Following a family bereavement the webshop is closed until further notice
although we are open as a business it may take more time than normal to respond

If you would like something just contact us via email :

Thank you for your understanding at this difficult time

Ashlocker and ARB RD56 'Tab_Lock System'™ Upgrades.

Making Land Rover Differentials more 'Reliable'.

Flavour Pic Building a 'Reliable' Differential takes time, lots and lots of time, care, using the best possible components, and a raft of special tools, oh and practise, in fact every day can be a school day. To be reliable quality parts are crucial. Cheap is never good or best, cheap parts are cheap for a reason, quality will not be one of those reasons. Hence why we will only use Timken, which are regarded as the best bearings available, they are not cheap, but, using the best parts always pays dividends.

We were once given some 'OEM' (Original Equipment Manufacturer) bearings to try from a supplier. They told us (proudly) that they could do these at just over £1 each if we bought volume, the equivalent Timken bearing was circa £28 + VAT. Steve Francis (Ex Operations Director at KAM Differentials) looked at them, smiled, laughed and just chucked them straight in the bin. His comment 'We are not going to save £27 using these, we will spend the extra £27 '. Spot on. Using the best of whatever you can will make for a nicer, better, and more reliable Differential. As Sir Henry Royce of Rolls Royce once wisely said ' The quality is remembered long after the price is forgotten'. Often the OEM can nowadays mean 'Often Extremely Manky'.

This OCD attitude must reflect throughout the entire build. Some parts can be upgraded, like our 'Superflange', replacing the Standard LR Pinion 'Shield' with our Billet CNC Aluminium Cover. Using Genuine LR Parts like seals, having the Casings cleaned so they are like new, and then add the best of the rest. One of these being 'Nordlock NLX Washers'. Absolutely not the cheapest, but the best. There are copies of 'Nordlock washers' out there - but, I've never seen a 'better' 'copy' vs. the 'original', as its always a copy that is 'cheaper'. Why do we use Nordlock Washers - Video on NordLock NLX Series Washers We spend the extra. Always.

And of course - Technical input too. Setting up 'Pinion Heights' to 0.00mm, getting 'Preload' ,'Backlash', and having as little 'Run-out' as possible using a raft of specialist tools, all add up to a better and more reliable Differential, and in some areas stronger too, but adding serious strength is a whole different ball game .

Making Land Rover Differentials 'Stronger.'

Flavour Pic

One of the best value for money upgrades you can do for adding strength to your Differential is our 'Pegging System'. It makes for an absolutely massive strength increase. We would actually go as far as saying that a Pegged Standard CW&P is stronger than a UnPegged HD CW&P.

Additional strength can added by changing to HD CW&Ps, (and maybe changing ratios too). Even small changes can pay dividends, our upgraded 'Locking Ears' giving a much stronger solid lock on the 'Adjuster Rings', maintaining and protecting the correct 'Backlash' position, as an example

But, and its a 'Big But' - whatever you do, whenever you "Upgrade" your Land Rover, especially Differentials, it means you move the 'weak point'.

On a Standard Differential, the No 1 weak point is the 2 Pin Differential itself. Upgrade to a 'Locker', and it moves the weak spot to Half Shafts and your CW&P. Upgrade your Half Shafts to some HD Units, add a HD CW&P, Peg it, and the weak point then moves somewhere else.

Currently up to now, if you had our Ashlocker 'Ultra Build Spec' Differential, typically a 'Pegged Ashlocker', 'HD CW&P', upgraded Carrier Cap Bolts, upgraded CR80 'Locking Ears', 'Nordlock NLXs' everywhere, genuine LR Parts, upgraded CW&P Bolts, you'd reached point where until now that was pretty much it.

Many drivers are running 35s tyres (I do !), some 37s, (which as I have always said are over the limit really for a LR axle - however exotic a build), but, we have numerous customers out there running 'Ultra Build Diffs' with 37s, many haven't broken them (yet). Some will, some may never, but, Off Road the strains are huge and breakages will occur. So any idea to make our Ultra Build Differentials stronger is always on our minds.

The Xcess4x4 'Tab_Lock' system evolved out of our desire to make our differentials stronger through product development. It's aimed at those wanting the Ultimate Ashlocker or ARB RD56, additionally protecting their investment.

Before we just say 'Taaalaaaa here it is', first some information and background, so you can both understand the idea, and see why it might just be an additional upgrade you fancy to increase the strength of your Ashlocker Differential.

'The Glass Bolt Paradox'

Flavour Pic

Even with our 'Ultra Build', a new 'Weak Point' is emerging, putting the entire Differential at risk, CW&P bolts are shearing off. Recently one unit sent in to us had all 10 x CW&P bolts sheared off. It had been well built, having what is regarded as the strongest CW&P Bolts currently out there - FTC5150, and a Grade 12.9,used in the 'Wolf' Military Spec Differentials - So, why ?, and what could we do to improve things ?.

Speaking at length to a Technical Director (A Genius on Bolt Technology) with 50+ years experience and knowledge kick started my little warped brain, understanding then led to an idea forming. All this technical data,a lot of research, analytical playing about with Solidworks Stress Analyisis we began to see the basis of an Upgrade. A very clever friend, Simon Rafferty (of X-Eng fame), also gave me a interesting lesson on a Paradox, which helped clear some of the remaining mists to a solution. It's called 'The Glass Bolt Paradox'. It goes like this.

