There’s a lot of buzz going around about lawsuits and patent infringements since the release of Detroits new EZ Locker, so we figured we’d give it a try and see what all of the hoopla was about. The folks here are 4x4review have been using Power Track’s version almost exclusively for several years now, so we have a pretty good grasp on what they entail. We ordered our EZ Locker from Joel Snider at Stage West Four Wheel Drive Center out of Colorado. Upon first glance, they appear to be identical with the only difference being 4 little caps that slide inside the operating springs. We did notice however that the craftsmanship of Tractech’s version (Detroit’s e-z locker) was slightly lower than that of the Lock-Right. It seems as if Lock-Right spends a little more time machining their units as they are very clean. Not to say that Detroits version is any worse, but the milling on Lock-Right’s locker is much cleaner.
The unit installed very quickly as we were accustomed to installing the PowerTrax’s version. The instructions and photos within were lacking, but not altogether impossible. If you’ve installed one of these before, it’s a snap the next time.
| It all started off with a conversation about more traction. Every one who does any serious wheelin’ would love to have MAX traction. We finally decided to order a front locker for our 74 Cruiser and here’s how the install went.
We began by simply opening the box our locker came in and checked to make sure all of the parts were there by referencing the installation guide and owners manual. Once we determined all was present and accounted for, we then disconnected the battery cable and raised the vehicle on jack stands. (remember to block the wheels sufficiently to keep it from rolling.)
|Once the vehicle was secure on jack stands, we started preparing for the disasembly stage. We started by removing the driveshaft, tires, and draining the differential oil. A couple of things to remember… 1) Always mark your driveshaft in relation to the input shaft of the T-Case and at the Pinion gear output flange. This will keep you from rotating the driveshaft on accident when reinstalling. 2) always check the color of your diff oil. If it’s a clear, light, golden brown, your good to go. If it’s milky, then it probably had water or some other contaminant in it. This means you should check and/or replace your axle seals/gaskets. If you look at the photo, you’ll notice that my oil wasn’t the right color! I’ve spent way too much time in the water and didn’t change the fluids. I paid the price with a rusty ring gear and inside pumpkin. It took a lot of extra time to get everything cleaned up because of that.|
|Once you have the oil drained, you’ll want to start pulling the brake calipers off. Next remove the hubs, snap ring, jam nuts, spacers, lock ring, and bearings. With all of that out of the way, your disc brake should slide right off. Now on our Cruiser, we have a lot more to do. Next we need to remove everything else from the backing plate out to include the spindle, spindle flange, dust seals and much more. With all of that out of the way, you will need to rotate the outer axle shaft (half-shaft) until the flat parts are up and down. Next, wiggle the axle shafts up and down and back and forth until they start to come free. You’ll need to pull them out just until the Birfield joint starts to pass through. That should be out far enough to remove the third member (pumpkin).|
|Getting the third member to separate from the housing was a chore. We started by using a VERY heavy rubber mallet (probably 4 or 5 pounds) and struck the output (tail) shaft of the third member in all directions. Next, we actually used a 2×4 (wood) and put it on the floor jack. VERY CAREFULLY we started putting some upward pressure on the tail shaft until the third member started to separate. Be VERY careful not to bend the studs on the differential housing. We don’t recommend you do this, but it was our last effort. Once the third member was separated, we carefully lowered the unit to the floor and started the cleaning process. We thoroughly cleaned the third member and the inside of the differential housing and axle tubes. We recommend that you use something like brake parts cleaner that dries quickly and doesn’t leave a petroleum residue behind to contaminate your fluids.|
|Once you’ve removed the third member, place it on a sturdy surface, such as a workbench so that you can start working on it. At this point, you’ll want to clean as much of the third member as possible and inspect it for damage. For emample, you’ll want to check the edges of the ring and/or pinion gears for cracks, chips or overly rounded corners. Additionally, you may want to check to make sure you don’t have any side to side or in and out play. that would indicate worn bearings or worn shim plates. Now that you’ve inspected the third member and hopefully all is well, it’s time to disassemble it. You can start by removing the retaining bolt that secures the pinion shaft. Once that’s removed, slide the pinion shaft out of the housing. Next, remove all of the spider gears within the housing. Place the thrust washers to the side and clean them throughly, you’ll need them again in a little bit.|
