Locker Lever Replacement and Upgrade

Technical articles by owners, for owners.
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John L
Posts: 160
Joined: Thu Sep 15, 2011 7:48 am
Location: Covington, Louisiana

Locker Lever Replacement and Upgrade

Post by John L » Tue Oct 16, 2012 9:13 am

So, I was out at the deer lease and leaving one of the gravel roads going into some water and muck and decided to lock in one of the differentials. I pulled the middle lever and felt some resistance. So, I did what most of us do, until we know better, and I showered down on the lever. It almost immediately became a free moving piece of equipment in my hands. You could move it with one finger and the locker wouldn’t engage. So, after reading up on this problem, I purchased the replacement parts, took everything a part, performed a post manufacture upgrade, and put the 4x4 lockers back into service. In my case I needed a new center lever and adjoining spacer (the one that contains the push rod connection) and a knob spacer. You will know what I mean after you read the post.

If and/or when this happens to you, hopefully this step by step guide will assist you.

First, you need to remove knobs on the locker levers. To do this take a “spanner wrench” also known as an adjustable wrench or “monkey wrench” and adjust it so that the wrench spans the lever but not the knob. Lightly strike the wrench on the underside and it should dislodge the knob. The knob is held on merely by a metal spacer that goes in between the inside of the wooden knob and the metal lever. Be careful as the knobs pop off and sometimes the spacers disappear into thin air. Thankfully I purchased two and only needed one.

After the knobs are removed, you can then unscrew the four screws holding the plate down that goes over the levers. After it is removed, you can then remove the two screws on either side of the face plate. They are compression screws and at some point the cover plate will lift off of the levers and open up the locker lever assembly to you. This is also where you will find the fluid reservoir, elbows, T and the master cylinders for the hydraulic system. This is a great time to replace these parts while you have the system open and flush the hydraulic system. Berger has two great posts on this and I won’t repeat them. My T looked like this when I got into the system:
4x4PreRepair02a.JPG
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Check out Berger’s post. Great information on replacement and flushing of the system.

The lever assembly while still installed looks like this:
4x4PreRepair03a.JPG
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Word of caution: when you are taking loose the cover plate with the locker lights on it, be careful. Use a Sharpee Marker to mark which wires go to which lights. Once you take them loose you may have a mess on your hands. It may take a while to sort them out. So, MARK YOUR WIRES first. 

Then you can begin the process of taking the lever assembly out. It is held in place by two bolts/screws on either side. Note that there are lock washers with each screw. You will want to hang on to these so be careful when removing them. If you have trouble getting a wrench on them, you can pull the entire assembly out a bit with your hands to obtain enough room to take the bolts out. Just be careful you don’t crack any of the hydraulic lines.

First photo below shows a spanner wrench being used to remove the bolt on the passenger side. The next post will continue the thread.
4x4RemovalLevers01aa.JPG
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Last edited by John L on Tue Oct 16, 2012 9:48 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
John L
Posts: 160
Joined: Thu Sep 15, 2011 7:48 am
Location: Covington, Louisiana

Re: Locker Lever Replacement and Upgrade

Post by John L » Tue Oct 16, 2012 9:21 am

The next pic below shows the bolt holding the assembly in on the drivers side.
4x4RemovalLevers01aaa.JPG
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Note that the screws/bolts that you are taking out are threaded into the shaft that the levers and spacers rotate on. So, be sure to keep everything together as you slowly pull the assembly towards you once they are removed. When you do, you will see the actuators/push rods pulling out of the boots covering the master cylinders.
4x4RemovalLevers04a.JPG
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When it slides out, you will want to bring this to a work bench so that you can clean it up and perform your repairs.
4x4RemovalLevers05a.JPG
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The process continues in the next post.

User avatar
John L
Posts: 160
Joined: Thu Sep 15, 2011 7:48 am
Location: Covington, Louisiana

Re: Locker Lever Replacement and Upgrade

Post by John L » Tue Oct 16, 2012 9:33 am

She looks like this removed from the truck.
4x4RepairLever04a.JPG
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Note a couple of things from the pic above: First, you can see the broken center lever. Second, you can see how the assembly works. As the lever rotates on the shaft, it pushes the push rod further into the boot and engages the master cylinder. If the lever is broken, as mine was, the lever will rotate on the shaft but will not engage the cylinder.

