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Old 12-04-2019, 12:02 PM
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Upgrade Decisions - Re-gear/Axles/Lockers

All of the following questions have probably been answered in other threads, but my search skills are lacking and I couldn't find anywhere my specific situation was addressed...

We are ready to do some upgrades to our trail rig to increase crawling capabilities. My original plan was to run what I have until I broke an axle or something else that forced me to dive into the gears and axles, but try as I might they have held together, and I figure my luck is running out. Problem is I donít have unlimited $$ so looking for a little advice on the options I am looking at and order of importance for our use.

Our Jeep is a dedicated trail rig that we trailer to destinations - only road use is short stints between trails etc. We mainly do rock crawling/obstacles (not a fan of mud/water/sand) and as we have gained experience we have really started pushing the Jeep (and our abilities) on harder trails/obstacles. Have worked up to Jeep Jamboree trail Ratings of 7 and up, going as hard as the trail guides will let me or tell me I have a chance to make it. We do 5-7 Jeep Jamborees a year plus other off-road parks and are headed to Moab spring break next year.

Rig - 2004 LJ (Not Rubicon), 42RLE Auto Trans, 4" suspension lift, stock axles D30F D44R with 3.73 ratio, Truetrac's front and rear, currently running 33" tires but will go to 35"s when current tires wear out.

Upgrades we are considering:
Axles & Re-Gear - The goal is purely trail capabilities - donít care about RPM's/power for 65 MPH on the highway. We love the Auto Trans for crawling (we started in a JK 6 spd manual) but I really miss the control of 4WLo crawl speed (up & down slopes) we had with the stick. Most recommended upgrade is chromoly shafts and re-gear to 4.88 or 5.13. Another option is Rubicrawler. Based on the above could I get away with the Rubicrawler as opposed to re-gear, and would it save me any $?

Lockers - Currently have Truetrac's F&R and they have served us well with only a few times/obstacles where I felt true lockers would have made things easier or allowed us to make an obstacle. But I know the harder we push it the more true lockers will be required. Several Questions:
If I can only afford true lockers on 1 axle do I go Front or Rear?
Since it is a pure trail rig can I get away with Automatic lockers (lunchbox, Aussie, etc.) - if so in both axles or just F or R?
Do selectable lockers provide a performance/capability upgrade, over automatics, that are worth the extra $$?
Does it make any sense to mix an Auto in 1 axle selectable in the other and if so, would it save me enough $$ to make a difference?

Are there any other "affordable" alternatives that could achieve both upgrades - like swapping out the stock axles with used Rubicon axles? Any other options?

I know that is a lot of words to wade through, but any info/advice would be greatly appreciated!

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Old 12-05-2019, 01:14 AM   #2
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On lockers, selectables are great if you daily drive and want to unlock for road manners. on a pure trail rig spools, welded spiders or auto lockers are great, you dont need road manners. My rock crawler is road worthy, a auto locker in the front that is invisible in 2wd and a selectable in the rear. I find that a front auto locker on the trail is the biggest bang for the buck.

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Old 12-05-2019, 06:06 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rickrew View Post
If I can only afford true lockers on 1 axle do I go Front or Rear?
Since it is a pure trail rig can I get away with Automatic lockers (lunchbox, Aussie, etc.) - if so in both axles or just F or R?
Do selectable lockers provide a performance/capability upgrade, over automatics, that are worth the extra $$?
Does it make any sense to mix an Auto in 1 axle selectable in the other and if so, would it save me enough $$ to make a difference?

Are there any other "affordable" alternatives that could achieve both upgrades - like swapping out the stock axles with used Rubicon axles? Any other options?
If by true locker you mean a locker as opposed to a Truetrac and money is an issue Iíd say put an automatic locker up front, itíll be the cheapest and will suffer no ill effects on the road while giving you a great performance boost overall. Or, if by true locker you mean selectable, Iíd say rear so you can disengage that locker at will for easier turning. And yes it does make sense to mix an auto and a selectable, it will save you money and give you the same off road performance as any other locker combination. As for whether it would save you enough money to make a difference, only you can answer that after pricing each option. As for the combination of two I agree with @meatsock in that a selectable in the rear & auto up front would be a great combination for your described uses, youíll get all the capability of full lockers off road AND the ability to drive open/open on the road.

