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Old 10-02-2006, 08:35 PM   #1 (permalink)
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231 Crawlbox shootout

So i keep seeing people ask for comparisons between the DD machine's "Box 4 Rocks" kit, and the DesertCJ's "MadRooster" kit. My roomate and i happen to both be installing these kits at the same time so while they're in the garage i figured i'd take some pics and share 'em with everyone.

NOW I APOLOGIZE IN ADVANCE, I MODIFIED THE MADROOSTER ADAPTER PLATE BEFORE TAKING THESE PICS. THIS IS ONLY TO CLEAR MY BELLYSKID I HOPE THIS CAUSES NO CONFUSION.

Here's the kits side by side


AS YOU CAN SEE I HAVE CUT THE LOWER MOST BOLT OFF OF THE MADROOSTER KIT, AND DRILLED TWO 3/8" HOLES ALONG THE LEFT SIDE. THIS IS NOT HOW THE MAD ROOSTER KIT COMES.

Here's DesertCJ's pic for comparison



Anyway, onto the tech.

Ordering:

Both kits were ordered the same week. Both vendors answered their phone's on the first call, were able to answer any questions easily, and were very easy to deal with. After each order was placed the kits were shipped very quickly.

Initial inspection:

Both kits arrived trouble free within a matter of days.

Contents:
Both kits include,
Adapter plate
Clocking Ring
Midshaft
Full hardware kit
Parts Differences:
The Madrooster extras included .100" shims for the midshaft, directions for assembly, and a "Madrooster" shifter handle
The Box 4 Rocks extras include a shift rail, aluminum block off plate, and a pack of threadlocker
The madrooster shifter handle


You can see the Box 4 Rocks shift rail on the back of the adapter plate in this pic. it bolts to the adapter plate with an allen head bolt.



Assembly Differences:

Assembly for each kit is essentially the same. You have to cut the end off the 231 case, weld in an aluminum blockoff plate, and drill out a coulple of threaded holes. The madrooster kit requires that you also cut down your old shift rail to 7", and shim the midshaft.

Assembled case differences:



First glance at the assembled cases shows a few differences. Personally the first thing i noticed was that the Box 4 Rocks adapter plate is HUGE compared to the Madrooster plate. The madrooster plate follows the contour of the case very closely. This is not a huge deal in most cases but in my jeep, with a flat belly skid, the Box for Rocks plate would not clear my custom crossmember without a substantial amont of grinding.

The second thing to notice are the fill and drain holes in the adapter plate of the Box 4 Rocks. On the madrooster kit you fill through the 4wd sensor hole and drain through the shift detent hole.

Lastly the Box 4 Rocks kit has two bolts that attach to the aluminum blockoff plate to help seal the case. DD Machine says its neccesary to assure the case will seal, DesertCJ says he's had no problems with any crawlboxes leaking.......

The midshafts dont differ by very much visually, but the Box 4 Rocks shaft's splines are cut, while the Madrooster's shaft splines are hobbed.

Box 4 rocks on the left Madrooster on the right


The one fit and finish problem that did catch my eye with is the Box for rocks plate/clocking ring alignment......the clocking ring is off center by the slightest amount.



Don't know if this will cause any problems, and the cases still slide together just fine.

Overall:

Both kits seem really nice, and the vendors behind them are both very easy to deal with and helpful. Neither one is harder/easier to build. Neither one stood out as better than the other during assembly. Its going to come down to testing now. Personally i picked the madrooster kit because i've heard nothing but good things about it, and i don't know anyone running the box 4 rocks.....yet. My roomate Mike picked the Box 4 rocks kit because it was cheaper. If anyone has experience with either, post up, i'm sure quite a few people are curious about these kits.


Links
Box for Rocks
/forum/motor-tranny-t-case-performance/451754-planetary-np-231-box4rocks-349-a.html

Madrooster Off Road
/forum/motor-tranny-t-case-performance/399755-version-2-planetary-crawlerbox-adapters.html
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Old 10-02-2006, 09:47 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I ended up going with the Box4Rox kit myself. Few reasons:

I liked the idea of the fill/drain plugs. It was a nice addition that didn't cause any grief anywhere else, and allowed me to do a sight tube for the fluid level. You can sorta see it in this pic:



Also, in that same pic, you can see I've got a flat belly skid in the works, and the adapter plate from the Box4Rox didn't interfere with it at all. What DID interfere was the detent spring retainer nut on the NP231 case half - it only had about 1/8" clearance above the skid. Screw it.

