How Low Can You Go?
ZUKIWORLD installs and tests CALMINI’s RockCrawler DL
CORVALLIS, OR. -What do low gears mean to an offroad enthusiast? To many, low gears mean control and torque multiplication which ads to the ability of their vehicle to tackle tougher terrain with more finesse and ease. With low gears, the trail seems to ease and give way to the vehicle in what seems to be a magical gesture, yielding to your properly built vehicle like a virginal prom date. To some, one simply can not get a low enough gear to work the type of terrain they wish to conquer. Yet to few, low gears hamper the fun that can be had when one mashes the throttle and the tires and engine whir, churning and burning the course ahead of them. We are somewhere in the middle. Vehicle control and obstacle driving ease are always important but it is nice to totally paste your buddy in the mud pit when he gets stuck.
There has been quite an upheaval, if you will, over the last 6-8 months with the new breed of ‘super low’ transfer case gears for the Samurai. For years, the venerable GRS2 offered from PetroWorks with it’s advertised 4.89:1 reduction has been the benchmark; setting the standard in crawl for the Samurai. During the last year, however, there have been three new offerings for a ‘super low’ transfer case gear. All seeking to dethrone the champ in a race to see who can go the slowest. One of which is the CALMINI RockCrawler DL, a kit which contains 4 completely new gears machined from high quality SAE 8620 alloy billet material. The new ratio for this gear set is 5.8:1. in low and a true 18.2 percent reduction in high which is said to completely compensate for a 32 inch tire without the need for new differential gears.
We received our advanced copy of the RockCrawler DL late in the fall last year and was immediately impressed with the quality of the kit that arrived at our door step. We instantly started dismantling our test vehicle for these new gears, “Wedgee” our red Samurai running a Reynold’s prepped 1.3 liter engine, stock Samurai transmission, PetroWorks GRS2 transfer case, Tom Wood’s drive shafts, and Dana 44 axles loaded with 5.89:1 ring and pinion and Detroit lockers, all of which turn a set of 35×15.5×15 TSL/SX swampers.
Installation of the gear set was as expected. The instruction set from CALMINI was greatly augmented by the inclusion of a series of photos that do a great job of telling the story on how to do this install. Click HERE for installation instructions. The only issue we faced was finding a local machine shop to do the work. Our favorite shop had just closed up so we were faced to find a new one to do our press work. They took approximately a half an hour to do our job and charged us for that time.
Initial impressions were “so-so” as we idled the vehicle around our yard. We didn’t feel a lot of difference in the gear set other than the vehicle totally stopping between ‘locker clicks’ when turning at an idle. That struck us as ‘cool’ at the time but we didn’t really realize the implications of that right away. The low range crawl is calculated out to (transmission 3.652) x (RockCrawler DL 5.89) x (Dana r&p 5.89) or 126.7:1 final drive. Pretty impressive considering that this is over four times lower than the stock ratio of 30.9:1.
Where the RockCrawler DL comes into it’s own is on the trail. Before we had finished the first trail with the new gears we were ecstatic. It was like getting low gears all over again. The engine and drivetrain got a new lease on life as their job got easier by the gears working harder. Yes, we were skeptical that a mere 16 points more in reduction would make that much difference but it did. Now, we could really place the vehicle anywhere we wanted and could take the time we needed to work the obstacles right. For us, it seemed to bring the whole ‘package’ together. The Reynold’s engine with it’s high horse quick rapping nature is much more at home with this lower gear and has come into it’s own making rockcrawling this vehicle a blast again. With the RockCrawler DL gear set it is nearly impossible to stall out the vehicle on any grade.
Mud flinging, a favorite Pacific North West past time, is quite enjoyable too. Now, instead of taching it out in 3rd gear to power through, we use 4th and have better room to modulate the throttle. All around this new gear set impressed us. It’s quiet operation and cool running convinced us of a professional build. In fact, we are so impressed that we would move the getting of a CALMINI RockCrawler DL transfer case to the number one trail modification for your Samurai. Whether your just starting a build up of your first Samurai or your a seasoned veteran looking for the next level, consider the RockCrawler DL gear set as your next purchase.