Installing a Lockright Locker in a Jeep Dana 30 Front Axle.
RKDGZJP Gets Locked and Loaded Short Cuts

By: Randy L. Wheeler - 3/2000

Installing a front locker was something I'd been wanting to do for some time now.  Since installing a rear locker a couple of years ago, the advantages of having extra traction were apparent.  The installation of a Lockright locker in my rear Dana 35c made such a difference while off-roading, that adding a front locker was on my "jeep to do" list.

View showing cross shaft and the ring gear interference. Note how the cross shaft would hit the ring gear tooth, making it difficult to remove.

Remove the three retaining bolts and slide the entire axle shaft and hub assembly out.

On stock Dana 30 axles, the front passenger side shaft consists of an inner and an outer shaft.

With the front shaft out, inspect the front assembly for wear.
Remove the bearing caps and pry the carrier out.
Remove the ring gear from the carrier.
Install the Lockright Locker into the carrier.
Install the ring gear and torque the ring gear bolts to the recommended specs.
Inspect and clean the differential housing.
View showing completed locker/carrier assembly ready for installation.

Once I decided I was going to get a locker, choosing the right one for my application was easy - the Lockright by Powertrax.  This locker provides solid performance without breaking the bank.  I spoke with quite a few people about the installation of this locker into my stock Dana 30 axle, equipped with 4.10 gears.  The main question was whether the cross shaft would clear the ring gear enough to remove the cross shaft and spider gears.

The first order of business was to removing the front differential cover and drain the gear oil.  Look at the cross shaft and check to see if it will clear the ring gear teeth. Note in the photo to the right that the cross shaft would not clear the ring gear teeth.  At this point, you have two options; (1) grind a tooth (or several teeth) from the ring gear, enough to allow the cross shaft to slide out, or (2), remove the entire carrier with the spider gears still installed.  After looking at the cross shaft and determining I would have to grind at least 2 teeth, possibly even a small amount from a third tooth. I decided to remove the carrier from the differential.  Removing the carrier had me a bit nervous (with the potential to muck up the backlash and all), but with the help of fellow staff member Vance Anderson, we were able to remove the carrier and install the lockright locker in the stock carrier with no problems.

After draining the front differential, remove the drivers side axle shaft.  You'll need to remove the tires and brake calipers from the front axle to do this.  To remove the axle shaft, loosen and remove the three retaining bolts that hold the axle shaft and hub assembly to the steering knuckle.  Once you have the three retaining bolts removed, gently slide the entire shaft out of the differential housing and set it aside. On the passenger side, both the inner and outer axle shafts need to be removed.  Remove the brake caliper and the three retaining bolts. Remove the shift motor cover and vacuum disconnect line.  Once you've got the shift motor cover off, you'll see a slide coupler that engages both axle shafts together.  

Slide the coupler to the left, and with the help of a friend, remove the passenger side outer shaft. You'll then be able to slide the coupler off the shaft and then slide the inner shaft out far enough to clear the carrier in the differential housing.

Once you've got the left and right side shafts clear of the carrier, remove the 4 bearing caps bolts and remove the bearing caps.  Use a long pry bar and gently pry out the entire carrier assembly.  Pay particular attention to the bearing caps and which side each one came from.  You'll need to install them on the same side they came out of!!!

Set the carrier on a workbench.  Using a thin punch, remove the crush pin that retains the cross shaft.  Unlike the Dana 35, this is not a bolt, but rather a crush pin and will require a small diameter punch to remove it.  Once you've got the crush pin out, put the carrier in a sturdy vice and remove the bolts holding the ring gear to the carrier.  Mark a reference mark on both the ring gear and carrier so that you can install the ring gear in the same orientation.  After you get the ring gear off, slide the cross shaft out and remove the spider gears from the differential.  Now is a good time to check the bearings for wear and inspect the carrier for potential cracks or other oddities. Clean the bearings of all grease, oil and grit.

Install the Lockright locker into the carrier following the manufactures instructions.  Before proceeding with the re-installation of the carrier in the differential, inspect the differential for wear.  Replace any worn or damaged parts before proceeding.

After the locker is installed and the cross shaft in place, bolt the ring gear back onto the carrier.  Make sure to line up the reference marks on the ring gear and carrier.  Torque the ring gear bolts to the recommended specifications.  Install the bearing caps and install the complete locker/carrier assembly into the differential housing. Gently pry the carrier into the housing. Apply a little anti-seize to the threads and torque to specs.

With the carrier installed and the bearing caps tights, it's time to install the axle shafts.  Start with the passenger side shaft. Using a bit of manipulation, slide the inner shaft into the splines of the locker. This can be done by accessing the shaft from the vacuum disconnect.  Once the inner shaft is in, slide the couple on and install the outer shaft.  Make sure the splines of the coupler and inner/outer shafts line up and move freely.  Install the three retaining bolts and secure the axle shaft hub assembly to the steering knuckle. Install the drivers side axle shaft and retaining bolts.  Check to make sure the shafts rotate freely and there is no binding.

If you're satisfied that the shafts are installed correctly and everything turns smoothly, install the brake calipers and tires, install the differential cover and fill with gear oil.


On road characteristics were pretty good, I didn't even notice the front locker.   Needless to say, the on-road mannerisms didn't really seem to change much at all. I'm looking forward to getting my Jeep on the trail to see just how much of a difference a front locker will make!  I'm sure it will be a lot, mate.

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