Dodge Dakota 9
Installing a Powertrax Lock-Right
In a (C-clip) Dodge 9 ¼" corporate
By John McKinney
It’s a natural progression. We want to
venture off the beaten path, so we buy a four-wheel drive vehicle. We turn
off of the paved roads and start with mild trails progressing to more
difficult trails. We start to notice our lack of clearance, so we go out
and buy a lift kit and bigger tires. This helps, but it only makes us more
daring, so we go out and try to conquer even more difficult obstacles.
Well, when we find out that even with more ground clearance, if we have no
traction we don’t get far. We start looking into traction aiding devices.
We learn about such things as LSD’s, then we find out about these
wonderful devices called lockers. There are several different types/brands
of lockers, but for this article we will be discussing the installation of
the Lock-Right automatic positive-locking differential, by Powertrax.
This article is only meant as a supplement to
the manufacturer’s installation instructions. Please follow manufacturer’s
recommendations. Hopefully, I can help clarify some things that are
specific to the 9 ¼ inch axle and provide better pictures.
Lock-Rights, sometimes referred to as
"lunch-box lockers" because of their simplicity, are very easy to install
in differentials with C-clip axles, such as the Dodge 9 ¼ inch. I have
installed these kits in as little as 1 hour. The kit basically replaces
the spider and side gears on open differentials. NOTE: This kit CANNOT be
used on axles with a LSD carrier. The new No-Slip locker by Powertrax has
models available for use with these carriers. Their installation is
basically the same according to Powertrax.
The kit consists of (2)
Couplers (bottom center and left), (2) Drivers (right) w/ spacers
(top center), (4) small springs, (4) large springs, (4) Shear Pins
(all near top on manual), and (2) shims (not shown) for use on some
models of the 9 ¼ inch rear axle (we’ll get to that). See Figure 1.
Before we begin the installation, SAFETY
FIRST, so lets get those jackstands underneath the axle to safely support
the vehicle and block the front end to keep it from rolling. Obviously you
will want to inspect all parts to be installed or reinstalled for damage,
or extreme wear. Now is the time to replace worn components, since you
will have the unit apart.
Step 1 -
Start by removing the inspection cover and
draining the fluid. Try to clean the inside of the case as much as
possible. Some of the newer 9 ¼ inch axles have magnets in the bottom
(such as this axle out of a ‘98 Dakota) to attract small metal shavings
produced during normal wear. Try to remove as much of the "metal" sludge
that will be found around this magnet as possible.
Step 2 –
Removing the spider and side gears
Next, remove the pinion-shaft
retaining-pin. This is the small bolt that goes through the carrier
into the pinion-shaft. See figure 2.
After the shaft has been removed, remove the two gears that were on
the shaft by rotating the passenger side wheel. This will force the
gears to "rotate" out of the carrier. Be sure to remove the thrust
washers with the gears. See figure 3.
Next, push the driver’s side wheel into the housing sharply to gain
access to the C-clip that retains the axle. See
figure 4. Once the axle is fully pushed in, the C-clip needs
only to be rotated and will normally drop right out. See Figure 5. Well, I said normally, so those
folks who are best friends with Mr. Murphy from Murphy’s law, may
need to pull in and out on the axle a few times in order for it to
be removed. Once the clip has been removed, the side gear and thrust
washer will be able to be removed and the axle will then be free to
be pulled outward. See figure 6. Clean the thrust washer, it will be
used with the kit. Repeat these steps for the passenger side. The
carrier should now be empty.
Step 3 –
Prepping the parts for installation
At this point let’s get
things ready to be installed. Put one smaller spring inside each of
the larger springs, a little grease will hold them together. Coat
the teeth of the Couplers and Drivers, the inside of the Drivers,
and both sides of the thrust washers with grease. Put some grease in
both of the larger "window" holes in each of the drivers. Put a
shear pin in each of the "window" holes (two on each driver) of both
drivers, the grease will hold them in. See
Step 4 – Assembling the Lock-Right.
Install the driver’s side (ring-gear
side) coupler (with the thrust washer) over the splines of the axle.
Make sure the axle is pushed all the way into the housing so you’ll
have clearance to install the C-clip. See figure
8. Install the C-clip with the round part towards the top and
the ends pointing down so it will not fall out if the axle gets
accidentally pushed back in. Sharply pull the axle out to seat the
C-clip. Now, slide the passenger’s side Coupler onto the axle
splines, but do not install the C-clip. Slide out the passenger side
axle just far enough so that the end of the axle shaft is flush with
the Coupler surface. At this time we want to take the small spacers
and insert them into the center of the drivers. The spacers should
be installed with the machined countersunk area facing the same way
as the Driver’s teeth, and the flat side will be facing the center
of the differential when installed.
This is where you will need to know whether you will need to use the
shims that were provided in the kit. You need to determine if you
are working on a newer (thicker C-clip) or older (thinner C-clip)
axle design. From approximately 1984, Dodge started to change to a
thicker C-clip design, but both have been found up until about 1987.
