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Help me understand the Super 35 kit

Tim Redman

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Okay, here's a question about the Super35 kits, coming at it from a slightly different direction. We've all no doubt seen (and perhaps been a part of) discussions on the merits of different axle configurations, particularly the meek Dana 35. However, the question I want to ask here is really specific to the 35, and doesn't even attempt to compare or contrast to any other axle. I don't want this to devolve into a religious-level debate on which axle is better. I know basics, pros and cons of the Ford 8.8 and Dana 44 & 60, and even the 30 and 35 to a certain extent. However, I'm not sure that I'm completely clear on the Super35 kit. As they say, information is power, and I'm trying to collect a bit of it as I evaluate different solutions based off of my own needs, use cases and economics. There's as many different styles of rigs out there as there are drivers, just about, so as a spoiled celebrity millionaire princess might say, it's all about me. For now, anyway.

So here's what summarizes what I know, or at least what I think I know. The Super35 kit originated with Superior Axle, I believe the name was, but now, various different manufacturers make their own version of it. The one thing they all aim to have in common is that they strengthen up the traditionally weak components of a factory Dana 35. As I understand it, this includes the axle shafts themselves, usually some kind of locking carrier, and in some cases, spider gears. Many will also use the opportunity to switch out the ring and pinion gears while the unit is opened up.

The pipes that the axle shafts pass through are generally the same construction as a Dana 44, but I don't know about the pumpkin itself. I've also been told that, although it's nowhere near a substitute for a truss or other similar reinforcement, that a heavier duty differential cover can also strengthen up the differential to an extent, or at least prevent a small amount of flexing.

Now, keep in mind, I've been a Jeep owner for all of the past 12 months (I'm almost 50 now), but I've never been shy about working on my own vehicles, so the last year has been a constant learning experience, using the insides of my Jeep as my classroom (with much thanks to you folks here and various YouTube channels who have been indispensable for advice and instruction). I've no doubt done some things wrong, but I'm pretty sure I've also done one or two things right, and still other things that might have the average Jeep owner scratching their head a little. This leads me to some starting points for questions.

How much of what I described above regarding the Super35 is accurate, how much have I completely misunderstood, and how much am I still missing. Are the subtleties that I'm not grasping yet that I need to?

Keep in mind, this post is all about the Super35, what it consists of, what it's not, and what goes with it. Any discussion of other axles will begin when I've soaked in enough here and am ready to move on to the next subject.
 

RustyCage

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Great question and scope. I've been wondering about the particulars of the Super 35 as an upgrade possibility myself. I'm sure there is existing discussion about it on the forum and, If I'm not mistaken, I believe @Jerry Bransford is pro-Super 35 for most reasonable trail use (as opposed to hard core crawling, etc.). Following . . .
 
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Jerry Bransford

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Okay, here's a question about the Super35 kits, coming at it from a slightly different direction. We've all no doubt seen (and perhaps been a part of) discussions on the merits of different axle configurations, particularly the meek Dana 35. However, the question I want to ask here is really specific to the 35, and doesn't even attempt to compare or contrast to any other axle. I don't want this to devolve into a religious-level debate on which axle is better. I know basics, pros and cons of the Ford 8.8 and Dana 44 & 60, and even the 30 and 35 to a certain extent. However, I'm not sure that I'm completely clear on the Super35 kit. As they say, information is power, and I'm trying to collect a bit of it as I evaluate different solutions based off of my own needs, use cases and economics. There's as many different styles of rigs out there as there are drivers, just about, so as a spoiled celebrity millionaire princess might say, it's all about me. For now, anyway.

So here's what summarizes what I know, or at least what I think I know. The Super35 kit originated with Superior Axle, I believe the name was, but now, various different manufacturers make their own version of it. The one thing they all aim to have in common is that they strengthen up the traditionally weak components of a factory Dana 35. As I understand it, this includes the axle shafts themselves, usually some kind of locking carrier, and in some cases, spider gears. Many will also use the opportunity to switch out the ring and pinion gears while the unit is opened up.

The pipes that the axle shafts pass through are generally the same construction as a Dana 44, but I don't know about the pumpkin itself. I've also been told that, although it's nowhere near a substitute for a truss or other similar reinforcement, that a heavier duty differential cover can also strengthen up the differential to an extent, or at least prevent a small amount of flexing.

