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Unsafe Locking - Randy’s Electrical Corner

Arb Switches
Randy | Writer
Posted January 17, 2014

Setting Up Your ARB's Wiring

You Jeep guys teach me more and more things every day. When I first started writing for Jp, I thought a locker was a smelly thing at the gym or that dusty place I put my books in the first day of school and never looked at again. You can imagine how confused I was when I first heard one of you guys say “air locker.”

Of course, when I first heard it I couldn’t ask what it was or everyone would have laughed at me. I was on a wheeling trip with one of the other editors and one of the guys was trying to get his Jeep to climb a waterfall when I heard him say, “My air lockers aren’t working,” which confused me. I mean, what kind of air is so expensive you have to keep it in a locker? And how do you keep the expensive air in the locker from coming out through those little vents? Is that what he meant by his air lockers weren’t working? I eventually figured it out, but booooy was I confused for a while there.

Now I know what an air locker is, and I really like them. As you all know, the most popular air locker is the ARB Air Locker. The only thing I don’t like about the ARB Air Locker is the way that they have you wiring it up. I mean, OK, I get it, having the front locker come on when you are on the highway is dangerous and the company is just trying to cover its butt, but sometimes you want to have the front locker on and the rear locker off. The company also has you wire the compressor up to your ignition, which is great if all you use the compressor for is the air lockers. But if you use it for filling tires, it’s not the best way to go.

I mean, I’m not a huge experienced Jeeper, but I’ve helped enough Jeepers air back up that I know I don’t like breathing exhaust while I’m doing it. If I had the choice, I’d wire the compressor up so that it can come on even when the Jeep is off. I’ve filled 35s up from 5 to 30 psi with the ARB compressor and the Jeep still starts afterwards, so that isn’t a problem. So, I went and dove into the ARB wiring schematic and played with some stuff so I could show you a different way of wiring up the compressor and lockers to be a little more useful in real world situations. Mind you, ARB doesn’t suggest that you do it this way.

Step By Step

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  • Here is the stock ARB wiring diagram for dual front and rear lockers with ARB’s wiring harness. Their harness uses good wires and waterproof wiring connectors, so it really is pretty good. If you are trying to save a few bucks, the wires that go to the battery are 8-gauge and the wires that go to the switches and solenoids are 12-gauge. By the time you came up with that quality of wire and waterproof connectors, you’d likely be in the same amount of money as just buying ARB’s kit, but the connectors at the switches are the more common female spade connectors.

  • The first thing I ignore is this part of the diagram. Instead of wiring the “isolation switch” to switched ignition, I just wire it to constant power at the fuse block. As always, make sure to use a fuse. As for the dash illumination, most newer Jeeps have illuminated switches and you can score the power there. In older Jeeps, just splice into one of the wires going to an existing dash light, which are usually orange. If you don’t care about your switches glowing in the dark even when the system is off, you can skip that wire. Everything will still work just fine without it hooked up.

  • In the wiring instructions that come with the ARB, “Switch 1” is supposed to be the rear locker switch and “Switch 2” the front locker switch. If you want to be able to use your front locker without the rear locker, just take the wire that goes to terminal 3 on switch 2 and instead of using the yellow wire, tie it into the red wire that feeds terminal 2 of switch 1.

  • Speaking of switches, the switches included with the ARB Air Lockers are pretty cool. They are very water resistant and are even used on boats. I would call them waterproof, but I’ve submerged them before and got water in them. That said, they resist water and dust and don’t mind being rained on, hit with mud, or with that talcum-like dust. The ones ARB supplies with their lockers are only single throw and matching ones can be had from Daystar with different light colors. There are also double throw and momentary versions available. Just search “Carlington” switch on the Interwebs, and you’ll be able to find them.


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