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2000 Ford F-350 Super Duty - Project Plain Jane - Part II

Right Front View
Posted August 6, 2004

Installing a locker on a Super Duty

We arrived early in the morning for our appointment at West Coast Differentials in Rancho Cordova, CA, for Jane's surgery. We were out of there in time for a late lunch. WCD's Eric Knouse changed both front and rear ring-and-pinions from 3.73 to 4.30 and installed two ARBs (minus plumbing) in a little more than five hours.

A few months back we introduced Plain Jane, a 2000 F-350 Super Duty with plain looks but a whole lot of personality. Original plans for Jane included using her as a tow rig, a camper, a capable 'wheeler, and a part-time daily driver. She is now nine months old and has racked up 19,000 miles, with about half of those miles pulling a 9000-pound trailer.

Because she lives on ranch land, her eight-foot bed has become handy for hauling everything from fence posts and tractor parts to wood pellets and trash cans. We also haven't been able to do as much serious 'wheeling with her as we'd like, but that's not to say she isn't up to it if asked, especially now. That's because to go along with her ready-for-anything Fabtech suspension and 36-inch Swampers (Four Wheeler March 2001), Jane now sports a pair of ARB Air Lockers and 4.30:1 gears in her diffs.

With Jane on the operating table, technician Eric Knouse has stripped her front Dana 50 axle and she's ready for the trick stuff. In the foreground are the sealed wheel bearing assemblies that new Super Dutys use. At the time of our install, Jane was just the second new Ford that WCD had taken apart with this bearing and hub design.

We chose ARBs because they offer the seamless driveability of an open diff and the grip of a full locker when ultimate traction is required. Remember, half of Jane's mileage has been pulling a trailer. An open-diff truck presents no surprises when pulling a load. Also, Jane lives in snow country. On icy roads, an open differential again offers no surprises. But if it snows too much, Jane will be the first one through the powder with her fully locked diffs. All we have to do is push a button.

When we installed 36-inch-tall tires in place of the stock 31s, we felt a power loss when pulling the trailer. Jane's big diesel engine didn't care much when the truck was empty, as the Power Stroke has power to spare. However, with a load, we were down a whole gear when towing in the mountains. Since we were pulling the diffs apart anyway to stick the ARBs in, now was the time for a gear swap. Jane came from the factory with 3.73 cogs. Some quick math revealed that with 36-inch tires, she'd be pretty close to stock with a set of 4.30s. So we made a call to Gary MacFadyen at West Coast Differentials (WCD) in Rancho Cordova, CA, and made an appointment for surgery.

WCD offers all the major brands of ring-and-pinion sets, as well as all the major aftermarket differentials. The company's huge warehouse stocks applications to fit just about anything that moves. Better yet, also housed in the same building is their Ring & Pinion Service, ready to install your new gears and diff. Best of all, WCD can ship its products anywhere in the world.

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Sources

Superlift Suspension Systems
West Monroe, LA 71292
888-299-4692
www.superlift.com
West Coast Differentials
Rancho Cordova, CA 95742
800-510-0950
www.differentials.com
Warn Industries
Clackamas, OR 97015
800-543-9276
www.warn.com
Stockton Wheel Service
Stockton, CA 95203
800-395-9433
Interco Tire Corp.
Rayne, LA 70578-0486
Fabtech Motorsports
Brea, CA 92821
www.fabtechmotorsports.com
Air Locker, Inc.
Seattle, WA 98134
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