Now, keep in mind, I've been a Jeep owner for all of the past 12 months (I'm almost 50 now), but I've never been shy about working on my own vehicles, so the last year has been a constant learning experience, using the insides of my Jeep as my classroom (with much thanks to you folks here and various YouTube channels who have been indispensable for advice and instruction). I've no doubt done some things wrong, but I'm pretty sure I've also done one or two things right, and still other things that might have the average Jeep owner scratching their head a little. This leads me to some starting points for questions.

How much of what I described above regarding the Super35 is accurate, how much have I completely misunderstood, and how much am I still missing. Are the subtleties that I'm not grasping yet that I need to?

Keep in mind, this post is all about the Super35, what it consists of, what it's not, and what goes with it. Any discussion of other axles will begin when I've soaked in enough here and am ready to move on to the next subject.
You've done surprisingly good job on research on the Dana 35, you pretty much nailed it. Good quality Super 35 kits like from Revolution Gear include beefed up heat treated 30 spline shafts to replace the Dana 35's weaker carbon steel 27 spline shafts. Technically good quality 30 spline Super 35 shafts are stronger than the standard carbon steel 30 spline shafts that comes in the TJ's optional rear Dana 44 axle. The Dana 35 differential housing plus its stronger axle shafts make the Dana 35 strong enough to make it a non-issue for running 35" tires and a locker on trails generally tougher than most people are willing to chance driving their Jeeps on. A Dana 35 with a good quality (there are some that are not so good) Super 35 kit is significantly stronger and more worthy of pretty much any trail a TJ on 35" tires can make it through.

Very few owners of Super 35 kits have ever had a problem, Superior Axle was proud of the fact they had very few warranty issues. Which is why well-regarded companies like Revolution Gear carry on with sales of Super 35 kits, they work well and don't cause problems.
 

Robin Down

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Hey Jerry - do you know if the Super 35 axles still use the C-Clip design? I had what I believe was an upgraded 35 kit in my cherokee and it was a c-clip style, and it broke while I was on the Rubicon. I had to configure an "outrigger" to keep my rear tire and axle from walking its way out of the axle housing. This was with 33" tires and a True-Trac locker. I later replaced the axle with a Dana 44.
 
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Jerry Bransford

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Hey Jerry - do you know if the Super 35 axles still use the C-Clip design? I had what I believe was an upgraded 35 kit in my cherokee and it was a c-clip style, and it broke while I was on the Rubicon. I had to configure an "outrigger" to keep my rear tire and axle from walking its way out of the axle housing. This was with 33" tires and a True-Trac locker. I later replaced the axle with a Dana 44.
No, the Super 35 kit still makes use of the c-clip design. A somewhat surprising fact about the c-clip design is the c-clips themselves are not the issue and they're not (!) the weak point. C-clips are well protected inside the carrier and neither the c-clips nor the end of the axle shaft they're inserted onto receive much stress or torque. They are very well protected inside the carrier from loads. The carrier the shaft passes through is what takes the stress of the twisting axle shaft. The c-clip is on the other side of the carrier so it doesn't see any of the load. That's why c-clip eliminators "fell out of fashion" since they weren't the problem, and why the c-clip eliminator kit is no longer available for the Super 35 kit as it used to be.

What breaks in a c-clip axle like the Dana 35 is the small diameter 27 spline shaft, leaving the inside half of the broken shaft intake with its c-clip being untouched by the breakage. The problem with a c-clip axle is not the c-clip itself, the problem is when the shaft breaks it breaks between the carrier and the wheel. There is nothing at the wheel-end of the axle shaft holding it in so the wheel together with the broken axle shaft it is bolted to will slide out of the axle housing, leaving the other half of the axle shaft together with its c-clip still in place.

So it's not the c-clip that breaks, it's the axle shaft itself that breaks. Repair a few busted Dana 35 axles as I have and you'll see the real problem is just that there's nothing holding the entire axleshaft & wheel in except for the c-clip at its far end. If anything breaks outside of the carrier, the outer half of the axle shaft will slide out simply because there's nothing at the wheel end to hold it in.

