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Old 06-01-2016, 05:07 PM
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Post Rubiconization: DIY axles swap

Hey guys
I've recently scored a fairly good deal on pair of 2015 Rubi axles with less then 6000 miles on them and finally got them installed the last weekend.

Axles are complete assembly takeoff, with brakes, ABS sensors and cables, tie rod and even with the drag link so it was pretty straight forward swap.
Here's the write up that might be useful for those folks who thinking about doing the axle swap.

I did this project in my garage mostly by myself with some help from my wife

The whole job took around 12 hours split in two days. Front axle took 7 hour including lunch break and two runs to a hardware store, rear was ~5 hours including some wiring and soldering work for the rear locker harness.

So here we go:



Tools needed:
  • Floor jack - really a must have item. I can't imagine doing this job with a bottle jack or (God forbid!) scissor jack.
  • Jack stands, 2 sets (two bigger 6 ton for the frame and two smaller 3 ton ones for the axle)
  • Two 12"x18" furniture dollies. Got those from HF and they worked perfectly for this project. Moving axles around become an easy one mans job with these.
  • Sockets: 8mm, 10mm, 15mm, 16mm, 18mm, 19mm, 21mm.
  • Socket drive extensions and joints. I use assorted, from 1.5" up to 8".
  • Wrenches: two 16mm (really need two to remove front shocks upper mounts), 18mm, 21mm. I think its always good to have at least two of each, not just 16mm.
  • Ratchet with 3/8 and/or 1/2" drive.
  • Torque wrench that goes up to 150 lbs*ft
  • Hammer
  • Some wood pieces
  • Punch
  • Big ass breaker bar
  • Tie rod/pitman arm puller - REALLY recommend this thing! For just under 15 bucks this is a huge time saver!
  • Long and strong zip ties.

I also highly recommend an impact wrench. It is a superb tool that worth its price just for this project alone, not to mention other DIY things.
I used my two impacts: 1/2" drive 18v Craftsman C3 Heavy Duty and small but mighty 12v Milwaukee M12 Fuel with 3/8' drive. Craftsman had zero problems with removing lug nuts, control arms and track bars bolts. M12 worked great for all smaller stuff.

(Some photos has been taken afterwards, so if you see some stuff that supposed to be removed on previous steps - just ignore it)

Front removal:
  1. Jack up the jeep, support for the frame with two 6t stands right behind the lower control arms brackets and for the axle with two 3t stands. Wheels should be off the ground, but not too high, i.e. suspension is not hanging free, but not under the full load either.
  2. Remove front driveshaft (four 15mm bolts), suspend shaft with zip tie

  3. Disconnect breather tube
  4. Remove wheels
  5. Disconnect sway bar links (lower bolts only) (18mm bolt and nut)
  6. Remove shocks (lower 18mm bolt and nut, upper 16mm nut)
  7. Remove brake line brackets (one 10mm bolt)

  8. Free the ABS cable from its brackets, then disconnect ABS sensor cable (plug is right behind the shock well). There is a red tab you need to pull back and then press on the top of connector and slide it out of the socket.


  9. Remove brake calipers (two 21mm bolts each) and set aside (brake lines are long enough to just lay them down on the ground)
  10. Remove the trackbar bolt (21mm bolt and nut with stopper)

  11. Carefully lower the axle until it rest on the dollies; disconnect the track bar. Its hard to keep front axle centered on the jack when lowing/lifting, so just lower one side at a time. Track bar should pop out free in the process.
  12. Remove springs (if they didn't fall out already)
  13. Remove drag link bolt (21mm), disconnect drag link from the knuckle (it pressed in really hard, use puller)



