GU III - Do I fit a Detroit locker to the front diff.....

Submitted: Thursday, Apr 28, 2011 at 23:42
ThreadID: 85940 Views:5935 Replies:5 FollowUps:6
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Hi all,

Anyone who's already gone down the track of a Detroit Softlocker in the front of a GU care to give me the pros & cons?

I know a bloke who's got one & reckons it was one of his best upgrades.

Mostly used for high country & outback touring and we tow an off road camper. Would have been great to have it in when we were scrabbling back to Mt Dare from Dalhousie in the floods last year, & on the trip back out to New Crown from Mt Dare in similar conditions.

Your thoughts?

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Reply By: Member - Bucky - Friday, Apr 29, 2011 at 05:10

Friday, Apr 29, 2011 at 05:10
Better off looking up on the Patrol Forum for that one.

In saying that I do not have one, but a mate in Leongatha has one, and apart from a little heavier steering, when in 4X4 mode, he recons that the "locker" is awesome.

AnswerID: 452675

Reply By: Robin Miller - Friday, Apr 29, 2011 at 07:56

Friday, Apr 29, 2011 at 07:56
Dave the air-locker is better.

I had the Lokka version which is same action but not as smooth as the Detroit.

The detroit unlocks with less wheel rotation , I think some 26 degrees.

These auto unlockers really work well in many circumstanes , but at the end of the day in slushy low traction situations they can cause significant understeer.

I am of course talking about marginal situations like slick clay surfaces etc.

But once you have had the surprise of understeering off a road in ice or slush
you realise that your cars ability has actually decreased in a few senarios simply
because you can't turn it off.

They (lokka) changed our driving pattern such that we spent less time in 4wd and more in 2wd to stop this effect on club trips , and constantly changing back to 4wd.

Ever since I have fitted air lockers and do not regret this move despite a couple of disadvantages.
Robin Miller

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AnswerID: 452683

Follow Up By: Portal Pat - Friday, Apr 29, 2011 at 10:13

Friday, Apr 29, 2011 at 10:13
I have an Aussielocker in the front of my GU coilcab. It is faultless. Detroit centres are rather overpriced. I am at a loss as to why Robin Miller had issues with his Lokka. The functioning premise with auto lockers is that the more you load them, the harder they lock. Thus, if trying to make a turn with one fitted in the front end, get off the throttle momentarily, make the turn, then hit the accelerator again. This is more convenient than turning off, then on, a selectable locker, I feel. There is virtually no situation in normal fourwheeling, where a selectable locker (front) outperforms an auto. locker. Not talking about comps. etc! Not only that, they are maintenance free, require no special oils, and will last as long as your diff. However, I have an Air Locker in the rear, as rear fitment has different considerations. Hope this helps.
FollowupID: 725390

Follow Up By: Road Warrior - Friday, Apr 29, 2011 at 10:38

Friday, Apr 29, 2011 at 10:38
Well bugger me I didn't realise the humble old Detroit Locker was available for fourby's. My only experience with them is from certain locally made Ford sedans with V8's in them...
FollowupID: 725395

Follow Up By: Robin Miller - Friday, Apr 29, 2011 at 11:58

Friday, Apr 29, 2011 at 11:58
Hi Pat

Its just the nature of the beast that they understeer in proportion
to the load - or in your words - "Lock Harder" , when this occurs and you are turning then wheels essentially have to skid at least until the next unlock action.

With skill , or backing off as you describ a driver can partly compensate.

This is where the Detroit is better than Lokka types because of the mechanisms finer resolution, its about twice the resolution.

All diffs require friction (traction) to work , even an open diff.
The level of friction required determines how much the wheels skids before the action takes place.
The Lokka type simply requires the most by design and hence will slip on more surfaces turning.

Now when you have to drive hard up a hill and turn - for example , going up big red with that kink near the top , then the above translates into a wider turning circle and a direct loss of power as the front ends plows in the sand.

In one interesting case the extra power required by the lokka equipped car was to much for the car to get up big red, and on the thirteen run the car made it , but only because it was put back into 2wd

Fun stuff !
Robin Miller

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FollowupID: 725404

Follow Up By: Rockape - Friday, Apr 29, 2011 at 16:23

Friday, Apr 29, 2011 at 16:23
I wasn't going to reply to this thread as you asked for people with Patrols to reply if they had a detroit fitted.

Having said that and having detroit lockers on my old bus I have to agree with everything Robin has said about them.

Great lockers but you do pay a price for auto locking or auto unlocking. If I could bring myself to pay the dollars I would put a air locker in the front.

I wish I had a patrol lsd in the back as well, then I wouldn't need a rear locker.
FollowupID: 725433

Reply By: landseka - Friday, Apr 29, 2011 at 11:26

Friday, Apr 29, 2011 at 11:26
Slightly OT but I had a Detroit in the front of my 75 series cruiser and loved it.

It had no significant understeer as it would 'ratchet' during a turn unless power was applied.

The 75 had manual locking hubs too, I don't think I would like this lokker on a full time 4x4.

Cheers Neil
AnswerID: 452711

Reply By: Gossy - Friday, Apr 29, 2011 at 12:16

Friday, Apr 29, 2011 at 12:16
i have the 'lokka' in my GQ and love it. Just used it in anger over Easter doing a 5hr drive in low range the whole time in the southern flinders going up and down valleys all day.

Love it!

So much control so less damage to car and track. Steering is different but honestly nothing to worry about. If drivers think that a locker up front won't give a different sensation that they need to get used to then they need to get it removed IMHO.
The difference is minimal to the extent that my wife didn't even say anything when she got in a drove for 2hrs (I didn't say anything to see if she noticed any difference). The sensation is 'lighter steering' is the way I describe it. Tight turns in low range on loose rocky ground no problems at all.

Recommened it highly.
AnswerID: 452715

Reply By: geocacher (djcache) - Friday, Apr 29, 2011 at 13:08

Friday, Apr 29, 2011 at 13:08
Thanks all so far.

Bearing that all in mind, how would you go say driving over Hotham in high 4 because you need 4wd to be legal when 2wds are fitting chains. Windy road & snow/ice?

Also say traveling across the Tanami or up GRR in high 4?

How would the Detroit change vehicle handling?


AnswerID: 452724

Follow Up By: Portal Pat - Friday, Apr 29, 2011 at 18:34

Friday, Apr 29, 2011 at 18:34
Just as a matter of interest- which Eaton product is the Soft Locker? I had a peek at their site and can find no listing for that product.
All lockers need to be used judiciously on ice, particularly where offcamber is an issue. Try to keep one side of truck on road edge where there may be a little more traction. If wheels are locked there is no anchoring effect as when only one wheel spins on an open diff. Mate, all roads are better with extra traction in the front. An auto. locker will give you a stronger self-centring action in the steering and occasionally you will feel a little extra drag when steering. Nothing when compared to the extra distance you get because of your locker. And the less time you spend winching !
FollowupID: 725451

Follow Up By: Rockape - Saturday, Apr 30, 2011 at 08:31

Saturday, Apr 30, 2011 at 08:31
In some of the model numbers there is SL, this is the soft locker. Look through this info and you will find it. Page 11 number 4.
Eaton Detroit

Have a good one
FollowupID: 725513

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