I liked having the shift rail and blockout piece. Granted, the blockout piece doesn't come fitted, but look at the tradeoff - it's one less thing you gotta do. I didn't have to go out and find a piece of aluminum to plate it off with. Either way, you're going to have to grind it to fit your case, so the Box4Rox puts you one step ahead because you can still assemble everything right out of the package.

The fit and finish on my intermediate shaft was excellent:


and after talking with both vendors, I liked the hardness rating of the Box4Rox shaft better. Being a mechanical engineer myself I know a lot about material properties and what effects different things will have, so the process that the Box4Rox shaft went through appealed to me more. Also, regarding hobbing vs. cutting splines - the strength difference gained through those is minimal, because either way, the minor diameter of the shaft will fail before the splines shear off. All I know is the the 'cut' splines on the shaft I received had an excellent fit in both the D300 input and the 231 planetary set.

I didn't notice any eccentricity in the Box4Rox clocking ring - everything bolted together with no trouble at all. The box shifts smoothly and after letting it sit full of fluid for 2 weeks it hasn't leaked a drop, so I'm happy.

Truth is, the rig ain't done yet so I haven't gotten any trail experience with the box yet, but at this point I've got no reason to suspect that the crawl box will be the weak point in my setup.
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Old 10-02-2006, 11:09 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Old 10-03-2006, 12:19 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Nice write up. I thought about going that route, but ended up just getting a 231 with a Tera 2lo & 4lo.
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Old 10-03-2006, 04:15 AM   #5 (permalink)
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What are both of these going in? What transfercases are you going to be using flipped 300?
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Old 10-03-2006, 04:33 AM   #6 (permalink)
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How are you guys supporting the back transfercase? I'm just building a box4rocks 231-231 setup and it seems like a lot of unsupported weight to just have it hanging there.


FWIW - my clocking plate alignment looks perfect, but on the one you are showing, that may be a problem since the shaft might wind up off center of the other case. Have you tried bolting that one to a tcase?
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Old 10-03-2006, 05:46 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by otherloginbroke
What are both of these going in? What transfercases are you going to be using flipped 300?
I'm just using a non-flipped D300 on mine. Here's another pic comparing the 300 to the original NP231 length.



The Box4Rox kit lets you clock the case at 6* increments wherever you want it, so it'll let you 'flip' the 300 as far as mounting goes, but you'll still need to address the shift rails and standard stuff that goes with flipping a 300.

For supporting the rear case, I'm going to have some sort of snubber bushing off the 300 to the rear crossmember. Haven't gotten that far along yet though.
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Old 10-03-2006, 07:56 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Im just wondering about the strength of these units..
On real world experience what have they held up to?
350 sbc...?
42" IROKS?
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Old 10-03-2006, 08:00 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rangerjoe2001
Im just wondering about the strength of these units..
On real world experience what have they held up to?
350 sbc...?
42" IROKS?
I know Phil @ Mad Rooster runs his box behind a pretty worked Ford 5.0 V8, and broke the transmission output shaft without harming the box. He runs it in his buggy and has done all the famous hard trails you've heard about.

If you think about it though, the crawl box itself shouldn't be the issue at all - I'd be more worried about whatever you put after it. The crawl box is in the same spot that it used to be when it was just a single case so it's not seeing more torque than it used to. However the case you put after it is getting ~3 times the torque, so you gotta be really careful gettin on the throttle with something like this.
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Old 10-03-2006, 09:08 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Good side by side comparison! Was waiting for something like that to come up. Please keep us posted on how both kits do after some use

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Old 10-03-2006, 03:51 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Quote:
What are both of these going in? What transfercases are you going to be using flipped 300?
The box 4 rocks kit is going in a solid axle s-10 on 35" mtr's
The madrooster kit is going in an XJ on 37" mtr's

Both crawlboxes are going in front of widechained 231's......definetly going to be letting everyone know how this setup holds up.

