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OBX Racing Differentials in a '97 Sporty?!? #1031417 07/09/11 10:26 PM
Joined: Apr 2011
Posts: 326
Peabody Offline OP
Mudrunner
Here's my first post - been a "fly on the wall" for several months now, after researching the variety of small 4x4s (Samurai, Toyota pickups, etc) to find something "capable on a budget". The Sportage won the contest - I bought a used '97 Sporty from a local college student who was moving back to Brazil & didn't want to pay $50K in import duties & taxes to take it with him. And, lucky for me, he had already lifted the body and suspension (UYK) like I was planning to do, had I found a good deal on a stock rig.

Intros aside, my first big project is to swap out the differentials. I was bummed to find out the new TrackFinder Lockers aren't compatible with the early-version diffs (and they aren't readily-available in the U.S.). But I was inspired by the various posts on using Mazda LSDs (RX-7 & Miata) - specifically this one: Jen's Sporty. After doing a good bit of research on the compatible clutch and torsen diffs from Mazda (stock), I found myself getting frustrated over prices, availability and the fact that most units are used, with the wear & remaining service-life being a big unknown.

That led me to look at the aftermarket options for a new unit. I looked at Eaton, Quaife, etc, only to be deterred by the big price tags for each. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/zombie.gif" alt="" /> Then I came across some obscure threads on the Miata forums discussing helical-gear LSDs made by OBX Racing (U.S. company - parts made on-the-cheap in China). There were lots of posts bashing these diffs, but also a few that were positive, detailed and seemingly-credible. And the consensus of the satisfied users was that a simple dis-assembly, clean-up/deburr and replacing of the factory case-bolts and Belleville washers makes these diffs "bulletproof". As for cost, these diffs sell for $279 each on eBay (Miata-type: '94-'05). And that was too tempting for me. So I bought 2 diffs to replace the stock-front & rear units on my Sporty. The grand total for 2 diffs, shipped, with sales tax (all of the eBay sellers are based in Oakland, CA <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/angry.gif" alt="" />) was... $652.41 USD. And that's about the price of a new Eaton diff for the Sporty, which was the cheapest-new-aftermarket diff available (and scarce/out-of-production, a clutch-type, with no rebuild kits available, as far as I can tell). I really wanted a torsen/gear-based diff, just for strength, durability and simplicity. The OBX diff fit the bill... and for less bills, to boot!

The other bit of trivia about the OBX diffs is that, despite the marginal machining-tolerances, they are pretty strong. I've found a few posts stating that they've been used in some beefy mod-vehicles with great success (Honda S2000, RX-7, Miata, Ford Focus & Mini Cooper). And some of these cars are said to produce 500+ WHP and didn't break the OBX diff. So I'm hoping that a stock Sporty wouldn't be too much torque for them to handle, even while 4wheelin'. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/scared.gif" alt="" />

Here's some links to OBX-related threads, if you're interested...
Miata Forum Thread
How to "bulletproof" your OBX diff
Another "rebuild your OBX" site - This guy sells stronger bolts & washers as upgrade kits, which I also bought for mine, out of convenience...

That said, I know that I'm treading into new territory by trying the OBX diffs for off-road use (4x4), and also being the first to try the Miata-spec'd OBX diff in a Sporty (front & rear). So I'm fully-aware that I could be heading for disaster, while fully-unaware what disaster(s) I might/will encounter. That's one of the reasons I'm posting here about the project: I'm going to need some support (technical <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/notooth.gif" alt="" />, emotional <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/baby.gif" alt="" />, etc). And I want to document the process & outcome for the Sporty community ("you can do this!!!" <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />... or, "you DON'T want to do this!!!" <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/zombie.gif" alt="" />). And, by the way, I'm planning to do the work myself, primarily because I've asked two different shops for an estimate of the labor-cost for both front & rear diffs - parts provided by me. The first guy quoted me $1500 for labor alone, which I laughed at (violently). And the second guy wouldn't touch the job unless he sold me the parts... which he said was required for his "warranty". Maybe I should offer to sell him the parts for $1 so he can sell them back to me for $2?!?

