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Old 12-09-2004, 12:54 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Locker, Spool, or Posi What is the Diff?

I posted this over at Diesel Page thought it would be good over here also.

This was getting some traction over in the DP 6.5 forum questions about lockers, while not an expert I have owned and operated one type, I'll post some edited text from Aug., 2001 4 Wheel & Off-Road you might be able to get a back issue in library, or PM me and we will figure out how to get you the full article from my copy.

5 types studied/tested in the article

Open: most common, free diff provided by all mfrs, most drivable, as vehicle turns inside tire turns at slower rate than outside, useless for off road pretty much, recommendation get rid of it if you have any thought of getting off of pavement.

Limited-Slip: Auburn Gear is one vendor, cone & friction material $400 or so, works similar to open but inside wheel will try to turn with outside wheel, requires friction additive, good pavement manners, but limited effectiveness off-road, good if you are a little stuck need to be in 4x4 before getting stuck.

Selectable Locker: ARB air Lock or OX Lock, performs like open when inactive excellent pavement manners, most expensive style $700-800 at time of article, if not familiar with setting up ring & pinion requires professional installation, air locker will not work on loss of air, or plumbing to it, compressor not included with kit generally extra $$$, OX Lock uses Tel-flex type cable/shaft for activation pure mechanical engage, positive both axle lock when in use like Spool.

Automatic locker: $400-600 Power trax, Detroit and others, active full time have capability to auto lock & unlock as torque is applied; heavy throttle in a hole will lock/unlock both or just one side, generally side with least traction spins until both side has same grab so power shifts left wheel-rt wheel until both can "git-some" and both pull out the hole.

I had one in my 2wd gasser for years would go places I thought impossible, soon to have one in my Diesel. Most are capable of being installed by experienced shade tree mechanic, do not have to interrupt ring and pinion. Downside though requires some learning to drive it not as pavement friendly until you learn how to drive it.

Spool: Cheap traction Drive-train Direct is one that was reviewed $170 spool locks both axles always on, But you knew that was coming always a but, no slippage of either tire anytime lot of wheel chip and pavement drive-ability issues get on it too hard in a turn and you can break drive-line stuff same with other lockers but since this stays engaged always highest risk to drive-line with this style.

From all that I've read and experienced only few folks need a locker front and rear; a locker in rear most of the time will negate need to even engage 4wd.

For simplicity I like the auto locker, several different vendors have lockers, been a while since I searched for them, the one I'm fixin to install has been on my "projects to do shelf" for nearly 3 years.

Power Trax No Slip is one I'm going with, it is not supposed to be as harsh as Lock Rite I ran before in the gasser, according to the Mfr no-slip is supposed to be more pavement friendly and auto trans vs stick is also supposed to be more better.

Another piece of off road traction is tires, my gasser with basic AT M&S tires struggled for traction, shifting to Bridgestone 15x31" MT tires was night & day difference, my locker equipped 2wd would leave many street tired 4X4 stranded, of course I fooled many because I had bought a set of GM 4x4 tow hooks as well.


Last edited by Turbine Doc; 02-09-2008 at 10:59 AM.
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Old 12-09-2004, 04:28 PM   #2 (permalink)
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My only experience with lockers is with the legendary Detroit in a full-floating 14bolt rear I had in my 87 Suburban. It worked great! I think the weight of the burb helped. I never knew it was back there, unless I hammered the gas going around a corner. Then she'd bark the tires pretty hard.

Reletively easy to install, supposedly bullet-proof, and reasonably priced. The only drawback is that it had the capability of making driving on sheer ice quite interesting if you weren't careful.

I wish I had one in my 95. Maybe my next gift to myself???? Not sure if install would be as easy as before, since this rear end currently has the stock G80 locker in it.

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Old 12-09-2004, 05:06 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Good info and an excellent write up but i would like to add.

A real locker like a detroit will not let a tire spin slower than another. Meaning when you go around a corner the outside wheel will unlatch itself and free wheel. Lockers can be a bit quirky to drive and their locking and unlocking can be anoying to some. But if you mash the gas it will not allow one tire to not spin. That is why lockers are a bit more of a handfull to drive especially to someone that isnt used to em. Actaully a real locker can be more predicatble than some posi's that dont have a strong bias and a hell of a lot more predicatble than the gov lock. The "gov lock"(what comes factory) is a wierd mechanical contrapiton that isnt a real locker. It sense a difference in rpm btw the 2 axles and will lock em but only to a certian speed.

A limited slip works just like a open differential(it allows one tire to spin slower) but it has a clutch pack or a cone type clutch that trys to keep the axles from spinning at a differnt rate. This is an old school "posi" by gm name or shure grip or what ever the manufacture wanted to call it.

