G'day mates....today our journey takes us to the lands of the open diff where we find a lowly Dana 30 in a life or death struggle against a mechanical locker. This battle has played out countless times here in the outback. Come, let's take a walkabout and see how this matchup unfolds....
Okay I'll stop now!
So I've been running a factory limited slip D44 rear and open D30 front for a while now with decent results. However there were some times last season I could have used a little extra sumthin sumthin in the traction department. The Jeep already has 4.88 gears so there was no need to go lower. I looked into the "lunchbox" lockers and the various brands out there. If you have an open diff, this is probably the easiest upgrade you can do to add some traction. There is no set up required, it's just bolt in and go. Lunchbox lockers are sometimes referred to as a "drop in locker." While this is theoretically true, it's not always the case and wasn't in my case either.
I decided on the Aussie Locker based on price ($269), overall good reviews and reputation. Plus it's made in the USA as well. Also I figured if something finally goes "snap, crackle, pop" I'm not heavily invested and can work on a more robust upgrade.
FWIW, there's dozens of walk throughs, videos and forum write ups on lunchbox lockers out there. I'm just tryin to bring some highlights here rather than a detailed step by step process.
Begin by jacking up the front of your Jeep. Set it down on some jack stands and remove the jack. Remove your tires.
Remove rotors and brake calipers and then pop out your axle shafts about 6-8 inches. I also elected to drop the tie rod on the driver side to give myself more room to remove/replace the carrier.
Pop your diff cover off and take a look inside. In this pic you can see that I have a "thick ring gear" and the spider gear cross shaft can't be removed without removing the ring gear. Technically, if you still have stock gears or a "thin ring gear" the center shaft can be removed and the locker installed without removing it from the vehicle. I believe that would be a major pain in the bohiney!
Remove the four cap bolts then pull and pry the carrier out. Mark the caps and cap bolts so as to put them back exactly where they came from. Here's a pic of it on the bench and a better look at the ring gear blocking the center shaft.
Ring gear off and the Aussie Locker in it's unassembled form.
At this point I removed the side and spider gears as they will not be reused. You have the option to reuse the thrust washer and center shaft if they are in good shape. I had no idea what shape these parts were going to be in so I opted to get new thrust washers and center shaft just to be on the safe side. This added about $40 to the price of parts. At this point of the install it's advised to use some bearing grease to help the parts "stick" together and ease the assembly. I looked like I was elbow deep in a Kangaroo , so I apologize for the lack of step by step assembly pics. But here's the final product.