With a non-C-clip design like the Dana 44, there is an axle retainer bracket located at the outer opening to the axle shaft. So if the shaft breaks on a non-C-clip design, it won't slide out. That's the benefit to a non-C-clip design, there is more holding the axle shaft in than the c-clip.

With a strong enough axle shaft like is included with the Super 35 kit or in a Ford 8.8 axle which is also a c-cip design, the fact they're both c-clip axle designs becomes a non-event. :)
 
OP
Tim Redman

Tim Redman

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It doesn't take long in these forums to realize who to shut up and listen to when they start talking. :) I definitely appreciate reading your input on a ton of subjects, Jerry. Thanks for going over this with me.

The biggest issue I was having in doing the research was the extent of the parts that constituted a Super35 kit. From what I could see, it included the shafts and carrier, but it was never really specific as to whether or not there were any other parts included, like the spider gears, bearings/seals, etc. Are the spider gears even a point of contention with the standard Dana 35 setup?

Another question I had was to do with the spline count on the shafts. How far do you have to go to upgrade to a 30 spline shaft? Does the old carrier have to go, or is there more to it than that. (Keep in mind that if I were to eventually go the Super35 route, I'd have to get a new carrier anyway, even if there wasn't a locker on it, because the upgrade to a 4.11 or 4.56 ring/pinion requires it.)
 
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Jerry Bransford

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Super 35 kits like from Revolution Gear include a choice from two full case 30 spline lockers, the ARB Air Locker and (my favorite) the Detroit Locker. You can also configure it with an Eaton E-Locker. Their kits include everything needed to install it including new carrier bearings. Ricky at www.4lowparts.com is a great guy to talk to about all this. Read up on the Super 35 at www.revolutiongear.com or dealers like https://www.4lowparts.com/shop/super-35-rear-axle-kit-detroit-locker-revolution/

I don't know of any open 30 spline carriers for the Dana 35 or any reason to run an open carrier with 30 spline Super 35 shafts. The whole point of a Super 35 is so a locker can be reliably run on tough trails with 33" or 35" tires. :)
 

ac_

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Super 35 kits like from Revolution Gear include a choice from two full case 30 spline lockers, the ARB Air Locker and (my favorite) the Detroit Locker. You can also configure it with an Eaton E-Locker. Their kits include everything needed to install it including new carrier bearings. Ricky at www.4lowparts.com is a great guy to talk to about all this. Read up on the Super 35 at www.revolutiongear.com or dealers like https://www.4lowparts.com/shop/super-35-rear-axle-kit-detroit-locker-revolution/

I don't know of any open 30 spline carriers for the Dana 35 or any reason to run an open carrier with 30 spline Super 35 shafts. The whole point of a Super 35 is so a locker can be reliably run on tough trails with 33" or 35" tires. :)

This is a great topic, and well worded question from the OP. I like that it stayed on track, so I feel this is question is relevant, I would like an answer from someone that owned one.

@Jerry Bransford You say your favorite is the Detroit Locker. I have heard they hinder the turning radius and are noisy. This is just rumors that I heard, but not sure how much is true. But to get away from that I have always just run ARB's. They are quiet, and do not hinder turning radius's when unlocked. I know how well they work. In fact I was planning on running front and rear e-lockers because I know they work the same way, but I have never tried them yet, but If what I said is just rumors the Detroit Locker is so much cheaper.

I have some kind of gov lock locker in my Ram and sometimes when I back out of a parking spot and take off forward it sounds like the driveline left the building. I was curious if this was also true with the Detroit locker, or if you can give us some more info on your experiences on the Detroit locker since it is part of a decision of a Super 35 of which I am going to do myself as the OP?
 
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Jerry Bransford

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This is a great topic, and well worded question from the OP. I like that it stayed on track, so I feel this is question is relevant, I would like an answer from someone that owned one.

@Jerry Bransford You say your favorite is the Detroit Locker. I have heard they hinder the turning radius and are noisy. This is just rumors that I heard, but not sure how much is true. But to get away from that I have always just run ARB's. They are quiet, and do not hinder turning radius's when unlocked. I know how well they work. In fact I was planning on running front and rear e-lockers because I know they work the same way, but I have never tried them yet, but If what I said is just rumors the Detroit Locker is so much cheaper.
First, there are a couple situations where I don't recommend a Detroit Locker. Like if your wife/girlfriend needs to be able to drive it and they won't like anything that doesn't drive 100% normal like a car or one with a selectable locker that can be turned completely off. My wife would have freaked out driving it the first time a tire chirped and would never want to take the time to figure out how it likes to be driven. Or if you have to drive on icy roads or icy trails, I wouldn't go for a Detroit then either. No automatic locker like a Detroit or Aussie does well on slick ice.

