As I mentioned, we got a full-floater Sterling 10.5 locally for about $500 from an '03 Excursion. The van already had a Dana 60 with 4.10s, but why would I run something stock? We want this van for the long haul and we tend to go places like Yukon and Northwest Territories where we get a few hundred miles from civilization. A full-floater gives you a nice sense of assurance.
With the help of my brother, we swapped the 3.73s and LS out of the Sterling and put in 4.11s from Yukon and an ARB locker. This is probably the 4th or 5th axle my brother has done, so it was nice having him in charge of this portion. If anyone is interested, I have tons of pictures of this work.
Stock Sterling set-up:
Checking backlash on the new gears:
The stock diff cover is a thin, stamped piece of steel with a big neon signing flashing "Rocks, please destroy me!" Coming from a rockcrawling background, I wanted a nice piece of armor to protect everything. I opted for a DIY cover from Blue Torch Fab. They make a weld-it-yourself (WIY?) kit for the Sterling axle. The main pieces are 1/4" laser-cut, formed steel plate and the flange is 3/8" thick.
Compared to the stock cover:
blue torch vs stock.JPG
I spot-faced the bolt holes on the top side because the weld bead ends up getting too close to accommodate the flange head bolts. I also fly-cut the mating surface after welding to ensure a good seal.
When I went to install it to the Sterling, I found a big problem. The cover hit the copper tubing for the ARB and I couldn't bend the tubing enough to feel safe about running it. The cover slopes over too drastically right near the tubing in the below picture.
So I ended up scrapping all the work I put into this cover. I was able to sell it on Pirate4x4 and make a couple extra bucks to offset my time investment. After doing more research about cooling issues, I opted for ju$t going with a Mag-Hytec cover. I've always been hesitant about aluminum covers since they're cast and consequently brittle, but apparently covers are shot-peened nowadays which should make them stronger. Plus, if I do manage to crack it, I can always use my Atlas and run strictly FWD!
So this gets me to where I currently am today. Yesterday I pulled the rear leaves with the help of my wife. It's nice that she loves the van as much as I do, otherwise she would not be happy with this marathon van build I've been doing. Today is Day 4 of straight 10-12 hour days! I plan on welding on the rear spring pads provided by UJOR and mounting up the rear Deavers and setting her down on the ground. We'll see how it goes!
Here's a nice comparison pic of the 12-leaf Deavers compared to the OEM 4-leafs.