Towing with automatic lockers?

General Discussion about almost anything Teardrop or camping related

Towing with automatic lockers?

Postby lfhoward » Tue May 12, 2020 10:04 am

Hi All,

I tow my camper with my Jeep, but my Jeep is also very much an off-road vehicle in addition to being my daily driver. I go off-road for work because I do research in mountainous forests off the beaten path. My Jeep is lifted and has recovery points, skid plates and rock sliders, etc. so that I’m good in all sorts of situations. I don’t plan on doing off-road overlanding style towing because we usually stay at state parks with hot showers!

As I am thinking about increasing the off-road ability of my Jeep, I have been thinking of installing a Powertrax No-Slip locker in the rear differential at some point. For those who aren’t familiar with what this is, it basically locks both wheels together when applying torque, so that one wheel doesn’t spin and the other not move. It can increase the ability of a vehicle off-road by a lot! On turns the locker disengages to allow the outside wheel to turn faster than the inside wheel, so they don’t bind. All this happens automatically and mechanically. (The advantage of an auto locker like this is price - $400 for the No-Slip vs 4x that for a selectable locker like an ARB with professional installation.)

Now, the question I have is regarding towing. I can find videos on YouTube and read various Jeep forum posts about how the auto locker changes on-road characteristics a bit, but very little out there on how an auto locker affects towing. This is something I want to know before making a final decision about whether a locker is in my Jeep’s future. So, who has an auto locker (Detroit, Spartan, Aussie, Powertrax Lock Rite, No-Slip, etc.) and tows a trailer? What is been your experience?
My off-road camper build on an M116A3 military chassis:
http://www.tnttt.com/viewtopic.php?f=50&t=62581
Tow vehicle: 2008 Jeep Liberty with a 4 inch lift.
User avatar
lfhoward
500 Club
 
Posts: 625
Joined: Wed Jan 22, 2014 6:10 pm
Location: Philadelphia, PA

Re: Towing with automatic lockers?

Postby Modstock » Tue May 12, 2020 1:06 pm

I've had dozens of lockers varying from cheap lunchbox lockers to OX .
One thing they have in common. When the lockers died it took out the axle as well. Bits and pieces from the lockers destroy the bearings, ect.

Fed up. I went with dual Eaton True-tracks.
While some argue it's not a full locker.
(Limited slip on steroids).

I have been very impressed with them.
Also hardly notice the front during street travel.
They last the life of the rig.




Sent from my H1611 using Tapatalk
Modstock
500 Club
 
Posts: 544
Joined: Wed Feb 01, 2012 1:18 am
Location: Salt lake , Utah

Re: Towing with automatic lockers?

Postby lfhoward » Tue May 12, 2020 2:54 pm

Modstock, that definitely makes me think twice. What kind of terrain caused yours to grenade? Were you rock crawling? I run mostly two-track forest roads and bulldozed firebreaks.

I’d love a TrueTrac in the rear, actually. However, that unit basically replaces the carrier, and the swap could make the ring and pinion gears sit differently against each other as you have to transplant the ring over— and thus the need for an expensive professional install. I was thinking lunchbox locker because I could do it myself without messing with the gears, but... replacing axle and pinion bearings after a catastrophic failure sounds a bit on the expensive side as well.
My off-road camper build on an M116A3 military chassis:
http://www.tnttt.com/viewtopic.php?f=50&t=62581
Tow vehicle: 2008 Jeep Liberty with a 4 inch lift.
User avatar
lfhoward
500 Club
 
Posts: 625
Joined: Wed Jan 22, 2014 6:10 pm
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Top

Re: Towing with automatic lockers?

Postby RJ Howell » Tue May 12, 2020 3:50 pm

Personally, and only that because I woods crawl not rock crawl, I've had no issues with limited slip .... Which I see as auto-lockers.

Now I was in a friends jeep that had these so called 'auto-lockers' and we got tossed all over on a snowy road as they kicked in and out.. Something different as I see things.

