14 Bolt ARB Air Locker Installation
By Adam Woodlee
Ever since I built my buggy I felt like it was a very capable machine. I built it to be an all around off road vehicle that could tackle a wide variety of different terrain and racing conditions. The buggy was built using only good quality parts and over all I have been pleased with the performance of the rig.
Well except for one thing. It was just not as nimble as I knew it could be. I have 45 degrees of steering in the front and 30 degrees of steering n the rear but the buggy just would not turn like I knew it was capable of. The other thing I noticed was when you were running at high speeds and let off the gas, the buggy would shift really badly. For instance say every time you were driving to work and let off the gas you made a sudden lane change type of bad!
Well I knew what my problem was. I had the wrong kind of lockers in my axles. What I needed was a selectable locker. When you think of selectable lockers ARB should be the first name to jump into your head. They have been making selectable lockers longer than anyone. I checked with them and sure enough they had a locker that would fit in to the 14 bolt axles that are in my race buggy. I went with two of these units, one of their small air compressors, and a wiring kit as well.
I heard that the 14 Bolt ARB was a huge chunk of steel that should hold up to the abuse of my driving while caught up in the heat of competition. I had to have something that I could trust to drive across the country to compete with and not let me down. When the package from ARB showed up I dug in like a kid at Christmas. When I popped open the box I was shocked at just how big and beefy the locker looked. Right then and there I knew I could put the unit in and not worry about it breaking on me and leaving me stranded or out of any competitions. This beefy locker looks well matched up with the massive 14 bolt's ring and pinion and has me feeling confident that I have a pair of the toughest axles on the market.
The install of the lockers was easy. If you have experience setting up gears then you shouldn’t have any problems with installing an ARB into your rig. Just follow their detailed directions and you will be just fine.
The one odd thing about this locker install is that you have to grind a little inside your housing to get the locker to clear. It is not hard to do at all, but make sure to clean out all of the shavings after you get it ground out.
Be careful bending and routing the copper line that supplies the air to actuate the locker and make sure it's out of the way of any moving parts. Once this is all sealed up then its time to mount the compressor and run the air lines.
I was really impressed with the versatility of the ARB compressor. My buggy is very small and compact and I was worried about where to mount an air compressor. I was happy to see the size of the compressor was so small.
The best feature that makes this compressor so easy to mount is that it rotates on the mounting base.
The compressor comes with all of the needed ports to run a front and a rear locker. Just follow the directions and you will have this thing plumbed up and working in no time. The wiring harness is labeled nicely and is complete. All you have to do is plug in the supplied switches to the correct wires, supply a 12volt source and a ground and you're off and running.
What I think about my ARBs
Well now it was time for the test drive. So I started up the buggy and pulled it out of the shop with both lockers turned off and turned the steering wheel to complete lock. Then cut the rear steer to lock as well and the buggy actually turned with out felling like it was being forced to move. Before it would dig ruts in the gravel if I did this and now it tracked perfectly. The steering felt more "free" as well. I knew I was going to like this!
I loaded the buggy up and took it out to my testing grounds to play for a while. I had problems in XRRA making tight turns around sharp corners where guys with selectable lockers were not having any troubles at all. I set up a turn in the track and turned on both lockers to mimic the way the buggy had acted before. I came into the corner, let off the gas, and got on the foot brake hard and the buggy still turned out wide and just felt slow. Then I turned off the rear ARB leaving just the front one on. I came in the corner and grabbed the rear cutting brake and came around the corner with the buggy feeling way more in control and on a path around a turn instead of feeling like I was thrown way off course. Now the next time I came in the corner HOT and grabbed the rear cutting brake and stabbed the gas and the buggy pitched through the turn and I was headed back the other direction before I knew what was going on. It was fast, I was smiling and for the first time I felt like my buggy was nimble. I played with this more and more and I found I could get my buggy through corners with the ability to use the cutting brakes mixed with the throttle and keep up my speed. So one of the main issues I had with the buggy was now fixed!
Next I had to find out if the awful lane change shift when I let off the gas was still there. So put the buggy in high range with the lockers unlocked and got up to speed and opened the throttle wide open and the let completely off to try to get it to shift like it would normally do. Nothing happened; the buggy nosed over and kept its same track. So then I locked up the rear, then the front, then the front and the rear and nothing ever changed. The "clunk" of my old locker was gone and I had a buggy that I could let off the gas with and not be scared of witch way it was going to go. Now I can concentrate on steering the buggy instead of worrying about not getting to fast and not being able to control the buggy when I let off the throttle. I can see where this would be a major benefit in a vehicle that sees a lot of on road time. So, the ARBs fixed the two main issues I had with my buggy, but there were a few other thing I noticed as well.
One big thing was the buggy seemed more relaxed. Meaning I could drive with one hand on the wheel now instead of constantly fighting left to right, and when I make tight slow turns the buggy doesn’t feel bound up. Now it just kind of glides around them where before I would have to give the buggy gas to get around them. Also on extreme side hills I turn the lockers off and the non powered tire seems to hold the buggy up hill instead of spinning and letting it fall.
Over all I am very happy with the upgrade to the ARB units. It made the rig way more versitlie and easier to drive. The biggest surprise to me was that one single upgrade unleashed the potential of other parts that were already on the buggy. I use the cutting brakes all the time now, and not just when I am making a front dig type turn. The steering is much happier now since I can unlock the axles. The shocks are used more because I can drive faster and keep the line I want and not have to worry about the dreaded lane change effect. I would recommend ARBs to any one that wants to get the maximum performance out of their vehicle.
Wide Open Racing #101
Wide Open Design / Owner
435 Cut Off Road
Murfreesboro, Tn 37129
ARB 4x4 Accessories
720 SW 34th Street
Renton, WA 98057
Tel: (425) 264 1391
Fax: (425) 264 1392
Toll Free: (866) 293-9078