Steel has a 'Tensile Strength Rating'. Differing 'Grades' of Steel, as they go higher so to does the 'Tensile Strength. Ok, that makes perfect sense. But, Glass has a higher structural tensile strength than Steel.?. So why are bolts not made therefore out of Glass ? Because they would shatter. Simples.

Now think about Half-Shafts. Standard Half Shafts will twist before they snap, actually they will twist a LOT, then more, then snap cleanly. A Heavy Duty shaft will take more before it snaps, but, when it does it explodes.

Now think of CW&P Bolts. A Standard Bolt is 'Grade 7' - a very Low Grade, and these will stretch quite easily when 'hard loaded'. Once they have stretched just a bit they will unwind. We have seen CW&P bolts unwind so far the bolt heads lathe into the 'Differential Casing' wall..

A 'Grade 8.8' is classed as a 'Standard Grade', used all over Land Rovers including Differentials, it's the 'Ford Escort' of bolts. Moving up we go to a 'Grade 10.9' this is classed as a 'Heavy Duty' Grade. Finally Grade 12.9 Super Heavy Duty , FTC5150 - Land Rover Wolf Differentials - Special Bolts FTC5150.

One thing in common is with 10 x 3/8 UNF bolts of ANY Grade there is a problem of Bolts 'stretching' and or 'shearing' off when massively overloaded. Use a Low Grade bolt i.e. 7 or 8.8, and it will stretch, undo, or shear some or all of the Crown Wheel Bolts. Use a Super HD and it won't stretch, but, if overloaded 'Shear' clean in half, all x 10 if really given stick, and nothing in between.

Issues Limitations and Options

Flavour Pic

However, there are limitations on a Land Rover Differential, specially around the CW&P itself and the bolt fixings used. Every aftermarket LR CW&P uses 3/8 UNF Bolt threads (with a couple of rare and rather old exception such as GGS CW&P).

As such we are limited to a bolt size of 3/8 UNF. Trying to drill out, Re-Tap a hardened Crown Wheel and redrill 10 x Differential Centre holes is not going to happen, and for many many reasons. Additionally and if not more importantly, we are always doing up the CW&P bolts in 'Tension', however for much of their life the bolts are actually acting in both 'Shear' and 'Tension' . To summarise - Too Hard a Grade Bolts overload them and they are likely to shear, whereas too soft a Grade bolt means they will stretch easily undo themselves and or snap. Neither are 'Good' for Differential life expectancy.

Ashlocker Upgrade 'Tab-Lock' System

Flavour Pic

Taking the Standard Ashlocker End Flange we CNC machine 10 x special Oval Slots, adding a M5 thread at the end of each cut-out. The oval CNC cut-outs have matching CNC 'Tab Locks' allowing us to put a lower Grade 10.9 3/8 x 1.1/8 UNF CR6 Grade S' Bolt. These have more flex than a 12.9, but are far stronger than a 8.8.

Special Nord-Lock Delta Protect X Series Washers are used to clamp the 10x bolts into place, the Xcess4x4 Lock Tab™ lock the bolt heads into position, themselves then cleverly locked down with a M5 12.9 Grade bolt and a Nordlock M5 NLX Washer

If any of the bolts now try to stretch, they can a bit, and the NLX can cope with that (see the Video), but whatever happens the bolt cannot undo. With 10 x CW Bolts in place with the 'Lock_Tabs' they are clamped in both Tension AND in Shear.

The bolt centre 12 star lock ring is machined 7.5 degrees out of line, so we can turn it over to get a better fit if it doesn't line up, calculations show the worse case scenario of having to Retorque a bit more/ less to get a bolt all to line up is 3 Ft Lbs at worst. Frankly we will be lucky if our Torque wrench is that accurate !. Video showing the Ashlocker Ultra Build + 'Tab Lock' Upgrade, in a full Build.

The price is £88 Exchange + VAT on either a new unit or one in for Rebuild. Labour, ie 'build costs' remain the same, you only pay for the machining and additional parts to upgrade .

The 'Xcess4x4 Lock_Tab Upgrade' is available on all Ashlockers, New or Second-hand, and will be offered as a standard upgrade.

Please Note we do NOT sell this as a DIY upgrade, and is only available through ourselves

Finally - Some Thanks

Dave Ashcroft of Ashcroft Transmissions. We are proud to be approved Ashcroft Transmission Dealers. When this idea bounced around my mind I was very aware that Dave might not take too kindly to me altering his product, if Dave had said 'Rather you didn't', we would have scrapped the idea - nothing could have been further from his reaction. Dave has 100% backed this with his full support, his thoughts are this is a perfect fit for the sorts of builds we do, and he rates it !

Simon Rafferty from X-Eng fame for support and confirmation in his words 'That's a neat solution Nige - Do it', 'Bernie the Bolt' for his huge amount of technical data charts and advice. My long suffering CNC Guru, and finally but not least in anyway, Grant Adams of GT Engineering for basically putting up with me grumbling and kicking me to 'get on with it.....'

Following a family bereavement the webshop is closed until further notice
although we are open as a business it may take more time than normal to respond

If you would like something just contact us via email :

Thank you for your understanding at this difficult time