locker questions...

Discussion in '1973-1991 K5 Blazer | Truck | Suburban' started by newboy89, Dec 17, 2001.

  1. newboy89

    newboy89 Registered Member

    Nov 18, 2001
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    ok, first can you guys explain the different types of lockers. and the different functionalities (i.e Detroit, lincon, ect.)?And are lockers always engaged or are they variable, and what kind of control do you have over them, like can you select when they lock and when they dont? and what is the difference between a locker and a posi-traction setup? and how is the driveability on street? i've read that they pull the truck one way or another, why is that? and just refresh my mind on what an open diff is for good measure. thanks alot guys.
  2. tRustyK5

    tRustyK5 Big meanie Staff Member Super Moderator GMOTM Winner Author

    Jul 23, 2000
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    E-town baby!
    I'll do my best to outline a few major points...

    First of all a Lincoln locker isn't really a locker. It is a diff that has immobilized the spider gears permanently by welding them together. This acts like a Spool and does not allow any differentiation between the rear wheels. It offers 100% of the power applied to each tire all the time. Common characteristics are heavy understeer in corners, barking tires in tight turns like a parking lot and excellent off road traction.

    Detroit locker...does not use spider gears for differentiation. It uses dog toothed side gears under spring pressure. The tooth design will not allow either wheel to turn slower than the ring gear, it will allow one wheel to spin faster than the ring gear only under a 'coast' condition such as through a corner. Common characteristics are understeer and banging as it disengages and re-engages. Same no holds barred traction as the welded diff.

    Air engaged using air pressure to lock it. Unlocked it acts as though it is an open differential and locked it offers the same traction as the lincoln or Detroit.

    Posi/Limited slip...this diff uses spring loaded clutches to try and keep the wheels turning at the same speed but has a certain amount of slip built in so the tires don't chirp in tight corners. The amount of traction is dependant on the spring pressure and the condition of the clutch plates. This is a good diff for light duty wheeling and daily driving duties, but in many situations offroad the clutches are easily defeated and traction will be compromised.

    Open diff...there are generally 4 spider gears in constant mesh and the power will flow through the path of least resistance. Simply with this diff the tire with the least amount of traction gets all the power. It is seamless on the street though.

    I'm sure somone will either clarify or correct me on most of this[​IMG]...hope it helps anyways.


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  3. muddin4fun

    muddin4fun 3/4 ton status

    Feb 19, 2001
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    N Texas
    That's pretty much the way I understand it [​IMG]

    *lincoln locker [​IMG]*

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  4. txbartman

    txbartman 1/2 ton status

    Jun 1, 2001
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    Plano, TX
    I think you nailed it. The only other thing I have heard is that posi's or limited slips only work well when there is still some resistance at both tires. But, if there is no resistance at all on one tire (i.e. a tire in the air) they act more like an open diff.

    I also wanted to add that with a Detroit locker, their is some banging and some tire chirping if you power through a tight corner. However, under most circumstances with a Detroit, you don't hear anything at all.

    The reason for the impact on steering is that the axle is trying to drive with equal wheel speed on both sides. That means it is going to want to go straight. If you are going through a long slow curve with a Detroit, for example, and you are hard on the gas, you will have to crank the steering wheel a bit more to make the curve. If you let off the gas as you are going through, you will suddenly have to reduce your cranking on the wheel to keep from oversteering. But, these are things you get used to.

    The functionality of a locker is common whether in the front or rear axle. However, there are some other things to take into consideration with the front axle. While tire speeds diferentiate on the rear axle in a curve, they do so much more dramatically on the front axle. So, as the locker tries to work in the front, it will reduce your turning radius. In addition, a lincoln "locker" will not work in the front in most situations because you need the wheels to be able to differentiate. If they don't one will have to break lose to keep up with the other. If it can't break lose, something else will (like steering u-joint, axleshaft, or gears). In addition, because of the additional drive put on the axle shafts in the front, it is more likely to blow a steering u-joint if using a locker in the front that is activated under power on a "tight" turn.

    That is why you will usually find Detroits and/or lincolns in the rear and an ARB (air activated), OX (cable activated), or limited slip in the front diff. I run Detroits front and rear and believe they are worth their weight in gold!

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