But if it's just you as the driver and you don't have to worry about ice, I believe it's a great choice for most of us. So far as automatic lockers go, the Detroit Locker is definitely the best behaved. Detroit Lockers used to have a terrible reputation and deservedly so. The first generation Detroit Locker banged & lurched a lot, it was not very street friendly. But the second generation Detroit Locker was redesigned to get rid of 99% of its quirks. It was semi-officially renamed the Softlocker though it is still most commonly referred to as the Detroit Locker.

Once you learn how it likes to be driven, and a Detroit Locker quickly teaches you that, you will find it is very well behaved on the street 99% of the time. That 1% can be slight occasional 'lurch' or it might make a noise. The TJ I had my Detroit Locker in was my daily driver and I put at least 100 miles a day on it in my outside sales job. Whenever it would 'remind' me of its presence, like every couple days, it was a gentle one that would just make me smile. But 99% of the time, it was well behaved and no one riding with me ever noticed anything unusual.

The trick to a Detroit Locker is this... don't apply power through turns, give it neutral power. Neither accelerate nor decelerate through a turn. That neutral throttle makes it easy for the Detroit to unlock through turns so it's a complete non-issue. Give it hard gas through a turn and the tires will chirp through the turn since it doesn't unlock easily if you're giving it a lot of gas. I got in the habit of neutral throttle through turns so I didn't even have to think about it, it became second-nature. And it only took a day or two to get to the point it became second nature, it was an easy process I didn't even have to think about.
 

JMT

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As per the above, I would get a Detroit if my wife didn't drive the TJ occasionally. It's bulletproof.
 
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Sancho

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Is it appropriate to talk about ox lockers, or is that a thread highjack?

If ok... what are everyone's experiences with an ox locker, with an S35 kit?

I am aware of the pros and cons of each type of locker (air,elect,mech).. but am interested in how an ox and s35 work together. That and first hand experience of an ox locker.
 
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ac_

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First, there are a couple situations where I don't recommend a Detroit Locker. Like if your wife/girlfriend needs to be able to drive it and they won't like anything that doesn't drive 100% normal like a car or one with a selectable locker that can be turned completely off. My wife would have freaked out driving it the first time a tire chirped and would never want to take the time to figure out how it likes to be driven. Or if you have to drive on icy roads or icy trails, I wouldn't go for a Detroit then either. No automatic locker like a Detroit or Aussie does well on slick ice.

But if it's just you as the driver and you don't have to worry about ice, I believe it's a great choice for most of us. So far as automatic lockers go, the Detroit Locker is definitely the best behaved. Detroit Lockers used to have a terrible reputation and deservedly so. The first generation Detroit Locker banged & lurched a lot, it was not very street friendly. But the second generation Detroit Locker was redesigned to get rid of 99% of its quirks. It was semi-officially renamed the Softlocker though it is still most commonly referred to as the Detroit Locker.

Once you learn how it likes to be driven, and a Detroit Locker quickly teaches you that, you will find it is very well behaved on the street 99% of the time. That 1% can be slight occasional 'lurch' or it might make a noise. The TJ I had my Detroit Locker in was my daily driver and I put at least 100 miles a day on it in my outside sales job. Whenever it would 'remind' me of its presence, like every couple days, it was a gentle one that would just make me smile. But 99% of the time, it was well behaved and no one riding with me ever noticed anything unusual.

The trick to a Detroit Locker is this... don't apply power through turns, give it neutral power. Neither accelerate nor decelerate through a turn. That neutral throttle makes it easy for the Detroit to unlock through turns so it's a complete non-issue. Give it hard gas through a turn and the tires will chirp through the turn since it doesn't unlock easily if you're giving it a lot of gas. I got in the habit of neutral throttle through turns so I didn't even have to think about it, it became second-nature. And it only took a day or two to get to the point it became second nature, it was an easy process I didn't even have to think about.

