver, the rig that’s got to be running by tomorrow so that you can get to work. If you have the luxury of having more than one vehicle, plenty of patience, a good manual, and the right tools, doing your own installation might be worth a shot. Otherwise it is probably best left to the pros. The following will give you a good idea of what is involved. This is not meant to be step-by-step instructions (we wouldn’t have enough pages for that). Read it over. If it seems way over your head, then it would be wise to have a shop handle your install. But if it looks like something you can handle, and you’ve got a spare set of wheels that you can use if things don’t go as smoothly as planned, then go for it.

Sources

Superior Axle & Gear
Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91730
888-845-0470
www.superioraxlegear.com
Drivetrain Direct
Corona, CA 92880
909-272-0158
www.drivetraindirect.com
ARB USA
Renton, WA 98057
866-293-9078
http://www.arbusa.com
Tractech Inc.
Warren, MI 48090
www.tractech.com

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