Jeep WJ Project: Detroit E-Locker, G2 Gear Installation

Apr. 09, 2015 By Josh Burns
This phase of our project involved swapping out the 3.55 stock gearing for lower 4.56 gears from G2. Along with the ring and pinion we had all the necessary installation kits needed for the Dana 30 front and Dana 35 rear axles.

We’ve been making quite a bit of progress on our WJ Jeep Grand Cherokee lately, and while there have been quite a few hitches and jerks along the way, we're happy to report she’s almost ready for the trail.

To recap our journey thus far, we started off on the project by opening up the wheel wells a bit for the installation of Bushwacker’s Fender Flares, and we followed that up with a fresh coat of Anvil-colored paint at a local MAACO. A BDS Suspension 4-inch suspension and steering stabilizer kit came next, and we swapped out the smallish stock tires with more trail-ready 33-inch Mickey Thompson MTZs that are mounted on MT’s 17-inch Sidebiter II wheels. We replaced the stock bumpers with new front and rear bumpers from Trail Ready, and we fitted our front bumper with a winch from Rugged Ridge. 

With the switch to much larger tires, we knew the Jeep's stock 3.55 gearing wasn't going to cut it. Fortifying our pumpkins with lower 4.56 gears would help acceleration with the meatier tires while not raising our highway cruise RPM to redline levels. Of course the steeper gearing would also aid with low-speed crawling off-road as well. And since we’d have the front and rear differentials opened up anyway, we decided to go a step further and install Detroit’s selectable E-lockers for additional /off-road traction. Once we had this phase of the project organized, we headed over to SoCal SuperTrucks in San Bernadino, California, to meet Martin Barraza of Mobile Gear and tackle the installation of the new gears and lockers.

After removing the tires, Martin Barraza of Mobile Gear disconnects the front stabilizer bracket, after which he removed the front brakes from each rotor.

After opening up the rear differential cover, the rear driveshaft is removed from the WJ to access the yoke side of the axle housing.

With the front diff cover off, a razor blade is used to scrape off the original gasket material.

Once the gasket is scraped off, a quick sanding will scuff up the surface so the new gasket will properly adhere to the surface.

Though we certainly would appreciate the added toughness of larger axles, we decided to stick with the stock Dana 30 and 35 axles rather than go to the added trouble of seeking out replacement Dana 44s donors. The decision was partially based on the cost of the axle conversion, but this Jeep has always been intended as more of a dual-sport trail runner and not a hard-core crawler. If you're planning to do more aggressive wheelin’ or plan to install anything larger than 32- or 33-inch tires, you should consider coverting to beefier axles such as the Dana 44s. 

Other Jeep WJ Project Stories
Trail Ready Bumper Installation:
Front, Rear

Bushwacker Flares, MAACO Paintjob

The Eaton E-Locker comes with all the wiring and protective tubing needed for a complete installation. The E-Locker also includes a toggle switch to turn on and off the locker when needed in low-speed off-road situations.

The axle shaft is pulled from the housing during the installation.

The inside of the differential housing is cleaned to remove any debris before installing the new parts.

The new G2 pinion is seated and secured in place.

The new G2 4.56 ring gear is installed onto the Detroit E-Locker.

With the ring gear installed, the E-Locker is slid into the differential housing.

The new E-Locker needs to sit flush, so the shim tolerances need to be double checked for a proper fit.

With the proper shims in place the E-Locker and ring gear are slid in. A plastic mallet helps nudge everything in.

The ring gear is marked and the gear is manually rotated to check the contact patch. The yellow grease paint will show if the contact patch between the ring and pinion is correct.

After checking the contact patch of the ring and pinion gears, the Detroit E-Locker wiring is fed through the differential housing via a rubber grommet that allows the wiring to run out without losing gear oil.

The stock differential covers are getting replaced with new G2 aluminum covers. These covers will not only provide additional protection from impact, but they are also designed to help cool the gear oil for extended bearing life. Included with the differential cover are new bolts and instant silicone gasket.

The RTV instance silicone gasket is applied to the diff cover before installation.

Once the gasket is applied, the new G2 diff cover is bolted on the differential housing.

With the E-Locker and new G2 gears all buttoned up, it’s time to add gear oil. We opted for Royal Purple’s Max Gear synthetic oil. Royal Purple’s products aren’t cheap, but this synthetic oil, which features Royal Purple’s proprietary Synerlec additive, is designed to run quieter, cooler and reduce wear compared to standard oil.

After the new gears were installed, the angle of the front driveshaft became far too extreme. BDS Suspension suggests replacing this part after installing its 4-inch kit, but it wasn’t until the gear/locker installation that we really saw an extreme change. We plan to replace the front driveshaft with a new one from Tom Wood’s Custom Drive Shafts shortly.

We decided to mount the rocker switches for the E-Lockers to dash cover to the bottom left of the steering wheel where there’s plenty of space. We pulled the plastic piece off entirely to easily access the wiring and also to cut out the holes in the dash to accept the switches.

With the wires for each locker connected and safely routed underneath the vehicle, the wiring was run through the fire wall access on the driver’s side just behind the fuse box – those are the yellow and blue wires hanging down.

Helping us with the installation was Bill Bruner of SoCal SuperTrucks. Bill mounted the fuse relays just to the right of the airbox in the engine compartment.

Bill cut out the holes in the dash to accept the rocker switches for the Detroit E-Lockers.

We have power! The rocker switches for the Detroit E-Lockers have a red light to indicate when they are on.

We continue to plug away at our WJ project, and the addition of lower gearing and Detroit E-Lockers will definitely aid our off-road performance when we need it most. Most importantly, we like the ability to turn on the E-Locker function with the flip of a switch.

Eaton (Detroit Locker)

G2 Gear & Axle

SoCal SuperTrucks
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