OK - Here's the first set of questions...

I'm going to install new carrier bearings on the diffs. But I still haven't ordered them. I was looking for the parts at RockAuto, but was a little confused by the variety of bearings & different sizes listed under "differential bearing" for the '97 Sporty. I think this is the correct bearing, because it cross-refs with the 2nd gen/non-turbo RX-7 & '94+ Miata (NATIONAL Part # 32008)... Can someone confirm this? And is there a more affordable-alternative that is still reliable???

Tools: I'm trying to figure out what I'll need to do the job. I figure a jack, jack stands and an impact wrench are required (beyond standard wrenches, sockets, hammer, duct-tape & band-aids). But I've never pulled a diff before. So if anyone can note other "you really need these" tools for the job, that would be much-appreciated! <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/kewl.gif" alt="" />

Circlips: I'm going to order the thinner circlips from a local Mazda dealer (Mazda M005-27-421, as noted at the end of the Mazda LSD-install thread, just in case. Can anyone provide some basic info on the circlips, as far as function, remove/install & how to avoid destroying them while removing/installing the diffs?

That's all I have for now. But before I forget, I wanted to thank everyone for building such an open & informative forum - much appreciated... <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/patriot.gif" alt="" />


1997 Sportage 4x4, auto-trans, Warn manual hubs, 4" UPYOURKIA front lift, TJ 106AA rear springs, 2-5/8" body lift, 31x10.50 treads, SmittyBilt SRC front and XRC rear bumper, swing-out tire mount, OBX LSD front diff, Track Finder rear locker, 5.38 R&Ps and... really crappy gas mileage! <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/shiner.gif" alt="" />
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Re: OBX Racing Differentials in a '97 Sporty?!? [Re: Peabody] #1031418 07/10/11 04:50 PM
Joined: Dec 2010
Posts: 26
A
ackerman Offline
Getting the Wheeling Fever
Keep us updated on your progress <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/kewl.gif" alt="" /> Post up some photos of ur sporty when u get a chance.

Last edited by ackerman; 07/10/11 04:51 PM.

01 Sportage 4dr,warn hubs,cone air filter,4" lift,1 3/8" body lift,31" treadwright guard dog mts,Incubus offroad wheels
Re: OBX Racing Differentials in a '97 Sporty?!? [Re: ackerman] #1031419 07/10/11 09:54 PM
Joined: Aug 2006
Posts: 1,224
Everet Offline
Body Damage is Cool
Did you get your Sporty from Didi?
Haven't heard from him in a while.

Keep us posted on your progress.

Great post!

Everet <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/patriot.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/cheers.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/kewl.gif" alt="" />


WWW.UPYOURKIA.COM White 96,4x4, man.hubs,K&N filter,3row rad, twin 16" fans, 3" body lift, 4" UPYOURKIA LIFT KIT,265/75 16 TreadWrights on DC2 wheels,140 amp alt. dual batts.
Re: OBX Racing Differentials in a '97 Sporty?!? [Re: Peabody] #1031420 07/11/11 04:13 AM
Joined: Aug 2006
Posts: 1,224
Everet Offline
Body Damage is Cool
Quote
So I bought 2 diffs to replace the stock-front & rear units on my Sporty.


I don't believe that they will work on the rear diff. of the sporty.
The ring gear for the rear of the Sportage is larger than the front. To the best of my knowledge, no other carrier fits the sportage rear except a sportage. PLEASE CORRECT ME IF I AM WRONG.

If you can measure hole to hole distance on your OBX and post it.

I have an extra rear carrier that I can measure the distance and will post it tomorrow.

