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Old 12-14-2017, 09:59 PM   #1
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What can you do if a shop puts in a Detroit Locker and you wanted an Eaton Truetrac?

2003 E350 SMB with 4:10 gears in Dana axles front and back. I have spent somewhere in the range of $20,000 on repairs and maintence of my SMB drivetrain. I got tired of rebuilding the rear diff LSD and because I do not want to get stranded in a remote area I decided to invest in a full floater and a Truetrac diff. Breaking an axle forced the conversation "What the hell is in there?" I asked the mechanic to write down any numbers on the carrier but he said that there were none (tho he did not take the carrier out). The mechanic did say that the differential is a "locker" and not a Truetrac.

On a recommendation of a friend, I had Wally and Sons in Portland, OR rebuild a full floating axle and install an Eaton TrueTrac in it while it was on the bench and swap it with the stock semi float. When I first drove away from Wally's I could hear a click from the rear-end when the van was under load and I was making a right or left 90 degree turn. Speeds are between 15 to 30 mph when it starts to click. If I back off on the gas peddle the click will go away.

Called Eaton and the technician told me that it sounds like I have a locker installed and because of the weight of the van the locker is not disengaging soon enough on the turns. He suggested that the Locker has been putting an undue amount of stress on the axle shafts. After putting the new $500 axle from Randy's Ring and Pinion into the axle tube and the carrier, the van can now be driven.

The question is: What steps do I need to take to get a Truetrac installed and resolve this without spending another $2000?

The folks at Wally's are not going to be happy when I tell them that, after three years, I now know that they installed a locker and not a TrueTrac in my rear diff.
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Old 12-15-2017, 06:26 AM   #2
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Only way to find out is to have ‘em open ‘er up. Bring in the paperwork from when the work was done showing the parts you paid to have installed. If in fact it’s a locker and not a truetrac, you might have a case. If there’s a truetrac in there, you need to find out why it’s clicking anyway, hopefully that can be addressed and there’s no further damage. Then all you’re paying for is some new fluid and a few hours labor.


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Old 12-15-2017, 06:29 AM   #3
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My best advice would be talk to the shop, present your original receipts and/or paperwork showing your preferred part. Hazarding a guess the shop might be highly reluctant to do much without compensation of some sort---the time since first installation being a big issue. If I were the shop that would be an issue of concern, for me anyway.

Anything showing your mileage at the time of their work would be helpful, something appearing on any receipt they provided.

As a vendor myself I tend to gauge someone's expressed concerns after an installation compared to the time of the original installation. Sidetracking a bit I once installed a windshield in an out-of-service Autocar tractor but some 3 years later the owner called about a crack that had appeared. He did say the truck had not been in service since my installation, apart from the mileage from a body shop (point of my installation) to his heated garage the truck had not been driven.

I traveled quite a distance, provided the new windshield and labor without charge. (I damaged a part that he replaced without back charging me if I simply replaced it.) Because I knew this was entirely my doing there was no problem doing all this under a warranty of sorts.

Long story short (too late I know ) your first step will be initiate a conversation with the installing shop and see what their position will be. No way to predict their reaction but be prepared either way, completely free of cost to you or you paying for the work you want. The latter sucks but again after all this time............

Needless to say how you approach the shop will highly affect their reaction. Nothing accusatory, blaming them etc, etc---explain your situation and see where things go.

Hope this is even a little bit helpful.
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Old 12-15-2017, 01:36 PM   #4
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I'm having a hard time SierraHawk following your drivetrain threads. In the other thread you said you've had an Eaton trutrac installed 4 years ago. But you were breaking axles because they were 30 spline. Now, you've either had a full floater built and installed or is it the same axle from 4 years ago but your just now figuring out it has a Detroit locker in it instead of a trutrac? No wonder your breaking axles if that's the case. Way too much torque for a 30 spline.

If it's 3 or 4 years after the fact then it's going to come down to your word vs their word unless you have some proof that you wanted the lsd. I would see if you can negotiate with them to put in a 35 spline TrueTrac. A Detroit locker is on all the time.
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Old 12-15-2017, 11:07 PM   #5
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Didn't see this before following up in the other thread. Looks like you understand the implications.

The first thing I would do is pull the cover off to see what's actually in there. I'd take a bunch of pictures before closing it back up. With the clicking, you may have a detroit, or a truetrac that's binding in some way.

Giving the shop a quick call to find out if there's any chance that they fumbled this somehow should also be reasonable. They may already have dealt with another unhappy customer that ended up with a truetrac in place of a full locker. Good shops are surprisingly honest about stuff that went wrong and will work to correct it.

Though, sadly, there's a very good chance you'll just end up having to re-do it all out of pocket.

Good luck!
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Old 12-21-2017, 10:18 AM   #6
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Sorry JoeH, I posted a reply several days ago but it seems to have vanished. My '03 SMB E350 originally came with the SF. Three years ago I picked up a full float diff and had it rebuilt. I wanted an Eaton Truetrac installed. This November one of the axle shafts broke. I have MS so I don't have the strength to do some of the tasks needed to tear down the diff. I took it to a local shop. After taking the cover off he removed the three pieces of the axle shaft. One of the things he noticed was that the Eaton differential looked more like an Eaton Locker than a Truetrac. I asked him to find a number on the carrier but he told me that he could not find a number. Called Eaton and they told me that there are numbers stamped into the carrier. I will just have to wait until I can have the cover taken off so that I can look for the three numbers Eaton says are there. Fortunately a month after the build I expressed my concerns in emails I sent to the shop that did the original rebuild. I would have made my email more strident if I had known that the carrier was set up for 30 splines instead of 35.
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Old 12-21-2017, 10:39 AM   #7
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Sorry about your axle woes. Bummer for sure. Have you been able to find a receipt for the work and if so are there part #s? Or, simply a cost breakdown. The Truetrac is ~$800 and the locker is cheaper. ~$600. Those are online prices so I imagine they probably had some markup but no differential shop worth their salt should have made that mistake.
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Old 01-01-2018, 10:26 AM   #8
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The big difference in my case is we tow a refurbished 1976 Airstream. I have all of the paperwork but they did not write down the numbers. Anyone know much about Randy's Ring and Gears in Tacoma? I will play nice but I paid $500 for the new axle. Replacement parts (Truetrac & axles) will run close to $1500. After all is said and done a Dynatrac FF would have been cheaper.

The reason I wanted the FF because my stock SF diff was beginning to make a new noise and there was an increase in the gear slap. If I do something like this again I will float a question about who to take my SMB to on this forum.

It seems that when something breaks there is no one around who can do the work and parts are difficult to obtain. I think it was Chris who slashed two tires coming out of Saline Valley. He hitched a ride to Lone Pine. I think they charged him around $400 for each BFG tire.

There was no one in Bishop who was qualified to pull out the locker and put in the Truetrac so we spent $1000 to swap out one axle. Actually the guy I went to runs a transmission shop. I told him what was supposed to be in the rear diff but he did not count the splines. During the three weeks we were there he ordered six 32 spline axles and none of them would go into the receptacle. The original shop put in a 30 spline locker.
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