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Detroit locker on icy,snow covered roads

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by destinbeachman, Sep 1, 2005.

  1. destinbeachman

    destinbeachman 1/2 ton status

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    Would anyone who has experience driving on icy,snowy winter roads please give me a heads up as to what kind of handling characteristics I can expect running a locker in those conditions.I live in Florida and spend my winters in Utah and am going to replace the GM posi in my 14 bolt with a locker and,while I want a Detroit,I am sorta leaning towards a selectable locker(ARB)just because of my winter trips.I don't really want to spend a grand+ but I also don't want to wind up dead at the bottom of a canyon.I can put up with a lot of peculiarity when it comes to driving my truck(she's a 70 K5 with a 427,37's,etc...) and I'm not a prima donna who has to have a leather-filled interior in my rig,but I'd sure appreciate some input from some guys who know from experience what I'd be getting myself into with a full-time locker.Thanks a million...Allen
     
  2. k5 krawler 50

    k5 krawler 50 1/2 ton status

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    I'm in the same boat you are. I too am wondering what it would be like to drive on snow covered roads with front and rear detroits. As destinbeachman mentioned would it be better to spend a more for the ARB?
     
  3. diesel4me

    diesel4me 1 ton status Premium Member

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    posi front and rear??

    I think posi in FRONT and back on icy roads will==DOUGHNUTS!!...WEEEEEE! :D :haha:

    I drove my friends Jeep "Gladiator" with front and rear posi once on an icy road--right into the ditch!. :eek1: .I guess posi's dont like going anywhere but straight ahead!..I had to learn to "gas" it around corners,or it would plow straight ahead,instead of steering.. :eek1: I also spun my dads 68 Chevelle wagon around in a circle when I took a corner at 15 mph on a freezing rain covered road--the posi was to blame again! :doah: --it was kinda fun though! :laugh: :haha:
     
  4. redneckdude

    redneckdude 1/2 ton status

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    yep, seems that posi/lockers are not safe on ice...i totally understand why...
     
  5. big_truxx

    big_truxx 1/2 ton status

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    hehehe i always wonderedabout these things too. from what i hear too much locker is bad on slick surfaces :D
     
  6. dyeager535

    dyeager535 1 ton status Premium Member

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    I know you are looking for firsthand (and you will get it I'm sure) but I'm in somewhat of the same situation...current diff setup isn't working, want something that works with a wheel off the ground.

    I'll just say why for *MY* situation, I don't think a selectable locker will work: when you want it, you've got to physically engage it. Maybe that's not much to you, but for me, if I want to get on the thing on the street, I'd have to engage the locker, then remember to disengage when I was done or needed to take some sharp corners. Off-road, same thing. In reality, high speed on a gravel road would be dangerous similar to snow/ice as well, a locked rear and on the gas, the tail is gonna want to move.

    At least with a "standard" locker, it's always there, and it's automatic. As I understand it, if you are off the gas, it's open anyways. You shouldn't be on the gas on a level or downhill turn in the snow/ice IMO anyways. My trucks turned tail with an unlocked rear going downhill on a straightaway, locked or not wouldn't have mattered there.
     
  7. HarryH3

    HarryH3 1 ton status Author

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    This is true ONLY if one wheel is trying to go faster than the other. The "default" mode of a locker is to be locked. The only time it unlocks is if ONE wheel is trying to rotate faster than the other wheel. If both are rolling at the same speed, even with your foot off the gas, then both axles remain locked to the diff.

    Where it gets scary is when you're on ice and neither tire can get enough traction to cause the diff to unlock one wheel from the carrier. If you happen to be going down a hill, at a curve when you let off the throttle, the rear is going to want to come around. Been there, done that, ruined the undies... :wink1:

    I'm sure that lots of folks will chime in with "I've never had an issue with my locker on the ice". To that I just add: "Yet". :eek1: Conditions have to be just right, but when it does happen you can find yourself looking out the side window just to see where you're headed, all in the blink of an eye. :doah:
     
  8. dyeager535

    dyeager535 1 ton status Premium Member

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    Yeah, your right, forgot that without traction, it's gonna stay locked.

