Locker or manual lockout hubs

Ozarkrambler

New member
Hello , new to posting here and hope this is the correct place to ask this. I'm building a truck on a freightliner M2. The question has come up, install a front differential locker to improve off road performance with the 4x4 conversion, or go with manual lockout hubs to reduce wear and tear on front end, reduce vibration and noise during highway driving, and possibly increase mpg.

Better, quieter ride would be a plus, but getting stuck sucks also.

Lots of knowledge and experience here, so searching for opinions.

Thanks
 

mog

Kodiak Buckaroo
Is there a reason you can not have both, the locker and manual hubs? What axle are you planning on installing?
For reference, I have a C4500 Kodiak that is stock with a Dana Super 70 with manual hubs, and will get an ARB locker hopefully this year. There are no issues with that combination.
 

m-l_johnny

Active member
Is there a reason you can not have both, the locker and manual hubs? What axle are you planning on installing?
For reference, I have a C4500 Kodiak that is stock with a Dana Super 70 with manual hubs, and will get an ARB locker hopefully this year. There are no issues with that combination.
Yes, what Mog said.
Sounds like your question is conflating two separate features.
 

Ozarkrambler

New member
Meritor FSB 14a cb
Mx17-140

These are the 2 options I was given for axels .

FSB has manual lockout available
MX 17 has the DCDL
 

nickw

Adventurer
I'd do manual hubs before a locker personally if you think it will help with drivability and making life a bit easier on the road where the rig is going to spend the majority of it's time. Do the auto / fixed hubs cause guys issues?
 

NatersXJ6

Explorer
I would verify the meaning of that DCDL.

Is it a locking differential, or just a center disconnect lock? If the second, that is where you choose against manual hubs or DCDL. Personally, I would go for solid hubs (aka drive flanges) not lockable, as rotating the front end keeps things happily lubricated and I’ve seen lots of locking hub failures over the years.

In the end, both will work just fine, and with that much weight, traction isn’t likely to be an issue. The turning radius achieved from each choice should probably be the overriding decision element.
 
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plh

Explorer
I would verify the meaning of that DCDL.

Is it a locking differential, or just a center disconnect lock? If the second, that is where you choose against manual hubs or DCDL. Personally, I would go for solid hubs (aka drive flanges) not lockable, as rotating the front end keeps things happily lubricated and I’ve seen lots of locking hub failures over the years.

In the end, both will work just fine, and with that much weight, traction isn’t likely to be an issue. The turning radius achieved from each choice should probably be the overriding decision element.
DCDL - driver controlled differential lock
 

1stDeuce

Explorer
I'll second turning angle being the primary consideration... Looks like both axles have a 35° angle...

On further consideration, do you really need a 17,000lb front axle? That seems excessive... If you drop the capacity to just 16,000 you can get either axle with a 42° turn angle, and the MX axle then comes with double cardan joints. You might loose the diff lock option, but you could still get a limited slip, at least on the Meritor...

Having been the driver of a GMC fire truck converted with a Coleman axle that offered limited turning (I'd guess 20 or 25° at the most...) it made driving that truck so much more trouble than the 4wd was worth. The turn angle of your non-drive alxe is probalby in the range of 55°, so either way you're limiting it on a big truck... Go with an axle that offers as much steer capability as possible.

You are not likely to notice much of a mileage improvement from locking hubs anyway, and the wear is probably negligable too.
 
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mog

Kodiak Buckaroo
manual lockout hubs to reduce wear and tear on front end, reduce vibration and noise during highway driving, and possibly increase mpg. Better, quieter ride would be a plus, but getting stuck sucks also.
Perhaps a schnitzel to steak comparison, but hey, more data, is more better. I added manual locking hubs to my Mercedes 1017AF *. I gained perhaps at best 0.5 mpg after the conversion. I noticed no difference in noise or vibration. As a reference, this was a 25,500 GVWR truck, at 13,940 lbs, (168 +/- hp, Vmax-65 mph)

If I had to choose, I'd go with the locker over the hubs. YMMV

*-Most MB1017A are full-time 4-wheel drive, and if they have locking diffs, rear and/or front, they are certainly full-time 4-wheel drive. Mine was a rarer selectable 2x4 or 4x4.
 

Ozarkrambler

New member
Good comments all around...thanks

I'll ask about the 16k axle.

This is a single axel truck if that makes any difference. Putting an 18ft box on it just haven't narrowed down which manufacturer yet
 
I’d get the DCDL for sure if it’s available.
But a lot more important question: is a REAR DCDL or automatic locker (NoSpin) available? Because anytime you engage a front DCDL you won’t be able to steer, it’ll just go mainly forwards unless the surface has a very low coefficient of friction. So I just use my front DCDL momentarily. But a rear DCDL can be left engaged much longer, and is much more useful, especially considering any camper type vehicle is likely to have more weight on the rear axle.
Don’t be afraid of NoSpin diffs for the rear. I had one in a SWB BJ40 Landcruiser and drove it to work in Anchorage year round. Just leave a vehicle in 4wd if there’s any ice at all on the pavement. In rear wheel drive only, it’s easy to break the rear end loose.
I know y’all have heard this repetitively from me and maybe think “I’ll never need that…”, but getting a 7-9-12 ton truck unstuck is not an enjoyable experience. It’s senseless to invest $80-100k in a chassis with 4wd/low range, super single wheels and tires etc and NOT maximize traction with pushbutton operable upgrades.
 
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DirtWhiskey

Western Dirt Rat
Sounds like you've got a very heavy rig. Front locker can be very valuable. With that much weight you can prevent damage to your rear dif, drive lines and pretty much all of your running gear. It also allows you to go slower and not need "momentum" over obstacles. Spreads the load out. Not much for steering but that's why I have a front locker when I've got my camper on my back. Getting momentum is how you break things. Less momentum less breaking stuff. More important on a heavy rig than any other rig IMHO. Many times it's not even on a 4x4 trail. Maybe you dropped a wheel into a hole or behind a boulder.
 
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