Quote:
How are you guys supporting the back transfercase? I'm just building a box4rocks 231-231 setup and it seems like a lot of unsupported weight to just have it hanging there.
I've got a wrangler bushing holding the rear of my 231 up. It bolts to a custom crossmember.
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Old 10-03-2006, 04:00 PM   #12 (permalink)
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i,ve been thinking about this myself.i have a 231 but its a 21 spline.do you know if its possible to change it to a 23 spline for a reasonable cost?i haven't dealt w/the internals of the 231s much.nice write up and comparison.
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Old 10-03-2006, 04:10 PM   #13 (permalink)
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you just need a 23 spline input, they're easy to change. Personally i would just go to your local junkyard and find a case with the input. The pick and pull here only charges $60-$80 for a complete t-case.
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Old 10-03-2006, 04:27 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RockcontrolXJ
you just need a 23 spline input, they're easy to change. Personally i would just go to your local junkyard and find a case with the input. The pick and pull here only charges $60-$80 for a complete t-case.
thanks appreciate the help.thats what i was thinking but was hoping to clean out some junk in the garage.back to the comparison.sorry for the hijack.
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Old 10-03-2006, 04:53 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Nice write up
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Old 10-03-2006, 05:20 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nhgpnut
i,ve been thinking about this myself.i have a 231 but its a 21 spline.do you know if its possible to change it to a 23 spline for a reasonable cost?i haven't dealt w/the internals of the 231s much.nice write up and comparison.
Yup, just did it yesterday. But if you only change the input, make sure you get the right gear pitch. Apparently there are a couple different pitches used in 231's through out the years.
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Old 10-03-2006, 06:39 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vetteboy79
If you think about it though, the crawl box itself shouldn't be the issue at all - I'd be more worried about whatever you put after it. The crawl box is in the same spot that it used to be when it was just a single case so it's not seeing more torque than it used to. However the case you put after it is getting ~3 times the torque, so you gotta be really careful gettin on the throttle with something like this.

torque?

what about the aluminum case supporting the torque from the gear reduction in hte 2nd case that it wasnt designed to carry?
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Old 10-03-2006, 07:27 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vetteboy79
I know Phil @ Mad Rooster runs his box behind a pretty worked Ford 5.0 V8, and broke the transmission output shaft without harming the box. He runs it in his buggy and has done all the famous hard trails you've heard about.

If you think about it though, the crawl box itself shouldn't be the issue at all - I'd be more worried about whatever you put after it. The crawl box is in the same spot that it used to be when it was just a single case so it's not seeing more torque than it used to. However the case you put after it is getting ~3 times the torque, so you gotta be really careful gettin on the throttle with something like this.
i have a yj to be on 39.5 iroks, with a sbc tbi 350, th 350 trans..
just worried about it blowing up
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Old 10-03-2006, 10:59 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by XJ_ranger
torque?

what about the aluminum case supporting the torque from the gear reduction in hte 2nd case that it wasnt designed to carry?
You're right in the sense that I was talking about the internals of it before, as far as the planetaries etc go.

The extra reaction torque from the reduction is best dealt with by a second bushing - like RockcontrolXJ mentioned. I can't speak for the longevity of the case, but like I said, Phil at Mad Rooster (who designed/makes that kit) has been running it for a very long time now with no ill effects to the 231 housing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rangerjoe2001
i have a yj to be on 39.5 iroks, with a sbc tbi 350, th 350 trans..
just worried about it blowing up
I got nothin for ya there. I'm still running the same 4.0 I've had for the last 170k miles. I will definitely post back once I get some trail time on this thing, with either good or bad news.
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Old 02-27-2007, 06:24 PM   #20 (permalink)
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anybody running this in a yj with a flipped d300, what did you use for twinstick setups. mine should be here tomorrow and i will be starting my build soon, thanks.
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Old 02-27-2007, 06:58 PM   #21 (permalink)
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I have been running my D & D kit for about 6 months mated to a D300, on 38.5 Baja Claws. This kit just flat out works! I am moving up to 42" Iroks and have no concerns about the strength.
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Old 02-27-2007, 07:29 PM   #22 (permalink)
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got any pics of a twinstick setup or did you use cables? im curious to find out where they come through the floor. also how did you set up the 231 shifter, did you have to change anything for that?


also, im not sure if flipping the 300, should i flip the 231 also or will i have room for the front output to clear the cutoff side of the tc.
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Old 02-27-2007, 08:11 PM   #23 (permalink)
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awesome little write up. Im in school also right now and am debating whether to just do the 4:1 or try something different like this. Can you convince me this is better? cheaper? Also dont you have to shorten the rear shaft? if so how much and does it really make a difference? thanks
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Old 02-27-2007, 08:37 PM   #24 (permalink)
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Cables on mine, and the Novak NP231 universal shifter for the crawl box.

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Old 02-28-2007, 08:09 AM   #25 (permalink)
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how about mounts for the 2nd tc, i was thinking of integrating a mount from a ring bolted to the rear output shaft housing, anybody try this with any luck, i jus boght my first welder, and fab skills are better in my head than actually accomplished.
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