T-Case Cradle for Our Sami

    Growing a Spine

    Verne SimonsPhotographer, Writer

    Two-speed transfer cases are what separate the off-road men in the dirt from the boys in the sandbox. Despite what you might call it, anything labeled 4x4 or all-wheel-drive but without a low range in the T-case is like bringing a vehicular knife to an off-road gun fight. Most every 4x4 we respect has a two-speed transfer case (and some have more low-range speeds than two). Our 1987 Suzuki Samurai is no exception. This representative of a small but solid cult 4x4 group is unique in a few ways. For one, Samurais are, in general, light and nimble. Much the same can be said about their transfer cases. In fact, most off-roaders can easily carry the entirety of a Samurai T-case with one hand. They are that light.

    Although Samurai T-cases are light, that isn’t their only positive characteristic. They have several other good features. Sami cases are gear-driven, which means they are relatively strong (especially when it comes to the vehicle’s light weight and the anemic 1.3L four-cylinder turning these things). These little transfer cases have a slight gear reduction in high range, which allows Samurais to have a slightly taller (numerically lower) axle ratio. For example, our Samurai has 4.30:1 ring-and-pinion gears, and the aftermarket low gearset has a high-range gearing of about 20 percent, making our 4.30s work like 5.13s ( 4.30 multiplied by 1.20 equals 5.16:1). Generally, numerically lower axle gears have more teeth and are stronger, and stronger is better. Sami cases can also be outfitted with a bunch of aftermarket parts, including several different low-range gearsets. Our Samurai came with a freshly rebuilt transfer case with 6.5:1 low-range gears and the aforementioned 20-percent high-range reduction.

    Unfortunately our transfer case was in the back of the Samurai and not mounted underneath it. The case did come rebuilt with the lower gears and with an older Low Range Off Road transfer case cradle, but that cradle needed some repairs. A quick search on the ol’ internet led us to Low Range Off Road’s latest (and said to be greatest) Suzuki Samurai EOS Extreme Duty Transfer Case Cradle. At a price of $249 this product seems like it’s too good (and inexpensive) to be true. With a call to the company we got our hands on this new and improved cradle, which has a bunch of mounting points on the aluminum-encased Samurai T-case and adds what Low Range calls a steel “backbone” to the housing for a ton of extra strength. So follow along as we assemble this new cradle and bolt it under our Sami.

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