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ARB Air Lockers in the Ram
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Dave Fritz's Front Axle ARB comments

I grew tired of the compromises inherent in the Ram front Dana 60 axle, and decided to have a complete axle assembly built by Dynatrac for my 1994 Ram. It features 35 spline axles, a reverse rotation housing, true truck spindles and bearings, manual hubs, larger brakes, and an ARB Air Locker. The ARB was a reasonable $600 option if installed while the axle was being built because the cost of the ARB was offset by the cost of a standard carrier, which was not needed. Also, the cost of setting up the ARB was not significantly higher than the cost of setting up a stock carrier while the axle was under construction. This axle was completed and installed in my truck in July of 1998.

The locker sends power to both front wheels when engaged, and allows full open differentiation when it is not engaged. My large on-board air system operates the ARB, feeds a set of air horns, and inflates tires as needed.

With a LockRight in the rear and the ARB engaged up front, traction is just unbelievable. Steering is not difficult but there is understeer in tight turns.  Operating notes:  If the tires are fighting for traction, keep fingers out of the steering wheel and do not grip the wheel with your thumbs - they can be sprained or broken by wheel kick.  When both ends are locked, the truck must be moving for the driver to be able to turn the steering wheel.  One must always be aware that parts can break because a single u-joint or cross shaft can end up with 100% of the engine torque multiplied by low gears,  which can break components if the operator gets too rambunctious.  Be aware that the Ram OEM front axle has 30 spline inner axle shafts and axle stubs, and smaller cross-joints than my 1480's from Dynatrac.  My 35 spline axles are holding up well under hard use, but I also carry spare parts!

Steve Belt's Front Axle ARB Comments

Subject:        [RAM] Re[2]: ARB Air lockers
Date:            Tue, 01 Apr 97 12:11:00 PST
From:           Stephen D Belt <>
To:               RTML

Mike sez>

> How much do those air lockers or sure-trac cost?  I plan on doing a fair
> share of off-roading.  Sand, mud, rocks - you name it I'll probably find a
> place that has it.  Hood deep in a swamp is most unlikely to happen.

Quick rundown on cash I've put into my Ram to (hopefully) improve its off-roadability:

        $800  Lift Kit and shocks
       $1300  New tires and wheels
       $1800  Gear change, with ARB locker
        $300  Have locker professionally installed

Except for the $300, all price info is for parts only, as I have done all of the rest of the labor.  I also have all of the tools necessary to go along with the ability to perform the labor.  I have at least $1500 invested in tools.

As you can see, the gear change and locker ain't cheap.  This was something I knew I'd have to do, the moment I began to think about putting 35" tires on my truck.  If I was to go with a milder sized tire (like 33") and had ordered 4.10 gears from the factory, I would not have spent quite as much on the gear change, just a carrier change to put the locker in.  The locker installed all by itself will run around $1100 ($650 for locker, $200 for compress, $300 for install).

I hope this clues you in a bit.  I wouldn't consider a locker, until you've driven the truck in its stock setup and found it to be inadequate.  Personally, I've only found two obstacles that have given me trouble without the locker.  One of the obstacles was a real challenge to negotiate the other a simple matter of choosing a line 6" off to one side.

What I was finding was that I had too much wheelspin for my comfort, and my tires were taking a beating.   I don't think I've ever been at risk of causing axle damage, but I am hoping my locker will allow me to run with far less wheelspin, thus saving tire life.

Steve Belt    1995 2500HD V10 4x4 -- Phx, AZ  

Subject:        [RAM] Re[2]: ARB / other lockers in front axle of Ram 2500
Date:            Mon, 08 Dec 97 22:12:00 PST
From:           "Belt, Stephen D" <>
To:               RTML

Dave sez>
> The ARB Air Locker is on my wish list also. Reider Racing told me that
> the ARB air locker was the best choice for the Ram with the Center Axle
> Disconnect. Full time lockers and limited slip diff's are not
> recommended in a CAD axle.

I fully agree.  RamList member Jarrod Pilone (sp?) had the LockRite installed in his front end, but it broke, so he took it out.  He never said how it broke.

> Steve Belt has been running an Air Locker in his Ram 2500 front axle for
> at least a year now. His web page

Well, almost a year.  No troubles with the locker so far.  I do have a small air leak in the solenoid relay that engages the locker.  Still locks, but the compressor cycles more frequently than necessary.  I just need to give ARB a buzz (their US office in Seattle, I think) and get a new one.

I will say it is some serious work to install.  My web page doesn't begin to do it justice, as I'd need to devote too much space to the topic. Having on-board air is pretty handy as well.

Steve Belt       1995 2500HD V10 4x4 -- Phx, AZ  

August 2001 - Steve still has his Ram and is planning to restore it to pristine condition when he gets time. The ARB is still working just fine.


Last update:  September 10, 2001