I'm not a fan of anything electronic sensing when I required 4wd/added traction. Now, something mechanical sensing that stroke before me.. seems to be more in line.

Gotta tell ya I do missed getting out and locking the hubs.. Yet again, just me.
RJ Howell
500 Club
 
Posts: 599
Images: 34
Joined: Sat Jul 27, 2019 6:08 am
Top

Re: Towing with automatic lockers?

Postby MtnDon » Tue May 12, 2020 6:39 pm

I had Lock-Rites in two different 4x4's way back in the 90's. The only towing I did was a 4x8 open box utility trailer to haul lumber, yard debris, landscape rock and so on. The things I did not like about that type of locker did not get worse or better just because I was towing. However, I was happier when I built the next 4x4 with ARB's.

There was a little noise on turns; but not a big deal. The biggest drawback is that there is no way to turn it off when you do not want it. They are not as strong as the selectable lockers like ARB. It is nice being able to install one yourself and to easily remove it if wanted while not needing to mess with the ring and pinion.

The worst thing about that type of locker was driving on a side slope when the terrain was slippery. When on a side slope and wanting to go forward a locked axle tends to act like a screw and the vehicle slips sideways in the downhill direction. It didn't take much side slope either. My concrete driveway has a slight sideways slope; from the street you cannot tell there is any slope. But when a little slippery snow would coat the driveway I could not start from a stop without the vehicle going sideways. Same thing when 4-wheeling in loose sand and a side slope. Any locker can have that problem but if you can turn the locker off that is a big help.

So, I'd say try one. If you don't like the way it changes the normal working, remove it and sell it on ebay.
Last edited by MtnDon on Wed May 13, 2020 12:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Our 6x12 deep vee nose cargo trailer camper conversion... viewtopic.php?f=42&t=58336

We have a small off grid cabin we built ourselves in the NM mountains; small PV solar system; 624 watts PV, Outback CC & inverter/charger ... http://countryplans.com/smf/index.php?topic=2335.0
User avatar
MtnDon
2000 Club
2000 Club
 
Posts: 2117
Images: 24
Joined: Sun Aug 19, 2012 10:57 pm
Location: New Mexico
Top

Re: Towing with automatic lockers?

Postby emmustwheel » Wed May 13, 2020 9:25 am

I have towed with a lunch box locker, on the highway it was fine. Could not tell it was there. It was the tight corners where they pop and make some noise.

The True Trac I believe is the recommended for towing. But you are right, the install is a major event.

I now run a spool in the back and a selectable (elocker) in the front. I have towed with this a little bit, but its moved to a trailered rig.

Looking back if you cant afford a selectable locker, I would get a winch. It will get you out of almost anything. Then carry a set of tire chains for when it gets really ugly. Lockers on snow and ice can be a little tricky.
emmustwheel
Teardrop Inspector
 
Posts: 4
Joined: Tue May 05, 2020 6:50 am
Top

Re: Towing with automatic lockers?

Postby lfhoward » Wed May 13, 2020 1:10 pm

Thank you Modstock, RJ Howell, MtnDon, and emmustwheel. I really appreciate hearing your perspectives.

It really sounds like what would be best is to save a little longer and go for the TrueTrac, since this is my daily driver as well as an off-road rig. It's nice to know that lockers & limited slips don't necessarily change towing characteristics though.

Ultimately (in a world where money is no object), I'd like to regear my Jeep from 3.73's to 4.10's to account for the larger tires and have a TrueTrac installed at the same time. I would be looking at about $3200 to do that, according to the best shop quote I've gotten so far. Seems pretty unreachable given the current economic situation, at least in the short term.