  14. Remove upper CA bolts (18 mm); disconnect upper CAs (should just pop out of the mounts)

  15. Remove lower CA bolts (21mm); disconnect lower CAs (you may need to swing axle back and forth to free them)

  16. Roll the axle out

Front install:
  1. Position axle on the dollies so the diff yoke points slightly upward and roll axle under the jeep.
  2. Connect the lower CAs. They should go back in their places relatively easy. Line up the holes and insert the bolt, do not put the nut yet
  3. Connect the upper CAs. This might be a little tricky and require some fiddling. Swing axle back and forth, jack it up a little if necessary. Eventually all holes should line up.
  4. With all CA bolts in - put the nuts back on and tighten them slightly. Do not tighten them to specs yet - just give them a spin so they set in place firmly.
  5. Lift axle and put the jack stands under it. Work incrementally, one side at a time.
  6. Reinstall the springs, make sure they sit correctly in their places. Its good to put springs in when lifting the axle, one side at a time.
  7. Connect the drag link to the knuckle, tighten the nut to specs
  8. Reinstall the brake calipers and brake line brackets
  9. Reinstall the ABS cable, connect the socket behind the shock well.
  10. Reinstall the shocks
  11. Connect the lower sway bar links to the axle, tighten the bolts
  12. Connect the track bar. You may need to lift the passenger side a little more until track bar hole lines up with its mount. Insert the bolt and nut, do not tighten it up yet
  13. Put the wheels on
  14. Reconnect the driveshaft (look for the yellow paint mark on both shaft and yoke to line it up correctly). Use some blue locktite on the bolts.
  15. Reconnect the breather tube
  16. Remove jack stands, lower jeep back on wheels
  17. Tighten up all CA bolt to specs
  18. Tighten track bar bolt to specs
  19. Check all bolts once again
  20. Center the steering wheel if needed


Rear removal:
  1. Set transfer case to Neutral and release parking brake
  2. Jack up the jeep, support for the frame with two 6t stands right behind the rear lower control arms brackets and for the axle with 3t stands. Wheels should be off the ground
  3. Remove eight 8mm driveshaft bolts. It might be useful to mark their position, so it'll be easier to put them back
  4. Tap on the sides of driveshaft mount with mallet to break it loose. There are two punch holes on the back of the yoke mount as well - you may also use punch to disconnect the shaft end from the yoke if tapping is not enough

  5. Disconnect the driveshaft and hang it with big zip tie.
  6. Disconnect the breather tube from the axle
  7. Remove the wheels
  8. Disconnect the parking brake cable from each side.
  9. Disconnect ABS sensors cable from each side. Pull the red tab out and then press on the top of connector
  10. Remove shocks (two 16 mm bolts at the top, 18mm bolt and nut at the bottom)
  11. Disconnect sway bar links (bottom only, 18mm bolt and nut) and move sway bar up out of the way; secure it to the frame with zip ties
  12. Remove brake calipers and hang them to a sway bar with zip ties (two 18mm bolts each)
  13. Remove lower track bar bolt (21mm)
  14. Lower the axle until it rests on the dollies (springs should just fall out, followed by rubber spring isolators)
  15. Remove two upper CA bolts; disconnect CAs (18mm)
  16. Remove two lower CA bolts; disconnect CAs (21mm)

  17. Roll the axle out

Rear Install:
  1. Position axle on the dollies so the diff yoke is slightly upwards and roll axle under the jeep. Its a little harder with the rear axle because lower CA mounts stick straight down. Roll the axle under the jeep


  2. Connect lower CAs. Line up the holes and insert the bolts.
  3. Most likely you'll find that axle is too horizontal to connect the upper CAs. Put some wood blocks on the jack and jack up from under the yoke - this will rotate the axle slightly

  4. Now upper CAs should go right in their places. Line up the holes and insert the bolt.
  5. With all CA bolts in - put the nuts back on and tighten them slightly. Do not tighten them to specs yet - just give them a good spin so they set in place firmly.
  6. Jack the axle up.
  7. Reinstall the springs with isolators. This is a bit tricky part where someone's help is really useful. You need to jack it up just to a point when there is still enough room to insert the springs, yet axle is high enough so springs won't fall out.
  8. With springs in place - support axle with jack stands
  9. Reinstall the brake calipers
  10. Reconnect the swaybar links
  11. Reinstall shocks
  12. Reconnect the parking brake cable
  13. Reconnect the ABS cable
  14. Jack the axle up until the trackbar hole lines up with its mount, insert the bolt and nut. do not tight them to specs yet. Alternatively, you may line it up when lowering you jeep back to the ground. Anyway, there is a certain point when those two are lined up.
  15. Put the wheels back on
  16. Reinstall the driveshaft. There is not much torque on those bolts.
  17. Reconnect the breather tube.
  18. Remove all stands and put the jeep back on wheels
  19. Tighten up all CA bolts to specs
  20. Tighten track bar bolt to specs
  21. Check all bolts one more time
  22. Recalibrate you computer for a new gear ratio