    I don't see how people can say it's not happened...even in my very mild/sane as possible winter driving, I've had the rear end come around on the truck with the gov-lock. (to its credit, I was on teh gas slightly going up hill, or it wouldn'thave been locked) ONLY way to prevent something like that is a selectable locker. If you can run with an open for most of the time on the street, I would have to say a selectable is about the best thing going.

    Just when I forget the fact that they stay locked by default, you bring me back in line. :)

    To Allen, is there any reason the 14FF gov-lock won't work for your application? They're pretty strong for the 14FF... I suspect with your setup, you're hard enough on it that you might break it?
     
  9. destinbeachman

    destinbeachman 1/2 ton status

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    Deyeager535,for the type of wheelin I do right now my setup is okay,but I that's mostly cause I take it a little easy so as not to break anything.I'm looking at buttoning up the two weakest links on my rig by spring by dropping the chain-drive portion of my t-case by going with a doubler and following that up with a D60 swap for the front.I'm just trying to go as heavy duty with the important stuff before I try climbing trees or buildings.I'll definitely end up with one or the other(Detroit or ARB) in the rear with an ARB in the front.The driving I do in the winter takes me up and down some very nasty snowcat trails at a ski resort and when I say nasty I'm talking about several hundred feet straight down if I went over.And driving down I-80 into Salt Lake is sometimes sketchy enough as it is very steep and can be very slick.I take my time driving around when it is bad and can handle an extra 10 minutes to get to where I'm going-I just want to know that I can geet there eventually.
     
  10. wildbilzrydn

    wildbilzrydn 1/2 ton status

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    OK, I'm new here so I need to ask some questions, What the heck is a "gov-lock"? Are you guys referring to the Eaton Posi? I've had a couple of trucks with those and while the weren't real powerful, they did the job quite well.
     
  11. mudhog

    mudhog THEGAME Staff Member Super Moderator

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    i have front and rear detroits in my blazer. on snow and ice if you use to much gas it will put you sideways. but you just need to learn to drive with the lockers. you say you have a limited slip now so you will be fairly used to it because a detroit will be about the same. if your woried about going arround corners with a detroit in the snow and ice all you need to remember is dont break traction. so stay off the gas arround corners. when going arround an uphill corner just be easy on the gas and DONT spin the tires and you will be fine
     
  12. HarryH3

    HarryH3 1 ton status Author

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    Don't feel bad... I just recently sent a nastygram to Jim Allen for his description of Detroit Locker operation in a magazine article that had it described exactly the opposite of how it really works. :rolleyes:
     
  13. sope

    sope 1/2 ton status

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    Locker in the rear isn't a problem. Really it's not much different than posi on a slick road. If you put it in 4whdr it's fine. If you put a locker in the front in light snow conditions, like a few inches it's scary on the highway. You have to oversteer and when you get on and off the throttle your front end is all over the place. Deep snow you wan't all the traction you can get. Dual lockers for sure.
    Hope this helps.
     
  14. Ned Kelly

    Ned Kelly 1/2 ton status Premium Member

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    I've run a Detroit in the rear of my K30 for 15yrs now (ND/MN, & Canada). Mostly mud and snow. I've had lots of winter highway miles on it too. For the longest time I had 38" Gumbo Mudders and they don't offer much traction on ice or glazed roads. Yes, sometimes the rear would want to walk out on me on the highway - but I just let off the gas and straighten out. Happens rarely, but it does. It can be alittle scary as it usually catches you unexpectedly - but someone with decent driving skill should be ok. I never considered it such a problem that I wouldn't want a locked rear. I'm sure a better winter tire choice (like and MTR or Cepek Fun Country) would make for better winter road manners and lessen the chance of the rear walking out.

    I would like an ARB in the rear - more to save on rear tire wear than anything else.