Also a realitive to the spool is the mini spool or a "lincoln" locker(as in lincoln welder ) Accomplishes the same thing.
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Old 12-09-2004, 05:22 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I loved my Detroit locker I had in my 14 bolt GM in my big 4wd truck in Alaska. It almost made the front axle and transfer case not needed. Could drive in to and out of places most 4WD's couldn't. If you have a 4 post open rear end in a 14 bolt GM housing then it is easy to upgrade to a Detroit Locker. Just crack the case open and install the locker inside.
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Old 12-09-2004, 09:30 PM   #5 (permalink)
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the gov-lock in my 10 bolt rear was almost useless but the gov-lock in the new 14 bolt semi floater i replaced it with works extreemly well and is pretty predictable. a few days after i got it installed i was going down a little dirt road in the butt-crack of virginia and a volvo met me coming the other way so i dropped 2 wheels in the ditch to let her buy and the ditch was deeper than i thought and had a pretty good lip on it. i didn't even have to put it in 4wd the rear spun to a certian speed then grabbed and popped me back up on the road without much arguement. if your like me and can't afford an e-locker or arb air locker i think the gov -lock is a good choice. i guess the clutches are just bigger and more effective in the 14 bolt over the weak *** 10.
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Old 12-09-2004, 11:40 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Some reply from the Page forum about lockers posted BY JEEPSJ

I (and friends) have blown apart too many of the "mini" lockers (Lock-rite, Power-trax, etc...) and would not recommend one. These units use the stock ring gear carrier and simply replace the spider and axle end gears with the locker assemply. If you want a true locker, go with a Detroit.

As for the selectables, I believe OX is no longer in business (though rumor has it they may be coming back). Also, too many problems keeping the cables adjusted. ARB's are excellent, and the new Eaton electric powered lockers are nice as well. These options are expensive, but you get the best of both worlds - open for the street, and locked when you need it.

If you need a traction adding device, a limited slip is probably the best choice for something that is only street driven, or sees mild off-road use. They are quiet and have nice road manners. Some require a special additive in your diff oil, some don't. I will be running limited slips in the front and rear of the Wag (Power-Lock rear, True-trac in the front). My CJ, on the other hand, will have a spool in the rear and a selectable in the front (probably ARB).

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Old 12-09-2004, 11:44 PM   #7 (permalink)
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My reply and some questions back to SJ, anybody here run a Lock-Rite or No-Slip want to weigh in also I'm still on the fence whether or not to install mine, I will share his reply when it comes in.

Jeep SJ, sounds like you do a lot of 4 wheeling my experience is as occasional use driving unimproved hunting roads. Read your post and led to a few questions.

I have the No Slip new in box, got as a concession pretty cheap when I found a broken tooth on my gassers Lock rite, it was still working correctly but pulled it at a time I was thinking of selling it.

Part of reason the No Slip has been on the shelf, was because I wasn't sure manners of the No Slip were going to be an improvement over the Lock rite per PT's techs I don't see much difference between the 2, so I was thinking of swapping it for a No Slip or Lock rite for my Bronco II project truck which will be my off road beater, the GMC is too nice a truck to do that to.

What I'm reading sounds like for serious off road No Slip el als are not up to that kind of work, I do drive my GMC to the woods pulling a trailer so I need extra traction when it rains and roads turn into red gumbo.

The No-Slip was paid for long ago, I doubt Power Trax will refund me cost of it I could probably broker the swap deal, but sound like thats not worth it for the B2.

So since I do need more traction and can't afford a selectable locker, is the No Slip tame enough for what I described & my previous Lock rite driving training to keep the No Slip; or should I try to ebay it and save up for a Detroit.

I ask as I know no-one else that has used a No Slip, I agree that the Lock rite is very quirky , for my needs it did give adequate service I ran it 140 K miles; but as a unimproved road driver with odd mud hole now and again.

Also when you "blew them" did you damage just the locker or did you take out the rest of the diffs running gear, lastly how hard on the throttle when you blew them out, is part of the failure mode hi rev/torque?
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Old 12-10-2004, 06:48 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Turbine Doc...

In case you didn't know..... non members can't view that site forum at all.
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Old 12-10-2004, 08:10 AM   #9 (permalink)
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I have ran the loc-rite in a lite off road use Suburban with 35" in Alaska. It did me proud and I would use it again. It even lived thru a "dry" run when my diff cover got a hole in it and lost all the oil back there. It was some jerky and noisey on turns on payment but that was with those 35's too. Like I said this burban didn't see the off-road use my truck had seen but in Alaska driving to work in the winter could count as off road use down here. Anyway that's my .02 cents worth. If your unsure bout your off road use get the locker, it's still my fav diff.
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Old 12-10-2004, 10:56 AM   #10 (permalink)
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I think parts of it are viewable after registering there, but that is why I dual post if I put it there I also put it here since I started the thread I feel I'm not infringing on either sites rules.

I also carry things from here to there, my goal is that both sites help as many as possible, with advent of DMAX fewer sites & vendors willing to make time for earlier GM Diesels, even I unintentionally slight 6.2 but since I don't own one & only have limited experience with them don't say much on them, one of those time I feel I'm better keeping my guesses to myself. Thing I like about both sites is quality info and little infighting at least in 6.5 as compared to other sites.

I drop by DMAX side man those boys do have some strong convictions sometimes it's all good though.
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Turbine Doc...


In case you didn't know..... non members can't view that site forum at all.


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