Everet


<img src="/forums/images/graemlins/patriot.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/cheers.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/kewl.gif" alt="" />


WWW.UPYOURKIA.COM White 96,4x4, man.hubs,K&N filter,3row rad, twin 16" fans, 3" body lift, 4" UPYOURKIA LIFT KIT,265/75 16 TreadWrights on DC2 wheels,140 amp alt. dual batts.
Re: OBX Racing Differentials in a '97 Sporty?!? [Re: Everet] #1031421 07/12/11 06:13 AM
Joined: Apr 2011
Posts: 326
Peabody Offline OP
Mudrunner
Everet - Yes, I did buy the Sportage from Didi. He finished his grad program in June and should be back in Brazil now. But he really loved that Sporty, which made me all the more comfortable buying it from him. And he did have good things to say about you and the lift kit.

And now back to the OBX diff...
I did some quick measuring and here are some dimensions that should clear things up regarding the rear carrier, I hope:

- 10 holes on the ring mount, hole-to-hole on the outside edges measures 5.7" and 4.9" between the inside edges (approximate for both). So that should be about 5.3" center-to-center.

- The bearing mounts are 1.575" in diameter.

- The ring mount is 6.06" in diameter.

- And the length of the diff, bearing-end to bearing-end (in-line with the axles) is 6".


I am 95% sure the diff will fit both front and rear. From what I've gathered between this forum and others, the hole pattern should be the same for both the 7" and 7.5" ring gears. I think the difference is in the rings, with the 7.5" being a bit beefier with the extra 1/2" of diameter. And that would jive with the Mazda-boys not being able to mount the 7.5" ring in their diff assemblies, because their housings lack the space for the larger gear & matching pinion, even though the diffs are the same... I think. My biggest concern is with the ABS-sensing ring mounting. I haven't come across any mention of that being an issue/non-issue with the OBX diff for the Miata. So I'm not sure what to expect there.

Looking forward to hearing how the numbers compare... <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/scared.gif" alt="" />


1997 Sportage 4x4, auto-trans, Warn manual hubs, 4" UPYOURKIA front lift, TJ 106AA rear springs, 2-5/8" body lift, 31x10.50 treads, SmittyBilt SRC front and XRC rear bumper, swing-out tire mount, OBX LSD front diff, Track Finder rear locker, 5.38 R&Ps and... really crappy gas mileage! <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/shiner.gif" alt="" />
Re: OBX Racing Differentials in a '97 Sporty?!? [Re: Peabody] #1031422 07/13/11 08:54 PM
Joined: Mar 2002
Posts: 1,396
DennisThompson Offline
Body Damage is Cool
With all the research I did years ago what I came up with is the rear dif, ring & pinion crosses with the turbo RX7 and the front dif, ring & pinion crosses with the non turbo RX7/Miata. I have both a front and rear carrier out of the axles and the rear is bigger than the front. If you want Friday I can take measurements and pics and post them here. I am sure if the rear factory limited slip would fit in the front someone (me) would allready be running one in the front. If what you bought works, please let us know how well it does off road.

Dennis


95 Sportage, gone but not forgotten.
98 Jeep TJ, 4" Zone springs with RC Long arms, Ford 8.8", 4.56 gears & Detroit locker rear, D30, 4.56 & Detroit Trutrack front.
Re: OBX Racing Differentials in a '97 Sporty?!? [Re: DennisThompson] #1031423 07/15/11 06:04 AM
Joined: Apr 2011
Posts: 326
Peabody Offline OP
Mudrunner
If I understand correctly, the 1st gen Sportages through the '97 model year had 26 spline axles in the front and rear. The non-turbo RX-7s (2nd gen/big axle) are also 26 spline, as are the '94-'05 Miatas. I think the turbos had a higher spline count and are not compatible. I have to say that there's a load of conflicting info on the topic. Perhaps we can clear things up for good with this thread...

To add to the confusion, I called a local Kia dealer and had a chat with the parts guy. I was trying to get the part numbers for the front and rear diffs on the '97 model year. I thought that if they are the same, then that would clear things up. But the guy didn't know the difference between an open diff and an LSD. He couldn't even tell by looking at the diagrams. So after 10 minutes of zero-progress, he said I should come over and check out the parts book myself. I will do that if I can get there before the parts dept closes tomorrow or Saturday.