Obviously, some of those steps can be done in different order. You may install brake calipers after installing the shocks or connect ABS cable before the parking brake, it really doesn't matter.
You may connect driveshaft before installing the wheels, but I'm a bit of a work safety freak and just don't feel comfortable crawling under the jeep with wheels off.

Here's the final result:


Everything worked out fine - Jeep drives straight, only needed a minor adjustments for the steering wheel centering.
Going from 3.21 to 3.73 feels absolutely awesome!

I also swapped my soft 14/56 springs for 18/58 and got ~1.5 inches lift front and rear.

Looking forward to doing a locker wiring soon.

P.S. For the record - two the most frustrating steps in the whole process:
  • Disconnecting the ABS sensor cable for the front wheels. Took me about half an hour to figure the damn thing out. Tip #1: don't try to disconnect it right behind the shock, pry it off first. Tip#2: Rear connectors are the same and they're not hidden, practice on them first.
  • Disconnecting the drag link. At first I was going to remove it from the pitman arm, but didn't think it is also pressed in, not just bolted.
    Then I quickly realized that its not gonna happen easily, so I drove to a local HF and got a puller. With puller it all became a 3 minutes task (although puller can be used only on a knuckle side of a drag link, there is not enough room to use it on a pitman arm).


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Old 06-01-2016, 05:25 PM   #2
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This is so great! Thinking of doing the same thing, you did a really nice job with pictures and everything. Heck, this is WAY better than the write-ups in the 4 wheeler mags, much more detail! Thanks!!!

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Old 06-01-2016, 05:30 PM   #3
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Did you end up installing the rocker switches from a Rubi? For the locking diffs I mean.
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Old 06-01-2016, 05:45 PM
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Originally Posted by TankGreen View Post
This is so great! Thinking of doing the same thing, you did a really nice job with pictures and everything. Heck, this is WAY better than the write-ups in the 4 wheeler mags, much more detail! Thanks!!!
You're welcome!

Quote:
Did you end up installing the rocker switches from a Rubi? For the locking diffs I mean.
I'm going to install a set of illuminated Contura rocker switches I've got from https://otrattw.net. Axles I bought came with lockers connectors, so I just made a custom harness for them.

Installing original Rubi switches in Sport looks like a huge pain, most likely would need to upgrade a computer firmware.
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Old 06-01-2016, 11:01 PM   #5
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You're welcome!



I'm going to install a set of illuminated Contura rocker switches I've got from https://otrattw.net. Axles I bought came with lockers connectors, so I just made a custom harness for them.

Installing original Rubi switches in Sport looks like a huge pain, most likely would need to upgrade a computer firmware.
Yeah that was kind of what I thought. I'd love to see the electrical part of the build when you get to it. If I did the swap I'd rather stay electric rather than going with an air locker.

Where did you find the axles if you don't mind me asking?
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Old 06-01-2016, 11:38 PM
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Found them on Craigslist. Guys from a 4x4 shop had them for sale.
Got both for $3000 total.
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Old 06-02-2016, 12:31 PM   #7
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Found them on Craigslist. Guys from a 4x4 shop had them for sale.
Got both for $3000 total.
Wow, great deal! Congrats
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Old 06-02-2016, 12:57 PM   #8
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nice, congrats on the instal.
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Old 06-10-2016, 12:10 PM   #9
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So I was poking around looking at axles on CL and I think I saw yours on there! Did you list them already?
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Old 06-10-2016, 01:49 PM
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So I was poking around looking at axles on CL and I think I saw yours on there! Did you list them already?
You mean the old ones? Yes, I already listed both Dana 30/44 on sfbay CL.

