As we all know, SLOWER is always better when it comes to control…and manhandling a big vehicle like the 80-series makes that even more important. Differential gears have always been common cure, and those are still a better option for big-tire correction…but what about that low-speed trail control? Marlin Crawler has finally addressed that with their affordable Land Cruiser Crawler Gears.
The Marlin Crawler kit supplies one differential low speed gear and one idler low speed gear. Those two gears, combined some cut-off wheel/grinder time, silicone, thread sealant and fresh gear lube, makes for a very simple shade-tree installation. The transfer case does NOT need to be pulled from the vehicle, and even the front driveshaft remains installed. The hardest part of the whole process is separating the gearset using a shop press and the careful trimming/grinding that’s done inside the transfer case.
Assembly is simple enough…Marlin provides an excellent set of directions on their website. Gear lube, silicone and thread sealant are the basic, and an assortment of tools.
The REAL test is in the field…I’ve now got over 6 months of use on the gears AND more than 10,000 miles! The first test was driving my FZJ80 from WI to Hot Springs AR for the Southern Cruiser Crawl…zero road issues, and the on-trail capabilities of the rig were noticeable…you wouldn’t thing a mere 25% reduction would change much, but it DID. Particularly downhill, where the need for brakes (or lack of!) actually had people asking if my brake lights even worked at all!
Following the 2000+ miles of road time for SCC, and a winter of shorter trips, it was time for a fluid swap (just to be sure)…yep, the Amsoil that drained out looked perfect…nothing questionable. Re-filled and prepped for another LONG adventure…this time, 4900 miles from WI to Mason TX for the LSLC RoundUp, then to Las Vegas NV for the Mint 400, and finally thru Moab UT during Easter Jeep Safari…AGAIN, zero issues…the truck crawls SO nice and smooth on the slickrock.
Pricing for the kit is presently $799…and for the S L O W speed control you get and the easy install, is WELL worth that price!
UPDATE: Just drove the FZJ80 on another 4500 mile round trip to run the Rubicon Trail…again, VERY impressed with the gear performance while offroading…the added control on climbs and descents helped a great deal with avoiding body damage and maintaining traction…I was able to run nearly the entire trail without engaging the front or rear differential lockers!