While the rear diff centre was out of the Middy to deal with oil leaks from the axles and pinion, we figured there was no better time to fit a locker to improve the BJ73’s off-road ability.
These old Cruisers might be tough, but with open diffs or, at best, a loose LSD, they don’t go far once you kick a wheel up in the air.
Terrain Tamer is a distributor for the Australian-engineered Harrop ELockers, so we made a quick call to Harrop to secure a unit and pulled one from the shelves at Terrain Tamer, along with a Terrain Tamer bearing and seal kit.
Past experience with the Harrop ELockers convinced us of their benefits; namely the simplicity of installation, with no air lines or compressor to worry about, and the ease of use when out on the tracks. The ELocker was originally developed by US driveline specialists Eaton for use in the H1 HMMWV, and it soon found its way into civilian applications.
Melbourne’s Harrop Engineering took the Eaton product and re-engineered it with four-pinion strength and made models to most 4x4s that are popular in Australia. Harrop manufactures the ELocker in Melbourne, and it partners perfectly with Terrain Tamer’s bearing and seat kit for hassle-free installation.
Tony from Terrain Tamer cleaned up the original centre and got it on the stand, before he and Allan Grey checked the gears for wear. Allan declared they had obviously been set up well by someone in the past, as they were wearing nicely and should happily continue for many more miles of service.
The gears were then stripped off the original centre and Tony fitted them to the new Harrop locker, using the Terrain Tamer bearings. A small hole was drilled into the diff centre to pass the wire through to power the ELocker and, with the backlash set and everything torqued in place, the centre was ready to go back into the car. The power wire was then ran up to the front of the car, and the activation switch placed within easy reach of the driver.
Once the ELocker was wired up and everything else refitted to the Middy, we took it for a quick spin on Terrain Tamer’s exclusive in-house test track. It didn’t take long to prove that fitting the locker was a good choice as we scaled the dirt mounds, logs, mud and obstacles. With the sweet, old 13b-turbo engine idling along nicely on the hand throttle, one particular section of the track that has offset wombat holes flexed the full-leaf suspension to the max.
Soon enough, wheels were in the air and forward progress was halted. As the hanging rear wheel spun in the air, flicking the switch engaged the ELocker and instantly the diff was locked and the little Cruiser chugged onwards.
As the name suggests, the ELocker locks the differential action in the rear (or front if you have one fitted there) axle to send all the available drive to both wheels. This then gives your vehicle the best chance of progress if one or more of the wheels is off the ground or losing traction in mud or snow.
The ELocker is an amazingly simple and effective piece of equipment and dramatically improves the off-road performance of any 4x4 with open diffs, or even an LSD.
The Terrain Tamer test track also gave us a chance to bed in the new rear brakes and notice the improved feel of the steering and suspension. Now to put some kilometres on it, recheck that the oil leaks are fixed, and get it roadworthy for registration.
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