BTW, I did the lockers wiring this week (ended up running them inside the left frame rail).
The only thing left is to install switches on the dash and hook it up. Hope to finish it this weekend.
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Old 06-11-2016, 11:20 AM   #11
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You mean the old ones? Yes, I already listed both Dana 30/44 on sfbay CL.

BTW, I did the lockers wiring this week (ended up running them inside the left frame rail).
The only thing left is to install switches on the dash and hook it up. Hope to finish it this weekend.
Nice! Look forward to seeing the write up.

Went down to Hollister Hills on Thursday. Big fun on trails and obstacle course. Made it up the "slick rock" obstacle that used to stop me in my old Bronco. Jeep ability plus short wheelbase equals amazing offroad. I can't even imagine how much better it would be with lockers!!
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Old 06-21-2016, 07:21 PM
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Ok, finally got the wiring finished over the last weekend!

Main features I considered with this project:
  • Three separate switches on the left side of the dash ("Front Locker", "Rear Locker" and "Locker Power" master switch). Master switch is optional, I added it as a safety precaution.
  • Switches illumination wired to the dash lights
  • "Locker engaged" indicator light on the switches

Wiring Diagram:



Building wiring harness



Each locker has 4 wires coming in/out of it. Two wires (+12v and ground are going to the locker actuator), two others are for the sensor switch.



The smaller connector (1) is the actual locker, the bigger connector (2) is the sensor switch. Switch is on when locker is engaged. It is optional feature, but I thought it is a good idea to have a positive lock confirmation light.

From the factory all wires are 18ga, I used 16 ga for lockers and 18ga for the sensors and ground

Where to run wires

After some research, I figured that the best way would be to run wires inside the frame. Since I was going to install switches on the left side of the dash, I ran wires inside the left frame rail.

Wires from the rear locker enter the frame from the hole behind the muffler hanger:


...then exit from the hole behind the front upper CA and merge with front locker wires:


...then all wires go under the steering shaft up into the engine compartment and behind the plastic cover:


...through the firewall (there is a rubber covered hole in the firewall):



Switches type

I wanted a clean factory-like look, so I decided to mount switches on the left side of the dash:


I used 3 illuminated Contura XIV switches (Front Locker, Rear Locker and Locker Power) and this switch mounting panel. (links above are actually for the Contura V, not XIV, but they're essentially the same, just a slightly different rocker shape)

Each switch has 5 posts, here is the wiring diagram

Relays

I'm using relays for most of my electrical/lighting projects, but this time I decided to skip them. Each locker draws only ~3.6A, so with good switches like 20A Contura there is no real need for relays.

.....
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Old 06-21-2016, 07:22 PM
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....continued

Installation

Cutting the hole in the dash was much easier than I expected. Plastic is soft and box cutter worked just fine. I used some masking tape to ensure clean cuts:




Connecting to the power and dimmer

For the lockers power I tapped into the heated seats fuse place in the fuse box. It rated to 20A, so there is more than enough juice to power the lockers:



For dash lights/dimmer there is an orange/grey wire, it can be found in the footwell lighting connector (located right behind the bottom edge of the dash on a driver side):



Ground can be found anywhere.

Connecting everything together:


And here it is:



...finished look:



Bottom part of each switch illuminated from the dash lights:

(dimming feature is also working fine)

Top part of "Locker Power" switch lights up when the switch is on; top parts of "Front Locker" and "Rear Locker" illuminated when lockers are engaged:


Checking the final current draw with engine running and both lockers engaged:


Thats it
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Old 06-22-2016, 06:35 AM   #14
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OP, you have skillz. Great thread.
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Old 06-22-2016, 10:28 AM   #15
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WOW i wish i could do that, nice job...
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Old 06-22-2016, 10:44 AM   #16
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Rubiconization: DIY axles swap

