Dana 30 Spartan Locker Install – Full Review

Jeep TJ Spartan Loacker Install on stock Dana 30 with 3.07 gears and 32” tires

Choosing the right locker is a tough decision. We gave Spartan Locker (USA Standard Gear) a shot due to the amount of information available on the internet about them.

Many have spoken about their durability, ease of installation, no thrust washers used, spring and pin design, made from 1930 steel, and come with a 1-year warranty.

For my dad – These were all big selling points considering he planned to make a weekend project out of this with little experience other than binge-watching youtube videos.

Who is USA Standard Gear?

USA Standard Gear is a trademark of Ring & Pinion Service. They manufacture ring and pinion sets, installation kits, lockers (Spartan Lockers), bearings, races, thread locking compounds, shim kits, pinion seals, and more. USA Standard Gear supplies parts for brands like Chevrolet, Dodge, Jeep, Ford, and Plymouth.

Source: https://www.buyautoparts.com/brands/usa_standard_gear.html

https://www.usastandardgear.com/usa-history

What is a Spartan Locker?

Spartan Locker is a brand of mechanical style lockers sometimes referred to as “Ratcheting Lockers” or “Lunchbox Locker”. This type of locker replaces the spider gears inside a carrier with a mechanical mechanism that will automatically lock and unlock the axle.

Stock Jeep Wrangler TJ Axle Carrier with Spider Gears

Stock Jeep Wrangler TJ Axle Carrier with Spartan Locker

Jeep Wrangler Spartan Locker Install

Installing the Spartan Locker on a Dana 30 from a 1998 Jeep Wrangler TJ was a Saturday project with little prior experience. If this is your first time opening up the differential cover for a project you should assume around 6-12 hours for the install. For someone experienced, this project should take no longer than 3-6 hours.

Tools Required for Spartan Locker Installation:

While what is listed is not a complete tool list (Tools not listed are general automotive repair tools). I do list the most notable tools you may not have for this project.

  • 36MM Sockets
  • Micrometer
  • Torque Wrench
  • Dial Caliper
  • Can Dial Indicator with Magnetic Base
  • Beam Style Torque Wrench
  • Pneumatic Impact or Electric Impact (450-1000Ft/Pounds)

Step #1: Jack-it-up

When working on axles, the higher you can get the vehicle off the ground, the easier the project will be on your joints. Since as of now, we do not have a 2 post lift at our disposal. We brought out the big guns! 12 Ton stands.

Of course make sure to block the rear tires, set the parking brake, make sure the transmission is in park (If in a manual make sure the vehicle is in a forward gear).

Step #2: Breaking Bolts

When in the air safely – remove the front tires. It’s always best practice to set the tires underneath the vehicle in case it falls there is something catch it… so you don’t have to.

Once tires are removed, you can disassemble your braking system on each side to gain access to the axle shafts. The axle shafts must be at least pulled out of the carrier, but do not need to be completely removed.

The axle nut is 36MM.

This video can explain removing axle shafts much better than I can in this single post.

Step #3: Diving in

Time to crack open the differential drain plug to drain all of the 1990’s glory out of it. Once drained you can unbolt the differential cover to reveal the internals of the axle.

Before moving forward I suggest checking your backlash on your gears so you have a reference point in the future. For us, the backlash was between 8-10.

How to check backlash video:

Unbolt the barring cap bolts – Make sure you mark the direction of the barring caps because they need to go back on the same side and in the same direction along with this the shims need to go back on the same side. Be careful when you pull out the carrier with the spider gears because they want to fall out.

After you pull the carrier out take it over to your workbench and remove the main ring gear.

Next: You will need to knock the shim out of the spider gear pin and yes it is a pain.

You will need a good set of punches.

Pull the pin and remove the spider gears.

Spider Gear Removal Video: Dana 30

Step #4: Spartan!

Time to install your locker – I hope it did not take you too long to get to this point because of that annoying spider gear pin!

The instructions that came with the Spartan Locker are quite generic, made for many different vehicle years, makes, and models. Youtube again will be your best friend if any questions need to be answered.

Overall, installing the Spartan Locker into the carrier is a drama-free experience. I will say it is important to get the washers that come with the locker in the right direction. Otherwise, you shouldn’t have any major issues.

How to install Spartan Locker into the carrier

Check the Gap between spacer and cross pin (.005-.020) limit .008 difference between sides

Check the Center Gap (.145-.170)

Install your main ring gear torque to 55lb, you will need a vise and yes I did not have one so it was a pain!

Step #5: Button Up

Reinstall the carrier and the bearing caps. Make sure to install the bearing caps as they were before. (hopefully, you marked the direction and orientation of the bearing cap as previously stated)

After the carrier is installed, and the bearing caps are installed re-check your backlash to make sure it is still within the factory specs. (Ours was a backlash of 8-10)

Reinstall the axle shafts, and brakes (Watch previous videos for additional help, everything from this point is assembly)

Install the diff cover torque bolts to 25lbs

Add your choice of differential fluid. We used 1.3ML of non-synthetic 80W-90.

Reinstall the wheels and tires and torque to factory specs.

Step #6: Testing

If you would like to confirm the lockers are working before hitting the road for a shakedown test. You can leave the vehicle jacked up with the wheels and tires on. Have a friend or a child hold one of the wheels in place while you turn the other. If the one you are turning is not free spinning without the other then the installation was successful and the locker is working how it should.

Now go for a drive in 2WD (2 Wheel Drive) – You should not hear any noise, clunking, or anything you didn’t hear before you installed the locker.

Now place the vehicle in 4WD/4×4 (4 Wheel Drive) – You will hear a slight clicking/ratcheting noise while turning. Otherwise, no major grinding or clunking noises should be heard.

Go Offroad! Give it a real shakedown now!

Overview:

“Overall for my first experience working in my driveway with not a well set up shop on my diff, it was relatively painless.” – Dad

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