    Selectable locker for the front is the only option. A locked front on the highway in a snowstorm would probably get you killed. I know of guys who ran LA Lockers, True Tracs, etc. in the front and even in town in 4x4 their trucks were hard to steer in the right direction on glazed streets. They all ended up going back to open front diffs.
     
  15. Russell

    Russell LB7 Tahoe Status Premium Member GMOTM Winner

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    Locked diffs are fantastic for off-road vehicles, but it has been my experience that locked front diffs are downright dangerous on the highway. A rear gov-lock or detroit a guy can easily learn how to control. If you can catch the rear end slipping out, you'll be fine, and it helps a lot with getting out of the ditch.

    Personally, I plan to run my front diff open, and my rear diff with a Gov-Lock posi for right now. If the Gov-Lock doesn't sit well with me in the winter, or if I break it in the summer, I'll put my open 14 bolt FF in to replace the Gov-Lock 14 bolt FF.
     
  16. sope

    sope 1/2 ton status

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    I agree with that. If you are driving on snow covered streets and highways often, a full time locker in the front isn't a good idea. I run a lockright in the front and it is scary especially on curvy snow covered roads. I guess if I lived in Winnipeg this wouldn't be a daily driver but I wouldn't live in winnipeg. TOOO COLD.
     
  17. fireplug

    fireplug 1/2 ton status

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    I'm running a Detroit in the back of my Burb, in Toronto, with lots of highway miles. Last winter I was running square, slicks (otherwise known as really worn Cooper STT's) without problems.

    Sometimes the rear will kick out if you gas it, but you can easily recover. Of course my truck is 6000 lbs so I might have a bit more weight to assist.

    Now if you are stuck on snow and ice. You are pooched. The Detroit will cause the truck to travel sideways, especially fun on a side slope!

    That said, if I could afford it, safety would win, and I'd pick up a selectable.
     
  18. 79 blazer

    79 blazer 1/2 ton status

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    what about the "Ox lockers", that are cable actuated, kinda like an e-brake from my understading. that seems like it would perfect as far as it is selectable and a decent price, does Ox or another company with a similar product make theese for 12 and/or 14 bolts? i know you can get them for dana 44's. i think that the best rig i ever drove on snowy and icy roads was a buddys fulltime 4wheel jimmy, and my old 79' cherokee witha fulltime t-case, went right where you pointed them.
     
  19. Greg72

    Greg72 "Might As Well..." Staff Member Super Moderator

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    Last winter was the first time I drove with a locker in the snow.

    It's was bizarre to find out that my "radical" 4WD vehicle was one of the worst handling vehicles on the road!!! :eek1:

    In deep snow it works fine and kept me moving....but on a street with only an inch of snow, the rear end was so "greasy" in 2WD that I had to pull off the road and lock the front hubs and pull it into 4WD. The front end (open diff) helped to keep the rear end tracking straight, but I could really feel that Detroit trying to slide me around....

    Given the choice, I would DEFINITELY go with a selectable locker. It would be a LOT less stressful and a lot easier to drive safely in snowy or icy conditions.


    :thumb:
     
  20. loafer

    loafer 1/2 ton status

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    rear locker+snow=no problem

    I do an extensive amount of winter driving here in Maine and I've run two different posi rear diffs, and I'm currently running a rear Lock-right (no-slip actually).

    On snow and ice the locker just stays locked and never disengages, as described in previous posts. It's very predictable, but the rear end will break free and fish tail very easily. I just keep the hubs locked in and throw it in 4wd if I start to slide around too much. I keep the front diff. open, so once I am in 4wd I barely notice the rear locker and the truck tracks really well.

    The two posi diffs, both clutch style:Eaton and a GM model, behaved almost exactly the same as the locker in snow/ice. The posi's I had, coupled with a light rear end, behaved like a locker on snow and ice and would break the rear free just as easy as the locker to the high preload in the clutches.

    The rear locker is worth it IMO and very easy to drive in the snow.
     

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