Installing the POWERTRAX LOCK-RIGHT Locker
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Article and Photography By: Chris Perosi
First Published: April 2000

Installing the POWERTRAX LOCK-RIGHT Locker in a Dana 44

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The POWERTRAX LOCK-RIGHT arrives in a small box with an owner's manual and an installation manual.

Part 1: Starting Off

The first step in any installation or modification is to review any directions that come with the product, and gather the tools needed. Just about everything needed for this particular installation can be found in most basic toolboxes, but some tools like an impact wrench will make the installation easier. POWERTRAX provides a specific set of instructions for each of the different applications for which the LOCK-RIGHT was designed.

Start by chocking the wheels and placing the vehicle in 4WD low range, first gear, to prevent the wheels from rolling. Then jack the rear of the vehicle up by the axle housing, support it using jackstands, and remove the tires. Once the tires are removed, the brake calipers need to be taken off in order to slide the axle shafts out. This will vary by application, but if your brake calipers have to come off, now is the perfect time to replace the pads as well.

Once the calipers have been unbolted, hang them securely so the brake lines are not supporting them. The axle backing plates can now be unbolted. On a Dana 44 rear, this consists of four studs and the accompanying nuts on the frame side of the axle backing plate. Since the axles are not C-clip retained, once they are unbolted, they will slide right out. Before pulling out the shafts, drain the rear differential thoroughly by removing the inspection plate. Draining it before removing the shafts will minimize the amount of gear oil spilled from the axle tubes. Even with the differential fully drained, you should still position a drain pan under each axle end before removing the shafts.

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Jack the vehicle up, chock the front wheels, and support it using jackstands, then remove the tires. Once unbolted from the backing plate, the axle can be pulled out to free it from the side gears. After the differential is fully drained, remove the cover plate to reveal the carrier, ring, and pinion.

Part 2: Getting Down & Dirty

After taking care of the startup duties above, you're ready to begin the slightly more difficult task of actually installing the LOCK-RIGHT. If you have a numerically-low gear ratio, this is one situation in which you're in luck. You should be able to complete the installation without removing the carrier. However, if you've got great gear ratios for the trail, chances are you won't be so lucky, and the carrier will have to come out. This installation will cover the harder of the two, removing the carrier. If you can slide the cross-shaft out without interfering with the ring gear, you're one of the lucky ones. If not, read on.

First remove the bearing caps, taking careful note of which side they're on and which direction they face. After removing the bearing caps, a long pry bar and a block of wood can be used to leverage out the carrier. Some more difficult applications may require a case spreader. In either case, be sure to keep the bearing caps and races and any shims labeled so they can be replaced exactly as they were found. Losing track of what goes where will require the gears to be reset, so this is highly important.

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With the carrier removed from the housing, now is a good time to thoroughly clean the inside of the housing.

After carefully removing the carrier, the ring gear can be unbolted from the carrier. Make alignment marks on both the carrier and the ring gear so it can be reinstalled correctly later. Without an impact wrench, it will be difficult to break the torque on the ring gear bolts, so placing the carrier in a bench-vise is recommended. Once the bolts have been removed, the ring gear and the cross-shaft can be removed. Use a long, thin pin punch to remove the roll pin, then push the cross-shaft out from the backside.

With the ring gear and cross-shaft removed, the spider gears, side gears, and thrust washers can be removed. Be sure to check the directions first to see if any parts need to be reused once the LOCK-RIGHT is installed. On our test vehicle, our thrust washers needed to be reused.

Once the innards of the carrier are removed, it is fairly simple to follow POWERTRAX's detailed instructions to install the locker itself. Basically, all the parts are inserted into the carrier in order, and everything fits together precisely. Be sure to apply a light coating of wheel bearing grease to all parts as you install them, as this will help "glue" the parts together to ease installation.

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A look at the carrier, removed from the vehicle with the ring gear and cross-shaft still in place. Remove all the bolts around the ring gear, then remove the roll pin and cross-shaft. A quick eyeball comparison shows the difference between the spider and side gears that came out, and the locker that gets installed. Following the step-by-step instructions from POWERTRAX, the LOCK-RIGHT is installed in a few minutes.

Part 3: Closing Up

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The LOCK-RIGHT installed in the Dana 44 carrier, bolted back into the housing.
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Reinstall the cover plate, and refill the differential with gear oil.

Once the LOCK-RIGHT is installed in the carrier, you can replace the cross-shaft as per the instructions, then bolt the ring gear back on. Be sure to torque the ring gear bolts down to manufacturer's specifications, in the case of the Dana 44, 80 to 90 ft-lbs. Then, reinstall the carrier in the housing, making sure to use the correct races, caps, and shims on the correct side.

With the carrier bolted back into place, the axle shafts can be slid back into the housing. You'll need to lift up on the shafts in order to line up the splines inside. Replace the four nuts on each side, and replace the calipers and brake pads. Finally, reinstall the tires and wheels.

Finally, test your new locker. Follow the instructions outlined in the installation guide to make sure it functions correctly. If installed correctly, while in gear, both tires will not be able to move at all when turned in the same direction, however, one will spin freely when they are turned in opposite directions. You should hear a subtle clicking characteristic of a LOCK-RIGHT when the tires are turned in opposite directions. If this all checks out, all that's left is to replace the inspection cover on the differential using a new gasket or gasket-maker, and refill with gear oil. POWERTRAX recommends 85W-140 gear oil to cut down on any on-road noise you may experience from your LOCK-RIGHT.

Review: POWERTRAX LOCK-RIGHT in a Dana 44 Rear
Coming Soon! -- Contributor Doug Brown takes the Dana 44 LOCK-RIGHT out for a round of testing, on and off-road!
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