Monday finally came. I had spent some time over the weekend running the air line for the rear locker. I left about 2' of extra line for the installer dress off in what ever manner was was needed.
I walked into 4 Wheeler's Supply & Off Road Center at about 8:00 AM. I had been in the previous week to set up an appointment and met Steve, my service writer. During my first visit, I had asked if taking a few pictures would be OK, for this write-up, and he cheerfully agreed to let me do so. Today, it was just a few pertinent pieces of information for the work order (name, phone number, name of first born son, etc.) and we were ready to rock and roll. He introduced me to Donnie, my ARB installer, a few minutes later. Somewhere in this pile of pictures, I have a photo of him. Most of the time, you'll see the back of his head or hands in the pics as I tried to capture most of the high points of the install. I checked Donnie's cradentials (no, not really),
Note: The photos shown here are from the D30 and D44 installs. I have selected photos from both installs (some pics where better than others) and arranged them in a sequence that shows the install process. If you feel compelled to point out the differences between one picture and the next (the D44 ring gear bolts are removed and the next picture is the D30 getting a bearing pressed on), please enjoy yourself....but don't tell me as I already know.
With the TJ parked in the last service bay at the end of the building, Donnie got started on the task at hand. The rear end was raised and supported by jack stands, allowing the rear axle to droop down and give unobstructed access to the differential housing.
Donnie pulled the diff bolt covers and let the diff lube drain while he removed the tires, brakes, and axle shafts from the axle housing. He checked the backlash before removing the bearing caps. Once they were off, a pair of pry bars were used to carefully remove the Detroit locker from the housing. Donnie gave the pinion and ring gears the once over and reported no problems to be found. The Mobil1 diff lube I was using was about due for a change (I do mine once a year unless required more frequently) and it looked in good shape as well (no, we didn't reuse it!)
Once on the work bench, the ring gear bolts were removed with an impact wrench. (makes fast work of all those bolts) While Donnie was working, he gladly answered the variety of questions I kept asking. I also got a run down of some of the other jobs he has worked at over the years, etc. It was apparent that he enjoyed working at 4 Wheeler's and that was fine by me! I've had a vehicle worked on by a mechanic that didn't really want to be there that day. I'm glad today wasn't one of those days and Donnie wasn't one of those mechanics!
With the ring gear out of the way (and into the heated power washer), Donnie grabbed one of several bearing pullers that sits on the diff bench. I had not seen this particular one before so of course I had to ask about it. It is made by Miller and is designed to easily separate the bearing from the differential with the help of a half inch impact wrench. Donnie only removed one carrier bearing so he could recover the shims. This, of course, lead to a discussion about shims, backlash, diffs, etc. Hey, I wasn't complaining. Lots can be learned from someone who has been doing this job for a number of years.
OK, the bearing was off and the shims from the D44 were examined to ensure there was no damage. ARB supplies one bearing, for the seal side, with the air locker. Donnie suggested I pop for a new bearing (actually two bearings, one for each diff) for the ring gear side of the locker. Even though we could see nothing wrong with the existing one (it only had 20K miles on it), it was good insurance and sense to me. You can see the new bearing and the recycled shims in the above pic, waiting to be pressed on.
With the bearings in place, Donnie retrieved the now heated ring gear from the power washer. (He also retrieved my Detroit locker which got a free wash job at the same time). The heated washer removed all of the lube oil and such from the ring gear and got it up to temperature like the ARB install documentation recommends.. He gave it a quick spraying with some fast drying degreaser (I forget the name of the stuff) and then blew it dry with compressed air, ensuring the bolt holes were clear. With the ring gear still pretty warm, Loctite thread sealant was applied to the ring gear bolts and everything assembled and torqued to spec. Donnie gave it a good check out and was happy with the progress so far. Me? Heck, I was having a good time and just trying to stay out of his way!
Donnie flipped the locker over and started on the seal side of the unit. He squirted a heavy film of synthetic gear lube (I think it was Redline if memory serves me correctly) all over the O-ring grooves on the locker.
I think it is safe to say that anyone that has been around ARBs (or knows someone that has them) has heard something about "those o-rings". They just might be the most critical component of the air locker. Cut one or fold it over, and your locker will leak air like a sieve. Donnie slipped the o-rings into the grooves of the bearing journal as confidently as a southern Baptist preacher approaches the pulpit. I had to slow Donnie down a notch or two so I could snap a couple of pics. He was on a role!
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