The center lever is a bit different than the two outer cylinders. The two outer cylinders directly engage the push rod. But, the center one actually rotates a spacer that has the actuator attached and it engages the cylinder. I’ll show you some pics below. Now that you have the assembly out it is a great time to clean it up, lubricate it, and make sure everything looks right before putting it back in the truck.
4x4BrokenLever06a.JPG
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To repair the lever you will want to slide one of the levers off of the shaft along with the spacers until you get to the broken lever. Remove it as well. (Hopefully you ordered the replacement pieces you needed.) In my case the lever and the spacer were busted as you can see from the pic above. I had to replace both pieces. They slide on the shaft as the old ones came off. I took the time to thoroughly clean up the parts, put a bit of 3 in 1 oil on them and put them back on the shaft.

One other point is that the levers are connected to the actuator/push rod with a small clip.
4x4RepairLever05a.JPG
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At first I thought it was riveted on; but once I got the assembly to the work bench I realized the clip assembly. It comes off fairly easily. You just want to be careful so you don’t break it. In my case, I upgraded my design and didn’t re-use the clip since it was the center lever. If it’s an outside lever you will want to re-use the clip to mount the replacement lever to the actuator/push rod.

User avatar
John L
Posts: 160
Joined: Thu Sep 15, 2011 7:48 am
Location: Covington, Louisiana

Re: Locker Lever Replacement and Upgrade

Post by John L » Tue Oct 16, 2012 9:40 am

4x4RepairLever07a.JPG
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Above you see the clip in the top right corner of the photo and the push rod assembly at the bottom right. The piece in the center is part of the broken lever.

I performed the post manufacture upgrade I read about on the forum. You will note that the force of pulling the lever is all placed on the “tooth” that locks the lever in with the spacer that contains the actuator/push rod. The spacer next to the lever locks in place with the lever via a “tooth”. It is this “tooth” that takes all of the force when the lever is pulled. But, the middle lever has the same connection on the bottom that the two outside levers have that generally take the force of pulling the lever. So, I took a stainless steel bolt and slid it through the lever and the two spacers and put a washer on either side. I then put a dab of super glue on the threads and put a nut on the threads of the bolt enough to keep it from sliding around; but not tight enough to prevent rotation of the equipment. In other words, you want the bolt fairly loose so don’t really tighten the nut. It is merely to hold the bolt in place. Now, when you pull the center lever, the force will be spread over three components and not one. Here’s the pics showing the pre and post repair and upgrade.

This is the assembly before the repairs and cleaning were performed.
4x4RepairLever04a.JPG
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You can see the design I discussed above. Below is the replacement of the lever with the upgrade.
4x4RepairLever09a.JPG
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User avatar
John L
Posts: 160
Joined: Thu Sep 15, 2011 7:48 am
Location: Covington, Louisiana

Re: Locker Lever Replacement and Upgrade

Post by John L » Tue Oct 16, 2012 9:44 am

And here’s what the assembly looked like post cleaning, repair and upgrade prior to going back into the truck.
4xrRepairLever10a.JPG
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Now, you merely have to reverse your steps of taking the assembly out. A few pointers:

First, make sure that the pushrods not only go back into the boot, but actually slide up into the internal assembly that guides it into striking the cylinder. I actually had mine re-installed and two of the levers wouldn’t engage the lockers. Found out I hadn’t put her back in place properly. It’s a bit tricky as you have so many moving parts. If you find that one of the push rods just won’t stay where it’s supposed to as your trying to bolt the assembly back into place, try lengthening the rod a tad bit (it is threaded and unscrews). I had to do that and it made a huge difference.

Once back in place make sure that when you pull each lever the push rod actually engages the cylinder it is assigned to. If so, you can then reconnect your wires, put on the face plates, re-attach the knobs and you’re ready to roll.
I may have given too much detail here, but I am not a mechanic by trade and have had to learn a lot of this stuff on my own. This forum is an incredible resource. I want to give something back as Scott and the rest of the guys have done so much to help out folks like myself. I’m hoping that if I oversimplify the process the next guy may have an easier time of it.

Levers Down!!!

John

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