Regarding cheaper options and swapping in Rubicon axles, certainly if you can find them cheaper than the cost of installing lockers in your current axles it would be a great option but those axles arenít exactly growing on trees these days & when they are available they are usually fairly pricy, again itís a question only you can answer based upon the local market.
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Old 12-05-2019, 07:55 PM   #4
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I'd say start with an auto locker up front and see how it goes. A locked front and LSD rear is a very capable setup. That's what I have in my JKU and it does well.

When climbing, the vast majority of weight is on the rear tires which allows the front axle to diff out easily. The locker keeps both tires pulling. With the weight on the rear, the LSD is quite effective.

Then do the selectable rear when you're ready for the next step and have the $$ saved up.

Good luck!
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Old 12-06-2019, 01:47 AM   #5
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I have a very similar setup. 04 LJ with 4 inch lift, 33's,
However, I do drive my jeep to the trails, so I installed 5.13's, which are great for street driving. It isn't a speed demon, but much nicer to keep up with traffic. I also recently install a rear locker.

This didn't turn my jeep into a crawler. I expect a rubicrawler or an atlas and then regearing will get you closer to what you are looking for.

My next mod will be the rubicrawler and then a front locker. Then probably 35's, a body lift, a tummy tuck and the list goes on...
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Old 12-06-2019, 02:13 PM
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Thanks for all of the reply's! So if I am hearing y'all correctly (as well as other stuff I have read) -
Axle - Upgrade/sleeve
Re-gear - do it and go with as high as I can get in my axles which I think is 5.13.
Lockers -
Cheapest option would be put an Auto Locker in the front (Aussie most recommended?) and leave TrueTrac in the back, assuming existing Truetrac will work with new gears (?).
Good option Aussie Auto in the front and a Detroit Auto in the rear.
Better option - Auto Aussie in the front and Selectable in the Rear.
Best - Selectable Front & Rear
Since I really dont need on-board air (not airing down/up regularly) Eaton E-Lockers are the way to go?

Sound right?
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Old 12-06-2019, 02:28 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rickrew View Post
Thanks for all of the reply's! So if I am hearing y'all correctly (as well as other stuff I have read) -
Axle - Upgrade/sleeve
Re-gear - do it and go with as high as I can get in my axles which I think is 5.13.
Lockers -
Cheapest option would be put an Auto Locker in the front (Aussie most recommended?) and leave TrueTrac in the back, assuming existing Truetrac will work with new gears (?).
Good option Aussie Auto in the front and a Detroit Auto in the rear.
Better option - Auto Aussie in the front and Selectable in the Rear.
Best - Selectable Front & Rear
Since I really dont need on-board air (not airing down/up regularly) Eaton E-Lockers are the way to go?

Sound right?
Looks pretty good... And should be no issue running the gears with your TrueTrac.

As for the axle, I lean truss over sleeve... Let's see what others say.
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2006 LJ Rubicon - Solar Yellow - Very Stock'ish - The Press Casual LJ-R build
2012 JKU Sahara - Pro Comp LED Headlights - PRS Audio mod- SWS - GraBars - Bestop Cargo Cover
- Mopar 2" Frankenlift - Teraflex Falcon Shocks - RE TB/Brackets - JKS mount/Bilstein stabilizer -
Rugged Ridge XHD
bumper - Yukon Gears - G2 Diff Covers - Pro Comp 8186 - Milestar Patagonia 35's - Teraflex BRK
- TORQ Locker - 1310 Driveshaft - PowerTrax Grip Pro - Full Core 4x4 Control Arms and Track Bars
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Old 12-06-2019, 03:10 PM   #8
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I have a 2005 TJ with the automatic and running 35's. I have 5.13 gears and she runs down the road great and crawls on the trail really well. I am also running Eaton E -Lockers front and rear. They perform great. I have a factory D44 rear with Chromoly shafts and a Pro Rock 44 up front with RCV's. I am very happy with my set up. Your plan looks pretty good to start your build.
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Old 12-14-2019, 04:42 PM   #9
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2004 LJ, 42RLE on 35s, HP30, 5.13 Revolution gears and chromolly shafts front and rear with electric OX lockers. I'm happy with my setup. It's as good as it can be on the hwy with the 4.0 and excellent off road

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