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The Detroit locker is normally locked. When driving down a straight road, it is locked. When on low traction surfaces, it is also locked. The only time it unlocks is when you turn on high traction surfaces. Inside the locker there are side plates and the middle drive ring (attached indirectly to the ring gear) and springs, etc. The side plates are splined to the axles. The side plates and drive ring both have cogs and teeth on them. The teeth actually transmit the power to the axle. The cogs disengage the teeth on the side plate from the teeth on the drive ring, only when that side plate is driven faster by the road surface. When in a turn, the outside wheel is pushed by the road faster than the inside one is being driven by the engine. The cogs push the side plate away from the drive ring and disengage the teeth to allow the wheel to turn free. When the speed of the "freed" wheel again becomes equal to that of the engaged wheel the locker will lock both wheels back together until the next turn. A Detroit locker will handle different than an open differential because it puts power to the inside wheel while cornering where an open differential puts power to the outside wheel. Both only power one wheel per axle while turning and the Detroit powers both the rest of the time.
Detroit lockers can be used in the front axles of full time 4WD vehicles on the road. It may decrease tire life as the locker takes a slight force to disengage and the tire has to apply it, which adds to tire wear. I do not know how much it will change tire life by. It will also affect the handling characteristics as the actual drive wheel is opposite that of an open differential. It matters little what setup you actually have on your vehicle, but you need to be familiar with the way it handles in order to drive safely and efficiently through adverse and challenging weather or situations.
A No-Spin differential is the same product as a Detroit Locker, but is targeted at a different market.
A very informative post except for one thing. An open diff splits power evenly between both wheels even during turns as long as both wheels have sufficient traction. It does not drive only the outside wheel during turns.
Just a FYI.
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