That is a nice write up. I guess I probably heard about the first gen, and just never really gave it another look. It seems doable for me as my wifee has her own TJ lol, so she can leave the driving to me. Lots to consider. I appreciate the clarification.
 
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Halfstock

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First off, please forgive me for resurrecting nearly a year old thread! However, in searching for answers, I have questions parallel to the OP's first post here.

On my YJ several years ago, after my first broken Dana 35 axle I stuffed in a LS 8.8 underneath, and it served me well until I sold it this spring after buying my TJ. My knee jerk reaction was to ditch the Dana 35 before it left me stranded like the one in my YJ once did! However, after LOTS of reading, I've decided to simply go the S35 route with the TJ, and my needs in off-road capability.

Jerry B recommends the Revolution Gear 30 spline axles, and speaks highly of their integrity, strength and reliability. I went to their website with the intention of pulling the trigger on a set of them this evening, and kept digging into their information, and find that they are made in India! No, I agree that it's not China, and yes my John Deere 5065E tractor was assembled in Pune, India, and it's a fine machine, but these days I try to go out of my way to buy those products made in the USA, supporting American businesses and manufacturing jobs.

It's partly why I've got an Ox-Locker sitting in my shop for the Dana 30, and an Auburn Ected in my shop for this S35 project, they're both 100% USA MADE! Eaton E-Lockers are Asian, ARB's aren't USA made, and all of the Yukon differentials are Asian made as well. And YES, I do require a selectable locker since I live 60 miles from the Canadian border in North Idaho, we do have snow and ice 5 months out of the year. Hence the Ected for the rear for its full time LS capabilities in addition to being able to greatly enhance the LS function with their "locker" capability and now the Maxx version is available in Dana 35 30 spline.

Oh, by-the-way, I've read many places on this forum that the Ected must be returned to Auburn for rebuilding. That might have been true for their earlier iterations of the Ected, but entire rebuild kits are now available, as well as individual long term maintenance parts including replacement clutch packs for under $50 for the current Ected Maxx models.

Is there a set of USA origin S35 axles that are not 4340 alloy that any of you more experienced and knowledgeable folks might recommend?

Thanks to all for taking the time to read this!
 
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LittleTankTJ

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Is it appropriate to talk about ox lockers, or is that a thread highjack?

If ok... what are everyone's experiences with an ox locker, with an S35 kit?

I am aware of the pros and cons of each type of locker (air,elect,mech).. but am interested in how an ox and s35 work together. That and first hand experience of an ox locker.

Probably is a bit of thread jacking. But as per a lot of reading I went with a superish 35 ox setup. I have G2 30 spline axels. They likely aren't as strong as others, but that's what the shop had and would warenty easily. I really like my ox. The drive away lock feature is amazing. I like the physical engagement and smooth operation. You can also actuate it electrically if you don't want to run the physical cable and lever into the cab. This is my plan later this summer. It's also a 4 spider gear design rather than 2 like stock and the older Eaton elockers. Also, no special diff fluid additive needed. I wanted as low of maintenance as possible.

With 33s and no plan to go bigger as well as more overlanding than rock bouncing, @Jerry Bransford helped me make the decision for the upgrade of the Dana 35 rather than hunting down a Dana 44. All through previous research like @Tim Redman

Hopefully this thread can pop up high on Google searches as it's very informative for those looking at a Super 35 kit.
 
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mrblaine

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Probably is a bit of thread jacking. But as per a lot of reading I went with a superish 35 ox setup. I have G2 30 spline axels. They likely aren't as strong as others, but that's what the shop had and would warenty easily. I really like my ox. The drive away lock feature is amazing.

Amazing in what way? How many times have you used it? What is the failure rate of other selectable lockers that makes being able to manually lock yours such a benefit? Is it so common for selectable lockers to have their activation methods fail that this is somehow a useful oft used benefit? Where do you wheel that the lack of a locked rear axle is the difference between making it off the trail and not?


I like the physical engagement and smooth operation.
That actually isn't possible to feel. The only thing you are doing when you move the shifter is spring loading the shift fork so when differentiation happens that will allow the locking clutches to engage and lock together when they line up.