Powertrax states that the newer (thicker C-clip) versions have a "X"
stamped into the case at about the 3 O’clock position on the cover
mounting surface. I have never seen this and I was not able to find
this on my ’98 axle, but I did have the thicker C-clips and DID NOT
need the shims. I DID have to use the shims on my 1974 Ramcharger 9
¼ inch rear end. You can determine this for sure by installing the
Shims into the Spacers and if the Pinion-shaft is able to be
installed past the axle shafts, you had the older style and needed
the shims. If the Pinion-shaft will not install past the axle
shafts, you DO NOT need the shims.
|Now, take one of the Drivers with the Spacer
installed in the center and mate it’s Teeth to the Teeth on the
Coupler of the driver’s-side, the grease will help hold it in place.
Push the Spacer in the center of the Driver toward the C-clip as far
as possible. Now, with the end of the passenger-side axle still
flush with the Coupler surface, install the passenger-side Driver
(with Spacer in the center). Be sure to install the Driver with the
"slot" facing you. See figure 9. At this point you’ll probably need
a flashlight to look into the "slot" on the passenger-side Driver.
You need to gently bump the axle in just enough to line up the
groove in the axle itself with the "slot" so you can slide the
C-clip in through that slot and onto the axle. I found it easiest if
I used a small screwdriver that was long enough to seat the clip.
Bottom line: Use whatever works. Make sure the Spacer is not too far
towards the outside (towards the tire) so that it would interfere
with the C-clip sliding onto the axle (Powertrax recommends using a
piece of wire that is bent, to push the spacer back towards the
center if needed).
Step 5 –
Completing the job
We’re on the home stretch now. Turn the
passenger’s-side axle until one of the "window" (oval) holes with a
Shear Pin lines up with one of the round holes from the
driver’s-side Driver. Use a small screwdriver to push the Shear Pin
into the hole of the driver’s-side Driver. Insert one of the Spring
Assemblies into the "window" hole where to Shear Pin was, this will
push the Shear Pin all the way into the driver’s-side Driver. Be
sure that the Spring gets completely seated by pressing on the lower
coils so it can’t work it’s way out. See figure 10 NOTE: Figure
shows spring NOT completely seated. Repeat this procedure for
remaining three Shear Pins and Springs. At this point, use your
fingers to make sure Spacers are seated all the way against the
C-clips so the Pinion Shaft has clearance to be installed. After the
Spacers are seated, install Pinion Shaft and Pinion Shaft Pin,
tightening it to spec. See figure 11. If Pinion Shaft cannot be
inserted past the axle shafts, see note above on use of Spacer
Shims. Axle shaft end play should not exceed .020 inch. Check with
Powertrax if you want to perform additional checks. They can provide
tolerance limits specific to the Lock Right parts.
Step 6 –
Checking your work
Now that everything has been installed,
let’s check the installation to make sure everything is operating
correctly. With driveshaft free (neutral), rotate each axle to check
for smooth operation and if the springs are working properly. Now as
a final test, put the transmission in gear to lock the driveshaft.
Next, have a helper rotate the passenger’s-side wheel (axle) in a
forward direction until it stops and hold it. This side is now
locked. Now, rotate the driver’s-side wheel in the opposite
(reverse) direction. The Lock-Right should click as the Coupler
attached to the axle rotates. Now have your helper rotate the same
wheel in a reverse direction until it stops and hold it. Now, rotate
the driver’s-side wheel in the opposite (forward) direction and
again you should hear the clicking sound. Have your helper change
sides and perform the same test. If your measurements and tests have
been successfully completed the unit has been installed correctly
and you are now ready to install the differential cover and add the
required amount of fluid. If you have any questions or concerns
about your installation, please contact Powertrax at 1-800-Lockers
(562-5377). Powertrax recommends normal gear oil with no additive
required. I use 75-90 wt., but you can use a heavier oil like 85-140
to minimize the clicking sound from the Couplers if you are in a
I have used this model of
Lock-Right in both an automatic and a 5-spd manual transmission.
When driving the automatic vehicle on the street, the Lock-Right is
almost not even noticeable. If you try to accelerate too quickly in
a corner you can get the unit to lock up, and you may hear chirping
in the turn. This is the only time I have been able to notice a
difference, other than off-road. The 5-spd is a different story
completely. The manual transmission has no fluid coupling (torque
converter) so it’s much easier to get the unit to lock up. Driving
habits will have to be slightly altered in order to avoid certain
mildly annoying characteristics of the locker. You’ll notice that if
you drive slowly in first gear and make a turn (like in a parking
lot) the vehicle will tend to "buck". This is remedied by taking it
out of gear around those types of turns and coasting through them. I
do it unconsciously now that I have driven the truck a while with it
installed. Overall, even with these little "quirks", I love the unit
and I’ve never had any problems with either axles I have them
installed in. The added off-road capability they give you more than
justifies the slightly different driving technique required.
This is what your axle
will look like when you’re ready to head off road with your newly
installed Lock-Right locker. See figure 12. Happy off-roading and
remember to Tread
Powertrax Lock-Right installation manual. Copyright