On another note, I remember finding a few posts in the Front Limited Slip thread. There was a guy from Thailand that said the rear LSD fits in the front diff housing...

"Hello! everybody I'm yuennong from KIA@weekendhobby.com
It,s so easy to modify front limited slip by
1. find the second hand rear sportage limited slip (or buy new one)
2. remove only the ABS sensor gear
3. put (install) that rear limited slip into front axle differietial case ... then your sportage are ready to rock-n'roll."

If you read through the posts, it sounds like the rear LSD fits without issues, and that they swap out "everything" except the ABS ring (not needed in the front). The thread on Jen's Sporty (link above) also notes that the RX-7 LSD fits the front and rear, though the details are limited. And that's what leads me to believe the only difference between the front and rear diff assemblies is the size of the ring, pinion and the carrier housing (to hold the larger gear). Ah, but its all here-say until we put hands on the parts...

Last bit - I ordered the Mazda circlips today. The dealer said they'll be in by Thursday of next week. And I think I'm going on a shopping spree at Harbor Freight this weekend to get some tools I'll need for the job, but don't have (anymore). <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/kewl.gif" alt="" />


1997 Sportage 4x4, auto-trans, Warn manual hubs, 4" UPYOURKIA front lift, TJ 106AA rear springs, 2-5/8" body lift, 31x10.50 treads, SmittyBilt SRC front and XRC rear bumper, swing-out tire mount, OBX LSD front diff, Track Finder rear locker, 5.38 R&Ps and... really crappy gas mileage! <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/shiner.gif" alt="" />
Re: OBX Racing Differentials in a '97 Sporty?!? [Re: Peabody] #1031424 07/15/11 10:04 AM
Joined: Dec 2008
Posts: 336
2002_Sporty Offline
Mudrunner
Does all this information ONLY apply to the 26 spline front and 26 spline rear Sportage for years '94-'97?

I have a North American 2002 Sportage with ABS.

Can anyone tell me what items to purchase to get an LSD in the rear of my 2002 Sportage?


2002 4dr Kia Sportage 4X4
Tires:235/75/15, Wheels: Black 15x8 Steel ProComp 2.5" B.S., Hubs:Warn Manual, Lift:3" UPYOURKIA, Trailer Hitch, Cargo Rack, Clinometer.
Re: OBX Racing Differentials in a '97 Sporty?!? [Re: 2002_Sporty] #1031425 07/15/11 03:59 PM
Joined: Mar 2002
Posts: 1,396
DennisThompson Offline
Body Damage is Cool
I think what I will do is take apart my extra front and rear difs and see what is the same and what is differant, if what you say is right I might be looking for another rear LS to put in the front. I might not get to it today but when I do I will take pics and tell you what I found.

Dennis


95 Sportage, gone but not forgotten.
98 Jeep TJ, 4" Zone springs with RC Long arms, Ford 8.8", 4.56 gears & Detroit locker rear, D30, 4.56 & Detroit Trutrack front.
Re: OBX Racing Differentials in a '97 Sporty?!? [Re: 2002_Sporty] #1031426 07/15/11 10:24 PM
Joined: Apr 2011
Posts: 326
Peabody Offline OP
Mudrunner
Yep, this bit of Sportage-trivia is only pertinent rear diffs on model years through '97. The '98s and up have a rear diff with a different spline count. I believe the front diff is still the same. So you should be able to swap out the front diff with any compatible type (RX-7, Miata, OBX?). However(!), you can put a TrackFinder locker in your rear diff (open-type), which is a not an option for the 26-spline types. I would opt for a locker in the rear if they were available. Didn't you contact TrackFinder to get a price for the locker shipped to Alaska?


1997 Sportage 4x4, auto-trans, Warn manual hubs, 4" UPYOURKIA front lift, TJ 106AA rear springs, 2-5/8" body lift, 31x10.50 treads, SmittyBilt SRC front and XRC rear bumper, swing-out tire mount, OBX LSD front diff, Track Finder rear locker, 5.38 R&Ps and... really crappy gas mileage! <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/shiner.gif" alt="" />
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