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We started out nice and easy at the differential spin pit, or split µ as Mumaw called it. µ (mu) is a Greek letter used to indicate the coefficient of friction between two surfaces or the ratio of force required to move your truck forward relative to the truck's weight on a given surface. The higher the µ the stickier the surface. Too much µ and your truck isn't going to budge. Too little µ and your truck will be spinning in place.

To demonstrate Mumaw flooded a shallow concave surface under the left front and rear wheels with a sprinkler, while the right front and rear wheels remained on a dry surface.

Stepping on the gas in the Silverado there was a split second of wheel spin and yaw to the left until the locking differential kicked in with a jolt and then we were quickly out of the pit. In repeated tests the Silverado's wheels always slipped for an instant before locking and allowing us to drive away.

In the SuperCrew with both lockers disengaged, effectively acting as open differentials, we gave the Ford pickup full throttle. With the wet wheels getting all the power but no traction we quickly pegged 5,000 rpm on the tach without moving more than a few inches but spraying water and smoke from the tires everywhere. Engaging the ELocker and then trying the differential spin test on the SuperCrew was an entirely different story. No fuss or muss this time. The SuperCrew neatly climbed out of the pit at full throttle without even a hint of yaw or locker engagement like the Silverado and certainly without the sound and fury of the open ELocker.

The next test, another split µ, added gravity to the equation. We drove to a 20% grade that featured steel rollers embedded in a portion of the surface, like the kind you find at the airport to place your luggage on during the security screening.

Driving up the ramp with the Silverado we placed the rollers under the left wheels while leaving the right set on concrete and slowed to a stop. Hitting full throttle on this type of surface and grade was almost impossible to overcome with the mechanical diff. There was lots of rubber squealing and tire smoking as the wheels spun but eventually the locking diff was able to kick and compensate as it chattered off the rollers and got pavement under both sets of wheels.

The SuperCrew without the ELockers engaged was a hopeless story. Pulling the right wheels onto the rollers stopping and giving it gas quickly redlined the engine until the rev limiter stepped in and forced us to step on the brakes to keep from going backwards. Engaging the ELocker again proved to be a dramatic story. Like some Sybil of traction control, the F-150 suddenly had a new personality. There was some yaw to the right and a little chatter but the front and rear ELockers quickly got the pickup off the rollers and onto a surface both sets of wheels could grip.

Moving off paved surfaces we made our way over to the twist ditch test. A set of parallel dirt mounds, the twist ditch was built to repeatedly create situations where one of a truck's front wheels would hang in the air at the same time the opposing rear wheel also left the ground. This leaves only two small patches of rubber to make contact with the slippery earthen surface, maintain traction and get the pickup into a more manageable position of control before repeating itself with the opposite wheels.

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