If I could install the ring gear and bearings on a TrueTrac myself and install it in my rig, that would cut costs significantly and I could save the regear until later. I'd be looking at $700 for the trueurac and maybe another $100 for bearings and a shim kit. I wouldn't have to change the pinion depth at all and only have to make sure the backlash is set right if I keep the same 3.73 gears. But then again, how much work would it be to install 4.10's and set the pinion depth myself too...? I've been doing a lot of reading and watching a lot of YouTube on this subject and I understand the process. It's just something that has to be done right the first time or the gears get trashed. And I would need to rent the appropriate tools and a bearing press.

Has anyone successfully installed a TrueTrac and/or changed ring and pinion gears themselves?
My off-road camper build on an M116A3 military chassis:
http://www.tnttt.com/viewtopic.php?f=50&t=62581
Tow vehicle: 2008 Jeep Liberty with a 4 inch lift.
User avatar
lfhoward
500 Club
 
Posts: 625
Joined: Wed Jan 22, 2014 6:10 pm
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Top

Re: Towing with automatic lockers?

Postby emmustwheel » Wed May 13, 2020 3:21 pm

lfhoward wrote:
Has anyone successfully installed a TrueTrac and/or changed ring and pinion gears themselves?



Yes, but not in a Dana axle. I have done a few of my own, but they where all toy axles. Much easier to do on the bench with a drop out third.

Its not hard, just time consuming. There are many step by step guides and how tos. That being said if its your only driver the risk is high.

Other option is find another axle for your rig and take your time and set it up. When you have everything ready to go in, just swap the rear axle complete.
emmustwheel
Teardrop Inspector
 
Posts: 4
Joined: Tue May 05, 2020 6:50 am
Top

Re: Towing with automatic lockers?

Postby MtnDon » Wed May 13, 2020 6:25 pm

I have done my own ARB's with gear changes. I figured that if I was going to go to the trouble of doing the work myself I should do it "right". I had first lifted and increased tire sizes and the fact that it was an automatic helped make up the performance difference. But the ratio change made my highway fuel mileage improve as well as improve normal about town.

The first pair (F&R) were done with the help of a friend who had done several axles. After that I did them myself. I had reference materials and borrowed a few tools. I took my time. After the first set I did have the advantage of the vehicle not being my daily driver so I could take my time. I removed the axles to a bench as I was doing other work at the time.
Our 6x12 deep vee nose cargo trailer camper conversion... viewtopic.php?f=42&t=58336

We have a small off grid cabin we built ourselves in the NM mountains; small PV solar system; 624 watts PV, Outback CC & inverter/charger ... http://countryplans.com/smf/index.php?topic=2335.0
User avatar
MtnDon
2000 Club
2000 Club
 
Posts: 2117
Images: 24
Joined: Sun Aug 19, 2012 10:57 pm
Location: New Mexico
Top

Re: Towing with automatic lockers?

Postby lfhoward » Wed May 13, 2020 8:48 pm

I really like the idea that if I could get my hands on some donor diffs, I could maybe set the gears up in my basement on my workbench, then later swap the axles...

I did some poking around on car-part.com. There are a couple of junkyards in NJ that have a front carrier and a rear axle housing. It would be about a 200 mile round trip from Philly but the parts could be had for about $50 and $150 respectively. Well that plus core charges, whatever that would be.

4.10 ring & pinion sets on EBay cost about $200 per axle for the decent brands, and add in $100 each for shim & bearing kits. That gets me up to $800 for the job. If I wanted a TrueTrac for the rear, that’s $700 more. So $1500 for the regear if I am the labor. ($3200+ for professional installation & parts)

Advantages to this scheme as I see it are:
- I don’t have to buy everything at once- acquire as I can afford them.
- 1/2 the total cost of a shop or less
- No down time on the daily driver while I figure things out, just the day I swap the axles
- If I screw it up I still have my stock axles that will work fine
- It would be technically challenging and could be fun

Disadvantages are:
- Expensive to screw up, and I have no experience with gears
- Lots more time commitment in fetching the donor axles & doing the gears myself
- I don’t own a bearing puller or a press, or any of the calipers and sensitive measuring devices I need to set up the gears
- Swapping axles while parked on the street could be dicey. (I suppose I don’t have to do both ends in the same day if I just unplug the 4x4 switch.)

