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Yukon Jeep JK Dana 44 ZIP Locker - PRODUCT REVIEW
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October 18, 2017, 09:30:33 PM

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Yukon Zip Locker

When the Black Whole got gears last September, there wasn't any money in the budget for a selectable locker. Now, about a year later, we have finally upgraded to a selectable locker and chose the Yukon Zip Locker to fill this position. Since we built the York OBA system we have been using the hell out of it for filling up the tires at the end of trail runs, use a blow gun to clean out parts and other miscellaneous things, and we've used it for air tools too. Now that we know the system works great and is reliable, an air locker was an easy choice.

What comes in the Zip Locker Kit
Well... a locker of course. And everything else you can think of to install the locker (Less an air supply and a 1/4" NPT thread tap). It has new bearings and shims, all the air line you need for pretty much any length rig, the air switch solenoid, all the air fittings you need to hook it up to your air supply, and a switch with 2 different rockers (one for front locker and one for the rear), as well as instructions to install everything.

Click on images for large view


Installing a locker (without changing the gear ratio) can be a lot easier that most people think. The only "critical" thing you have to deal with is gear pattern and backlash. Luckily the JK Dana 44 has the shims on the OUTSIDE of the carrier bearings. This means you can take your shiny new locker to a mechanic and have them press the bearings onto the locker without any shims and you will never have to see him again. Once you have the bearings pressed on, all you have to do is slide the locker in and start checking for backlash and patterns. No bearing removal is required to change the shimming.

Once you have determined the correct amount of shimming that's necessary, you can route your copper air line from the locker to the top of the housing leaving enough clearance where it wont get in the way of rotating parts inside the pumpkin, now mark (or remember) that location (generally its going to be on the top right side of the pumpkin). Now you can remove the carrier, cover the pinion with a rag or towel, and drill a whole with the designated size drill bit for your 1/4" NPT thread tap (this is a pipe thread so if you find a regular 1/4" tap, it will not work. This is the thread that most air fittings use). this is also a good time to put a little notch into the axle tube on each side so that the gear oil will drain back into the pumpkin instead of getting stuck in the axle tubes and starving the ring and pinion of oil (see photos for details).

After drilling and grinding, use a magnet to get all the metal shrapnel out of the axle housing before you start installing everything for the final time. If you leave too many mettal shavings in the housing, you can damage the locker and its seals, or the ring and pinion. You want it as clean as possible.

At this point you can hook up your air line to the housing and start running your line to wherever you have your air supply. In our case it is in the engine compartment. I would advise that you run your air lines as far away from the exhaust as possible (i.e. OVER the trans and transfer case). This sounds self explanatory, however when we ran our line "far enough" away from the exhaust it was still close enough that when one of the zip ties failed, it got close enough to the exhaust that it melted it and made it useless.

Hooking Up The Air Locker To The Switch
When you get your Zip Locker kit, you will receive an air solenoid. This is what turns the electricity from your switch into air power for your locker. This is directional and will need to be hooked up with the air flowing in the right direction. Otherwise you will just be draining the air out of your tank. It is recommended that you run your locker at 90-120 PSI. The higher the PSI is, the more strain the seals will see. The pressure switch for our air system is set to go on at 90 and off at 120 so we are in the range, but for extra insurance we installed a regulator before the solenoid so we can adjust the pressure down to about 95 PSI. That way we dont put any extra stress to the seals that we dont have to.

There are two wires coming out of the top part of the solenoid, there is no indication as to which one is power and which is ground. We hooked it up both ways and it works either way. We decided to cut off the plug that came on the solenoid and installed a two prong WeatherPack waterproof connector. This will assure a solid connection for years to come. From here you can hook up your power and ground. It is always a good idea to run any kind of electronics through a relay. A relay can handle a LOT more amps than any switch ever will. If you dont want to run a relay you can take your power from the solenoid directly to the acc. terminal on your switch. If you are running a relay, you will take the power wire from your solenoid to the 87 terminal on your relay.

Using The Locker
Now you're ready for maximum traction! The beauty about a selectable locker is that when you are on the streets you can have butter smooth driving around town. But when you get out in the dirt, mud, or snow, you have traction at your fingertips. You can really chalenge your driving ability as well. If you want the chalenge, keep the locker off and see if you can make it through. Half way through and can't make it? Switch that locker on!


Click on images for large view



If you daily drive your off road rig, or even just like to drive your off road rig to the trails without all the handling quirks that come with driving locked up, then selectable lockers are where you need to be. A lot of the time people stay away from selectable's because they tend to be more expensive than an auto locker. Fortunately Yukon was able to produce this thing for a great price. You really get everything you need to upgrade to an air locker for an exceptional price (as much as $300 LESS than the competitors). The great thing about an air locker compared to an electric locker is that you can use your air pump for so much more than just the locker. We are very impressed with the quality of all the parts that come in this kit.

For more information about Yukon Gear & Axle products check out there website or give them a call.

Yukon Gear & Axle

10411 Airport Road
Everett, WA 98204


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