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Selectable front diff in 350 Rancher using OEM parts

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For those looking to make steering a little easier on their Honda ATV, Wide Open makes a cable actuated front driveshaft disconnect that allows the machine to operate in 2wd, making steering much easier.  These disconnects are available for 93-00 (2nd and 3rd gen) 300's, 350 Ranchers, 450 Foremans, and 01-04 500 Rubicons.  They are expensive though.

 

For the 350 Rancher, an alternative way to gain selectable 4wd is by using an 04-07 400AT Rancher front diff and driveshaft.   This is an electrically activated diff, so it does require wiring in a switch, and the front frame crossmemember must be notched a hair to clear the longer 400 front diff, but otherwise it bolts right in, and uses all Honda OEM parts.   These 400AT front diffs and driveshafts are quite a bit cheaper than getting a 424, and again, you're using all OEM hard parts in this swap.

 

The pics below were from Retro's build on his Creamsicle 350 Rancher, and show the notch that has to be slightly enlarged to fit the bigger diff, and also the diff installed.

 

Now to power the diff, one needs a throttle assembly off of an 05-11 Foreman, or 05-14 Rubicon, or 04-07 400AT, or a Rincon.  These contain the factory 2wd/4wd switch.  Wiring the switch is pretty simple.  There is a plug on the side of the 400AT front diff that has a green wire and an orange and white striped wire.  Ground the green wire, and connect the orange and white wire to one of the wires coming off of that 4wd switch.  Connect the other wire on the 4wd switch to a key'd on wire (I used the pink wire on the ignition switch).  This means with the key on, when you activate the switch 12V is sent to the electromagnet in the front diff that puts it in 4wd. 

 

 

If you want to add a 4wd indicator light, you can get a 37566-HP5-600 lens from a footshift 420 that indicates 4wd.  Get a socket from an old 300 or 420 and tie the positive wire coming off of it to that orange and white wire, so that it also gets 12V when the switch is turned on (and of course, ground the other wire on the light socket).  Again, see pics from retro's build showing where he put the 4wd indicator light.  You can also see the 4wd switch in the 400AT throttle assembly in his pic.

 

The thing that you MUST understand when doing this, is you have to computer protection straight wiring the diff like this.  On the factory selectable bikes, the ECU will not allow the diff to engage unless the front and rear speed sensors are showing the same speed (front and rear wheels are turning at the same speed).  On the 350 Ranchers, the speed sensor is on the rear output, and there is only one speed sensor on these bikes, so you don't have the ECU protection on these older machines.  When you flip the switch, the front diff will lock in....immediately  If your front wheels are sitting still and rears are spinning at 50MPH when you hit the switch, you will destroy something, so make sure you're either stopped, or going slow with all four wheels turning the same speed before you hit that switch.  YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

 

@retro, hope it's ok that I used your pics.  If you like I can take them down and replace with the pics from my build.  You just took a lot better pics than I did.

 

notch.png

400at front diff.png

4wd light.png

 

Edited by retro
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any reason the throttle/switch from any of the '02-'04 trx450's can't be used ?. 

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7 minutes ago, shadetree said:

any reason the throttle/switch from any of the '02-'04 trx450's can't be used ?. 

 

Nope, that one would work too!

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