|With the housing empty of parts, take the side gears and clutches of the locker and coat them with medium weight grease. We used high-temp, lithium axle grease. This will allow you to place things together without it falling apart. Now place a dowel pin into each of the elongated outer holes of each clutch. Then place a spacer (medium sized cap looking things) inside each clutch with the large diameter hole toward the clutch teeth (pointing away from the center of the housing). these spacers help to maintain the axle placement when completely assembled. Now place a side gear thrust washer with the smooth side in. The other side has a funny groove cut in it to force oil into the housing area. Place the side gear with thrust washer into the ring gear side of the housing. (NOTE: FOR C-CLIP AXLES ONLY; Push the ring gear side AXLE in place and insert the C-Clip with the open end facing down in the axle shaft groove. now smartly pull the axle shaft outwards to seat the C-clip. If your model calls for the use of an axle space, insert it now inside the side gear.) For our Non-C-Clip axle, we added our second side gear to the non-ring gear side of the housing. We then inserted our spacers into the side gears. Place one of the clutches inside the housing (gear to gear) and rotate it until a slot is visible. Next, insert the second clutch on the other side and rotate it until the cross pin hole is aligned with that. Using a pick and a small flat tip screwdriver, push the dowel pins into the hole on the opposing clutch. Push it ALMOST all of the way in but not completely. If you do, and you’ve messed one of the steps up and have to go back, it’s very difficult to get them apart if the dowel pin is completely inserted. now assemble the 4 springs and caps that slide into them. They are pretty hard to get in so be careful not to have one go flying into the abyss behind the trash can or the workbench! Insert one of the spring/cap assemblies with the cap toward the dowel pin into the slot in the clutch. Use a screwdriver or pick to completely insert and seat the springs. Repeat for the three remaining dowel pins and spring caps assemblies.(C-CLIP Axles: ensure that the spacers are seated against the side gears and not hung up on the C-Clips.) rotate the clutches to line up their cross pin hole with the mating hole in the differential housing. Finally, insert the pinion shaft into the housing and between the clutches and spacers, and through the axle shaft spacer block if used. Rotate the pinion shaft to accept the retaining bolt and tighten to specification.|
|NOW, sit back, sip a cool one and check out your locker. Make sure everything looks like it should. Here comes the best part… Put it all back together! Once everything is together, lock your hubs. Here’s are the final tests to make sure everything is working properly. While the vehicle is still supported on jack stands, rotate one of the tires. If it stops immediately, rotate it in the opposite direction and listen for a clicking or clacking noise. this is normal. If it DOES NOT rotate in either direction or in both directions, then there is something wrong and you need to make sure you put everything together properly. If this part works as advertised, now you can take if for a quick test run. Drive the vehicle on a flat surface with good traction in a circle in forward and reverse to be sure that the outside wheel is free to overrun. In essence, if your not on the gas or coasting firmly, you should here the clutches and side gears ratchet. If you have installed your locker in the front axle, such as ours, I DON’T suggest you do this on pavement. You’ll get a WHOLE LOT OF BINDING! driving with a locker, either in the front or the rear takes some getting used to and doesn’t lend well to slick surfaces such as snow or ice. Always remember, when making a turn (rear lockers) such as at an intersection, you should try to stay at a steady speed. Any firm acceleration or deceleration will cause the side gears and the clutches to lock together and you’ll get a little jolt or hear a LOUD pop! Every once in a while, usually pulling onto a parking space or driveway, I get a pretty good jolt and a loud enough pop to make me look behind and check to see if my differential is on the ground. I’ve been told that this is normal and all of my friends have the same thing happen to them with no problems. these are just some of the quirks that comes with MAX traction. Now that you know everything is working okay, time to take your rig for a good four-wheelin test run such as the last photo here. The photo doesn’t do my rig any justice as there was really about 2 feet of air under the passenger side tire. With lockers front and rear, even on this loose surface, it had no problem literally creeping up this hill. ENJOY!|
|Ease of Install||Took most of an afternoon. Wasn’t too hard.|
|Ease of Use||Easy to use, simply lock… and roll!|
|Performance||Increased the ‘rockability’ by two fold.|
|Durability||Need further testing||Need further testing|
|Drivability||Driving on hard packed trails w/out pwr steering would be a nightmare! Plenty of feedback through the steering wheel.|
|Price in comparison to related products||In comparison with the LockRight Locker, the EZLocker was roughly 10 to 15% higher|
|Was it worth it???||Most definately, especially if you ‘wheel a lot.|
|Tools Required||For 74 LAND CRUISER: 10, 12, 14, and 17mm wrenches and sockets (10mm line wrench), snap-ring pliers.
For Locker: Small flat-tip screwdriver, small punch or awl
Misc: Grease, brake parts cleaner, brake fluid, rags, pizza, etc.
|Editors Notes||So far, this product is pretty durable. That night we took our Cruiser out for a good ol’ fasion beating and all went as well as expected! since then, it’s been ‘wheeled on 4+ trails several times and performed admirably. The directions provided were severely lacking and the photos/drawings were hard to decipher. Installation was a snap and all pieces went together well. There wasn’t even any left over! 🙂 The MSRP is a bit pricy in comparison to other related products but well worth the money when it comes to rock crawlin’! Driving in four wheel drive on hard packed trails takes a little getting used to. Overall rating: 3.5 tires! RW|