Very thorough and impressive work. Thank you for posting the details.
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Old 07-14-2016, 03:45 PM
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Finally sold my stock Dana 30/44 axles last week. So the total cost of this project went down to just over $2000
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Old 07-14-2016, 04:08 PM   #18
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REPPED. Awesome write up.
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Old 07-15-2016, 07:47 PM   #19
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oUCH!
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Old 07-17-2016, 02:23 PM   #20
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Great thread. I am also thinking about swapping if I can find a pair. Thanks for doing this, exactly what I needed to see. I have a buddy with a lift so it may help a little.
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Old 07-20-2016, 10:36 AM   #21
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Nicely done!
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Old 12-11-2016, 11:58 AM   #22
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Very nice job.
I am about to do the same thing with Mopar crate axles, and I definitely will use your wiring/switch setup.
Again, very very nice work
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Old 12-11-2016, 04:09 PM   #23
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Fantastic writeup that will help anyone interested in upgrading to any aftermarket axle and not necessarily a Rubi takeoff.
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Old 12-11-2016, 06:05 PM   #24
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^^^Ditto, fantastic write-up, well done!


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Old 12-12-2016, 01:59 AM
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Thank you guys, glad it is helpful!
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Old 12-14-2016, 10:38 PM   #26
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I have a question on the switch wiring.
You show a 7.1 amp draw, is that from 1 locker, or both?
And finally, did you ground the switch panel to the dash, or did you run the ground to the battery?
Thanks for your time,
John
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Old 12-16-2016, 02:11 PM
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I have a question on the switch wiring.
You show a 7.1 amp draw, is that from 1 locker, or both?
And finally, did you ground the switch panel to the dash, or did you run the ground to the battery?
Thanks for your time,
John
7.1 A is for both lockers.
Ground for the backlight illumination connected to the dash mounts

Basically, there are two grounds in the switch panel: One (pin 7) used for illuminating the bottom part of the switch when headlights are on (powered from dashboard illumination) - this one is grounded to the body right near the switch panel (there is a nice spot where dash bolted to the body).
Another one (pin 8) used for illuminating top icon when lockers are engaged. This one wired to the locker's sensor, which then grounded to the body under the hood :



(see the 10mm white bolt under the right red arrow - that's the ground spot I used for locker sensors)



Black wire: ground for switches backlight (attached to the nearest ground spot on the body)
Yellow wires: ground for 'locker engaged' icon illumination (one goes to the front locker's sensor, another to the rear locker's sensor)
Blue wire: +12v input power, comes from the fuse box
White wires: power output (one goes to the front locker's actuator, another to the rear locker's actuator)
Green wire: +12v from dash backlight
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Old 12-16-2016, 06:31 PM   #28
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Very cool, thank you so much!
So, you are powering the locker indicator plunger from the + feed for the locker actuator wire, and when the locker actuates and the plunger closes the circuit, the locker light is grounded through the ground on the switch, correct ?
OTRATTW shipped my switches and bezel today. I hope you don't mind me coping your setup. It looks so great!
I'm gonna install my rear diff Sunday(picked up from a guy that swapped in a 60), and run out and pick up my new front crate axle Tuesday.
You have no idea how much you've helped me!!!
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Old 12-16-2016, 06:55 PM   #29
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Oh, I see in the wiring schematic that your grounded the locker sensor, when it engages, it grounds #8 pin on the switch
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Old 12-16-2016, 07:08 PM
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Very cool, thank you so much!
So, you are powering the locker indicator plunger from the + feed for the locker actuator wire, and when the locker actuates and the plunger closes the circuit, the locker light is grounded through the ground on the switch, correct ?
OTRATTW shipped my switches and bezel today. I hope you don't mind me coping your setup. It looks so great!
I'm gonna install my rear diff Sunday(picked up from a guy that swapped in a 60), and run out and pick up my new front crate axle Tuesday.
You have no idea how much you've helped me!!!

You're very welcome!

Yes, that is correct - ground for the top indicator (pin 8) goes through the switch/sensor inside the diff

When +12v goes to the solenoid and locker gets engaged - switch inside the diff closes the circuit, pin 8 gets the ground and icon light illuminates.

Good luck with your install!

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axle swap , dana 44 , diy , lockers wiring , rubicon

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