You can also actuate it electrically if you don't want to run the physical cable and lever into the cab. This is my plan later this summer.
That always amuses me. When the OX was introduced by Reuben and Lazlo, their entire claim to fame was based on the fact that it was a manually engaged locker with no dependence on the "failure prone" electrical or air methodology. Now they offer both. That and the first versions didn't have the spring on the shifter. You had to hold it against the shift fork and turn the tires back and forth until the gears lined up like shifting a transmission without synchros.

It's also a 4 spider gear design rather than 2 like stock and the older Eaton elockers. Also, no special diff fluid additive needed. I wanted as low of maintenance as possible.
In other words, it is the same 4 spider design as the vast majority of other quality locker offerings?

With 33s and no plan to go bigger as well as more overlanding than rock bouncing, @Jerry Bransford helped me make the decision for the upgrade of the Dana 35 rather than hunting down a Dana 44. All through previous research like @Tim Redman

Hopefully this thread can pop up high on Google searches as it's very informative for those looking at a Super 35 kit.

Ah, so with overlanding as the intended use, the driveaway function is superfluous?
 
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LittleTankTJ

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Amazing in what way? How many times have you used it? What is the failure rate of other selectable lockers that makes being able to manually lock yours such a benefit? Is it so common for selectable lockers to have their activation methods fail that this is somehow a useful oft used benefit? Where do you wheel that the lack of a locked rear axle is the difference between making it off the trail and not?
The fact that it exists is the amazing part. I'm currently running only in drive away mode. The ability to choose to fail closed or open is one of those features you hope you never have to use but are happy if you do.

That actually isn't possible to feel. The only thing you are doing when you move the shifter is spring loading the shift fork so when differentiation happens that will allow the locking clutches to engage and lock together when they line up.
This is as opposed to an auto locker that may give you a kick in the but. My Jeep is also my DD. So my money has to be spent for both comfort and capability.

That always amuses me. When the OX was introduced by Reuben and Lazlo, their entire claim to fame was based on the fact that it was a manually engaged locker with no dependence on the "failure prone" electrical or air methodology. Now they offer both. That and the first versions didn't have the spring on the shifter. You had to hold it against the shift fork and turn the tires back and forth until the gears lined up like shifting a transmission without synchros.
That's a pretty wild tidbit of history. I would not have gotten it if that was the case.

In other words, it is the same 4 spider design as the vast majority of other quality locker offerings?
Pretty much. I specifically mentioned what was not. I also wanted to bring the 4 spider design as something to think about to someone who's looking. He asked if anyone had personal experience. I didn't find much when deciding on OX vs ARB. So I provided my experience.

Ah, so with overlanding as the intended use, the driveaway function is superfluous?
How is that superfluous? We all do dumb things. Trail in to a camp site. Break your actuator method. Can't get out. Wouldn't it be nice knowing you can just turn on your locker?
 

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The fact that it exists is the amazing part. I'm currently running only in drive away mode. The ability to choose to fail closed or open is one of those features you hope you never have to use but are happy if you do.
We all have our priorities. I have not once ever used that as the criteria when picking any of the 16 or so selectable lockers I have owned or currently own. I also wheel where reliability is mandatory.


This is as opposed to an auto locker that may give you a kick in the but. My Jeep is also my DD. So my money has to be spent for both comfort and capability.

You didn't make that distinction.


That's a pretty wild tidbit of history. I would not have gotten it if that was the case.
Yep, their claim was cable cable cable, big cable, and you know when it is locked. Well yeah, because if you can't get differentiation you can't shift it and you know because it isn't locked. I had many phone conversations with them trying to get them to change it to spring loaded so you could shift it, lock the shifter and let it lock up like all the rest do.


Pretty much. I specifically mentioned what was not. I also wanted to bring the 4 spider design as something to think about to someone who's looking. He asked if anyone had personal experience. I didn't find much when deciding on OX vs ARB. So I provided my experience.

You didn't look very hard. This discussion has been ongoing for at least 10 years and frequently.


How is that superfluous? We all do dumb things. Trail in to a camp site. Break your actuator method. Can't get out. Wouldn't it be nice knowing you can just turn on your locker?
Again, I wheel where reliability is mandatory. I've never once worried about or had my actuation method fail. I've broken shit doing dumb things, none of which was the fault of my equipment.