Ok, now that I’ve laid out this scheme (not calling it a plan at this point), I’d love to get some feedback. What haven’t I thought of?

Many thanks if you read this far!
—Lauren
My off-road camper build on an M116A3 military chassis:
http://www.tnttt.com/viewtopic.php?f=50&t=62581
Tow vehicle: 2008 Jeep Liberty with a 4 inch lift.
User avatar
lfhoward
500 Club
 
Posts: 625
Joined: Wed Jan 22, 2014 6:10 pm
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Top

Re: Towing with automatic lockers?

Postby Modstock » Thu May 14, 2020 7:30 am

Id recommend a professional to install gears. Yes it's expensive but ya wouldn't want to pay for it twice (including parts).

On mine since I wasn't doing a gear change , I had a guy install the new carriers/diff . He only had to adjust backlash and made sure the gear pattern was correct. He even showed me a few tips.
I do alot of my own wrenching but certain things like internal motor, trans and axles I'll pay a pro. I know enough to be dangerous.



Sent from my H1611 using Tapatalk
Modstock
500 Club
 
Posts: 544
Joined: Wed Feb 01, 2012 1:18 am
Location: Salt lake , Utah
Top

Re: Towing with automatic lockers?

Postby emmustwheel » Thu May 14, 2020 9:22 am

lfhoward wrote:
4.10 ring & pinion sets on EBay cost about $200 per axle for the decent brands, and add in $100 each for shim & bearing kits. That gets me up to $800 for the job. If I wanted a TrueTrac for the rear, that’s $700 more. So $1500 for the regear if I am the labor. ($3200+ for professional installation & parts)



Another thought, ask them how much for a bench install? If you bring the junk yard parts in to them, how much? Sometimes the majority of the cost is working on the rig, not the actual set up. It may break close to even to get the parts.

Then you are doing the labor of swapping the axles.

Are the newer jeeps ifs suspension?
emmustwheel
Teardrop Inspector
 
Posts: 4
Joined: Tue May 05, 2020 6:50 am
Top

Re: Towing with automatic lockers?

Postby Modstock » Thu May 14, 2020 12:05 pm

Is this for the liberty in your avatar ?

Sent from my H1611 using Tapatalk
Modstock
500 Club
 
Posts: 544
Joined: Wed Feb 01, 2012 1:18 am
Location: Salt lake , Utah
Top

Re: Towing with automatic lockers?

Postby lfhoward » Thu May 14, 2020 4:18 pm

Modstock wrote:Is this for the liberty in your avatar ?

Sent from my H1611 using Tapatalk

Yes, it’s for the Liberty. It has an independent front suspension so the diff would have to be dropped. It has a solid rear axle so access to the gears is easier in the back. It also tows quite nicely with the solid axle, though regearing would give it a bit more torque.
My off-road camper build on an M116A3 military chassis:
http://www.tnttt.com/viewtopic.php?f=50&t=62581
Tow vehicle: 2008 Jeep Liberty with a 4 inch lift.
User avatar
lfhoward
500 Club
 
Posts: 625
Joined: Wed Jan 22, 2014 6:10 pm
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Top

Re: Towing with automatic lockers?

Postby Modstock » Thu May 14, 2020 7:24 pm

My wife has a KK also. If it has the traction control system in it. Just a rear True Track would do wonders and compliment that system very well. Then nothing a winch couldn't get ya through.

I was surprised at ours when I put it on 3 wheels and lightly held the brakes under some light throttle, it just crawled right through it .

Sent from my H1611 using Tapatalk
Modstock
500 Club
 
Posts: 544
Joined: Wed Feb 01, 2012 1:18 am
Location: Salt lake , Utah
Top


Return to General Discussion

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 5 guests